Very quick security at 9. After the cancer machine, though,
I was subjected to a secondary that consisted of a bit of
unexpected rough nipple play, speedy but slightly unpleasant.
It was a young fellow with a hairnet in the farthest right
lane, if you're interested in being handled in this way.
I hurried to the gate to see if I could get onto the earlier
flight (for a couple more beers at the club), but before me
I heard the engines rev and saw the plane head away from
the door, about 7 minutes early. No biggie, I'd be drinking
enough beers in any case.
After all that hustle, I felt rather peckish, or my blood
pressure meds had kicked in, or something, so went to the
Manchu What, where the spicy tofu is generally edible; it
was off, and the other offerings seemed unattractive. My
next choice was a slice of greasy doughy pepperoni pizza at
Mamma Ilardo's next door, but the place is shuttered! which
shows at least a little good taste on the part of the
customers at BWI airport. I thought of doing the Airspace
lounge and getting a sandwich and the wi-fi, but there
wasn't time to fully take advantage of it. McDonald's was
still serving breakfast at extortionate prices, so I
retraced to the Asian place. General's chicken looked
bizarrely glazy, and the sesame chicken didn't look quite so
sticky, so I went for that. Turns out it too was coated in
sugar syrup polluted by almost no flavoring at all - and so
I was bamboozled into eating stuff of less food value than
doughnuts, pretzels, McMuffins, or pretty much anything else
available. After which I went off to my own little corner
and minded my own beeswax until boarding, when we all piled
in and were off right on time.
US3839 BWI PHL 1108 1149 CRJ 3C
A jolly FA made the flight more pleasant. We landed on time
but had a looong wait for our gate-checked bags; one beer
worth at least. So I had time for two beers only, but as I
am known at the club, they were the 20-ozers; there was a
little tardiness boarding the next flight as a result.
US634 PHL B0S 1415 1539 E90 4F
A really puny and pathetic bag of crunchy salty snacks,
which I passed on.
Took care of my biz in Boston but couldn't get out until
next day. The Airport Four Points was cheap, though, and
I need as many Sheraton stays as possible to maintain gold
status, which is supposed to get you next to nothing, but
sometimes the fancier hotels have been good to me with it.
The complimentary shuttle goes half-hourly from oh dark
hundred to noon only; after that it's by pre-arrangement
only. Make a note of it.
Jul 27, 12, 8:28 pm
US1908 BOS PHL 0700 0842 320 3A
We took off 30 min late; after a certain amount of what the
pilot called "the Philly factor" we landed 50 minutes later
than expected, but owing to the miracle of schedule padding
we ended up technically an on-time arrival. Allowing 102
minutes for a 30 minute flight and all that.
Aside from when I was wakened by the extremely loud PA, I
slept through this (apparently relatively bumpy) trip.
The A club is a shadow of its former self, at least in the
morning. It used to have a nice clubby aspect and serve
a decent snack buffet, including soup, but now the nicer
part is closed off before the afternoon block of
I got a glass of red wine and made myself a rather nasty
sangrialike substance with breakfast orange juice. This
works better at places that offer a cinnamon shaker for
fancy coffees, which the A club doesn't.
US4118 PHL IPT 1108 1201 DH8 4A
A not unpleasant but a little OCD FA who checked people's
seatbelts multiple times before the flight, most of which
I slept through but did notice some turbulence as we wung
our way over central Pennsylvania.
US4118 IPT PHL 1221 1319 DH8 4A
Guess who was on the same flight with me. Syd, on her way to
Greece. She insisted on getting to the airport 2 hours ahead
- so instead of having Annie drive us both, she got someone
else to take her. Annie got me to the airport around 1145,
by which time it had become clear that the weather was being
uncooperative (high winds). We ended up taking off an hour
and half late, which meant that Syd had communed with her
friends at the TSA for something like 3 hours, at an airport
that consists of one gate, one check-in counter, one snack
bar, one pair of restrooms, an upstairs restaurant that is
closed but is occasionally used as a viewing tower where the
locals come to see the airplane come and go, and two TSA
facilities that use up as much space and more personnel than
anything else on the premises. It was a bumpy ride, and we
didn't gain any time, which means that the choice of the IPT
staff to put me on a subsequent flight out of Philly was a
wise one. It was 2:40 by the time I got to the mainline
terminal, and though my 3216 hadn't gone yet, it's certain
that my comfy seat up front had. There was a long waiting
list for first on 1878, but I for some reason jumped to the
head when I was taken off the previous flight. Turns out
there were two seats left up front, the second going to the
consort of a lady who had already scored her upgrade.
