Tim Foolery

Staying Entertained Inflight

Flying is still exciting for me, but no matter how excited I am about being in the air, trying a new product or enjoying an old one, there comes a time in every flight that you need some proper entertainment.  I’ve got a trip coming up where I’m spending more than 43 hours of time in the air – not including layovers, or waiting to board or deplane.  That’s a lot of time and one can only drink champagne and eat interesting airline meals for so many hours without losing one’s mind!

Emirates-inflight

In-flight Entertainment Can Only Keep You Occupied for So Long!

So how do I ensure I don’t get cabin fever whilst in the air?  Simple.  I over prepare.  My rule for years has been to have at least 2.5 hours of entertainment for every one hour of scheduled flying time.  This means I’m loading up my phone, my tablet and my laptop with movies, TV shows and podcasts.  This usually works out well, as I’ll often watch the airline provided in-flight entertainment during meals, then switch over to my own later on.  Here’s what I’m bringing on my next trip:

Movies

I have a handful of movies that I’ve purchased over the years on my tablet at all times.  These are some of my favorite films, ones that I can put on, zone out, relax and if I happen to fall asleep part way through, I’m not missing anything.  Here’s what’s on my tablet, can you sense a theme?

  • Fight Club
  • Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Indochine
  • Dr. No / Casino Royale / Skyfall / Quantum of Solace
  • The Bourne Identity

TV Shows

Since you can usually catch reruns of the Big Bang Theory on any airline anywhere, I find myself watching that show (God, I don’t know why) for a bit on the plane.  It’s easy to sleep to, I guess.  I’ve also been re-watching some older shows too:

  • Hannibal
  • Alias
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (see below)
  • Some PBS Documentary like the Roosevelts, American Experience or the like
  • Some full seasons to binge like American Horror Story, X-Company or Modern Family
  • An Anthony Bourdain show about my immediate destination or a future one

Podcasts

Podcasts are tough for me on planes.  I find myself falling a sleep when I’m listening to a pod or an audio book, which is great, if I want to sleep, but not if I want to actually listen to the content.  Here’s my current pod queue:

  • Young House Love Has a Podcast (Great DIY podcast)
  • Happier (A guide to bringing my happiness to your life, with Gretchen Rubin)
  • The Greatest Generation (a Star Trek podcast, currently doing an episode by episode recap and review of DS9 – see above)
  • American History Tellers
  • This American Life
  • Up First (NPR News)
  • NPR Politics
  • News in Slow French (Always be practicing!)
  • Having a Friend for Dinner (A Hannibal podcast)

I often find that when I get back home, I’ve still got a ton of things that I didn’t get around to watching while on the trip.  That gives me a head start on my next excursion.  How do you ensure you are fully entertained on long trips?

Advertisements

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – Montréal

After doing a bit of research on fine dining in Montreal, I decided to give L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon another try.  I wasn’t overly impressed with it when I was in Hong Kong, but I had delayed planning a nice dinner until late in the game and I couldn’t find a reservation that would fit into our overall schedule. L’Atelier it is!  I didn’t realize, until the day of the reservations, that the restaurant is actually in the Casino, which honestly, if I had known, I likely would have changed my plans. Casino food can be hit or miss and if I wasn’t sold in the excellence of L’Atelier from a previous visit, I was sure the locale wouldn’t make it better.  Plus, it was too late to cancel without a forfeiture fee.

I roll into the casino about 5 minutes before my reservation and like all casinos, it was like a maze finding the restaurant.  Eventually, after a few escalators, an elevator and a flight of stairs, I walk up to the Maitre d’ and was greeted by name. The restaurant was booked full and I was a single diner showing up about 10 minutes after my reservation time – process of deduction lead them to me.  

The welcome crew was great, no comment about my tardiness – there were a couple of single seats around the counter, of which I had my choice.  Selecting a corner seat gave me extra elbow room and only one opportunity to have a talkative neighbor.

As I sat down the menu was delivered and before I could even get situated, I was presented a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and was asked if I’d be joining in a pre-dinner glass of champagne.  OUI! Madam, OUI!

