Just Desserts

We walked to Woodpecker Hill restaurant for our first really good fancy meal in Auckland last weekend, celebrating our 27th anniversary. Yay! Super cool place, great food (I was actually tempted to write about the bok choy, but who writes about bok choy), really nice service… attentive yet unobtrusive. 

We chose the top dessert, and it actually might have been my least favorite course…. too many delicious things all rolling around together. Still scraped every milligram off the plate, however. 

From lox to laksa

Your average Kiwi would be very happy to eat brunch in an American cafe or restaurant, and vice-versa. Eggs, toast, bacon, cheese, maybe some avocado and tomato here and there. Smoked fish on a bagel, surely!

But the “average” doesn’t totally capture Auckland these days… there’s a lot of people from a lot of places. So today we turned ourselves over to Yelp and had Malaysian laksa for brunch, way delicious. It’s a rich coconut broth with chili, chicken, noodles, some unidentifiable things, hard boiled egg, veggies, and some of that crazy Chinese sausage… yowza! Malaysian might be my new favorite Asian cuisine, even though I’ve only had it a few times. 

Just desserts

We had an impromptu dinner with Kevin and Nicole last night at the Whetstone. Just as we were wrapping it up the manager came over and asked if she could buy us a drink in exchange for kicking us out of our table. They had a big party coming in and needed our particular spot. 

We considered refusing to see if they would forcibly remove us, but instead took the drink, choosing this delicious horchata flavored concoction. Score!

Good evening Goodwin

After we stood outside looking forlorn for a couple of minutes, the crew at the new bar in the Goodwin Hotel invited us in to participate in their soft opening. Glad to see this old hotel reopening, part of a wave of downtown revitalization that is hitting Hartford. 

You can’t go home again 

Still true, even though we keep littering the country with places we call home. 

But you can visit your old house…

And go to diners you used to love for the best huevos rancheros ever…

Bye bye Sporty

The best days of The Sportsmen’s Lounge were behind it long before we got to town. So, no huge surprise to see a handwritten sign on the door saying they’re closed. They had some improbable flowers in the tiny dirt strip in the front, and neon signs from brands of beer I won’t drink and teams I don’t care about.

We only made it in one time, even though I was once told by a memorably alcoholic lady at another bar that the Friday seafood lunch was very much worth the trip.

Peak Foliage

Early in the year, I heard some predictions that the drought-like conditions we have experienced would cause a lousy leaf season.

Instead, it has been spectacular. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been daily wondering whether we had hit the peak… it’s a tradeoff between having the most leave is still on the trees, versus having the most leaves at their most dramatic colors. Often, a storm will come along and knock some leaves down early, so if you are waiting and waiting for the most color, you might miss it.

On Thursday, we snuck out for a nice lunch at the Four Columns Inn in Newfane. The Newfane Square is about as picturesque as you can convenient we get, and the colors were amazingly vibrant under the perfect blue sky.

Books you don’t need, at a place you can’t find

That’s the slogan at the Montague Book Mill, and it was true. I found three John Carter of Mars paperbacks, which I didn’t need but obviously bought anyway. 

Still, whether easy to find or not, a good bookstore is a good thing, and the Book Mill is that. 

Then, we had an outstanding dinner at the Alvah Stone restaurant downstairs… Every item we tried was really really good. Will definitely go back. 

TdF Friday July 22

On Friday we transferred from Villars to Paris. The first sprinkles fell as we were loading the van, and the rain became torrential as we drove. That was really the only rain we saw… All our rides were under clear skies. 

Villars, as I’ve said before, was beautiful, as was that whole region. Here’s a couple more pics from the Alps. 

The drive to Paris took most of the day, and we were very ready to check in to the Meridien Etoile, a workhorse hotel nicely located near the Porte Maillot. When we got there, the race was almost over, but Vlad convinced one of the bellmen to pull it up on his computer screen, so we got to see the finish. 

Manny and Marybeth had purchased a museum pass that needed picking up, so Vlad and I joined them for the walk. 

It turned out to be further than we anticipated, so eventually we sent Manny on ahead while the rest of us had a drink in front of the Madeleine. 

Sadly, the tourist office was closed, but it’s hardly a bad thing to walk around Paris on a summer afternoon. 

But now it’s 8 pm, and dinner time. Vlad has spent quite a bit of time in Paris, and in general is seldom in doubt about what ought to happen next. He vetoed several restaurants, and so found himself in charge of picking one.  We walked for an hour, but finally mutinied… we ended up having a thoroughly marginal meal at the next place we found. It was too bad, because we were just a few blocks from lots of good eats. 

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