US1878 PHL BOS 1515 1636 E90 4F
US3216 PHL BOS 1445 1608 E70 3D
The flight was fine though really windy; the Glenlivet was
I had (cleverly I thought) booked the Hilton Boston, a
20-minute walk from my listening post at the music school; I
was given a corner suite that was rather nicely appointed
in a 1970s sort of way, with an exceptionally comfy bed.
I thought about resting a while, but then the gaggle of
scholarship candidates wouldn't be heard and pronounced
upon, and I'd feel guilty; plus I'd promised the chair I'd
make this set of auditions. It was a windy walk, and when I
went past the Doubletree halfway (available for the same
price) I began to regret my choice.
It was a worthwhile session, as we pinpointed some
candidates of real talent. My disappointment was in not
having the reinforcement of our other string person, which
meant that one of the cheap tricks candidates, a violinist,
got voted into the next round, instead of a pianist whom I
favored, who relied too much on Debussy, who, I was
informed, is the choice of C minus students. Let that be a
lesson to those entering piano competitions: Debussy is
officially on the shoot list.
Another of the committee members was taking the T back to
Cambridge, so walking her to the station and accompanying
her on the dreaded orange line was my excuse for avoiding
that wind on the way back.
Slim pickings on the continental breakfast buffet, and they
tried to do an upsell to the cooked breakfast; I said that
I really didn't need more than those slim pickings, which
slowed the service down considerably, so I had a goodly
wait for my orange juice refill.
Jul 27, 12, 8:32 pm
UA1228 BOS IAH 1258 1613 738 4B
An easy trip, two stops to the airport. PMCO route, so out
of Terminal A, which is somewhat nicer than Terminal C.
Reasonably friendly and unobtrusive TSA attention, so hours
at the club to do e-mail and stuff.
Pretty good crew. The meal was the choice of chicken calzone
(not too bad, but very salty chicken) or chicken Caesar;
tomato bisque, pretty good. Plane smelled like a pizza
parlor. Oatmeal raisin cookie. Courvoisier x2.
UA 970 IAH LAS 1750 1914 319 2B Ch9:td:
An hour at the club, then a quick hustle to the gate, where
I discovered that there was no crew, and they were
estimating a 1845 departure, so I went back to the club.
The agent at the desk decided to call the gate to have them
give a heads-up when they decided to board, and, uh huh,
all right, they're boarding now, hurry up. So as soon as I
got back to the gate, they boarded us, and we sat there for
an hour. To spite them I kept drinking the excessively
mediocre Canyon Road Pinot Noir that they offered as a
PMUA plane, channel 9 dead air. Pretty good crew.
A cheeseburger or a shrimp salad. I said, surprise me! Got
the burger, not a surprise. It was very much like a Carl's
Jr. burger, that's to say, filling and not bad though salty
as anything. Chocolate chip cookie and Courvoisier for
In order to get from the D gates to the A gates inside
security, you have to get someone to unlock the door between
C and D; then it's a byzantine little jaunt through the rest
of the airport until you finally get to the other end. It's
a little bit amusing.
US 390 LAS CLT 2310 0624 321 1A
Lots of room. I was the last upgrade, owing to problems with
pushing the tix back and forth between US and UA. Snack basket.
An hour at the big club. The agent had a hard time with the
(United Club) card swipe and wouldn't let me in until another
agent said to do so.
US 1852 CLT BWI 0800 0927 734 1D
Slept through catering, which I think wasn't much. Landed
right on time, which means that I had a few minutes before
the MTA 201 bus, which is a big boon for me, as it's faster
and cheaper than the alternatives of Metrobus-Metrorail-
Metrorail-Metrobus or MARC train-Metrorail-Metrobus.
