Posts Tagged ‘travel’

I Demand More Potato Chip Flavors!

Posted in Ridiculum on November 3rd, 2015 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

Oh how I wish we had the Walker's flavors in the USOn a recent trip to London, I consumed more than my fair share of Kettle Sweet Chilli [sic.] & Sour Cream crisps, as they were plentiful at several bars I visited after work. The sweet chili was quite nice, as were other flavors I managed to try, including Walker's Prawn Cocktail. Years ago, on a visit to Canada, I enjoyed many interesting flavors of Lay's potato chips, including Dill Pickle and Ketchup, both of which eventually made it to the US years later, but not without some delay. The Dill Pickle flavored potato chip was by far, at that point in my life, the best chip I'd ever had, and I still mourn the loss of them in the US after a short-lived chip career.

All of this is to say: America, we are being cheated, bamboozled, and robbed, by BIG CHIP, in their withholding of amazing flavors. Most Americans probably cannot fathom that another country could beat the US in the realm of gluttony, but this certainly appears to be the case. Not only are we being beaten by our neighbors to the north and our former oppressors across the pond, but also by other countries unrelated to American history or geography at all! This is a travesty of epic proportions. And worst of all, the greatest offender is Frito-Lay, a company headquartered right here in the US. Frito-Lay, of course, owns Lay's, which are marketed in the US and Canada as such, but elsewhere under slightly different names with the same logo.

Though we have been blessed in recent years to see an insurgence of Lay's flavors in the US, including such specialties as Greektown Gyro, Chicken & Waffles, and even, though I never saw this anywhere,  Cappuccino, there is a serious potato chip-flavor gap between the US and other countries. This is an abomination, and I hope you'll join me in demanding that Frito-Lay bring some of their interesting flavors from other countries to the US. We should not stand idly by while other countries get to enjoy these amazing flavors, while our American taste buds remain unsatisfied. Here's just a small sample of what we are missing out on:

  • Belgium: Indian Curry, Hamburger w/Mayo & Onions & Pickles, and Cucumber & Goats (what an amazing combination)
  • Canada: Tzatziki, Bacon Poutine, Montreal Smoked Meat, Grilled Cheese & Ketchup, Perogy Platter, and Cinnamon Bun (!!)
  • China: Cucumber, Kiwi, Blueberry, Cherry Tomato, Italian Red Meat, Mexican Tomato Chicken, Texas Grilled BBQ, Black Pepper Rib Eye Steak, Hot & Sour Fish Soup, Finger Licking Braised Pork, Seafood Barbecue, Spicy Seafood, and Numb & Spicy Hot Pot (again, !!)
  • India: Magic Masala, Spanish Tomato Tango, Swiss Grilled Cheese, Macho Chilli, and Sunkissed Tomato (incredible naming over there)
  • Netherlands: Bolognese, Bell Pepper, French Fries w/Joppiesaus, and Stokbroodje Kruidenboter Smaak (Dutch is so awesome – this is a baguette with garlic butter)
  • Russia: Mushroom & Sour Cream, Crab, Red Caviar, and Salted Cucumber (though I bet that last one is just Dill Pickle)
  • Thailand: French Mayonnaise, Garlic Soft Shelled Crab, Soy Sauce, Salmon Teriyaki, Lobster, Bacon & Cheese, Tom Yum, and Thai Seafood Dip (seriously, Asia is KILLING it in the potato chip flavor game)
  • The UK: Lamb & Mint, Worcester Sauce, Beef & Onion, English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding, Sizzling Steak Fajita, Australian BBQ Kangaroo, and Ranch Raccoon (wut)

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! There's seriously tons of potato chip flavors denied to Americans, and I say it's enough. Frito-Lay, I demand more potato chip flavors!

Learn Stuff: What is a Cornish Pasty?

Posted in Learn Stuff on August 18th, 2013 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

cornish pasty

It's a pot pie in the shape of a calzone.

I had one while in England and found it somewhat tasty, though really the only improvement over a pot pie is that this can be handheld. Really other than that, there's nothing special about it.

Interestingly, the Cornish Pasty has geographical protected status to Cornwall, much like Champagne or Pecorino Romano. Of course, we don't care about European protected products in America, just like they don't care about Vidalia onions or Bourbon.

According to the official geographic protection document, a Cornish Pasty is "a savoury 'D' shaped pasty which is filled with beef, vegetables and seasonings." So not only is it quite literally a pot pie in calzone shape, but it also a means to continue misinforming the British as to the proper place of a 'u' in words that don't need it.