Veuve Clicquot branded champagne flute

As I sipped my champagne and perused the menu, I finally got a chance to check out the restaurant. It looked remarkably like the Hong Kong version, bar seating, highboy tables around the perimeter, although this restaurant looked out on the river and was quite bright and sunny, despite the deep red and black lacquer finished.

The Kitchen Moved So Eloquently

The Plating Area was Quite Frenetic

The food terrarium

Decourverte de Saison Menu

Experience Menu

I had basically decided I’d be doing the tasting menu this evening.  The final decision was which menu to try, the Decouvert de Saison or the Experience.  I was pushing for the Experience, but I didn’t want the sweetbreads and I couldn’t swap out a course, so it was the Decouvert for me.  It wasn’t a big let down, I just really wish I could have had the canard – I love duck.

I decided to do the wine pairings as well – why not, right?  So I sat at the bar, alone, enjoying a 10-course tasting menu with wine pairings, and I couldn’t be happier.  First up, an amazing bread basket was delivered. I knew I wouldn’t eat all that bread by myself…but I did a damn good job. I just left one of the olive loafs behind.  So perfect, so buttery, so not needed based on the amount of food I was eating!

The Bread Basket was Amazing — Every Selection Better Than the Previous!

Service was surprisingly smooth and knowledgeable.  I kept replaying the dinner in Hong Kong and how disappointing it was.  Not at all like that here.  The service was well timed – a glass delivered, then the wine poured with about 20-30 seconds of explanation of the grape, the region and why it was chosen to pair with the next course.  I’d have about a minute or two to smell, taste and admire the wine before the plate was delivered – again with a 20-30 second explanation of the dish, then I’d be left to enjoy it in peace.  Dinner continued like that for about two and a half hours.

Pour Commencer
Cold Pea Veloute Over Fresh Mint Jelly

L’oursin
Sea Urchin Royale with Fennel Coulis

La Saint-Jacques
Golden Scallop Over Lettuce Coulis, Crisp Leaves Sprinkled with Ginger

L’Asperge Blanche
White Asparagus and Fresh Morel Mushrooms with Yellow Wine Emulsion

Le Fletan
Halibut with Lemongrass, Purple Artichokes and Green Asparagus

Le Bison
Rossini-Style Bison Tenderloin and Foie Gras with Cranberry Elixir, Watercress Salad

Le Bison
Rossini-Style Bison Tenderloin and Foie Gras with Cranberry Elixir, Watercress Salad

Cheese Course

Cheese Course

Le Chocolat Tendance
Araguani Chocolate Cremeaux, Crumbled Biscuit, Cocoa Sorbet

Le Chocolat Tendance
Araguani Chocolate Cremeaux, Crumbled Biscuit, Cocoa Sorbet

By the time the L’Asperge Blanche was delivered (which was SCALDING hot by the way), a couple sat next to me.  She was loud and brash.  She ordered a double spicy, extra horseradish Bloody Mary.  The server confirmed and gave her fair warning that that drink would likely destroy her palate, truly diminishing the tasting menu.  She ordered the tasting menu…and a second double spicy, extra horseradish Bloody Mary…before the champagne was served.

Despite my initial frustration with this woman, we ended up having a really great time chatting.  Her husband (boyfriend?) was more of the silent, look at his phone type of guy and she was a chatty Kathy.  She ended up being quite respectful, when my dish would arrive, she’d turn and lavish attention on her date, who couldn’t care less about her (or so it seemed) and once I was done, she let me savor for a moment, then she’d jump right back into her story, without missing a beat.  It made for an enjoyable experience.

Finally the petits fours were delivered.  Eric Gonzalez, the head chef, came out and chatted with me for about 15 minutes.  We spent a lot of time talking about port (I love a beautiful Portuguese fortified wine) and about proper duck preparation and how he doesn’t really dig the whole duck press service.  I loved pressed duck, but many places do it so poorly.

Petit Four

My early dinner came to an acceptably timely close a little before 22h00, which gave me plenty of time to head back to the hotel, change and meet up with my friends that evening.  The L’Atelier in Montreal is head an shoulders better than the one in Hong Kong.  I was thoroughly disappointed in so much of the Hong Kong experience and despite the casino location, this team did a phenomenal job.  I’d head back and dine here in a heartbeat — but will I dine in Paris, or Shanghai or Taipei or any of the other cities with a Joël Robuchon restaurant?  Time will tell.