Jul 27, 12, 8:35 pm
US3158 DCA CLT 1040 1208 E75 2F
A sharp-eyed TSA kid tried to steer me to the other
concourse, but I was aiming to ask the club people for
assistance. Anyhow, aside from a nursing mother behind me
getting bag checked (so the conveyor was stopped) the
circus was a short and not too bad one. I swear the cancer
machine wasn't turned on, as it was a constant parade
through, no 10 second or even 3 second wait.
Irritating - I had this award F ticket, but there were no
F seats on the first leg when I booked; on the day, there
were 4, so I tried to get one from US, no go; as it was
a mixed itinerary, the ball was in UA's court. I tried UA,
also no go. I ended cancelling the whole itinerary an hour
before the first leg and rebooking all the same flights.
The usually fairly helpful agents at the US club were not
so, in fact rather obstructive, which I attribute to my
having the UA number on my ticket; but having achieved my
purpose, I asked for new boarding passes, which request was
complied with with not much grace. Feeling less welcome
than usual, and a bunch of time having been taken up by the
procedure, I vacated the premises. Five Guys seemed a
sensible way to spend my next minutes. I got an onion burger
with double jalapenos and A-1, and God help my seatmate.
The flight took off from the other concourse, as I said; the
bus filled up and went on its merry way - time between my
arriving at the shuttle stop and at my gate, 3 minutes.
My seatmate was an attractive woman a few years younger than
myself whose inflight reading was Fine Cooking magazine.
There was no spark; after all, I was eating a Mediocre
Off the (all or mostly new stuff) snack basket I chose
Nature's Kitchen raspberry fig bars, a heavy, healthy
choice - not bad for that, but you know what fig bars do for
one. And whole wheat ... !
US 560 CLT PHX 1300 1438 321 2B
The B club has the Frontera roasted tomato salsa, rather
than the Heinz that the other clubs offer. It's very salty
but with good roasted tomato and herb flavor; went well with
the Food Should Taste Good sweet-potato-corn chips. Also,
there are huge piles of Milano cookies for the grabbing.
And fresh fruit. I ate sufficiently.
The flight was delayed 40 min, then an hour. Maintenance
issue in Orlando, something like that. I stayed put in the
club; by the time I moseyed to the gate it was zone 4 time.
By some miracle there was still space in an overhead bin
not too far from my seat.
A very hard-working FA in the front cabin, Hispanic, and
it was amusing to note the captain (by all appearances an
Anglo) conversing with her in Spanish.
Lunch was chicken enchilada or "pasta duo" - some kind of
thick macaroni with pesto and alfredo sauces.
A starter of quite respectable hummus, sad squunched-looking
olives, and pita triangles of almost crunchy staleness.
The enchilada, rather light on the chicken and heavy on the
cheese, was not bad tasting but seasoned with tarragon,
which made it weird. It came with okay tasting rice that was
amazingly deficient in the texture department going from
mush to pebbles in no time flat and pretty good black beans.
An only slightly wilted salad with creamy Italian.
Black Opal Cabernet Shiraz - when I first saw Black Opal,
decades ago, it was real wine. It no longer is real wine.
Of course, it costs less in nominal dollars than it did
twenty? years ago, so who knows what the change in price
is in inflation-adjusted dollars.
The hard-working FA got some relief from the Y crew in
handing out dessert, a very respectable coconut carrot cake
with just a thin layer of cream cheese frosting, the way it
should be, instead of those huge thick blobs of artery-
clogging (not that that's a bad thing) goo.
During the flight I got a bit thirsty and asked for a Coke:
half a Coke, lots of ice; the other half arrived on request.
Later, another whole can came. Small triumphs.
The shuttle to the hotel is by request only. You call from
the hotels board at bag claim and shout through amazing
static, negotiating a time and place for pickup.
Jul 27, 12, 8:39 pm
Waiting for the bus I heard a voice calling violist. It
was colpuck, off on some outlandish mileage run or other. We
chatted about the CO/UA debacle and wished each other luck.
