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    "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful we must carry it with us or we find it not."

    R. W. Emerrson

    Entries in Bring Back Cocktail Hour (15)


    Thank You from DINKS Travel!


    This is our final post as DINKS Travel. We would like to thank you for following our adventures, sharing encouraging words, and offering support. Your generosity is greatly appreciated and we are thankful for each and every one of you. We would like to send a special "Shout Out" to our Bring Back Cocktail Hour sponsors who gave us something special to celebrate and helped us experience local food and drink from around the world.

    When looking back at 2014, it seems appropriate to include a few statistics:

    • 375 days (and counting) off of work
    • 66,000+ flight miles
    • 15,000+ drive miles
    • 4,000+ rail miles
    • 29 countries visited
    • 23 US states visited
    • 2 Canadian provinces visited

    As the days and miles passed we encountered countless sites, foods and cultures, and challenged ourselves in ways we never thought possible. Along the way, we made new friends and learned a little bit about ourselves.

    Now that we have initiated steps to rejoin society, we're reminded of a quote from Ernest Hemingway, "It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."  We're thankful for the journey we have completed and equally excited about the next journey we're beginning today.


    Bringing Back Cocktail Hour - Dublin, Ireland

    As soon as Noreen’s “Dinner and Drinks for Two” sponsorship came in, we knew exactly where we were going to spend it – Ireland.  The weather in Dublin turned cold and rainy, so we sought a welcoming pub that would warm our bellies with hearty fare.  Attracted by the soft, muffled sound of Irish music, we stopped in our tracks and entered The Porterhouse Brewing Company.  A quick perusal of the menu confirmed that this was the place for us.

    The ground floor was packed, so we saddled up to a wooden table on the second floor where we could hear the live music.  We ordered a half dozen Carlingford Oysters, baked with smooth salmon butter and topped with salmon chunks and breadcrumbs. This deliciously rich starter could have been a meal on its own, but we were in no rush, so we sipped our locally brewed Porterhouse Red, and a smooth-tasting Oyster Stout in anticipation of the main course.

    It wasn’t long before two traditional dishes arrived to weigh down our table.  Matt sliced into the tender roast beef in red wine gravy served with more-than-generous portions of roast vegetables and incredibly good Yorkshire pudding while Jenn started into the bacon and cabbage dish.  This wasn’t any ordinary American bacon, it was more like a giant slab of marbled ham coated with whole grain mustard and brown sugar, topped with a creamy white sauce, all displayed atop crunchy shredded cabbage.

    At the conclusion of our indulgent meal, we raised our glasses and proposed a fitting toast to Noreen’s generosity, “May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.  May good and faithful friends be yours wherever you may roam.”


    Bringing Back Cocktail Hour - Switzerland

    Our time in Switzerland was fleeting, but the expansive scenic vistas secured lasting spots in our memories. The Swiss Alps revealed their glorious fall colors, snow-capped peaks, and age-old glaciers as we gradually worked our way to St. Moritz on the Bernina Express scenic train. After spending a few days exploring the extensive labyrinth of hiking trails near St. Moritz (Vail, Colorado’s sister city) we moved on to Zurich where an incredible fondue feast awaited us compliments of our kind hearted dining benefactors, Rich and Elle.

    The simple menu at Fribourger Fonduestuebli (try saying that three-times fast!) offered only two cheese choices; we selected the half Gruyere, half Vacherin option cooked with wine and Kirsch. It was delivered in a bright red pot with hearty helpings of sliced bread and potatoes accompanied by supplemental sides of pickled onions and gherkins. A red and white checkered tablecloth accentuated the creamy pot of percolating heaven which went exceptionally well with the locally sourced Soleil du Valais wine.

    We consumed the full offering of savory cheese including the “religieuse”, the crisp layer holding fast to the bottom of the pot. We rounded out the evening with refreshing passion fruit sorbet and little glasses of house Kirsch. The entire experience felt authentically Swiss as we raised our glasses in celebration of the generosity bestowed upon us by good friends Rich and Elle.


    Bringing Back Cocktail Hour – Minato Neighborhood, Tokyo, Japan

     Certified Kobe Beef...The Best Beef Ever!It seems only appropriate that our final Asia related blog entry pertains to the region’s amazing food, a theme we embraced and celebrated throughout our travels in this unique corner of the world.  Our decadent indulgence in certified Kobe beef, sourced from top-grade Japanese Tajima cattle, was generously sponsored as a birthday gift from Jenn’s family.

    Our evening began with a relaxing walk to the Minato neighborhood of Tokyo, an area known for its internationally-acclaimed selection of restaurants.  A peaceful side-street led us to the unassuming door of Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511, a quiet and inviting venue.  A quick glance through the menu revealed a selection of multi-course dinners, each presenting Kobe beef in unique ways to highlight its tender, marbled flavors.

    Jenn selected the Maeda course and Matt opted for the Hearth Baked Kobe Beef and Seafood course.  Each offering included eight reasonably sized, meticulously presented dishes.  A sample of items included:

    • Consumme jelly-contained vegetables and Kobe beef
    • Sakhalin surf clam rolled Kobe beef
    • Butter roasted foie gras and bamboo shot with red wine sauce
    • Steamed egg in a tea bowl mixed with Kobe beef
    • Sea bream with champagne and wasabi sauce
    • Kobe beef chirashi sushi
    • Sautéed onion wrapped Kobe beef
    • Hearth-baked Kobe beef steak
    • A light and refreshing desert (surprisingly, not infused with juicy, beefy goodness!)

    We paired the seemingly endless parade of dishes with a bottle of light-bodied and refreshing Kubota Manju saké.  With our sake glasses in hand, we offered a toast of Kanpai to Jenn’s family for making it a birthday meal that won’t soon be forgotten!


    Bringing Back Cocktail Hour - Tsukiji Fish Market, Japan

    It doesn't get any fresher than this!

    No trip to Japan would be complete without enjoying fresh sushi, and the Tsukiji Fish Market in Chuo, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan offers some of the freshest fish in the world!  Every day at 4:00 AM the market opens to receive the latest catch for processing, wholesaling, and auctioning.  We did not attend the pre-sunrise activities, but arrived in-time to enjoy an incredible early lunch thanks to the generosity of Jenn’s previous employer, QEP Resources – IT Department.

    The scene at the huge market was delightful; market workers moved about hurriedly wearing their waterproof Wellies, the shops near the market were abuzz with activity and the distinct smell of fresh fish was in the air.  We headed over to a row of small, nondescript buildings next to the hustle and bustle to find a small sushi bar / restaurant.

    We entered; saddled up to the bar, and requested sushi and sashimi sample plates accompanied by dry was surely noon somewhere in the world.  We savored familiar flavors and tried some pieces which we didn't recognize along with a two inch long raw squid that, when bitten, popped to reveal its inner juiciness.  The sushi chef must have been impressed because he offered us samples of fresh eel, compliments of the house.

    While sitting with the locals and enjoying the flavors we acknowledged our meal as the best, freshest sushi / sashimi available.  When we couldn’t eat any more we left to walk-off our healthy, though nontraditional, breakfast.  It was still early and the day beckoned, so we explored the stalls and gawked at the food, fine cutlery, and oddities available for purchase.

    We extend our appreciation to the IT Team at QEP Resources for their generous funding of this one-of-a-kind experience in the Land of the Rising Sun - It was truly one of the best meals of our trip.