44 Miles down the 2 highway lies Leominster State Forest. It is a very pretty spot. The forest itself is typical New England landscape – thin soil covering lumps of granite – except here the granite forms cliffs that attract scores of rock climbers. I don’t mind rock climbing as a sport, but it does seem a little silly to climb a bluff that has a walking trail going up it only a few meters away.
The trees have shaken off the blossoms and have gotten down to the serious task of growing leaves. Just look at the colours of the leaves.
Wait a minute; what is that on that tree? Zoom and enhance!
Well this is certainly a little creepy. This is the Eastern Tent Ceterpillar or more correctly, a whole bunch of them. Certain spots in the forest were filled with these nests, each a writhing mass of furry wrigglers. They are harmless (except to pregnant horses apparently) but I have to say my flamethrowner-trigger finger got itchy each time I passed close by one.
On the way back, I visited the Outback Steakhouse for some authentic and in no way souless down-under tucker.
This is a blooming onion, battered and deep fried just like the native Australians did while on walkabout. Actually the food is fine, in that corporate-chain sort of way. I was offered 17 kinds of salt and pepper, which seems 15 more than is really required.
I thought that, having grown up on American TV and films, I knew almost everything about the US. But I am constantly finding new things that surprise me – like the way the even new houses have rooms without built in lighting, or the widespread belief that turkey is worth eating.
And then there are the strange products that lurk in the supermarkets.
Yes, this is bread in a tube. I originally thought it was a can – the ends are metallic but the main body is formed from layers of cardboard. Nevertheless, it is well sealed and the dough is under pressure and pops out alarmingly when you open the container. There is no kneading, the bread is pre-cut into little triangles that you just roll up and bake.
And the result? Not bad. The rolls don’t rise much, but you get 12 per tube. It is not the tastiest bread and far to sweet for my liking, yet edible enough. Bread in general seems to be a lost art in the U.S. so I would probably buy these again.
Not so much these Andy Capp “cheddar” “fries” – product link in case you think I am making this up. For some reason fake nasty American cheese powder tastes much worse than the proper fake nasty cheese powder we get back in NZ. But what really caught my eye was the endorsement from Andy Capp.
The last time I thought about Andy Capp was when he was a punchline in an episode of the Simpsons that was made over 20(!) years ago (Marge vs. the Monorail) but apparently he still carries enough cultural weight in the ‘States to headline his own line of chips, with a “flavor punch in every crunch”.
On the other hand, I did buy this packet from a vending machine in a bowling alley, so it might be a localized phenomenon.
A few Auckland related links to fill in some time:
Dirty Dining Diary
I usually don’t think much of The Herald but this new recurring feature is genius. 29 eating establishments were given D ratings by the council during the last round of inspections and The Herald is reviewing them all during September.
I can personally recommended Day 3 – Saigon in the Food Alley, I deem it well worth the risk.
The Auckland Transport Blog continues to whip itself into a giddy frenzy over the new electric trains that will debut next year. And why not? The trains look fantastic and I can’t wait to give them a try when they finally start (literally) rolling out on the Onehunga line.
A friend of mine is in a band called 2am Orchestra which has been getting some buzz. This is your chance to get in on the ground floor before they hit it big.
Google Street View currently claims this place is called Golden Age, but I am sure it was the decidedly more dodgy sounding Loving Hut when I visited today, so that is what I will call it. Whatever the name, Loving Hut is a cheerful restaurant on Victoria St West just down the hill from the Sky Town on the other side of the street.
There are no sliced pigs ears here, Loving Hut is completely vegan. The atmosphere is unpretentious and relaxed, perhaps a little too relaxed since I was the only customer for the duration of my lunch. The business has a religious air, with crystals on display and colourful literature available which perhaps puts people off. It doesn’t affect the food though, which is reasonably priced, speedy, and delicious.
This is the Cantonese-style noodles dish with lashings of ginger, the perfect start to a crisp winter’s afternoon. On a previous visit I had the curry vegetable soup which was also great.
So MacDonald’s have announced that they are bringing back the original Georgie Pie mince and cheese pie. For some reason this is seen by some people as wonderful news.
Maybe it is because I came late to the Georgie Pie phenomenon, experiencing it only when they opened a branch in Dunedin while I was at University, but I never developed a taste for Georgie Pie. To my mind they really only had 3 things going for them:
- Relative cheapness, even compared to service station pies.
- A location in Dunedin that was halfway between University and my flat in North East Valley.
- The temperature at which they served their pies, which seemed to be about 750°C. This was very welcome after 20 minutes trudging through icy streets on a dark Otago evening.
Of these points, the first is no longer true, the second doesn’t really apply, and the third probably contravenes modern health and safety practices.
The other side of the ledger only has one point:
- You paid good money for what tasted like a cardboard envelope filled with beef flavoured mucus.
Apparently MacDonald’s is not changing the recipe (except for not adding MSG – that was the best part!), so this will still be true. I will not be rushing along to MacDonald’s to try the new pie anytime soon.