plonq: (Insane Mood)
We have the fence contractors here today (they have already torn out the old fence) so I took the day off work. I usually skip breakfast, but this morning I decided to try a grilled cheese and apple butter sandwich on rye. [ profile] atara made one of these on the weekend and assured me that it was quite awful. I haven't actually tasted it yet, but I suspect she may have been telling a self-serving lie in order to ensure there would be more left for her.

I posted the third chapter to my FIM fan story last night. Yes, I have drunk the delicious purple Kool-Aid and started writing about ponies. On the other hand, if that's what it took to get me writing again then it's not all bad. I will probably take care of a few chores around the house while I am here today, but I think part of my day will be writing the final chapter to this story.

I shan't give away too much, other than warn that I am not above employing deus ex machina to resolve the plot.
plonq: (Flying cat)
plonq: (Pinkie Ponderous Mood)
I am still taking a picture(ish) a day(ish), but I am not making as much fuss about it here as I did when I was on this project a couple of years ago.

One of the new additions we got for our garden this year was a very Gothic-looking metal sculpture. It has lots of pointy bits, curves, and even rusty blades that spin in the wind. If I have one complaint about this camera, it is that it does not handle higher ISO settings very gracefully - my newer Canon has much lower noise at the higher sensitivities.

Here is [ profile] atara debating over whether to buy three tomatoes, or only two. They are very good tomatoes, so in the end we bought three of them. I like the composition of this picture, but for some reason the camera focused on the far tomato rather than the middle, or closest one. That aside, if I decide to go back and revisit this picture at some point, I will remove a level of sharpening from it. It looks OK at full resolution, but in these stepped-down sizes, you can see some artefacts caused by the unsharp mask at the boundaries between the tomatoes and her hands.

Also the clipping on the far tomato where the sun is reflecting off of it bugs me a bit, but there's not much to do for that when you are working with high-contrast images in digital. Fix that and the rest of the image is woefully underexposed.

Here is where I learned that this lens has a very very narrow depth of field when you open it up to f/1.8 - considerably shorter than my 50mm lens at the same f-stop. Looks like I have me some learning to do as I adapt to this new lens. We stopped for sushi after our walk yesterday, and I was reminded of how much better the mapo tofu is at this sushi place than our current regular place.

We spotted this bit of art while we were out on our walk yesterday. I had taken another picture in the same area when we were on our outward leg of the walk, but I did not notice this stump until we were on our way back to The Forks.
plonq: (Kinda Smug Mood)
To battle!

Sometimes I forget that I have toys on my desk at work. For having sworn that I would not decorate this desk, it seems to have collected quite an assortment of ponies and other little toys. Here are two of them joining forces to fight for good - or at least to speak sternly in its defense.
To Battle!

I am sure that when this chicken first hatched from its egg, it never envisioned ending up like this. I would almost feel guilty, but it's the chicken's own fault for being born so delicious.

I brined this overnight in a standard salt/sugar/soy sauce mixture before putting it in the smoker on Sunday afternoon. It got two and a half hours of apple wood smoke and another two hours of 240F heat. Although the skin looks nice and crispy, it was actually more leathery. Next time I will know to either finish it on the grill, or with a torch (or I suppose the broiler would work too) if I want crispy skin. Crispness (or lack thereof) aside, it was delicious. We stuffed a bit of rosemary and thyme from our herb garden under the skin, and then finished it with a brushing of olive oil and mixed, fresh-ground pepper before putting it in the smoker.

I have never been a big fan of iced coffee. I like a lot of the derivative drinks like Frappuccino, iced mocha and their ilk, but black coffee served over ice was never my thing. Then I learned of cold brewing and the world changed. I had heard of cold brewing, but had always filed it under things to try on a rainy day and never got around to it. I don't know why I hadn't tried it before, because it's not like it is time consuming or fiddly.

Even though this turned out good, I think that I can make it better so I am going to tweak the recipe a bit for the next batch
plonq: (Disapproving Luna Mood)
Amid the toil and strife in others lives, I lead a boringly mundane existence of work, sleep, eat and mucking about on the computer. I am not complaining because I consider myself fortunate in this respect. It leaves me free to dwell on trivial things like cats, herb gardens, and World of Warcraft.

