Hopes dashed for a revisit to McLaren Vale, but plenty of wine

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  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA1509 BOS IAH 0700 1009 738 21C
    was
    UA 764 BOS IAH 1038 1343 320 21A

    I tumbled a little late to the fact that the friendly
    United agent had booked me with a 42 min connection in
    unfriendly Houston, so I endeavored to get on the previous
    flight at 0845. Lynne at the club prevailed on me to try
    for the 0700 (it was 0600), and I said okay. I got the
    last seat, the exit row window, so all was well, but it
    turns out if I'd gone with the 0845, I would have been
    upgraded, as there turned out to be extra seats on this.

    We came in nearly on time. I thought of Popeye's, but at
    the club they put out hummus (of which I am unaccountably
    fond), so I noshed on that instead.

    By the way, Boston's well whiskey is now Four Roses;
    Houston's is still McCormick.

    By the way, my originally-scheduled flight came in a
    whopping 28 minutes early, so I'd have had no difficulty
    making my connection, but what if it had come in 28
    minutes late?

    UA1757 IAH LAX 1425 1543 753 2F

    They served lunch on this one - either chicken salad or
    a cheeseburger. I expressed little enthusiasm to the cheery
    FA but a modest preference for the cheeseburger.

    As usual, shards of hot salty nuts with my Courvoisier.

    The cheeseburger came, with garnishes of sweet bread and
    butter pickles, whitish tomatoes, and a forlorn lettuce
    leaf, on a pretzel roll squashed to somewhat less than 1/2"
    on top and bottom. The cheese was your Velveetoid substance,
    the patty squishy and meatloaflike. The taste was not
    terrible but not very true to burgerdom. It filled you up.

    As it was a totally full flight, the first FA spent bunches
    of time in back, so I didn't get another drink with my meal.

    A couple things to note about the clubs at LAX.

    The one in Terminal 6 is gone; there are two in Terminal 7,
    in the sites of the old club (undergoing heavy renovation)
    and the old global lounge. They are crowded as anything.

    The Bourbon is Benchmark 8, for now. This is a pretty smooth
    and pleasant tipple if a little punchless. I soon got tired
    of it and decided to take the bus down to the AA commuter
    terminal to see if I could catch my inbound on the way in
    from Shanghai. Yes! we had to wait for it, but dummy me, I
    didn't get Annie's camera out in time for me to snap a shot
    almost right under the bird's belly.

    I met up with lili, and we went to the Flagship Lounge for
    drinks (supper was an array of unspeakably nasty-looking
    and largely unrecognizable items), of which the Remy 1738
    and Corzo tequila stood out. After which she went on to the
    Qantas Club in TBIT, a large step or two above, and I to the
    temporary United Club above my gate, a large step or two
    below. There was hummus, though, so I was thankful for small
    favors.
     
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  2. violist
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    UA 98 LAX MEL 2235 0725 789 6D

    I'd not been on the United version of this plane before, my
    previous trip having been cut short by the appendicitis, so
    I was kind of excited to see what was what. I'd had a sort
    of preview on the American 788 some months before. The UA
    implementation seems a bit nicer, with greater use made of
    the mood lighting (maybe that was the crew's choice). I
    preferred the UA business beds to the AA; can't say anything
    about the coach seats, but to me on AA they seemed pretty
    ordinary, pretty much the same as the 738 coach seats.

    The crew was pretty nice. One seemed to take a particular
    shine to me, and I was glad for the sake of my existing
    squeeze that I was connecting on.

    A salmon appetizer was quite nice as usual, good texture,
    not overwhelmingly smoky, good with wine. The garnish of
    cucumber, frisee, and mushy tomato with some mayonnaisey
    substance on the side went ignored.

    Didier Chopin is the brand of the day; it is, or at least
    the first bottle of it was, pleasantly fizzy, pretty dry,
    with lemon and stone fruits, and a nice almond-biscotti
    finish. They opened another bottle, which was oxidized
    enough to be unpleasant and undrunk, by me at least.

    What was advertised as turbot tasted good, was fresh, firm,
    and I believe cod. Its lobster cream had bits of real
    lobster, a surprise. On the side, totally tasteless spinach
    with carrots and zucchini in small dice; I had some trouble
    picking out the carrots and eventually gave up, no great
    loss. Couscous was okay, but what's the point of it in
    general?

    I switched to Joel Gott Chardonnay when the Champagne turned
    out spoiled. This is a not unpleasantly oaked standard
    product, worth what it used to cost before this maker's
    offerings suddenly doubled in price a few years ago.

    For dessert, the Q. do Noval LBV 09 as usual, which helped
    me block out the screaming children in the first row of
    coach.

    Qantas Club appears to admit sapphires (the website denies
    this), but there is that little blue logo, I did come in on
    lili's emerald coattails, as she had got in 15 minutes
    after me, and I'd just waited at the bag claim exit for her
    until she showed. Her flight, in coach, had not been so nice
    as mine.

    Though there is a big bar area, no beer (pooh) until noon.
    I made up for that with Kirk's dry ginger ale, which though
    not very gingery is at least quite dry.

    A sandwich press (two of them, actually) for making panini
    with ham, cheese, and/or tomatoes.

    Cold cereal and hard-boiled eggs.

    Some decent pastries, including a very nice fruit-nut cake.

    The seats vary from very comfortable to not comfortable at
    all, so watch your tail.
     
  3. violist
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    QF 679 MEL ADL 1015 1110 738 5AB

    Pretty nice seats, despite the pitch being an ungenerous
    30". Next to me was jovial but quite sizable Danny, who
    kept up a banter until takeoff time. Thereupon he and I
    both fell asleep; I woke up for the snack trolley but went
    back to slumber when it turned out there was no beer (pooh).

