Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lexington Revisited -

The Hotel

Please bear with me as this series of posts

will necessarily be a bit disjointed.

It is difficult to write the post independently

of the pictures,

which has to be done when one is without the Internet.

Secondly, if I were to attempt to simply write one

post about our long weekend in Lexington,

the post would be just that - long.

If all that were not enough,

I have been very busy this week,

getting ready for the family gathering

that will be at our house this upcoming weekend.

Now that we have gotten that business out of the way,

let's get this show on the road...

After leaving Lynn's and Louisville,

we headed east towards Lexington.

And there's our destination -

Griffin Gate Resort.

Looks the same as it did last year.

I attempted to reserve another room with a balcony,

but no such luck.

However, this time,

instead of overlooking the parking lot,

we are overlooking the golf course.

So I guess that is a decent compromise.

See, the golf course and the swimming pool.
Much nicer than the parking lot.

I always rearrange the room after settling in.

Not to worry though;

as I always put things back the way I found them.

One of the first things I noticed upon entering our room

was a liter bottle of Fiji™ water

with a card around the neck stating that

“A $5.00 charge will be added to your account upon consumption.”

It is a safe assumption that the bottle will remain unmolested during our stay.

The Foodie Daughter has many aspirations in life;

among those is to one day own a luxury resort.

To that end,

she has enlisted my help in plotting out some of the more mundane details,

such as room décor,

restaurant types and menus.

As such and given that we often stay in nicer places

for my husband’s Masonic ventures,

I do have strong opinions on proper hotel management.

To wit:
Internet service should always be complimentary.

Honestly, I would rather you charge me for breakfast.
In this day and age I can go to a McDonald's
and get free WiFi,
so why can't a fancy hotel pony up the free Internet service?

There is always a “Do Not Disturb” tag on the door,

so why not have one side read
“No House Keeping Needed - Please Leave Clean Towels”?

A mini fridge is essential in every hotel room

and should be provided free of charge.

A nice-sized ledge for toiletries in the tub/shower area
would be greatly appreciated.
(How many times have you had to pick up your tiny
travel bottles that fell off the tiny tub ledge?)

Extra towel racks would come in handy for those

who don’t mind using a towel more than once.

Have a built-in night light in the bathroom.

Have a second sink outside of the bathroom.
(Have you ever tried to travel with two or more women,
both of whom are trying to get ready at the same time?
Enough said.)

Do not make the guest have to jump through hoops

just to find the regular TV channels on the remote.

I don’t want to have to wade through two pages

of pay-per-view services just to find the free channels.

Don’t make me angry when I just want to watch

my Food Network shows.

Guests should not be the ones who have to report problems

with the room to the hotel management.

Get your staff to spend a moment while in the room each day

just verifying that everything is in working order.

Nothing is more annoying to a guest

than to find that there is a problem with the plumbing,

heating or a/c or electrical systems.*

*But more on that later.

The morning sun shines through the tree.

I discovered this little terrace and fountain.


Potted hibiscus standard

under-planted with sweet potato vine

and petunias.

Hibiscus bloom.

Pigeons around a skylight.

The pool area at night.

*I promised you a story, didn't I?

The evening we arrived,

my husband and I went out to eat dinner

with another couple (which will be covered in the next post).

We returned back to the hotel and went our separate ways.

Eventually my husband and I found our football tailgate friends

(and another 33rd Candidate couple)

at the Valley of Fort Wayne’s Hospitality Room,

so my husband and I visited with them for a bit.

Eventually we wandered down to the Valley of Indianapolis’ HR

and said hello to our friends in there before retiring for the night.

Oh, if it were only that easy.

I felt like I was caught in the Edgar Allan Poe story

“The Tell Tale Heart.”


the toilet was running and running and running;

and I was fair exhausted from chasing it around the room all night long.

Rim shot, please.


Okay, be that way.

I even got up in the middle of the night to see if I could fix it.

