Saturday, May 20, 2017

Her is a video from our recent visit to the Netherlands. The Keukenhof Gardens Tulip Festival and the Blumen Corso Flower Parade are a great way to welcome Spring! Just click on the link!

Friday, May 12, 2017

The World Burger Tour

You don't need a passport to travel through the world of burgers if you go to your local Hard Rock Cafe.

During May and June of this year Hard Rock Cafe's are featuring their versions of their Legendary Burgers with an international flavor. May's burgers include a Colombian Plantain Burger topped with caramelized onions, bacon, and Monterrey Jack cheese, molasses and fried plantains.

Another choice is the English Breakfast Burger topped with ham, a sausage patty, a fried egg, a portobella mushroom, arugula and garlic aiola served with a side of baked beans. The only thing missing was a grilled tomato!

The Louisiana Jambalaya Burger features spiced Angus Beef, Cajun mayo, pickles, andouille sausage, pepper jack cheese and a jambalaya rice cake.

Also available in May is the South Korean Kimchi Burger topped with Sriracha seasoned kimchi, bulgogi sauce, tomato, lettuce and Sriracha mayo.

June's burgers include the Spanish Ole' Burger with red peppered Romesco sauce, roasted veggies, goat cheese crumbles and arugula.

Next in line is the Argentinian Tango Salsa Burger with andouille sausage, salsa criolla, garlic aioli, Monterrey Jack cheese, arugula and a fried egg.

The Vietnamese Banh Mi Burger is coated with a tangy Vietnamese glaze and topped with sliced cucumbers and pickled vegetables, cilantro and green onions.

The Tennessee BBQ Burger features a BBQ dry rub, pickles, slaw, pulled pork, pig sauce, crispy onions and cheddar cheese.

You have a choice of various flavored fries including the new garlic fries with garlic aioli and spiced curry fries with tandoori mayonnaise.

The crafting of these burgers is a great example of the Hard Rock Cafe's world wide presence. It is also a great way to taste the flavors of the world on a great Angus Beef burger.

As a part of the World Burger Tour Hard Rock Cafes are also offering world famous cocktails such as the Southern Rock; Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Chambord and Smirnoff Vodka a sweet/sour mix and topped with Sierra Mist. This is good stuff!

The Electric Blues is Smirnoff Vodka, Bacardi Rum, Beefeater Gin, DeKuyper Blue Caracao, sweet/sour mix and topped with Sierra Mist.

Other drinks include a Mojito, a Hurricane and a “Lovely Rita” margarita.

I did order a Mojito and unlike its description of muddled mint, it came to the table filled with mint leaves. I took a few minutes to try to crush  with a straw. Perhaps the bartender should read the description.

We have stayed at Hard Rock Hotels and eaten at Hard Rock Cafes around the world and have always appreciated the service and quality associated with the Hard Rock brand. We sampled these items at a media tasting at the St. Louis, MO Hard Rock Cafe at Union Station.

I feel that I must say that I was not impressed with this Hard Rock Cafe. Starting with our arrival, there was no one at the entrance desk to tell us where the media event was being held. There was also a strange, acrid smell in the lobby area, but not in the other areas.

We found a group of servers standing at the kitchen door laughing and talking amongst themselves. I asked where the media event was and one of them simply pointed toward the patio area and kept right on talking with her friends.

Approximately ten members of the media were treated to the various cocktails with a glass of each cocktail on the tables. There were a pile of straws on each table and we were instructed to sample the cocktails by putting the straws in the drinks then hold our finger over the end of the straw and siphon off a dribble of the drink. Really? I know that the Hard Rock serves a Margarita Flight that features small three or four ounce glasses. I think they could have served the drinks in these glasses so we could actually get a swallow of each one.

We were served “slider” versions of the various burgers. It took a great deal of time to serve the small group of journalists and it was not because they were busy. There were four people in the restaurant and two people at the bar while we were there.

It was my opinion that the burgers we received were not freshly cooked. They were over cooked, dry and cold. I think they had been prepared much earlier in the day. Also the buns were cold and not toasted as their description had stated All of the toppings were also cold and some of the cheeses on the burgers appeared to have been put on the burgers much earlier and almost looked congealed!

We love the Hard Rock brand, but if this experience given to the media at a press event is indicative of the typical experience at the St. Louis Hard Rock Cafe, I would suggest you think twice about visiting this restaurant.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Restrictions on Electronic Devices

We recently traveled to Amsterdam on Turkish Airlines. First, I want to compliment Turkish Airlines on a series of great flights. We enjoyed good meals, good service and ample legroom in coach class from Chicago to Istanbul to Amsterdam and return.

Because we flew through Istanbul on Turkish Airlines we were forced to check some of our electronic devices. As working journalists we each carry a laptop, and cameras as well as audio recording devices etc.

We did not have to check our electronics on the way to Europe, but we did have to check them on our return flight to the U.S. The security check at the boarding area at Ataturk airport was very professional. Sue had to check her laptop after being asked to turn it on. She also had to check her Panasonic Lumix DSLR camera. Each item was wrapped in bubble wrap, labeled with an adhesive numbered receipt which also notated the contents of the package. A copy of the receipt was given to Sue which was used to recover the items when we arrived in Chicago.

I was asked to check a small netbook computer, but I did not have to check my Sony digital pocket camera, microphone, GPS unit, small digital voice recorder and a carry-on bag filled with cables, chargers and USB cords etc. We both kept our cell phones.

The bubble wrapped items were placed in a heavy duty road case similar to those used by touring musicians. The inside of the case was divided into smaller compartments so none of the items were stacked on top of each other. There is no question about it, these items were safer from damage than if they were simply in our carry-on bags in an over-head bin!

 Upon arrival at Chicago we used the Global Entry Program and breezed through immigration in about three minutes.

At the baggage claim carousel there was a small table where we presented our receipts and claimed our checked electronics. This was all done by the time our bags arrived on the carousel.

All in all, the total experience was not that bad. It is just another method of protecting the traveling public.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Amsterdam Schipol Ibis Hotel

A Great Hotel at the Amsterdam Airport

After a long driving trip through the Netherlands, Germany, Lichtenstein, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and back to Amsterdam, we decided to get a day of rest before we flew home. We chose the Ibis Hotel at Schipol Airport. It is part of the Accor group of hotels.

It is a great hotel with a “Burger Bar Diner”, a grerat buffet breakfast and a wonderful sit down restaurant.

Our room was very clean. It had a desk and large flat screen TV. The staff is very friendly and speaks perfect English.

We really enjoyed our stay, and yes, they have a free shuttle to the airport every 20 minutes.

On a side note, the grounds of the hotel are home to a large number of rabbits of all sizes and colors. It was great fun to watch them out our window.

We highly recommend the Amsterdam Airport Ibis Hotel