The Doubletree PHX is a pleasant but rather dated facility,
probably what my father would have considered the height of
luxury when he was traveling. It has bunches of Chihulylike
glass things in the lobby and in general looks pretty '60s.
Checkin was very smily and pleasant, and I scored in
addition to whatever perks I normally get a not bad amenity
- a bag of water bottles and unhealthy snacks plus a couple
I was assigned a pretty nice suite in the ancient style: no
complaints there, as I am older than this hotel probably is.
TransworldOne came by to take me to jan_AZ's, half an hour
west (it's a big metro area). When we got there, the party
was in full swing, DJ making lots of noise out near the
pool, good smells in the air. I was directed by Dave to a
nearly virgin bottle of Maker's 46; by the time I left it
was no longer nearly virgin. The stuff goes down pretty
smooth but is a vanilla-oak-brown sugar bomb. It went
excellently with these appetizers of weenies wrapped in
bacon (a redneck version of scallops in bacon and as far
as I can tell just as good) that had been broiled with
brown sugar. Various wines and beers were available, but
aside from an Ommegang dubbel not too interesting to me.
The other representative of the frequent-flyer community
was gfowler-ord-1k, the rest of the guests drawing from
jan_AZ's wide circle of real-life (!) friends and colleagues
The chatting, eating, and drinking went on until around
midnight, when every suddenly realized that they had to do
something in the morning or something.
After the party we decided to settle our stomachs with an
order from In'n'Out (I had a two by meat animal style).
Got to the hotel before midnight; the bed turned out to be
quite comfy, and I got a very good sleep.
Jul 31, 12, 4:05 pm
Breakfast buffet was unspectacular but extremely abundant.
An oddity: fresh and canned orange segments were available,
and the canned tasted better. Another oddity: a fresh, very
garlicky, very spicy salsa to go with the factory scrambled
TW1 was scheduled to pick me up for lunch, but not having
had enough calories (right) for breakfast, I used my coupons
for a couple of Kilt Lifters at the bar.
We went down the way to see what the Chinese Cultural Center
had to offer besides the Golden Buddha (the place where the
guides and the hotels steer people). Lao Ching Hing is a
similar storefront about 5 doors down: a very different
menu, though, much more northerly in names at least but not
Shanghai noodles were very salty lo mein with substantial
quantities of slivered pork sauteed with tons of soy sauce.
Not bad, but I was sort of hoping for something along the
lines of Peking noodles, or at least different in some way
from Cantonese noodles.
Crispy duck, a very generous portion, was extremely salty,
otherwise decent - semi-crispy, good poultry flavor, not
rancid (sometimes a problem in restaurants that don't sell
much of the stuff).
I'd ordered Shanghai small steamed buns as an appetizer.
Consistent with most of the reviews out on the Web, these
came out last. A properly thinnish wrapper, but each one
had been broached, so whatever juice we'd hoped for had
long since run away. The pork filling was very bland,
partially fixed by a mixture of ginger soy and vinegar,
or perhaps ginger vinegar and soy, that came on the side.
A big bowl of rice came unordered; as the duck was so salty,
it was touched (sealing the $1.50 upcharge).
On the whole, not unpleasant, but nothing to justify a
soon return visit.
TW1 dropped me off at the airport with the advice that I
should stand by for one of the earlier flights for reasons
Jul 31, 12, 4:15 pm
US 241 PHX LAS 1850 1957 319 1A
was 613 PHX LAS 2250 2351 320 2D
I had ressies for very cheap at El Cortez, but TW1 had a
better offer: the Tuscany for free, plus I could take
advantage of his bargain car rental, which was under $100
for two full weeks of travel. Unfortunately, coordination
was imperfect, and I needed the segment ($42) on US Air.
