Monday, July 29, 2013
Friday, July 26, 2013
Here's a post about the bagels and pizza part of my trip. The other stuff will follow at a later date.
I'm not going to rehash all that's wrong with bagels outside of New York. In fact, it turns out that New York is no longer immune to bagel atrocities, as 4 out of 4 bagel shops on this trip were guilty of the cross-cutting I railed against in the linked post. I'll use this space instead to rank 4 rather popular places I tried, from worst to best.
I should note that besides Pick-A, all of the bagel shops above are better than bagel shops anywhere outside of NY.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Two weeks later we went on vacation and we hadn't recovered financially from the (mostly work related) DC trip but it was one of those things where we just had to suck it up. And thing are slowly improving financially but I when people say money doesn't give you happiness, I don't think they ever owned a small business. They don't really know what the waves and crashes of finances can do to a person (or family).
Between that and the insuffering heat of both upstate New York (I expected more from you NY!) and home where it felt like I was in a sauna coming home from Walgreens last night, the weather is sweating, the physical toll is driving me crazy. The stress ills make my stupid inferno blister feel like a cake walk to migraines and incurable women ails. I think the stress will peak this weekend when I drive my mom to Florida to visit her aging parents and I have no idea how it's going to go but something like my mom trying to give me directions when she can't even drive herself to Florida because she would accidentally end up in Colorado (are there supposed to be mountains in Florida?). I have tried to memorize the directions because between her telling me I'm going the wrong way and trying to get my stupid iphone to recognize where the hell I am, I think I might jump out and get shot by some neighborhood watchman who thinks I'm the abominable snowman.
I also don't want her to cry everyday. I don't know how to not sound like an ass but my brain works in a way that I want to think that next year we'll be making this same trip to see my grandparents and everything is okay. I don't know what I'm walking into with health issues, the strange thing about my family is you can't get a straight answer. It could be anything from my grandmother making chocolate chip cookies with a pretty apron on to being bed ridden on a hospital bed and a catheter. What I'm told is "she has good days and bad days." WTF does that mean????
In my mind my mom is giving me a hard time about directions, the music is bad, and she's smoking too much but the hotel is awesome, and she doesn't ask me for money (one less person to owe), we hang out at my grandparents' pool and cook spaghetti and brownies and I get a tan and finish my book and then she gives me a hard time about directions on the way home. But I have no idea what's really going to happen and until I do I don't think I'll ever feel better.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
I called ebay to see what rights sellers have and they told me to have the buyer open a case. And that was not helping. I was on vacation with spotty internet service trying to read updates at a cafe with terrible wi-fi, nerve racked and pissed off, and nothing was happening and the guy was still freaking out. At some point I guess ebay was supposed to get involved but it just went on and on and nothing happened but the guy continuing to send emails. I just refunded him to make the pain stop.
I went back to Off.ice D.epot to see if I could get more information and they said there had been 3 claims that week! So it's pretty apparent to me someone at Off.ice D.epot is snatching packages. They filed the insurance claim for me and I'm so completely doubtful I'll get the insurance money, you have no idea.
The moral is, I'm never selling anything on ebay again. Thanks ebay. Thanks USPS. Thanks Off.ice De.pot.
In other news, man I'm such a weirdo about my house. I do not like to have my house sat. This was the first year that instead of having someone come over twice a day to take care of the cats, we had someone live here. And it's not a privacy thing, it's a cleaning thing. I'm so particular about everything and the correct way to use something and I want my house to look like it did when I left, though I realize a week's worth of four cats is going to have consequences, I just want everything else to stay exactly the same. I don't want to worry if the white enamel sink is going to get scratched or the washer will grow mold because it's not left open to dry after a load, etc, etc, etc... I must be the only person in the world like this. I'm a crazy person.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Anyhow I'm just about bothering because I've been meaning to rave about the Rutland Arms for a while now. It's a rare gem of a pub, a pleasing mish-mash of traditional and modern melded together to form something a bit special. Old school pub decor and layout, beer choices to keep both the trad cask crowd and craft nerds happy, a mixed clientele and a lively atmosphere.
The food is an interesting proposition too, managing to do classic pub grub alongside something a bit different but with absolutely no nods to current fads or fashions. There are pies, sausages and carb-fest booze soaking chip butties in various guises, but also keenly priced and creative sounding vegetarian and fish dishes that pop up on the specials boards. Salads that sound worth the effort too, now that the heat is upon us.
