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Everything posted by zgast

  1. Just to clarify, the 10X points is for earning points - and the flights that give you 10X points need to be booked on Chase's travel portal (it's basically Expedia but branded). You'll occasionally pay more for a flight there, so double check with google flights to make sure the price is fair. You're also booking through an online travel agent, so you'll be last in line for assistance if your flight gets cancelled, etc. which is something to consider. Please do not fly on Air India business class with points. Seriously. Virtually every person I know who flies to India regularly would rather fly Emirates or Qatar in economy, with a connection, than fly business on Air India direct (although those that can afford it would definitely prefer business on those carriers). The truth about the redemptions is that you need to be flexible to get those great deals, which the travel bloggers are because their job is to find these great deals and write about them. If you're trying to fly near a holiday or have multiple people, it's probably not going to happen, even if you're looking a year out. I have had success, though, booking in off times, so it is doable. Where the miles can be invaluable, though, is in giving you flexibility. For example, I needed to book a ticket to London last March but knew there was a significant chance of COVID cancelling the trip (it did). By booking with points, the flight becomes fully cancellable 24 hours before the flight at no cost. The equivalent ticket was £9,000 ($12,500) vs. 120,000 Avios (plus about £1,000 in surcharges). That works out to about 10 cents per mile, which is pretty good value vs. the 1.5 cents you'd get just using the points as cash.
  2. @frogprince Anyone suggestions on who is doing good relief/rebuilding work locally?
  3. We switched to a commercial energy provider that only uses wind/solar production. Cost about 25% more, but it looked like we’d still come out ahead vs investing in solar panels on our home. Someone in our neighborhood organized a group discount that made Year 1 much more competitive vs Pepco’s generation charges when we signed up but after it was about 25% higher. Everything continued to be billed through Pepco, just a different rate for generation costs. Adding some information on how this is done in Maryland. That's a basic description of how the government structures the program. Unsure if it's possible in Virginia or DC.
  4. This was essentially the math we faced when thinking about a solar system for our house. Residential solar is just far less efficient than a commercial solar system. Plus our house was surrounded by trees that made it worse (for the solar panel system, better for our comfort) and were likely to fall and damage it. In the end, I just figured better to invest the money and pay a bit more for solar/wind energy. I ended up with more dollars in my pocket (based on my spreadsheets) and still felt like I was doing something for the environment.
  5. So, I thought it would be amusing to post what the restaurant selections look like when your post-corona travels are back to DC. zaytinya - This place is still packed 15+ years in. Strong mezze selections (easier when you’ve been there so much) and a few grilled meats made this a good start. Cava Grill - so this was the first place my son wanted to go, oddly. Still the king of fast casual. Hawkers - ok. Hanging my head in shame. You warned, but it was right outside the window and how bad could it be???? The Roti canii and chicken wings were good (we ordered seven things) Philly and NYC interludes Gringos - mostly a liquid dinner, but I’d note that the Bethesda location appears far superior to Park Potomac in terms of quality L’Auberge Provencale - great food with good company over a leisurely dinner Et Voila - this place was spot on - every dish - for a birthday dinner for eight. Menu doesn’t change much but he nailed every entree and the staff were wonderful in accommodating an emergency table change. Probably the best cooked dishes of the travel. China Bistro - Did someone mention dumplings? Still our favorites. Seemed quite slow for a Saturday lunch. Barrel and Crow - still knocking out good American bistro cooking in Bethesda. You can tell we’re Bethesda-based, so many choices were favorites/proximity/outdoor-friendly. Was great to see so many of our favorites survived with the same staff.
  6. Wish I would have known - their website says 3-5 days.
  7. Thanks (to each of you) - the UK allows antigen test above a certain level of specificity or a PCR test. Unfortunately, none of the minute clinics had antigen slots, only PCR, and those were few and far between. The airport place was either $200 or $250, which definitely seemed kind of nuts. We were able to find a mail kit from Qured that they could overnight that came to less than $70 per person for a supervised antigen test. If this fails spectacularly, I'll let everyone know.
  8. Quick question for the group. I've come back to visit my daughter in DC and need a fit to fly test to get back to London. Shockingly, I can't find any places that have antigen tests available so that we can get the results back within the 3 day window for travel. Has anyone done this before and can guide me on where to find a test? Preferably on the MD side, but I'm getting a bit desperate with only 5 days to go. I'm somewhat aghast at this situation. In London, we get free COVID tests (albeit not usable for travel) and there are testing centers everywhere. The ones here all have 3-5 day turnaround times. What good is that?
  9. Well - if you're going to pick one intervention, it's probably going to be vaccination - with a caveat. What I've read is that virtually all of the baseball players received J&J vaccines, which was only about 65% effective to begin with. Good, but not great. Pfizer and Moderna were more like 95% effective. The problem now is Delta. Delta is just hitting the US, so no data on what happens when Delta encounters a single dose vaccination like J&J. In the UK, though, Delta has been shown to reduce a single shot of Astra-Zeneca to 30% effectiveness (vs. 70%+ against earlier variants). J&J and AZ aren't the same, but they're really similar. So I think the clarification in my mind is that Pfizer and Moderna - with 90%+ effectiveness- are far more effective than masks - at 70% effectiveness if worn correctly. Ultimately, Danny Meyer is making a bet that he can attract more customers who will embrace the sense of security offered by vaccines, than he could distancing everyone and requiring masks when not eating (which always struck me as more theater than actual prevention - what about the fact that you're eating without one?). He'll absolutely turn off those who object to vaccine passports, but is that really a concern in NYC?