We agreed that I'd fly, and he would drive, and we'd meet
again that evening. My booked flight would get me in mighty
late, and there were a couple earlier ones that I could
take, only the numbers were fluctuating wildly. There was a
midafternoon one showing F9, but it appears to have been a
phantom, as when I talked to an agent, she couldn't see
anything. Everything else was F0, and a couple were Y0 as
well. I listed for a late afternoon flight but didn't get
on, but oddly got on the 7 pm flight, which had been zeroed
out all day. The rather jolly gate agent told me I was
extremely lucky when she handed me my boarding pass for 1A,
which on this aircraft had exemplary legroom owing to a
My seatmate spent much of the flight trying to convince me
of the superiority of his secret blackjack card-counting
method. I was happy when the plane landed.
I took the bus to Flamingo and walked the mile or so
westward to the casino. Where they couldn't find the
Not a biggie, there was wi-fi in the lobby, so I just read
MiPo and FT for half an hour until TW1 showed up ... and
encountered a similar problem checking in, but as the res
was in his name it was remediable. We got a very large
square room - I wondered about the best availableness of it,
but whatever, it was comfy enough and not unattractive in a
dated sort of way, and we weren't spending much time there.
In fact, we hustled out of there at the earliest opportunity
- headed for a whisky bar he knew and liked, the Freakin'
Frog, right by UNLV and more importantly the In'n'Out.
Unfortunately, the whisky bar part was closed, but the beer
bar part was operating, so we sillily decided to stay. TW
ordered several peculiarities from the 1000-strong list only
to find them all out. The bartender offered a tour of the
cooler, which TW and some guy down the bar accepted; he came
back with Ichtigem, a Belgian oude bruin monstrosity that to
me tastes like spoiled cider mixed with Witbier - i.e., I
don't like it at all. This is a bottle that you can get for
E1 or 2 in Belgium, but we're not in Belgium, so the place
took full advantage and charged an extortionate price (not
listed on the menu nor discussed before the purchase), I
forget, something like $16.
More cautious, I got a pint of Anchor Liberty ale for $6 or
so; this was its usual smooth, moderately bitter, lovely
self, and I soon had another of the same.
For a very cheap price (about the same as PBR) they were
offering the Newcastle Winter IPA on tap, so we asked for a
taste, which was graciously granted. TW had said that he
was inclined to try it just for the price, but after one
taste, we decided that this thin, watery, sugary slop would
have been a disappointment even at the $2 or 3 it was
Being a little hungry, I ordered a bowl of the famed
Freakin' chili, which turned out to be a thin ground beef
stew with lots of habanero heat, a disconcerting lack of
cumin, and a strange fenugreeky-fake mapley aspect that the
bartender/cook attributed to the use of maple smoked bacon.
The fresh-fried tortilla wedges were by far the best part
of the dish. To get my taste buds back in order, I got a
pint of Angry Orchard crisp apple cider, which, as it turns
out, is pleasant, moderately alcoholic, well crafted, with
no trace of anger in it, and a product of Sam Adams.
Leery of spending way too much money and somewhat
unfulfilled by the menu, we took a remedial trip to the
In'n'Out, whose honest burgers were welcome.
Back to the hotel not too late.
Aug 2, 12, 8:14 pm
The first business of the day was an investigation of the
Pinball Hall of Fame, right opposite the site of the late
lamented Liberace Museum; here dozens of machines have been
restored to playing condition and enjoyable mostly at the
same prices as when they had originally come out, which
means that a dollar potentially could yield vast amounts
of amusement for children of the '50s or '60s. I played
a few games on a '60s machine and was satisfied and then
wandered the floor for a while.
I found TW1 playing a machine of his vintage called Twilight
Zone, on which he somehow had managed to rack up huge numbers
of free games; he was getting kind of bored by the time I
discovered him, and he allowed me to play a while, which as
I never figured the game out, and it was dimly lit, and I
though possessing a supple wrist have no talent for this
activity, severely depleted the free games, upon which he
took over again and lost the rest of them.
Anyhow it was time to head to Lotus of Siam, a much-touted
downtown restaurant with a fabled wine list. I am told it
has much expanded recently, taking over adjacent space
formerly occupied by such dodgy operations as a wig shop.
I believe the kitchen at least at lunch feels the pressure
from the expansion. Each dish showed promise, but all but
one had at least one fatal flaw.
