Last day at the Wild Horse Pass 

I boast that religiously and attentively I attended all the sessions over 2 full days – which were indeed fascinating and many of the breakthroughs will not be routinely available until well past my retirement!

This is the hallway to the conference centre

This panoramic picture is of a nearby “village” called Rawhide! It’s a giant film set and a tourist village basically a forlorn imitation of the many genuine villages and tourist towns- Sovereign Hill in Australia springs to mind

This is the SMALLEST takeaway cup of coffee one can purchase at any and all coffee outlets! Full cream milk is called “2+2” . It may the creamiest concoction to leave a cow’s udder, but it ain’t gunna rescue the revolting black percolated coffee in the monstrous cup. Sadly the Americans fail in quality and predictablely score 100 for quantity. 

As an unrelated aside, one knows one is getting old, when the huge advertising screen extolling the entertainment at the Sheraton Casino, flashes not a 60’s night, not a rock and roll night, not even an Elvis night, no –  Tuesdays are the nostalgic 80s! 

The Naive American – an oxymoron?

From afar the daily news of deadly gun massacres, the impending Trump presidential ascendency, paints the USA as a confusing, frightening cauldron of reactionary discontent. Yet from my first step on American soil I am amazed at the open, friendly welcoming citizens. They are to a man and woman – genuine! “You’re welcome” they respond to my “thank you” and I actually believe they mean it! 

I ordered for “starters” at dinner last night the Purple Kale, pine nuts, raisins and Arizona goats cheese salad with a quince aioli dressing! My attentive waiter, Brian responded with a somewhat unsettling instantaneous, ecstatic affirmation of my request, so effusive, that I reasoned that I must have been the first person to order this wondrous salad which had been added to the menu 4 months ago at the beginning of autumn and neglected by every uneducated, unadventurous diner till this obviously cultured antipodean gourmet descended upon the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Restaurant on January 13th 2017. It apparently was their autumn signature salad. Again I actually believe he was genuine in his praise of my choice compared to the mostly superficial response “excellent choice” by his Australian counterparts.

Super size me is an American expression and the starter size salad set before me, was sufficient to satiate the entire table of 8 morbidly obese Americans seated at the adjacent table. For one fleeting moment I considered that the serve size of my Purple Kale signature salad was a consequence of the possibility that I was the lone order for the evening, and that the kitchen was faced with the prospect of a rather large barrel of wilting Kale lettuce by midnight. The Arizona goats cheese of course would be all the better for another 24 hours of maturing. I dismissed this as an unedifying if not unpalatable thought.

The other slightly unsettling aspect to my dining experience was that having done justice to the salad, Brian returned seeking my mains order and understandably I guess with breathless anticipation assumed I would opt for the Cheeks of Arizona Prairie Bison poached in elderberry juice with roasted cactus pine needles. I had to politely decline and he became as crestfallen as the Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoon.

Finally it was brought home to me as I dined in the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass restaurant, that Americans have a 2 step approach to eating: cut and dice with knife and fork then drop the knife and use the fork to “spoon ” food towards the mouth. I felt on principle I would continue to eat with both knife and fork as my dear mother demanded all those years ago holding the knife as it SHOULD be held ( never like a proletarian pencil – a solecism that invoked the feather duster across the knuckles).

 To a man I was convinced that every diner lay down their fork and gazed at me as I demonstrated my dexterity and were in awe of my manifestly amazing fine motor skills. 

Hot Chocolate!

Now if I were to ask you what the “bestest, bestest” hot chocolate was you would describe a steaming hot glass of rich full cream milk and a huge layer of chocolate, some froth and a pink (or white) marshmallow… 
Not so in Porto Portugal! Here  it is a cup of pure molten chocolate! To make it sublime add a Portguese Tart…. 

  

Give me a Portuguese Tart over a Ruby Port any day 

Let’s get the food pics out of the way 

 I am staying at the Hotel Don Gregorio a refurbished palace. Here is the bedroom 

  
Surely fit for a King?        (Or Dr Kiley)

(Demeaning comments that amount  to slander or defamation of gender will not be tolerated on this blog).

And the breakfast offering ftom 8am till 10am. It is 8:45 and I am the only guest so far!

  

The one drawback of these tables groaning  with food is that whilst one would normally  have a healthy choice at home , the pull of the pastries is unstoppable. A bowl of fresh fruit is rationalised into the justification for not one, not two but several serves of glazed patisseries! “I will walk it off” I further  argue… And I  never lose an argument with myself!

In case you think I jest, my trusty phone records my daily average since arriving at 15 km a day! 

The concierge at the hotel in Madrid said that Salamanca was the place for tapas. So I fought off the pull of the mattress to stay awake till the Trip Advisor highly rated restaurant  Vinodiario opened at 20:00 hours. 

  

That is smoked cod with peppercorn “marmalade” and truffle infused olive oil! How do I know it was infused?  Because on waking around 6 am this morning in my Egyptian cotton sheets (1200 threads) I realised that I exuded a rather fungus tainted  sweat. Its one of the few advantages es of the solo traveller.

  

Unashamed iPhone food photos

Birthday coming up?

Happy to organise a cake or two from Selfridges, given sufficient warning 

 I acknowledge that some of you may find these “over the top”. I agree and certainly the little cup cakes on the top of the large cake is taking things a little too far.

Finally 

The Entree at the Kensington hotel restaurant