SFO-SIN inaugural in coach; BRT; Wine Do

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Sep 24, 2016.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Kee's is, according to the New York Times, 12/3/06,
    "Hands down, the best chocolates in New York. Maybe
    the world." The factory, such as it is, is in a
    single-wide storefront a few doors down from the
    hotel, so I decided to check it out. Kee was there
    bright and early, making her fresh daily truffles
    out of couverture and an assortment of unbelievably
    delicate and subtle fillings. She took some time
    off to chat; we had a discussion about how she
    chose the profession, what her favorite foods
    were, how long her products would keep (2 to 5
    days). I'd heard about the famous creme brulee
    truffle, but they were making them later; she
    said that they'd hurry up if I liked, and they'd
    be ready by 11. I said I'd be back at 3, so she
    said she'd save me one to taste. Meanwhile, samples.

    Black Rose - rose-infused black tea with a dark
    ganache, extremely fugitive, the rose just a
    whisper, the way flowery flavors ought to be;

    lemon basil in white ganache, a bit more intense,
    with pronounced pesto-like flavors; and

    fennel, again mild and suave, the dark filling
    just tinged with a touch of fennel pollen, a
    garnish of extra pollen dusted on top giving
    most of the anisey flavor.

    I bought a few bars ($9 for 3 oz, pretty pricy,
    shelf life estimated at a month, but I like aged
    chocolate, and Kee doesn't) to give out later.
    Said goodbye and promised to be back.

    When I returned in the later afternoon I did get
    to taste the creme brulee truffle - it was a tour
    de force, sort of like those xiao long bao, but
    no cheating involved getting the jiggly custard
    into the candy. The con side was that there was
    no real brulee and so no brulee flavor. I also
    picked up small boxes for my friends who were
    going to put up with me for the next few days.

    Had a coffee (they) and a beer (myself) with my
    friends Jim and Silvia in from Rome. We couldn't
    find any other way to get together - we're always
    passing like ships in the night, and usually we
    have drinks or a snack in an airport as they're
    going one direction and I another; this time it
    was the train station on their way to Boston. I
    left them with a couple Kee's bars to share with
    Nicholas when they saw him later in the week.

    Lunch at Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen, said
    to have the best xiao long bao in the city. In
    addition to the mandatory soup dumplings, I had
    hot dog la mian, also known as sausage fried
    noodles, just to say I had had them. The little
    steamed buns were actually twice the size of
    normal ones, so a basket of them would by itself
    had made an adequate meal. They were good but
    not special, the size dictating that the skins
    had to be thicker than I'd like. The fillings
    were pretty decent but I thought underseasoned.
    Lot of soup, though. Hot dog ramen was without
    redeeming social value, a regrettable choice.
    Though the hot dog pieces (two dogs quartered
    lengthwise, the quarters cut across into thirds)
    were spiced with lop cheong spices, that was not
    enough to obscure the fact that they were hot
    dogs. I should have nixed the experimentation
    and gone with roast duck or squid or something
    harmless like that. This place also gets the
    bib gourmand rating; it probably deserves it.

    the invoice said Kung Fu Steamed Buns Ramen. Oh.
    Perhaps their hands got tired of making cute
    little steamed buns and so they went to the
    giants.

    Back to Kee, where I got some truffles for
    Janice and dhammer53, whom I was going to see
    next day, and Erik and Carol in Pelham.

    Washup (it was hot and humid) and then I had
    to decide whether to make the free Friday at
    MOMA or take a nap. Being an old guy now, I
    did the latter, waking up just in time to
    hustle the mile and change uptown to La Bonne
    Soupe for Soup Do. Catman looked happy and
    healthy, and attendance was good, the list
    officially being -

    Catman (le Host)
    Kathywrdf (Soup do legend,, keeping her purrfect
    attendance)
    Violist (Legendary Repeat Souper!)
    CMK10 (Repeat Souper & future Lawyer) & plus 1, a Cat Mom
    dinocool & plus two (Repeat Soupers)
    PhobyPhoto (third timer and Alley Cat)
    Sean Luse (repeat Souper and Alley Cat)
    The way of the Future (repeat Souper)
    Austin 787 (first timer)
    Krazy Kanuck (first timer from Houston)
    Serfty (representing the great nation of Australia)
    Jswong (representing the great nation of New Zealand)
    Suvayanr (first timer and Alley Cat)
    raquelle (First Timer)
    msywings (First Timer)
    Hudsonlaluna (First timer)
    Cinister7 (Another First timer)

    Having been in non-hamburger places for a long time, I
    ordered one (on the menu: "steak hache'") rare, no bun,
    no cheese, no sauce, no anything, just meat. It took the
    waitress some time to comprehend this order: she seemed
    a little apprehensive when she served it and was visibly
    relieved when I told her it was perfect, which it was.
    Excellent meat, good fries, sided with a kind of
    ordinary salad.