Things are going well in the new guild. They are missing a lot of people to Diablo 3, and to others who are simply taking a break until the next expansion, but there are still people on to talk to any time I log in. I was really missing the social aspects of the game in our previous guild once everyone went their separate ways and stopped playing. This new group are a likeable bunch, and we are slowly starting to fit in and feel like we belong. We've already had one member of our previous guild move over, and a couple of others have made noises about coming here as well.

I like the way this picture turned out, though it does not capture the full coolness of the moment. The shadow faded in and out as clouds moved briskly across the sun, which was a neat effect, but conversely made it tricky to capture a picture. Every time I lined up a shot, the shadow faded out.

One of the joys of working in the city centre - and one of the things I am going to miss when they move our office to an industrial park in the outskirts - is the plethora of hot dog carts. Pictured here is an jalapeño-cheese smokie with onions, sweet-onion mustard, hot sauce and banana peppers. It was delicious and satisfying.
plonq: (Moody)
I guess this is why they call them butterfly bushes.
plonq: (Kinda Smug Mood)
I bought a 6-pack of this soup while I was out this morning because it was cheap enough that I figured it was readily expendable if it turned out to be disgusting. While I would not normally bother with un-boxing photographs of packaged soup, I made an exception for this one because I was intrigued by a product that billed itself as coming from the "NAN HUI INDUSTRIAL PARK" in Shanghai. This called up mental images of a post-modern, Simpsonesque factory sandwiched between a refinery and a pig-iron smelter.

Opening the package revealed a suspiciously light foil package and a very sturdy folding spoon. The foil bag had preparation instructions written in English and Mandarin (or perhaps Cantonese - I am not really up on my Chinese dialects). The English instructions were thoughtfully written in the part of the bag that had been creased by the sealing iron, rendering them almost entirely unreadable. Fortunately from what I could see, they mirrored the instructions written on the cup.

Also, I am not a complete moron, so I have a good idea how to make instant soup - especially when there is a "fill to here" line clearly marked on the container.
Post Modern Soup Goodness

I don't know what I was expecting to find inside the foil bag - concentrated soup paste or powder. I confess that I was not expecting a little wafer of freeze-dried miso soup. It took all of my willpower to not pop this little soup wafer into my mouth to see how long it would take to dissolve on my tongue. It will be a true test of my resolve to go through the next five packages of this soup without doing that at least once - scratch that, at most once I suspect.

In any event, the soup did not even remotely resemble the picture on the package, and I was dubious if it would even after it was reconstituted.

The wafer dissolved so quickly in the water, I had to double-check that I had not accidentally opened the nitric acid spigot instead. By the time I had filled it to the line and grabbed the spoon to give it a stir, the little dessicated cubes had already soaked up enough water to nearly resemble tofu. Some kind of strange chemical (or alchemical) process was also taking place below the turbid surface of the soup, because as I stirred, nori began to magically appear and multiply.

Even though it still only passingly resembled the picture on the cup, the soup actually smelled reasonably palatable. I steeled my nerves and dipped the spoon in for my first taste. It was a touch on the salty side - a staple of most miso soups - but it was not bad at all. The nori continued to multiply and expand while I ate the soup, and it had a disturbingly... normal texture. The same could not be said of the "tofu". I would have preferred to let the soup steep for a bit longer before eating it, but I was begging to worry that the tofu would disintegrate under the brutal barrage of Brownian motion in the soup. The tofu had about the weight and consistency of the cream filling in a Twinkie. Those little floating bricks shared a closer kinship with aerogel than bean curd IMO.
Almost exactly as pictured.

Texture aside, the soup was pretty good, but I think that when I make the next one I will bring the water up past the fill-to line. I know that I risk disrupting the delicate chemical balance by doing so, but it could have done with a bit more dilution for my taste.


May. 29th, 2012 10:52 pm
plonq: (Disapproving Luna Mood)
If we had not deviated from our usual route through the park this evening (opting to take the longer path) I would not have seen this little cluster of photogenic fungi. With the cool, wet weather we have been experiencing this spring I expect we will be seeing more of these.

