Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Subway is home to the most flavorless sandwich around

I have been making an effort to eat healthier lately and I'm working to shed at least 10 pounds of fat.  I'm halfway to my goal, thank you very much.  Yesterday, I was looking for something light and healthy to stay on the program.  I hadn't been to Subway in maybe a year or more.  I figured it is cheap, fast and healthy so I came to try the new flat bread sandwich.  Unfortunately, it was as bland and tasteless as all of the other cardboard garbage on the menu.  The amount of protein you are given is a complete joke.  I had a small morsel of grilled chicken in my sandwich; perhaps 1 ounce.  The bread is awful and I'm happy to report the new flat bread is just as bad.

Subway could be the worst chain restaurant in America, right up there with Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Burger King.  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grilled Squid at NYC Japanese Street Food Block Party

Another highlight of the afternoon was the simply grilled squid served with Japanese mayonnaise.  The squid was perfectly grilled, fresh and extra tender.

NYC Japanese Street Food Block Party

I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon walking around among a plethora of delicious Japanese small plates at a NYC block party that happened to be right up the street from my apartment.  The highlight of the culinary offerings (and the longest line) was the grilled porkbelly on a stick dipped in spicy sauce and topped with sesame from Hakata Ton Ton.  Oishii!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

United Airlines merger with Continental Airlines

I've been hoping somehow this merger will fall apart.  As a loyal customer of United Airlines for many years, I'm fearful that my two favorite things about United will disappear: Economy Plus seating and Channel 9.  Economy Plus seating makes a huge difference on any flight.  You are talking about the delta between a 30-31 inch pitch for a regular economy seat versus 34-36 inch pitch for a United E+ seat.  Channel 9 just makes flying more fun.  I remember when I used to be a nervous flier, Channel 9 really made me feel better.     

I've had good experiences with Continental for the most part with the exception of the awful seats they use on the 737s.

Let's hope the new management team preserves the best parts of both companies. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reflections on my 4th trip to Bonaire

  • The diving is fantastic and provides a ton of flexibility.  You can dive 24 hours a day if you wish.  You can dive from the shore or from a boat.  The conditions are always favorable.  While you generally will not see large animals, the amount of macro life is abundant.  The visibility was lower in September than other times of the year although the water was a very warm 83-84 degrees F.
  • The food on the island is surprisingly good.  There are plenty of choices and the prices are really reasonable if you stay away from the ocean front strip of restaurants that are the most touristy.  Even after 4 trips to the island I'm still discovering new places to eat that are really good and offer good value. 
  •  The Deep Blue View continues to be a can't miss place to spend a week.  Instead of sitting back and maximizing their profits, Menno and Esther continue to invest in their business.  The new dive boat is great and a clear step up over the old boat.  The pool area is being expanded.  The deck has been recently rebuild and expanded.  They continue to be wonderful hosts and have not lost any of their enthusiasm for hospitality.  Usco and Bully, now 9 years old, continue to be as sweet and lovable as ever.   

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Bonaire Day 7

    After passing on the night dive the previous night we set out on a shore dive that is an old favorite - Salt Pier.  The dive again did not disappoint in the least bit.  After a tough swim against the current to the first cluster of pillars we were rewarded with a thick cluster of sea life.  The tarpon were there as was a giant black grouper.  There was a friendly little turtle that swam with us for 10 minutes or so.  The view of the sun shining down through the pillars of the pier with so many fish in the water is spectacular.  This is my favorite dive on Bonaire.

    For lunch we made the drive up to Rincon to visit the Rose Inn - home of the coldiest beer on the island.  The goat stew was terrific again as was the side of red beans and rice.  We spent the remainder of the afternoon around the pool at the DBV. 

    Soon enough it was time to head out on Menno's boat for the sunset rum punch cruise.  I tried to go slow but ended up sucking down 5 glasses of rum and punch.

    BBQ night at the DBV is always my favorite dinner of the trip and this one was no different.  Esther's spread of salads are over the top delicious.  We had some tasty grilled fish and chicken sate.  Lots of good conversation around the table from the guests and our gracious hosts.  I went to bed full and plenty boozed up. 

    We flew back early this morning.  Another great week at the Deep Blue View.  This week seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Bonaire Day 6

    Due to the fire we did 2 dives on Bonaire instead of up on the north side of the island.  The dives were nice but again there was nothing out of the ordinary.  We passed on the night dive last night that was part of our package.  I knew we would miss out on something good and we did.  Esther found 2 octopi.  One was quiet large and came out to play.  Instead we spent the afternoon and early evening relaxing by the pool with my two furry friends.

    Had dinner last night at Pasa Bon Pizza.  It was much better than expected.  Tasty pizza and fast and friendly service.  I was glad to finally try this place after so many drive-byes.