    Quien Bordeaux 12 was about as ordinaire as you can get.
    After I'd suckered three of the closest tablemates into
    finishing the bottle with me, I changed to Hofbrau beer,
    more satisfactory.

    No dessert and no afterparty for me; just hung around
    chatting with people for a bit and then walked downtown
    with jswong and Austin787.
     
  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Time to get up early for the Brooklyn Reality Tour.
    I'd had an offer to meet boxo and her dad at the
    Dominique Ansel bakery (home of the original cronut)
    but had needed that hour's extra sleep so didn't go.
    Poured myself out of bed, grabbed a banana from the
    breakfast room, and hopped the M42 to 3rd Avenue and
    hoofed the rest of the way to the rendezvous on 46th.

    The roster:
    dhammer53
    serfty
    KathyWdrf
    CMK10 +1
    violist
    FriendlySkies
    krazykanuck
    CDKing
    gpapadop
    jswong
    jjd477
    boxo +1
    Bikeguy
    dinoscool3 + 2
    mnscout
    Mrp Alert

    Mr. Abraham had given us a big 40-seater bus this year,
    despite our being only half that number, so we spread
    out luxuriously, some of the time, coalescing to
    socialize or discuss our interests periodically. There
    were sufficient stops that it was easy to move around a
    fair amount.

    Once on board, each of us was issued half a blueberry
    elderflower with lime sugar cronut; this was plenty,
    given the number of Calories we were going to be
    confronted with through the day, but the halving of
    the pastries and the subsequent crumb shedding and
    the oozing of filling was slightly awkward. Cronuts,
    by the way, are perfectly fine things, but they are
    not the revolutionary innovation that the media and
    the maker have tried to lead us to believe - they're
    a very nice and kind of cute confection, is all.
    There have been layered pastries and toroid pastries
    in the past, just not a layered toroid pastry that
    has been documented. If I cut out a mille-feuille in
    the shape of a star or a teenage mutant ninja turtle,
    that would be equally creative, I think. Props to
    boxo, though, she and her dad did a great job standing
    in line to get the allotted half dozen each.

    We started this year with a bit of a tour of downtown,
    passing the Flatiron Building and the BBQ Block Party,
    which I sort of pined for (not enough to go the next
    day, though), the Bowery, Little Italy, and Chinatown.
    In years past we'd ended the tour down here, but as
    the focus has changed, no longer, and it was just as
    well we started here instead.

    We changed boroughs via the Brooklyn Bridge, about
    which not much was made but for the fact we were going
    right past Peter Luger's; should have stopped. Frequent
    flyerdom does march on its stomach, after all.

    All forgiven - we made an early and lengthy stop at
    Smorgasburg, where, surprisingly enough, I didn't eat
    a whole lot and had only two beers. One issue was that
    some of the places I was interested in weren't open.

    The porchetta guy wasn't ready yet, so I made a beeline
    for Duck Season to get an order of crunchies, but the
    demo duck breast looked so rare and good that I had to
    order one ($15 for a half breast! too much). When it came,
    of course, it was medium [frowny face]. Sadder still was
    I encountered Henry, boxo's dad, who had gotten the same
    thing, and it was too much meat for him, and we should
    have just split one and an order of crunchies.

    I also got Alchemy Creamery's vegan vanilla-flavored ice
    pop, made I think from almond mylk; it tasted like wet
    cardboard.

    Things I tasted from other people:

    kofta kebab I think from Rock the Kasbah, standard but
    salty; whose it was I don't recall, probably Henry;

    ramen burger from Ramen Burger, bought by Henry; it was
    what you'd expect, and not too exciting, crunchy noodle
    "bun" and medium-well overkneaded but strangely still
    juicy meat, normal fixings; and

    duck fat fries also from Duck Season, courtesy of serfty,
    pretty good but dead salty, better with the duck gravy
    dipper that came with.

    Smorgasbeer is an American-style pale ale, pretty hoppy
    but refreshing. I kind of liked it, but for seconds I had
    the Naked Flock hard cider, pretty dry, pretty standard
    but more quenching, which was necessary given the hot sun
    and the massive sodium hit.
     
  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Next stop, which has become traditional, the view from
    beneath the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. A good refreshing
    breeze and a photo op, especially of outdoorsy types out
    on the water doing marginally hazardous things.

    The usual round of neighborhoods, the oldest house in the
    borough, the house where dhammer53 grew up, the old
    Presbyterian church (I think; can't keep those sects
    straight), and in-jokey places such as Teena's Cake Fair,
    where we used to annually panic the grumpy proprietress
    (she retired a couple years ago, and it's now closed),
    the famous right turn where the bus got stuck one year
    at an underpass, and the White Castle where lisa mcgu
    insisted that the tour stop so she could get a burger
    (and I don't think she was even pregnant yet), thus
    smelling up the whole bus for the remainder of the trip.

