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Though NPS does not fly in July or December, there is still stuff to be done. The solution? A working meeting at the Lorien in Old Town Alexandria. We’ve been to the Lorien a couple of times since Steph Vogel took over as GM. Sadly, Steph is in Switzerland this week. We’ll pretend that the ship runs just as well without Steph at the helm (though it’s really not true).

The Spartan balcony off 619

This visit finds us in 619, which is similar to 615 only slightly smaller and on the other side of the building. There is a very large balcony on this side too. Because it’s 100 degrees this week (with an overnight low in the upper ’70s), the balcony will be ignored due to weather. Strikes us that a remake of these balconies as a garden would make them both more inviting.

Look to the left

Look to the right

Our meeting room was cavernous and highly functional. We spent all day working.

A cocktail was in order after all that work. The bar is still very good, though barman and detail freak Phil Clark is no longer around. Phil has moved to Phoenix. You can tell. Damien is doing his damndest to keep things up.

Whey Sour
.75 cachaça (novo fogo)
.75 rye (copper fox)
1.5 whey
.75 honey
1 lemon
pinch of salt
Shake. Serve up.

Snacks at the bar took forever to arrive. That ended up making them free. Timely is better than free.

Dinner at The Warehouse was a massive disappointment. The crayfish were good. Or was that the crawdads? The wine list?
Unusable. Skip it. In other news from the evening, the bar at Restaurant Eve still holds its own, but Jackson 20 has slipped to skip it level as well. So sad that the old Alexandria Monaco is now a Marriott property.

On return from dinner around 11, we were greeted with a nice amenity. Thanks Stephani. The ice cold San Pelegrino is particularly welcome.

Sitting room 619

Sleeping room 619

The huge glass shower will do just fine.

Shower? Perfect.

Once the work was done, there were museums to see. First stop was the National Building Museum to see Hive. Well worth the visit.

Home of hive. At least for a while.

That was followed by another great lunch at Bistrot du Coin.

And a visit to the Phillips Collection. The old building is under renovation, so only half of the paintings as usual were out. But still fantastic. An NPS introduction to the stunning art of German artist Markus Lüpertz.

German artist Markus Lüpertz

The suit

Detail from Spoon

German artist Markus Lüpertz

A fantastic day. Followed almost immediately on its heels by a fantastic evening.

Roses Luxury is just as stellar as its incredible reputation. Just go. We showed up at 5:10pm and walked right in for a 180 minute dinner extravaganza.

Those poor “other people” had to wait in line

Caviar service

Yes, we took pictures of our food. We also had extensive conversations about it.

The best dish of the evening was a soft shelled crab served with Singapore-style chilli sauce (on the sweet side) over steamed buns with pickles. Delicious.

So really. Go to Roses Luxury as soon as you can.

Then there was the Columbia Room in the back booth (our usual NPS haunt), this time with the geek patrol. Excellent as usual, this time less for the drinks presentation than the company.

Columbia Room

Ice

Seaweed?!

Rum from 1857 always seems like a good idea after the tasting menu is complete.

The moral of the story is: get your work done quickly so you can spend some time being spoiled in DC!

Five showerheads and a real wish that Steph were around. We miss you Steph.

LACMA

January 24, 2017

When in LA, we do try to go to see our old friends at the LACMA.

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Like this.

Chris Mac's ancestor

Chris Mac’s ancestor

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Blue period Picasso

Blue period Picasso

Frenimy

Frenimy

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No pictures of the shadow

No pictures of the shadow

Ahead of its time

Ahead of its time

Burn brightly while you can

Burn brightly while you can

Rodin

Rodin

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Blue sky (by me)

Blue sky (by me)

Maybe you get a pass on the plastic shower thing if you are an historical property and you have peepholes like this??

Peep hole in 504

Peep hole in 504

Of course, we’ve been here before, so we know which end is up and exactly why this property rocks. This time we made double sure to get the right room with an incredible (yuge?) view of the Pacific—especially after our Kimpton debacle last week). 504 is sweet!

The view on arrival

The view on arrival

And it is on the proper side of the building as well.

504 side windows see this

504 side windows see this

So what to expect? A very spacious suite with reasonable furnishings only slightly dated. Plenty of room to work (and to entertain, as it turns out). A large bathroom with the exact wrong kind of shower. Creaky net. Busted speakers. Buy your own flowers. But the view. And the location. And the view.

Flowers. Buy self.

Flowers. Buy self.

Of course it does actually rain sometimes. All day. For three days!

Of course it does actually rain sometimes. All day. For three days!

Entrance hallway 504

Entrance hallway 504

504 sitting room

504 sitting room

504 sitting room

504 sitting room

View into the bedroom

View into the bedroom

504 bedroom

504 bedroom

This is actually from my brother's inlaws house, so ignore it

This is actually from my brother’s inlaws house, so ignore it

Bathroom

Bathroom

Nooooo! A plastic shower. Eat crow and stay here anyway.

Nooooo! A plastic shower. Eat crow and stay here anyway.