    We came in right around 11, and a few minutes later were
    at bag claim where old reprobate #1 (actually the youngest
    among us but arguably the most reprovable) Kevin was there
    leaning on baggage trolley waiting for us. Turns out he's
    seriously lame now and needs something to lean on. We
    hobbled to the curb of the newly redesigned and rather tony
    airport, where Glen in his ancient red Camry estate car
    promptly zipped past despite our efforts to flag him down.
    Luckily he came to a stop right at the end of the drive,
    and we piled in.

    The first order of business was to buy two 5-liter boxes
    of Berri wine for filling in the interstices - this purchase
    came to $20 Oz money; then Kevin, who doesn't drive, had us
    join him in the local Cole's supermarket to do his shopping,
    including a rather elaborate list of ingredients for Asian
    dinner, which he was going to take it upon himself to cook
    tonight.

    And so home to Blair Athol, a pleasant suburb north of the
    city, about half an hour from the airport (10 miles), where
    Tex the dalmatian and the ginger cat, name unknown, were
    quick to mug us for food.

    We retired to the sitting room to chat after Kevin shooed us
    out of the kitchen. At intervals I went to make sure he
    wasn't burning down the house - by the fragrances he was
    putting Glen's electric stove through extreme paces. As it
    turns out, he hadn't burned down the house but did a number
    on Glen's previously thought to be indestructible aluminum
    wok. Midafternoon, improving smells alerted us to the
    availability of food.

    We started with a trio of dips, which Kevin had painstakingly
    stuffed into the Korean equivalent of Bugles - cornucopia-
    shaped puffy corn things, this version labeled with a
    picture of a hot chile and the caption Teenager Party Time.

    The Bugle analogues, made by food conglomerate Lotte under
    license, were like General Mills' but were dusted with a
    sweetish hottish powder.

    The dips were store-bought: honey-artichoke with a mayo
    base, sundried tomato with cream cheese, and olive avocado.
    They tasted pretty much as you'd expect, except that the
    tomato one appeared to have had added sugar and salt both.

    Glen had encountered a dish called eggplant pachadi at
    the Hanuman restaurant, said to be the best Indian, Thai,
    and Malay food in Darwin - he raved about it to Kevin,
    who did some digging and came up with the recipe, which
    he made in a more careful, painstaking way than I'd ever
    seen him do anything. There were a few divergences from
    the original - Kevin used round green eggplant in addition
    to the long purple ones; sriracha instead of sambal asli;
    and he cooked the eggplant in the sauce rather than having
    the sauce on top. Also, he chopped the spices instead of
    grinding them, which lent a rustic character to the dish.
    It turns out there's a branch of Hanuman in Adelaide, and
    I threatened to take Glen there later for comparisons. Of
    course that didn't happen.

    Also, using intense heat under the pan, he made an excellent
    facsimile of barbecue chicken using soy, hoisin, and some
    secret ingredient that I didn't press him about.

    No rice - he gets his carbohydrates from alcohol, as did
    we on this occasion.
     
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  4. violist
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    The wines were precious old things from Glen's cellar, which
    is really the bottom of a bookcase in his bedroom.

    Landhaus The Saint Shiraz 08 - cooked fruit, quite heavily
    oxidized, a backnote of brown sugar cookies and maybe a
    touch of cinnamon. Kevin really hated this, as his palate
    has become used to wine made fresh yesterday. I admitted
    that it was seriously over the hill and probably hadn't
    benefited from being out in Adelaide summer heat for six
    years.

    Penfolds Thomas Hyland Cabernet 04 - this was also somewhat
    oxidized, with plums becoming prunes and currants becoming
    raisins. Still some tannin to redeem it, and it had aged
    somewhat more gracefully, though behind the dried fruit
    there was an annoying touch of rot as well as the sherrylike
    asoect. Where had this wine come from - well, in '06 we'd
    visited the same crew, and I'd picked up a couple bottles,
    and we'd opened one, and it wasn't ready to drink, and here
    was the other bottle, caught on the downslope.

    I brought out some World Market chocolates - the 70%
    (you'd call it extra-bittersweet), a chipotle version, and
    one flavored with chile, type undisclosed, and lime, sad to
    say in the form of dried peel. To go with, three Adelaide
    area Ports:

    d'Arenberg vintage Port 1975 - gone very pale, old musty
    raisins and nuts, bittersweet; a fairly long undescribably
    off-flavor finish that turned out to be really annoying
    when I tried to cook with half a cup of it later in the
    trip;

    Penfolds Club Port 1956 - still good color, raisins and
    dates, maybe an almondy scent, a bit over the hill, with
    a long boiled sweet and raisin finish; and the

    Para Liqueur Port 1944 from Seppelt was the big star, still
    vigorous and rich with that odd minty aspect that many of
    the better stickies possess: beginning to show its age but
    still going strong, rather like Glen.

    After which those who wished more alcohol were directed to
    the Stanley box Cab-Shiraz, which is vin at its most
    ordinaire, quite potable, but you wouldn't want it to
    touch your taste buds if you were fully sober, sort of what
    I figure the last wine at Cana would have been like before
    the Man stated meddling with the catering.
     
  5. violist
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    Glen provided bus cards that turned out to have just enough
    credit left to take us to the information center to have
    them recharged, so we went there and I dropped $40, most of
    which got used up during the course of the week.

    The obligatory visit to Central Market, which is Adelaide's
    pride and joy. It's just another old-time market, such as
    one might enjoy in any established metropolis, but one can
    get (from one stall) assorted seaweeds and (from another)
    naughty bits of wallaby, kangaroo, emu, crocodile, and half
    a dozen other game species.