    Coney Island/Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach - we always
    take a wander through these three very differently
    interesting neighborhoods, and at the Coney Island stop
    I always make a beeline for Nathan's, where normal people
    get a hot dog, but my heart beats for half a dozen oysters
    or cherrystones at approximately 10c a Calorie. This year
    I was tempted by the softshell crab sandwich, at about 2c
    a Calorie, but tradition overrode that urge, especially
    after I saw one go by, rather too thickly battered and
    somewhat greasy-looking. The cherrystones (called topnecks
    here) were fresh and briny and hit the spot.

    Then a wander through the other mentioned beaches to look
    at the bustling little Mockba or whatever of Brighton Beach
    and the architecture of the fancy Manhattan Beach houses.

    Butter & Scotch off in the up-and-coming neighborhood of
    Crown Heights is a combo bakery and bar; dhammer53 had
    picked it sight unseen based on Internet writeups. Turns
    out to be very different from what one imagined - it's
    actually a very ordinary bar with maybe 35 places, most
    of which we of course took up, to the shock and chagrin
    of the regular customers who trickled in expecting a
    nice quiet relaxing drink or two. There actually is a
    bakery, but it's next door, and one can order key lime
    pie or chocolate layer cake or whatever, and one of the
    bartenders trots over and picks up a slice for you. The
    other focus is on fancy cocktalis and, of all things,
    milkshakes. There not being enough pills in Christendom
    to neutralize a milkshake for me, I got one of the fancy
    cocktails, called Dear Diary, which featured flavors of
    Earl Grey, pear, elderflower, and orange. Sadly, it
    reminded me of Constant Comment only not as good: I
    detected mostly orange with a touch of tea; it was not
    a bad drink per se, but I didn't catch the subtleties,
    even though it was kind of weak. Should have had a beer.
    People reported that the milkshakes and the baked goods
    were to die for, and dhammer53 is considering making it
    a regular stop on the tour. Having learned my lesson,
    I'll have a Brooklyn Pale Ale next time.

    Not that there was any need for more food, but eventually
    we found ourselves at the L&B Spumoni Gardens, where we
    supped on Sicilian squares courtesy of gpapadop, thanks so
    much for your good-natured carbohydrate generosity. After
    one piece I felt the need for beer. There was a rumor of
    Coronas and Heinekens at $3 a can, so I took orders at
    my table and stood in line for a huge long time before
    being served. By the time I got the beers, the table had
    been refilled with other people (dhammer53's relatives,
    as it turned out), and there was no pizza left! Not a
    great big thing, but I was not about to get back in line
    for more pizza.

    Next and as I recall final food stop, Cuccio's bakery,
    where, having had only the one slice, I felt the need for
    more carbohydrates so had a Napoleon and what I believe
    was once vulgarly referred as a tete de negre, only this
    version was more a tetine, a vaguely boob-shaped mound of
    marshmallowy creme filling on a round of white cake, all
    coated with couverture.

    Final sightseeing stop was sunset at the Brooklyn Heights
    Promenade, a lovely thing to behold, after which we said
    our goodbyes and split up, some to do romantic things
    in town, some to the subway, and the dogged few back to
    46th St. on the bus, home, and sweet dreams.
     
  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    I had lunch and a walk up at Wave Hill with my friend
    Dave (another violist) and his sweetie Joelle. This
    estate was a summer home for the likes of Mark Twain,
    Arturo Toscanini, and the Theo Roosevelt clan and, as
    one can guess, is ideally situated overlooking the
    Hudson. It's now an arboretum open to the public, but
    given its location within the Bronx is relatively
    unknown and uncrowded. The cafe offered weird things,
    salads and such, chicken pot pie, and what was
    represented as chicken and quinoa but turned out to
    be rigatoni in tomato sauce with ground mystery meat,
    not too good and $12 for a modest serving. Captain
    Lawrence saved the day with his Freshchester pale ale,
    a truly local product, brewed 14 miles up the road: a
    smooth, malty, slightly sweet, moderately hoppy APA.

    Dave and Joelle dropped me off at the D train, which
    got me to West 4th in an hour, so I was at North
    Square in the Washington Square Hotel in plenty of
    time for the beginning of the 9th annual Wine Do.

    roster:
    hammer53
    Anna Cordelli + 1
    Austin787
    Xyzzy + 1
    wrp96
    HPN-HRL2010
    violist
    krazykanuck
    Calcifer + 1
    serfty
    EastBay1K
    thewayofthefuture +1
    Pinky
    Monitor + 1
    Bob W
    KathyWdrf
    GrjApp 2010
    jswong 2012
    Itsaboutthejourney

    The menu:

    [Relish tray of pickled onions and garlic, cornichons,
    and various olives. Not sure what place all this acid
    has in a wine dinner, but whatever; they were all
    crisp and of good flavor. There was bread, of which I
    didn't take any notice. Not on the printed menu]

    APPETIZERS
    Lobster & crab cakes, seaweed & vegetable salsa, Thai
    curry coconut sauce

    Goat cheese ravioli, zucchini, sundried tomatoes,
    manchego, pine nuts, herb gremolata

