February 26, 2009
February 23, 2009
There are two things I hate about travel:
1. Airplanes. They are all really uncomfortable
2. Being away from home
I wanted to add a little more to that
I have traveled a lot in the course of my 51 years. Most, of course after I left for college. Back then, the thought of travel was romantic. I wanted to see the world and experience places and things that I could not get at home.
When I was 18, I flew down to Peru to work in an iron mine. To pay for college, I worked in a coal mine in Coffeen, Illinois, and another one in Kemmerer, Wyoming. After graduating, I moved to Houston for one year, then Denver for one year, then back to Houston.
Back in Houston I had a job that needed some nominal travel. Mostly to Dallas, New Orleans, Tulsa and OKC. Day trips, occasionally longer trips. Travel was still unusual and interesting.
I finally moved overseas. This was something that I had wanted to since college. And Caracas was a great choice. I had a great two years there, and traveled all over South America and Mexico. My Spanish got to be pretty good – I had some in High School (notoriously my worst subject) and being forced to use it every day was valuable. I traveled about ½ time, maybe a little less. That was starting to get tiring. Latin American airlines were (are?) poorly run and probably dangerous. I never flew business class (and I am 6’6” and at that time probably 230#) so it was wearying.
Then I moved to Singapore for two years, and traveled non-stop. I was there for 22 months and flew back to Houston 18 times. At that time it was always a two stop trip (it is now a one stop trip) and at least 26 clock hours. Think about that – 36 days traveling. Additionally I had to fly around the region – so I was out of Singapore three weeks out of four. That was a lot of travel. The only biz travel I did was back to the US. So the flights to Beijing or Perth or Melbourne were all quite painful.
(It is with a touch of irony that I am writing this on Continental Flight 59, a Boeing 767 flying from Amsterdam to Houston in Business Class)
When I left Singapore, I stopped traveling, happily, for a short while. But since then I have indeed been traveling more. In particular since I took the board seat for a company based in Oslo, Norway.
Now, in terms of travel, they really treat me well. It is business class travel and the hotels are nice.
And the places I go for work can be interesting. But to me, it still comes back to those two things I told my brother:
There are two things I hate about travel:
2. Being away from home
I just like to stay at home.
February 21, 2009
On the last flight, a 21 year old girl got on the plane sobbing. she sat next to me in a middle seat. the crew got her kleenex and water, and were generally solicitous.
The the guy on the other side of her asked loudly: 'So what happened to you???' she sobbed 'my brother's ticket was cancelled, and it is all my father's fault!'
February 20, 2009
February 19, 2009
February 18, 2009
February 17, 2009
February 16, 2009
We stayed at the Fairfax House:
which was built in 1854, and recently converted to a Bed and Breakfast. It was quite nice.
Here we all are: Matt Mark, Jeannette, Me (Dan - in the back), Mel, Abbie, Chas
This is Oaklawn Manor - the former Governor of Louisiana lives there now, but it is open for tours.
Here we are taking a self portrait with the Bayou Teche (and my brother Matthew) in the background.
It looks a lot nicer than it really is.
This is the inside. (I didn't really wear that hat too much. I bought it in Cuzco, Peru)
If you look in the background, you can see the box for a Singer Upright Vacuum Cleaner.
It didn't get too much use.
It sort of looks as if I should be cooking crack in that place.
February 14, 2009
Below is a photo of the jumpers, shortly before their helicopter crashed:
Here is the after picture:
Nobody got hurt.
February 13, 2009
February 11, 2009
You can see the adits just over the trailers. They are sort of hard to make out, but they are the tunnels that drive into the oil shale.
I worked underground here for about a year.
This is the other side of the adit, looking out.
Here I am, testing a roof bolter.
February 9, 2009
February 7, 2009
Then we had dinner, and then Rabih Alameddine spoke.
It was all fun.