We asked for som tum "medium to hot"; it was a very nice
balanced presentation, the mango just green enough, the
peanuts just roasty enough, the juice just sweet and sour
enough. Problem was there was no discernible heat in the
dish at all. This was remediable by the hot tray's very
nice toasted chile flakes (also available but too salty
for me - peppers in vinegar; peppers in fish sauce; salty
TW1 said he wanted something from the grill, so I asked for
one of the fusionish "chef's specialties," char-broiled beef
with penang sauce - this came as a better-than-Sizzler-not-
so-good-as-Longhorn steak served over a pleasant but way
underseasoned brown curry. It might have been good with a
better steak or a more flavory sauce but as it was was a bit
of a belly filler.
Not so much so as the spicy seafood spaghetti, though; this
was claimed by the menu to be made of egg noodles; what came
was thin spaghetti of not a high order, somewhat limp, with
scallops (lousy, as scallops tend to be these days), shrimp
(good), squid (good), and surimi (unconscionable). The sauce
this time was okay, but the entire package a disappointment.
Instead of dessert we ordered the appetizer of Issan sour
sausage, which was merguez-like with a livery undertone, and
I liked it pretty well, especially with bites of the onion
and serrano that were served with.
Oddly, at this point we were hungry again, and TW1 ordered
a dish of coconut ice cream, at which to join him I asked
for the sticky rice with mango hold the mango - this came
napped with an insufficient amount of thin coconut cream
somewhat sweetened with ordinary (not palm) sugar: it was
not sweet enough, nor salty enough, nor coconutty enough.
All in all the food was decent but no better than any Thai
restaurant I have visited on the east coast in the last five
years or any Thai restaurant I have visited in Asia ever.
St. Urbanshof Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett 2010 was a joy,
though, and not at all overpriced. Roses on the nose,
nicely acid, tropical fruity pineapply, just the right
amount of sweetness.
We went off to the new performing arts center downtown to
hear Duncan Sheik - of whom TW1 is fond - and Suzanne Vega
- whom I find intriguing - in the upstairs cabaret.
The actual performance venues, way far from the parking
garage, are kind of hard to find, something that I presume
will be remedied as the facility finds its way. We
eventually found our way, along with bevies of other
It's pretty big, for a cabaret, with floor seating with
meal and drink service and balcony seating with abbreviated
catering. TW1 got us a table on the floor, not cheap: it
was ideally situated, halfway back and in the center. I
don't like sitting in front - it's distracting and loud -,
and I appreciate the thoughtfulness of those who get me
concert tickets not too close to the stage (baseball is a
different kettle of fish, as if I'm far back I don't stand
a chance of seeing what's going on: ergo spring training
and minor league parks, as I can't afford box seats for the
bigs). I think they could have done with less amplification
- but then I am used to gentler sounds, and in truth the
balance was good.
Both artists are probably appreciated for their poetry and
the moody beauty of their music; though their voices are
enjoyable I don't think that that's the notable strength
of either of them.
Duncan started with a fairly short set, followed by a very
short set by Suzanne; then they combined to present a
preview of a musical they are writing together based on the
career of Carson McCullers - esoteric stuff. I think the
universal feeling among the audience was that the show was
I spied Maker's on the menu for a reasonable $8. The pour
was substantially bigger than normal, and I thought that was
terrific; so I had another one - paradoxical I know, but if
it had been a bad bargain, I'd have stuck to the one. When
the bill came there was this unannounced "rocks charge" of
$3 a drink, which I disputed. Apparently, you are charged
extra for not taking rocks, as the bartender feels obligated
to give a bigger pour. I disputed this; it was apparently
taken off the bill - I hope so, as I was going to leave the
same amount anyway, and if it wasn't taken off, the waitress
wasn't getting a tip. Anyone know whom to complain about
this? I'm going to write to the Las Vegas tourism board for
We stuck around for the CD sale and autograph session, and
I took a photo of TW1 with Duncan, which now resides on
TW1's FB page.
After the event TW1 dropped me off at the airport. A
mess at security, queues every which way going nowhere.