    Crab & corn salad, blackened corn, crab meat, fennel,
    tomatoes, romaine, basil, mint, parsley, lemon yogurt
    dressing

    Tuna tartare, ginger cured vegetables, avocado
    lemon/lime vinaigrette

    dhammer53 made a pitch for the salad, which I was going
    to get anyway. Aside from their trying to pawn off the
    lobster and crab cakes (which I've had before and was
    not all that enthusiastic about, as the sauce can't be
    paired with any wine alive, plus crab cakes in New
    York are, pardon, a contradiction) on me. So I was
    served dead last, who eat slowly. The stuff was pretty
    good, the crab being mild and showing better this way
    than in a breaded cake. I am still doubtful about the
    leaves chopped (the romaine) and chiffonaded (the
    herbs) into the mix, but the corn sweetened the crab
    nicely. By the time I was served, though, the pouring
    of the reds had already started, so I was up a creek
    anyway in the pairing department.

    ENTREES
    Herb crusted rack of lamb, Brussels sprouts with
    bacon, potato & leek galette, rosemary au jus

    Spice rubbed duck breast, fresh egg noodles, pea
    greens, carrots, tomatoes, basil, chipotle peanut
    sauce, kumquat relish

    Herb roasted free range chicken breast, wild mushrooms,
    cauliflower mash, thyme au jus

    Filet mignon au poivre, grilled Vidalia onion, steak
    cut fries, spicy mustard, Bourbon au jus

    I was torn, as the most wine-friendly dish was the
    one I would enjoy least. I mean, who puts chipotle
    peanut sauce or spicy mustard on a wine dinner. So
    I went with the lamb, despite the rosemary "au jus"
    and was quite pleased - I asked for it jiggly rare,
    and it came barely seared on the outside and nice
    and jiggly in the middle. The sprouts were al dente,
    as was the (way too trimmed) bacon; the potato thing
    was also kind of rare, not a problem, because I
    didn't eat much of it, and the jus was negligible.

    DESSERTS
    Key lime pie, creme Chantilly, raspberry Chambord coulis

    Chocolate mousse cake, bitter chocolate ice cream,
    chocolate & caramel sauces, chopped Heath bar

    Blueberry pie, cream cheese crust, vanilla ice cream,
    creme Anglaise, blueberry Port sauce

    Chocolate all the way. Quite good, but too sweet even
    though they forgot the Heath bar garnish. I should
    perhaps have asked for just ice cream, which was bitter
    and more bitter and very nice.
     
  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    At least I took cursory notes this year.

    SPARKLING WINES

    White

    2011 Lanson Champagne Brut Black Label (Champagne)

    Clean and pleasant, biscuity yeasty but with some fruit
    left. As this (not this vintage, duh) used to be one of
    my standbys two decades or more ago, I was at home with
    it and happy that there was still an ounce left when my
    tardy crab salad came, because it was a good match.

    2007 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Belle Epoque (Champagne)

    Subtle, minerally, lemon giving way to a touch of sweet.
    Piquant, almost bitter on the finish, which I attribute
    to the age of the wine. To tell the truth, I am a bit
    uncomfortable with Champagnes in this price range. I
    guess my experience is limited; but also I get
    distracted by bubbles.

    2010 Roses de Jeanne / Cédric Bouchard Champagne
    Blanc de Noirs Les Ursules (Champagne)

    Strawberries, also a touch of sweetness; I'm not
    sure why rose Champagne is fashionable - it doesn't
    really do it for me. I know some of us treated this
    as though it were liquid gold; to me, it was not
    more than a decent, well-balanced quaff.

    STILL WINES

    White

    Alsace, Riesling
    2013 Albert Boxler Riesling Reserve (Alsace)

    A lot of honey on the nose. Citrus, honeysuckle;
    it opens with a sweetish impression, with the
    flowers, then the citrus comes and dries it out,
    and there is a long tart finish, complicated by a
    touch, just a little, of the hydrocarbon that you
    expect in wines of this sort.

    Oregon, Chardonnay
    2012 Evening Land Vineyards Chardonnay Summum Seven
    Springs Vineyard (Oregon, Willamette Valley, Eola -
    Amity Hills)

    An odd, woody nose followed by sour cream and lemon,
    On the palate a mix of oak and lemon rind with some
    tropical fruit peeking through. A pineapply, almost
    pina colada finish. Suave, eminently drinkable.
    ===
    Red

    California, Cabernet Sauvignon
    2000 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
    Estate Reserve (California, Napa Valley) - 1.5L
    A classic and middle of the road new world Cab, though
    an extraordinarily well put together one. A lot of
    Bordeauxy charateristics but not like a Bordeaux, with
    black fruits and tobacco and leather, but slightly greeny
    in an American way. Very pleasant in a nonchallenging way.

    1969 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Cask G-21 (California,
    Napa Valley)
    Heavy smoke, raisiny nose, devolving toward stewed
    prunes and some kind of unidentified wood. Hadn't
    gotten to the stage of woodland forest, rotten wood,
    mushrooms that some old wines do - I remember a Petrus
    of about this vintage that had totally collapsed into
    that state, sadly enough. Bunches of tannin and bunches
    of Cabernet helped with the longevity, but not enough.

