WAS-LAX-WAS-LAX-BOS repositioning (MRs)

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  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA 501 BWI LAX 1753 2037 320 3A Empower:td: Ch9^:td:

    Before my flight I met my friends Dale and Gail for lunch
    at the highly respected cheap eats place Cuba de Ayer in
    Burtonsville, which they'd enjoyed in the past but had not
    been to for quite a while; it has garnered many good notices
    in all the media in the meantime.

    The restaurant is a pretty nondescript storefront in a
    pretty dusty neighborhood, but inside the maybe 10 booths
    and 5 tables are pleasant enough, as was our waiter, who
    however was quick and unsubtle with the upsell but not
    quite on the ball at times (such as when I wanted another
    beer).

    We started off with a sampler platter, an somewhat
    ungenerous serving of three standards, all of which were
    good. In order of preference -

    pernil, a couple ounces of marinated roast pork sliced
    thin and smothered with onions;

    croquetas, two small fried blobs of some mashed starchy
    root flavored with ground ham and colored with annatto,
    much better than they sound; and

    yuca frita, which was crisp outside and not quite tender
    on the inside, quite salty, also two small pieces.

    The house hot sauce, a thinnish herbal concoction with a
    gentle attack and a bit, not much, of a backbite, made
    everything even better.

    Gail got more of that pernil as her main course; among his
    inattentivenesses the waiter had not pointed out that this
    would be the case when she ordered "the roast pork." Not
    a tragedy, as the stuff was quite tasty. The main courses
    came in modest servings as well, and we needed all the
    starchy sides that came with - crunchy tostones, soft sweet
    plantains, black beans, and rice - to fill us up.

    Dale's ropa vieja was cumin-scented shredded pot roast,
    pretty savory, rather like a mild chili.

    Masitas de puerco were fried cubes of meat, somewhat
    marinated beforehand; I had moros y cristianos as my
    side - black beans cooked together with rice and herbs.

    These come with tostones (fried starchy plantains) or
    platanos (stewed sweet bananas). Among the starches in
    common use in the Americas, these are among the ones I like
    best. Lucky we got some of each.

    It was simple, wholesome cooking: meat, lots of onions, and
    modest seasoning, mostly cumin, salt, and hot pepper. It was
    also, except for my stuff, all preprepared and reheated.
    Also, it's no longer really cheap eats.

    When we left, the room, which had been almost deserted when
    we arrived, was jumping.

    We still had a couple hours so went off and had some beers.

    They got me to the airport about 80 minutes before takeoff;
    as security was surprisingly slow, I didn't have a whole
    lot of time to kill.
     
  2. violist
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    The oldish Airbus looked a little frayed around the edges,
    but the seats were comfy enough. We were served by an
    incredibly cute but pokerfaced blonde FA, and the old song,
    paraphrased, came to mind: ... and all the stars who never
    were are parking cars and serving booze to jaded 1Ks ... .

    Courvoisier came as a double; I was somewhat surprised to
    note that the guy in 2B had a glass full of brown booze -
    maybe it was cut with water, but it looked like an
    astonishing serving.

    After that, warm nuts, mostly almonds, which I like, but
    no hot towel to wipe my hands with afterward.

    My supper was was Tuscan chicken - brined and thus tender
    though overdone white meat with spinach, olives, and sundry
    sundried tomatoes, in a rather acrid red sauce; two kinds of
    squash, butternut and something I couldn't identify; and
    couscous with red onion and olive bits. A quite filling
    meal, would have been more so if I had eaten all of it, but
    the salt did me in. The other choice was cheese lasagne,
    which smelled okay.

    Dessert: oatmeal raisin cookie in a paper bag; this called
    for another double Courvoisier.

    The other cute FA working coach was much more my style, in
    her 30s at least, girl-next-door looks, and, most important,
    a smiley face on legs.

    Channel 9 provided a fair amount of entertainment and then
    comfort as I dozed. Sadly, when the video was turned off,
    the audio was turned off as well; so the most interesting
    part of the ATC communications was missing. We got in of
    couse a bit early and of course had to wait for the ground
    crew to be ready for us.

