Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Stockings finally hung…

I don’t have a mantle.  I don’t have any logical place to hang our new crafty stockings.  I’ve been asking my mother for about 10 days now to go pick up some of those Command Strip Hooks — she finally got around to doing it today….so I was finally able to hang our stocking with care.

Not sure this is the best place for these stockings, but it will do this time.  What do you think about our attempts at being crafty?  Yes, Lilly finds it necessary to be in almost every house picture I take.

Elite Mileage Bonuses: UA vs AA

So we all know American Airlines has filed for bAAnkruptcy and many of you know that American has added some mileage bonuses lately.  The options you’ve got right now, on American, are Double Elite Qualifying Miles from ORD/DFW and LAX/SFO — this promo is only for people with mailing addresses in Illinois, California and Texas.  The other option is Double Elite Qualifying Miles anywhere in the world.  There are no residency restrictions on this promotion.  The best part — you can stack these rewards or get Triple Elite Qualifying Miles.  This means from ORD-LAX-ORD you’d get 10,470 Elite Miles.  Pretty damn amazing.

United has matched the Double Elite Qualifying Miles between ORD and LAX/SFO for Illinois or California residents, but not for the cheap flights.  United hasn’t moved forward to match the second bonus…yet.  I’m not sure United will match the American option either.  American is in bAAnkruptcy and people might feel they should jump ship and join the ranks of the United Patrons.  They may also feel their AAdvantage Miles are worthless, but this is just crap — how many airlines filed bankruptcy between 2000 and 2011…exactly.  And all their miles were fine.

I’m seriously considering doing some mileage runs in January to LAX and get status on American.  I don’t want to leave United (you all know I love them, irrationally), but this could be a good move for me and a great way to earn a high status on an airline with limited travel and limited expense.

What do you think? Do you think United will match the American promotions?  Should I jump ship and join the ranks for the AAdvantage crowd?  Are you becoming an American Flyer since the bAAnkruptcy ?

Where I’m Eating…Hinterland (Milwaukee)

This weekend we stayed in Milwaukee for a mattress run.  After absolutely no help from the hotel staff, we consulted Opentable and found a few options ranging from Mexican food to Sushi to Contemporary American.  We checked a couple menus then basically just randomly chose to visit Hinterland.

We walked from the Aloft to a little dive bar a few blocks away (I don’t know the name and it doesn’t really matter as it wasn’t really worth mentioning).  We then continued our walk to Hinterland.  I was surprised that we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go in Milwaukee — obviously we weren’t really looking to travel far and wide, but it was nice not to take a car/taxi everywhere.  I don’t think you could live in Milwaukee without a car though.

We got to the restaurant and once were seated we were told the Rib Eye special was sold out as was a fish dish.  We weren’t able to get reservations until 21h00 — I’m perfectly ok with a 21h00 reservation — so much better than an 18h00 reservation.

We opted for a reasonably priced 2009 St. Innocent Cuvee Pinot Noir — the wine.com price is $24.99 and the restaurant price was $59.00…not a great mark up for not too bad for a restaurant wine list, eh?  The wine itself was pretty smooth with a little earth flavor – it was quite light.

MS and I split the Sweet Water Mixed Greens Salad – which had a watermelon radish, toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese with a date-lemon vinaigrette.  The split salad was enormous. If we hadn’t split it it would have been really too much — and a waste.

I decided to have two small plates for dinner, while Mike had Wood-fire Grilled Swordfish.  His dinner was served with sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, beluga lentils, cauliflower mushrooms and port syrup. His fish was tasty — although I’m not 100% sure he’d order it again.

My two small plates were served at the same time and concurrent with MS’ dinner as well.  I opted to have to the Hamachi Crudo with espellete pepper, cilantro, beets and radishes.  For a small plate there was a surprising amount of food. While it wasn’t full enough for an entire entree, it was more than you’d expect for a small plate.  I bet you could have had a regular salad and a small plate and been very full.  The fish had a red tint from the beets and was very tasty.  It was perfectly prepared, in my opinion. I wish the portion was a bit much though.

I chose the Baked Hand Cranked Cavatelli for my second small plate.  It was pretty mediocre.  It came with strauss veal ragu, olives, chevre and pancetta.  Sounds pretty damn good, doesn’t it?  Well, no. It was dry and relatively flavorless.  I think the proportions of each of the component ingredients was off.  Adding a bit of tomato to the sauce would make this fit a little better.

MS decided to have the bread pudding for dessert — I had nothing.

The service was a bit off too.  We had to ask for butter multiple times before anyone would deliver it.  The water didn’t get refilled that frequently and no one topped off our wine.  The wine is less annoying since we did have the bottle at our table, but it is nice when the servers actually do it.  It just shows the service isn’t polished or very sharp — but is it a deal breaker?  No, I don’t think so — the food wasn’t all that expensive (about $29 for an big plate entree).  You’d like it to be tighter, but it wouldn’t stop me from going back.