    2009 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Materium
    (California, Napa Valley, Oakville)
    Pleasantly spicy, rich, dash of sweetness; very fruity in
    a noncabernetty way. Just entering its peak.

    2009 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Three Twins Vineyard
    (California, Napa Valley)
    Blackberry and oak, perfect balance. I loved this one.

    Oregon, Red Bordeaux Blend
    2013 Seven of Hearts Chateau Figareaux Tradition (Oregon,
    Columbia Valley)
    [I didn't get any of this]

    Washington, Cabernet Sauvignon
    2010 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley
    (Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley)
    Good acid, green pepper, pleasant, rather understated;
    substantial tannin, good backbone; liked.

    2012 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Artist Series
    (Washington)
    An odd green peanutlike aroma; sorry to say I didn't care
    for this and wouldn't pay extra for it over any other
    Woodward Canyon product (I used to like them years ago,
    now, not so much).

    Washington, Red Blend
    2006 J. Bookwalter Protagonist (Washington, Columbia Valley)
    This was by contrast complex and savory, the perfect age,
    lots of dark fruits and tobacco; seemed to be Merlot heavy,
    not that that's a bad thing.

    2009 Columbia Winery Peninsula Red Willow Vineyard (Washington,
    Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley)
    Herbaceousness - that's the only note I made. I used to like
    the Cabs and maybe a Syrah from this neighborhood. This was
    a little muddled and not my thing.

    Washington, Red Bordeaux Blend
    2007 Col Solare (Washington, Columbia Valley)
    Washington, Red Rhone Blend
    Much coffee, touch of acid, beautiful, but rather
    astringent despite its age. Cried out for fatty
    poultry or maybe a mess of not too smoky burnt ends.

    2013 Seven of Hearts GSM + C Blend (USA, Washington, Columbia
    Valley)
    Cheerwine, great if you like Grenache, a little light
    for this Bordeaux-style company, lively acid, nice to drink.

    There was a Fidelitas that I can't find notes for except
    this scrawl: "green pepper spice stems" - unfortunately
    no image comes to mind. I figure it must have been the
    Cab from Horse Heaven.

    FORTIFIED WINES

    Portugal,Douro
    2005 Niepoort Porto Colheita (Douro, Porto)

    Afterward a bunch of us repaired to bdnyc's apartment in
    Hell's Kitchen for a glass of the perfectly fine Jordan
    Cabernet. He had been unable to join us for dinner -
    working as a network TV producer as he does, he had the
    sad task of coordinating coverage of one of the saddest
    events of the year.

    I overnighted at dhammer53 and Janice's lovely home
    and then took Dan to breakfast at his favorite haunt,
    a downtown diner called I think the Star. He knows
    workers and customers alike and is in turn known by
    them. I had to choke down vast quantities of carbs
    to be part of this scene; followed by some still
    somewhat yummy Kee's chocolates at home.
     
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  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    My friends Erik and Carol are right down the Hutch
    in Pelham, and it was good to arrange things so I
    could visit them; they have been great friends to
    the family, and I'm fond of them and their now I
    believe graduated from college kid. I spent a couple
    relaxed days with them and their cats (not quite so
    numerous as in the past) before heading back southward.

    The notable event of this visit was that Carol decided
    we needed to do something to move body and mind, so we
    went off to watch The Man Who Knew Infinity, perhaps
    the only movie I've paid to see since Die Hard 2 in
    Austin a few years ago. This film tells the rather
    poignant story of the mathematician Ramanujan and his
    rise from an obcure bookkeeper in India to a world-
    renowned scholar and colleague of the likes of G. H.
    Hardy and Bertrand Russell. I actually sort of enjoyed
    this.

    --
    Carol convinced me that instead of slogging on the bus
    to the subway to the other subway to the train station,
    I should spend the extra $30 or so and catch the Amtrak
    at New Rochelle. Only problem - my train didn't stop at
    New Rochelle, so I had to get the earlier one. Because
    changing my discount economy ticket would have cost a
    ton, I just bought a separate leg and alit at New York,
    and waited for my original one 45 minutes later. This
    worked.

    2V 173 NRO NYP 1430 1520

    They didn't check tickets, which means I didn't get my
    points. Not such a big deal, because I discover to my
    chagrin that there isn't a minimum points accrual any
    more. We got to Penn Station on time, and I stood by for
    half an hour watching the huge crowds milling around
    figuring out which Amtrak train they were supposed to
    be on.

    2V 127 NYP WAS 1605 1930

    This train was so full that someone sat with me
    (usually I am a forbidding enough presence that
    people don't if there are a number of empty seats
    in the car). I slept through the trip.
     
