Cactus League 2011

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Apr 1, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Five games in 5 1/2 days. The teams I was rooting for
    lost 3 out of 4, with one abstention for divided loyalties.

    US4118 IPT PHL 1227 1323 DH3 1D
    US1618 PHL BOS 1515 1635 E90 6C
    US 769 PHL BOS 1415 1534 320
    US4557 IPT PHL 0552 0650 DH3 2F
    US4056 PHL DCA 0835 0940 CRJ 4C
    US4544 IPT PHL 1759 1853 DH8 4A
    US1755 PHL DCA 2106 2200 319

    My original plan was to go to Washington, pick up summer
    clothes, then catch a noon flight next day to Boston for
    a meeting. But my first flight was cancelled; then the early
    one next day as well. It came out that the night flight had
    had only 2 pax, so that makes a big h'm. They booked me on
    the noon and agreed to change my destination from DCA to
    BOS, thus possibly salvaging the meeting.

    Next day. I got there in plenty of time to relax at the
    Skyline, IPT's restaurant. My buddy Annie had a BLT; I
    went for liver and onions, which came in a tremendous
    serving with a large mound of cottage fries. Pretty good
    plain (har) fare, but not destination stuff: when I was here
    last, I'd noted quantities of people in their Sunday best
    trooping in without luggage. I asked the bartender if people
    came in just for the food, and the answer was yes.

    I moseyed down to security around boarding time only to
    discover - after getting cleared - that the connection
    was an hour late coming in, so we'd be an hour late going.
    Result: I missed my flight but was protected on the next,
    trading a Bus for the second row of coach on a super jungle
    jet. We landed on time, but my plans were shot to heck. An
    informal postmeeting over sandwiches and beer accomplished
    most of what should have been done. By the way, there are
    no restrooms in the gate area here.

    CO 9 BOS EWR 0725 0845 735 1C

    Turns out this aircraft had a quite big bulkhead cutout, so
    there was briefcase storage for both my seatmate (a Chinese
    guy going on to Shanghai or Beijing) and me. Adequate
    legroom. The other side seats aren't so good. I slept
    through most of this flight, which must have been all right.

    CO1435 EWR PHX 1155 1421 738 21F

    I saw me going for #2 to 4 to 6 to 7 on the waitlist for
    6 seats. Figuring it wasn't my day, I boarded fairly early
    and was lucky to get overhead bin space. Next to me was a
    quite large young fellow who tried to keep his elbows to
    himself but occasionally failed. No biggie, I held the puny
    window armrest, leaned against the plane, and rested
    somewhat fitfully. At drink service time, I asked for a
    double Courvoisier to help me along; I tried to pay with UA
    coupons (apparently you are supposed to be able to do this),
    but they wouldn't scan into the system. Ergo, no booze - $7
    is highway robbery, $105 a bottle. Heartfelt-seeming
    apologies, which were made much more believable when the
    purser comped me the drinks after all. So to the land of
    nod. I woke close to landing time and discovered that owing
    to our deicing at Newark and strong headwinds, we'd be half
    an hour late. No problem, TransWorldOne had a meeting come
    up and wouldn't be able to meet me for another hour or two.

    The free wireless at PHX really stinks, by the way. The
    T-Mobile in the club had been much b... less bad.
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  2. doc
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    doc Silver Member

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    Nice.. you are living the life.. & very well at that..
    Thank goodness I don't get jealous.. or I surely would be so envious ;)
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  3. adambadam
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    adambadam Silver Member

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    I have always wanted to go down for some Spring ball though have never gotten around to it. Perhaps in 2012. :\
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  4. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    Back in 2000 two us road tripped from Durango to catch a few Cactus League games. One was at the Rockies' field, the other the Angel's field. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. So much fun.
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  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    So the Atlas Bistro was having a Robert Foley wine dinner,
    something to jump at. TransWorldOne had jumped, getting
    ressies for his friend Scott, me, and himself. We were
    assigned to Table 4, which had Barry Marshall, a friend and
    sometime rep of Foley's, Damien (last name not gotten), the
    products' distributor, and the Foleys (among others, whom I
    didn't have the opportunity to talk to). I sat opposite
    Kelly Foley, who was cute enough to distract me from the
    food and, sometimes, even the wine.