    Aside from some wallaby shanks that were relatively
    attractively priced, we found the stuff dubious in their
    plastic shrinkwrap and well over our budget.

    I passed on the Bum Burners, pepperonilike sausages that
    true to their name save most of their spicy heat for the
    next day, and picked up a Barossa sausage and a few smoked
    "porterhouse" steaks for later. As I've noted, porterhouse
    means sirloin strip in Australian. The fishmongers were
    monging some interesting but steeply priced merchandise,
    but we'd have had to cater specially for lili, and the
    stuff didn't look all that terrific anyhow. There was some
    frozen Tasmanian salmon at an attractive price, but on
    closer inspection the fish was even less terrific than
    the other offerings.

    It was soon lunchtime, so e took a tour of various food
    courts, including the place where one can get all you can
    pile on a plate for $8, but lili wanted to sit down. After
    an initial unsatisfactory glance into the Hello Kitty Cafe,
    we ended up next door, at a Teochew restaurant wittily
    called T-Chow.

    Those white folks got a standard assortment of pretty
    decent but uninspiring things - chicken satay, fried shrimp
    dumplings, and a thick and unpleasant-looking so-called
    shallot pancake. I ordered the pork belly hot pot, far more
    satisfactory, though it came with lots of pickled mustard
    greens, which somewhat bittered the otherwise unctuous
    experience. It was enough calories for all three of us all
    day. I had a Crown Lager, which was slightly off, and lili
    had a Tempranillo that was slightly on, just barely.

    We poked our noses into the completely redone Hilton,
    which now lacks the great Grange restaurant, and noted how
    Victoria Square had been changed about considerably since
    my last visit, with the fountain relocated to the far end
    and so on.

    Not much for dinner - we got some tastes from the local
    Coles market. Majan's bhuja mix was pretty spicy but way
    too expensive; Kirk's Sno Drop ($1 for a liter) turned
    out to be a cloying tutti-frutti soda somewhat like Irn
    Bru or Inca Kola (or is it Inka Cola?).
     
  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    It was decided to visit Greg at the National Railway
    Museum in Port Adelaide; he volunteers there - formerly
    as a train engineer, now as half of the maintenance
    department. The museum is somewhat different from the
    way it was when we visited 13 years ago. Greg is still
    the same. Similarly to last visit, we stayed indoors
    as long as the rain pounded and then ventured out to
    find sustenance, which we did at the Railway Hotel;
    Greg had a sandwich of some kind, Glen a bowl of pea
    soup, lili a burger, and I splurged with the
    fisherman's platter, or whatever they called it, a
    couple large chunks of white fish of unknowable origin,
    quite good, some okay prawns, and a scallop or two.
    Lots of chips.

    After this semi-lovely lunch we saw Greg off at the
    museum and then took a tour of the docks - much
    renovated and gentrified since I saw it last. The focus
    is the looming black hulk of the City of Adelaide, the
    vessel that had brought many hopeful new settlers to
    this strange land. It had lain moldering someplace in
    Scotland before being towed here to be restored and
    one hopes become the centerpiece of a revitalized
    port district. I have my doubts.

    After which, home (cold as unheated - they have air
    conditioning here, no central heat), wine, and bed.
     
  7. violist
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    Next day dawned drizzly and cold again, so we decided
    to do less sightseeing and more hanging around; there
    was one place Glen wanted to show us, though, a couple
    miles off from the house.

    The Farmer's Market ($1.50 admission) is your usual
    load of trucks selling everything from bruised fruit to
    bric-a-brac in a parking-lot-or-field next to a discount
    store. As with many such, you can get great deals if
    you want great quantities - onions, for example, were
    a dollar a pound or five dollars for thirty. As far as
    I can see, there is no particular reason for shopping
    there unless you have an enormous family or a small
    cheap restaurant. As Glen had never had artichokes, I
    bought five bucks' worth, three of them I think. These
    ended up not being used during my visit.

    After we got back home, things started looking clearer,
    so Mother Nature seduced us into taking a field trip to
    Mt. Lofty, the highest place (a couple thousand feet)
    in the state.

    Glen's valiant little Toyota chugged up the steepening
    slopes, and, lo and behold, fog. And a cold one at that.

    After a suitable interval of self-flagellation outside,
    we went in to the summit restaurant, where a glass of
    Grant Burge Muscat amused me with its little bubbles
    and moderate sweetness. Whatever was sold to lili as
    Penfolds Bin 23 was spoiled or perhaps counterfeit.

    Glen had a coffee, not wanting to suffer a fate worse
    than Kevin.

    An hour of this was sufficient, so back down we went,
    and wanting for anything interesting to see or do,
    more wine was the order of the day.

    At which point Glen, being in a braggy mood, showed
    a slideshow of his skydiving adventure and then made the
    mistake of letting me look at his leg wound, which he
    had gotten while snorkeling in the north country.

    It was bad, and I told him he would have to see the
    doctor, and would he go willingly or not. He made
    an appointment for next day.
     
  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    I accompanied him to the clinic, where he was seen right
    away and given a prescription for Keflex, which we filled
    at the discount pharmacy down the way for a few dollars,
    then went on home to find other things to nosh on.

    Chris' spicy capsicum dip was actually somewhat spicy,
    but not so much that it would war with Wolf Blass
    Eaglehawk Merlot, a new cheap product that I was
    unfamiliar with - it was okay, sort of halfway between
    real wine and the Berri Estate Traditional Dry Red
    Cabernet-Shiraz box plonk that costs $2/L when bought
    in bulk. Actually, I'd kick neither out of my glass.