They are not normally this orange, but the sun was very low in the sky casting a wonderful golden glow over everything.
If this weather keeps up, it should be a bumper year for chanterelles at the farmers' market this year. It might not be such a bumper crop for other things, though. Earlier this spring the farmers in the area were concerned because it was so dry - especially on the back of a very dry summer last year, and a lower-than-average snow fall this winter.

Now they are concerned about flooding. I feel for them.

Ocean King is quite a pleasant little Chinese restaurant just a few blocks from here. I would not rate it as the best Chinese restaurant in town, but it is quite good. I love it for its dated, 70s pizzeria décor. I also love that the owner always throws an extra treat or two into the bag when we package up the rest of our dinner to go.
I was born in the year of the rabbit (a water rabbit to be more precise). According to the Chinese zodiac, I pair well with a pig or dog, but even better with a white wine and a cream sauce.
plonq: (SchemingTwilight Sparkle Mood)
This was called a "Caramel and Fudge Delight", or something equally delicious and pretentious. It certainly lived up to its name.

In other news, an ice cream shop opened disturbingly close to our house earlier this year. So far we have been behaving ourselves, and only walking over there about once a week.

The hotter weather later this summer will surely test the strength of our resolve.
I was going to get tricky and desaturate the background, but instead all I did was apply the usual unsharp mask and crop it a smidgen on the left and top.
plonq: (Pinkie Pie Bleah Mood)
After neglecting it for months, I am going to get back into actively tracking my calories and physical activity. That is not to say that I have been eating unhealthy lately, but I need to get back to watching the how much as well as the what.

For the past few months my lunches have consisted of stuff like this:

While that is on the right track, it does not do a lot of good when I combine it with things like this:

or this:

This is not to say that I will be cutting out treats entirely, because the best way to ensure that I don't follow a diet is to make it unpleasant. By tracking it all,though, it lets me strike a karmic balance. I will allow myself a muffin, or a doughnut as long as I can see on paper that I need to cut out something else to compensate.

I also need to get more active again. With the nicer weather we have started taking semi-daily walks, and we have hauled our bikes out of storage again. The first time I hopped on my bike last week, my first thought was, "Man, I missed this."

In other news, I have gotten a bit sloppy about posting new pictures here as I add them to my 2012 collection. I am going to work on updating here more often as well.
plonq: (Insane Mood)
[ profile] atara and I swung by Half Pints and grabbed some of their latest seasonal beer yesterday. We missed it last year because we were out of town when it was released, but by all accounts it sold out in about 30 minutes anyway, so it is debatable if we would have scored any of it anyway.

We have not opened any of this yet, but we got to sample some of it up in their tasting room, and I must say this is a very agreeable lager. Apparently they have changed the formula since last year (when it was released to rave reviews), but they assured us that this year's is better.

These two pictures were taking with two different cameras; one with my newer Canon S100, and the other with my old (recently returned from the shop) Nikon D80. I think that both pictures turned out ok, but the one from the Nikon is a bit better IMO. I think the Canon does a bit better of a job in lower light conditions thanks to its CMOS sensor, but the Nikon wins for overall clean shots because of its larger (in size, not megapixels) sensor and better lenses.
See if you can guess which one is which.
plonq: (Disapproving Luna Mood)
A new grill has been on our wish list for the past couple of years, but the old grill has been reluctant to quit working. The piezoelectric starter stopped working about a month after we got it, and the axles bent under the weight of the grill after the first year so that moving it became more an act of dragging it from point A to B than actually rolling it. Even though I tightened them after the third year, the bolts all worked themselves loose (or stripped themselves in some cases) so that the whole barbecue was rocky. Left to its own devices, it leans at about a 3º angle off centre. The drip tray (pop can, rather) holder blew away the second winter. The holder for the propane tank did not hold properly because of the grill's oblique angle of rest, so one had to be careful when moving the grill lest the propane tank fall off (which it did on more than one occasion).

But still it grilled on. It worked pretty well, with a minimum of hot spots.