    At the T7 club, the wireless was glacially slow, so I hiked
    over to the T6 club, where the food is even more scanty, but
    the Internet is much better, to get my e-mail.
     
  3. violist
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    Apparently, no matter what the hour, the hotel shuttles
    come every 15 minutes or less. Mine to the Hilton LAX came
    within seconds of my stepping out on the curb, a record.
    Entered the rather grand vestibule and was suitably
    impressed. The person at the desk gave me a very nice room
    on the floor below the executive lounge; I dumped my stuff
    and went up to find that this one actually had a concierge
    and a kitchen staff. I saw a family who had apparently
    special ordered snacks, as the kids were chowing on stuff
    that wasn't out (or perhaps was out). All I could find were
    cookies and candy.

    Watched part of a dull football game and munched on a
    cookie that was so unmemorable that I don't remember if the
    black dots in it were raisins or chocolate chips.

    Back to the room, where the bed turned out to be welcoming
    but only until 3 am, when it kicked me out with a backache.
    Fine - I'd planned on getting up at 5 anyway; just surf for
    a couple hours, easy peasy. Wrong - the connection was down.
    Shower and a futile effort to salvage another hour of sleep.
    So I was grateful for the 24-hour every 15 minute shuttle,
    which, when I got it at 5 something, was fuller than full,
    with people deposited at the Embassy Suites, Air Canada,
    and American, so by the time we got to Terminal 6, there
    were only two of us left. We were both going to the elite
    checkin, where it turned out that checkin took seconds. On
    the machine my seat assignment came up 1F; a rat was duly
    smelled. I tried to change, but no such luck. Maybe later
    at the club. Security was pretty quick, though there was a
    bunch of extra and unnecessary rigmarole, and I was happy
    to be out of there.

    UA 950 LAX IAD 0750 1533 763 1F Empower^ Ch9^^ was 777 14A

    As I wanted to get my e-mail, I went back to the Continental
    club, which couldn't help me resolve my seating issue; not a
    big deal, anyway. As I suspected, the equipment had swapped
    out to a 767, so I traded a pretty nice business seat for
    what is probably the worst first-class seat in the air. Plus
    when I got there, there was someone poaching my seat, so I
    got just a little testy with her, which endeared me neither
    to her nor to the cabin crew, but tough noogies.

    Channel 9 was announced by the cockpit.

    Being in row 1 I could hear the flight attendants moaning
    about the trip - they were all high seniority and had bid
    the route hoping to work a triple, which is pretty much
    everyone's favorite aircraft, and were as irritated as we
    were about the substitution. I commiserated with them,
    and after that the staff started being quite nice to me.

    Breakfast started with the customary Courvoisier, followed
    by a tray that offered a harder than usual egg puck, a
    patty of unbelievably bland and tasteless sausage with a
    really nasty fibrous texture, a brick of scallopped potato
    that was by far the best thing around. A fruit appetizer
    was assorted trimmings of sour unripe stuff. The croissant
    was fairly hideous as well. The crew, looking out for me.
    kept me in Courvoisier, which was good. We landed a bit
    early, so I caught an early bus to Rosslyn and then the
    38B to Georgetown, where as it was early bird special time
    I decided to treat myself to the prix fixe at Bistro
    Francais, an old favorite in Georgetown that I periodically
    visit when in search of comfort food, and between 5 and 7
    and then again late at night one gets appie, main, and
    dessert for $25, a glass of cheap wine included. Tonight
    the comfort was pretty absent, though, as on Sunday night
    maybe the A and B teams were both off.
     
