Seeing the world through leopard-print glasses
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Roamin' Holiday Part 1
3.5 days in the Eternal City and Sheena doesn't even know where to begin.
OK. Let's do food first. Sheena will easily come home a couple of pounds under her fighting weight, which is a complete shock because everything here - regardless of price or venue has been stellar. It is crap free cuisine. Everything is real and fresh and has flavour and aroma. That's what struck me most in Argentina too a couple of years back. Why did North America think it was a good idea to settle for shit food?
Grocery store giggles.... heh heh... for the gals back @ the office...
Aww.... premade cute little cheese appetizers...
Daily Gelato #1 - Pistachio, hazelnut and something else my travel buddy Cugina picked out. Mine was limon, mega mixed berry (very very high fibs... what a travelling girl needs sometimes) and tiramisu.
Daily Gelato #2: At the top of the Spanish Steps. Limon, Pistachio and extra dark bitter chocolate with candied blood orange. My first gelotasm.
Hotel breakfast buffet. The classiest free spread EVER. Usual pickings for Sheena include the home made slow cooked beans in tomato, spicy sausage, delightful cured coldcuts, cut-it-yourself nutty olive bread, fresh fruits, and pour-your-own prosecco.
Cugina's dinner - Monday.
My dinner - Monday. Before I drizzled olive oil all over everything on that place.
The best spaghetti carbonara I have ever had. This was our lunch after the Vatican tour on Tuesday. We've come to a very particular method of dining venue selection: Walk until your feet are numb and you can no long wiggle your toes. Continue walking beyond this until one of you notices that someone is now officially bleeding. Look up, and take a seat at the restaurant nearest you at that very moment. We knew instinctly we totally lucked out for this 4pm lunch, at Arlu because all the official tour guides we'd had over the last 2 days were there getting wasted after their shift. Rock on.
It was incredibly rich, but portion not so overwhelming that I felt uncomfortable afterwards. Ended up being both lunch & dinner. Tons of great quality cream and cheese. Only pasta I've eaten here, but glad I went for it.
Pear, parmesano, argula salad.
Tuna and tomato pizza. A post Coliseum/Palantine Hills tour snack break much needed before continuing the walk back to the Spanish Steps.
I love this hotel. Free little olive snacky with our bottle of wine in the massive art deco grand piano playing hotel lounge that looks like one of the museums we've toured this week.
Likker shop that sells only 1 thing - absinthe. Tell me which one is good and I'll bring it back with me. You have 24 hours to tell me which one. Starting.... NOW.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Reason #6 Sheena Needs A Blow Torch
As noted in June 2006 Sheena has a Happy Place in London that doesn't break the bank. Err.. like Harrods and shit like that... Kinda laughed my ass off going back and reading that post from 2 years ago, because when I sat down for dinner last night I ordered EXACTLY the same thing as my last visit.
Starters: warm garlicky olives with toothpicks for spearing. And probably the best house pâté I"ve ever had. Chicken liver mousse terraine with plum onion chutney.
Steak Frites. Good frites, extra thin and crispy.
Creme Brulee to die for. Little specks of real vanilla in the custard. And crispy pane of caramelized sugar protecting the drippy creamy goodness from the harshness of the elements.
The Kentish Hog Roast
Today Sheena confesses to a dining mistake.
Not a mistake in judgement, but in execution. A sunny Saturday stroll through the Greenwich markets. Was due to transfer hotels (for the 4th time this week) but wanted to wait out the Yob Parade since football was on from noon to 4ish. Booked a hair appointment for 2pm and so had a couple of hours to kill. Street meat seems to be the order of the day. And what could be better than this:
#1. I had no idea what it actually was, just was in a wing it kind of mood. So selected a lovely fresh baguette from the pile. "D'ya want some onion-sage stuffin' with it"? Sure. I guess. Didn't realize it would be ON the sandwich. Thought maybe a side.
#2. Helping myself to the highly recommended Brown Sauce. If it would have been warm, would have been OK. But too cold and vinegary for my liking.
#3. Forgot to grab a fork, knife and napkin. Dumbass today.
The roast hog was actually very lovely - falling apart tender and juicy. Stuffing was nice. Just a mistake on the bun and with the brown sauce. Ended deconstructing it with my bare fingers and eating all the good porky stuffing goodness and leaving the bread and wiping the sauce on the side of the dish when no one was looking.
Would have again, but need to completely rethink my approach. 4 pounds = 8 bucks give or 50 cents.
More Madness in My Life
Sheena has been on a bit of a music buying binge in recent months. Part recognition of expanded horizons (Thanks El Chaperone.. where ever you are...), part rebuilding a collection lost and scratched and fully entangled in web of cassette tape, part to fill the empty silence of the K-W nightlife which is dreary and dull compared to the old 'hood.
As each missing bit is replaced, a new obsession fills its place. A must have. A soundtrack to haunt my sleep. Madness has been top of the must-have list for a few months now.
Wandering the damp grey streets of Greenwich last night came across Music and Video Exchange. Kind of like Ontario's Beat Goes On, though with a shittier website but wickedly superior selection of non-lame CDs and loads of old vinyl. Could have spent a whole day in there.