When I hauled the grill out of storage this spring, I discovered that virtually all of its lava rocks had turned to powder over the winter and collected in a pile on the bottom shelf. What had not collected there had settled on the gas jets, blocking all but 3-4 of the holes. Now we not only had hot spots, but we had little but hot spots. The time had come to put the grill out to pasture and replace it with a newer model. We shopped around at the usual assortment of big box stores, but none of the grills there impressed me. The nicer ones lacked features that most of the literature had told me was required, and the cheaper ones were flimsy. Finally, when we were checking out the Home Expressions Show at the end of March, one of the vendors there sold me on the merits of one of their grills.

It was a little more than I had been planning to spend, but after we discussed it later we decided that this one would probably last a good fifteen years if we bought it, so we went back to the vendor on our way out and found that the salesman had mysteriously disappeared. One might think that we would take that as a sign. We left the show grill-less.

Fast forward to a week ago last Saturday. I had done a bit more research on grills, and decided that the place with the best selection of good grills was the same vendor that we had seen at the show, so we drove up to their main store over in the west end of town. Initially we drove out there to look at the grill we had seen at the show, but we ended up buying the one that they'd had opposite a the show because it was on sale. We ordered the grill and a cover for it, and then when we made noises about taking it with us when we left the salesman said, "Oh, our warehouse isn't open today, so you will have to come by sometime during the week before 4:30." [ profile] atara and I discussed it some more, and decided to have them assemble and deliver it instead. The last thing the salesman told us before we left was, "They will call you to set up a delivery date, but you should have it before the end of the week."

On Friday I called them and said, "Yo, where's my grill?"

Call 1: The receptionist blind-transferred me to somebody's voice mail.

Call 2: I called the warehouse directly this time, and got hold of somebody who was very polite and helpful. He took down all of my particulars and promised that he would get the information to the guy who handled shipping and they would contact me back.

Call 3: I called again on Tuesday the following week and got another helpful guy in the warehouse who actually took the phone over to the right guy this time. He told me that the grill had been sitting there since the previous week, assembled and ready to go. When I asked him when we might expect to see it, he said, "Well, it's usually up to the salesman to arrange delivery." I told him that I would call the salesman if that's what was required, but he said, "No, that's OK, we can set it up for you. I'll talk to the delivery guys and find out when they'll be in your area next then call you back to set up the time either later today, or tomorrow morning."

Call 4: On Thursday I had heard nothing back from them, so I called the office again (but I had learned how their business was set up, and called the preferred number this time -- apparently they are two business units operating under the same name, and I had called the wrong business unit the first time. The guy in the warehouse had lectured me about that on my third call.) I got hold of the salesman who had sold us the grill, and he seemed nonplussed to hear from me, until he found out that we had not got our grill yet, and that the warehouse was not returning my calls. He said to let him take care of it.

About an hour later the warehouse called and asked if it was OK for them to deliver it between 1 and 3 that same day. At 2:55 we had one of these behind our house:

I was pleased until I discovered that they had not shipped the cover with it. We had ordered a cover. The driver was mortified when he discovered that they had not included the cover, and he apologized personally saying, "It's my fault for not checking the order more thoroughly against the invoice." He swung by on his way home from work to deliver the cover. Of all the people we'd dealt with in that company, the driver and his helper were easily the most professional.

An hour later. )


May. 5th, 2012 12:20 am
plonq: (Dramatic Mood)
I was just winding my brain down for bed, but decided to post one more picture before I go for those who won't follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

When [ profile] atara and I were driving home from dinner the other day, we rounded a bend in the road a few blocks from home when I pointed at something hunkered down under a truck parked along the side of the road and said, "What is... that?"

[ profile] atara stopped the car and we stared at the little critter for several seconds while it stared back at us. At first I had thought that it was a fox, then we agreed that it moved more like a weasel. We drove a bit further up the street and then pulled over and parked so that we could get a better look. As we were walking back, it bolted out from under the truck and then scampered up a nearby elm tree with practised ease. Definitely not a fox.

