Sunday, November 23, 2014

Keep Calm and Panic Later

Hoxton Station, way out there. 

Update - Hyatt has honored our reservation at their other property without any intervention on my part. I love the AndaZ and will talk about why in a new post. 


What to do when the hotel you have reservations at suffers an unfortunate kitchen explosion and has evacuated all guests until they can determine if it is safe or not.


  1.  Be happy that they didn't just say, oops and laugh it off and blame it on a pot of beans 
  2. Be relieved they have moved all guests into neighboring hotels and will not allow for occupancy until the hotel checks out to be safe 
  3.   Be relieved that while one person was seriously hurt, very few suffered injuries 
  4. Realize that your stay is two weeks away and a lot of things can happen in two weeks, so you should chill
  5.  Make alternative plans because even though you know they'll take care of you, you want to take care of yourself 
  6.  Not call the Customer Service line to bitch and moan because you applied an upgrade to your reservation and you will not accept a downgrade 
  7.  Read the frequent flyer thread on the incident with some amusement and realize everyone thinks their crisis is more important than their fellow travelers 
  8. Keep abreast of changes through the hotel's social media streams 
  9.  All of the above I

I'm going with all of the above.


There is too much other drama in my life and I can wait a little longer to make sure my stay details are going to change. Follow @hyattconcierge and @hyattchurchill on twitter to track the status of the Hyatt Regency Churchill reopening.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Let them eat cake, the Saturday edition

Today I baked two cakes in loaf pans so they could be considered breads, but let's not.

Savory Salami cake and Pain d'epices, to be blogged, for realz.

Then we all sat down and ate them.

My friends are really talented. Top right  - Pain d'epices, Bottom right -Pavlova, Bottom left - Cauliflower Cake, Top left, Victoria Sponge with strawberries, Middle -Carrot Cake with Caramel. Not pictured the Broccoli Cake and the Salami Cake and myriads of jellies and jams.

We ate Pain d'epices, Pavlova, Broccoli Cake, Cauliflower Cake, Salami, Pistachio and Sun Dried Tomato Cake, Victoria Sponge, Carrot cake and all sorts other of good things. All those vegetables count as dinner right? I took a three hour nap after all that cake.

I made this pie a year ago, but it looks nearly the same - that is my friend Leslie Seaton's home made apple brandy and I'm not sharing.  Recipe to be blogged, really, it is so good.

And then spent the next two hours making pie.

All in all a good day.


Friday, November 21, 2014

The Single Payer System

Le Crillon, Dec. 2013. We are so fancy.

I love travel, loyalty programs and  I love eating. These are the three truths. I also love to plan. I would have made a terrible hostel goer or backpacker back in the day.  I am not a seat of the pants traveller either, I like to have a decent idea of where I'm going and what I'm going to see.

I also hate waiting in lines, all of them.

I'm a big fan of online reservation systems that ensure that I don't have to wait in line for food, museum exhibitions and ticket machines that only take exact change. For dining, I use OpenTable as much as possible to make restaurant bookings. I have even been known to fire up the app on the way to a restaurant just to ensure I'm not going to be hanging out in the parking lot with one of those ugly pagers.

Restaurants sometimes run promotions through OpenTable to get people to dine during off hours. Typically a diner earns 100 points for booking through OpenTable, but sometimes that bumps up to 1000 points.  Points start to add up fast when you book them at these odd hours and for those who love their points, it can mean convincing your loved one eating dinner at 545 is really a very late lunch.

What does this have to do with the Single Payer System?  Most of these promos require a party of two to get the 1000 points.  The solo traveller is just as likely to eat either earlier or late, but they don't qualify for the promotion.  Shouldn't we be getting at least 500 points?

I know that the restaurants pay to be part of the OpenTable program and it costs them x number of dollars to give out these points, but who is to say the solo traveller is not going to order a more expensive entree, a better glass of wine and perhaps linger over a cappuccino before heading back to their room to watch Dog the Bounty Hunter?

The same thing goes for restaurants that will not book tables for one. I use the French and UK equivalents of OpenTable to book restaurants and often times they will not take a solo diner.  I end up booking for two and bring my bear to lunch (Kidding, sort of) . Instead I'll sheepishly say that my companion was not going to make it and hope they don't put me next to the bussing station.

