Saturday, June 28, 2008


OK, time for a food post.

Since Kristal and I moved in together we have tried to limit the number of times we eat out each week. The effect of this has been to greatly expand the variety of dishes we prepare at home. Especially with the new grill, we have been dining in style at a fraction of the cost of restaurant fare. While I occasionally miss the popcorn shrimp at Outback, $10 of steak from the grocery store and a bottle of marinade will feed us for dinner and the next day's lunch and taste just as good (if not better). The only establishment we frequent now is our sushi restaurant (where we are considered patrons). We have discovered the secret to getting a lot of food for a small price, and rarely buy alcohol there (the tea is too nice).

Last night, beyond our wildest expectations, we weren't in a sushi mood. There was nothing to eat in the house save ground beef. Searching the internet was turning up few possibilities for new places to visit, and we ended up driving around Innsbrook in search of a place I thought I saw once...figuring we'd end up a Cheesecake Factory (their extensive menu is bound to have something that tickles our taste buds). In our meandering we came across the Ipenema Grill. It looked....expensive. But for whatever reason our curiosity get the upper hand and we started on a wonderful adventure of meat.

I have no idea what they eat in Brazil. The images that come to mind are beaches, slums and the rain forest. None of those landscapes include a restaurant of any kind. It turns out that the most popular style of dining is the Churrascaria. The service is Rodizio - a kind of all you can eat buffet, in which the meat is circulated on giant skewers by a team a waiters wielding equally huge carving knives. The Prix fixe was reasonable, so we agreed not to bolt for the door...

Before you accept any meat, the practice is to visit the salad bar (also providing side dishes). In hindsight, it is unsurprising that the food has a distinctly Mediterranean flavor; after all, Brazil was colonized by Portuguese, Italians and others, including some of Middle Eastern origin. For whatever reason, it felt slightly Greek, perhaps because of the ubiquity of olives!

On returning to the table, one flips a small acrylic sign from red to green, and the men arrive bearing carnivore heaven. The host mentioned ten type of meat. I tried to keep track, but as the meat-coma set in and my cognitive powers receded, counting to ten became a bridge too far. This is as much as I can dredge from my subconscious: smoked sausage, chicken wrapped in bacon, sirloin, tenderloin, pork ribs, lamb, and the roasted pineapple. All the meat is cooked in a South American barbecue style known as Churrasco, originating with the Gaucho cowboys. As far as I can tell, the key to everything Brazilian is lime juice. Everything was incredibly moist, tender and tasty.

I have to try a local beer whenever I can, and Ipanema offered Xingu. All I'll say is I may never drink another Guinness. Well, of course I will, but every time I do I'll think of Xingu.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Rubber

The 8000 mile service is complete! I did the oil, filter and plug changes myself, then took it to the shop for new tires. I was thinking about saving up for some pimpin' Metzeler touring rubber, but then found a large chunk of metal embedded in my rear tire and had to accelerate the process. I think the stock tires will do just fine.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Garden Update

Tomato Flower, originally uploaded by evens.john.

We have flowers on our tomatoes and zuccini!

Motorcycle News

I dropped a bike for the first time in my life on Saturday. I had to work in the morning, and was in a rush to get out of there! In my haste I lost my balance backing out of a parking space on a slope. I've always said that I'm the type of person who know when an accident is unavoidable and concentrates on minimizing the consequences. True to my form I made virtually no attempt to keep the bike upright, instead my focus was trained on putting my machine down gently. The outcome? It landed on the clutch lever which bent like so much cheese then snapped neatly in half. No paint damage. No broken mirrors, no scratched mufflers. I was still pretty mad at myself. It was scorchingly hot and I was stripping off my gear as I tried to stand the bike up. In the end I relented and sought help from a petite workmate who in fact made all the difference. After pumping the gas out of the flooded cylinders and carbs I was back on the road. Holding on to the clutch at a red light was agony, but the bike shifted much better having more lever travel.

I picked up some sweet chrome levers off eBay, and fitted they this evening. They look pimpin'! However, I'm now back to rough shifting as the lever hits the bar. I've adjusted the cable as much as I can without the clutch slipping, so I'll just have to see how it goes.

Gas Grill!

To celebrate my being in the USA for two year, Kristal acquired me a gas grill. A work friend of hers had no further use for it, so it came for free. It wasn't in very good shape, so I sanded down all the wood and metal, stained or spray painted as appropriate and generally cleaned it up. The worst job was getting the spider nests out of the gas lines. Apparently no one sells pipe cleaners anymore (people just buy Drano) so I had to buy a 99c wire bristle toilet brush and make a few alterations. After much sweat and bloody knuckles I finally had it clean enough that gas didn't get backed up and create a fireball around the taps!

The weather is awesome for grilling right now. Yesterday was burger night - tonight we had sausages. Maybe tomorrow I'll do chicken kebabs....