It was early evening, and between the mediocre lighting and the fact that the creature was darting around nervously, I was having mixed luck trying to get a picture. Eventually it left its perch in the elm tree and scampered across the road where it took up a roost in an evergreen outside of somebody's house. That's where I got this (slightly blurry) shot. It's not perfect, but it was the best picture of the lot.
By the time we got home, [ profile] atara was pretty certain that it was a marten, and some quick checking on Wikipedia bore that out. It is pretty obvious that it is not a fox in these pictures, but unmoving, in the shadow under that truck, it bore a striking resemblance.

I have never seen one of these in the wild, let alone in the city. If I know nothing else about martens, I can say from first-hand experience that they are almost dangerously cute.

Break time

May. 5th, 2012 12:06 am
plonq: (Enlightened Mood)
When I first came to this city back in 1994, two of the things that I bemoaned to anyone who would listen was that it lacked good coffee, and good beer on tap. The beer is still a little sketchy, though we have a pretty good selection available in the liquor stores, and some wonderful micro brews. The coffee situation has improved a lot though. While the bulk of the coffee is from chains like Tim Hortons and Starbucks (who had not yet entered the market here when I first came out this way), we have a few decent places now, and a couple of real gems like Parlour Coffee down on Main.

Traditionally when I think of a fancy coffee shop, I think of French presses, steaming espresso machines, and cups made from 100% recycled left-wing literature. This place is more like a science lab. The coffee and water - which is kept at a precise temperatures - are both carefully weighed for just the perfect blend, and then double-filtered. This is the coffee that you would find at the opposite end of the coffee wheel from your Bodum coffee. The latter is rugged and full-bodied, often with a fine sheen of oil on the top and a small layer of sludge at the bottom. It is raw, bold and intense. The Chemex process produces coffee that is smooth and incredibly refined. The coffee is reduced to its flavour essence. We were sipping an African roast one day when Dave looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, "I have been trying to come up with a description for the flavour of this bean, and I think the best description I can come up with is that it tastes like coffee. When I think of coffee, I think of a definitive taste, and this is it." Pretty much nailed it.

I took this picture on full manual. I rested the camera on the counter for the shot, though I at 1/1000 of a second it hardly needed to be braced. I just liked that particular angle. We managed to get the last two seats in the coffee shop that was full to overflowing. In spite of the moderately chilly temperatures and brisk breeze outside, a small crowd had gathered out front to visit and enjoy espresso from elegant little demitasse cups.

Right after I took the previous picture, Dave reached for the camera and said, "I think I might have a good shot for you." Before I could warn him that it was set on full manual mode, he lined up a shot looking down into his mug. He took a couple more at different angles and settings, but in the end the first picture turned out the best. I have found that it often works that way. There is something to be said for spontaneity.

I cropped the shot, and did some modest colour-balancing (which you almost always need to do when you are using the raw image). The Canon software that came with the camera has a "click to balance" feature that I have started playing with lately. I usually just use one of the pre-sets (Daylight, Florescent, Tungsten, etc.) but the click-balance gives some nice granular control when none of those quite do the trick. I did not bother to colour-balance the picture above for, well, obvious reasons.
Sharp observers will notice one other thing that I edited in this picture - well, actually it's pretty obvious when you look at it, but I think it looks better this way.
plonq: (Oolong mood)
Blue is the streak that I am inwardly swearing right now. EDS has finally managed to break an application that I wrote back in 2005 with their latest mangling of our Windows 7 installs. They seem to operate under the more things they break, the more secure the system becomes.

Today I am pouring through an updated application that I wrote in 2009, but never got approval to implement. Most of the cursing is at myself for not documenting the code better than I did. Building maps and documentation was in my "to do" list for once it got rolled-out, so today I am doing an awful lot of head scracthing in places. At least I have got it past the point of cascading errors and failures to the point where it simply doesn't work.

The first thing I am going to change once I get this thing working again is to re-write almost all of the variables with more meaningful labels.

You know spring is nigh when the dogwoods start to bloom. After our freakishly warm weather in February and March, we have settled down to more seasonal temperatures for the past few weeks. The farmers are a bit concerned over the lack of rain - especially with how little snow cover we got this year. I find that ironic, because some parts of the province are still under flood waters from last spring. It sounds like we have all of the water that we need if we could just figure out how to distribute it more efficiently.