Have you dined at any of the incarnations of Joël Robuchon’s restaurants?  What did you love?  How was the service?

Need Advice: Best Point-and-Shoot Camera for Travel

I’ll admit it.  I’ve been using my Samsung Galaxy S8 almost exclusively for photos while I travel and before that, I was using my Galaxy S6 Edge.  I haven’t always been a phone as camera guy.  I was a big fan of the Nikon Coolpix in it’s various incarnations since 2006 and really enjoyed the ease of use and the quality of the pictures.

My most recent Coolpix met an untimely death during a photo shoot at work, one of my employees didn’t affix it properly to the tripod and it fell, smack on the lens, destroying my workhorse of a camera.  That specific camera had traveled with me to Peru, Bolivia, Austria, France, you name it was with me.

I need some guidance on what point-and-shoot camera I should get?  Here’s what I’m looking for, in general:

wp-1533599897294..jpg

My previous Nikon Coolpix – the replacement for this guy died in a tragic accident at work.

  • Digital Camera – I love film, but I’m not able to take the time to handle that now.
  • Portable, ideally something that can fit in the pocket of my jeans (I’m not a skinny jeans guy, so don’t worry about that), but barring that, something that is lightweight and easy to carry.  I will eventually move into the DSLR world, but I’m not looking for that right now.
  • Must have at least 1080p video capabilities.
  • I’d prefer something with a standard charger – I’ve been burned too many times by forgetting my special camera battery charger.  GRRR.
  • I’ll be using it to photograph every day life and when I travel.  I’ll be snapping pix of beautiful landscapes, architecture, food and airline seats.
  • Some of these versions have pretty awful placement of flashes or flash sensors – so it needs to be a logical design.

What do you use? What’s the one thing you love most about it and what is the one thing you hate the most?  Do you think I should just stick with my Samsung Galaxy S8 phone?

Rosemary Salt – Preserving Fresh Herbs

It is that time of year – our gardens are roaring into full production.  We’ve just started getting our tomatoes, but our peppers have been coming in for a couple of weeks and our eggplant will be ready for harvest by the end of the week.  We’ve had a great crop of fresh herbs for almost two months now.  We can’t use all the fresh herbs that we’ve grown, so we’re doing everything we can to preserve them.  I’ve been making and freezing fresh basil pesto every week now, I’ve also started making flavored salts too.  I made a half cup of rosemary salt this weekend and thought I’d share my simple recipe that is so easily scalable – make a half teaspoon or a cup, it’s the same process.

Here’s what you need to make a tablespoon of rosemary salt:

Another way to preserve fresh herbs

1 Sprigs rosemary, stemmed and roughed chopped
1 tablespoons sea salt

  1. Place the chopped rosemary and salt in a mortar and pestle (I didn’t use the M&P, I just used a knife to chop the salt and rosemary into a finer powder

Finished product – Rosemary Salt

You can use the rosemary salt on anything and everything that could use a little pop of rosemary!  Try it as you roast some vegetables, on steaks or chicken before they hit the grill, or to finish off a salad.  Personally, we love it on pork chops.

Prepped and ready for the grill

Do you make flavored herb salts?  Do you have an easier process?  What are your favorite flavor combinations and how do you use them?

IPNC Day Two: On Campus

After an amazing first full day at IPNC, Group A, of which we were a part, remained on campus. The breakfast on days one and two are pretty much identical – amazingly fresh berries and stone fruit (if you haven’t been to Oregon in berry season, you are missing out on one of life’s amazing pleasures), fresh buttery pastries, bacon or sausage, some yogurt, juice and coffee. Nothing terribly fancy, but delicious and nothing too wild that will destroy your palate before the tastings.

The main event is the Grand Seminar, where everyone who was off campus the day before goes to Linfield’s gym for a tasting seminar. This year’s seminar was Two Vineyards | Six Hands, which was an in-depth exploration of six wines from two vineyards. These wines were made especially for IPNC. We actually skipped this session. We decided to head off campus and grab breakfast with some local friends. We’ve had mixed results with the Grand Seminar – sometimes they are really great and other times they can drag on for way too long. Everyone we talked to said we missed out on a really great seminar this year.

