Thursday, January 22, 2015

One Last Stab at It

So for our last night on the Beautiful Island, we began by convening a single malt post-debrief debrief. That was pleasant in the dwindling twilight and slowly appearing stars, but alas it did not constitute a meal. And there was still the last minute souvenir shopping to take care of. So I wrangled a posse and we set out for one last nocturnal urban adventure.

It was pretty cool wandering about on Sunday and Tuesday with But it was pretty funny to see the reaction a phalanx of three beefy big white guys got strolling down the sidewalk. First stop was the ginormous shopping center/mall a few blocks away; the upper floors were pretty much standard issue urban mall, exactly like any department store anywhere. The lower floor was a spectacular grocery store with little eateries attached to it. Souvenirs in hand, I rejoined mis compadres back outside, where some vital reconnaissance had already taken place in my absence.

We had identified the little sidestreet where all the good local eateries were (as well as some of the probably pretty crappy ones as well. We’re starting to get good at this). We identified the two key determiners on the signboard outside: “Beef” and “Beer.”

We quickly realized it was a buffet, where a host of raw ingredients were arranged on ice as a kind of meat salad bar. The table had two hot spots, and the server briskly brought two large, shallow pans, divided in two down the middle. Into one side, they ladled a clear-ish vegetable broth; into the other side, a richer bone broth glistening with a sheen of chili oil. With an assortment of various implements, we cooked our choice of items in our choice of broths, and finished them with sauces of our own concoction.

The beer tap was self-service. The cooler case of Haagen-Daz was self service. To suggest I overdid it would be an understatement. Yet the three of us were able to make our way back to the hotel unassisted and without incident, and actually have some additional normal human interactions with various and sundry. (I don’t count the waking up at 2:00 AM in a cold sweat with the room light still on and the Discovery Channel playing on the TV, having no idea of where I was as an actual ‘incident,’ more of a simple misunderstanding. Nothing broken, nothing lost, nothing stolen, no blood, no foul. )

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