Monday, May 30, 2011

Epic Lunch of Champions

Salmon box from the Hare & Tortoise restaurant
I've been on a bit of a sushi kick the past few days, going to various Japanese restaurants around the area. Yesterday I found myself at a place called Hare & Tortoise. It's more of an Asian restaurant than strictly Japanese with quality Thai, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese dishes filling the menu.

This time I ended up ordering one of my favorite Japanese dishes; a salmon box. It consists of 2 salmon nigiri (salmon laid on top of a ball of rice), 6 salmon maki (the salmon sushi rolls), 3 pieces of salmon sushimi (just pieces of salmon with nothing else), and a salmon temaki or handroll (salmon, cucumber, salmon roe, and rice wrapped in a cone shaped seaweed.) It looked so good that I had to take a picture of it (seen to the right.)

It makes for a very fresh and filling lunch which doesn't leave you feeling stuffed and bloated afterwards. Even for those who haven't had sushi before it's a good starter dish.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ghost Bike

Ghost Bike in London
Wandering around in East London today and spotted this fitting reminder of a fallen cyclist; a ghost bike. I've seen these in a few other cities such as New York, and even Denver and they're always a chilling reminder of the constant danger of being a cyclist in a major city. Be safe out there.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

School of Life

Near where I'm staying is a little store front near Russell Square called The School of Life. The shop sells a small number of books and gifts and also displays information about all The School of Life's services and programs. Beneath the shop is a classroom where small classes are held. According to the "school's" website the school offers a variety of programs and services concerned with how to live wisely and well, addressing such questions as why work is often unfulfilling, why relationships can be so challenging, why it’s ever harder to stay calm and what one could do to try to change the world for the better.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's Good Enough

Spotted this today while wandering around. If it's good enough for them then it's good enough for a post.
Goodenough College: Central London

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chop Chop Redux

In a previous post (Chop Chop) I detailed a bit of Chinese chop stick etiquette. This post of course left out a huge portion of the chop stick using population; the Japanese and Koreans. Today I am comparing three countries, Korea, China, and Japan, each of which have their own style of chopstick and different etiquette.

Chinese chopsticks are the longest of the 3 styles of chopsticks and have a square end. The material they are made from is typically wood, however they have been made of many different materials from ivory to plastic. There is no definite answer to why they the are longest, but it is said that it is because the Chinese typically share their food. When they sit at the table there are many dishes in the middle and each person pulls a bit of food rather than piling everything they will eat onto their plate as in other cultures. The wider and longer chopsticks make it easier to move food from a bigger serving dish to a smaller eating dish.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shoe Making Part 1 - Pattern Cutting

Shoe making primer through photos.
My fiance has been kind enough to share some of her footwear making notes with me. She documents every part of the process of making a shoe so this will be the first in a series of posts about the art of shoe making. The process involved in making proper footwear is quite complex so I'll be doing my best to outline the majority of it through captioned photos. In order to get the form of the shoe and start cutting the pattern the process starts out with the use of a shoe last made of wood, plastic, or in rare cases iron. For most modern shoes these lasts come in pairs; one left and one right.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interesting landmark in central London

Entrance; which is under a hotel in central London.
There is an amazingly fun venue near where I'm staying called Bloomsbury Lanes. It's an old American style bowling alley with old time American eats. They offer a few different menus all with traditional bowling style fare; burgers, pizzas, wings, classic ice cream milk shakes served in a glass with 2 straws. I know I should be eating more traditional British cuisine, but I'd be hard pressed to find a place like this even in the US.

It's more than just a restaurant though. They offer 8 lanes of large ball 10 pin bowling at a rate of something like £4 per game. Apart from the bowling they offer private karaoke rooms suitable for groups of 6-30 people (haven't experienced this however as I'd rather not break their equipment with my terrible singing. )
Equipped with state of the art old skool bowling shoes.
Add all this together with live bands 4-5 days per week and this is the place to be if you're bored with the London pubs which fill up as early as 4pm and generally have the same feel no matter what part of London you're in. If you ever find yourself in central London this place is a must to balance out the regal tourist destinations of the city.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crispy Ducky in Chinatown

Crispy duck and some fixings
Whenever I travel to London I always make it a point to visit Chinatown. The restaurants there are very authentic and reminiscent of the local restaurants of Hong Kong and China. My trip wouldn't be complete without having my favorite Asian appetizer; crispy aromatic duck. This time I stopped at the Four Seasons restaurant in the heart of Chinatown, who are said to have the best in all of England. I'm not sure if this is true or not, but they do make a really tasty duck.