    We watched the Saints vs. Vikings at Lee's Bar downtown.  Lee is a very friendly Dutchman with a nice beer selection and the best satellite connection on the island.  The game was tighter than I expected.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Major fire on Bonaire - we had to alter dive sites today because of it

    The flames from this fire were absolutely massive.  Shooting at least 60 150 to 300 feet into the air.  The smoke cloud is enormous....
    KRALENDIJK, Bonaire — A huge fire caused by a lightning strike has halted operations at a Venezuelan fuel terminal on the Dutch island of Bonaire.
    Island Gov. Glenn Thode says crews have isolated the fire and should extinguish it by the end of Thursday.
    The fire is visible across the small island in the southern Caribbean that is best known as a destination for divers. Thode says there have been no injuries or damage to other parts of the island.
    Venezuela's state-owned petroleum company owns and operates the terminal for shipments abroad and the local market. Petroleos de Venezuela says operations have been halted by the fire that was sparked Wednesday when lighting struck a tank containing the oil product naphtha.

    Menno's New Boat

    Here she is...

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Mi Banana, Bonaire

    Tonight was my first visit to this local Bonaire restaurant serving Colombian food.  It was freakin' delicious.  I had the fresh snapper in creole sauce with rice and fried plantains.  Dave had the mixed grill - an enormous portion of beautifully seasoned beef, pork and chicken.  How good are fried plantains??  I love it.  The prices are rock bottom since this is a local place far from the downtown strip.  If you are in the mood for good Colombian food on Bonaire look no further than Mi Banana.  If you are in the mood for some adult entertainment after your dinner, Patchie's Place is conveniently located across the street.   A good opportunity to practice your Spanish with some friendly Colombians.

    Bonaire Day 5

    Today was 2 boat dives on Klein Bonaire.  Menno was having some ear problems so he just dropped us off in the water and picked us up.  The first dive was a drift dive.  The only special things we saw on that dive was a nice small turtle that I got very close to.  He was just eating and wasn't bothered by my close proximity.  The second dive was Carl's Hill, which is the small wall on Klein.  There were a few Horse-eyed Jacks swimming below us.  Beyond that nothing extraordinary to report.  We ran out of bottom time pretty quickly on the second dive.  A good reason to make the switch to Nitrox.  In fact, it seems that Dave and I are the only ones here at the DBV who are diving good old fashioned air.  I keep saying I'm switching to Nitrox but I haven't made the investment just yet.  I'll wait til I get a job. 

    Enjoyed a lazy afternoon out by the pool with Usco and Bully.  They are enjoying the chicken wrapped dog treats I brought from Trader Joe's. 

    Off to dinner soon at Mi Banana.  Perhaps a stop at Patchie's for a beer?

    Plazita Limena, Bonaire

    We had a solid dinner at the downtown Peruvian restaurant in Bonaire - Plazita Limena.  Due to the recent flag day holiday on the island there has been a shortage of locally caught fresh fish.  Last night the catch of the day was Mahi Mahi, which I strongly believe is not local.  I ordered the Lomito Saltado.  It was quiet tasty and just the right size.  We started with the traditional Peruvian ceviche, which was again excellent.  The service was timely this time.  On the way out we noticed they had Inca Cola in the fridge.  I was bummed because I would have ordered it.  

    I was introduced to Lomito Saltado by Maybeth Francone.  Menno keeps calling her 'Marybeth' and has mentioned her several times.  It seems that she made quite an impression on someone!  He jokingly refers to Mark as 'the guy that travels with that good looking girl'.   

    Just finished up my egg white omelet.  Today is 2 tank boat diving.  I'm hoping to dive Carl's Hill, which is a small wall off of Klein Bonaire.  After the dive we must immediately remedy the crisis in the refrigerator at the DBV - NO MORE BEER!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Bonaire Day 4

    The 3 tank boat dive was really nice.  We start up north in the marine park for the first two dives.  There were a few big tarpon, a stingray and some large black grouper.  The reef was a different look up north.  Not as delicate as the more sheltered reefs.  The 3rd dive was off Klein and was a continuation of the 'turtle dive'.  I came upon a very large largerhead turtle.  He didn't move so I just hovered about him as he chilled out in a coral head.  There were a few other nice turtles on the dive including one that swam next to me for about 5 minutes.  The 3 tank boat dive pretty much sucked up the whole day.  We came back to the DBV and sucked down the remainder of our case of beer by the pool.  Major crisis!  We are out of beer. 

    Dinner tonight at the Peruvian place in town although Dave is itching to get to Patchie's Place.

    Morning in Bonaire

    Just waking up with some coffee and waiting for the big breakfast decision.  Might have to mix it up today after 3 straight days of the egg white omelet.  Last night most of the restaurants in town were closed for Flag Day.  We ended up at our 4th choice which was Mona Lisa.  The food was good again there.  Dave had the catch of the day snapper and I had the rib eye steak.  Started with a very nice French Onion soup. 