  4. violist
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    Moules nicoises were fine - a dozen sweet fresh mussels
    dotted with an olive-garlic-tomato butter and broiled just a
    little too much but not enough to complain about. But
    instead of my usual main course, kidneys in mustard sauce,
    I tried the duck two ways - roast breast and braised leg,
    said the menu. I requested the breast done rare: it came
    medium plus, there being a tinge of red in the middle only
    by virtue of the meat having been brined. It had been
    "pan-roasted" in a none-too-clean pan, which I didn't
    really mind, because the treatment added a flavor note
    similar to wok hae, which was about all the flavor that
    the dish had: its sauce was an underseasoned brownness,
    and the braised leg seemed to have been boiled for
    stock and fished out and browned a little before being
    dumped on the plate. The side dish, such as it was,
    was advertised as "wild rice" but was really the
    ubiquitous mixture of wild and tame, also grossly
    underseasoned; the wild component was borderline rancid
    as well as underdone; the white part was mushy. Maybe I
    should have sent it back and gotten the kidneys, but on
    this nonculinary day they probably would have tasted
    like pee. I had a beer with the mussels, something neutral,
    Stella or Amstel or somesuch; the house red, bearing an
    uncanny resemblance to the Trinity Oaks Merlot that one
    gets on the plane, multiplied the flavor of the main
    course manifold.

    They bring out the dessert tray, which always has the
    same things on it; I always hem and haw and then get the
    almond tart. This was the familiar dryish but good-tasting
    thing - I had another glass of the house red wine with it.

    The best thing about the meal was that it was lactose-free.
     
  5. violist
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    UA 967 IAD LAX 1747 2023 777 9D Ch9:td: Empower^

    I was very, very early for my flight. I looked into getting
    on another, but the earlier good flight was packed full, and
    the succeeding one, which had room both in coach and first
    class, used a ratty old plane with not so great seats; as I
    had been deprived of my chance to ride the 777 earlier, I
    waited around. Given the fact that the Senator lounge has
    decent catering and the United club does not, it made sense
    to head to concourse B, where a pretty good buffet awaited.

    Stuffed cabbage tasted like what your grandmother would have
    made, if she had been poor and familiar with Spam; actually,
    other than the mushiness of the meat and rice filling, it was
    pretty good. A currywurst was much better than anything I'd
    ever had on the streets of Berlin or Frankfurt.

    On the cold side I tried a premade mortadella sandwich
    with not so much mortadella in it, palatable especially
    when augmented with cold cuts that included rather
    ordinary turkey breast, good salami, and excellent hot
    capicolla.

    Vanilla cream with berries sounded promising - I was
    expecting a Bavarian -, but it turned out to be tapioca
    out of a can, not too bad as long as the berries lasted,
    but then too mass-produced-tasting. I asked for a glass
    of Glenlivet, which improved things mightily. As did
    the second.

    I spent a couple hours on the Internet, reading lurid,
    titillating, and horrible things, mostly about food or
    politics.

    I was almost sorry to blast myself loose from the lounge,
    but it was getting on toward when the big European flights
    left, and the place was getting pretty crowded, so a quick
    train ride and quite a long stroll got me to my gate, where
    boarding had not started and there was this huge crowd
    milling about, obstructing the main corridor.

    Boarding took an eternity, but most of that time I spent in
    my favored part of the airplane, the little nonfirst cabin,
    though all the side seats were taken by the time I had had
    access to the seatmap.

    I passed on food, downing just a couple Courvoisiers and
    of course the cookie when that came.

    On my console the audio and video were down almost the
    whole flight, which nearly got a complaint from me, but
    by the second glass of booze I was pretty mellow.
    Channel 9 was off anyway, and the classical channel was
    running one of those best of crap medley programs, so
    no great loss.

    Later on a snack was offered, bananas or something else
    I forget; I had a banana of course for the potassium.

    A quick overnight at the Hilton, where the desk clerk
    remembered me from the last time I was there and gave me a
    quiet next to corner room on a low floor - there was some
    kind of convention that had pretty much eaten up all their
    HHonors floor space. One really gross thing - a huge
    water leak in the corridor, which was handled by a
    makeshift plastic bag funnel into a big tub.

    Breakfast in the lounge was an impressive spread of starch
    and sugar, no protein in sight. A bowl of fruit and a
    snitched banana and I was out of there.
     
