My nephew Cody, who turned 20 on Valentine’s Day, has always found immense joy in his food. He’s one of those people who can’t help but express the sheer deliciousness of each bite he takes, usually with a moan or an “oh my gawd, you HAVE to taste this”.
Watching Cody eat is one of my favorite activities, second only to sitting down and actually sharing a meal with him. Always a “happy-go-lucky kid”, Cody has grown into a happy, grateful and very caring young man. Of course my sister Janet and her husband Paul get most of the credit for being great parents, but I appreciate how hard Cody works at it too. Not surprisingly, he’s also a terrific big brother to the twins.
I’m proud to say that just last month, he passed his first two exams for EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training. He’s following in his firefighter dad’s footsteps, and I’m looking forward to visiting Cody at his own fire station someday. When he’s not out rescuing people or putting out fires, he’ll definitely be cooking up a storm in the station kitchen!
Every year we celebrate Thanksgiving at my sister’s house, and usually after we’ve finished our turkey feast, Janet brings out the “Thanksgiving Box of Questions”. Basically it’s a stack of Thanksgiving-themed quotes or questions that we each have to read aloud to each other. This year, Janet pulled a question card that read “Say something you appreciate about the person sitting to the right of you”. Her eyes started welling up as she looked at her big, handsome son, then she said, “I appreciate Cody because he ALWAYS says ‘I love you mom’… even if he’s in a bad mood, or if we’re disagreeing on something… he never misses a chance to say ‘I love you’.”
Two years ago, for his high school graduation gift, I asked him if there was some trip he’d like to go on with his Aunt Jo (that would be me) and Uncle Peter. He said he really wanted to visit his grandpa (Janet’s and my dad) in Bridge of Weir, near Glasgow, Scotland. Cody had visited his Okinawan family before, back when he was just three years old, but this would be his first trip to visit his Scottish side of the family… the Maxwell Clan!
I was really excited to plan the trip because it meant we’d get to spend some quality time together. If you have teenagers in your life then you probably know how busy they can be with after-school jobs, friends and girlfriends. This trip was a gift for Cody getting good grades, but it was also a really special gift for me. My husband decided to stay home so it would just be “Cody and Aunt Jo’s Great British Adventure”, and it was. Thanks again Peter!
Before I even booked our flights, I started emailing and calling Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” restaurant in London. I wanted to make sure we could get a reservation during our brief stop in England. Cody and I are both big fans of Jamie Oliver, and it was Cody who, as a little kid, first introduced me to the “Naked Chef”. A celebratory dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant sounded like the perfect first night in England.
We arrived in London on June 21st and after checking into our hotel, hopped on the Tube and easily made our dinner reservation. Fifteen’s tasting menu was fantastic, and it was an excellent start to our British food adventure.
Our dinner at Fifteen Restaurant, London
Pan-roasted shoulder of pork from Pete Gott’s farm (cooked in milk, sage and Amalfi lemon) with turnips and rainbow chard from Thurrocks Farm
Vanilla Panna Cotta with English Strawberries and Biscotti
More Fun Eats in London
Chili Beef Ramen (Noodles in spicy pork and chicken broth topped with grilled sirloin steak, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime) at Wagamama in Camden Town, London
Cody with Chili Chicken Ramen (Noodles in spicy pork and chicken broth topped with grilled chicken breast, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime) at Wagamama in Camden Town, London
We had two days to spend in London before flying up to Glasgow. I had been to London more than a dozen times over the years, so it was easy for me to give Cody a “turbo-charged” sightseeing tour. We did all our travel via the Tube (cabs were too expensive!), including visits to Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Camden Town, Portobello Road and of course the great Food Hall at Harrods.
On our second morning in London we had planned to tour the Tower of London after breakfast. Unfortunately, we decided it would be fun to drink Guinness FOR breakfast and ended up racing through the tour in about ten minutes. But later in the afternoon, we slowed down enough to ride the spectacular London Eye. At over 440 feet, the Eye is the largest ferris wheel in Europe and we had beautiful views of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.
Arriving in Scotland was very emotional for me. I hadn’t seen my dad in a few years, and Cody was the first of my sister’s kids to visit their grandfather. I knew it was going to be an unforgettable visit, especially if I could get my dad and his grandson in the kitchen together. Whenever I visited my dad in the past, I would always talk about how Cody loved to cook, and how someday it would be so great to see them cooking together. It was a silly little dream of mine, and I was happy to see it come true.
Our visit to Scotland couldn’t have gone better. We did so much in the week we were there, and the best moments were when we slowed down to enjoy a meal together. Whether it was my dad’s heart-warming comfort food, a Scottish feast at the pub or a deep-fried snack at the chip shop… we definitely got to eat the very best of Scotland!
Happy Birthday to my Smokin’ Hot (firefighter-to-be) nephew, Cody!
The Twins (Cody’s younger brother and sister)
“Smokin’ Hot” Written by Jo Stougaard ©MyLastBite.com All Rights Reserved. No usage allowed including copying or sharing without written permission.