I was last there a couple of weeks ago when it was still a bit fresh out, so I had the pie; chicken, mushroom and stilton. I'll excuse the china bowl with a pastry lid format, 'cos it was very nice. Lovely crumbly pastry and a soupy, cheesy filling rammed full of actual proper chicken pieces, you know like thigh meat and stuff. Great work. Nice chips too, but the veg was a bit pointless.
About seven quid for the pie, and good beer at normal pub prices. A damn fine pub this, you really should go. I've only been in chilly weather, but I'm pretty sure there's a beer garden.
9/10 for the pub, and what the hell let's call it an 8/10 for the food.
86 Brown Street
Friday, July 12, 2013
I am on a bus going home to Maine. I have been on the trail almost four months and hiking without Sassafras is not what I want to be doing at rhis time in my life. I wanf to be home with my family. The separation has been hard on both my wife and I.
I want to thank everyone for their kind words and support. I apologies if I have let anyone down. Kaboose
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Miles hiked 6.4
Total miles 1405.8
Today was my first day on the trail without Sassafras. It was tough emotional. I miss her very much, but I know her feet need at least two more weeks at home to heal and more important she is happy at home and already has the rest of her supper planed. She already met with her principal and she is doing work to help get all caught up with school, so her reentry at school will be much easier. I miss my wife very much as well, but we both are committed to having me complete this thru hike. I am blessed in having such a wonderful family.
My sister who just happened to be visiting from New York gave me a ride back to the trail. (Thanks Wanda) I am at a pavilion at the Graymoor monastery. The place is beautiful and very peaceful. It is a good place for me to be tonight. There are several other thru hikers here tonight. They seem very nice. I had not met any of them before. It looks like I will be with a new group after being off trail for a week. So much seems new. This is a whole new chapter in our adventure. Kaboose
Pair a bread salad with some barbecued meat, then make a fool for pudding. You'll end up with a perfect summer's evening meal that's delicious, good for you, frugal, and ridiculously easy to make.
These are the things to eat outdoors on one of those rare, balmy summer nights that only seem to crop up a few times a year, those you can't waste for fear of never getting another, those that make you accidentally neck a bottle of wine on a Tuesday for no reason other than that it's sunny and warm and that must be celebrated. You know the sort.
I'm sure I've eaten a bread salad before and enjoyed it, but I can't remember ever making one. What an oversight. This is one of those dishes where a seemingly run-of-the mill set of ingredients combine to make something unexpectedly marvellous.
A few fridge and store cupboard staples, half a loaf of stale bread, mix it all up, leave it for a bit and.... ooh that's good. Remarkably good. Sweet tomatoes, the fresh crunch of cucumber, oil soaked chewy bread, peppery basil. It's more-ish, very more-ish.
I've made two this week, the first a proper panzanella (give or take a couple of ingredients), the classic Tuscan version with basil. The second was a more makeshift affair with olives and parsley in place of the basil. Both were great.
Panzanella (Tuscan bread salad), enough for 2 as a side or 1 as a main dish
Half a loaf of crusty bread, a day or two old
about 6 small ripe tomatoes
about a third of a large cucumber
3 spring onions or half a red onion
a handful of basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Makeshift bread salad
Exactly the same as above, but substitute the basil for parsley, the red wine vinegar for white wine vinegar, and add 7 or 8 fat green olives.
Both versions are made in exactly the same way: Cut the bread into 2cm chunks and chop up the vegetables into slightly smaller pieces. Throw the lot in a large bowl and pour in a good splash of oil and vinegar. I'd say about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and one of vinegar. Season with a good grind of pepper and a quick grind of salt. Mix the whole lot up and leave it for a few minutes. Tear the basil leaves up a bit then add them to the bowl. Mix again then taste to check the seasoning. Add more oil/vinegar/salt/pepper as necessary. Leave for another 10 minutes or so then serve.
On to pudding. I'm in love with our native British fruits, which I think are the finest in the world. I'm absolutely sure about this and have waffled on about why on here before. All you lovers of sweaty tasting tropical specimens are wrong.
At this time of year the obvious choice is a ripe, in season berry served unadorned with cream, but that's not really an option when you have a glut of sour, tougher fruit that needs heat to make it palatable. What you need for gooseberries or rhubarb is a fool. In cooler weather a crumble would be the thing, but in the heat it has to be a fool. A bloody lovely great fool of nothing but fruit, cream and sugar.
