Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

The oldest pub in London: Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, is located right off Fleet Street. It is actually one of the handful of restaurants/pubs claiming to be the oldest in the City.  Ye Old Cheshire Cheese (YOCC) has been in constant operation since 1667. It was open before that, but was shut for a bit because of the Great Fire of 1666.

This was not my first visit to YOCC.  When I lived in London for about 5 weeks in College we visited this place. I had fond memories of the restaurant. I remember this cheddar soup that was fantastic.  I wanted to bring MS to this place and see if it was as good as I remembered.  Let me clarify, I never considered this place to have outstanding food, but I did want to revisit.

We took the train from our hotel and walked about 5 minutes from the Mansion House station, finding YOCC without a problem.  We were greeted by a woman who asked if we were there for restaurant food.  Foolish me, I said yes. I didn’t clarify what the alternative was. Honestly, I thought the options were Restaurant Food or just a drink. Silly me.

We sit down and peruse the menu which is full of standard English Pub Food.  I didn’t see the Cheddar Soup. Dammit.  I didn’t really see anything that jumped out at me as something I had to have.  I opted to eat the Fish and Chips with a cup of the fire roasted tomato soup to start.  MS had the pheasant, which he was so overcooked you couldn’t tell it was pheasant.  My fish and chips were quite fine. Not worth visiting YOCC again for it, but it was acceptable.  MS then decided to have the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Lemon Curd – two things he absolutely loves.  Very disappointed.  He said it was like eating a stale Entenmann’s cake. He didn’t even finish, which says something because he loves dessert.

Very tasty Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
Average Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas
Overdone pheasant

The server was a bit rough too. She was probably in her late 20s and when she did speak she used as few words as possible and when we asked for advice she just walked away.  I know this place will never be rated by Michelin, but come on, at least pretend to provide service.

The meal, like everything in London was a bit pricey, but I wouldn’t say it was out of line.

Would I go back.  Maybe. If I do, I’m not eating the restaurant meal, I’ll be popping downstairs to the cool underground pub and have a pint or two and eat whatever they are serving down stairs.  This place is something you do and mark it off the list. It’s history is cool, but that’s about it. If you are stumbling down fleet street and need a pint, definitely pop in, but I wouldn’t seek out this little pub.

Have you been to the Ye Old Cheshire Cheese?  How was the food, the service and the ambiance?  Do you ever visit a place because you “have to”, because it’s the oldest, the smallest, the largest, the dirtiest (well, hopefully not the latter) place in town?

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#SNAPChallenge Round 2 Day 1

#SNAPChallenge Round 2 Day 1 was as rough as I expected it to be.  The night before my first full official day on the challenge I made and packed a great Tomato Garbanzo Soup to have for lunch each day, so lunch was covered.  For breakfast I had an English muffin with peanut butter (shocking, considering that’s what I ate every single day on my last challenge). I paired two pints of water with the muffin as well.  The water was an interesting choice – I drink a ton of water every day, but starting my day off with two pints made me have to pee about every 47 seconds all day.  Not ideal.

Lunch was thrown for a bit of a loop — I had a last minute meeting scheduled from 11h30-13h30, then constant meetings for the rest of the afternoon until 16h00.  I hung tough and didn’t eat any of the food during the meeting but found a few minutes between each meeting in the afternoon to eat my soup.

For mid-day snacks, I put a quarter cup (one serving) of raw almonds in zipper baggies. My plan was to have one serving mid-morning and one in the afternoon.  The raw almonds are so healthy and are slow to digest, keeping a full feeling in my stomach much longer. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t hungry in the morning, but ended up eating both the baggies of almonds for the day throughout the afternoon.

For dinner I decided to roast all the chicken breasts I had purchased for the week. Five large bone and skin on chicken breasts weighed just over 6 pounds.  I roasted the chicken at 350 for 47 minutes ( started at 40 then checked the doneness with a meat thermometer — thus needing the extra 7 minutes to finish).  I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil — all under the skin, then restretched the skin to cover the flesh.  Fantastic!.

I ate half a chicken breast along with about a half cup of steamed broccoli and 2 chopped raw carrots.  It was pretty filling.  Before the challenge I had gotten into a bad habit of having a taste of chocolate or some sorbet (or even ice cream) after dinner. This treat was not part of my challenge.  I found myself with dessert constantly on my mind.  I ran upstairs to brush my teeth — knowing that if I cheated the food would taste gross (yeah toothpaste) thus cheating makes no sense.  It worked.

Day one down – 6 more to go.  So far so good.

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UAL: 928: ORD-LHR (Economy Plus)

Headed to the #airport after my office closed early on Friday before Memorial Day.  Departing the office at 15h00, taking a taxi to a train in the loop then the Blue Line to the Airport had me arriving at ORD at approximately 16h20.  The traffic to the train was a bit much and then I just missed one train and the next was completely full of people with luggage.  The next train was almost empty, so I was able to sit, with my suitcase and relax for the 40 minute ride to the airport.