  6. violist
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    UA 442 LAX ORD 0907 1510 752 3E Ch9:td: Empower^

    More starch and sugar and another banana (got to ingest
    as much potassium as I can) at the Continental United Club.
    Soon it was time to go to the gate, which was right at the
    construction site in Terminal 6, and this was a small gate,
    67A I think, and boarding was just chaos.

    The flight itself was okay, and breakfast, though the
    usual eggscrescence, potato weirdness, and mystery salvage
    meat, was less underseasoned than usual, and the sausage
    so-called, though suffering from that premasticated
    texture, at least had salt and pepper in it, rendering it
    edible (half of it at least). The fruit appetizer was
    shameful, considering that it had presumably been loaded
    in California. Courvoisier, as usual, helped, and I drank
    the front cabin out of it.

    My buddy Anne met me at the airport, and after a drink at
    the club bar, we took the shuttle to the IC and the
    McCormick & Schmick across from the driveway.

    My other buddy the Dodger is to the envy of all now GS.
    When this all started he was a lowly Premier, and I used
    to get him into the club, for which he was almost
    pathetically grateful, but now he has facilities open to
    him that are far more prestigious than mine. I guess that
    comes from leading a productive life or something. His
    wife, formerly perhaps miffed at how much he travels these
    days, does admit to taking full advantage of the reflected
    glory in the form of upgrades and whatnot.

    The Dodgers started by sharing the mussels, which were
    excellent.

    Gina followed with the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass, the
    second most expensive dish on the menu, next to the double
    cut ribeye. It was quite large, done, as far as I could
    see, just this side of rare. She pronounced it superb and
    worth the price.

    The Dodge balanced by ordering the cheapest main course,
    which I would have discouraged, the cashew crusted tilapia
    - he thought it was fine, but then he's an econometrician
    and not a food critic. It was three filets (his eyes
    popped when he saw them, saying that he could eat only
    two; he ate all three) with a sizable serving of extraneous
    stuff on the side.

    Anne's ribeye was medium-rare (ordered rare) but still very
    palatable. It had a substantial gristle streak, though,
    which I stole.

    I made up for Anne's non-ordering of an appetizer and got
    three (but no main course). In order:

    Kobe carpaccio, though not really Kobe, nor quite carpaccio,
    was very tasty: thin sheets of eye round, pretty well
    marbled, topped with arugula, shaved grana, and a Parmesan
    and olive oil emulsion.

    A Maryland-style jumbo lump crab cake was a little bit
    disappointing, as it had one jumbo lump and a lot of pretty
    tasty but very salty shredded meat of unknown but crabby
    origin, in a wet and salty substrate that must have had
    eggs, mustard, and not enough crumbs.

    Calamari "frito misto" [sic] - I actually coveted a different
    starter, but the Dodgers had almost ordered this instead
    of the mussels (wondering as do we all what a "frito misto"
    might be), and I ordered this, not unwillingly, of course,
    with the idea of sharing some with them, but by the time it
    came of course they had eaten most of their food and were
    full. So this last appetizer didn't work, as we were all
    sufficiently deappetized by this time. It turns out that
    rather than being garnished with a mixture of large and
    small corn chips, these squid were adulterated with a
    frittomisto of artichoke hearts and hot peppers, both of
    which appeared in profusion and both of which I believe
    cost more than squid does. I ate all the vegetables and
    what few tentacles there were and left the rest. Should
    have taken the squid rings back for midnight snack, but I
    was cowed by the gravitas of the company and refrained
    from asking the waiter for a humany bag.

    Wines:
    We tried the Navarra Correas against the Gascon Malbec; they
    both show similar characteristics, both robust, acid, fairly
    tannic. The former is smoother, the latter more acidy, which
    I thought would go well with a steak, but Anne preferred
    the Navarra, and so it was.

    Sokol Blosser Evolution, a mishmosh of many grapes with a
    large proportion of tropical fruity and floral varieties, I
    suspect Viognier and Gewurztraminer, was a little sweet and
    much appreciated by the Dodgers.