Picked up 2 Madness CD's - one for 3 pounds, one for 5. So even at gross 2.2 exhange rates, a steal considering I have had zero luck finding my Madness locally.
Here's what I mean:
Youtube link to It Must Be Love
Friday, April 25, 2008
Yes Virginia... There Is a Two Dollar Tampon
In the ladies room at the Chelsea Football Club
God Bless the Brits
Famous Asshole Judged Too Moody: Kicked Out of Bed and Breakfast
Mr Irving, who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment by an Austrian judge in 2006 for remarks he made in 1989 claiming there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz (views he has now revised), had booked a two-week stay last July at Mrs Allen's bed and breakfast, Melbury, so he could visit the nearby National Archives in Kew, used by thousands of academics every year to study government documents.
But, within four days of his arrival at the £300-a-week guest house, relations between the researcher and his host, who has been running B&Bs for 35 years, had deteriorated dramatically.
Mrs Allen declined to comment in detail on the case when contacted yesterday but said she was pleased that the court had found in her favour.
She said: "Mr Irving's behaviour was such that I considered it upsetting for myself and my guests. I asked him to leave and he said he would sue me for breach of contract. I won the case because the judge determined there had been no contract between us. I'm delighted to have won."
Court documents seen by The Independent show that Mrs Allen believed Mr Irving was unjustifiably moody throughout his stay, unsettling her other guests and behaving rudely towards her. In her statement to the court, she alleged that the scholar said "get out of my sight you evil witch" during a row over his conduct.
Mr Irving "strenuously denied" making the remark or being guilty of any "abusive or intimidating behaviour" towards the other guests at Melbury. He said in his statement of claim to the court that he had only two brief conversations with those in the B&B and spent most of the time in his room or at the National Archives.
The saga came to a head on 4 July last year when Mrs Allen said that, after repeated refusals by Mr Irving to accept her request to leave, she was forced to call police to ask him to end his stay. The historian claimed his landlady only cooled towards him after her solicitor sent her a copy of his Wikipedia entry detailing his views and controversies. Mrs Allen, who emphasised she has never before clashed with a guest and has a long list of repeat visitors to her B&B, denied the claim.
In his statement, Mr Irving said he agreed to leave within two hours of the arrival of the two officers, packing his belongings shortly after 5pm. He added: "I remarked in a conversational tone that no doubt we would next meet in court."
At the hearing this week, Mr Irving was told his claim for breach of contract was invalid because both he and Mrs Allen held diverging views of a clause in her terms and conditions which guaranteed a guest's stay for one night only. The landlady argued this meant she was entitled to ask a guest to leave after a single night.
The historian was sanguine about his latest legal setback. "The judge found there was no case to answer," he said. "But I very strongly reject the suggestion that I behaved obnoxiously."
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Home is Where My Stuff Is.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Hotel Din Din
In the Category "Sounds better than it was" hier soir:
Walked my feet off in late afternoon, by the time I pulled myself out of a nap, was dark out and chose to retreat to the relative safety of the hotel lounge. (Even though Sheena is a tough and worldly chick, she is not stupid about solo walkabout after dark in strange cities).
Glass of local Riesling. Pleasantly fruity, not complex, but not sweet and not too sharply acidic to affect the food. Good recommendation from my swarthy (Turkish?) waiter.
Appetizer: The soup. Tahitian Vanilla-Scented Lobster. Oh baby. Frustrating because the potential for perfection was oh so close. Shocker, what I didn't like was the substantial dill garnish. Normally Sheena thinks dill goes with everything, including chocolate and creme brulee. But nope. Was out of place and overpowered the delicate not-sweet vanilla edge to the creamy (not chunky) slightly shellfishy soup. A tiny miscalc that just didn't work.
The Main: The house special - lamb served on a bed of roasted lima beans in a fresh tomato reduction. Cheese potato cake on the side. I liked the beans best. They were delish, a bit al dente and tomato was flavourful balance to the blandish potential of the beans. Fucking cocksucking chef overcooked the lamb. A bit tough and dry. Dammit. Potato cake was OK. Ate about half. Nothing special.
Second glass of fruity riesling then zonkoville in the room. Shoulda grabbed that hot sausage and nice chewy buns I saw on my walk earlier in the day. Wouldn't have ended the evening ever so unsatisfied.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Why Sheena Will Have Bad Dreams Tonight
Watched "I Am Legend" on the flight over last night. Always a soft spot for the end of humanity as we know it genre.
Then I look at the building next door to my hotel in Dusseldorf and see this:
Sunday Stroll. Dusseldorf Edition
1 hour of sleep in the last 29, landing in Dusseldorf via LHR this afternoon. Sun is out, lovely warm and breezy. Hotel is on the waterfront, the Rhine on one side and completely rebuilt docklands on the other. A lovely balance of new and funky architecture built up and around the traditional working docks...
Tom Hanks was right I guess.
Someone who was not enjoying the spring sun.
Dusseldorf Docklands area. Lovely. Funky new design built up around traditional old docklands structures on the Rhine.
CN tower's little wimpy brother.
I had a very weird flashback to Brisbane when I saw this building on the waterfront boardwalk.
More new building.
Aluminum can building.
I have no idea what this guy is saying, but I think I like his style.