The float arm was resting too low,

allowing the water in the tank to rise too high,

thus flowing continuously into the bowl.

After a couple of attempts to fix it with nothing more than a dime

(hey, I’m on vacation here;

I don’t bring my tools with me!),

I gave it up as a lost cause

and finally resorted to covering my head

with a blanket to drown out the noise.

The environmentalist in me couldn’t help but cringe

at the thought of all that water being needlessly wasted, though.

Before I went to breakfast Friday morning,

I informed one of the nice people at the front desk that the toilet was running

and was assured that someone would be heading up to fixing it very soon.

After breakfast I headed back up to the room,

passing a maintenance worker in the hallway.

The maid had just started in the room when I returned

and I asked if the maintenance man had looked at the toilet

as I could still hear it running.

She said that he would be back to fix it.

I spent the next bit of time

watching the men out on the golf course,

figuring out their ploy

(they only play golf so they can drive the golf carts is my theory)

and writing this blog post.

The maintenance man came back

and attempted to fix the toilet but to no avail.

Heh, if I couldn’t fix it, it wasn’t able to be fixed.

He needed to leave to get a new part to replace the broken piece.

An hour or so later, we had a mercifully quiet toilet.

All is right once again in my world.

My daughter will be so proud of me:

I went down to the fitness center and did 32 minutes on the tread mill.

The nice thing was that the fitness center

has small TV screens hooked up to each treadmill

with a place for headphones to plug in.

I happened to have a pair in my purse,

so I turned on the Barefoot Contessa

and walked as she turned the volume up on her old recipes.
And thus concludes the bulk of our hotel experience,
as the rest of our time was spent attending
meetings, tours and banquets.
Tune in next time to read about some of that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lexington Revisited, Part I

Lynn's Paradise Cafe

Last year the Scottish Rite Council of Deliberation

for the State of Indiana

was held at the Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington, Kentucky.

We were lucky enough to return to the same resort this year.

Allow me to backtrack just a bit as

I take you along on our “lunch” stop.

As with last year,

I decided that we would stop at Lynn’s Paradise Café

in Louisville, Kentucky

(properly pronounced Louiville – quickly).

This is a fun and quirky place.

I want to know how they got those trees inside.

Even the ladies' bathroom is decked out.

Our table with its wonderfully tacky lamp.

It's hard to believe that anyone once thought

that this was lovely.

Having learned our lesson from last year,

we ordered what we hoped would be smaller portions this time.

My husband, after he finished playing with the toy animals,

ordered the French Toast.

The French Toast was

“made with our signature locally made cinnamon swirl bread

griddled in vanilla nutmeg batter”

and served with butter and maple syrup.

My husband loved this,

but once again,

found that the portion was enough to feed two hungry people.

He allowed me to have a couple of bites and I agreed on both accounts.

I opted to get Kenny’s Kentucky Scramble,

which was made with country white cheddar from Austin, KY,

scrambled with bacon and fresh diced tomatoes.

My dish also came with a side and a choice of bread,

so I chose cheese grits and English muffins.

The scrambled eggs were flavorful,

but a bit runnier than I care for mine to be.

I am one of those who like my eggs to be cooked all the way through,

scrambled eggs included.

A bit longer on the heat would have also helped the cheese to melt more.

Other than that, they were delicious.

I did not care for the cheese grits at all.

They were dry and seemed gritty rather than creamy.

My uneducated guess would be that the “cheese” used was Velveeta™,

which I personally think has no place in the culinary world,

but that's just me.

Unfortunately, the colorful Lynn was elusively absent once again.

But still, it was a lovely lunch.

My husband was saddened to learn

that the hat that he left on our visit last year was nowhere to be found.

A moment of silence if you will…

Next stop - Lexington, Kentucky.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Study in Cloudology*

*What? That's not a word? Um, okay then.

Well then, while I was out grilling dinner for

Father's Day today,

I happened to notice this cloud.

For reference, we are looking to the southeast.