    I took the smoked sirloin steaks and cooked them nice and
    rare for me and medium-rare as they wished for the
    others. They were very good, beefy in a grass-fed sort of
    way, with a mild smokiness that was pretty moreish.

    After supper, Glen started in on his antibiotic
    regimen, washing his first pill down, defiantly, with
    a glass of that Berri Estate stuff. Within minutes
    he had gotten sick and had urped up his wine, his
    medication, and his steak. Within a few more minutes
    he had gone into convulsions. There was not much to
    do unless we called the ambulance, which he was
    conscious enough to be horrified at the idea of, so
    he bundled himself in his greatcoat and went to bed.

    Though he survived the night, he looked pretty peaked
    in the morning, and lili and I leaned hard on him to
    call the clinic back, which gave him a Sunday appointment.
    He told us to take the bus cards and enjoy ourselves in
    the metropolis, and he would see himself to the doctor's,
    but being untrusting, we said we'd accompany him, which
    we did. The doctor gave him a new prescription for
    erythromycin and a note to be presented to the emergency
    department at the hospital if he didn't get better
    straightaway. We accompanied him to the now-familiar
    discount pharmacy and then homeward, though he kept
    telling us he would be all right and to go enjoy
    ourselves (and leave him be).

    We had wended our way to within a hundred feet or so of
    the house when he got all wobbly, and then, after giving
    lili a cheese-eating grin of incomprehension, toppled
    over. I have some small experience with older persons
    toppling over, so my shoulder took the brunt of the fall
    - better than his head, though I was sore for a couple
    days afterward. We got him situated - by now he was
    fully unconscious, and the main things were to not let
    him get injured thrashing around and not to drown in his
    drool, so I put him on his side and frantically flagged
    down passersby. Number one, in a car, took a look and
    then roared off not to be seen again; number two, also
    in a car, came out to assess things, didn't have a
    telephone, so he said he was going to find his mum's
    and roared off to do so. Number three was a woman
    walking along minding her own business; she had a phone,
    and shortly we were in touch with the paramedics, two
    sets of whom arrived within ten minutes of the incident,
    not too bad considering. Suspected diagnosis: stroke.
    The first two paramedics were gorgeous ponytailed blondes,
    and Glen would have been pleased to know that he was
    being well handled in the manner to which he has become
    accustomed. Unfortunately, though lili had her camera
    phone, she decided to be discreet and not do the obnoxious
    21st-century snap snap dance. Later the consensus among
    Glen's son and daughter and Leonore was that he'd have
    loved to see his adventure documented. The second set
    of paramedics came by to help load him in the van, and
    then a supervisor (small car with a big sign that said
    supervisor on it) gave the order to send him to the
    Royal Adelaide downtown. To give him credit, number two
    came by to check on things and to report that by the
    time he'd gotten to a phone, the emergency personnel
    had been summoned already, presumably by number three.

    We were dismissed (the pros said we should have a cup of
    tea before trying to see Glen in the hospital) and prayed
    that he hadn't set the burglar alarm before we had set off.
    At the end of all this the lady in number 8 popped out to
    see what was going on. Edna, as it turns out, had been shown
    the wound a couple days before - Glen had been parading it
    around the neighborhood, but nobody else had seen fit to
    tell him to go see someone. She seemed to appreciate all
    this drama happening on her doorstep but a little
    disappointed that it hadn't been a bit gorier.

    We extricated ourselves from her and went home, discovering
    that the alarm had not in fact been set, and we rummaged
    around and found Jason's phone number and reported the
    damage to his voicemail. Shortly we got word from him that
    Glen was in intensive care and he would be with him all night.

    We were exhausted and made a supper of leftovers (for me)
    and cheap wine (for her) and collapsed into bed.
     
  9. violist
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    Next day, we made our way to intensive care (they let us
    in, despite the policy being immediate family only) and
    were cheered to see that he had returned to consciousness
    and good humor and aside from a blank spot around the
    incident itself seemed not to have suffered any mental
    deficit. Turns out the original proposed diagnosis was
    premature, and if he had had any ischemia at all, it
    was caused by low blood pressure, which itself was caused
    by his having gone quite septic during that period when he
    had refused to go see a doctor.

    The next couple days were mostly shuttling between the
    house and the hospital, eating whatever we could find,
    not really being in the mood for much else. I have to
    hand it to lili - she put herself out quite a bit for this
    old guy she had never met before, ruining her vacation.

    --

    With the proper antibiotic regimen, Glen progressed
    rapidly and was out of intensive care in a couple days.
    They transferred him to a single room up on the general
    medical ward; he was raring to go home, but being tubed
    up prevented any serious thoughts about that.

    Funny aside. During his admission interview, the staff
    asked how much he drank, and he said a couple glasses a
    day. Horrified, they immediately put him on withdrawal
    watch and had the nurses on the lookout for the D.T.s.
    They gave him intravenous B vitamins and started the
    whole alcoholic treatment, all because he admitted to
    a couple glasses of wine a day. Ah, well, the vitamins
    probably did him no harm.

    --

    One day Leonore came to visit. She was her funny sarcastic
    self and gave the old man the what for, and then as Jason
    was scheduled in we took our leave and took us to her
    favorite chocolate parlor in Rundle Mall, Koko, which is
    a fashionable and expensive nonalcoholic watering hole,
    where I had a large chocolate (pretty nice), lili a small,
    and Leonore a large hot chili chocolate (quite yowchy).
     