After the Grand Seminar was the Lunch on the Lawn. This al fresco dining experience, like the Grand Dinner the night before it is a plated and served lunch where each table has a winemaker sharing a selection of wines they brought and the somms providing larger tastings (half glasses) of other wines from the library. We sat with one person we had met before at another IPNC and everyone else was new to us. Our winery partner was Sokol-Blosser – where we had an off-campus experience a few years ago. Our entire table was such fun and Robin Hawley the Associate Winemaker was a generous host as well. She was inquisitive and engaging – a real delight to sit with. We also had a couple of first-timers at our table, so it was great to get their impressions and to offer sage advice.

Lunch on the Lawn Place Seetting and Menu

Marinated Dungeness Crab, Washington Nectarine, Mint and White Balsamic Vinaigrette, with Cucumber and Fennel

Macaron Pavlova aux Fruits Rouges

Following lunch we had our University of Pinot class, which centered on Austrian Pinot Noirs. There were about a dozen different 90 minute courses you could take – and we actively selected into this course as we do visit Vienna from time to time. The class had three Austrian winemakers showcasing the geography, the diversity and the uniqueness of their wines. These wines definitely had a lighter, crisper feel than a traditional Oregon Pinot Noir, but this is really one of the main points. It is the INTERNATIONAL Pinot Noir Celebration, not the Oregon PNC. The winemakers were insightful and made me want to hope on a plane and pay them a visit. The worst part, this class lasted 25 minutes longer than scheduled, which cut into the Afternoon Activities. We could have left, but we sat in such a place that we couldn’t actually leave without being very disruptive. Next time, plan better!

University of Pinot – Austrian Pinot? PROST! Map

University of Pinot – Austrian Pinot? PROST! Full Tasting Setup

University of Pinot – Austrian Pinot? PROST! The Winemakers

Saturday’s Afternoon Activities were focusing on Rosés and Jamón. I will still pretty full from lunch, but I’ve always got room for proper Ibérico Ham, which was served with heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese and the most wonderful sardines I’ve ever eaten. The line was long for Jamón, but we had a rosé to keep us company. I will admit, I was in the Jamón line twice – the second time we spent more time chatting with one of the Austrian winemakers too. We’ll be visiting him on our next trip to Austria.

Like the first day, there is an al fresco tasting before dinner. Tables with dozens of wineries pouring a curated selection of wines sit underneath old oak trees. You get direct access to the winemakers and owners of these great wineries. Plus, this is a great time to mingle and chat with the new friends you met earlier in the weekend.

The final dinner is the famous Salmon Bake. This buffet dinner is the only part of the weekend that is open to non-attendees of IPNC. Separate tickets can be purchased ($225 per ticket) from the IPNC website. Like all meals, there is no assigned seating, it is first-come-first-served seating. There are two strategies for the Salmon bake 1) Hurry and select a table for you and your friends or 2) Head straight into the buffet line, then once you have a full plate, strikeout to find a seat.

The star of this dinner is the salmon, which is roasted over an open flame in the style that indigenous people of the pacific northwest would cook it. In addition to the salmon, there is beef and pork, plus tons of salads and sides – all made with fresh, local ingredients by excellent regional chefs.

Salmon Bake – Open Fire

Salmon Bake – Slow Roasting

Like the lunches and previous dinner, the somms are assigned to certain tables and they keep your glasses full. They are always rotating different wines including, chardonnays, rieslings and of course pinot noir. There is a ton of food at the buffets, so multiple trips are required.  The separate dessert stations open up about an hour after the main meal is served – dozens of small dessert pastries and even full slices of pie.

The casual dinner allows for easy walking and chatting with new friends.  People also bring their own bottles to share with friends old and new.  We find our selves walking around the tables, exploring new wines and continuing to meet new people.

Beautiful Evening in Oregon. Salmon Bake is fan favorite.

At the end of the night, we always grab a few friends and a couple chairs and sit by the remains of the Salmon Bake Fire.  We have so much fun at this part of the night, it is a sad time as the great weekend is coming to a close.

End of the Night. Salmon Bake Fire Dies Down, While the Conversations Continue