Given the rough weather we have experienced lately,

I have been keeping an eye to the sky.

Just don't ask where the other eye has been.

Some things are better left unsaid.

It wasn't all that hard to see that this particular cloud was busy morphing.

Mighty morphin' clouds!

Watch and learn.

It seems to be trying to become an anvil cloud.

What is that?
A cumulonimbus calvus cloud?

Heh, and why does that always remind me of
Calvin and Hobbes?

The funny thing is that it doesn't seem to be moving.

Well, we seemed to have reached stalemate.

The cloud has topped out.

Sadly I was busy so I was I unable to check the local radar.

Still it was an interesting sight.

Happy Falker Satherhood!*

*Oops, this isn't Cake Wrecks™, is it?

(And yes, I wholeheartedly recommend

that you check out this delightful web site.)

Make that Happy Father's Day!

I learned this morning that we would be having not one,

not two, but three honorary sons for dinner.

Is my husband a lucky man or what?

Fortunately I had picked up some boneless rib eyes on sale

this past week.

Now pay attention,

because this is the most important part.

Several hours before dinner is the time to act.

First, clear out space in the fridge.

Then, set out a plate or tray with a rack on top.

Next, place the meat on the rack
and liberally season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper

on both sides.

Place in the fridge uncovered.

The meat will dry out in the fridge,

intensifying the flavors.

We cut each steak in half,

but please feel free to be a manly man and eat a whole steak.

I also would not recommend ever purchasing a steak

that was less than an inch thick.

Trust me, you will be glad you went with a thicker steak.

In the meanwhile,

it's time to make the pea salad.

We start with frozen peas.

No need to rinse or thaw as it is several hours before service.

Then chopped red onion and cooked bacon are added.

Sorry, no measurements here.

It's a process.

A journey.

A personal thing.

Then some sharp cheddar cheese is grated on top.

And finally I added about a teaspoon of sugar and enough

mayonnaise to coat the salad.

We don't like a lot of mayo, so less was used.

You might like more,

so use more.

It's your salad.

Do what you like.

This went into the fridge for the next few hours.

Our last major component for the meal was

roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes with bacon,

onion and Parmesan cheese.

As I planned on cooking the potatoes on the grill,

I decided to pre-cook** them in the microwave for nine minutes.

**Pre-cook: does that mean they are raw?

What does that mean?

And why does Food Network allow its "stars" to use such terms?

Please note that the potatoes had earlier been cleaned but not peeled,

then diced and placed in heavily salted water.

I am a firm believer in working ahead of time,

so I don't mind this initial prep.

After the grill was preheated,

the pre-cooked potatoes were tossed with

lardons of raw bacon, chopped onion and olive oil

with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Two of the steaks were cooked to medium-well,

while the rest were cooked to medium-rare.

A chimichurri sauce was prepared

along with a compound butter with fresh chives and lemon pepper.

And dinner is plated.

Later, strawberry sorbet is on the menu.

Finally, though my own father has been long gone,

I am fortunate to have both a wonderful father to my children

as well as a delightful father-in-law.

Heh, guess my dear husband had to learn that somewhere, huh?

Have you thanked your father or father-figure today?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Taste of Bloomington

This is a busy weekend in B-town

what with the Bloomington Garden Walk,
and The Taste of Bloomington all happening.

In addition, this year the city is also hosting judges for

America in Bloom.

The judges are checking out the local scenery.

Fingers are crossed that we will win

for our size city in America.

Admission for the Taste of Bloomington is $6 per person,

with children under 12 getting in free (presumably with an adult).

So that is $12 for the Foodie Daughter and me.

Do you like the Rent-a-Fence?

Perhaps a couple of potted plants

would have spruced things up a bit?

Click on the photo to see the map

and list of participating restaurants, wineries and breweries.

It's not yet too busy at 3:30 pm.

At this hour The Pirate Flags were playing.

I had never heard of them before.
I have to say I kind of liked them.