    Homemade charcuterie - three terrines, one hammy; one
    capery; one dominated by the taste of grilled pork fat and,
    truth be told, a bit reminiscent of that gourmet treat Spam.
    Charbono 08 was the pairing, which accentuated the smokiness
    and went quite well. I don't care for the grape - some say
    it's the same as the Dolcetto, others have other names for
    it - but this was a well made example. A nicely acid wine,
    with cherry aspects, that cleansed the palate well between
    tastes of the pork products. This was served at the AZ Wine
    tasting area, after which we went to our tables next door.
    Bob Foley (Robert) stood up and gave a disquisition on how,
    40-odd years ago, the Charbono grape and Inglenook Vineyards
    sparked his original interest in wine.

    Seared raw sea bass, white bean puree, seaweed - I'd rather
    the fish had been raw altogether, but it was a high-quality
    presentation. I also thought the puree wasn't pureed enough,
    so little beany bits took away from the texture. TW1 enjoyed
    the textural contrasts and thought it a fine dish. A
    tropical-fruity Semillon 09 (no oak) went very nicely.

    Seared scallops, black trumpets and chanterelles, corn puree
    - again, I thought the components wonderful, the execution
    fine, but the juxtaposition dubious. The scallops (2) were
    big and juicy, moderately sweet, mildly briny; the mushrooms
    were fine; the corn puree TW1 went into ecstasies about -
    I thought it very nice as well but dividing rather than
    unifying the dish. It masked the mushrooms and their wok
    taste, and the sweetness didn't go with the crisp citrusy
    Pinot Blanc 08, also unoaked, that was poured alongside.
    Also, as the scallops were not candy-sweet to stand up to
    or unsweet to contrast with the corn, there was this
    sort of unfair competition going on.

    Broiled lamb chop, Jerusalem artichokes, and goat cheese -
    the chop not completely trimmed and very rare, just the way
    I like mine, though I did see some still largely clad bones
    go by. I was confused by the vegetable: the goat cheese was
    broiled onto the top and both not unpleasant in flavor (I
    generally don't eat the stuff) and easy to scrape off, but
    it made the underlying rounds hard to identify. I thought
    at least some of them tasted sort of parsnippy. The Merlot
    08, a fine balance of acid, tannin, and smoothness, was a
    fine complement. This was my favorite course and pairing.

    The broiled buffalo filet, corn milk, vanilla blackcurrant
    demi was a little on the sweet side. The meat, also rare
    but not as rare, was a little stringy but not unpleasantly
    so; it tasted sort of like an uber-beef: grass feeding has
    its advantages. Claret 07 was a big Cab, minty and curranty
    with this latter characteristic no doubt helped by the demi,
    which was actually nicely done, without the advertised
    flavors sticking out too much.

    Deconstructed cannoli with lemon-ricotta filling. I forgot
    to note that these are not the official names of the dishes.
    I neglected to pick up a menu (of which there was on the
    table one per two or three guests). A nice caramelly tuile
    with a pleasant blob of flavored, slightly sweetened cheese
    on top. The audacious pairing of Petite Syrah 08 was to our
    minds not totally successful. I attribute this to the cheese
    coating the tongue and countering the punch of the wine,
    which by itself was rich, plummy, and rather tannic.

    Someone at another table bought a bottle of the 03 Claret,
    which is Kelly's favorite wine and sold out at the winery
    (meaning that even she can't get much of it), and sent a
    glass to her with their complements (she is very charming).
    I got a sip of it, and I found it pleasantly matured, though
    still pretty big; the flavors were similar, though did I
    detect a touch of anise in this one? I don't know.

    Reluctant farewells to the space, the people, and the wine.
    We repaired with Scott to Roosevelt's, a quirky pub in an
    old downtown house in what might kindly be called a
    transitional neighborhood, where we shared the thick,
    rich, sweet, and hoppy Stone Old Guardian barleywine
    with its caramel, floral, and grapefruit notes.
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  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Only a few blocks to the Springhill Suites Phoenix Downtown,
    whose suite looked rather like a Hyatt Place suite, which
    looks rather like a Homewood suite, etc. Pretty faceless
    but comfortable and affordable; free wi-fi and breakfast.