I think it is time for the single payer/diner to be recognized.  We can easily just order room service and sit in our pjs, but we choose to adventure out and try the newest kombucha on tap hotspot, so rejoice and give us our damn points for trying.



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throw back Thursday, the very tired and must go to bed edition

I bought a slide scanner earlier this summer and I am completely driven to scan all that I have to lessen my photo footprint. There will be more on that soon. These are a few of my memories of Rome, shot on film.


Finding beauty in all the right places, Rome 2000.


Passegiata, Rome 1997.



Not to scale, Ghetto, Rome 1997,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to feed a startup


Pecan shortbread dipped in bittersweet chocolate, likely never to be blogged. 

I bake a lot.

This is not a secret.

Every week I bake a few quick breads or a batch of cookies and take them into work. We're not huge (yet), so it is not an onerous task.  It is something I enjoy doing. It gives me a chance to try some new things out to a very appreciative audience who is happy to give me feedback on this week's treat. 

Getting feedback is a great thing. It makes me a better baker and if I make the same batch of cookies again, you get to experience the improved product. If you are lucky, I'll tell you about it the recipe and why I chose to bake it. I may even share the recipe with you and you'll take the cookies to your next potluck. You might decide to share the same recipe with friends via your blog, Instagram or Pinterest that might get spread further through social media and continue this cycle of sharing.  As a cookie baker, you may want to make some changes to make it even better and hopefully you'll include me in the loop and I'll make some of those tweaks to the recipe over time.

Friends, this is how you feed a startup.

Eat, tell, share, rave.

Our product is in beta and I would love for you to try it.   We've developed a web app, ClipCard that connects to Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.net and other apps and let's you see across all of them at the same time from one place.  ClipCard helps me connect the dots and see the relationships between my files and contacts and get things done without spending a lot of time and falling down a rabbit hole of irrelevant searching.

Join at www.clipcard.com

If you sign up, post a comment and I'll be sure to send you an sweet acknowledgement for your help.

nazila

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The festive lunch


                                      Getting festive. St. John, Spitalfields, Dec. 2010. 

Today  I Googled "date night restaurants in London" and read through various and sundry lists of places to have a romantic or quiet dinner with decent food.  On the lists are places that I have dined and had a great time. For the most part they were great places to eat, but definitely not places for date night. Date night to me means that you can actually hear and interact with your object of affection.
Having to scream or lip read because the restaurant is so loud does not for a great date make.  

Perhaps the issue is that we really only go to London during the festive period - the first weekend to the third weekend of December. This is the time when colleagues celebrate their good fortunes at work by booking lovely long luxurious dinners and lunches at places sought out by foodies and have a jolly time. Unfortunately, it is usually at the expense of anyone else who has had the misfortune of booking at the same time.  I'm talking about being seated next to 18 tops at St. John and six tops at Nopi.  We've seen it all at both dinner and lunch - no time is immune from festive bookings these days.

I have two dinners next month free in London. I'm hoping I don't hit the party circuit and get to actually enjoy the company of my date and friends without a megaphone. 




Monday, November 17, 2014

Accidents will happen




They say that most accidents happen in the house or near your house. I'm living proof of this.  Accidents happen to me because I cannot leave well alone or better yet, just SLOW THE HECK DOWN.

Most of my accidents involve gravity and stairs. I'm pinching myself, throwing salt behind my back and knocking wood as we speak.  Today I took an awesome tumble down the stairs to the basement because I looked up instead of down.

It could have really sucked, instead I am just wincing when I sit down and trying to figure out how to start slowing things down so these things don't  happen. Each "accident" or setback, whether it be falling down a flight of stairs or having to redo a bunch of calculations because you didn't check your work and think things through are big wastes of time.

They are also sometimes caused by our need to say "Yes" and "No problem" and try to complete a task without thinking all the steps through. Friends, we need to start saying "yes, no problem, but give me a few minutes to come up with a way to do this right". Most of us are not brain surgeons, bomb detonators or sharpshooters.  We're folks trying to make sure we fill out the form correctly to get that bomb squad person hired.

You think the bomb squad person rushes? Nope.

So, a few advil from now I may no longer wince when I sit down, but hopefully I'll still be reminded of the need to slow down to get something done correctly and safely.

Where is that inflatable donut?