Did someone say free tickets?

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Rising with the sun for my morning run meant being treated with this beautiful view on my return to the boat. But sadly, since the clocks went forward by an hour, this heavenly vista is no longer part of my morning ritual, as it’s still pitch black when I get back at 7am. Still, we are lucky enough to be in a position that allows us access to the entire boardwalk, morning and night. Jogging past Nikki Beach in full flow is an experience and a half.

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Chilled cucumber, avocado & buttermilk soup from Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite.

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Roasted peppers with capers & burrata. My problem with roasted peppers is as follows. When you pop them whole into the oven for forty minutes or so to blacken the skins, take them out, put them in a bowl, cling film the bowl so that the skins come away easily, all is fine and dandy up to that point. But the problem arises when I try to cut my strips but get assaulted by all of the innards! I try to pull the pepper apart in a fashion that leaves me with just the outer flesh, but it inevitably becomes a mess of a million tiny seeds. It is just a massive faff, and makes me want to buy roasted peppers in a jar. If anybody can shed any light on this issue of mine, please get in touch.

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From Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, a frankly delicious wild rice salad with nuts and sour cherries. Actually cranberries in this case, because even though yes, you most probably could find elusive sour cherries in Whole Foods, as the lowly crew chef I feel morally obliged (not to mention contractually obliged) to do my shopping in Publix. Whole Foods is just hideously overpriced, and truly IMHO, not particularly ‘whole’. It is an admittedly exceptional shopping experience, but honestly, that cannot warrant slapping on an extra few hundred dollars on the ole shopping bill. In saying this, I could probably wangle a small trip to stock up on those frankly essential but unobtainable items, e.g. miso paste (both red and white), pomegranate molasses, Medjool dates…basically all the things that grace the aisles of Waitrose.

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The most squidgy and decadent triple chocolate brownies. After years of dry, cake-like hideousness created from trying what feels like hundreds of different recipes for the ‘perfect’ brownie, Hummingbird bakery’s is honestly the best of them all. It was actually seeing a friend’s beautiful looking heart shaped brownies on Instagram that introduced me to this recipe, and no other has ever come close to beating it. Although people seem insistent to try to convert me to their chosen recipe, I shall never waver. To make them into triple chocolate brownies, just add chopped milk and white chocolate chunks. To make salted caramel brownies, melt together a tin of condensed milk, 100g butter and 100g dark brown sugar, and pour that in between two layers of brownie. To make peanut butter brownies, just do the same but with a layer of peanut butter mixed with icing sugar. The possibilities, not to mention calories, are endless!

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Laura’s incredible coconut, banana and berry bread. Check out her page if you want to see some gorgeous looking grub. Laura was the crew chef here two before me, and people are still raving about her food, she was that good. We met over Christmas and New Year when both of our boats were in St John, USVIs. We went to free yoga, had a hoot eating pita chips and drank bubbly by the pool. When I saw her bread, (and everything else she has made in the last few months), I had to ask for the recipe. This treat would probably fall under the category of ‘whole’, if it were masquerading as a healthy product at Whole Foods. Yes, it’s made using wholewheat flour and coconut sugar. But coconut sugar is really just another type of brown sugar. Despite me knowing this full well, it still prompts me to claim the treat is ‘good for you’, just to entice people into eat it.

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Quinoa crunch bars. Again, a nod to healthy baking.

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The gals paying me a welcome visit in the galley.

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If I’m lucky, sometimes the sous chef gets a sous chef…

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^^ Expert mixing of the fattoush salad being done. Maria is also extremely talented at scrambling eggs in the microwave, and introduced me to the winning combination of sliced avocado, with condensed milk. Don’t knock it!

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Steve’s back! Our three head chefs do a rotation of two months on, six weeks off, so Steve was fresh from a holiday spent in his hometown of Australia and actually came back on the day of his birthday (his 39th in case you were wondering). On our list of birthday requests, next to his name said, ‘surprise me’, so surprise him I did! From my work last Summer at Harper’s catering company in Jersey, as well as making canapés and mains, I did a lot of meringue making. We’re talking thousands of the buggers in the space of a morning. When I closed my eyes, I saw mini meringues. But one of the desserts that stuck in my taste buds’ memory was a chocolate truffle meringue cake. The base is a chocolate meringue, with a rum spiked chocolate ganache layer sitting above it.