  10. Tonight was a simple salad of lettuce, Stilton, and cherry tomatoes with confit duck leg I’d made over the last few days. I have no idea how to actually make confit duck but found a recipe that air dried the legs with salt, thyme and garlic, then seared the duck legs, and used the rendered fat plus wine and a bit of butter to cook in the instant pot for an hour. After chilling a day or so, put the legs under the broiler to crispen and warm them. Probably not authentic but made for a great dinner.
  11. So jealous. I’ve almost pulled the trigger on land on Fiery Run Rd about three times.
  12. Undertaking my new part time job as diminutive shadow to Andy Hayler, I made La Trompette - a French restaurant with a Michelin star - my second dine-out in London and thought it worth sharing. The restaurant is located in Chiswick, which is about halfway between Heathrow and central London, if that helps contextualize the location. We shared a meal between two of us, by way of explaining why it looks like I ate so much. The sommelier recommended a French chenin blanc from the Loire to accompany our eclectic food choices and we thought he did quite well - it had enough acidity for the starters but some heft for the entree courses. Starters were a crab and scallop tortelloni as well as an asparagus soup (in season here). The former was quite nice - just a really delicious few bites of crab with minced scallops inside of a tortelloni shell. The sauce was definitely made from crab shell stock, which doubled down on the crab flavor, probably at the expense of the scallop taste, but I'd order this again for sure. The asparagus soup was probably the weakest dish of the night. It was good asparagus soup, but you expect a bit more from a Michelin restaurant. Entrees were suckling pig and a cod dish with Jersey royals and nettles. The suckling pig was magnificently crisp and had a nice sauce at the base to accompany without ruining the crackle. Just a few bites each, but felt like a nod to what England could be doing with their Sunday roasts. The cod dish was almost certainly the winner. Touches of saffron came through in the cream sauce, but the nettles were a delight and the Jersey royals won the best component of the night. What are Jersey royals you might ask if you're an American trying to decide what to order (theoretically). The waiter would tell you that they're baby potatoes from the island of Jersey - but that they're really quite special. He would not be kidding. Absolutely the best potato I've ever had in my life and I can't figure out for the life of me whether it was the potato itself or the cooking method. I'm guessing it was pressure cooked in a wonderful stock, because the flavor permeated the entire potato. We actually spent ten minutes after this course discussing the potatoes and I've since tried to recreate them with Ocado Jersey royals (unsuccessfully). Dessert was a chocolate tart and a cheese tray. Very good chocolate tart, although I can't remember much more than that a couple weeks later. The cheese plate was a great reminder that American restaurants tend to serve cheese way too cold. These were room temperature or a bit warmer and it really made all the difference in bringing out the flavors. Overall, a quite solid meal. Prix fixe is £65 pp and wine was £79. Markups here on the wine are going to be a sore spot for me - they're significantly higher than most places in the US.
  13. That sweetbread dish looks absolutely gorgeous. Stunning. I also wouldn't tend to order steak at a fine dining place. What's the green under the tofu and steak, though?
  14. I have to say that if the two mentioned wines retail for $1,400 and $2,800 a bottle, that maybe it's not such a bad deal? Extremely extravagant, I'd agree (I'm not buying those bottles retail either), but maybe someone's celebrating all those special occasions we've missed the last 15 months.
  15. A ton of great suggestions thanks all! I'm leaning towards Le Diplomate or Convivial right now (she's a great restaurant attender, but tastes don't tend to be too exotic). We'll save the fancier places for when we get to come back and celebrate with her. Joe's Seafood sounds interesting for happy hour (is it really run by the same people as Summer House & Mon Ami Gabi?), but she'll need to do later in the day to accommodate a couple adult attendees.
  16. Reviving this topic. Looking for recommendations for a fun restaurant that might make for a good 21st birthday dinner for my daughter. Looking to spend $50-100 per person for 2-4 people. Food should be good, but the lively scene is where my knowledge falls apart as these are the places I generally don't go out of my way to frequent. Would be great if they had a cocktail menu or interesting drinks as well. Would Nina May fit the bill here? Any other new places I should consider? Thanks!
  17. I've got nothing here. Fishy flavor? Everything is free range (doesn't mean they're not fed fish meal necessarily), but I've never picked up a fish flavor from the chickens. Only nine months in, though. We've got time.
  18. Who knew our food blog would devolve into a robust discussion of flatulence across various animal groups? Short answer is (from what I've read), it's generally not seen as being as bad. I'd say that while I recognize that lamb or even beef might be more environmentally harmful than say tempeh, I'm going to switch to grazed meat sources and consume less (which I do anyway) rather than eliminate them. And for your viewing pleasure, a discussion of the treatment of methane in greenhouse gas emissions relative to carbon dioxide. Who knew chocolate was this bad for the environment?
  19. I moved to London at the end of September. My son, who claims to only eat fish and chicken, misses Jimmy Dean sausage with Grands Biscuits the most, so cognitive dissonance is a-ok in our household. He gets leftovers or frozen foods on lamb night, which he actually loves. Basically a junk food night for him.
  20. Piping in from over the pond, the chickens over here look like completely different animals from those in the States. We'd actually stopped buying chicken breasts from the supermarket completely - there was just something wrong with them, no matter how you cooked them. The difference over here is huge. Supermarket chicken is far better, but we're doing most of our purchases at the local farmers markets and the difference there is stark. I'm not sure we've bought much beef, but the lamb is plentiful and great.
  21. I just looked at the menu (only the terrace menu is available, so can't comment on inside dining as it's not open at the moment). Someone may need to convince me since the 'snacks' start at around £22 (about $30) with entrees up to £125 (albeit for steak for two). If I'm paying that much for outside dining, I want views and ambiance, not a department store. I'll check out the inside dining menu when it's back online, although I'm unlikely to do much indoor dining until I'm fully vaccinated at the end of July.
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