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  10. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Back on the first day we'd made arrangements to have a
    celebratory meal at the Little Hunter, a fashionable
    gastro-steak-pub downtown. Invitees: Glen, Leonore,
    Greg and Dorothy, Kevin, Jason. Glen had been hoping to
    be out on the economy by now, but of course that wasn't
    going to happen. I thought it would be fun to have him
    escape with his IV tree and hospital gown and socks, but
    wiser heads prevailed. Kevin, in a snit about his routine
    being derailed (Glen accompanies him shopping once a week,
    offering partial chauffeurage, and so on), refused to come
    along. That meant five of us, a fairly jolly crowd.

    We started with the trio of dips appetizer, one of the
    great ripoffs of all time - an unknown-flavored but
    feta-infused white substance of no charm whatever, that
    same sundried tomato stuff that Kevin had picked up at
    Cole's, only half the quantity and three or four times
    the price, and an ordinary hummus of which I recall nothing.
    Flatbread of the most mundane sort.

    Porterhouse is what the Australians, who have so many
    things upside-down, call sirloin strip. Greg had one of
    those, which he shared with Dorothy. It was pretty good.

    I ordered the Sherwagyu rump, whatever the heck that was.
    Well, it might have been rump, but it wasn't anything wagyu,
    being a fairly tasty but ordinary thin wide slice of meat
    (impossible to do rare) from which one could get a bit of
    taste of grass feed but none of the luscious beef fat that
    wagyu implies to me. To my shock and dismay, lili ordered
    the same after I'd thought I'd made it clear that she was
    going to order a ribeye or sirloin or something. She ate
    half of it. Leonore's chicken parmigiana was the surprise
    winner, actually tasting like what it was supposed to be.
    It came with fries, apparently the normal accompaniment
    in Australia for an Italian meat course.

    Large quantities of an unidentified Australian Malbec by
    the glass, at a highly inflated price. I had a porter
    that I reckon was housemade; Greg had a stout that tasted
    the same.
     
  11. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    We met Leonore at Glen's bedside, and we had a jolly time;
    when Glen's lunch was served, we stuck around long enough
    to see that he was adequately nourished but not poisoned,
    and we went back toward downtown to see what we could find
    for our meal. Having taken a look at Jamie Oliver's and
    decided it pretentious, overpriced, and likely not to be any
    good, we likewise passed up another place (name forgotten)
    that advertised itself as Restaurant of the Year or some
    nonsense like that, eventually deciding on Dine in Italy in
    the Meyer department store, which had the advantage of having
    a 20% coupon in Leonore's book. It is set up to look like
    a coffee shop or ice cream parlor, with the cooking being
    done elsewhere (behind a door that kept out all telltale
    noises and smells); If you've ever been to a Bailey's or
    a Rumplemeyer's or a Swensen's you'll have some idea.

    Leonore went with a big bowl of curried butternut squash
    soup, as it was chilly and drooling out. It was perfectly
    appropriate and from my one sample quite tasty, with a
    distinct Madraslike undertone and just a tiny tiny spritz
    of heat.

    lili was adventurous and got lasagne, a cheesy version
    filled with ham and egg (?!) and topped with an undersimmered
    meat sauce that would be familiar to most people who have
    eaten at okay but not good Italian-outlander restaurants. It
    was problematically topped with a good handful of mizuna.

    My veal champignon (also listed elsewhere as scaloppine ai
    funghi) was a large serving of okay veal in a more than
    hearty cream of mushroom sauce with cheese - quite good
    tasting, actually, but not what I might have hoped for.

    lili drank a glass of some Italian plonk, and I had the
    Clare Valley Brewing Miss Molly Malone cider, which tasted
    like apple soda with alcohol in it - would have been great
    for a hot day, which this was not. On the other hand, the
    veal monstrosity had fitted the day nicely.
     
  12. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The North Terrace is the address of the most eminent
    governmental and cultural edifices in the state, including
    the Casino, Parliament, Government House, Royal Adelaide
    Hospital, and the two universities. Other than the hospital,
    we weren't interested in these but rather the museums, of
    which we had time to visit the best known.

    The State Library is the pride and joy of South Australia;
    founded in 1834 and open to all since the 1850s (and starting
    to ship lent books out into the countryside since shortly
    thereafter), mirrors the value ascribed to knowledge and
    learning by the founders of the state. In fact, plans were
    made for a public library before the state was even founded -
    strange admirable foresight. We visited the Mortlock building,
    which dates from the mid-1880s and formerly the home of the
    museum, see second paragraph below, and at one point the
    lending library; it's a splendid Victorian structure -
    Romanesque outside and with wrought iron inside, local
    history and culture exhibits on the ground, books - most from
    a hundred or more years ago - on the first floor, and the
    headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society up above. We
    decided to return for a guided tour after lunch (I forget
    which lunch) and became part of a pleasant group of about
    10 led by a perky docent who although an Englishwoman proved
    to be very knowledgeable about all sorts of local lore. A
    well-spent hour and change, after which we did a little more
    exploration on our own and then went out to see the site of
    the home for orphans and unwed mothers, adjacent to the

    Migration Museum, which celebrates all the peoples, from the
    aboriginals to the 19th-century Europeans and Asians, who
    have contributed to the culture of South Australia. It's
    largely a story of hardship and some oppression, and though
    sobering, is very instructive with some lighter points. It
    was worth possibly more than the additional hour we gave it.

    The South Australian Museum is pretty cool - some rather
    average natural history exhibits that reminded me of the
    offerings of small 19th-century collections notwithstanding.
    The collection of Aboriginal art (first floor) and artifacts
    (ground floor) was quite impressive, and the South Sea
    Islands room endlessly interesting. There was a room
    dedicated to the Ediacarian part of the Precambrian era, a
    period with which I'd been previously unfamiliar - the
    creatures that lived then had shapes similar to many I
    recognized from childhood visits to museums but were more
    primitive and either more geometric or more amorphous (which
    leads me to think this is an agglomeration of more years
    than should be the case, but since times are hard to figure
    in those remote eras, one can't do better). Also entrancing
    was a room of fossils in which the infiltrating mineral is
    opal. I went here twice with lili and once on my own.

