Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Trinidad: The Trip to San Souci

After spending two days hanging out at EAD’s homestead we were free to head out and explore another piece of the island. We had discussed two options. The first wasn’t even on the island, it was actually a few minutes by air away – we thought about visiting Tobago. The other option was to travel to the northeast coast of Trinidad to see the area where the turtles come ashore to lay there eggs.

This was an easy decision once we checked the flight schedule and availability: the day we wanted to travel had no available seats on the plane. Problem solved, eh?  We decided to leave Friday morning and drive up to San Souci.

If Trinidad is a clock, Port of Spain is at 11:00 and San Souci/Grand Riviere is at around 12:30 — about 30 kilometers from each other. Unfortunately there isn’t a road that goes along the north coast, so to get to where you must drive south a bit through the town of Arima.  We were also planning to visit the Asa Wright Nature Center on this little road trip — and Asa Wright is just north of Arima, right on the way.

After heading out of Port of Spain we made our way to Arima and decided to head up to Asa Wright and check out the birds. Easier said than done. We couldn’t find the road. We asked for directions. We still couldn’t find the road. We drove around the narrow, unmarked streets of Arima asking for directions for nearly an hour — then we said screw it. We’ll try again on the way back.

Back on the main road heading east from Arima.  One thing I loved about Trinidad was the roads. In Port of Spain the roads are wide, paved and in relative good repair. The farther we got from the City the roads got worse and worse. Down from 4 lanes to 2, then down to 1.5 and then a single lane for both directions of travel.  The road went from a nice asphalt top to an old road that hadn’t seen new asphalt in 10+ years and even dirt roads at certain points.

The folks in rural Trinidad drive like bats out of hell.  You are also driving on the right side of the car and on the left side of the road. This coupled with the poor roads make for quite a wild ride.

We stopped several times to take in the great beach views as well as on the way back we stopped to hike to a waterfall.

The ride was quite beautiful, but if you aren’t use to driving on the wrong side of the car and road this might not be the best little road trip.

When you travel, do you often rent a car? I haven’t ever driven on the wrong side of the car, do you find it hard?  Do you feel as out of it when you just can’t find the proper road and even when you ask for help?

Port of Spain roadway
Arima roadway
Rural Trinidad roadway/bridge

EAD and I at the beach in San Souci
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Koval Distillery Tour – Chicago

There is a local distillery in the Ravenswood neighborhood that offers tours several times a day.  The tour has been on our to-do list for at least a year.  We finally decided to take this last tour of the day last Saturday.  The tour cost $10 per person and included a bit of history of the distillery, the family, the process of distilling and small tastings of about 10 different items (whiskey and infused spirits).

The tour had about 15 people – which I think was too many for the small space.  The tour guide was competent but didn’t really have a passion for distilling or even a real outline of what she was talking about. Several times she had to ask us “Did I already tell you guys this?” — which she hadn’t.

The tastings were small, but very tasty — having a larger pour would have made for a very sloppy evening.  Koval has a limited distribution network but can be found in many restaurants, bars and smaller liquor stores in Chicago.  You can also find this booze in New Mexico, Louisiana, Georgia and other states.

If you are in Chicago and are looking for a unique booze related tour, I would recommend visiting Koval. The tasting is in the rooms where they distill and bottle their products.  They also have a small little shop up front where you can buy bottles, shirts, bags, accessories and books.  A great little place to pick up a gift for yourself or a nice host/hostess gift.

Have you been to Koval before? How was your tour? Do you have a favorite booze tour you constantly revisit? If so, tell me about it.  When planning a trip do you look for a winery or a distillery where you can spend an afternoon?

Trinidad: Homestay: Water, Food and an Infinity Pool

I didn’t stay in a hotel while in Port of Spain, Trinidad. I stayed with my friend EAD.  He had a large condo (3-flat) with a view of the ocean and a lovely private pool. Just a day or two before my arrival, EAD bid farewell to a couple of guests who had stayed for a couple of weeks.  He used a good quite a bit of vacation during their stay.

One issue in Port of Spain (or at least in the neighborhood in which I was staying) is that the water isn’t always running to the house, so many homes have huge water tanks to hold them over until the public water is turned on.  The other issue? The toilet in the guestroom kept running while the previous guests were there…so all three water tanks (15,000 gallons in total?) were dry.  What exactly does this mean? No showers, no tooth brushing, no toilet flushing, no tap water for drinking. Nothing.  After a long travel day, I really wanted a shower. The next best thing? A dip in the pool.