If I go back to Milwaukee I probably wouldn’t stop by this place again as I’m sure there are many other great places to try, but if I happened to be in Milwaukee and someone else wanted to visit Hinterland, I wouldn’t protest. I would have more balanced expectations and would alter my meal plan though.

What is your favorite place in Milwaukee?  When you are in a new town, how do you find your dinner?  Does the restaurant markup on wine really frustrate you?  Do you hate it when you have to ask for butter multiple times? Does that make you feel like a fat ass?

Hotel Review: Aloft Milwaukee

This weekend we made a quick trip to Milwaukee, MS needed one more Starwood stay to keep his Platinum Status for 2012 — and since I’ll be reaping the benefits while in Asia of the upgrades and comps, I didn’t really complain.  Plus, I’m a guy who traditionally does a mileage runs each year to keep my Premier Exec status with United (btw, I don’t need any more UAL miles this year, so I’m local until 2012.

We opted to stay at the Aloft in Milwaukee, which is right along the river.  I’ve never stayed at an Aloft before.  When I stay at a Starwood property, I usually stay at a W or a Westin.  We pulled into what looked like a relatively newly renovated hotel.  We opted not to valet, but just park in the self park next door.

We checked in and the guy working the front desk didn’t really seem to know what was going on.  He checked us in, confirmed the the SPG Number was properly coded and gave us a coupon for a free water. We asked if he had any recommendations for dinner or a nice little local bar — he said no. He really didn’t know what was going on in the area, but he thought there might be a magazine or something in our room that could help us out.  He was very young and probably just wasn’t informed about customer service — not a major issue.  We like to explore the City on our own and often find that hotel recommendations are truly tourist traps.

The room itself was a decent size and suited our needs pretty well.  It had a pretty firm and creaky king sized bed.  The bathroom was nice — it didn’t have a tub, which I’m OK with — who is really taking a bath in the hotel, right?  Both the water temperature and pressure were great.

The biggest issue with this hotel is the noise.  There appears to be so little insulation or noise proofing you can hear the people talking in neighboring rooms and when someone down the hall closes the door to their room your room shakes.  So many people were leaving the hotel at 07h00 — it was quite a way to wake up on a Sunday morning.

All in all, the hotel was a nice place to stay — and if I have to be in Milwaukee again, I would probably stay here again. It wasn’t high end, but the price was reasonable and if you know the area or have a guide to show you the ropes, this hotel would be a good fit for you.  I am looking forward to trying another Aloft in another City as well.

Do you regularly do mattress runs?  If so, do you stay local or make a little road trip out of it?  What do you think of the Aloft product?  Is it consistent across markets?

What I’m Cooking…Double Pork Tenderloin with Blue Cheese

While I was in Los Angeles for work earlier this month, we were having a post meeting cocktail at the Standard Hotel, Lobby Bar.  While there, some hotel brass were “interviewing” a new chef.  He was applying for the Sous Chef position on the breakfast shift, but for his interview he was tasked with making two appetizers, one side, two entrees and a dessert that would fit with the overall theme of the Standard.

We sat and watch the food come out, most of which looked really good. We then eavesdropped as the hotel leadership commented on the flavor and presentation.  All in all, it appeared the management team thought the interviewee did a fine job.  It didn’t seem like they were blown away by anything, but they weren’t disappointed.  The immediate job he’s applying for is a breakfast sous chef — how innovative do you have to be to do this job.

After his interview, he sat down at the restaurant (right behind us) and ordered dinner. We chatted with him a bit — and found out that he use to be the head chef at Skywalker Ranch.  I don’t believe this for a minute, but that’s what he told us.  He said one of the most popular dishes he fixed while at the ranch was a Pork Tenderloin that was filleted and lined with a few pieces of prosciutto, then on top of the prosciutto you put a ton of blue cheese crumbles — then top with more prosciutto.  You then fold the filleted pork over and season with salt and pepper.

I then put some olive oil in a stainless steel oven safe pan and browned the pork for 2 minutes on each side then put it in the oven at 350F until the internal temperature was just 140F.  Let it rest for 5 minutes and devour.

I didn’t take a picture of the process because I am easily distracted.  Next time I’ll take some photos.

The real question? How was it.  AMAZING. I like blue cheese, but it’s not my favorite.  Coupled with the saltiness of the prosciutto the blue cheese really made this dish delish.  I never would have thought of putting these three things together, but really loved it.  Plus it was so easy make.  I will definitely make this again.

Have you sat in on someones interview recently and stolen a few ideas from them?  What have you slathered blue cheese on recently?  Don’t you just love cooking a pork tenderloin?