October, 2012

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Book Review: A Food Lover’s Treasury

Well this was the lamest book I have read lately

C360_2012-10-30-06-44-30.jpg

The book is A Food Lover’s Treasury by Julie Rugg & Lynda Murphy. But that’s not who really wrote it. This book was crap. But i still read it, cause i bought it (thankfully I think it only cost $1 or $2 at a Second hand book stall). The book was just flat out crap. I thought it would be someones story about eating etc but no. Far off it.

What it really is, is excerpts from other peoples books on food. Mainly british books from the 1800s its just this random collection of crap.

Do Not Read.

Smashing Weekend

It has been a long long week full of Food, Workouts, Training, Saying goodbye and just crazyness at work. To top it all off I had a big weekend as well. I was hoping for a quiet weekend at home and I kind of got that, but not.

My weekend usually starts at 530pm Friday afternoon, the minute I walk out the door from work. It has been an on and off week weather wise and the rain was just there all my way home. It didn’t worry me because I was going to be making some batches of cookies, Anzac Biscuits to be exact. What did suck though was having to walk home in the rain from the Supermarket cause i decided to get the bus the whole way on a Friday when I normally don’t, but that paid dividends on its own ;). But it was good to get back into some baking even though a lot of the cookies didn’t turn out but that was cause I needed to experiment more with this oven and the recipes are designed for Aussie products not American (yes there are differences).

Saturday morning was an early rise a training run and then heading out, south to SeaTac to catch up with a mate Charles from Flyertalk who I had met a year ago in New York. Well this time after our brief meetup in New York it would be a slightly longer meetup (by about 30 minutes longer I think) but still good none the less. He was only in town a few hours in between flights and it was good timing with it right around Breakfast. So I took him to Randys Restaurant at Boeing Field. This place is Old School Diner. But what makes it even more Awesome is this:

From Expat Life

Yep the entire restaurant is filled with Avgeek goodness. The food is cheap, good (you know its good when there was 3 police cars parked out back) and the service is Old School. So old in fact that i think the guy serving behind the counter was around when the first aircraft flew out of Boeing Field. But still, its pretty awesome! 2 Blueberry Pancakes, a number of cups of coffee later, lots of chatting and a quick tour of Boeing Field (pity it was crappy weather or I would of taken the decent camera) and it was back to the Airport. The rest of my Saturday was spent doing housekeeping, failing at a mission :( and working on photos from Vancouver.

Today was the usual things, Run, Chores (cleaning, groceries, housework the usual), bills, trolling websites, catching up on all the TV i missed during the week. But it was the run that was a bit different this week. My usual Sunday morning is either spent in the gym on the exercise bike or my day of rest. The last month though hasn’t seen me take a day off yet, but with all the good food i’d been eating that was meant to be sure. Earlier in the week I was thinking to myself “I really want to do one more 5k before the end of the year and it gets to cold.” Well low and behold my trainer Cassie points me in the direction of the “Pumpkin Dash” Supporting Woodland Park Zoo and pretty much a 5k run around Green Lake, it was like the heavens opened.

I had previously mentioned how my runs had been improving and to be honest I just wanted to see how far I could push myself. I don’t know if I over did it but I was pushing my times lower and lower. Before today my fastest 5k had been 27:55 up in Vancouver on what is now referred to as my “Macygver Route”. But I was determined to beat this, determined to knock at lest 25 seconds off it if I could. I was aiming for 27:30 if possible.

Well if you see this, you will see I well and truly smashed it!

Not quite sure how I did it, but Its right. I couldn’t believe the time when I saw my watch. I barely even looked at it. I just kept on running. I did push out hard to try and get out of the pack I was in and try to get into a bit of open space. This must of worked cause I did keep up the pace and didn’t hurt myself at all. Tell you what I will sleep well tonight probably! But still no rest, I will keep it up till next Sunday (though start backing it off just a little) when I can take my first day off in almost 6 weeks! But now I leave you so I can get some much needed sleep.

Expat Life
Vancouver Spotting 2012

Learning to Layer

So the temperature here in Seattle has REALLY dropped lately. This is my first real introduction to the Northern winter. I mean seriously i am cold (sorry Ross it had to be said). It has been getting down to Single Digits (celsius) lately in the evening and not going all that high during the day.