    The Art Gallery is a nice building with loads of less
    interesting stuff. Part of the problem, no offense, is a
    conscious decision to devote half of the hanging space
    to Australian art, much of which I found downright bad.
    The other stuff consists of some of the better work by
    lesser artists and some of the lesser work by eminent
    ones. Though there was an imitation Holbein that wholly
    fooled me and I seem to recall a rather nice Renoir
    domestic portrait that I can't find in the online
    catalogue. I spent more time here than it deserved. Oh,
    some Japanese Edo-period prints that were relegated to
    the basement were quite nice and representative -
    Hiroshige, Hokusai, that kind of stuff.

    Admission to all museums is free, with a charge only for
    special exhibitions at the art gallery (I wasn't interested
    in the current one), but I did put down a couple dollars
    here and there into the kitties provided.
     
  13. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    An Asian food court in the carpark/cheap goods submall
    next to Rundle Mall.

    There's a Chinese roast place on the north side of the
    corridor that smelled pretty good but had a huge line (its
    prices were also lower than a couple other roast places
    that didn't smell at all); it had many of my favorites on
    the menu, but after consideration my feet and nose took me
    to Tandoori Chefs Express, where the thali (choice of three
    out of six main dishes) was reasonably priced and promised
    to fill me up in a short time.

    My choices were

    beef vindaloo, which though extremely red was not extremely
    hot; good balance of vinegar and quite edible. The meat was
    kind of chewy but lacking in fat and gristle - undoubtedly
    round, not my preferred chuck;

    chicken korma, which was very mild as the dish generally is
    but also the uncreamiest version I've ever tasted. The guy
    behind the counter had given me 1 1/2 thighs' worth of meat,
    so a fair amount of food. The chicken had been cooked to
    almost fall-apart tender and tasted reheated, neither the
    greatest joy nor the greatest crime in the world;

    and mixed dal, which to my chagrin was dominated by blackeyed
    peas with their earthy green taste which makes them my least
    favorite among all the dals I've had. This was also very mild,
    and I almost went back to the stall to ask for something hot
    to liven up the food.

    A naan bread was excellent and made me almost think that
    there was a real tandoori chef out in the back someplace.

    The papadum that had been laid atop the whole mess of food was
    as a consequence steamed, stale, and chewy.

    Yellow rice had a weird taste, not saffron, but not turmeric
    either. It accentuated the blackeyed peainess of the dal, so
    I ate it mostly with the vindaloo, which successfully killed
    the taste.

    I noticed that some student guy who looked appropriately
    Indian had taken his girlfriend to lunch, and even as she
    endlessly complained about the preparation of the food she
    scarfed it all down to the last grain of rice, so her
    estimation must have been similar to mine: good but not
    that good.

    Also in the mall were Uyghur and Japanese storefronts, a Thai
    place that looked closed, and a Chinese dumpling restaurant
    that sold beer but whose prices were extortionate.

    In retrospect I probably should have been more patient and
    waited in line at either the roast place (I sort of coveted
    duck and maybe char siu) or a northern Chinese joint that I'd
    seen across the way that served oddities such as trotters and
    tripe, but I had stuff to do and people to see.
     
  14. violist
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    On my last day, after assuring myself that Glen would be home
    vertical and in one piece within the next few days I took
    Leonore off for dinner. We walked down toward Rundle Mall but
    before getting to the mall proper came upon Fancy Burger on
    Synagogue Place by Rundle Street. As I had seen a magnet
    advertising it on Glen's fridge, I suggested we give it a try
    provided it served beer, which investigation showed that it
    did, from a cooler that also offered strange local soft
    drinks, all of which I wanted to try and none of which I
    actually tried. It's slightly ironic to have burgers when
    lili had already abandoned us, but a good burger is always
    a good thing. It's a smallish room with the kitchen at the
    back, seating for maybe 50 with minimal furnishings, and
    beyond casual, not a big surprise as it's on the ground
    floor of what appears to be student lodgings.

    Lobethal Bierhaus Red Truck porter was rich, malty, and
    delicious, with a little more hoppiness than I would have
    expected, but then hops are fashionable these days.

    Fancy Bier, bottled by the same brewery for this restaurant,
    is a pale ale of the usual sort; pretty good.

    I got a plain burger, which was of a good size but sad to
    relate of the meatloaf style that predominates throughout
    most of the world. The bun was sturdy and okay, as was the
    entire experience. Leonore, more in tune with the realities
    of local life, got El Loco, which for about $4 more than
    mine added jalapenos, pepperjack cheese, chipotle mayo, and
    other hot things. This was far more satisfactory.

    We strolled together to the bus stop, recapping the week as
    we walked along.

    --

    Jason was up early, so we headed to the airport early,
    which meant that I had over half an hour before the Qantas
    check-in counter opened; at least this was spent somewhere
    with central heating. For some reason Qantas got the notion
    that I'm an Australian national, which complicated check-in
    considerably, as United wouldn't let me onto my connection
    until the agent, with dire mutterings about the computer,
    managed to sort things out. Security seemed perfunctory, so
    I got through in time to wait a quarter hour before the
    club opened. The club is enormous by American outstation
    standards, and the catering was almost identical to that of
    the Melbourne facility. I got to try the pancake machine,
    whose product is bigger and more attractive than Alaska
    Airlines' but is even more rubbery and tasteless.

    The ginger ale here is Cascade, which was gingery enough
    to make me sneeze.