    In the morning - the usual run of breads, muffins, and
    rolls, cereal, and yogurt; a chafing dish of scrambled eggs
    and something labeled "bacon" that was actually a pressed
    ham roll. I sampled the eggs and pig and did not return for
    more, even the next day. Instead I took a big serving of
    prominently labeled Quaker oatmeal - big fat oats in a thin
    slurry of goo water; augmented with brown sugar, Smucker's
    peanut butter, and raisins, it filled me up well and was
    presumably good for my cholesterol levels too.

    TW1 picked me up a little early so we could have a Pane
    Bianco sandwich before going to Tempe Diablo, which for
    various reasons is his least favorite among the Cactus
    League parks. This is Chris Bianco's even less formal place,
    dedicated to a regular set of sandwiches, which apparently
    have been gotten down to perfection, with a few pizza-like
    items and a daily special, apparently thrown in at the
    inspiration of the staff or the market.

    One of the standards is a tuna sandwich with minced red
    onions and Spanish black olives, topped with mizuna - a good
    middle-of-the-road and, equally importantly dairy-free,
    choice. It's just oily enough to soften the excellent
    ciabatta bread for tired old jaws such as these, the filling
    in good though not profuse proportion.

    The market choice was Berkshire bacon, Emmental, and tomato;
    I thought that the cheese overwhelmed the bacon, and there
    should have been more of that; TW1 thought it would have
    benefited from something green, perhaps some of that mizuna.
    We agreed that the tomatoes, though adding needed moisture
    and though acceptable given the season, were not good enough
    for the sandwich. The bacon itself was nicely smoked, thick
    cut, not too salty, perfectly respectable. Angels did not
    sing over my head, and we hoped their bats would not sing
    this afternoon.

    Traffic jam going into the stadium. We bailed and found
    parking a good half mile away.

    I hand it to TransWorldOne - he has a good architectural
    eye, particularly for monstrosities, and this stadium is a
    prime example. It's monumental in a bad sense, is set to
    create as much traffic disruption as possible, and the
    less said about the team that plays in it the better. It did
    have the best beers of all the parks we tried, though:
    Deschutes Black Butte Porter, a pleasantly coffeeish quaff,
    and a few products from Full Sail, the malty Amber and a
    short run pale ale with good hops and a nice floral aspect.

    The game featured a bunch of homers and, more fun, a couple
    triples. The fielding was a bit rocky as one expects, but
    there were some sparkling plays at 3rd, notably by some guy
    named Maysonet. TW1 was happy at the final: MIL 11 LAA 8.
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  7. misman
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    misman Gold Member

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    Cactus League was always fun. I worked down the street from Tempe Diablo stadium and would generally take 2-afternoons off (usually with the boss) to walk down. At that time, games were cheap, and walk-up tickets easy to get; don't know about today.
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  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Scotch Malt Whisky Society 18th Annual Single Malt & Scotch
    Whisky Extravaganza, co-sponsored by The Robb Report:
    112 offerings from 38 distillers and distributors (numbers
    from my drunken accounting). This was held at the maximally
    prestigious Arizona Biltmore, which has hosted every U.S.
    president from Hoover to Bush II. One presumes that Obama
    will eventually be invited and actually show up for some
    important occasion, but it must also be noted that the place
    might consider its obligation fulfilled as McCain has had
    frequent sightings over many years.

    Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture (it's said that
    some of the elements not only echo his work but are it), a
    lovely lobby; and the conference room in which we were
    accommodated was very elegant, though the lowish lighting,
    excellent for mood, was not so great for those wanting to
    appreciate the visual delights of the Scotches.

    First order of the evening - dinner buffet.

    The stars were roast leg of beef and roast turkey. At both
    stations I asked for fatty trimmings and/or skin. These were
    given with a touch of disdain. The beef needed the fatty
    trimmings, as it was round done past mooing rare. Turkey,
    the dark meat at least, was moist enough and further came
    with gravy as good as I could make and an altogether too
    sweet cornbread and fruit stuffing.

    Vegetables included potatoes, red peppers, and baby green
    beans, nicely done considering the mass setting. The
    asparagus were out by the time I got there - the only
    evidence of its existence being one forlorn spear obviously
    dropped and abandoned by a previous marauding diner.

