Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friday Five

The Excuse:

If it’s posted on a Tuesday does it still count as a Friday Five?

The Week[s]

Of the many issues that I have, I have a hard time buckling down and undertaking huge tasks. As a result, dealing with everything from Australia drove me away from blogging in general, and I’m having a hard time getting back into it. But here I am, and with a little luck I’m back to stay.

I last posted a Friday Five on September 4th, so I guess there’s quite a bit to get caught up on. I’m sure you’ve all seen the Australia posts by now, but that was of course the biggest bit of adventure[1] that Karin and I had. In case you couldn’t tell we had an absolute blast and I can’t wait to go back (maybe next year??)

While Karin was able to go home after Australia[2], I wound up flying out to Tampa, FL. The Tampa trip was productive both on a professional and personal level. The week was just a good work week, and I was able to see a couple of good friends of mine on more than one occasion. Being able to see friends is probably one of the best things about travel, and probably the most powerful drug for beating back homesickness.

Because going home after that would be too good for me, I flew from Tampa to Houston. Houston was, of course, well, Houston. For whatever reason the last couple of trips out there haven’t been fruitful when it comes to getting together with anyone, something I hope changes in the future.

After Houston was a week at home. In San Diego, CA. Without work. It was everything I thought it would be and more. I was able to go to the Chargers game on Sunday[3]. We had picked up three wines from Australia on our trip which we were able to share with friends on that Friday night, as well as exchange stories with Brent and Ron who had gone to Europe over the same time Karin and I were in Australia. It was just fantastic.

This past week I was in (…wait for it…) Houston! Despite my best efforts, it was another work/home/work/home week in Houston.

The Restaurant

In Tampa exists one of the best (if not *the* best) steakhouses I’ve ever visited – Charley’s. I must admit that I’m a bit jaded when it comes to steaks. I’ve got access to Iowa Meat Market which offers up some great dry aged steaks, and a grill that I can get up to over 700 degrees; I can make a very good steak at home, better than most steak places. But what I don’t have is a wood fire grill. Their steaks are wet aged, and then tossed on this grill imparting a smoky flavor that is just out of this world. It’s the densest, richest steak I think I’ve ever had.

Oh – and they make a great Manhattan that they serve in a frozen martini glass tableside – because they’ll fill it up to the top, have you take a sip, and then top it off again. My kind of place.

The Exercise

I’ve been about as good with that as I have keeping my blog up to date.

The Travel Note

Last Sunday I went to the airport with about 40 minutes before my flight was due to board. I had secured my upgrade already meaning that I’d be able to cut the security line and be on the other side within about 10 minutes tops. That was, until, I got out of the car and realized I didn’t have my license. This is where living near the airport comes in handy, and that San Diego has such a small airport. I was able to go from the airport to home, run inside and grab my wallet, and drive back to the airport in just under 20 minutes total. Got to the other side of security and on the plane with enough time to spare to have a preflight drink on the plane.

The Five

After Dave (Jumbo) forwarded me an article from Men’s Journal – The Top Five Beer Towns in the U.S. – I knew I had my next five, which is the five best beer towns I’ve been to.

  1. San Diego, CA – This is an absolute no-brainer. San Diego has one of the (if not the) best collections of microbreweries in the world. There’s some debate as to whether or not the double IPA was invented in San Diego, but regardless it was perfected there. But despite what some may try to tell you, there are many non-IPA’s to be found, including my favorite stout from Green Flash which they age in used bourbon barrels.
  2. Brisbane, QLD – Everywhere I turned there was good beer available. It was mostly in the form of lagers and more traditional ales, but it was all fantastic.
  3. Burlington, VT – Home of Magic Hat and the Vermont Brew Pub. The Brew Pub gets a special nod from me for not only making great beer, but for serving it at the right temperature – around 40 degrees and in a room temperature glass.
  4. Athens, GA – I was blown away by the selection of microbrews in this area. Between brewpubs and microbreweries there’s a lot of good beer to be had in this college town.
  5. Boise, ID – You’d have figured that a town such as Boise wouldn’t feature good beer, but as I’ve said before – Boise’s a surprisingly hip town. While there are a couple of chain brewpubs in town, there are also plenty of good local brews to be had.

[1] I’m such a geek I nearly typed out AdventureWorks.
[2] Big ups to Sheri here for being willing to go pick up Karin.
[3] Bigger ups to Donna for scoring the sweet tickets.

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