    I had Goose Island Honkers Ale throughout though snitched
    a little sip of Anne's Malbec to cleanse my palate before
    and after my first first course. The Dodger commented
    approvingly that the founder or owner or something of this
    brewery was in our class in school.

    No room for dessert; just coffee, which smelled abhorrent.

    At length we scraped ourselves off the fairly comfortable
    chairs and wended our way to our respective homes.
     
  7. violist
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    UA 967 IAD LAX 1747 2023 777 9D Ch9:td: Empower^

    I was very, very early for my flight. I looked into getting
    on another, but the earlier good flight was packed full, and
    the succeeding one, which had room both in coach and first
    class, used a ratty old plane with not so great seats; as I
    had been deprived of my chance to ride the 777 earlier, I
    waited around. Given the fact that the Senator lounge has
    decent catering and the United club does not, it made sense
    to head to concourse B, where a pretty good buffet awaited.

    Stuffed cabbage tasted like what your grandmother would have
    made, if she had been poor and familiar with Spam; actually,
    other than the mushiness of the meat and rice filling, it was
    pretty good. A currywurst was much better than anything I'd
    ever had on the streets of Berlin or Frankfurt.

    On the cold side I tried a premade mortadella sandwich
    with not so much mortadella in it, palatable especially
    when augmented with cold cuts that included rather
    ordinary turkey breast, good salami, and excellent hot
    capicolla.

    Vanilla cream with berries sounded promising - I was
    expecting a Bavarian -, but it turned out to be tapioca
    out of a can, not too bad as long as the berries lasted,
    but then too mass-produced-tasting. I asked for a glass
    of Glenlivet, which improved things mightily. As did
    the second.

    I spent a couple hours on the Internet, reading lurid,
    titillating, and horrible things, mostly about food or
    politics.

    I was almost sorry to blast myself loose from the lounge,
    but it was getting on toward when the big European flights
    left, and the place was getting pretty crowded, so a quick
    train ride and quite a long stroll got me to my gate, where
    boarding had not started and there was this huge crowd
    milling about, obstructing the main corridor.

    Boarding took an eternity, but most of that time I spent in
    my favored part of the airplane, the little nonfirst cabin,
    though all the side seats were taken by the time I had had
    access to the seatmap.

    I passed on food, downing just a couple Courvoisiers and
    of course the cookie when that came.

    On my console the audio and video were down almost the
    whole flight, which nearly got a complaint from me, but
    by the second glass of booze I was pretty mellow.
    Channel 9 was off anyway, and the classical channel was
    running one of those best of crap medley programs, so
    no great loss.

    Later on a snack was offered, bananas or something else
    I forget; I had a banana of course for the potassium.

    A quick overnight at the Hilton, where the desk clerk
    remembered me from the last time I was there and gave me a
    quiet next to corner room on a low floor - there was some
    kind of convention that had pretty much eaten up all their
    HHonors floor space. One really gross thing - a huge
    water leak in the corridor, which was handled by a
    makeshift plastic bag funnel into a big tub.

    Breakfast in the lounge was an impressive spread of starch
    and sugar, no protein in sight. A bowl of fruit and a
    snitched banana and I was out of there.
     
  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    FIN
    Met Anne again - she was doing some kind of multi-mile
    bonus extravaganza to the west coast; got us Vienna Beef
    Chicago dogs at some stand - pretty much as expected. For
    those not in the know, a Chicago dog is built as follows:
    squishy bun, all the better to fall apart over you, my dear;
    all-beef 2 ounce dog; pickle spear; tomato slices; lurid
    neon green relish; chopped onion; cheap yellow mustard;
    celery salt, pickled peppers - I think that's it. Sounds
    nasty. It's actually quite decent, though I could do
    without the mustard and celery salt. We smuggled these
    into the AC, where they expect us to atone for our free
    beer and free cheap wine by buying hugely overpriced
    panini and sushi and the like.