    There were some salady things that I completely ignored.

    For a palate cleanser I returned several times to a
    chocolate raspberry confection as the rest of the desserts
    seemed too dairy-ridden for me; the key lime tartlets got
    good notices.

    Forty-four Scotches for me. I'll just note my favorites.

    Aberlour 12, 16, 18, A'Bunadh cask strength

    My favorite was the 16: vanilla, citrus, almonds.

    Longmorn 16

    My notes: very smooth, egg custard; apricots. Loved it.

    Macallan 18

    I've had this numerous times, and taking a pour was just
    greed talking.

    Suntory Yamazaki 12, Yamazaki 18, Hibiki 12

    The 12 is no stranger to me - it's served in airline lounges
    throughout Asia. The 18, though, was a revelation. Not
    particularly smooth but a bit biting in the local style.
    Lots of stone fruit (the 12 is more nuts) and honey.

    Glenlivet 15, Nadurra 16 cask strength, 18, 21, 25

    I loved the citrusy, spicy Nadurra, but the complexly
    woody and citrusy 18 won my heart. The 25 was excellent,
    a dessert drink for certain, lots of vanilla and nuts.

    The Classic Cask Rare 35 - a blend of a number of
    35-y-o single malts

    Glen Moray 1992 18

    Glenmorangie Sauternes Cask 12; Astar; Signet; Finealta

    Various of the other line were available; these were the
    ones I'd not tasted before. Loved the Finealta, with its
    raisiny citrusy richness. Tons of smoke and burnt sugar.

    Loch Chaim (Isle of Arran) 1996 13

    Highland Park 15, 18

    Isle of Jura Superstition; 16 year old Diurach's Own;

    Liked the 16 and the Superstition better than the prestige
    label. The 16 was pleasantly spicy and citrusy; Superstition
    similar but a bit smokier.

    The Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask; 15 Single Barrel;
    17 Peated Cask; 21 Port Wood

    I loved all of these but might prefer the 14 with its frank
    oakiness and gentle attack and finish. The 21 had similar
    characteristics but an odd grapiness (Port cask had no doubt
    something to do with this).

    Glen Grant 10, 16

    Glenfiddich 15, 18, 21

    The Sherry cask aging of the 18 won me over - lovely spice
    and citrus with that vanilla finish. With the 21 the vanilla
    had taken over, and the sweetness was out of balance.

    The Dalmore 15, 18, Gran Reserva

    All of these have Sherry cask aging, but it's most prominent
    in the 15, balancing the orangey quality of which the 18 has
    too much.

    Ardbeg 10, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan

    Laphroaig Quarter Cask, 18, 25
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  9. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Misman - home plate or infield box seats nowadays cost $20 and up: a bit of a shock to me, who got my first World Series tix for $6 each!
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  10. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    My friend Bill showed up from Havasu for a few games. He's
    retired there for half the year, and though the community
    has lots of activities, there's just so much you can take,
    so once in a while he pops into the city, either Phoenix
    or Vegas - he's about equidistant. It's good to save money
    by sharing rooms, especially with someone who doesn't do
    hotel points.

    So we found ourselves at Phoenix Municipal with Alex, where
    the beer is weak (there is a huge list of forbidden things,
    of which beer is one - from firearms to unsealed water
    bottles, so you have to make do with what's for sale
    inside - some of the parks even forbid outside food, which
    is just plain craven and nasty), and the Athletics' pitching
    is weaker. The visiting Angels, who had just started waking
    up the last couple innings of the previous game, continued
    to prosper and destroyed the homies by 10 to 3 in a rather
    uglily played game featuring many doubles, several HBPs, and
    a couple spectacularly wild wild pitches.

    After that workout, Four Peaks and a pitcher of Hop Knot
    seemed to be the thing to do. Bill, not being superfond of
    IPAs, went with Sunbru, the house interpretation of a
    Kolsch. I'll stay with the IPA, thank you. For snacks I
    ordered a dish of German-style pretzels, which were decent
    but for some reason extremely oily. These came with a
    pretty sharp mustard that might have had horseradish in it.

