LONDON CALLING

So, my obsession with London may stem from my love of¬†my future husband…Prince Harry. No just kidding, but maybe not. Ever since I was a little girl I have been begging my parents to go to London and FINALLY as an early 25th birthday present my parents agreed (it has secretly been my Moms dream too). It was a magical trip and I even convinced them to sneak in a few days in Paris as well! My dad unfortunately was unable to come on this trip due to my parents new puppy & work ūüė¶ but we sent him a million pictures so I hope he felt as if he was with us!

Our journey started off at my NYC apartment where we packed and weighed our bags and yelled over who stole each others shoes, etc. Finally, we were off to JFK!!! After a traffic filled drive we sailed through check in, security and so on! My sister even got hit on by a TSA agent of course. Eventually we boarded and were off on our red-eye to Heathrow.

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We touched down to sunny skies and perfect weather! My sister did not sleep the whole plane ride but surprisingly fought through her exhaustion and once we checked into our insane hotel (images below)& got settled we were off! For anyone taking a trip to London I definitely recommend staying at the Corinthia Hotel! It was right in the middle of everything but in a secluded area so it was quiet!

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Off we went to see Big Ben, which we found out from a friendly cabbie was not actually called Big Ben (I feel like my childhood was a lie).

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We strolled along, stopping to be typical tourists and take pictures. The architecture is INSANE! We passed Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey, and many other known sites in London!¬†¬†We stopped in front of Westminster Abbey to take pictures, but were unable to go inside as it was closed to visitors at that time ūüė¶

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What trip to London would be complete without a photo in one of their iconic phone booths? We were warned that they would smell like pee and oh did they. Living in NYC I guess I have gotten used to the smell, but my sister was freaking out the entire time she was taking her picture haha. I also learned a little fact, to show his love for his wife Coco Chanel, her husband put the signature double C on every lamp post in the city!

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After a few hours the jet lag began to sink in. We headed back to our hotel to wash up and get ready for our first dinner in London! We stopped by the hotel lobby for some tea, some WINE for me and some little snacks before our reservation.

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We headed to the restaurant which was so conveniently located in our hotel and settled into our table. The restaurant was so beautifully decorated, everything was so grand. If you are ever in London, check out Massimo in the Corinthia Hotel. It was great fresh Italian food & the pasta was homemade which always makes for a better dish. I apologize in advance for the blurry food pictures, the lighting was so bad for photography.

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We started off with some appetizers,  I had the autumn salad & it was delicious. Layered with mixed greens, pumpkin shavings, butternut squash and other seasonal vegetables it hit the spot! Of course to accompany this I had to have a glass of red wine. I think I drank wine every single night I was in Europe but hey why not.

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For my entree, I snacked on mafalde con rag√Ļ napoletano e ricotta or in English pasta with a meat ragu & ricotta. It was exquisite! I am such a foodie, I love going to different restaurants and trying different cuisines. It makes me so happy when food is presented beautifully & tastes amazing as well, but at this point I could have cared less because it was cooked to perfection & seasoned just right! The rest of the family agreed.

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We finished our meal with a dessert to share deciding on the pastiera con gelato alla vaniglia or Neopolitan cake with vanilla gelato. After paying the bill the my mother, sister & I headed up to our beds for a jet lag induced sleep.

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Big Batch of Red Sauce

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I feel like it is a rite of Italian passage to have your own sauce/gravy recipe, so being 1/4 Italian I need to have this under my culinary belt. My mother is not Italian but makes a mean red sauce, my aunt on my fathers side however makes the most epic red sauce & when paired with the meatballs she and my uncle make it is actual heaven. This combo is famous amongst the family & even though vegetarian I HAVE to eat one whenever I go there and they make (it would be a sin not to). My mom has tried to replicate their recipe but to no avail haha. *Sorry Mom still love you*

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I did some studying (how lame of me I know) and decided to combine some elements of some of the most popular recipes I came across. My recipe is below! Note to everyone, I LOVE GARLIC so you may want to add a little less if you are not as big of a fan as I am.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 medium carrot, peeled
7 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 15-oz can “no salt added”¬†diced tomatoes ( I like to use unsalted because then you can control the saltiness)
6 fresh basil leaves, rough chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to finish

First chop your onions, garlic, and peel your carrots! I just learned how to properly cut an onion thanks to Gordon Ramsey, I used to make such a mess and have uneven cuts!

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Then chop your basil! I love fresh basil, hopefully I can keep this alive for longer than all the other plants in my apartment. Once chopped you are ready to begin!

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Heat olive oil in a medium (at least 3 quart) pot over medium heat. Add onion, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

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Add carrot and garlic and cook until carrot is soft, about 10 minutes.

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Increase the heat to high, then add the balsamic vinegar. The balsamic vinegar will deglaze the pan & begin to reduce into a heavenly mixture. Stir until almost all the liquid is gone. Add the diced tomatoes and basil and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Season with freshly ground pepper, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.

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Uncover the pot and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes!

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When the mixture has cooled slightly,¬†you can either transfer to a blender for an extremely smooth mixture or use an immersion blender like the one in the image below (mine is an ancient hand me down, I am sure there are fancier versions out there now). Transfer to small mason jars and freeze or serve (will keep for 5 days in fridge). I like to use the teeny mason jars to freeze sauce because usually I am cooking for one, and it is much simpler to defrost a single serving. All in all, this recipe came out really good! I needed to let the balsamic vinegar reduce a bit more, as there was a slight bitter taste…so lesson learned.

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