Gooseberry or rhubarb fool, enough for four
About 250g gooseberries or rhubarb
2 tablespoons or so of sugar
250ml double cream, or creme fraiche also works well
Stew down the fruit in a pan with some sugar. You don't want any bite left to the fruit but you don't want a puree either. Stop when it's half mush and half still discernable berries or pieces. Taste it and add more sugar if you think it needs it. Leave to cool down until it's no warmer than room temperature. Whip the cream until it stands in soft peaks, then stir in the fruit. Spoon into ramekins, glasses or whatever you want to serve it in then put them in the fridge for twenty minutes or so. Serve cold straight from the fridge.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Monday, July 8, 2013
So, now that the ghost of Fred has finally been laid to rest, back to business as usual.
A flying visit to Kent for work the week before last meant a change of trains at St Pancras. A few years ago you'd need a good couple of hours spare to make venturing from the northbound stations worthwhile, but the King's Cross area has come on in leaps and bounds in recent times, and boasts a whole host of options from sherry bars to street food, all within a few minutes walk of the station platforms.
It was the latter option that tempted, the street food collective formerly known as eat.st has expanded and relaunched as Kerb. They now have a whole host of stalls on daily rotation on the new pedestrian street round the back of King's Cross.
Kimchi Cult, purveyors of Korean style burgers, was the one I'd been looking forward to most. I bloody love Kimchi and was intrigued to see how its cabbagey funk worked outside its usual environment. I'm pleased to say it works very well. The spice and savour of the stuff works a treat with a high quality beef patty and plasticky cheese, in the same way that anything else pickled works with a burger or sausage.
It was all beautifully put together; bun the right texture, the right sort of melty cheese, very good meat in the patty, but the whole just didn't do that much for me. The presence of kimchi just made me crave a great bowlful of it in a porky noodle soup.
I can't blame Kimchi Cult for this, I think the realisation is finally dawning that I don't really care about burgers. The relentless obsession with the things in the food world in recent years has brainwashed me into seeking the burgery holy grail, but I don't think it exists. They're just not that exciting. Give me a fine steak or a Thai salad or a bowl of raspberries or a pork pie instead please.
£6 for the kimchi cheeseburger. Personal preferences aside this was a top notch burger, but six quid still seems to be pushing it a bit. I had plenty of room for lunch number two ten minutes later...
..which came courtesy of Yum Bun. I was hoping for a pork bun, but I'd left it too late so had to settle for the Japanese fried chicken bun. Garnished with iceberg lettuce, tartare sauce and chilli dressing this was a bit bloody lovely. The soft bun was a delight, just a little bit chewy but light and airy with it. The chicken: think KFC popcorn chicken with better meat, better batter and better frying skills. Very good.
£3.50 for one of these, or £6 for two. As with the burger, a bit overpriced I'd argue. I do think that the food served at all of these stalls is very good, and deserves comparison with similar restaurant offerings (I'm sure it's better in many cases) but lunch can be had at many restaurants for not much more money, and with the considerably larger overheads of a building, waiting staff and so forth. Minor gripe over, and ultimately the prices are pitched at what the London market will bear.
Between my burger and bun I grabbed a takeaway coffee from Caravan. I really want to eat at this place, the menu reads like a dream, but there wasn't time on this occasion so a coffee had to suffice. A £2.40 flat white (very fairly priced for the location) was good, but not as good as I'd been led to believe the coffee here would be. The coffee itself was excellent, the execution just slightly off though, the texture of the milk a little thin and not as smooth as it could have been.
Kimchi Cult 7/10
Yum Bun 8/10
Caravan coffee 7/10
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Thank you to all support and kind words. Anyone who knows Sassafras will tell you she is a very special girl. If she ends her adventure at the 1400 mile mark it still was a great success. She had fun, challenged herself, met many wonderful people. I hope she will have positive feelings about our adventure and the time we spent together. Kaboose.
Friday, July 5, 2013
My camera sold on Friday around 10 pm. I'm allowed 3 days handling time, which I needed because we share the car. I mailed it on Wednesday around 3 pm. USPS was $5 cheaper than UPS so I went with USPS at Offi.c.e D.e.pot. It was mailed priority mail with a tracking number. USPS picks up at 2pm so I lost another day, which in hindsight, sucks but I was told it would arrive that Saturday, no big deal. I put in the tracking info on ebay when I got home.
The next morning, Thursday, I get an email. Can you tell me when you mailed this package, etc. I told him I dropped it at Off.ice D.epot and they told me it would arrive on Saturday. Obviously it didn't get there on Saturday or there wouldn't be a nightmare unfurling.
On Monday he emails me again, where's the package, you told me it would be here on Saturday. I drove to Offi.ce D.epot where she tried to help me by calling USPS but got nowhere. After standing with her while she was on hold for about 20 minutes I drove to USPS. I stood in line. The USPS guy said he could not give me any other information than what was online.
