Flush with our success with the agar tequila sunrises and the cornstarch rum pills —

Did I tell you about the candy cane vodka? I don’t think I did. To sum up: 49¢ spent in Target on candy canes reduced to clear, left to dissolve into a potato vodka for a day. Filter to remove any excess fat and prepare yourself for the kick.

Testimonial from Emily: “It’s actually kinda awesome!”

— Stacie and I had more plans. In particular, rum-flavoured lollipops and handmade aero chocolate. Simple.

It all went horribly wrong. Our first attempt at the aero bars seemed to go well; we melted the dark chocolate, warmed the iSi whipper with a hair dryer, filled it and shot the contents of a NO2 canister into the chocolate, but as we watched the molds being filled, we couldn’t see any evidence of bubbles.

I’m fully prepared to admit that the lollipop disaster was my fault. I assumed from what I had read that lemon juice could completely replace corn syrup, but I was wrong. So wrong. I also forgot just how much sugar syrup bubbles as it goes past 100ËšC. Laura’s stove got covered in napalm-like sugar goop, cracking and flaming before turning into a hard black sugar ash. Pleasant!

To make matters even worse, the thermometer wasn’t properly in the solution, so when we thought it was reaching the hard crack stage, it was happily turning into caramel and bonding to the pan.

“You know, I think that’s my housemate’s pan.”

Thank goodness for the way the sugar dissolves if you pour enough boiling water on top of it…

We then re-read the instructions for the aerated chocolate and realised that we’d forgotten to shake the whipper before firing the gas. Wanting to have something out of almost ruining Laura’s kitchen, we melted the chocolate down and tried again.

Homemade Aero

Aero. On demand. We can do milk, we can do dark, we can do white. We can make orange flavour, mint flavoured, whatever else you want. We have the technology.

currently playing: Saturday Looks Good To Me – Hands In The Snow

Are We Nearly There Yet?

I’m not quite sure if I fully understood what I was agreeing to when Collin asked if I wanted to go to Atlanta to visit Esther and Ryan. It was only when I came back that I realised that the trip to Chapel Hill to Atlanta was actually longer than my flight home.

However, it was a fun journey, with time passing much quicker than you would think, passing the time discussing politics, switchgrass, and all sorts of things while listening to NPR. We soo crossed into South Carolina, where we were confronted by a hge array of McCain, Romney and Paul signs everywhere. You know, there might be a primary here soon.

While we were heading to Atlanta, we made a stop on the way to have dinner with Collin’s grandmother. We went to a local Italian restaurant where it seemed that the only way to eat spegehetti and not induce heart failure was to order a half-order, and even then the mound of pasta reached three inches clear of the plate it was occupying. The lasagne was nice, though! And not quite so scary!

For those of you who have never travelled on an interstate before, there are often huge billboards on both sides of the road, promoting a) eateries / shopping at the next set of exits, b)radio stations, c) acts of pride and unity under God (We did pass Bob Jones University on the way down, after all). But then there’s d) The Plain Crazy. Our favourites on the journey included this as we arrivied into Atlanta:

Real Daddies Financial Advice: Dominate in 2008!

And on the way back, a dating website:

Find The Woman To Obey Your Command!

Christians Be Scary.

We got to Atlanta itself at around 11pm, the skyscrapers gleaming into clear black sky, looking like the great American city of cliché. You don’t get this in Chapel Hill, you know (although it must be said that at the foot of the gleaming spires there seemed to lay a never-ending orgy of construction, making things a little less pretty).

Esther and Ryan live in the top floor of a fabulous house in the city of the city. The landlords, Seth and Westin, are a couple who live in the ground floor, and seem as nice and friendly as you could hope for in such an arrangement. Unfortunately, I arrived just as they were taking the Christmas decorations down - they must have been quite impressive, as it took two days for Seth to pack everything away and for Westing to bring it all up to the attic.

I’ve been to Atlanta before, of course; somewhere in my bedroom is a yellow legal pad that includes three or four pages of notes I made for blog entries while I was on the way to Portland in 2005, but I don’t think I ever typed them up. Yes, a familiar story. That time, I stuck to the downtown area of the city, but Esther and Ryan wanted to show us some of the hipper parts of Atlanta, so we went to an area known as The Little Five Points, home to many a vintage clothing shop, a good record store, and yes, a co-operative local suprmarket! Hippies be thriving.

The next day started with breakfast at The Flying Biscuit, an Atlanta institution and also where Esther works.

Again, for those of you that are unfamiliar, the Americans at some point decided to go a completely different rout with ‘biscuit’ Whereas to us it conjures visions of garabaldi, digestive, jammy dodgers, ginger, bourbon, hob-nobs, and a nice cup of tea, to those across the Atlantic, it describes a bun of scone-like density, often made with something savoury like cheese. I know. I’m sorry for them too. But they won’t listen to reason on this front.

