Thursday, July 29, 2010

Working for Free

is not great. I don't mind the work at all, and it's really easy, but someone pointed out today that we are working for free, and it grated a little.

I'm trying to decide what I want to do about getting a real job. I know Chef could get me a job in a kitchen on the Strip, but do I want that? Do I want to go back into online marketing, or a different cushy office job? These things are weighing heavily on my mind this week. After tomorrow I will have two months to go in my internship and I'll have to make a choice.

Sorry updates have been sporadic. I have some ideas for upcoming posts, most of which won't even mention anything I'm doing at Opportunity Village. How much can I say about deep frying stuff and flipping burgers?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Externship Update

Well, since my Europe posts have been put on hold by the crappy picture uploading thing on Blogger (damn free website, why won't you work perfectly?), I guess I will talk about my externship.

I'm working at Opportunity Village, which is a rehab/treatment facility for people who need physical or mental rehabilitation or special care. The people who work in the kitchen are almost "job-ready" and will get assistance in finding a job after they are evaluated.

We have a simple set menu, but the fun part is that we get to make up a daily special, whatever we want, as long as it's not super expensive. Today we made BBQ ribs, and they were a hit. We sold out of them before lunch time even began. I'm working with Abbie, who I worked with at Cafe Bleu, and a guy named Chris. They're both fun to work with and it's a pretty relaxed environment.

The externship has the perfect hours, too. It's exactly the hours that Devin works, no weekends or nights, which is more than I could have hoped for.

I wouldn't mind doing the whole 12 weeks there, but we'll see what happens with this actual job I'm still supposed to get.

More Europe posts are coming.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Europe Post #3: Booze

We went on three booze tours in Ireland: Jameson, Smithwick's, and Guinness.

Jameson is my favorite whiskey. Really, I love it. Their tour was fun and I got to do the tasting at the end, which makes me an Official Irish Whiskey Taster. Their actual old brewery is in Midleton, right outside of Cork. They have a newer place in Dublin but we didn't bother since we had already been to the original one by that point.

I'm home:

The water wheel that made the plant run:

Me doing my tasting of Jameson, Johnnie Walker Black Label, and Jack Daniels. As if they had to convince me that I like Jameson best!

My new favorite beer, which we can thankfully get here in the States at select locations, is called Smithwick's, pronounced, "Smiddicks." Their brewery is in Kilkenny, and it's an active brewery to this day. It's an excellent nutty, somewhat dark amber ale.
You get to have drinks in the cellar bar at the end of the tour.

Of course we went to Guinness in Dublin. I was a little weary of guided tours by then, so it was nice to find that the Guinness tour is mostly self-guided. The three of us (Devin, his brother Brian, and me) pretty much just wanted to get to the top floor for a pint anyway. We stopped on the fifth floor to pour our own pints, since we got certificates learning how to pour the perfect pint as well. That was pretty fun and the view from the top was amazing! It was a 360* view of Dublin.
I was feeling artsy so here's a shot of me in the mirrored table:

Do you know what they have at pubs in Ireland? They have a table where you can pour your own pint! It's manufactured by Guinness; every one that we saw had Guinness and Carlsberg (a pilsner that is similar in taste to Heineken, which means I don't like it). The digital screen measures how much you pour. The waitress takes down the number when you request your check, shuts off the table, and brings the check with the exact amount of beer you drank on it. It's brilliant, and you'd think of all places Las Vegas would have something like that by now.
Note the nearly perfect pints: 1.97 glasses measured.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Europe Post #2: CANDY!

Because I am an adult, I would like to talk about the candy that is easily accessible in Europe (and even Canada) that we just do not have here.

First, my favorite. Aero bars. I could order them from Amazon, I could ask my Canadian friends to send them to me, or I could just buy five giant ones at the airport for a quid each.

Ah, Kinder chocolate. My oldest love. I have been a fan of Kinder since I was... well, a kinder. It means 'child' in German, right? Anyway, I love Kinder eggs, Kinder bars, and Kinder Bueno. I bought a fantastically large package of Kinder bars. This picture is only 1/4th of it (that's me with no makeup and bad lighting trying to eat the cardboard).