    Saw her off at her gate and, visions of hamburgers dancing
    in my head, went to the Billy Goat Tavern where at the last
    moment I decided to defect to the Italian beef side. Big
    mistake. It was salty deli meat in a roll that managed to be
    tough and soggy at the same time, topped with giardiniera
    pickled in glacial acetic. Near the customer service desk
    there is a mailbox that in the past had been known to
    permanently eat my mail. I was tempted to toss this sandwich
    in but took pity on the schlemazels using the box and threw
    my detritus into the next trash receptacle. I hightailed it
    to the United Club, where a Honkers Ale was properly priced
    at 0.00.

    UA 836 ORD BOS 1735 2054 752 3E Ch9:td: Empower^

    I believe some kind of nasty food was offered on this
    flight - oh, it was baked chicken or vegetable ravioli. I
    passed, as usual, in favor of Courvoisier. After landing,
    I took various forms of public transit to the home of my
    friends Dave and Ruth (Dave is a violist in an orchestra
    where I have been concertmaster for a quarter century - one
    of the few clients that I still keep), where bed was most
    comfortable and welcome.

    --

    Dinner with my friends Beth and Nicholas, Irene and John,
    and Gunther. Nicholas was under the weather and didn't show
    up, which had a domino effect, as Gunther doesn't drive, so
    Irene and John had to pick him up, and they got lost, and
    dinner ended up half an hour late. Luckily, Beth cooks her
    lamb rare.

    We started with salmon canapes of the old school, lots of
    dill (I don't care for this herb and think it goes
    exceedingly badly with wine) and Cheddar shortbreads,
    which were made by a friend and which I ate several of, as
    they didn't go to war with the Champers, which was
    Deutz Rose n.v. - an old bottle, slightly maderized, very
    pleasant, with just that tiny touch of sweetness that I
    find pleasant now and again.

    Our starter: Maine red shrimp on endive/romaine vinaigrette,
    remoulade for the shrimp. Nicely done, the tender little
    crustaceans individually and lovingly peeled by hand.

    Louis Latour Grand Ardeche 09 - pleasant, very grapy, a
    touch of sweetness, nothing exciting, good and emphasized
    a similar grapy quality (source unknown) in the shrimp.

    Roast lamb (rare to medium rare) with fingerling potatoes
    and ratatouille-stuffed delicata squash. When I'd walked in
    I noted that the atmosphere was "ratatouillish," and so it
    was. At table John and I analyzed how Beth's version was
    so superior to ours - turns out John cooks his faster, and
    Beth does hers lower and slower; the quality of the olive
    oil might have something to do with it as well. I overload
    mine with garlic, and she has a more balanced hand; also,
    she uses more zucchini in it than I do (which is zero). The
    lamb, rubbed with Provencal herbs, was blushing perfect,
    i.e. two notches too well done for me, but the timing had
    something to do with that.

    Pichon-Lalande (Pauillac) 78 - when I opened this: scents
    of rot and TCA, which partially blew off after a while,
    leaving a very deep, still fairly youthful wine with lots of
    currant and herbs, lots of acid and tannin, ready to go
    another decade. But there was still a bit of cork that
    naggingly remained throughout. Gunther didn't like it, which
    increases his luster in my eyes.

    I didn't taste the Rogue River blue, because I totally abhor
    blue cheese - one of the few blue foods I don't like; the
    Monte Enebro (Montenebro, queso de Teitar) was goaty (really
    unpleasant to me) but obviously a very well made substance.

    Lascombes (Margaux) 78 came in a ratty-looking bottle with a
    damaged capsule and a deteriorated cork. John, who had
    brought it, speculated that it was kaput, which it wasn't -
    it had a whiff of the corkedness of the Pichon, but that
    blew off rapidly, revealing a thinning, acidy, cherryish
    old lady that was very drinkable with the cheese, though
    not so complex and interesting as the Pichon.

    Homemade meringues (actually not all that hard to do, if you
    have a lot of time and an oven that goes really low) filled
    with strawberries, with persimmon puree as the sauce and and
    pomegranate seeds as garnish - a nice ending.
     

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