After a turkey and chicken omelette that was good but not as good as Christa’s lovely apple and cheese combination a few days earlier, Ryan, Collin and I went off to the High Museum of Art. I will pause to allow Mum to laugh.

The building itself is quite impressive; a blocked white monolith that looks as if it could double as the headquarters to an evil megacorporation in a 1980s film. The evil extends into the building itself; the higher floors are reached by a series of ramps which look over into the central atrium. How I made it to the top skyway level, I do not know (I’m just glad that the schoolchildren that seemed dressed as if they had just come from Chilton were nowhere in sight as I inched my way up the final ramp)

All too soon, we were back on the road home, seven hours straight back to North Carolina with the sounds of the BBC World Service to keep us sane. It was a little bizarre to be hearing about Newcastle firing Sam Allardyce as were were crossing the border from Georgia to South Carolina…

currently playing: Kylie Minogue – 2 Hearts (Studio Version)

At Least They Didn't Deep Fry Human Kirk

Ingredients for a great Gilmore Girls marathon:

  • You will need a selection of episodes from culled from all seven seasons of the show, (approximately eight in number), highlighting the funniest moments and any other considerations deemed important.

    We chose a couple of episodes from Season 2, many from Season 3 (including deep-fried shoes and the evil of Cat Kirk) and one each from Seasons 4 through 6. Season 7 is still verboten. Special consideration was given to episodes with a surfeit of Jess scenes.
  • Start early. Breakfast is ideal.

    We started at around eleven with hot chocolate / coffee and a wonderful apple and cheese omelette. I’ll admit that I was skeptical, but it tasted so good!
  • Watch episodes in chronological order, but don’t worry too much if you have to skip back once in a while.

  • Shudder at all the ways that Paris makes you cringe.

    The deep conversation room! Her CSPAN appearance!
  • Serve episodes with a snack and a refreshing drink!

    That would be ginger biscuits and the last of the gin that I brought over the Christmas before

Enjoy…we certainly did!

currently playing: The Go! Team – Doing It Right

I guess that's what they all say

just before they fall.

And this is what I’m going back to. Wisconsin Welfare and the return of the Eton Set. Hurrah.

I belong here, but I don’t. And the last night is always too hard…I never know quite what to do, can’t even let a friend buy me a drink without turning it into a strange parade. Where I seem to talk to awkward strangers as much as friends, get in trouble for mixing up waitress and bartender, spend the evening a bright shade of pink and more besides. But apparently, from a certain angle, I look a bit like Grant Morrison. And I think I can live with that.

Mandy managed to top herself tonight.

Every time I think of you I get a shot right through into a bolt of blue.

But it’s a problem of mine.

Goodbye Carrboro. Every time it gets harder. Apples and Oranges.

Help! I Have Accidently Become A Chapel Hill Native!

There are students everywhere. Grrrrr.

currently playing: Cat Power – Don’t Explain

Atlanta Bound

I’m off to Georgia for a couple of days. Update when I get back!

Reasons To Love CD Alley

My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize: £172 used on Amazon last time I checked (though it seems there’s a few cheaper copies now). Used copy in CD Alley: $13. Hurrah!

Slide Guitar

I’m willing to admit I may have been wrong.

The Iowa Caucus Is Decadent And Depraved.


Thankfully not all the states do this…

(incidentally, Iowa would rather have a gold-standard crazy rather than Giuliani. And YAY OBAMA!)


Yes, I got sunburnt on Friday, and today it’s snowing. North Carolina is odd. But in a good way! (except for the -7˚C temperature outside, of course)

Yesterday was a bit of a nothing day, as expected, though I did manage to do a little more than lie on the floor watching My Super Sweet 16 and eating two pieces of bread (I will mention no names!). Instead, I wandered around Chapel Hill enough to bring out my blisters. Hurrah! Still, I had a good evening with Collin, Heather, Emily, and The Rock, wherein we discovered that Heather has a much better grasp of the rules of American football than anybody else. And I'm two for two on getting a vodka and coke instead of vodka and cranberry!

It seems though, that the end is in sight already. Christa's off to Kentucky; Stacie to Philadelphia. We may not be able to make FOOD SCIENCE part II before I leave, and that makes me sad.

(Richard: the gist of the Second Coming reference - I think I came into the snooker room to do the laundry and you and Tom were playing snooker. For some reason, I ended up getting my portable CD player out, and I think it must have been in the drive, because we ended up listening to it while I dried my washing. Anyway, that was the first time I met you, I think. My memory is a little slack though!)