I am still running each morning and with the cold cold weather it has been tough to get started but I am managing. I have had to change the way i get kitted out in the morning as well. Where as back home in Aus my usual running attire was shorts, and a tshirt (maybe occasionally a long sleeve if i felt like it) and compressions on the coldest of cold, over here, that just wont cut it. If I wore that i would be FROZEN! I am running in Gloves, Tshirt & Jumper (or long sleeve shirt), Compressions (short or long whatever is clean really), plus either a hat or a beanie. If i have long sleeps plus long compressions, and the beenie and gloves I look like i am heading out to the snow. But to be honest the first half a km I am cold but after that I am warmer than warm.

It is tough though adjusting. I kind of have had to learn to layer my clothes. Back home I used to just wear a jacket and shirt or tshirt during the day and that kept me warm. Over here that same jacket wouldn’t even be any good. So i have a thicker jacket, even that isn’t helping. I struggled for a bit but then my friends kept telling me I need to start layering.

Layering over here involves at least a waterproof jacket on the top, cause yes it rains in Seattle (shut up, i dont want to hear all the silly “it always rains in seattle” jokes). Then the base layer will be whatever I am wearing that day be it work clothes or normal clothes. In between that at the moment is depending what i am doing. If its a weekend its a hoodie, I have a couple of fairly warm fleece hoodies. If its a work day its a “sweater” (can’t call it a jumper) or a sweater vest. This keeps me warm… at times. Gloves do have to be worn though and even then I still struggle some days. But the gloves mean I can’t work my cell (mobile) phone and yeah that can be a hassle but im coping! On top of all of this, on some days I also need to add a scarf. I feel weighed down but its either that or I freeze.

It is a bit of a struggle to comprehend all of it some days, considering that I look at facebook and see people complain about the heat, and this is the temperatures now, It’s only going to get worse. Talking into the NEGATIVES! Dear god….

Restaurant Week Shenanigans

Well Restaurant Week is drawing to a close tomorrow night, it is probably a good thing for my waist line. I held back from indulging a to much but I still had some good opportunities to get out and try some amazing food at some of the best restaurants in town. For those who aren’t familiar with what Restaurant week is, it is essentially where all the top restaurants in a City (its not only in Seattle but many other cities like Chicago, New York, Miami, San Francisco) all come together and for a short period (in Seattles case 2 weeks) offer 3 course menus for Lunch or Dinner for a heavily reduced cost ($28 for dinner, $15 for lunch).

Now this concept just would not fly down in Australia, I have a feeling no one would get behind it. But it is a great concept and I love it! I am still a foodie at heart. I love to get out, experience new foods, new tastes, new restaurants but it also gives me a chance to do it on the cheap. The biggest bargain is always the lunch menus as they give some fantastic bargain lunches but that never works as its only ever run Sunday through Thursday (Friday and Saturday are excluded for obvious reasons).

Well this year I decided to hit up 3 places, and I had a good excuse with Ross visiting. The three places I ended up visiting were “Seastar Raw” in Bellevue, Steelhead Diner in Seattle and of course Preservation Kitchen in Bothell. The main one i wanted to try was Preservation Kitchen, it’s just down the road from me in Bothell, has a fantastic reputation as well. But they were pretty heavily booked (as expected when this lists and dates come out, the good places get booked solid pretty quickly), so I couldn’t go when Ross was here and instead had to book it for another night. Because of this Ross and I decided to go to Seastar during the first week as the menu was good, it was convienient to work (just across the street) and they had space (I wanted to try the Barking Frog in Woodinville but sadly it was booked out as well!). The last one was Steelhead, one of my favourite places in Seattle and gave me a good excuse to shout Ross to one final hurrah before he flew home. So here are the mini reviews with at least one photo from each.

Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar BelleveMenu Link

Fantastic sort of out of the way restaurant that you wouldnt even notice it was there as its surrounded by a Microsoft Building, Expedia, a Bank and just general looking office blocks. Yet it has this upmarket fine dining feel to it. Went here on a Wednesday night and although we couldnt be seated early they were pumping through the tables. The service was ok, a little bit rushed (as you sometimes get during Restaurant week where they try to turn out as many tables as they can. The food was damn good. I went with the Spicy Ahi Tuna Sushi Roll as I was desperate for some sushi lately, and followed it up with the Steelhead for the Entree (main for those aussies). The tuna was great and fresh and tasty and the Steelhead was just to die for. The pesto mash was ok but the fish was just amazing. The kicker of the meal though was this:

From Ross Comes to Visit

That is a White Chocolate Coconut Creme Pie. It was TO DIE FOR. I could of eaten a dozen of them and wanted more they were that good. I will come back to this place just for that dessert.

Steelhead DinerMenu Link

This is still one of my favourites in Seattle, and it never fails to deliver. They are located right in the middle of downtown Seattle, pretty much in Pikes Place Market (right next to Post Alley actually). If you can see the Famous Seattles Best Coffee cup sign, turn around you will probably be standing right outside Steelhead. The food is a tribute to old school diner but with a modern twist and using mainly local ingrediants. Just what you would expect in the market area. Service was great and in the end, our waiter got a nice sized tip. It was a cold evening so went with the Soup and figured it would be a good start to the meal. The two hits of evening was something I was looking forward to. First up was the main. Steelhead never fails to deliver on tasty Entrees. I had the Pork Collar while Ross had the Salmon. Although they swapped out Ivory King Salmon for Coho as they had run out, Ross was still singing its praises and my Pork was just jaw droppingly tasty. I wanted to lick my plate.

From Ross Comes to Visit

The desserts were just *drool* I had the Pumpkin Spice Cake (i mean seriously everyone who knows me, knows how much i love pumpkin). This cake was just yum! Ross had the Chocolate Pecan Pie. I was glad he couldnt finish it cause it meant i got to ;) That is their signature dessert I think using locally made chocolate and comes with Bourbon Chantilly Cream. Its always a treat imo.

From Ross Comes to Visit

Steelhead sealed the deal again for me and I will bring so many people back here just because I love the place. It is always a great one to visit.

Preservation KitchenMenu Link

I had been looking forward to this one the most, but to be honest, it dissapointed me the most. The company was good and the main course was great and just looked fantastic and tasted just great, but overall it just dissapointed me. It didn’t live up to the hype. They had changed some things on the menu so it wasn’t to be expected. They had run out of the dessert I wanted (and it didn’t look all that busy). The other dessert choices to me were just “so so” One of them wasn’t even on the main Restaurant Week menu (linked above). The two savoury courses i was suckered into as they had 2 of my favourite things. The Starter i went with the Spinach and Beet Salad cause I love beetroot, but this was a non listed menu item so must of been added last minute. the Main i went with the Stuffed Delicate Squash (aka Pumpkin). I was told it was phenomanl and it was. It tasted just tender and soft but so savoury and it was a Vegetarian dish.

From Ross Comes to Visit

The dessert was just totally uninspiring and felt like it was on the list just cause they needed to have a third course. This is it:

From Ross Comes to Visit

Yep thats carrot cake. It tasted like Safeway Carrot cake. Totally totally dissapointing! So not happy with that choice. I don’t know if I will go back as the service was fairly non existant. Not sure if they deserve the reputation they have.

With that being said I will probably need to work out heaps to work off all the good stuff I have eaten in the last 2 weeks, so it will be a bit of punishment runs and training but well worth it overall!

(more photos here)

Ross Comes to Visit

Truckin It

The truck did awesomely over the weekend and it handled the drive north with ease!. Had a fantastic time in Vancouver, catching up with my mate Leighton and just enjoying it, even though it was freezing cold and absolutely positively wet (at times).

I went for a run around the city on Saturday morning on what will now be termed the “Macgyver Route” as it goes past a whole heap of Macgyver Locations and ends up back at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver right after a climb up of like 45 steps. It was a fantastic route and to top it all off, managed to knock a good 5 seconds off my best 5km run time. 27:55 is my new PB (that i can find anyway) and makes it all the more worth it (even though I kind of piked out on my run this morning and ditched the last mile for a 2 mile ride instead)

The rest of Saturday was filled with plane spotting, random walking around the city at night with Ross as I introduced him to Japadog and then we both went in search of what was reputed to be the best Gelati in all of Vancouver (and to be honest their Pumpkin Pie Gelati was pretty damn amazing) and also walking into a movie being taped on a wet, Vancouver saturday night. It was a pretty damn awesome Saturday night. Sunday was pretty easy as well, just a late wake up, hitting the road nice and late morningish to try and avoid the queues at the border (still took a good 45 mins) and then we did a bit of Outlet shopping before heading back home and getting home around 3ish (where i spent the rest of the afternoon doing all my normal Sunday morning chores, just condensed into less than 2 hours, something that normally takes me 4 or 5 hours).

