About Anything

The personal blog of Al Stevens. Focus is overrated.

Archive for the ‘food’ tag

Eating Out Alone

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For me, eating out alone is unpleasant. Everyone else is either paired up or in a group. All look like they are having fun. When someone else is alone, they look like they are having as dreadful a time as I am.

I used to eat out alone frequently — always on business trips, but there were many of those. Sometimes I managed to stay at the same hotel enough that I got to know the local wait staff. Other times, I used the tried and true technique of eating at the bar — bar tenders know how to make singles feel welcome. When neither a known restaurant or bar were possible, I’d suck it up, pick a restaurant that wasn’t too crowded and ask for a table for one. I never was able to do the room service thing. That felt like a complete cop out.

Tonight, for the first time in over a year, I had to face eating out alone again. I’m in London. Our conference is over. My colleagues have left and I never got my act together to connect with friends.

Hare and Tortoise to the rescue. I was looking for Wagamama, thinking that sitting at a shared table would be friendlier than eating pub food sitting at a bar, when I walked by a Hare and Tortise. There’s four in London, in Bloomsbury, Kensington, Ealing and Putney. The menu includes sushi, sashimi, maki, ramen, lo mein, chow mein and salads. They’re inexpensive by London standards — I had a full dinner, with hot saki, for 15 pounds. They are popular, so be ready for a wait to get in.

And… If you must eat alone, the tables are close together, there are a smattering of students and singles reading at there tables or just enjoying their food, the staff treats you like an old friend and the service is fast so you don’t need to linger if you don’t want to. I’ll definitely go back, even if I’m not eating alone, but especially if I am.

The have a website at www.hareandtortoise.co.uk

Written by Al Stevens

December 6th, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Spend more on food, live better and longer

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I just finished “In Defense of Food”, by Michael Pollan. Everyone who eats should read this book. It’s a refreshing, guilt-free look at how we relate to food. Most books I read, make me think a bit or add a bit of knowledge to how I think about other things. Books on nutrition turn me off. This book provided a completely new perspective on my daily meals. It’s short, easy to read, and often summarized with its openning line: “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” There are many more memorable rules, phrases and ideas than the opening one, but I found the section “Pay More, Eat Less” the most provocative.  Acknowledging that better food costs more, Pollan suggests that we’ve traded food costs against our health. Since 1960, Americans have gone from spending 17.5% of national income on food and 5.2% on health care to 9.9% on food and 16% on health. I’d rather spend my money on better food.

Written by Al Stevens

February 24th, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Starbucks Fresh Pressed

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I’m blessed. My local Starbucks (on Charles Street in Boston) is one of six that’s testing Clovers, single-brew machines that let the brewer control all the parameters that matter. I’ve now tried the Aged Sumatra and the Arabian Mocha Sanani. Both were more than worth the extra fifty cents Starbucks is charging — better coffee and, well… very fresh. According to the barista on duty today, there’s two other locations in Boston (Federal Street and Harvard Square) and three in Seattle that are testing the “fresh pressed” coffees.

There’s a discussion with lots more details on Starbucks Gossip at starbucksgossip.typepad.com/_/2008/02/starbucks-tests.html.

The Clover machine is described on the Coffee Equipment Company website at cloverequipment.com/whyclover/why_clover.aspx. They offer a service that gives you web access to your Clovers including what’s brewing on each. One can only imagine the Starbucks control center filled with real-time screens showing thousands of cups of coffee brewing all over the world.

Written by Al Stevens

February 15th, 2008 at 10:57 am