The next day EAD went off to work and I hang out at his home.  I opened all the doors and windows, sat on the veranda and read my favorite book – The Sun Also Rises.  Since EAD had been so busy before I arrived, there wasn’t much food in the house. Although there were several beers, Carib of course.

I spent the most of the day enjoying the heat, drinking Caribs, floating in the infinity pool, reading and watching foreign TV. This continue for two days and it was truly relaxing. I was almost completely off the grid (as Verizon doesn’t or didn’t offer service in Trinidad).  Of course I did manage to get a bit of a sunburn on the first day.

A few days before I arrived in Port of Spain, several ex-pats were brutally murdered in their homes by militant xenophopic Trinis.  The first day I was alone in Trinidad I was sitting in the pool and saw a man climb over the fence/gate into the driveway/courtyard area. He then opened the gate and three more men came running in. Of course my first thought was that I was about to be butchered by a handful of Trinis. I decide it would be prudent to go back into the house and lock the caged doors/windows.  While every window and door was open the home had built in security bars.  My silliness was soon made evident when these four men began filling the empty water tanks and another man started to clean the pool.

Not the most glamorous ways to start a Caribbean vacation, but something that I really needed.

Do you like to kick off your vacation by totally decompressing before getting active and exploring? Have you ever stayed someplace where the water had just run out and you were out of luck?  Have you ever been on vacation and thought that you were about to be murdered?

My book, beer and ham and cheese wrap

The pool, the lanai and a waterfall

Quite a warm day

My feet floating in the infinity pool

View from the pool

Slightly sun burned on day one

Dollar Shave Club

Two weeks ago I received an email from a friend (more of a travel nerd acquaintance) telling me about this new service called Dollar Shave Club.  One thing that I really hate is how expensive razor blades are. You go to Target for toiletries and when you toss in a package of razor blades your bill jumps up by $20. Hate it.

Enter Dollar Shave Club. Basically you pay a subscription of either $1, $6 or $9 per month and you get a set number of razors delivered to your home.  My friend signed up for this a month or so ago and really likes the service. I decided to give it a try, but when I signed up I received an email that they were backlogged and would send me my first razor in mid-May.

I signed up for the $6 version (because those single blade razors just shred my delicate face and don’t even cut my wild beard). With your first order the throw in a razor handle (stick).  I think the video is pretty funny too.

Full disclosure: If you follow my link and sign up, I get a free month of razors. Once you sign up you get a link too and when your friends sign up you get a free month for each new member.

I will fully review the razors when they arrive — I’m actually looking forward to shaving for once, even though it is one of my lease favorite tasks (ranks right up there with cleaning the litter box).

What do you think of this idea? Do you hate the cost of razors as much as I do?

What I’m Cooking…Smoked Paprika Chicken Thighs

Last Sunday morning I watched The Best Thing I Ever Made: Chicken Dinners. Alton Brown (who I use to really like, but now find him to be a bit grating) made Smoked Paprika Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Onions.   The kicker is that you put an olive tapenade under the skin of the thighs.  I immediately knew I had to make this recipe.

Chicken as it enters the oven

I love chicken thighs: they are cheap and have the most flavor in the chicken.  I followed Alton’s recipe exactly – I tried to buy a pre-made tapenade, but my grocery was sold out.  I even used my kitchen shears to bone (debone?) the chicken.

Potatoes, onions and chicken grease.

I had to buy a new piece of kitchen equipment too – a mandolin.  I will right a full review of this equipment and my history with this dangerous piece of kitchen plastic and metal.

Resting Chicken

This recipe was super easy. Interestingly enough, the recipe turned out almost exactly as it did on TV, except for all the grease that came from the chicken and just drenched the potatoes and onions.  Very shocking.

The chicken was delicious. The potatoes were great, despite the pool of chicken thigh grease they were swimming in.

Greasy potatoes

Would I make this again…it is unclear.  The chicken was very flavorful. I don’t know about the tapenade under the skin. It was good, but I don’t think the olives added enough for the work involved.  I’m also super surprised about the amount of grease/liquid too.

If you like olives and chicken thighs, you should give this recipe a try…and let me know what you think.

 Have you made an Alton Brown Recipe recently? Do you have a nasty mandolin accident you want to tell us all about? What is your preference: Breast or Thighs (Chicken, I mean).