One last thing on the pasty: there's other types. When I had my Cornish Pasty, also available were Chicken Tikka Pasties, Fruit Pasties, and all manners of other types of meat pasty. I can't help but think that any one of those alternate flavors would have likely been better. A handheld pot pie, frankly, is not much of a treat.

Dr Pepper Museum

Posted in Travel on December 14th, 2011 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

So on this road trip that Rebecca and I just enjoyed, we stopped, on the way from Austin to Dallas, in Waco, home of Dr Pepper, and the Dr Pepper Museum all about the wonderful drink. Since I've been to the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta, I expected something similar, and I was hoping to see Dr Pepper being bottled and all kinds of other interesting things.

The Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta is one of the coolest things ever. There's bottling, there's myriad drinks to try that you can't find elsewhere, there's a reel of old commercials, there's all kinds of good stuff. Unfortunately, the Dr Pepper museum is a poor substitute. Some neat things are present, like a section on old advertising, and a whole bunch of old bottles of different drinks. There's even an excavated well that's still active and pretty neat.

But that's pretty much it. For three floors, the museum is kinda boring. Next door is an old-time soda fountain where you can buy floats and other drinks, and that's neat, but it's not actually part of the museum.

Frankly I was a little disappointed. There's no question Dr Pepper is the best coke brand, but clearly Coca-Cola is the best at self-promotion. Dr Pepper doesn't even come close. Now I just need to see the Pepsi birthplace in New Bern, NC and complete the comparison.

Real Ale Brewery

Posted in Beer on December 10th, 2011 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

Real Ale has been on my brewery tour wishlist for a long time, as their beers are consistently awesome. Fireman #4 is a staple at most establishments I frequent, and Rio Blanco is always amazing.

So when Rebecca and I planned a pan-Texas trip, I made sure Real Ale was on the itinerary. And it was worth it.

So first off, I think Real Ale wins the award for cheapest glasses. Three dollars for one or five for two. What.

The setup of Real Ale's brewing operation reminds me a lot of Magic Hat, except that where that tour was "self-guided" (from a balcony overlook), this tour was very in depth, with our guide Schmitty going over each step of their process. Because a lot of the machinery setup was similar (the bottling/boxing especially), it retroactively explained what I saw in action in Vermont.

I've noticed a significant number of breweries skip most of the details in their tours, which i can't complain about since the process doesn't vary much from place to place, but Real Ale did no such thing. Sure, some of the questions asked by tour takers were ridiculous, but each warranted a lengthy answer.

And more importantly there was good beer to drink. I particularly liked the Sisyphus Barleywine, which was not overly harsh, smoothly expressing itself quite deliciously.

A comparison of Airport Lounges

Posted in Travel on January 12th, 2011 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

As part of my general airline awesomeness (in this case, the fact that I have a Continental credit card), I get access, plus one guest, to airport lounges all over the world. Here’s a brief comparison of the many that I visited on my recent trip:

Continental President’s Club Lounge (Newark Liberty Airport) – The nicest of all the lounges, it’s also the most spacious, with a large open area overlooking the runways. There’s a large comfortable ‘TV room,’ showers, business productivity area, and a bar. The bar serves a number of “premium” drinks for pay or well drinks, wine, and Dos Equis, Michelob Amber Bock, Bud Light, and Heineken for free. Food options are limited, with apples, crackers, nutella. There’s a toaster as well, so it seems like mealtime snacks may be more varied.

United Red Carpet Lounge (Dulles International Airport) – Not nearly as large as the CO lounge, but still nice. The common room is much smaller, as is the business productivity area, and wifi has to be accessed with a special code from the front desk (run by T-mobile – at Newark, you just logon). Free drinks include wine, well drinks, and Budweiser. Snacks are a little more varied, with Pepperidge farm cookies, cheeses, breads, and fruits.

Lufthansa Business Lounge (Munich International Airport) – The smallest by far. No free wifi, but there are computers available to use for free. Free drinks include some top shelf offerings, wine, champagne, and several beers including Becks Gold, Franziskaner, and Löwenbräu. Lots of food options, including soups and other meal-type items, but none of them are particularly fantastic. (The cheesecake is awful.)

I would have also liked to visit a lounge in Heathrow, but the airport is ridiculous, and 95% of our layover time was spent on a bus transporting from Terminal A to Terminal C or something like that. When we got to the correct terminal, we could not find the lounge in the very little time we had before boarding began.