Whenever we go to these events I hate to valet park. Not so much that I don't like to have other people drive my car (though I don't) but because I hate to wait for my car at the end of the evening.
So we parked in the street (as we are want to do) and when we were leaving Andrea White (see above) walked out with us, to her self parked car - for the same reason (Hizzoner skedaddled out earlier on his own). Andrea knows Doreen (she doesn't know me) so it was a nice stroll.
February 4, 2009
Last night we went to Feast for one of their wine dinners. This one was called "Swine and Wine". It was a five course + dessert (I guess that would make it 6 course) dinner.
I would call it a "Tasting Menu" except that tasting menus usually have small portions. In this case, the portions and the pours were quite generous. I am not very good at taking photos of food, but I have integrated some photos, and my comments, into the menu below:
‘Swine and Wine’ Dinner
Tuesday February 3 6.30pm
Borgo Magredo Prosecco, Italy
The pork was braised and just as tender as it could be. Combined with the little conrichons made the tart/fat/unami flavors just pop out. I could have eaten this all night long. The Prosecco when great with this dish. But I think that Prosecco goes with just about everything.
Roast Pork Belly with Radish and Orange Salad
Mustiguillo Mestizaje, Valencia, Spain
This was the highlight of the evening for me. There is nothing like the melting softness of pork fat married to the crispness of the crackling. The little orange slices and radishes helped tart up this extremely flavorful meal. One bite of fat, one bite of crisp, one bite of sweet, one bite of tart. The wine was very unusual - a grape I had not hear of before (a bobol) but it marched to the same drummer as this course. Good match
Nose, Tail and Trotter
Montepeloso Eneo Toscano, Super Tuscan, Italy
This is, of course, a nod to the "Nose to Tail" dining made famous by Fergus Henderson at the St John Bar in London. James Silk, one of the Chefs and Owners of Feast worked with Fergus in his youth. (In reality, James is not too old now). The tail was breaded and fried, the trotter was braised and (mercifully) removed from the bone, and the nose was, well, cooked. I loved the tail. You had to pick it up and eat it with your fingers. The trotter was good, and the nose was - - interesting. I did not like the texture. It was sort of like eating a nose. The flavor was good, but I could not really get over the texture. I ate about 1/2 of mine. Doreen had to cover hers up on her plate. It looked just like a pig nose. The wine was an excellent super Tuscan. I like super Tuscans. Think of them as Chiantis that don't make the legal cut to be called Chianti. And almost always for the better.
Pork Confit Tart, Duchess Potatoes, Braised Celery with Ham
Conreria D’Scala Les Brugueres Blanc, Priorat, Spain
Now we are onto the main course. The Confit was made about 2 months ago, and left to age under a layer of fat. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it again. It was made into a tart, and the crust was also especially delicious. The duchess potatoes we might call "twice baked". Baked, mashed, baked again until a bit brown and crispy on top. Wonderful. The celery didn't really do anything for me. I am not a huge celery fan - cooked or raw. I had a bit, and let it sit. The wine was very strange, but oddly enjoyable. A white Priorat! Yes, indeed. Refresing and a nice counterpoint to the richness of the confit and spuds.
Roasted Pork Loin with Crackling, Roasted Potatoes, Garlic Rutabaga, Brussel Sprouts and Apple Sauce
Calvet Thunevin Constance, Langedoc Roussillon, France
By this time we were all getting a little full. The roast pork was described as a typical English Sunday roast. The potatoes we nicely browned on the outside and soft in the middle. The rutabaga (sometimes called Swede) was earthy and garlicy. The brussel sprouts we crispy on the outside, and not at all overdone. Apple sauce was apple sauce. Can't complain about that. The wine was a good Langedoc which complemented the whole lot put together. Now I was really full.
Château Tirecul La Gravière Les Pins, France
Here we are about midway through the meal:
Davis and Lisa at the end of the meal. Lisa is falling over from eating so much:
It was really good.