In other countries, Smarties aren't chalky pedia-sure type "candy," they are actual candy. They're like M&Ms, but better because they're harder to find.

Of course, some chocolate from the Guinness brewery.

I hope this tour of European candy has been enjoyable. It's not as crazy or exciting as Asian candy, but I gotta say, it sure is nice to know that there are still four giant Aero bars in my freezer.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Europe Post #1: Walkers Crisps Flavour Cup

On our first full day in Ireland, we gassed up (petroled up?) the rental cars and headed out to the Cliffs of Moher. I went into the gas station to look at their candy and food selection. They had eggs, bread, and pastries sitting out on shelves, uncovered and unrefrigerated. I'm not too squeamish about those things, but then I happened upon these:

That's right, World Cup commemorative Walkers potato crisps, which we know better in the States as Lays potato chips.

I had to buy them. I just found a list of all the chips available, and I'm sad but relieved that I didn't get to try them all. The ones I did try are bolded.

These are the flavors that I couldn't find:
  • Irish Stew
  • Australian BBQ Kangaroo
  • Italian Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Scottish Haggis
  • South African Sweet Chutney
  • Spanish Chicken Paella
  • Welsh Rarebit
I'm not going to guess how good or bad those flavors are because I was completely wrong on almost all the ones that I did try. Hopefully, I can find these flavors somewhere and do another post on them.

I tried the following:
  • American Cheeseburger: I tried this with pride on the 4th of July. I ate one chip and tossed the rest. It would have been great if the ketchup flavor had been the lingering taste, but they really did taste like ground beef.
  • Argentinean Flame Grilled Steak: I found these in London, after all the others, so I was already wary of them. I was right to worry; these chips just tasted like steak, which is really so strange.
  • Brazilian Salsa: My guesses were right on two of the flavors, one being these. Chips that taste like salsa? Can't really mess that up, right? These were good.
  • Dutch Edam Cheese: I thought I would like these. Chips with cheese flavoring sound good to me. Seems that I had forgotten that Edam is a very strong cheese, so I was wrong. These were awful. I'd almost rather have chips that taste like meat (but I'm still rooting for them to win tomorrow!).
  • English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding: These are in contention for the foulest thing I've ever eaten. I had never tried roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, so I went to have it after I tried the chips, and guess what? It's fantastic. I'll post about that in an upcoming blog. The chips are just disgusting. I honestly smelled them, gagged a little, took a tiny bite, and had to spit it out and brush my teeth. I'd really skip these chips and go to a pub for the real thing.
  • French Garlic Baguette: The other flavor I knew I would like. Chips, garlic, yum. These were delicious. I ate the whole bag and would buy more if we had them in the States. They should keep this flavor permanently.
  • German Bratwurst Sausage: Oh, I love brats. These chips tasted like bratwurst so much that it was really just upsetting. Gross, gross, gross. I was rooting for Germany, too.
  • Japanese Teriyaki Chicken: This one could have been worse, but I would never call it good. I guess chips that taste like beef are more offensive than chips that taste like chicken.
Bonus Flavors:
  • Prawn Cocktail: Apparently this flavor is popular in Europe; I saw it at many a pub being consumed by locals. I expected the worst, but this chip was almost decent. It had an ever so slight shrimpy flavor and was salty.
  • Ready Salted: This is just their code for regular chips.
I kept all the bags. My final verdict is as follows: Chips should not taste like meat.



Friday, July 9, 2010

I've Been Away: Ireland and England

I didn't want to advertise to the world that I would be away for two weeks, but there you have it: my excuse for not posting for so long. I left on the 26th of June and got back an hour ago.

Tomorrow I will post details, pictures, and culinary highlights (and lowlights) from my trip across Ireland with a brief visit to London on the way back. I am much too tired and lazy to do that now; it's something like 4am for me, plus Devin is bringing us home some pizza.

Damn, I missed pizza.

Before I forget, a note to the Irish: Salt is your friend. Use it. I'll explain more sometime this weekend.