Enough room even for certain travelling companions

Enough room even for certain travelling companions

Anyway, did we have fun in Santa Monica? Sure. We started off in LA at the wine thing.

Breakfast crepe was delicious.

Then we visited McCabe’s Guitar Shop (owned by our very own peeps). if you are a music person, just visit, play, hang out, learn. There are ghosts.

McCabe's Guitar Shop

McCabe’s Guitar Shop

Which made us want stuff like this beauty of a guitar. Hurry up and buy it, or I will.

Want

Want

And we had a delicious dinner up the canyon at the very old school and very very good Saddle Peak Lodge. The highlight of the night was talking to Bob while eating elk. Bob is just bob. Maybe one day we’ll tell you. Or maybe not. Talk to Bob you lucky bastard.

Anyway, fütbol in the room on the rainiest Sunday in maybe 8 years in Santa Monica. Mud slides, rocks that closed roads, leaky roofs that (who knew) are supposed to keep water out?! And all of the fütbol teams that we liked were beat. Kind of like the election. At least there was beer and a smidge of bourbon.

Followed by Bourne on OK glass with super bad speakers. Dear hotels, why is it that home cinema situations even among those who mostly don’t give a shit are 10 years ahead of you? No, really. Why? One decade ahead.

Which catches us on up to Monday. Work and LACMA.

LACMA

LACMA

LACMA

LACMA

About which more here.

Then dinner at the very not bad Manchego, where they have yet to discover both Priorat and twitter.

Four showerheads and a wish for glass showers and speakers that are not blown.

Mondrian London Lobby

Mondrian London Lobby

An actual Mondrian at the Tate Modern

An actual Mondrian at the Tate Modern

Regular readers will know that NPS loves to stay at the Zetter and the Zetter Townhouse while in London. But sadly, the group conference we are hosting this week outgrew the Zetter some time ago. The great news is that the Mondrian London is a fantastic place to stay.

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Located on the banks of the Thames just a hop skip and jump from the Tate Modern, the Mondrian London is modern, chic, and packed with high style. It is part of the Morgans hotel group (which includes the Morgan in NYC).

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NPS is assigned room 463—a nice little suite with a balcony overlooking the muddy river. London graces the far side of course.

View from 463

View from 463

River view from 463

River view from 463

A little table on the balcony

A little table on the balcony

The other half of the balcony

The other half of the balcony

463 has plenty of room to work, to entertain, and to sleep (assuming any of the latter actually happens this week).

Couch in 463

Couch in 463

463 sitting area

463 sitting area

463 desk

463 desk

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There are two bathrooms in 463, one proper marble palace and the other a powder room for when guests drop by. The shower is fantastic with multiple shower heads and tons of room with nary a bit of plastic in sight.

Wait for it

Wait for it

Fantastic shower

Fantastic shower

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The rest of the property is likewise stylish. Rumor has it that the bars are great too. More about that soon enough!

Yellow submarine

Yellow submarine

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The challenge with hopping the pond in the direction of London is staying up once you arrive. Whiling away some time at the Tate Modern is a common NPS strategy.

Here are some pictures from today’s excursion.

View from the 6th floor cafe of the Tate

View from the 6th floor cafe of the Tate

Machine

Machine

Tower of babel

Tower of babel

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Valentine (for Ivan Arce)

Valentine (for Ivan Arce)

A visit to Dandelyan for a quick bite before a movie was very satisfactory indeed. Dandelyan won COTC’s best new international bar last year. It is clear why. Attention to detail and interesting cocktails to be found. Get the lamb meatballs and the pork buns!

Dandelyan visit with Aiden, Alex and Jack behind the bar

Dandelyan visit with Aiden, Alex and Jack behind the bar

The cocktail list is extensive and interesting, though the use of “refactored” standard drink names is a bit misleading. For example, a quick paw through the menu had me skip right over the Fairchild’s Mule (because it said Mule) and the BDC Negroni as well. That would have been a mistake. When I ordered a “gussied up French 75” Aiden suggested the mule. He was right.

Fairchild’s Mule
40 ml cardamom infused hendrick’s gin [10g cardamom per 700ml hendricks]
2.5 ml clove cordial [could sub in allspice dram for this British treat]
2.5 ml ginger distillate [cantons might work too, but if so drop the syrup]
5 ml simple syrup
12.5 ml lime juice
shake and double strain.
add 20 ml champagne and 20 ml fever tree ginger ale

Porter's gin by Alex Lawrence

Porter’s gin by Alex Lawrence

Barman Alex Lawrence has created Porter’s gin, which is on the aromatic side of the scale towards Hendricks. Alex uses Leopold’s method (without really knowing what that is). He made me a London Calling with his product:
50 ml porter’s gin
15 ml fino sherry
20 ml lemon juice
10 ml simple syrup
2 dashes of Regan’s 6 orange bitters
stir down, serve up. garnish with grapefruit zest

Working at Dandelyan (Gin and Arrack with a house Negroni chaser)

Working at Dandelyan (Gin and Arrack with a house Negroni chaser)

The fact that Dandelyon is associated with the Mondrian is an excellent happenstance indeed. But why does is close so early (M 1:26, T 1:17, W 1:09)?