  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Barbecue coda
    AA1664 BOS PHL 1100 1233 321 4F

    This aircraft has the tightest first-class section around,
    and I was almost sorry to get upgraded out of my favorite
    seat 23A; it is after all an hour flight, during which one
    can easily go without free booze and snacks. That said,
    flying is always fun, especially when I almost always get
    good seats these days. We took off a quarter hour late but
    landed on time. Pleasant flight. I hightailed it directly
    to the club, where Evan Williams was on sale at a great
    price (free), and Pete the bartender, now the supervisor,
    poured me a double and on the second round had to be
    dissuaded from doing that again.

    You now can walk to the commuter terminal inside security,
    but they've kept the buses going. I took the bus and arrived
    right at boarding time.

    AA4083 PHL BWI 1515 1558 CRJ 8A

    Only to find half an hour delay, and the flight did not
    make up any time, so we ended up about half an hour behind
    - and this being the day when I was meeting my friends Dale
    and Gail and thus, unlike usual, on a kind of schedule.

    I hustled out of there as quick as I could, and it turns
    out they were also delayed by bizarre traffic, so we
    coordinated okay if tardily.

    Dinner was at the Urban BBQ, at which experiences have been
    mixed. My usual order of fatty brisket came for some reason
    extra lean, but that was easily fixed. The food was decent,
    not more. D&G were of the opinion that the entire experience
    was not up to par, to which I attributed the cause as the
    B team being on.

    This was a quick visit; we chatted a bit, then I went to
    take a nap, then back to the airport.

    UA 332 BWI IAH 0530 0745 73G 2F

    They served breakfast on this flight; the flight attendant
    described it as a spicy omelet, which, surprisingly, it was.
    Two eggs folded over cheese and quite a hit of hot pepper
    and some Tex-Mex spices. It was worth the pills.

    Croissants (horrid); the other choice was the famous
    cinnamon bun, which has changed a lot since its heyday -
    it's shrunk, less sweet, less buttery, perhaps dietitian
    sanitized.

    With the long layover, there's not much to do but have
    more breakfast. I had a banana and fell asleep instead.

    UA 859 IAH DFW 1015 1131 73G 2F

    This flight is what, 200 miles, and I had barely enough
    time to choke down a Courvoisier and we were landed.

    lili was there to greet me, and we had a freshener up at
    the Admiral's Club - a glass each of some nasty red blend,
    a slightly less nasty Malbec, and a respectable Merlot for
    which they were charging $12 or 14.

    As last time we had been seriously burned by the toll roads
    (being charged automatically even when we paid manually and
    also, we suspect, being charged even when we were on the
    free access road), we decided to do public trans all the
    way, which turned out to be just fine.

    To get to Fort Worth, you have to go on two separate buses,
    changing within the airport, to the TRE train, which takes
    you right in town, actually a quick though confusing process.
    Our hotel was up north in the Stockyard district, another
    20-minute bus ride. What the heck, beats subsidizing Texas.

    We checked in to the Stockyards Hotel, a 19th-century-style
    place whose authenticity I doubt (fake bullet holes in the
    shutters, that sort of thing), pleasant enough. lili was
    asked if she wanted a courtyard room or overlooking the
    street, and surprisingly she chose the latter, saying that
    she wanted to see what the nightlife was like but without
    actually risking anything.

    In the later afternoon, a commotion, why, because it was
    time for the cattle drive! So we went off into the 95-degree
    heat to see some bored-looking cowboys (probably Equity
    members) halfheartedly coaxing some bored-looking cattle
    (look at the long horns, daddy), and off they went, and off
    we went. We toured the Stockyards district, which reminded
    me of Disneyworld Frontierland, then back to the hotel.
     
  8. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    The world-renowned H3 steakhouse is located next to the
    hotel lobby. There's a sign outslde advertising spit-roasted
    pig. What could be bad?

    It was like 5, and we were pretty much the first for dinner.
    The help were friendly and sightly. I got an Oktoberfest from
    I think Rahr, and lili, being faced with the usual wine list
    of red or white, chose Woodford on the rocks instead, a good
    decision.

    Bread was decent if industrial, salad likewise, the dressing
    tangy and rather like Ken's Steakhouse Italian.

    lili got the ribeye rare, and it was large, red, and tasty.

    Having been seduced by the spit-roasted pig, I was left high
    and dry, especially the dry part. The meat had certainly not
    been cut that day, and I doubt its pig had been spit anythinged.

    Vegetables were rice, pebbly and salty and nasty, and corn, less
    nasty.

    Luckily they noticed my lack of enthusiasm at the meal and took
    it off the bill. Luckily also there was enough ribeye for two.

    More alcohol helped a fair amount.

    So a mixed experience.

    Our next meal was next door to next door, at the famed
    Cattlemen's, feted in print and on TV as the rip-roarinest
    steakhouse ever.

    Rahr Ugly Pug calls itself a Schwarzbier, and I guess it is
    maybe kind of black, but it comes across pretty delicate
    and friendly for that. I didn't mind it. Same wine list, but
    this time lili went with the red ink from Texas.