A couple more pictures behind a cut. )
plonq: (Lauging Rainbow Dash Mood)
We live in a wonderful time when many of the mundane chores of the past are automated. Our modern cameras border on being magical - if I could ask for one more feature, it would be a delayed shutter that would hold the shot until the picture was well-composed. I envision being able to set it for "scenic", "comedic", "touching", etc.

One would expect that being the lazy, ease-loving blob that I am, I would treat the camera like a point-and-shoot, but this afternoon I disabled as many of its automatic features as I was able and took a picture of my rechargeable speaker. The only part of this picture that I left as automatic was the colour correction, and that is because I was more interested in examining the picture for noise and distortion than for colour integrity.

Also the automatic colour correction in this little camera is remarkably good.

You can check the Exif data for yourself since I uploaded the unaltered Jpeg image as it came from the camera, but I shot this with the following settings:

Flash: off
ISO: 80
Aperture: f/8.0
Shutter: 2.0 seconds


I am going to play around with the RAW image when I get home, but here are my initial thoughts on examining the Jpeg.

The colour-correction on the foreground subjects is darned near spot-on, which is pretty impressive with the terrible lighting conditions in this office. The displays on the monitors in the background are both very cool, but that is to be expected when it is compensating for the lights in here, and I probably would not have noticed that they were pushed into the blue if I did not have them both right in front of my nose while I was looking at this picture.

While I am very pleased with the detail and clarity of the foreground objects, you can really see the error correction and Jpeg artifacts in the background. They are especially apparent at contrast boundaries. The light rings of the speaker almost seem to have a halo against the dark monitors. One of the reasons that I seldom post pictures in full resolution is because down-sizing the image helps to mask the noise and detail lost by the camera's attempts to reduce the noise.

That said, I think that this level of noise and artefacts is acceptable for about 90% of what I tend to shoot on a day-to-day basis.


Apr. 21st, 2012 12:06 pm
plonq: (SchemingTwilight Sparkle Mood)
I took the day off work yesterday (sanity break) and decided to use the time to try smoking something other than cheese. I brined the chicken with a bit of dijon and bourbon - though I have subsequently been informed that there is no point in adding flavours to the brine since they do not transfer to the meat, so in future I will just stick to salt water.

While it was brining I assembled a needlessly complicated rub for which I found the recipe on the web. Finally I put it in the smoker at ~225F for about 3 hours and this is the result.

plonq: (Derpy Mood)
Don't judge me, lots of people do it.

I started with some cheese and tofu.

I left it in a bit longer than the recipe called for because it was cold and windy, and I was afraid that I was losing a lot of the smoke to the elements. In the process I learned that this smoker does not appear to be affected by wind, so I will know for next time. The cheese was really good when it first came out of the smoker, but after being bagged up in the refrigerator for the past few days it has grown stronger and stronger, to the point where it is smoky to the point of being slightly bitter.

Live and learn.

I have found that if I shave off the smoky outside of the cheese, the interior is still pretty strong, but without the bitterness, so I will call this a qualified success.

I did not marinade the tofu or prepare it in any other way before I smoked it, other than patting it thoroughly dry before I put it on the rack. I had a bit of it for dinner last night, and it was pretty good as well, if also a bit strong. I sliced it thin and sautéed it in a bit of butter before adding some diced ham, peas, and finally stirring in an egg and soy sauce. It did not quite come out like soy bacon, but it was OK. I have some ideas for the next time I try this.

The main problem with the cheese and tofu is that they stink up the kitchen when I open the bags they are sealed in.

On my "to do" list this spring: maple-cured, apple-smoked bacon.
plonq: (Derpy Mood)
Many years, and a couple of offices ago a co-worker shared a tale of woe with me about how he and his (now ex) wife had gone for dinner at the house of some of her friends. The hosts had brought out a big pot of soup, bread, and some hearty salads. He said that the soup and salad were both delicious, and really whetted his appetite for the main course -- until he learned that the soup and salad were the main course.

"What kind of people serve soup and salad as the main course? Soup and salad are appetizers; the main course is meat and potatoes. Without the meat and potatoes it just isn't dinner. Salad is not a dinner."

I told him about how our family often made a meal of German borscht, but he insisted his Portuguese heritage demanded that every dinner have meat and potatoes.