I had a great time almost getting the truck to the 3000 mile mark, trying to drink my body weight in Tim Hortons coffee before recrossing the border and getting grilled by both Canadian and US Immigration (as usual) all in all a good road trip if you ask me!

Vancouver Road Trip

Road Trip Time

Well this afternoon i get to take my truck for its first ever Road trip, the first time i get to drive it for a bit of a distance (ok its 200 miles or so which isnt much but it counts dammit).

I am heading up to Vancouver for the weekend so will be a little bit out of touch but will be back Sunday night! Shenanigans abound!

Book Review: Immediate Response

It’s good to be back to real books for a while

Immediate Response

This time the book is Immediate Response by Major Mark Hammond. This is an #avgeek book without a doubt. It follows Mark Hammond a Major in the Royal Marines (from the UK) who flies CH-47 Chinnoks on exchange with the Royal Air Force.

This is truly the kind of book I like, full of stories of bravery, hardship but most of all it shows the real side of the pilots out there in the world. It tells the truth of the situation.

Pilots have egos. They need them to do what they do and stay good at it. What this does is turn Adult males into children at times. Dirty jokes, bad language, stupid pranks. It’s all there, he doesn’t lie about it. He doesn’t disguise it. The truth about the way the pilots and crew act amke this book so much better.

The main thing about the book is it gives a different perspective to the Afghanistan conflict. The Chinook pilots rotate in and out for 2 months every 6 months so much shorter than I thought but when they are called on at any moment to fly in and pick up a wounded soldier, I guess it’s more appropriate than spending 6-8 months in Afghanistan flying the whole time, it probably keeps the pilots more “fresh”.

The one thing that it does show is also the humility of some of these pilots. The author received a DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for his efforts on one particular day flying 3 times in and out of battle to pick people up. Yet he didn’t see the situation as something that merited the award. He was more wanting to give it to the other crew who he thought deserved it more. Is this the other side of the pilots ego? When they know they have done something amazing to other people, is it just “another day in the office” to them?

I truly did enjoy this book and suggest everyone have a read of it.

A local acting like a tourist – Day 3

Wow… just wow… Today was one of the most unbelievable days since I have moved here to Seattle. I have had some amazing experiences, Getting onto the Tarmac at Paine Field and also at SeaTac to shoot photos, flying in a B-17 bomber, getting to buy my trio of dream things (truck, coffee machine, kitchenaid mixer) but today just adds another one to that list.

One of the first things I did back at the release of the 2012 NFL Season Schedule was check to see who was coming to Seattle for games, figuring I would go to at least one game, no matter who was playing. The FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) was smiling down that day, because when I checked.. my beloved Patriots were scheduled to play in Seattle. That day was today.

I had breakfast with Ross at one of my favourite places in Seattle, Skillet Diner. It has the food I like (old school yet modern) in a kind of atmosphere that I like (that Diner feel). Everything about it was just spot on. But this morning I was up for a little bit of indulgence. So I had their famous Cinnamon Rolls and they didn’t disappoint (I did have some granola, fruit and yoghurt as well, just to offset that sugary sugary goodness).

After filling ourselves full of morning goodness (and a few mugs of their awesome coffee albeit not as quickly topped up as I would of liked) we headed downtown, to park the truck and wander on over to Centurylink for the game. We did a small amount of exploring while we went hunting for Ross to get some Seahawks gear and then we met up with my workmate Melodie who helped me get the tickets in the first place. We had a good chat and caught up before the game and then we climbed all the way to the top to our seats. We may have had seats up on the 301 section but the view was still pretty damn good and gave a good overview of the plays. Sure it was right up the top and I would rather be closer to the action, but this was a pretty epic match up with Bradys first visit to Seattle.

