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So what happens when Daimler has a technology conference in their home town? All of the good hotels are booked months in advance. Which means NPS ends up at the just a bit too big to be good Le Méridien Stuttgart (part of the design hotel group and most definitely a chain).

The staff is ultra-professional. But the hotel has the same “incredible style” as a Sheraton. Glag. Spend all of your money on an impressive lobby and leave guests in the cages after the elevator ride! Double glag.

We are assigned room, or rather rectangle, or maybe just cage, 539. They must be all the same.

Crane hovers over the pit that is Stuttgart

Be forewarned that Stuttgart is currently under construction. Judging by the size of the hole, this may be a few decades. That means getting from the train station to the hotel (which should be a quick walk) is instead an obstacle course negotiated only by drafting packs of feral students.

This is the scene right in front of the door to the hotel (the grand entrance so to speak).

Guess which hamster cage? Nope!

BED room with no room for anything but bed.

Euro-shower

Our massive multiple property search for a shower cube that was less than $2K per night was unsuccessful. Euro-shower is not so bad if you can ignore the bouncy plastic tub thing. NPS does not approve.

A very helpful concierge aimed us at a great sounding restaurant called Murrhardter Hof, but sadly they were closed on Monday. The good news was that the 10 minute walk down to the Carls Brauhaus for some Maultaschen and potato salad was beautiful. Delicious with a beer.

It is beautiful in Stuttgart today. Very early Spring (which is a far cry from Virginia!).

Eat at Cube above the art museum. The view is great and the food is good too.

Any by all means, go visit the Staatsgalerie which is an incredibly great museum. NPS stashed bits here.

One of many pieces at the fantastic Staatsgalerie

Three shower heads and a set of identical rectangular hamster cages for Le Méridien.

NPS has not been to the Palomar in Philadelphia for a while—six years! So why not. (Just between us, the Philly Monaco takes the win when it comes to Philly. More about why below.)

What’s happened in the last six years at the Philly Palomar is some renovation and some aging, both seemingly in equal parts.

Thanks to Abby Raymond’s magic, we find ourselves in room 2102 which is an exec suite of sorts (but on the small side and with a noted lack of design pop). The bathroom is great, however the rest of the room needs some work.

Did we mention the bathroom? Its great.

Lets start with that.

Yes please. A HUGE bathtub IN the shower. This one is a Kimpton record.

The view from the shower/tub combo package is nice. And you can leave the shades up if you feel like flashing the world while scrubbing your hair.

The hot tub IN the shower.

View from the shower (not the one through the huge window).

Obviously, NPS approves of the shower situation in 2102.

But then there is this view from the door.

Hamster’s view into the room. Nope.

You can see the dated couch thing in the background. Design. Design. Design.

The ’80s called and they want their TV pod thing back.

So the TV pod? Probably used to be nice in some previous decade. We no longer worship the TV. Stop it.

Water damage obvious. Time to haul this thing to the dump.

The rest of the room is small and very gray.

Nice bed. That goes without saying.

Anyway, the shower is nice.

Philly is nice too. After scarfing down a cheesesteak at Jimmy G’s it was off to Friday Saturday Sunday for some world class cocktails. Philly’s outstanding cocktail kung fu persists to this day. Make a point of visiting Friday Saturday Sunday. NPS liked it so much we went two days in a row. Thanks to Alec and Sasha for making Wednesday fun and Paul for the icing on the Thursday cake.

The Cloudbreak is a fantastic cocktail invented by Paul MacDonald who runs the bar program at Friday Saturday Sunday.
1 oz bonal
0.75 oz bols genever
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.75 oz simple syrup
0.75 oz heavy cream
egg white
dry shake. ice. shake. serve up. grapefruit peel + cinnamon

And glass shape does matter. Make sure the foam has a delivery mechanism with each sip.

On our Thursday return, we tried a brand new experimental cocktail by Paul that remains As Yet Unnamed
1 oz mezcal (del maguey vida)
1 oz lime jiuce
1 oz eden orleans herbal (a vermont aperitif cider)
1 oz buddha’s hand, juniper steeped syrup (no heat but 1:1)

Delicious. Paul is a master.

