Cruising round Miami, on a red double decker

Being in South Beach, it would be highly rude of me to not embrace all things ‘brunch’. The crew love a brunch day, just as long as it contains crispy bacon, Heinz baked beans, eggs (preferably scrambled), and the rest is all for me to play with. Surprisingly, making waffles a while back didn’t go down as well as hoped, with it highlighting that the crew tend to swing towards a more savoury, over sweet, brunch. My tastebuds have always had a penchant for both, hence my winning combination of bacon, berries and maple syrup sitting on top of fluffy ricotta pancakes.

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A bit of a labour of love, I doubled the recipe and took extra special care to cook them individually in a small pan, each with their own little pat of butter.

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They came out really well, and despite not all being eaten in the one sitting, were surprisingly tasty eaten cold out of the fridge. With Nutella.

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Thai red lentil soup, one of the many recipes from a book about spices that I have on loan from the local library.

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Paul Hollywood’s ciabatta. Simple, speedy (it only requires one prove), a perfect go-to bread if you’re in a hurry.

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Chicken satay, a classic, a crowd pleaser.

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Broccoli with peanuts and a mango slaw.

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Asian slaw, filled with crunchy vegetables and covered in a dressing made from my homemade chilli jam. It didn’t really end up setting like a jam, so it morphed into more of a sweet chilli sauce, still delicious even though it wasn’t intentional.

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Maneesh, a Middle Eastern flatbread usually found accompanying a smorgasbord of mezze, to scoop up baba ganoush, hummus and the like. My goodness, this was one of the best things I’ve eaten all week! Crunchy on the top, soft and fluffy in the middle, covered in a mixture of dried herbs, seeds and olive oil (otherwise known as Za’atar, but this one you don’t buy in a Bart’s jar from Waitrose). Again, an easy bread, perfect to ease oneself into the magical world of all things yeast.

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Salted tahini & dark chocolate chip cookies. The tahini flavour in these cookies was everything I need in life and more, but sadly due to a touch of over-baking they were crunchy and snapped, rather than being soft textured and crumbly. A must make again, to perfect the timing and yield the cookie of my Middle Eastern flavoured dreams!

We’ve had a rather turbulent past week in terms of plans being made, broken, made again, flipped on their head and thrown out the door. Our owners were due to go Paris on their hollibobs, so to minimise USA time (we are all capped by our visas to a certain amount of time in the states per year) we were scheduled to sail for the Bahamas, to spend those two weeks in the island of Nassau. Now, one would think we’d feel that all our Christmases had come early, what a treat! The Bahamas! But in actual fact, those of us who were well on our way to cultivating lives here in Miami just wished we could stay. Our prayers were answered, and our exodus from American waters was cancelled at the very last minute. To make our lives even more complete, Captain told us we’d all have the long weekend off. Four, entire, days. This is unheard of, so I really struggled to contain my excitement in that crew meeting.

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Myself, Jhel and Maria decided to do what we’ve always had our beady eye on doing. Get ourselves tickets for the open top bus tour of the city.

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We hopped on conveniently just outside our marina, actually missing the legitimate bus stop, but thankfully encountering a kind enough driver who pulled over in the middle of a busy road and let us board. We were taken to Bayside, otherwise known as Downtown, where we were given headsets and sent on our merry way, on the green route to Wynwood. Our bus tour guide was a cheerful, chatty fellow, with the catchphrase, “Oh yes folks, oh yes indeed.” He regaled us with tales of the vibrant history of Miami, its complex relationship to Cuba, but namely its emergence from flat, barren swamp land, to the concrete jungle it is today. Every so often he would shout, “Get down, folks! That tree was not there two weeks ago, oh yes indeed.”

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We hopped off in Wynwood, the neighbourhood made famous for housing Miami’s renowned art district. Galleries line the streets, alongside truly breath-taking graffiti.

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A must-do is to explore Wynwood Walls, a project that showcases the world’s greatest street artists.

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There are more photo taking opportunities than you can shake a stick at.

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After a hefty dose of culture in the sweltering midday heat, we needed to re-hydrate.

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Yoko matcha is a pop up van, serving all things matcha. Matcha cookies, matcha lattes, it is a green tea powder lover’s dream.

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I went for the iced matcha with coconut milk to cool me down, sweetened with about twenty tablespoons of agave. It was all sinking to the bottom, so I kept adding more, not realising there was an inch of the sweet nectar settling down below, not getting mixed in by my donut self. It ended up gloriously over-sweet, which is luckily just how I like it. *Enters sugar coma*.

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My new wheels.

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After that wholesome drink, we all wanted something a little bit more alcoholic. So we waltzed underneath a secret garden-esque wreath with the title, ‘La La Land’, to find an exceptional mojito bar. They were juicing real sugar cane, which is something I’ve never seen before, to use instead of the usual sugar syrup. We were even given long sticks of the stuff as stirrers, which we happily chewed on.

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We caught the last bus back to Bayside, where we sweltered in the ever present sun and got a bit sleepy, before heading to Bubbagump.

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Famed for their coronaritas, we ordered one of each flavour and happily slurped away. Verdict being that a mixture of corona and margarita is something that really, truly works.

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We quite horribly over-ordered, with an onslaught of coconut shrimp, fries, calamari, grilled shrimp, spicy chicken, tortilla chips and the most beautifully decadent spinach, artichoke and cheese dip coming our way. That dip was so good, we ordered another portion, and couldn’t finish it. Putting everything leftover (admittedly, not that much) into doggy bags, we gave it to a nearby homeless person so that it didn’t go to waste. If only we were allowed to do that with the food we throw away onboard, we could quite possibly feed the entire homeless population of the city.

After a tipsy meandering of the shops, we hit up Victoria’s Secret for the sale, wreaked a bit of havoc and Uber-ed back to the boat. Our ticket lasts for 48 hours, so the aim is to use it again, maybe for the night time tour of the city. There’s so much to see, and only three days of freedom left.

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