    Out to the gate to find the flight delayed by half an hour
    despite the aircraft having been parked there when I poked
    around at quarter to five.
     
  15. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    QF 730 ADL SYD 0600 0820 738 5C

    The reservation through United failed to put an appropriate
    program number in, so I'd been kindly assigned an aisle but
    in the way wayback of the plane. After my OneWorld number
    had been put in, I'd been offered 4C, but as I had two bags,
    I opted for the row behind. When I arrived there was a
    pleasant youngish woman in my seat, who was reasonably nice
    about being evicted to the window. Turns out her flight the
    previous day had been cancelled, and she was sitting in her
    old seat. She was going to Indonesia to lecture on energy
    conservation concerns in building design, and we had a good
    chat about climate change and its implications for coastal
    settlements. The flight went quickly, and we landed almost
    half an hour early, with the expectable wait for a gate and
    a marshalling crew.

    They allowed me on the inside-security Qantas transfer bus,
    which saved me $5.50 ($17 to 22 if I'd been in a hurry and
    needed to take a taxi) - another reason to hate and distrust
    Sydney and then to forgive it.

    I had to go outside to the checkin to get my onward boarding
    passes. The agent was quick and efficient and informed me of
    fast-track security and emigration and that I was welcome at
    the Koru lounge to while away three hours.

    After going through the this time not unpleasant Sydney exit
    procedures, I ignored the young lady's advice and hied me to
    the Silver Kris, hoping for better food than I'd get from
    Air New Zealand. I think I may have been wrong - breakfast
    was skimpy and aside from congee with scanty toppings was
    the usual western-style starchy uselessness. I'd hoped for
    dumplings and satay or at least fried rice or lo mein, but
    I looked around in vain. I consoled myself with Martell VSOP
    in a special Asian-style blend, harsher than what I am used
    to and probably designed for manhood-proving drinking games.
    Hennessy and Remy also offer such products, which are no
    better. It's almost as though they take VS and jack up the
    proof a bit somehow and put it into VSOP bottles.

    At 10 savories came out; these were slightly more to my
    taste - Moroccan-style chicken wings of appropriate aroma
    and appearance but little taste other than salt, sided with
    decent basmati, and also lean meatballs (that's what the
    sign said) in basil-tomato sauce that were what you'd
    expect. Oh, the wings were all drummers; I hope the
    catering service didn't charge extra for that - maybe the
    staff had eaten all the two-bone joints; I hope so, anyway.

    It was 10:30, and a little private address system in my
    head said "Annie," and so I trotted off to the Koru lounge
    to see her. She was away from her desk, so I went to the
    buffet to find ... breakfast, being replaced slowly by
    altogether too-healthy-looking wraps and similar. Patience
    is rewarded, this time by mini sausage rolls that were
    actually really bad. The red wines on offer are both Kiwi
    and not too bad - Thornbury Merlot 12 had a bit of oomph
    though not much individuality, but the Villa Maria Pinot
    Noir 13, a pretty standard-issue new world Pinot, killed
    the taste of, er, went much better with the sausage rolls.

    It was time to start heading out, but Annie was at the
    desk again, and so we caught up (I hadn't seen her in
    several years after being an occasional visitor to the
    old subterranean digs in the late '90s and '00s). She is
    hale and hearty but just a bit grayer than before, as am I,
    and suggested that she'll see me a few more times, because
    she proposes to work until she's 80! Quite a gal.

    She invited me to hang around the club until as late as
    possible, quarter of, but I got a little antsy and got
    down there mid-boarding.
     
  16. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA 870 SYD SFO 1200 0835 772 8C

    My old man's problems coming to the fore, I deliberately
    chose the seat closest to the rest room. It was okay,
    though I must say the 789's beds are much better designed,
    with plenty of at-seat storage, whereas this aircraft has
    approximately none, not even enough for a pen and a pair
    of glasses (enough for one or the other, not both).

    Next in the center seat was Kirsty, a pretty and energetic
    young woman who helped manage an (according to her) famous
    Sydney rock band; she was on her way to work on some kind
    of project involving musicians plus YouTube plus Google. I
    tried to sound interested, and at some point she started
    bemoaning the fact that she'd always wanted to start a
    family, and time was passing her by, but hanging around
    with (and dating) rock stars is not a basis for the
    domestic life. I sympathized but could offer no assistance
    as I'm kind of taken and (as she noted later) the exact
    same age as her mom. She did spend some time flirting with
    me, which did good things for my ego, even though I knew it
    was just for practice. Ah, well, more power to her.

    Flight attendants were two Asian guys, a jolly round-faced
    one approaching middle age, and a skinny older one who had
    that beaten-down look as though he'd worked in a restaurant
    or a laundry in a previous life; a tallish slim white woman
    approaching retirement but still energetic; and a languid
    young black woman who didn't serve us at all but seemed very
    pleasant to her flock on the other side. There were others
    who drifted in and out when they got tired of economy. On
    the whole, service was better than average.

    TO BEGIN

    Chilled appetizer - smoked duck with black bean-cucumber
    salsa

    Fresh seasonal greens - tomato, bell pepper and croutons
    with your choice of honey vinaigrette or raspberry
    vinaigrette

    The duck was pretty nice, with a good thick rim of fat;
    moderately salted, lightly but not negligibly smoked. My
    seatmate, it turns out, doesn't eat duck, so she gave me
    her portion, so instead of a pleasant though skimpy two-
    slice amuse bouche I got a substantial first course. A
    California rouge ordinaire went well. My seatmate stuck
    with juice throughout the flight.