Upon arrival, since I wasn’t  checking a bag, I headed right to the security checkpoint.  Since I recently obtained Global Entry (thank you American Express Platinum Card for reimbursing this expense) I’ve been consistently getting the triple beep indicating TSA PreCheck has been approved, thus allowing me to blow through security without taking my belt or shoes off, removing my laptop, tablet or my 3-1-1 baggie from my carry on. I didn’t realize until  today that PreCheck worked for International travel too. I thought it was only for domestic or if you were flying international it would only work for you domestic portion, if you had one that is.  Not so.  I heard the triple beep and was elated.  I blew through security in a matter of minutes and was off to the UnitedClub to get some Milano cookies and a mediocre red wine.

30 minutes passed and we headed to the C Concourse for our 18h20 departure for LHR.  In the past, United would start boarding 30 minutes before departure on most planes (20 minutes for lawn darts) and 40 minutes for larger (777 and 747) planes.  I’ve noticed recently they’ve really increased their boarding window.  To London we boarded 50 minutes before hand.  This is good and bad – who wants to be on the plane that much longer, but at least now people will be on board and ready to fly when it is time to depart.

Carrier: United (ORD-LHR)
Flight #: 928
Seat: 20B
Departure: May 24, 2013 – 18h20 / 18h20
Arrival: May 25, 2013 –  08h35 / 07h35
Travel Time:  8 hours 20 minutes / 7 hours 15 minutes
Flight Miles: 3,953

We were in our standard exit row seats – the second row, so you get all the benefits of extra legroom, full recline for your seat and very limited recline of the seat in front of you. Who could ask for anything more?

We boarded and were ready for pushback 20 minutes before departure, so we sat. And sat.  And sat.  We had an on time departure, obviously and after a quick taxi we were airborne.

As usual, the meal was a shade below adequate, but the service was stellar.  The stew working our row (Tom) was great. He was very personable and kept our water cups full and when he saw we were out of sparkling wine (yes, United does carry sparkling wine again – for sale – in Economy) he would be proactive in asking if we wanted a refill.  At the end of the meal, I even ask him if they had port in his little cart – he said they didn’t (which I knew all along), but he did say BusinessFirst has some – and after about 15 minutes he came back with some very fully airline cups of port.  What a great way to finish our a meal.

The rest of the flight was uneventful.  We landed 50 minutes early, which in some instances can be great, but when you are now arriving before 08h00 in London, you know there is no way you are going to be able to check-in early and you’ll have to be travel gross all day.

Customs and immigration were an utter breeze – we were from plane to the Heathrow Express in less than 30 minutes, which is fantastic considering where United parks at LHR – that walk can be a killer.

All in all, it was a pretty stellar flight considering: We flew a domestic carrier on an international route, in economy AND considering our last international trip include flights on Thai’s A380 in First Class and both Asiana and Lufthansa in Business..

Beautiful Arrival in London

What do you think of the flights to London? Too long? Too Short? Just right?  Do you find yourself able to get the stews to throw in a freebie cocktail or glass of wine from time to time?  Do you think the food in Coach is just a small step above dog food on international routes run by domestic carriers?

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Weekend in London: Introduction

Londonfor a weekend?  Last August I visited London for a few days (as part of a drip to Spain and France) and commented on an earlier post that  London (from Chicago) is an easy weekend trip.  So for Memorial Day (in the US) and Summer Bank Holiday (in the UK) I decided to pop over for a quick visit.  This trip report will be a bit limited since we  were only on the ground for 54 hours, but we managed to back a decent amount of fun in.

What did you do for Memorial Day (a/k/a Summer Bank Holiday)?  Have you ever thought about popping over to London for the weekend, but thought that may just be too crazy?  I say do it!

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#SNAPChallenge 2 Food Prep

My second #SNAPChallenge is starting tomorrow and today I am prepping for the week.  After my last  #SNAPChallenge I had a surprising amount of food left, which is outlined here. I did a bit of shopping tonight, after I returned from a quick trip out of town for Memorial Day.

I picked up the following items:
  • Two 28 ounce cans of tomatoes at $1.59 each
  • One 16 ounce bag of lentils at $0.99
  • Two pounds of carrots at $1.59
  • One yellow onion at $0.56
  • One eggplant at $1.62
  • Half a pound of broccoli at $0.80
  • Six pounds of Split Chicken Breasts at $9.21
  • 32 ounce container of raw almonds at $8.99
The total cost was $26.94 plus tax.
#SNAPChallenge Round 2 Food
My goal this time around was to find things to eat that are more filling for a longer period — more proteins and less carbs — which is why I bought the lentils, the raw almonds and the chicken breasts. I figure I can eat one breast a day for the week.
I am starting off by cooking the Tomato Garbanzo Soup that I made last time I did this Challenge. I’ll eat this for lunch for the next few days and hopefully remain full longer than I did before.
Wish me luck tomorrow on my first day of living on just $35 / week.
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