Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hiking With Emma In Divoká Šárka

From our new flat in Prague 6, we can basically walk out our back door and be in the huge park known as Divoká Šárka. Emma had the day off from school, so I took the day off, too, and we went for our first exploratory hike. It was sunny and snowy and cold and crisp.

These photos were taken with my iPhone 4S, in some cases using InstaGram.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dining In Delta's Business Elite, Redux

Daisy and Emma enjoy the good life in Business Elite.

Ever wonder how much better the food is in first class?

Daisy, Emma, and I are Delta frequent flyers, and every once in a while we cash in our miles and upgrade to first class, or Business Elite, as Delta calls it.

In September 2010, I wrote about the last time I did this, flying with my mom as I took her back home to Maryland after she fell and broke her hip in Prague. And I just did it again, flying with Daisy and Emma from Prague to Gainesville, Florida, for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

(I'm happy to report that my mom is doing great, by the way.)

What'd they serve us in Business Elite?

For an appetizer, a Mini Corn Cake With Salmon, Asparagus and Pickled Onion, and Cream of Onion Soup. I also enjoyed a glass of their house bourbon, Woodford Reserve, on the rocks.

The corn cake suffered from a classic airline food faux paus. It was too cold and dense. But the onion soup was delicious.

That was followed by a second course of Fresh Mesclun Salad, with Sweet Peppers, Radishes and Walnuts. A surprisingly good salad at 36,000 feet. The greens were fresh, the radishes and walnuts crisp.

For the main course, I chose the Grilled Beef Tenderloin, with Peppercorn Sauce, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Sauteed Spinach. I told the flight attendant that I'd like mine medium rare. That gets a laugh every time. They love me up there.

Much better, of course, than what you'd get in coach class, but this particular tenderloin left much to be desired. Well done, lukewarm and rather flavorless. (The Seared Beef Tenderloin with demi-glace sauce, wasabi mashed potatoes, and sugar snap peas that I had on my return flight was excellent, however. It can be done!)

With my steak, I had what was probably a bottle's worth of Casillero Diablo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Chile. I love Chilean reds, and this was no exception. The onboard menu describes it as being Bordeaux-like, with dusty cedar, lead pencil scents, and dark cassis fruit. I'll concur on the dark cassis fruit. But lead pencil scents? Love it!

For dessert, I opted for the Selection of Fine Cheeses with Fresh Fruit, instead of the Chocolate Tart or the Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae, the latter of which I had on the return leg.

A lovely selection of unidentified fromage. Although they could be more generous with the crackers. (I'm sure they'd have given me more if I'd only asked.)

I also had a few glasses of dessert wine -- Pacific Rim Riesling, Vin de Glaciere 2007, from the Selenium Vineyard in Washington state. Though I love deep, chewy reds, I'm also a sucker for dessert wines, and this Pacific Rim tasted like the nectar of the gods.

For the so-called pre-arrival meal, I tucked into an excellent Hot Turkey and Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Carmelized Onions and Peppers and a Carrot and Raisin Salad. I thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich. It would not have been out of place at any decent American deli. Kudos.

The service on our flight from Paris to Atlanta on December 16 was top-notch. Hats off to that particular Delta crew.

I'm still waiting for Delta to upgrade its comfortable but rather tired Business Elite cabins on all of their planes. They're in the middle of a fleetwide upgrade, but I have yet to actually fly an updated cabin, probably because I fly out of Prague, mostly, and not London or Singapore.

The Business Elite cabins feel very 1995 to me. Hard to complain, though, when you're enjoying a fine bourbon and watching "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on your personal video screen. Can't wait for the next time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Little Bit Of 'Mad Men' Part II

Back in May 2010, I wrote a blog post about what I considered to be a very cool set of vintage glassware that I had purchased at an antique shop in Cumberland, Maryland, a few years ago. The glasses featured different world cities and appeared to date from the 1950s, considering that Havana was one of the cities and that the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba starting in 1960.

Turns out they were made by the Libbey glassware company and do, indeed, date from the 1950s. How do I know? You see, I'm not the only one out there who thinks these glasses are way cool. That blog post garnered almost 30 comments, and it's consistently one of my most frequently visited posts.

In addition to the comments on the blog post itself, I've heard personally from a few other collectors out there, including John Warming from "sunny Minnesota." Over the holidays, John sent me some photos of his incredible -- and complete! -- collection of this line of glassware, which come in three distinct styles -- Beverage, Double Old Fashioned, and Continental Goblet.

I'm publishing some of John's photos with this blog item. I love the brass-plated caddy for the beverage-style glasses (pictured below). Me want!

Thanks for taking the time to share your collection with us, John.

I also heard from Ayla Freeman, who has a cool blog, Vintage With A Vengeance, and who also wrote about this particular set of Libbey glassware.

As she notes, the set originally featured eight cities: London, Bombay, The Hague, Madrid, Havana, Athens, Rome, and Paris.

Happy collecting, folks. I'm really glad to know so much about my glassware!

I'd love to complete my set, but I doubt the glasses would make it all the way to Prague intact.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Limited Collector's Edition

I found all sorts of funny stuff as I went through my old papers ahead of our big move a month or so ago. Including what I'm sure are the only existing copies of "Ye Olde Tribune" or "The Apartment Tribune," proudly serving the Garden Apartments of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.

My good friend Tony Bezich and I wrote, typed, and distributed this "newspaper" in August 1975. I was 14 years old. Tony and his family lived in the Garden Apartments at the time. My family lived in a house down the road a bit.

Pretty embarrassing for a 14-year-old, but I guess it's an interesting artifact, considering that I did become a journalist.

I will say, we did a pretty good job of filling two typed pages considering the complete news vacuum in New Alexandria.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fascinated By Fonts

I've always been fascinated by fonts. And living here in the Czech Republic, I often come across store names and various other types of signage still in their original fonts dating from the communist era. I've sporadically taken photos of these signs and will try to post many of them here.

I was reminded of my obsession when I went to an audition yesterday in the OKD Vltavska building near the Vltavska metro in Prague 7. I found these incredibly cool numbers on lobby signage indicating which office was on which floor. I love them.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sky On Fire

I happened to be driving near the village of Horomerice, west of Prague, last night and was astounded by this sunset.