And I do have a soft spot for
"International Talk Like a Pirate Day,"
which is celebrated every September 19.

the stage faced due west with no shade in sight.
I felt sorry for the band.

More food booths.

Ah, here's our chance to see whose cuisine is supreme...

Er, sorry about that.

Last year I visited Fatman's Barbecue and liked it.

The Foodie Daughter and I noted that Smokin'Jack's Rib Shack
was also here, so we could finally see which we liked better.

We bought a pulled barbecue pork sandwich and a potato salad
from Fatman's.

Mr. Fatman assured us that while it was his mother's recipe
for the potato salad, he had perfected it.

Next, we went down to the Smokin' Jack's/Kilroy's booth
and got a pulled pork sandwich there.

Our offering from Fatman's.
Total cost: $3.00.

Smokin' Jack's version.

Cost: $2.00.

The verdict?

We both agreed that Fatman's was more tender,

while Smokin' Jack's sauce was slightly better.


I know from experience that one gets extra sauce

on the side at Fatman's.

So more info is needed....

Smokin' Jack's has a smokin' hot smoker.

(ahem, guys, please ignore the cute girls in the forefront)


Smokin' Jack's is also owned by Kilroy's Sports Bar,

so they lose the indie vote.

Now, this gentleman standing is Fatman.

I can tell you that he is a character.


Drumroll please...

Fatman's BBQ wins the taste test!

Eternal fame is bestowed upon the winners.*

*Eternal fame is fleeting and exists solely

in the minds of the bestower

and the winners.

Sobon is a Korean restaurant in town.

I chose the grilled beef rib.

Delicious, but quite difficult to eat in this setting.

I was given a plastic fork (which was useless),

but ended up grabbing a rib bone with a napkin

and nibbled on the rib.

I might have to brave the university traffic

and try that place out sometime.

Cost: $3.00.


I have had a gyro (properly pronounced yiro) before

at the Trojan Horse,

but it has been at least ten years.

My favorite place to get a gyro, Macri's,

closed a couple of years ago

and I have been in mourning since.

Cost of a half gyro from the Trojan Horse: $4.00.

And this was my absolute favorite item at the Taste.

This offering came from One World Catering & Events

and was the Watermelon, feta and mint salad with

a prosciutto-wrapped honeydew melon on a toasted bruschetta

with aged balsamic vinegar.

I also appreciated the bamboo tray and spoon/fork.

Cost: $3.00.

We needed something cool to drink,

so I got two lemon shake ups from Scotty's Brewhouse.

Total cost $4.

The sugared-rim was a nice touch.

My last indulgence of the day was from

Talons Restaurant at Eagle Pointe.

Here we have mango salsa with tortilla chips.

Cost: $ 1.00.

I was surprised to find that the showers fountain wasn't running.

Baking in the hot sun.

Why look,

there are opportunities to learn everywhere!

The Waiter/Waitress Race**

**Awkward! Why not call it the Servers' Race?

After all, B-town is all about political-correctness.

Let's see if I can remember the rules:

the first server has to fill a pitcher from the bucket,

then fill the wine glass.

Then the server must carry the glass on a tray with one hand

on a winding obstacle coarse before returning to empty

the wine glass into a carafe.

Each member of the team must repeat until the carafe overflows.

In the final heat,

the team must then pop the cork on a champagne bottle

in order to win.

And they're off!

So far Scotty's Brewhouse is in the lead.

And they win!


I don't know what; we were hot and got bored

and wandered off before we could hear the details.

We do know that eight teams participated,

although we can't agree on just what restaurants were represented.

Ah, today's youth.

Where would they be without texting?

Back to the Taste.

It was nice.

But would I do it again?

It would depend on what the weather was like

and what restaurants are participating.

The Foodie Daughter has already begged off

any future Taste of Bloomington outings.

I can tell you that yesterday's outing

cost me $32.00,

and that was without buying any alcohol.

But still, it was an interesting time and I'm glad I went.