And the Mondrian has a private movie theater, the Curzon, too. Saw Victoria which helped me meet the staying up on day one goal.

Dinner at Texture was absolutely outstanding. Fish tasting menu was delicious and the wine list was fun to work with. Yet another Michelin star with Jacob!

Five showerheads and high expectations for a super week in London. This entry will be updated as the week progresses.

Is Chicago Is not Chicago

January 25, 2016

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A man drives a plane
Into the Chrysler building
A man drives a plane
Into the Chrysler building

Saskatoon is in the room
Poulsbo is in the room
Bennetsville is in the room
Palmyra is in the room

Is Chicago
Is not Chicago
Is Chicago
Is not Chicago

A man cuts in half
Just like he snaps a pencil
A man cuts in half
Just like he snaps a pencil

Khartoum is in the room
Phnom Penh is in the room
Pyongyang is in the room
Cairo is in the room

Is Chicago
Is not Chicago
Is Chicago
Is not Chicago

A man drives a plane
Into the Chrysler building
A man drives a plane
Into the Chrysler building
Into the, into the, into the, into the

Mailbox in Virginia

Mailbox in Virginia

Art at the MCA

Art at the MCA

MCA afternoon

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Architecture for a game

up

up

down

down

Mostly we were here for the astounding Eighth Blackbird. Sometimes when I perform my body has the same emotional response. But never when I watch. This is the future.

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This is the future.

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Excellent birds.

Oh, and the Palomar moved us down ten floors. Still a sweet suite.

no plastic showers

no plastic showers

sit

sit

stay

stay

Also of note, Bottlefork is a great place for brunch and Three Dots and a Dash is a nice place for a banana daiquiri. Yeah, I know.

So close and yet so not close. We’ve been to the umstead many times, but they don’t seem to know that. Hey guys, maybe a computer??

As predicted, in the Spring it is just gorgeous here.

But all is not perfection. Arrival after midnight should pay attention to reservation constraints. Like: 2 beds (actually made), the fact that we have been here multiple times (?!), the fact that we like sparkling water, and so on. The umstead has slipped management-wise over the last few years. Who is the general manager? Great property, but not managed very tightly at all. Get it together, umstead, if you want to be world class and not just the best property in NC.

Hmmm

Hmmm

Room 107 is beautiful as all of the rooms here are.

107 Umstead

107 Umstead

We're in it for the bathrooms

We’re in it for the bathrooms

The shower is to write home about. Really. Bench. 4 shower heads. Plenty of pressure. World class.

Unbelievably great shower

Unbelievably great shower

It's Spring

It’s Spring

Are there sheets under there?  Maybe not.

Are there sheets under there? Maybe not.

Note that the patio is a superior place to have a leisurely dinner on a fine Spring evening. Delicious. The company was the best part of course. Oh, and there is real mixology here now too, mostly stolen wholesale from NY. Nothing if not good mimics here.

However, we’re looking for perfection. Four point five showerheads for the Umstead. Time for management to wake up and figure out that being great means serious attention to detail and a history on your guests.

During college and the arts, there was a visit to Duke and UNC. Both schools are to be avoided for different reasons. Duke thinks it is Stanford (uh, nope). UNC thinks it is a sports franchise. Ouch.

The only interesting thing about Duke

The only interesting thing about Duke

The only interesting thing about UNC

The only interesting thing about UNC

UNC: Centered around a stadium, or is that a prison?

UNC: Centered around a stadium, or is that a prison?

Hey look what North Carolina collected when you weren’t watching. ART.

genius

genius

Maple Hill Farm Inn is tasteful, and the owner is gracious. There is even a local art collection on hand. We’re in room 1.

Maple Hill Farm Inn

Maple Hill Farm Inn

Maple Hill is also a certified green B&B. Using solar and wind, they generate 50% of their power consumption. That is super cool.

Fireplace in room 1

Fireplace in room 1

Room one giant quilt

Room one giant quilt

The shower is not plastic, well, actually, the shower is plastic, but it is one of those 1970s showers like your parents used to have made of one contiguous piece of plastic with a wobbly glass door. It earns only a shrug as showers go.

Shower cubicle

Shower cubicle

It also has the “hackable” dispenser. Beware.

Anyone who would use a liquid dispensed by this thing would be crazy. Or trusting.  Possibly both.

Anyone who would use a liquid dispensed by this thing would be crazy. Or trusting. Possibly both.

Giant hot tub

Giant hot tub

Downstairs is plenty of open common space, including a bar with a decent wine selection and a room full of local art (60 mile radius).

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We liked this painting so much, that we added it to our collection.

We liked this painting so much, that we added it to our collection.

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A high three showerheads for the Maple Hill Farm Inn. If you’re coming to Maine, give it a try.

Colleges on this run included Colby and Bates.

Colby college: yes, that's snow in April

Colby college: yes, that’s snow in April

Bates College: Slightly more thawed, but not much

Bates College: Slightly more thawed, but not much

When it came to college and the arts, Colby wins hands down. A world class art museum right on campus—the biggest in Maine.