    Then on to the Royal Thai Grill (aka Chuckie's place) with
    Carl and Ellen, whom I'd met through my friends Annie and
    Billy (now long gone from Phoenix).

    Everyone got to suggest one thing, including Chuckie.

    We ordered everything medium, with side orders of various
    unguents and potions to hot things up to taste.

    A coconut seafood soup was tart and excellent, full of
    greenlip mussels, squid parts, and shrimp. A bit much
    cilantro for me, but I am one of those middle of the roaders
    regarding that herb. It is said that you either love it or
    hate it: wrong.

    Catfish with basil in red curry was delicious, highly
    flavored, great with rice. It tasted almost identical to
    the catfish with basil at Duangrat, my all-time favorite
    Thai restaurant, in suburban Virginia, but had more basil.

    When I ordered the fatty pork, Chuckie protested that it was
    going to be too fatty (okay with me and everyone else at
    table). He didn't protest that it also came with basil in
    red curry, though its menu name is completely different.
    It was even more delicious than the fish, I thought.

    A green papaya salad was very tart and crunchy, little dried
    shrimp adding sparkles of flavor. Moderately hot. Carl said
    that he'd once been visiting in the kitchen when the cook,
    Chuckie's wife, let him taste a batch that she'd just made
    for herself. Took the rust off his pipes, he said, and he
    is pretty good with hot food.

    An order of mixed vegetables (insisted upon by Ellen) could
    have been Chinese: broccoli, cabbage, snow peas, and other
    stuff in a soy-based sauce.

    To round things out, Chuckie brought out a dish of chicken
    rad nar noodles, which were excellent, with wonderful wok
    taste (on a previous visit, I'd been shown the kitchen,
    the powerful wok burner the centerpiece of the operation)
    and otherwise both flavorful and soothing. Followed by
    coconut ice cream with peanuts, the final cooldown.

    $21 a head including a Singha and a half apiece.
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  11. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    TW1 had to work, so Bill and I went out to Maryvale without
    him. Too bad, as we saw a fairly well played and quite well
    pitched game, with TW1's beloved Brewers edging the Mariners
    2-1 in 10: shortly after Bill, noting the age of some of the
    players, had made a crack about choosing the All-AARP team,
    Craig Counsell won it with a dying quail sacrifice fly.

    Before and during the game we noshed on:

    Bill Johnson's Big Apple ribs - not strictly bad, though
    mostly steamed and/or baked with minimal grill time and no
    smoker time. While we were at a table in the shade munching
    on these, a couple came up and asked to share the table for
    their Chinese food. We said okay. They casually asked how
    the ribs were; we said okay. They said they'd had it the
    day before, and the sauce was TERRIBLE. I told them that it
    was wise to order them dry and add some other sauce, of
    which several were available - I got a big serving of the
    hot and spicy on the side; it was all right. Not a ringing
    endorsement. The only reason to go to Bill Johnson's (the
    real one, of which there are actually several) is to order
    The Big One (only 24 oz), which, if you finish, earns you a
    T-shirt that says "I ate the Big One." Har har.

    Klement bratwurst and chorizo - the former are all right,
    the latter mushy and tasteless - as though you'd taken a
    bunch of bratwurst meat and added handfuls of paprika and
    blended them up all together with maybe some breadcrumbs
    and milk.

    Leinenkugel Honey Wheat was the best on offer, so I had
    a few of those; Coors Light, about which nothing more need
    be said, except that it's a buck less, was Bill's choice.


    As a treat, TW1 had gotten us a super rate at the Ritz.
    Club access, too.

    The lounge had Amstel Light as well as numerous other lights
    and some high livers. The wine was mediocre, 14 Hands
    Cabernet or Merlot depending on what was available out back.
    What else does one expect for self-pour. Joyce the concierge
    was welcoming as ever.

    Canapes: salmon-cream cheese with caviar on top; steamed
    shrimp; roast beef and horseradish cream; chicken teriyaki;
    cherry tomato stuffed with crab. All were well made. The
    caviar was really weird, though.