This dish is very similar to Peking duck for those who are familiar. The duck is first marinated with spices, then steamed until tender, and finally deep fried until crispy. This leaves an amazingly low fat and deliciously crispy skin on meat. In most restaurants here the server brings the duck (whole, half, or quarter size) directly to the table on a platter and uses a fork and spoon to shred it into chunks. Accompanying the duck is a bamboo steamer filled with thin flour pancakes similar to soft tortillas, fresh cucumbers, and a plum sauce similar to but a bit sweeter than hoisen sauce. You're basically left to the task of assembling the given ingredients to your liking, like a make your own taco night. Spread the sauce on the pancake, add a bit of duck and vegetables, wrap and enjoy a mouthful of bliss.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Barefoot Kicks

On days when I have to do a bit of walking or hiking my dressy Chruch's brand shoes however fashionable don't quite cut it in the endurance comfort department. Just the other day while doing a bit of shopping I spotted the Merrell Trail Glove at a local outdoors store.

I've been keen on the "barefoot running/walking" fad since the release of the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. Unfortunately my footwear design studying fiance considers them the most hideous footwear on the planet short of anything made by Crocs. Luckily there exists a few alternatives; the Nike Free shoes, Vivo Barefoot shoes, the Feelmax shoes. The pair I've been sporting are the Merrell Trail Glove in the ninjaesque black/molten lava color scheme.

It does take a while to get used to the way you walk/run in them, it shy's away from the heel toe action we're all so used to and encourages a more flat running stance, which should help lessen impact injuries and improve your posture. The whole concept of barefoot running/walking is to go back to a more natural running style, which makes you feel more at one with your surroundings but also helps take the strain off your leg muscles.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The strawberries taste like strawberries, and the strasberries taste like strasberries, and then pineberries taste like....umm pineberries?

In my previous post (strasberry post) I wrote about a limited edition Dutch fruit called the strasberry sold in Waitrose stores across the  UK. I arrived in London yesterday and visited a Waitrose on my way from Heathrow. To my dismay according to the grocer at that particular Waitrose they have discontinued the strasberry. Apparently Waitrose likes to feature only one designer fruit at a time this time of year.

Like the strasberry mentioned before the pineberry has the same genetics as the common strawberry. Also like the strasberry it was rescued from near extinction by a small group of Dutch farmers within the past few years. It seems these dutch farmers have become quite bored with the common strawberry and need to experiment a bit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Raw pre-processing

Portland Headlight - Portland, ME
When traveling I generally take pictures in raw format, in my case Nikon NEF. I shoot raw for a few different reasons; higher dynamic range, full control over the picture, post exposure error correction, the list goes on. It does come with it's disadvantages though, one of which being that my underpowered travel netbook bogs down to a crawl when processing them. There is however a bit of salvation. Since I use linux on my netbook I have access to the powerful command line and a little program called ufraw.

By using this program I can convert all of my raw images from my memory card to jpg format for easy and quick review. I can review all of my photos and prune out the duplicates and bad shots. The whole process is incredibly easy and only consists of 1 line of command-line-fu.

ufraw-batch --out-type=jpeg --out-path=/home/Pictures/export --compression=85 /media/memory_card/MyPics/*.NEF

This leaves you with jpg files in a separate folder for reviewing so you know which of your raw files you should keep and which you should delete.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I'll be traveling a bit over the course of the next month or so. Today I made the 6+ hour drive north to the Canadian border for my sister's nursing school graduation ceremony. On tuesday I'll be boarding a virgin atlantic flight in Boston destined for London where I'll be meeting my fiance for our impromptu mini-vacation to the Isle of Wight off England's south coast. I'm not exactly sure what's going on after that, it's kind of up in the air at the moment, but I'll be sure to document my adventures thoroughly.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Antler Ring

Polished antler ring with antler behind.
As some of you may know if you read my previous post "Snowy Adventures" I came across a deer head with antlers still attached (see post for photo of antlers.) Well I actually carried the antlers with me back home, and I've been meaning to do something with them for quite some time. After a few hours of browsing the interwebs for ideas and coming up with nothing but hat racks, and gun racks I decided to go it alone. I finally decided on a ring for my fiance (not engagement, she already has one of those, an antler engagement ring would be kinda tacky I think.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Privacy Policy

As per Google policies, here is the privacy policy drawn for my blog:

Footwear design.

 My fiance is currently studying footwear design, and recently had a project working with a prominent UK sporting good company. The project was to design an outdoors shoe for the teen Asian market. Quite a lot of research goes into all of her projects, and makes a shoe takes a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately I can't detail the entire process here, so here are the basics.