In case you didn’t know, Cheryl and I are huge Harry Potter geeks. I’m even re-reading the whole series right now to get in the mood for Halloween. After all, I do have a fancy Gothic dinner party to plan for the end of October!
We waited to hear when they were opening up the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. They took their time announcing the hard opening, but we finally found out in time to plan our summer vacation. We knew it would be hot and crowded, but couldn’t miss the opportunity to soak it all in.
To get to Diagon Alley you have to go through the London waterfront that’s mostly for Muggles. There are a few surprises if you know where to look (hint: look up in the windows at Kings Crossing by the water front). It’s where you’ll find platform 9 3/4 and the entrance to Diagon Alley.
As soon as you pass through the broken wall your eyes won’t be able to take all of it in. This park is themed from head to toe, with cool signs, quirky window displays, shops and even has spots where you get to make magic happen. (Well, at least with a special magic wand they happen to have for sale…)
Cheryl and I rushed in so we could stand in line, but we grabbed a couple of Gilly Waters. You buy the bottles of water ($4 each) then buy a flavor elixir separately. It is the most expensive water we’ve ever had, but look at the smile on Cheryl’s face!
The flavors are: Fire Protection Potion (watermelon with notes of peach & strawberry), Babbling Beverage (fruit punch), Draught of Peace (blueberry, raspberry, cherry & blackberry), or Elixir to Induce Euphoria (pineapple with notes of green apple & mint).
There are only 2 specialty drinks that are not vegan. One is the famous Butter Beer and the other is Fishy Green Ale which is similar to bubble tea. The vegan drinks are: Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice, Tongue-tying Lemon Squash, Peachtree Fizzing Tea and the popular Pumpkin Juice.
I decided to make my own Pumpkin Juice recipe and I am thrilled with the results. There’s more to pumpkin juice than just juicing a pumpkin. My version simmers spices, fresh ginger and vanilla bean – with apple juice to infuse it. Then it’s blended with soaked dried apricots, pumpkin puree and a little nutmeg. Then you strain it and you get about 3 cups of homemade Pumpkin Juice.
Homemade Pumpkin Juice
- 10 dried apricots
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups apple juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 7 allspice berries
- 2 - 2 inch pieces of thinly sliced ginger
- 1/2 vanilla bean split (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Soak the apricots in the water for at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Add the apple juice, cinnamon stick, allspice, ginger and vanilla bean to a saucepan. Bring almost to boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Take off heat and let it cool a bit.
- Add the apricots and the soaking water to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add the pumpkin puree and nutmeg and blend again.
- Strain the apple juice mixture into the blender to make sure only the liquid comes through. Blend until smooth.
- Put a fine mesh strainer over a pitcher and strain the pulp so that only the thick juice is in the pitcher.