    A salad was almost identical to yesterday's. I opined that
    as the kitchens backed up on each other, maybe the coolers
    did too, or they shared suppliers, or something.

    lili ordered the burger rare with fries; everything went
    swimmingly with her order, and the burger was big enough
    for two.

    I asked for my strip steak extra rare, "as rare as they will
    make it". It came shriveled and burnt, and the waiter said he
    had thought I said extra well. Idiot. The replacement was raw,
    just colored on both sides. It was fine, but the problem is
    that the fat and gristle on the edge are close to inedible at
    this level of non-doneness. It's almost worth it to order a
    medium steak to optimize the flavor of that fat and gristle.
    The replacement was good. I'd substituted spinach for a potato,
    and the guy said that would be a buck upcharge, and I said fine:
    it turned out to be $2 extra.

    So a mixed experience.
     
  9. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    We humped our bags to the bus stop and went back downtown for
    the TRE train, which we took to Victory Station, whence it
    was - or should have been - an easy stroll to the Meridien
    Stoneleigh; turns out there's been a bit of a renaissance in
    the area, and what apparently used to be a park that I was
    counting on to cut across had been replaced by high-rise
    construction, around which it was a hot tiresome walk.
    Eventually we got there and checked in.

    They gave us a so-called junior suite - a big room bisected
    by the TV table into living room with couch and bedroom units.
    It was okay, but the apparently decades-old yellow stains in
    the bathroom floor and the slippery shower stall gave shall
    we say an unwanted atmosphere to the place.

    We noted that there was a discount for happy hour at the bar
    so went there ... inquired about the appetizer prices and was
    informed that the special did not apply on weekends (the
    literature in the room said daily). Oh, well, one drink - a
    beer of some local sort, not very interesting and in a tall
    but deceptively shaped glass, so I figure 10 oz, for me, and
    a glass of Malbec for her, which was charged up as a Chianti
    at a buck or two more. When confronted, the bartender made
    some excuse about Malbec and Chianti being next to each other
    on the computer. Of course he'd never push Malbec when someone
    ordered the more expensive Chianti, would he. We had been
    thinking about dining on site (the restaurant gets good
    notices), but this experience took away that urge.

    lili had been to Sonny Bryan's twenty years ago and was
    curious as to how it compared these days, so we went to West
    End station on the 29 bus (the hotel turns out to have been
    convenient to it), and it was a quick stroll from there.

    It's a decidedly unfunky almost genteel spot in an old office
    building and with a clean unsmoky smell about it - not that
    promising, truth be told, but it was way too late to go
    anyplace else, and, you know, what the heck.

    They seated us in the back - I'd have thought perhaps to keep
    an eye out lest we run out on the bill, but it was right near
    the back door, so I don't know what that was all about. Maybe
    they thought we needed a quiet romantic place to chow down in.

    The wine list is basic - Chardonnay or Merlot, and they were
    out of Merlot. lili joined me in a Shiner Bock, far more
    satisfactory, and a pound of fatty brisket, which was
    surprisingly excellent meat, though not very smoky - there
    were signs of a smoke ring that was mostly cut off, worse
    luck. At least they didn't cut off all the fat. What is it
    with some so-called barbecue places that trim their brisket
    to get rid of the bark and the fat and the smoke ring and
    present you proudly with what is essentially dry pot roast?
    Sonny's at least had the decency to leave some of the goodness,
    but why trim at all?

    His sauce is coriander-heavy and moderately sweet, improved
    quite a bit with a squirt or three of Cholula.

    Back to the hotel, where we were kept awake all hours by
    parties going on down there nine stories; one got really loud
    around 1 and went on with breaks until 3 plus, then afterward,
    blessed sleep.

    That godsend 29 bus took us downtown, where we hopped the
    light rail one or two stops to the Sheraton Dallas.
     
  10. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    It was early, so our room wasn't nearly ready, so we checked
    our bags and took some combination of public transports to
    the other Lockhart Smokehouse, where we arrived at close on
    opening time, with only about an 8 person line ahead of us.

    I went to the bar to get a waiting beer, but the pourer said
    that I had to have food in hand before I was allowed to buy.
    So back in line, which took 10 minutes, for a pound of fatty
    brisket and a rib. lili wanted baked beans, so we got a small
    order. Everything was excellent, the brisket as rich and smoky
    as anyone would like, the rib done with just that little tug
    to the meat that makes one's teeth happy. I was left with a
    cup of beans, because these had been heavily spiked with I
    think serrano peppers and thus were too ahua for her. They
    tasted good, and I ate them up, which meant I didn't have room
    for much brisket, so there was plenty to take home for brekkers.

    We had a Rahr Texas Red, harmless, and some kind of berry-
    flavored cider from Sonoma, sweet and harmless.

    There are those who express a distinct preference for this
    location or the one up in Plano; I was well satisfied by both.

