Category Archives: Beer

Ottawa thoughts: January 2008

Spent the last few days mostly flying. To Ottawa for a meeting and all those sorts of things that go with it. Anyways, just a few rambling thoughts while enroute.

1. Security checks. What will they do when they find out you can make explosive clothing? Issue everyone hospital gowns for the flight? And those restrictions on toiletries….I think a smart airline would hand out packages of shampoo and toothpaste to everyone as they disembarked.

2. Flying in general. Each time there seemed to be a significant delay in getting off the plane. European low cost airlines had two used exits, like a bus. Great idea. Can you imagine if every time you took a cab you had to wait for three minutes to get out?

3. Airline entertainment. On Air Canada they have little screens on the back of most seats and you can pick from many movies, tv shows etc. And boy was I happy about the headphones on the trip back when a man slumped over his own not inconsiderable stomach (not obese enough to qualify for the extra free seat that has just been legally declared..and that is worth a rant elsewhere) slept and loudly snored for the whole flight. So anyway because things are so wonky with the system I watched In the Valley of Elah which seemed good but started stop go stopping and then ground to a total halt halfway through. Then watched Invasion with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in German (which I can partially speak) with Japanese subtitles. The English would take me to French, and the French to German and the German to the Italian, and the Italian would just shut down the movie. I think it was good, and maybe it seemed even classier because it was now a foreign film though the soundtrack slightly preceeded the action so that when Nicole was maybe or maybe not shooting someone, she would still seem to be deciding as you heard a shot. It was still tense but in a different kind of way. Also I mean classy in as classy as you can get when the means of transmission is one person vomiting in the mouth of another. A remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers; has there ever been a really bad version of this?

Also saw a little of Jody Foster in The Brave One which ended because we were landing. (I did go through five selections in a row with all reporting “not available at this time”). Though in English this also had Japanese subtitles…looking around it just seemed to be me getting this special service…had I pressed some hidden control?)

4. Valet service, no less. So end up going to this function at the 18 club, which my Ottawa friend (who I’ve known from my schooldays) tells me is tres chi chi (though he would eat nails before ever uttering such a phrase). And yes, valet service in front. I have always had a hard time accepting that certain professions consist of doing things that not only can anyone do for themselves but things that aren’t all that unpleasant either. Its modernish inside and what they called Big Apples (Bacardi big apple rum, green apple Sour Puss, Asian Pear Liqueur & butterscotch schnapps) were in every hand. Then comes the endless parade of small portioned foods. Not exactly tapas; I’ve had those, and they can be of a size but things like a cheesecake drizzled with one thing and infused with another and served on a spoon. The biggest items were various small sate. They even had a very small hamburger held together by a toothpick and sporting a very small comical but precisely accurate bun. After sampling and sampling and a few too many Big Apples considering my friend was picking me up for drinks, he did.

5. The walk down tavern. We parked and walked down a seedy throughfare to what looked like a fourplex kind of entrance to a basement suite. I don’t remember seeing any sort of sign, and on entering, found a warm, happy and bustly neighborhood feeling pub with four different stouts on tap. Had a couple of oatmeal stouts and that kind of great conversation you can only have with someone you’ve know your whole life, and both of you long past the point where there is any need to hide anything at all. (I am going to find out what the place was called and post it…its worth a visit if you make to the capital.)

6. Cormac Redux. My takeaway reading was No Country for Old Men, a Cormac McCarthy book I had thought before not quite up to his usual standard but this time through I am finding line after line that seems really good. Haven’t been able to see the film yet and thought I’d do this in the meanwhile. Marquez’ Strange Pilgrims is waiting at home on the bedside table as well as my next reread Cees Nooteboom’s All Soul’s Day which I remember as the consummate modern European novel.

7. Irish weather. And lastly, and I cannot convey quite how much pleasure it gave me to turn on the BBC on the television only to hear the Australian weather report being delivered in a strong Irish dialect by a beautiful woman.

Advertisements

Eating in Prague: May 2007:2

Before we manage to imbibe, we stop by the Museum of Communism. We almost miss it because it is behind the entrance to a casino and beside a McDonalds. And basically shares the same color scheme. Unfortunately, that’s the most interesting part of this (even following the soul draining experience of St Agnes). It’s rather unremarkable considering the material they must have had to draw from.

From there it is on to one of the Pivovarksy outlets. Pivovarsky is a brewer of fine beer and this particular place was a small one with about three tables, a fellow behind a bar with about 6 brews on tap and about 200 different brands of beer for sale. We sample a few beer (you can get them in small glasses). To get to this place, we had walked through our first taste of mundane Prague (not unlike some dowdier commercial areas of Edmonton). On the way back we hop on the metro.

That night we go to the Cantina, a great Mexican restaurant near where we are staying. Have banana and chicken fajitas, refried beans with bits of bacon, Urquell, and a Spanish coffee after. It is hot and busy and the portions are large enough that we leave with enough to make a good breakfast the next day. To supplement this we stop at a grocer and pick up some cherry tomatoes, melons, and strawberries.

Back in the apartment I have a shower with cold water (the only kind in that place) and then watch a Spanish soap dubbed in Czech. In the opening credits, the young studs all canter about on sweaty horses, the sultry women lean and heave against the posts of the corral, and all eyes flash dangerously. In the show itself, the horses have been replaced by pickup trucks; somehow it doesn’t seem the same. Though I’m not sure, it seems like some kind of High Chapperal type show, a Western soap, a matriarchal ranch with youngsters feeling and sowing their oats. The men and women look very good in their pants.