    For supper we looked for something slightly adventuresome.
    Given our criteria of cheap, funky, and Mexican, TW1
    recommended a stand that he hadn't been to but that gets
    raves among the local foodies: La Parilla Villa, a truck
    parked next to a local bar. We got there to find that it had
    turned into Taqueria Yaqui but was perhaps the same: we
    ordered beef and chicken tacos, with extras for TW1 to
    test. The chicken were excellent, but the beef, which if
    anything tasted better, were undone by some major toughness
    issues. You can't have everything, and I'd go back to try
    some of the other things offered. Note: Hours 2000-0400.
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  12. doc
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    doc Silver Member

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    You seem just a lil' young for that price! :)
    Bleacher seats maybe? When you were like 3 yrs old? ;)
    Thanks so much fo the fine reports.. really appreciate it very much! :)
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  13. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    6th game 1975, graduate school, and we got seats
    about 10 rows above where Fred Lynn hit the home run.
  14. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Breakfast at the lounge.

    I made an enormous pig of myself with the smoked salmon.
    There were also pepperoni and chorizo. The normal run of
    cereals, breakfast breads, and similar, with weird
    shrivelled quiche, so strange even I didn't want to taste
    it, on a steam table in the corner.

    Kenwood Cuvee Brut was a neutral, slightly lemony,
    slightly grassy, slightly toasty wine that would have gone
    perfectly with orange juice, but I drank mine straight out
    of a water glass, pretending it was a somewhat better
    class of ginger ale. Went well with the fish.

    Across the way there were two slightly scruffy guys in
    t-shirts who eyed us suspiciously, as if expecting us to
    attack them. Turns out they were afraid or hoping we were
    going to ask for their autographs or something, as they
    were the surviving Beach Boys.

    Also, some fairly attractive but garishly tricked-out
    young people, the ladies having bright unnatural hair of
    various colors; TW1 revealed later that they were Lady
    Gaga's sidekicks; what they do on stage, and, more
    importantly, how they manage to sleep with that neon
    hair, remain unknown to me.

    Time to toddle. TW1 met us in the lobby, and we made our
    way by long degrees (gosh, the Phoenix metro is huge) to
    Peoria, where we sas Seattle carry a two-run lead into the
    9th, when the Rangers came alive with a four-run inning:
    TEX 5 SEA 4 in Peoria. Joining us watching this debacle
    were Jan_AZ + Dave, who had trekked the two miles from
    Glendale. And so back to their place for Bourbon and steaks
    - my kind of life.

    We brought a tribute of one of my best-buy and perhaps even
    first-choice Bourbons - Bulleit; turns out Dave already had
    some, so we worked on that.

    He brought out his treasured Redbreast 12 (very peaty,
    malty, vanillary, excellently rich and smooth, traces of
    almond) and Henry McKenna single barrel (spicy and peppery,
    with fruit and nuts and a touch of green) as well, and some
    novelties he'd been given over the years, about which the
    less said the better.

    Grilled steaks were the order of the day, and Ch. Lanessan
    (Haut Medoc) 03, a well regarded minor Bordeaux property,
    proved to be appropriately cedar-boxy, minty, with muted
    black berry fruits. Softish tannins, good acid, quite fine
    with the char of the meat, though by itself it had been a
    little wimpy. Big baked potatoes with all the fixings.

    For afters, Bourbon ad lib and homegrown navel oranges,
    which were deliciously sweet right off the tree.

    Also present were Dave's daughter and grandson; Jan_AZ's
    daughter Sharon showed up later on.

    Our next stop was the Marriott Suites Old Town Scottsdale, a
    modern and well-kept property the only cavil with which is
    that the inviting-looking dispenser in the lobby holds water
    that is flavored with cucumber. Waagh.

    The suite was really quite nice - master bedroom, living
    room with folding sofabed, Murphy bed in the vestibule,
    wet bar, small balcony, and bathroom with separate tub
    and shower. I gave Bill the master bedroom and slept in
    the Murphy bed - a mistake perhaps, as I could hear the
    elevator and ice machine, whereas Bill is rather deaf.
  15. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    After a good night's sleep and a beer or two, I think in
    that order, I saw Bill out - he had to go to pick up some
    stuff for his wife and go home; TW1 fetched me for breakfast
    at Over Easy, another of those funky fashionable joints that
    grow up like mushrooms when the going is good.