    Off to the Meadows Museum at SMU, which came highly recommended.
    It's pretty easy to get to and from via the light rail and then
    the student bus. We got there just in time for the daily docent
    tour. The docent asked what we were interested in, and I blurted
    out that I was a Goya person, which it turned out she was as well.
    So we spent most of our docenting on Goya and, since he was also
    well represented and hung nearby, Velasquez. Some pretty cool
    stuff at this museum. After the 90-minute tour was over, we had
    some time to revisit our favorites and to see the rest of the
    collection. Pretty good all told, and as this very intense young
    fellow pointed out (I don't know if he was staff, volunteer, or
    just a fan), a first-rate little sculpture garden out back.

    Afterward we flagged down the bus driver on the street and had a
    nice chat with her on the way back to the train station.

    The trip back downtown was quick, and our room was just ready.
    They'd given us an executive suite, two big rooms with all
    the bells and whistles, in a kind of old style, which was
    fine, as we are kind of old style. Dreamily comfy beds.

    Having had our adventure for the day, we just hung around
    instead of trying for more barbecue, taking full advantage of
    the club lounge and its complimentary Canyon Road Cabernet,
    of which lili had several glasses; I had an ungodly pairing
    of Shiner bock and Dr. Pepper, not drunk at precisely the same
    time, though. In addition to the usual cheese and crudites and
    stuff, there were tasty though tenderized to death teriyaki
    beef skewers and greasy but spicy and good-tasting samosas.

    The concierge was very helpful.

    Bedtime came early, because I planned on an 0530ish light rail
    to the airport, which came altogether too soon. I forgot the
    leftover brisket in the fridge.

    UA1797 DFW IAD 0725 1129 739 4E

    Security was a snap, and I was at the gate in plenty of time.
    Nice flight. Breakfast was some kind of puckish egg substance
    with cheese that I didn't eat, getting my calories from a
    cinnamon roll (as I've said, a far cry from those served
    during Continental's glory days) and a Courvoisier.
     
  11. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    It was early, so our room wasn't nearly ready, so we checked
    our bags and took some combination of public transports to
    the other Lockhart Smokehouse, where we arrived at close on
    opening time, with only about an 8 person line ahead of us.

    I went to the bar to get a waiting beer, but the pourer said
    that I had to have food in hand before I was allowed to buy.
    So back in line, which took 10 minutes, for a pound of fatty
    brisket and a rib. lili wanted baked beans, so we got a small
    order. Everything was excellent, the brisket as rich and smoky
    as anyone would like, the rib done with just that little tug
    to the meat that makes one's teeth happy. I was left with a
    cup of beans, because these had been heavily spiked with I
    think serrano peppers and thus were too ahua for her. They
    tasted good, and I ate them up, which meant I didn't have room
    for much brisket, so there was plenty to take home for brekkers.

    We had a Rahr Texas Red, harmless, and some kind of berry-
    flavored cider from Sonoma, sweet and harmless.

    There are those who express a distinct preference for this
    location or the one up in Plano; I was well satisfied by both.

    Off to the Meadows Museum at SMU, which came highly recommended.
    It's pretty easy to get to and from via the light rail and then
    the student bus. We got there just in time for the daily docent
    tour. The docent asked what we were interested in, and I blurted
    out that I was a Goya person, which it turned out she was as well.
    So we spent most of our docenting on Goya and, since he was also
    well represented and hung nearby, Velasquez. Some pretty cool
    stuff at this museum. After the 90-minute tour was over, we had
    some time to revisit our favorites and to see the rest of the
    collection. Pretty good all told, and as this very intense young
    fellow pointed out (I don't know if he was staff, volunteer, or
    just a fan), a first-rate little sculpture garden out back.

    Afterward we flagged down the bus driver on the street and had a
    nice chat with her on the way back to the train station.

    The trip back downtown was quick, and our room was just ready.
    They'd given us an executive suite, two big rooms with all
    the bells and whistles, in a kind of old style, which was
    fine, as we are kind of old style. Dreamily comfy beds.

    Having had our adventure for the day, we just hung around
    instead of trying for more barbecue, taking full advantage of
    the club lounge and its complimentary Canyon Road Cabernet,
    of which lili had several glasses; I had an ungodly pairing
    of Shiner bock and Dr. Pepper, not drunk at precisely the same
    time, though. In addition to the usual cheese and crudites and
    stuff, there were tasty though tenderized to death teriyaki
    beef skewers and greasy but spicy and good-tasting samosas.

    The concierge was very helpful.

    Bedtime came early, because I planned on an 0530ish light rail
    to the airport, which came altogether too soon. I forgot the
    leftover brisket in the fridge.

    UA1797 DFW IAD 0725 1129 739 4E

    Security was a snap, and I was at the gate in plenty of time.
    Nice flight. Breakfast was some kind of puckish egg substance
    with cheese that I didn't eat, getting my calories from a
    cinnamon roll (as I've said, a far cry from those served
    during Continental's glory days) and a Courvoisier.
     
  12. mezzomario

    mezzomario New Member

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    looks good
     

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