    MAIN COURSE

    Tenderloin of beef - red wine jus, mashed potatoes, baby
    carrots and broad beans

    Breast of chicken - creamy chive sauce, herbed potatoes
    and vegetable medley

    Filet of ocean trout - chunky tomato sauce, herbed
    couscous and green beans with red chile

    Spinach and ricotta cannelloni - sun-dried tomato sauce,
    sauteed spinach and mushrooms and Parmesan cheese

    Kirsty asked me if they'd taken meal orders. I couldn't
    say, because I had taken a nap that took up the first hour
    of the flight. She was relieved when the vegetarian dinner
    came unasked for. She wondered again, how did they know
    what she wanted?

    When mine came, it was the fish, which I sort of expected
    (but prayed to a God I don't know exists that no breast of
    chicken appear before me). It was surprisingly decent, not
    wholly dry and of good flavor, a smallish portion. The
    starch, whatever it was, tasted like plastic, and the green
    beans of dynamite. That is to say, really hot. I managed to
    get enough nourishment I guess.

    Executive dining - if you prefer more time to work or
    relax, ask a flight attendant about our executive dining
    service. At your request, we will present your main meal
    followed by dessert based on your schedule

    TO FINISH

    International cheese selection - grapes and crackers
    served with Port

    Dessert - ice cream with your choice of toppings

    The grapes looked pretty good, the cheeses, one looked
    soapy and the other blue, so I passed.

    I wanted just the Port (the usual Quinta do Noval LBV 09),
    but the round-faced younger FA looked distressed by this,
    and so I asked for a scoop (vanilla) with a drizzle of
    butterscotch. It was as expected, and the butterscotch was
    really nice with the Port.
     
  17. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    end


    MID-FLIGHT SNACK

    Assorted sandwiches - ham and cheese; tomato and cucumber

    Fruit and light snacks are available at any time following
    the meal service. Please help yourself or ask a flight
    attendant for today's selection

    I slept through this. Almost nine hours straight, moving
    only to adjust to avoid bedsores or if someone in the aisle
    whacked me going past. At the end of the flight, the couple
    across the way asked my secret, which is simple enough -
    two glasses of Port chasing down a piece of a Benadryl.

    PRIOR TO ARRIVAL

    Cheese omelette - tomato salsa, bacon and chicken sausage

    Cereal and banana - served with milk

    Fresh fruit appetizer, yogurt and breakfast breads

    The omelette was very big and filled with a substantial dose
    of Swissoid cheese; the bacon (from the loin), though smoked
    and salty, was boring, and I didn't finish even the one
    slice allotted, and the sausage tasted like nothing at all,
    and I left all but one bite. Melon, apple, and pineapple,
    all tasteless. The croissant was rubbery. I of course passed
    on the yogurt.

    Orange juice was like Minute Maid only more like a can.

    We landed early, and there's this new automated immigration
    such as used to happen only at Dulles, so I was very early
    released and went right to the club where I addressed the
    twin issues of my power supply going wonky and the screen
    fading in and out (I believe that the cold of Australian
    winter must have made something contract inside and lose
    contact), which came back in the balmy California atmosphere.

    UA1912 SFO BOS 1143 2030 753 7A

    I have no idea why my upgrade didn't clear as a 1K using a
    supposedly confirmable instrument. The claim was made that a
    huge load of passengers had cleared, with me being 6th on
    the waitlist. That huge load of passengers was a suspicious
    circumstance suggesting that my request had deliberately or
    accidentally been lost. There was no in-flight entertainment
    nor electric power. No matter, the seat formerly known as 9A
    has plenty of legroom, and despite being overflowed into a
    little by the rather wide gentleman in the B seat, I had
    enough space to stretch out and snooze for the bulk of the
    trip, which was uneventful so far as I could tell. The flight
    came in over half an hour early. I am beginning to see a
    pattern: flights are way early except when they're way late.

    So I'd made these reservations before I realized I had to be
    in Washington, so I had an overnight in Boston and an extra
    (not really extra, as it is integral to my requalifying for
    US Air platinum) leg back to DC.

    The Hampton Boston Logan is a convenient spot and reasonably
    well kept, but it's quite costly, sometimes exceeding the
    Embassy Suites and even approaching the Hilton in price. I
    redeemed points for the night and got a nice enough room.
    After putting up my stuff, I went down to the bar (unwittily
    called Two Doors Down) for a snack and a brew - I discovered
    that the rather nice menu I'd recalled from previous visits
    had been considerably abbreviated, and the only beer on tap
    now was the please-all-please-none Sam Summer. I suspect a
    new cost-cutting F&B manager who should be toasted in the
    panini press that he relies on so much until well fired. I
    have let my disappointment be known to management. At least
    the "kitchen" is open until 11.

    Oh, yes, I had a regular Sam in bottle (not on the menu) and
    a plate of "locally made" lasagne, which though claimed to
    have ground sirloin was nearly if not vegetarian; I should
    have had the boil-in-bag ribs or maybe one of those odious
    toasted sandwiches.

    The bed was oversize and quite comfortable. I slept about as
    long as a normal person does and a couple extra hours.

    US2160 BOS DCA 0900 1029 319 10A

    For some reason, when I went to check in for this flight,
    I noted that my preassigned 10F had gone away and my
    frequent-flyer number had been excised from the reservation.
    So not only no upgrade, no shady-side exit-row window,
    either. After some hassling about, I managed to get the
    sunny-side exit-row window, which truth be told is perfectly
    okay, and it does come with free beer, which I didn't take
    advantage of. Turns out the shady-side exit-row window seat
    opened up, but eh.

    Even the US Air flight landed early, and the Metro came on
    time, and I got back to the house at the time I'd promised
    my brother, noonish (I'm usually nowhere near my estimate).
     

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