Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Warsaw at Dusk

Approaching Warsaw from the air, it is blanketed entirely in cloud cover in February... much like the Mid West, where SO Many Poles have immigrated to and reside today.

I've never been to this bustling capital city of 1.7 million Poles.

Every time I use my rudimentary Polish (approximately that of a 3 or 4 year old child) I am immediately responded to in fluent Polska responses.  I then have to apologize, to tell them 'while my pronunciation may be good, I know only "mały" (a little, pronounced "mow-eh") and not "dużo" (a lot, much, pronounced "do-zh-oh").

"It is easy language, you will learn it quickly" they tell me.  ...something about being a "ski" I think.

Time for me to go out and find a nice steak (stek) and crash early, up on the 28th floor. Much to do this week!

Glasgow Dawn

from the 10th floor of the Hilton

enroute to the airport, crossing the river.

Single Malt Scotch Whisky Exploration

Single Malt Scotch Whisky

My first Scotch in Scotland
As I am a big fan of cognac, Irish Whiskey, and Bourbon, I was looking forward to trying Scotch Whisky in the land where it was invented, distilled, and for which it is famous.  The twist is, I don’t enjoy the taste of peat or smoke, and so many Scotch Whiskies are heavily laden with both peat & smoke.  I was delighted to find out not all of them are.

Waiting for my colleagues on Thursday after work at the hotel bar, I partook of an Oban, 14 years, “medium bodied with fresh peat and a whiff of the sea”.  It was a fine introduction, and I savored each sip.

I then moved on to Bowmore, 12 Years - subtle notes of lemon and honey with distinctive smokiness.  Nice, but a little too much smoke for me.

Dalwhinnie, 15 years - creamy vanilla, heather honey & just a hint of highland smoke.  It was enjoyable.

At dinner I had a Highland Park - characteristic honey sweetness followed by fruit - and it was a pleasure for my taste buds.  

A fine dinner of aged, local, British beef with mushrooms, lively conversations with my 3 colleagues, a glass of Monkey Shoulder - a blended Scotch Whisky the kids are drinking now-a-days -  and we were off to the Bon Accord, rated (on Google) as “the 2nd best whisky bar in Glasgow” and walking distance from the Hilton.  I think Google was wrong, and it is actually “the best whisky bar” not only in Glasgow, but perhaps all of Scotland. Excellent service, friendly atmosphere, a selection of +300 whiskies as well as a variety of drafts. 

Thomas, the owner’s son, recommended a Glen Dronach, 12 year, aged in Sherry Casks.  It was amazing, smooth, and remarkable - for 12 pounds, it should be.  Knowing I did not like smoke, Thomas recommended an Isle of Jura 10 year and a Glenmorangie Original 10 years.  Both were excellent drams.  I bid farewell to my colleagues, and walked back to my hotel, digesting the evening.
Bon Accord has excellent steaks as well

When I awoke on Friday morning, I had 10 seconds of “ught-oh… is this going to be a bad morning?”  Sat up, cleared my head, and found I was fine.  In slow motion, but no head ache, no nausea, no loss of balance.  En plein forme.  Did some email, slowly did yoga, grabbed a good breakfast of haggis, and walked into work.  

Friday night, the exploration continued.  
Auchentoshan 12 year
Glengoyne 10 years
Balvenie Double Wood 12 years
Glengoyne A’Buna
Aberlour A’Banadh
Old Putney 12 years
A glass of Bon Accord Glen Grant 20 years
and finally, a glass of secret batch, made only for the tasting society of Scotland of which owner Paul McDonagh is a member.  No name on the bottle, just a number, ordered by the father and poured by the son to give to their delighted Californian customer.  It was an amazing way to end the night.

I am a Huge Fan of single malt Scotch.  Tasty, delicious, high quality, no hang-over, magical.  If you’ve never tried it…  you’ve been missing out.


at my hotel breakfast on Thursday morning, I found the usual eggs, “bacon” (which were slices almost the side of a man’s shoe heel, but still very tasty), sausages, and haggis.  Curiously intrigued, I scooped a dollop of it and put it on my plate beside the protein.  After preparing my tea, I sat down at my tiny table-for-two (where I was eating alone).  Cautiously, I took my first bite.

Haggis is delicious.  Or at least, the haggis served in Scotland at the Glasgow Hilton was delicious.  I had a double dollop of it this morning.  Not sure why everyone maligns it so much.  Sheep’s stomach? Well, when I was a kid, stitches were made of cat gut, and delicious sausages are still made of small intestine.  Fois gras is savory liver.  Kimchee is buried under the ground for months before it is served (though I still am No Fan of kimchee of any flavor, inside or outside of Korea).  The haggis that was served to me, I saw no stomach, tied or veined, but it is sitting well in my stomach as I sit in the Glasgow air port waiting my international flight’s departure.

[Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onionoatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal's stomach and nowadays often in an artificial casing]