Oh, by the way, there was nothing online. It had been checked in and that was it. That's why I went to Off.ice De.pot to make sure the package was picked up because it was never scanned as being processed at a sorting facility or anything. Nada. Zilch. The Postman was on hiatus taking snapshots with my camera at that very moment, I was certain.
I replied back and the guy was pissed but glad I guess that I was apologizing for something I had nothing do with over something that was never guaranteed to be there at a certain date, I had every right to send it First Class and it would get there sometime next month if it wanted to.
I decided after that email where I apologized again and said I would to go USPS to check on it today, that I would stop reading his emails. They were stressing me out. Today I go to read his messages, 2 more for that day and yesterday. Finally something had showed up yesterday that it was being delivered today.
Besides the fact that the tracking by USPS was bullshit and I did send it Priority Mail which the USPS guy told me should take 3 days and it took 7, all in all the package got to him in 2 weeks. From my ebay, etsy, and Amazon experiences, that's nothing to send 5, FIVE, 5 emails about.
Yes, it sucked the tracking isn't working. Maybe send me one message knowing there's really nothing I can do but to get more information. Then, pretty much, you are waiting it out. There's no need to keep emailing me how you still haven't gotten it and Of.fice De.pot lied to me. Yes, the US government broke a promise. Surprise, surprise.
Of.fice De.pot also called me yesterday but I didn't listen to the message until today (I didn't know it was them, it's been a rough week and I was too stressed to listen to the message). They were telling me the same thing that it was being delivered today. They said I could call for more information, which I did and no one there knew what I was talking about. A corporation hides the truth. Surprise, surprise.
So, the lesson learned. Mail your shit early. Sure you don't have to but avoid the stress, get it out of the house. Two, USPS is bullshit. Go with UPS and for god's sake don't use Off.ice D.epot. Go to the UPS store. I mailed my other camera that I sold from there and paid twice as much as USPS but they packed it for me and shipped it, I knew where that package was at any given moment. I haven't even heard from that guy and I don't have a clue if it was delivered but I bet it was. Three, try not to sell anything on ebay, you know it's going to suck. You won't make as much money as you think you will. Ebay takes their cut, Paypal takes their cut, Packing supplies take their cut, Postage takes their cut, and what's left is hardly worth it when it's all said and done.
When the hoarding people come to my house and wonder why it's so stockpiled I'll tell them, "Cause ebay sucks, man, ebay sucks."
Sassafras has had an infection in her great toe for over two weeks. We have been treating it the best we can with imput from her doctor at home. It has not improved. She tried to hike out today and was lethargic and got sick to her stomach. After talking with my wife we have decided to go home. Sassafras says she does not feel well is tearful and is ready to go home. It hurts me so bad to see her like this. We will fly home tomorrow and evaluate our options after she sees her doctor. Kaboose
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Miles hiked 15.4
Total miles 1399.4
We are in Fort Montgomery NY. We had a wrt start. Bear mountain was cool and so was the Trailside Zoo. I am feeling fatigued and we plan to take a fee days off to rest and recoup. Kaboose
Today was fun. We hiked saw 15.4 miles. The weather was good. The trail was good. We hiked through a zoo. We are having 2 zeros in town. Sassafras
Old Navy was incapable of providing a comparable dress this season, most offerings waver between unflattering and not made of cotton (why?!) so the remainder of the summer will not be the same, that is for sure.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Miles hiked 14.3
Total miles 1384
Today was one if not the hardest days on the trail. We were ready to start hiking this morning and it started to pour. We waited until 9am to see if it would let up. It slowed down a bit and we hiked all day in the rain. The trail had some hard rock climbs that would have been fun it it was not raining. It was a little scary at times. Kaboose
Today was hardwork. The weather was ok. It rained for part of it. .The trail was ok. There was a lot of rocks though. A doggie named Tucker cuddled with me. Sassafras
Miles hiked 17.1
Total miles 1369.7
We had a good day. We got a ride out of town from a great guy who does a lot of hiking in the are and was very knowledgeable about hiking gear. We are now in New York, the trail is a little more challenging but the bugs are just mormally bad not crazy like New Jersey. We are alone in the shelter tonight. We seem to be between groups of Nobo's. It threatens thunderstorms but nothing bad yet. Kaboose
Today was fun. We hiked 17.1 miles. The weather was great. It only rained at the end a little bit. The trail was great. We are in New York. I also can not wait till we go to a zoo in two days. Sassafras