    Today we are doing a 3 tank dive on Menno's boat.  This is a new feature of the revised boat dive package.  I'm looking forward to it.  I haven't done a 3 tank boat dive in a long time.  I believe we will start up in the marine park up north.  I have not dived there so should be interesting.

    Just put my order in for Dutch pancakes. 

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Bonaire Day 3

    Had a nice dinner at Capriccio last night.  The place was really packed and without a reservation we had to sit outside.  We had a nice Dolcetto from Elvio Cogno and split a pizza and a pasta.  Lola was running around and really stressed out.  Woke up to another great Bonaire morning.  Had the 'usual' for breakfast.  We got out earlier on the boat for 2 tanks of diving.  First dive was a fast drift on Klein.  It was Cozumel speed in the initial minutes with tons and tons of fish.  It looked like a river was flowing underwater.  There was a group of schooling Bar Jacks that were really a treat to see.  The second dive was Jerry's Reef which is the 'Turtle Dive' on Klein.  Also a drift but not as fast.  It took awhile to see the turtles but we saw a bunch of them.  Some small and some larger.  A few nice Baracuda, a couple eels and the other usual Bonaire fish. 

    Spent the afternoon at the pool with a few cold Amstels.  Off to dinner now.  Perhaps the Peruvian place if it is open, if not Mi Banana (a Colombian place that gets high marks).

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Bonaire Day 2

    Woke up nice and refreshed after a long sleep.  Started the morning with Esther's wonderful egg white omelet and plenty of coffee.  We did 2 boat dives on Menno's new boat off of Klein Bonaire.  The new boat is really nice - pretty large for a dive boat.  The water this time of the year is nice and warm.  My computer was reading 84 degrees.  The first dive I missed the spotted eagle ray.  I hate when that happens.  The second dive I saw 2 nice small eels and a Wahoo swimming in shallow water.  This is the first time I have seen one.  The Wahoo is sleek looking.  Like a silver torpedo. 

    Came back to the DBV and spent the afternoon by the pool.  Had the usual sandwich for lunch and a few Amstels.  Bully joined me for a swim briefly.  We are headed to Capriccio for dinner.  Since it isn't Mark's birthday we won't be bombing an Giacosa!    A very pleasant evening tonight in Bonaire.

    Bonaire Day 1

    The weather wasn't so good and we were tired from the overnight flight so we lounged by the pool all day instead of making some shore dives.  Had an early dinner at Bobbejan's BBQ.  The place was surprisingly empty.  Was really tired so went to bed early.  The power cut out sometime in the middle of the night and all of a sudden the room was roasting.  Sometime around 3:30am the power came back on and the room was nice and cool again. 

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Arrival at Deep Blue View

    After a quick 4 hour flight from Houston we arrived in Bonaire this morning.  Menno was there at the airport to greet us with a warm hello.  A trip up the hill and coffee was waiting for us.  Esther's famous egg white omelet was next with ham, cheese and mushrooms.  Dave is napping in the hammock and I'm thinking of where to dive.  The winds are a bit mild so it is hot and humid.  Might have to make an early visit to the pool.

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    USC vs. Hawaii

    After a very delicious dinner of chicken fajitas at Lupe Tortilla in H-Town I settled in to watch the USC opener.  I felt a bit numb watching the game due to the extensive penalties levied against the Trojans by the NCAA.  The whole situation just stinks.  I hope Reggie Bush and his family are proud of what they have caused.

    A couple of brief thoughts on the game, which barely held my attention:

    - Matt Barkley looked very sharp and much improved over last year.  He can throw a spiral now! 

    - Ronald Johnson looked like a man among boys.  If he stays healthy, he should have a monster season.

    - Marc Tyler was awesome.  Great vision, power and speed.  Finally, we are seeing what made him such a highly regarded recruit out of high school at Oaks Christian.

    - Robert Woods could be the best true freshmen WR we've had since RJ Soward.  The sky is the limit for this kid.

    - The defense was horrible.  No run defense, no pass defense.  It could get ugly when we actually play a quality opponent.

    - Why was the middle linebacker Devon Kennard #42 playing pass defense 30-40 yards downfield?  Makes no sense at all.  He was burned several times.

    12 hours and change until Bonaire express departs H-Town!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Departing early for Bonaire to beat Hurricane Earl

    Now that I have left NYC 24 hours early to avoid any problems with Hurricane Earl, I'm sure the storm will turn away and not threaten the NYC area!  However, I will feel a lot smarter if it shuts down LGA tomorrow.

    I had a smooth flight down to Houston on a nice Continental 777.  Great video on demand system in the seat backs and the seat next to me was empty.  I enjoyed a Family Guy episode, some Lost in Translation as well as some Godfather II.  In addition, I took a little nap.

    I'm getting a little hungry so I am going to head out for some Tex-Mex.  I'll try to catch the early part of the USC game at the bar.   I feel like a margarita and some fajitas.  So much for the diet!

    26 hours until the flight to Bonaire departs!