At some point they got tired of the lines not moving and
opened another lane, which led to a weave that broke down
behind me, as two people down the way exchanged hot words
and apparently nearly got into a fistfight. The procedure
seemed slower than at other airports, and a Sierra Nevada
at the PC was most welcome.
UA1255 LAS ORD 2341 0508 739 2B
The captain announced (the first of several times I have
heard this) that the flight was operated and served by proud
Continental employees under United management. The employees
were too proud, as it turns out, to serve, and worked to
rule; a pity as I couldn't sleep, even with the aid of
drugs, in the horrid Continental seats.
As the next leg was also in the low Bs, near where we
docked, I had an hour at the club, where catering was
perfunctory to say the least. No solid food except for a
scanty display of sad-looking fruit.
UA1420 ORD BOS 0635 0943 738 2B
This also Continental crew was considerably less grumpy,
almost pleasant, even as they served a pretty bad breakfast
sandwich - a hardish English muffin surrounding an
altogether too thin slice of hamoid substance ("how is the
food?" "terrible - and the portions are so small"), a
splash of gooshy process cheese food, and an appalling
egg puck. This was balanced by a decent fruit cup and a
bowl of horrendous moldy-berry yogurt.
We landed, as I recall, a bit late, not a big deal, as I
had plenty of time to kill before my afternoon meeting.
The price at Embassy Suites Waltham had been quite
advantageous, but getting there without a car is not easy.
Luckily, the hotel offers free shuttle service within a
3-mile radius, which frees public transport users from the
infrequent and slow 70 bus and allows access to the Waltham
rail station. Unluckily, while I was there, the trains were
not running. At the hotel I was issued a pleasant nothing
special suite that reminded me very much of the Doubletree
Phoenix (not a big surprise, as this property used to be
one of those).
Tempo, the well-known restaurant with the well-known
half-price wine on whatever this day was, Monday or Tuesday,
is just outside the allowable radius, so my buddy Link
picked me up at the hotel (hard to find by GPS). Waltham has
evolved over the decades into a mini food capital, and this
is one of dozens of worthy eateries that have sprung up
since a couple top-notch Italians set the pace in the '70s,
and you can find whatever you want on Moody Street.
We started with the Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA, which in my
state of degraded tastebuds is just on the borderline of too
hoppy (I used to like the 90), followed by Fogdog Pinot Noir
(Sonoma Coast) 08, which despite a rather surprising nose of
roses and violets settled down into your typical cherries
and berries Pinot, with a pleasant softness and a modest
moderate-length berry and vanilla finish.
I asked if the fried calamari came with tentacles and upon
receiving an affirmative ordered a plate - standard but
comforting and good. The Rhode Island-style garnish of
hot cherry peppers went well with the beer; a dip of saus
prik meant perhaps to fusionize the dish was kind of silly;
I used it as a palatabilizer so I could eat some of the
veggie garnish, which I dimly recall to be romaine, carrot
curls, and maybe turnip.
I had boneless short ribs, asking for the fattiest available
serving; what came was moderately fat chuck meat, possibly
from near the short rib, tasty and tender. It has been years
since I've encountered real undeniable short rib with the
(tasty and interesting when stewed) membrane on. This came
with diced mushrooms in demi-glace, pretty good; gnocchi,
nasty and heavy; and crisp-tender green beans.
Link's duck two ways were the canonic seared breast medium
(I'd have asked for it rare rare) and undersalted "confit";
bok choy and a quite intense and tasty mushroom risotto on
No room for dessert, and as the meal had crept into the
tabooed three figures, it was just as well.
Link got me to the hotel in time for me to get a blessed
full night's sleep. The bed was pretty comfortable, but I
had to call to get them install a clock in the room: imagine
a hotel room with no clock.
The train was still not running next day, and public trans
inbound is even slower and less reliable than coming out,
so I had to get up way early.
No problems on this trip, and security was reasonably
pleasant and efficient, the way it should always be, and I
had plenty of time to gorge on bananas (need to watch my
potash) at the club.
Continued here. (www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1373332-aus-bbq-megado.html)