The game was DAMN close, I almost lost my voice from trying to out cheer the Seahawks fans (and that is a tough call), pretty sure both Ross and I lost some of our hearing but it was SO worth it. The game was super close with Seattle scoring a touch down just inside the last 2 minutes clinching the game by 1 point. We just could not recover the ball and get through the Seattle defence in time to get a Field Goal to win the match. Even though we lost, I don’t mind. Just getting to see the game is a special thing and sure if we had of one, I am sure it would be all the more sweeter, but still it was awesome either way. Next year I am so heading East to Foxborough for a game.

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testing the twitter link

A local acting like a tourist – Day 2

Yesterday was a Big big day. Spent pretty much the entirity of the day out in the downtown area. After a bootcamp session in the morning and being able to shower, eat breakfast and clean a few things up in less than 20 minutes both Ross and I were out the door before 945, heading downtown. On the plans today was a few Seattle staples. Pikes Place Market, Columbia Center Sky Deck and Seattle Center. By the time we reached downtown after parking at Northgate and bussing it into the city (to avoid stupid parking charges) we headed towards Columbia Center first.

I stumbled upon the Columbia Center last year when I was on my big trip and it was a good find. It is essentially an office building with a Viewing Deck on the 73rd floor. What makes it different to the iconic Space Needle? Well for one its almost half the price ($9 vs $20) and 2 its higher. Way higher. Hell there is a Starbucks at the 43rd floor, which is free to enter, and has the same height views as the Space Needle. There is only one downside and that is it does not have 360 degree views of the city. I think i know which one i am staking still. What made this one even better, I picked up a 2 for 1 on living social a couple of weeks back. Total win!

The views from the Deck weren’t the best overall but they were still better than they would of been earlier that morning during the rain. Still a good way to start the day giving Ross plenty of perspective of the city and the Bay/Sound area from way way up. Even got to see Centurylink field getting prepped for the Huskies game. After Columbia Center we walked our way (we had decided to walk the day to work off the days indulgences) towards Pike Place market passing the Seattle Public Library (love that building) the Fairmont Olympic and a whole heap of Trojan Fans in town for the USC vs UW game.

We did the usual things at Pikes Place despite the crowds, the Bubblegum wall, Pikes Place Fish, the fruit and veg stalls etc. Ross bought some Prints as gifts for home, I bought some old school prints for the walls of the apartment, I showed Ross what he claimed were the best cinnamon donuts he had tried in Seattle (well the only ones but they were fresh out of the fryer) and we had a good time before heading over to Three Girls bakery for a Bite to eat. Now this place is hands down my favourite place to eat in the market. The most freshest sandwhiches I have had in Seattle and possibly the best sandwhich outright. The yummiest Dark Rye bread, fresh pastrami, fresh vegies all good.

We ended up finishing off Pikes Place with that tourist staple, linig up at the “First” starbucks (even though it isnt really the first) and getting a drink (me a coffee, Ross a hot chocolate) before walking our way further north to Seattle Center. We were heading the Pacific Science Center to see the King Tut exhibition. We had picked up tickets cheaply at Costco a few days prior and I had wanted to see it eventually, Ross was interested, why the hell not. Couple of shots of the Space Needle while we waited for our entry but the lines were not to bad. The entry fee came with an audio guide which was ok I guess. Overall the exhibit was a little bit dissapointing. Yes it was crowded, it was a wet Saturday so I will not complain about that (even though I want to) but the dissapointing thing mainly was just they didn’t have the items I thought they would. They talk about the Treasures of King Tut the boy Pharoah. There wasn’t really all that much about it, it was mainly about the Pharoahs overall. But either way it was something to tick off the list.

By this stage we were both pretty beat, so we walked back from Seattle Center via Top Pot Doughnuts (i was hoping they had some pumpkin donuts left, they didnt though :( ) and we headed back on the bus back towards home. We made a pit stop so I could do some shopping but when we stopped at a Vegie stand with plenty of pumpkin there was one last highlight of the afternoon. Seeing all the different fall pumpkins, the selection was a like a Demtel ad, “But Wait theres More”. We even saw a pumpkin that weighed the same as I did.

By this time we were back home and well and truly beat!