Well I think that salad can make a perfectly adequate dinner. This one consists of baby spinach, sliced strawberries, toasted pine nuts, croutons, and a bit of crumbled feta cheese. The balsamic vinaigrette dressing came after the picture.

About three weeks ago on Reddit, a thread came up about "Take Your Ponies to Work Day". I posted a smary reply about how every day is TYPtWD around here, and I linked to a picture of my little pony collection at work. The original poster noted the lack of Fluttershy in my collection and replied, "Do you not have a Fluttershy because you can't find her?" I lamented about how she is only available via the blind bags, and that none of the vendors in our city carry those.

I thought nothing more of the exchange at the time until about a week ago when he sent me a private message asking if I had managed to track down a Fluttershy. To make a long story short, on Wednesday two Fluttershy blind bags showed up in the mail earmarked for Me and [ profile] atara. He insists that he does not need anything in return, but I've told him quite firmly to stifle his protests because I plan on sending back a return gift this weekend.

And now my little harem collection is complete. I packed them up and took them home shortly after this picture was taken, but my desk here is not going pony-free. I have brought in my McDonald's collection in its place.
plonq: (Cheesy Grin Mood)
I know this is not supposed to be "a year of things I ate", but one of the beautiful things about owning a small camera now is that I can pull it out on a whim when I get served something as lovely as this. Also today's picture is in two parts, since my meal arrived in two parts.

[ profile] atara and I had originally planned to have dinner up at The Round Table this evening because we'd heard that Half Pints would be tapping a keg of their Black Galaxy beer for the event. It turns out we got our days mixed up and that happened yesterday. With that unexpected change in plans, we decided to go all-in with changed plans and went over to Clay Oven for dinner instead.

While we will usually end up ordering three things from the menu ([ profile] atara picks one item, I pick one, and we agree on the third), we had agreed in advance that we would each order ourselves a thali platter this evening. Their thali platters are a pretty good deal, and even if you both order drinks with your meal you can do dinner for two for ~$30.00.

The last time we had these for dinner, I ordered the chicken and [ profile] atara ordered the vegetarian one. This time she chose the chicken, and I ordered the Masala Dosa Thali. Its description on the menu sounded intriguing, and it promised to come with lentil soup and Dosa. I ordered it because I had no idea what Dosa was, and I looked forward to being educated.

The platter arrived as you see it pictured here. I assumed that the odd little doughnut at the front must be the Dosa, though I was a little disappointed that an item that was specifically mentioned in the name of the dish was so anticlimactic in appearance. Then the waitress announced that the Dosa would just take another minute or two before it was ready for me, and I became intrigued anew.

This is what arrived about a minute later. It is as large as it appears in this picture, and weighed enough to serve as a passable weapon. It was delicious, but it could have served as a meal by itself.

The verdict on dinner: it was very good. Clockwise around the plate (starting at the top where there is an empty space that was far too small to hold the Dosa) there was a cardamom/rice pudding dessert, followed by Idli (which is a savoury cake). The best description I could come up with when describing it for [ profile] atara was that it was like Ethiopian flat bread formed into a little cake. It was pleasant, and did a decent job of soaking up juices. The little doughnut was Vada, and as nearly as I could tell it was made from dal. It was quite nice as well. Next up were a coconut chutney (with oodles of cardamom in it) and a tomato chutney. Finally there was the yoghurt and puffed-rice dish that seems to pop up in almost every Indian cuisine. I can't remember the name of it, but I think it's primary function is to help remove heat after you eat something spicy.

The centre piece in this platter was the bowl of lentil soup. I don't know what I can really say about this soup, other than that it was the highlight of the meal. It packed a few pleasant surprises in it, the biggest of which was 1/4 of a poached pear. It was a complex mix of flavours and textures that all worked well together.

The platter with its slice of naan, or the Dosa would have made an adequate meal for me. If I had been smarter, I'd have saved about half of the Dosa and brought it home for lunch tomorrow. Alas, that did not occur to me until I had fought my way more than two thirds of that food baton. I will make a point of skipping lunch the next time I know I might be ordering this platter for dinner.

September 2017

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