In other Philly news, skip Rouge. Too trendy and a lackluster wine list.

Maybe we just miss Tom Stoppard (it was great to meet Abby though). Four showerheads for the Palomar in Philly.

A quick stop in at Vitae Spirits was a great end to a day of intellectual pursuit at UVa. Vitae is a new distillery, but their outstanding product belies their young age.

Tasting three products: two rums and a gin

Hard to describe how good the rum is (with no aging at all), especially the oustanding Golden Rum product. Proprietor and founder Ian Glomski is a microbiologist by training and his scientific background really shines through. (Kind of reminds me of Becky Harris from Catoctin Creek since she was a chemist before turning to distilling.)

The remarkable Golden Rum is distilled with grilled sugar cane and molasses. Charcoaled american oak chips give it some interesting characteristics (and its color). Post production sugaring with molassas (fairly standard with many rums) happens when the spirit is brought down to 80 proof from its run up over 150.

The Platinum Rum is also very very good. Some readers may recall from WAY back that the first spirit NPS had under its belt was rum. This one stands up to the range.

The Modern Gin? We’ll just skip talking about that.

The Vitae still is also very interesting—a hybrid pot still/column still attached in-line.

The hybrid still

Though we have never seen a still quite like this before, NPS is told that many craft distillers use hybrids like this.

Pot

Column

The whole shebang

Of course yeast and mash make all the difference in the world. Here is where the microbes do their thing to make beer for the still. The beer only comes in around 4% when it is run. That is low by rum standards, but whatever Ian is doing is really working well.

We also tried some experimental Anisette which is still in experimentation stage. This product is very interesting. Ian is working out a post production infusion plan now (testing regular lemon versus meyers lemon). Thanks for the palate clearing yogurt from your personal stash Ian!

Strong design

The best way to finish a distillery visit is to run out and try the product in the wild. Toward that end, we made a quick visit to the Alley Light where we sampled a drink called Castro’s Ashes
1.5 oz Vitea Golden Rum
.75 oz Cynar
.75 oz sassafras vermouth (maybe ransom?)
4 drops BBQ bitters
stir down. Serve up in a coupe. Flame orange peel and balance on the edge.

Castro’s Ashes from Alley Light

NPS is bullish on Vitae Spirits. Check them out before they get big!

Late stage relationship Ehekarussell (loosely, the Marriage-Merry-Go-Round)

Big chains like the Park Plaza chain are generally something we avoid at NPS. But we neglected to set this trip up far enough out and it turns out the Embedded World conference fills up Nuremberg almost completely. That meant that the boutiques we would normally target were full. Only some seriously good detective work came up with Park Plaza (thanks for your help Abbie).

View from 614 Park Plaza

The hotel itself is situated just across a major road from the train station. Turns out to be a great location given the venue for the event (Indabahn). And the Nuremberg Park Plaza itself is much better than expected. Friendly front staff, early check in on arrival over the pond (!!), a modern spacious hip lobby, and get this—no plastic showers.

614

The bathroom is spacious and well appointed. (Sure, the shower pan may be vinyl, but the glass cube is fantastic.

Glass shower cube with two shower heads

LOL

Walking around Nuremberg is a great way to see the sights. The city is very walkable. Use these guides.

Some restaurants of note
Atelier Bar for sausages
Sangam nuremberg (very good Indian)
Pillhofer (get the crispy pork shoulder)
Hausbrauerei Altstadthof (house brewed red beer and award winning schnapps)

We’re still working out the cocktail situation in Nuremberg. Atelier Bar in the Grand Hotel is great. They not only made a cocktail called the Nuremberg Mule
4 cl Haas gin (a local product)
2 cucumber slices
1/2 lime
freshly ground ginger
muddle ingredients. add ice. Top with Thomas Henry spicy ginger. Garnish with cucumber slice

Nuremberg Mule

…they also accommodated NPS for breakfast 15 minutes before they were even supposed to be open! Get this, the weenies in the restaurant at Park Plaza have no flexibility to serve past their 10:30 cut off (on zee dot, you are late, NEIN). The solution is to walk next door to the Grand Hotel and find some actual service. Let this be a lesson to you and your corporate droids Park Plaza! Minus twenty.