I’ve also visited the Houston Bush Intercontinental lounge (Continental) and the LaGuardia lounge (Continental), and both compare closest to the Newark lounge. The scorecard is:

  Continental United Lufthansa
Space 1 2 3
Technology 1 2 3
Food 2 3 1
Drinks 2 3 1

Germany Recap: Final Part (Misc.)

Posted in Travel on January 10th, 2011 by Nathan – 2 Comments

We waited for a while at this bus stop. I practiced trying to make the same face as the Kung Fu Panda (apparently huge in Germany) and I think I got pretty close. Over the rest of the trip, I kept making the same face in front of other things.So first, I missed an interesting thing from Köln: We were walking on this bridge covered with locks, and we were like “what’s the deal with these locks?” Then when we got to the end of the bridge, we noticed that the whole thing was a big Michael Jackson memorial. I sarcastically stated “oh that’s good. We should honor every child molester,” and some other guy on the bridge turned and laughed.

We took a lot of trains (travel was our biggest expense by far, at least two-thirds of our total expenses went to transportation) and one thing I noticed about German trains is that every single train is “fünf minuten später,” (pron. foonf mih-newton shpay-turr) or five minutes late. I’m not exaggerating: not a single train was scheduled to arrive on time (every platform has screens that show announcements such as the fact that the train is going to be late). I asked why they didn’t just change the schedule so that every train was scheduled five minutes later, but John didn’t have an answer.

Schiff=Ship, according to Google Translate. So this is the Ship's version of Bauer's Dam. Or something.While in Köln, we drank at a bar called the Beer Museum (it was not a museum but they had a lot of different beers) and we met some random young Germans intent on becoming friends with us. They were very in-your-face and insisted that we listen to a band called Die Toten Hosen (toe-ten hoe-zen). They were so adamant that they ended up writing it on a coaster and making sure that Rebecca put it in her pocket.

In the second currywurst place, they also sold bottles of Dom Perignon, for several hundred euros. I want to meet the person who buys cheap currywurst and fries and has to down it with several-hundred-euro champagne.

At camp, the bar we often go to is called “Bauer’s Dam.” A couple months ago, some friends sent me a picture of an apropos Berlin street sign, which, by chance, I happened to run into on our trip. I grabbed a picture (above to the left).

I think I saw this brand on Canal St. once...Finally, while walking in Münster, I spotted a store that can only really be described with the photo I took. See the right.

This was a fantastic trip, and I really had a great time. Rebecca and I agreed that we’re great travel partners, largely because we have the same idea of what a vacation should be like. I got to see a lot of really cool stuff, John was a great host, and I got to drink a lot of good German beer. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Germany Recap: Part 6 (Airbräu)

Posted in Travel on January 9th, 2011 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

This post mainly serves one purpose: if you ever find yourself with a long layover in the Munich airport, and you want something to eat, now you know where to go. After we left Airbräu, we knew that we were lucky to have found it, by patience and chance. You don’t have to be lucky: now you know.

Two of the beers we enjoyed: The Krampus Winterbier (L) and the Jetstream Pilsner (R).Airbräu (pron: air-brow) is exactly what it sounds like, if you know enough German and English to parse it: a brewery at the airport. Munich apparently has a really cool beer scene, and obviously, Airbräu is a part of this.

Basically, Airbräu is a brewery and a restaurant. They brew several different types of beer in the restaurant, using copper tanks that are actually housed in the middle and on the side of the restaurant, fully visible to all diners. Their beers are available, some year round, some seasonal, on the menu. Each is served in its appropriate glass. Each is quite delicious.

Equally importantly, the food they serve there is also delicious, and is certainly in the running for the best meal we had all week. To think that that a restaurant in an airport could even be considered great, let alone among the best, may seem shocking, but it’s true. The catch is that Airbräu is before airport security, so it’s not just for flyers. In fact, it seemed that there were in fact non-flyers in the restaurant, which again seems strange for anything located at an airport.

After Rebecca and I enjoyed four of their beers, I wanted a glass to take with me (I collect glasses from breweries) so I asked our waiter if they sold glasses, specifically the mug used for my Winterbier (above, left). The waiter responded that in fact they did, and when he told me the price was €3.50. I laughed out loud, and when he asked “so do you want one?” I quickly answered in the affirmative.

And that’s the other great part about this place: the price. I had more food than I could eat (duck, apfelrotkohl, potato dumplings, and more), two beers, and a glass, and I walked out paying €19.00, or roughly $24.50. Not only is that a great deal, but when you consider the location, anything short of being ripped off is amazing. Airbräu is that amazing and more.