Wednesday, 14 October 2009

American Academy awards ceremony

On Sunday morning there was a talk by John Holdren, Obama's Science and Technology advisor. The talk was riveting, all about the President's attitudes to all things scientific, how a high proportion of his important appointments are women and so on. Sadly, the bulk of the talk has fallen straight out of my brain, having been followed by quite a lot of other stuff. I hope that at some point they'll stick the gist, or better, a transcript, up on the Academy's website, but it's not there yet.

One thing I do remember was a photograph of Obama in the White House, talking on the phone to astronauts in the Space Station. In a room full of kids. The story is that someone on the staff thought it would be good if a selection of kids from local schools could come and watch the President talking to the astronauts. When all was ready, the President was primed as to what was going to happen, and he just shot off into the room where the kids were assembled to meet them.

Then, once the link with the Space Station was established and they'd exchanged a few pleasantries, Obama simply handed the phone over to kids for them to ask questions for themselves. What a brilliant thing to do! Somehow, I can't imagine Bush ever having done that. 'Course, I'm condemning the eedjit without evidence, but that's fine, I think. It's just the sort of thing he would do!

It all finished at midday, after which we changed into civvies (I'd been in my suit all the previous day and all morning, and that's enough!) and strolled into central Cambridge looking for a bite to eat. I'd seen a sign the previous day, warning that Harvard Square would be closed for Oktoberfest, but hadn't really given it any thought. Turns out, Oktoberfest is a giant street party, with stalls selling all sorts of stuff and performers strutting their stuff through the streets.

There were dense crowds of people, such that it was hard to make your way through at times, but a lot of fun, nevertheless.

These nudes are made from wire mesh, just pushed out to form the shapes, and I thought they were very interesting. Not sure I like them all that much, but a novel medium for a nude.

We had lunch in a micro-brewery, where the beer was called something like Cambridge on the Charles (the local river is the Charles) and it was simply excellent!

We had pulled-pork mini-sliders, which turn out to be small buns, about 5cm square and really nondescript. I once had a similar thing in a MacDonalds, and I've not been back to the big M since. Disgusting.

However, the pulled pork is slow-cooked pork which has been shredded and a thick layer put between the sliced buns. All sounds good, except we'd not noticed the word Trio lurking there. Yes, we had three of these each, and it was far too much, of course. Managed to eat most of the meat, but just discarded the buns.

We also located a promising restaurant for dinner, called Sandrine's. When we turned up in the evening it was not too full and they fitted us in with no problem. It turned out to have an Alsatian flavour, so we had the choucroute with various meaty things, which turned out to be pig's trotter and several different sorts of European sausage. If you visit the Sandrine's website, go to the Photo Gallery and hover your mouse pointer over the bottom-right thumbnail, you'll see a picture of the choucroute.

We had the presence of mind to ask the waitress if she'd mind our sharing a main course, which was no bother at all. That meant we had room for a starter, which was an interesting bacon and onion tart which we plan to try to emulate some time.

A thin, unleavened dough base with the edges rolled up, into which had been put a thin layer of (possibly) cream cheese. On top of that was a generous scattering of pre-fried chopped bacon and onion, and then the whole thing had been flash-baked. Really good.

The choucrout was excellent, though we could have managed without the pig's trotter, and one between the two of us was perfect.

Accompanied by a nice bottle of Californian pinot noir, it was a great evening and we just kept looking at each other going "Yeah! Aren't we having a fabulous time?!"

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