Atelier Bar Nuremberg

In other cocktail news, NPS has confirmed that Bar Nürnberg is in fact a very good bar indeed. From the special cocktail of the night (a dark and stormy derivative with rhum agricole from guadalupe) to corpse reviver #2s to sazaracs, each cocktail was meticulously made with care and expertise. Highly recommended.

We got into the Fernet Branca and stayed until 1 am.

On our last day in Nuremberg, we had a very nice chat with Park Plaza GM Carsten Baumann who shared the history of the hotel, talked some politics, and veered on into distilling (predictably given our proclivities). Carsten is an interesting fellow. His outreach was very professional.

The DelikatEssen is a great spirits shop in Nuremberg hidden across the river. Bought some Haas products, an interesting German Windspiel gin, and some high end hazelnut liqueur.

Vintage Bar (just across the street from DelikatEssen in fact) is the second best bar in Nuremberg with the most passion of all. Spent a nice evening chatting with the owner.

Four showerheads and some training for the breakfast staff at the Park Plaza. Much better than expected and yet also short of the mark.

You know how we feel about United airlines here on this blog. They squeezed every single iota of loyalty out of us during the ill-fated Smisek years. Our 1.6 MILLION miles meant nothing to United. So we stopped flying United three years ago.

Is it time to forget and forgive? Well, not exactly. But sometimes we just fly whatever airline will get us where we need to be when we need to be there.

The world colluded to put us in United Polaris across the pond to Frankfurt.

The United pods on a 777-200 are nice. They are easier to manage than the Virgin Atlantic pods and don’t require shenanigans to get into bed mode. In practice, that means with expedited meal service you can get right to pretending to sleep.

Saks Fifth Avenue? Ha ha ha. United and dime stores.

Pod view with a large screen entertainment system running linux

Mimosa and propaganda

On this trip the crew was great, the wine was passable, the flight was bumpy and we arrived early. Well, what you gonna do.

Then there was the indignity of the bus at Frankfurt. No no no no.

Anyway, you get what you overpay for on United Polaris!

Quaqua Hike: Grenada

March 11, 2017

Park HQ

When you’re not allowed to dive due to immanent flying, go for a hike. The Quaqua hike is great. Bring food and water. Get a guide if you want (though getting lost would require serious stupid skills).

View of Grenada from on high

We packed some boiled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches from Laluna and headed to the park.

The intrepid hikers

Or maybe that is the silly hikers

Big fern

Ryan the explorer

The top

Down was slippery

Then after a Stag beer, it was back to Laluna.

Dirty legs

The end

The River Antoine rum distillery in Grenada is well worth a visit. Driving up from St George’s takes about 90 minutes, but the drive is a great way to see more of the island. As in all travel Grenada, get a driver!

Rivers farms about 400 acres of sugar cane which provides 85% of the mash they need. The rest comes from elsewhere in the Carribean.

Cane

The cane is mashed with a water wheel operational since the 1800s.

Gears for the cane conveyor also use water power.

Cane detritus

The mash evaporates from a 4% concentration of sugar in several stages into a 15% concentration. It is then put into a vat to ferment into beer (with natural yeast fron the air). The beer comes in around 15% before heading into the pot stills.

Beer vat

Pot still one

Fired by wood.

The still runs off a proof of about 150 (75% alcohol). The coil is water cooled from the river.

Loading the still cooker

Storage of unmixed product in 500 gallon tanks below.

This used to be a bonded tank measured with a stick.

The computer (batch notes)

By all means visit the distillery when you are on Grenada.

For more about Grenada, see this entry on Laluna.