    TW1 had scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms - a mound of
    yellow topped with a thick layer of mushrooms, which,
    sadly, were not very wild - button, shiitake, and maybe
    portobello. His home fries were a pale imitation of home
    fries. A side order of brioche French toast was much better.

    My housemade hash and eggs (how would you like those? over
    easy, of course) was a moderate but filling serving of very
    finely hashed too-lean meat with not much potato. The eggs
    were excellent. My extra order was sweet potato tots, tasty
    but on the cold side. So I sent them back; they returned
    burning hot - fine, better too hot than too cold. On the
    whole a decent meal at a slightly elevated price, nothing
    to write home about.

    And then it was off to watch the Rangers again at Salt River,
    the new stadium built on Pima Indian lands and housing the
    Diamondbacks and Rockies. It's, well, a stadium. Looks pretty
    neat from a distance, with its winglike roof, but inside,
    it's ordinary but fine I suppose. Things looked promising,
    with the D-Backs jumping out to an early lead, but the
    Texans got 4 in the 9th to put things away 6-4.

    Back to TW1's for another cooking extravaganza.

    TW1 brought out a heavily maderized Columbia Cellarmaster's
    Riesling 05 - actually pretty nice, rather like a weakish
    sweetish sherry; chilled, it really quenched nicely.

    My cooking chops had given way to my drinking chops, I fear.
    Everything was fine but just a bit off.

    I'd planned on doing a spinach stuffing for a leg of lamb
    that we'd picked up for a considerable sum, but when it
    turned out that we didn't have any twine or other way to
    secure the cavity, I decided to put the spinach underneath
    to serve as a platform onto which the meat could drip its
    juices. The good part of this was that the stuffing soaked
    up the flavors and became quite tasty (if a little greasy);
    the bad part was that it also served as a heat sink, so
    the bottom of the leg ended up almost too rare even for
    me when I took it out (no big problem - shove it back in
    at 400 for a while).

    Pilaf was the big disaster, though the final wasn't too bad
    - I'd just put on a cup and half of rice to saute in EVOO
    when TW1 poured me the Riesling, so I wandered into the
    living room and chatted with him about wine until, what's
    that I smell? The bottom of the pan had begun to scorch
    when I arrived, and I washed the rice in several changes of
    water to get rid of that taste (which is about as ugly as
    burned roux'). Well, nothing that some chicken broth and
    onions can't fix, and they in fact fixed it. It came out a
    little soft, owing to the numerous washings, but a dryout
    in the oven did wonders. Oh, at TW1's suggestion I put a
    handful of dried blueberries in and on my own added some
    marcona almonds.

    Merry Edwards Pinot Noir 07 (Sonoma Coast) was bright
    cherry red to go with the cherry red meat. I enjoyed the
    combination - the acidity of the wine cut nicely through
    the fat, and the fruitiness (cherry-berry, some floral
    aspect) was enjoyable. The spinach and thyme stuffing
    was brought out well by the pairing.

    Purely Decadent Chocolate Obsession with chocolate soy ice
    cream, chocolate bits, and chocolate swirl - not bad for
    those of us with lactose troubles, but I had to assent when
    TW1 said that it was anything but decadent - the mouthfeel
    was more sherbet then Schubert, if you remember the old
    joke. I prefer the coconut milk desserts for which this
    label is becoming known.

    Safeway's tropical sorbet was surprisingly good, its
    passionfruit and pineapple flavors going quite well with the
    Rasmussen Esoterica Late Harvest Viognier 06 (North Coast),
    which itself exhibited pineapple and other tropical fruit
    in a caramelly dark liquid package.

    TW1's friend Mike showed up for a meal and a chat, but we
    had an airport to go to, so the visit was shorter than all
    of us would have liked. We left at 9:45; at the airport at
    10; through security and at the gate at 10:10. Left out of
    gate 8.

    CO 434 PHX EWR 2250 0625 739 1A

    I had a Courvoisier and went right to sleep. We landed half
    an hour early, so I had plenty of time to enjoy the club and
    to improvise "sangria" by combining the rather not nice wine
    with the rather not nice orange juice. No espresso machine
    so no cinnamon shaker to spice things up.

    CO 552 EWR BOS 0845 1010 738 1E

    Ah, sweet sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care.

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