Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Yarn search, Galway

I did my homework. I researched yarn stores on woolworks before I left. I Googled. I read the helpful tips on Knitty.com. Being without a car, however, I was limited to what I could find within walking distance around Galway City.

I did find one shop, aptly named Yarn (in the Mill on O'Brien's Bridge Street). Here I had my first encounter with what Mr. Professor calls "the Irish way." The shop was closed, albeit temporarily, with a sign on the door saying "Back at 2:30." Ok, that's only an hour, I can find something to do. So I visited the second-hand shop nearby, walked to Sheridans Cheesemongers for a little window cheese shopping, and walked back to the store. 2:30, but no one around. So I walk back into town (it's raining at this point), check out the "Everything for 1 Euro" store, buy some trinkets for the Little Brewers and walk back to Yarn. 3:15. No one around. Well, at this point I was feeling rather annoyed, footsore and damp, so I gave up and walked back to the University.

I did finally find the shop open a few days later. It is quite small. Their main inventory is devoted to Debbie Bliss, with a selection of other knitting acoutrements such as handmade buttons. I picked up some interesting red tweed wool called "Killcarren." I don't know yet what it will be but it looked interesting.

There may be other shops within a drive of Galway but I did not have access to them. We took a drive out to Connemara one afternoon. On the way back we passed through Clifden. Around the bend of the road, rising like a lemon yellow mirage, was the Connemara Woolen Mills. Heaven! I thought. Alas, it was closed.

There are numerous shops in and around Galway City selling traditional Aran sweaters, some handmade, some of uncertain origin. I found the one in Clifden to have a more interesting selection and picked up a sweater in a lavendar wool/silk blend with overall simple cabling and a zipper up the front.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pub Review: BXL

BXL is a belgian pub in New York City (on 43rd, near Times Square). I was there on May 10, 2006. Nice woody ambience, especially given its location. With the one-time tourist traffic, you never know if the restaurants near Times Square are going to be any good.

They had seven beers on draft: two Leffes (one was the blond, not sure about the other), Karmeleit, Stella Artois, Chimay, a Lindemans, and a Cuvee BXL (house beer). I can't resist a Karmeleit, so that's what I ordered ($7).

It was served cold. *sigh* This is the big disadvantage to ordering a beer in the US. They're all too darn cold. This is not a lager, people! As a result, the overwhelming flavor was a yeasty bite, when I know this particular beer has a nice sweetness to it. It was served in the proper Karmeleit glass.

I had the Hanger Steak with red shallot sauce ($19). Fastest hanger steak ever. I think it came out in 15 minutes, tops. Tender medallions of hanger steak, cooked properly to medium rare. Thicker fries than I'm accustomed to seeing as "frites." Nice herbed mayonaise.

For me, the highlight of a good bistro steak is the sauce.
Brasserie Jo in Boston makes an amazing steak with Roquefort butter that is to die for. Mmm, roquefort... At BXL, the red shallot sauce could have been reduced a touch more to bring out its flavor. As it was, it was tasty but not spectacular. It edged on the bland, with vinegar the predominant flavor. I'm known as the Saucemeister in my house, so I demand perfection from sauces.

That being said, I basically inhaled my dinner, pausing only to make notes and test the Karmeleit to see if it had warmed up.

More Ireland Photos

Enough talk! Let's just look at some scenery.

National University of Ireland

Some boats in dry dock on the Corrib River.

Why drinking and driving don't mix.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Ireland Report, part 2

I realized I had a lot of preconceptions about what Ireland would look like. I expected a lot of this:

but the reality was a lot different. The traffic was comparable to Washington DC. It took us 45 minutes at 6pm to get across town- we were only traveling 6 miles. The economic boom has brought with it a rise in the amount of auto ownership and accompanying traffic.

And tourists. LOTS of tourists. I can't really complain, since I was one of them. It's my own personal sport to try to spot the Americans in the crowd. After a while I got pretty good. The Gortex is a dead giveaway.

Yard Sale Spoils

It's Twin Oaks Community yard sale time again! This year was the most crowded I've ever seen. We had to go two blocks into the community to find a parking spot.

The spoils:
Miscellaneous costume jewelry for Brewgal
A light green Nike warmup jacket/windbreaker
A bag of baseballs for Little Brewer #2
A Furby for Little Brewer #1

When I asked the seller how much he wanted for the Furby, he laughed and said "I should pay YOU." That should have been my first clue.

This toy is creeping me out. When we put the batteries in, it woke up and said "Ooo, long sleep."

It hiccups, it purrs, it sleeps (a LOT), it says "Wheee!" and gets hungry. When Little Brewer #1 put her finger in its mouth, I had to look away. *shudder* It resembles a Gremlin much too closely for my taste.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Ireland report, part 1

Due to scheduling issues, Mr. Brewguy dropped me off for my flight about 3 hours early. I took this photo of the Ethiopian plane for Little Brewer #2-- he loves planes. The International terminal at Dulles has a Samuel Adams bar, a Gordon Biersch and a wine bar. I chose not to sample any of them, as I expected to get wine on my flight. Next time I'll definitely check out both Gordon Biersch and the wine bar.

Fun incident #1: The Austrian Airlines flight to Frankfurt was held up for nearly half an hour while they searched for two passengers. After many calls on the PA system, it turns out they were drinking in the Sam Adams bar, located RIGHT NEXT TO THE GATE. I now realize how good gate attendants are at hiding that "I'm going to kill you" look.

Transferring planes at Heathrow. Apparently there are SO many flights you don't even get to arrive at a jetway. They offloaded us down a stairway to a shuttle, one group at a time. I snapped this waiting for the next shuttle. It's about 6:30AM, London time. I've been up since 4:30AM EST (previous day).

Heathrow is fairly quiet at that hour of the morning, aside from the crowds of jet-lagged passengers. After going through security and immigration, I had a cafe Americano and a croissant at an express counter, sat down at the window and stared at the traffic. When you're on vacation, even London airport traffic is interesting. It felt great to be back.

My Aer Lingus flight. Or maybe a different one. At this point I was feeling a little woozy from lack of sleep. Note to self: next time, fly direct to Shannon. Heathrow is ok by oneself but I wouldn't want to deal with the transfers towing small children.

On the flight my seatmate was a house painter from Ennis who was returning from 6 weeks in South America. We chatted for a while and he advised me to check out "Knockton's" pub in Galway. At least, that is how it sounded to me (more on this later).

We're home! I just love the Professors' car. It's a Fiat. Look at that color!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


We lost Melba Toast today. Best cat ever. Mr. Brewguy found her this morning, curled up under his car. No visible signs of trauma, so we are unsure whether she was hit by a car and crawled back home or simply died of old age. She was 15! We gently wrapped her in a towel and buried her out back, next to the pine tree. The Little Brewers made a sign for her that reads, "Please do not dig here. Melba."

You were a good cat, Melba Toast. See you in kitty heaven!