So my patisserie attempt started off well. Just to be sure of a smooth release, I not only thoroughly greased the cake tin but lined it with a circular piece of greaseproof paper, too. A bit of an effort with the pencil and scissors, but I was fancying going the extra mile. Well, wasn’t that the biggest blunder I could have made! When it came to releasing the finished product, the paper had literally fused itself to the caramelised sugary base of the meringue. If left alone, once the cake was cut to serve someone, the paper would be left behind on the plate, or fused to the slice, and just be utterly horrendous in every possible way. So I immediately radioed Michael over on Mylin, and he gallantly rushed over to lend a helping hand. He saved the day! His advice was to set it as solid as possible in the fridge, then use a myriad of flipping using more sheets of greaseproof in order to invert it upside down, but all the while trying not to damage the extremely delicate ganache topping. It was a somewhat fraught success, and a bit of a mess after all that man-handling. He kindly offered to decorate it, and boy oh boy did he do a good job of it! I can only dream of having such panache and flair some day in the future.

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Much like the face of Colin the Caterpillar, we all fought over the shards of the solid piece of white chocolate.

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One of the perks of our job is free tickets to the Miami Heat basketball games. Now I know nothing about basketball, but they are playing a lot of home games at the moment to try and get through to the ‘playoffs’. Whatever that means. Me, Lovely and Maria signed ourselves up for an evening game, venturing over to downtown Miami.

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Now it’s an ongoing joke that the tickets we get are the ‘nosebleed seats’. But what I didn’t realise is that in a stadium with thousands of these, we didn’t even get given seats. They were for standing room only. But still, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. We arrived about an hour late due to work, and left about an hour early due to thirst, probably spending 10-15 minutes watching the actual game. But it was a truly exhilarating and worthwhile 10-15 minutes.

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We found ourselves at the mojito bar in Bayside. Sharing a pitcher of the passion fruit flavour, the game was actually playing on every TV screen around us. So at least we got to see the game to the end (sadly the bitter end, because they lost).

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So much love for these girls, but even more love for my new denim jacket (sorry huns).

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On my oh-so-precious one day off a week, it is paramount that I sample yoga/pilates/sunshine/shopping/every single thing possible to make the most of these hours of daylight. Groupon had a deal going for 5 yoga classes at $39 at Green Monkey, where one class is normally $25. What a billy barg! I wore my new sparkly pilates socks just to try them on for size, and aren’t they marvellous?! My leggings are also new, from L!VE on Lincoln Road Mall, in the half price sale. A man next to me at this class was quite handsome, but when we did the ‘happy baby’ pose at the end, he parped. As in, had a case of the windy pops. I hear of people ‘passing wind’ during yoga, but this was the first time it’s happened so close to home, aka, one metre away from me. Everyone was very adult though, and pretended it didn’t happen. At Green Monkey, we ‘honour our divine selves’ at the end by turning to each other and bowing, whilst the instructor plays a bizarre instrument that reminds me of the annoying sound of a finger being ran around the rim of the glass. It’s utter tripe, but I love it.

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Afterwards, I hopped across the neighbourhood to sample the best vegan, gluten free, fad-filled fare on offer. That small cup of turmeric latte set me back $6, and I make my homemade own in the galley erry day. But I definitely don’t serve it to myself on a wooden board, with a freshly picked sprig of plant sat next to it. That, my friends, is some serious added value.

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The pancakes. The pancakes! Gluten free and vegan, she told me. Does that mean they’re healthy? I can’t think so. They were the most filling pancakes I’ve ever ingested. I silently questioned, were they made with 99% cornflour, or something similarly claggy and dense? Cornflour is, after all, both GF and vegan. The pot at the top was filled with a so-called ‘cashew cream’. It tasted primarily of maple syrup, which was strange, as it sat next to a pot of maple syrup. Even though it is supposedly ‘cashew cream’, the taste and texture was nigh on identical to the Co-yo brand of yoghurt. Especially sweet, and a bit tangy. I smelled a shop-bought rat. The three slices of banana topping the three high stack seemed a bit tight. I mean, there’s not even half a portion of your five (seven?) a day on that plate, is there.

But still, I revelled in becoming a newly fledged Miami-ite and embraced all things over-priced and ‘healthy living’. After a wonderful FaceTime with my mum in the cafe, I did the British thing and told the owner how simply amazing everything was, and cycled to the beach. Despite my trusty SPF 15 being sprayed liberally over me during the five or six hours I was in the relentless sun, I did manage to tinge myself rouge over the entirety of my back half. The boat’s communal Hawaiian Tropic aftersun has now made its way into my cabin for a more permanent residence, as I can’t even bend a knee without grimacing in pain. Bring on the next few days spent working safely indoors!

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