Reading Terminal Market

A selection of pictures from a first visit to the Reading Terminal Market.

Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet up with one of the writers at chickenmonkeydog. My colleague in quirkiness was in Philadelphia for work, so we took time to chat over beers and dinner. We chose the Reading Terminal Market at the place to meet. The following images are from there.

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market

You know you’re famous when …

A first rung of fame is being featured in a new iPhone app offered by the beer review specialists of Pintley.

That’s right, people. You’ll now be able to say “you knew me when …”

“Huh?”, you ask, sounding slightly confused.

Screenshot of Pintley iPhone app

This weekend, the good people at Pintley launched a new iPhone app. In looking to download the app, I saw that my review of Guinness had been the screen shot chosen to be used in the app overview. That makes me famous now.

I’ll be available for interviews and other PR opportunities on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For appointments, please contact my agent.

Clearing up cultural confusion: Cider

The Setting

Instant spiced apple ciderRecently I was conducting a job interview over Skype, using video.  I was speaking with a prospective employee, who was perched in front of a computer at lbdesign’s London office. My colleague was with this prospective employee.  As may be evident to regular visitors to this blog, I am currently based in Philadelphia.

The Incident

During the initial “Hello” and “How are you?” exchanges, I mentioned that I had just settled into my office chair with a lovely mug of cider. My comment was greeted with an unexpected silence … and the concern on the face of the prospective employee, and the look of embarrassment in my colleague’s expression made it very clear that I had said something wrong. Oops! But what?

Within a few moments we got to the issue: ‘cider’ in the UK is only used in reference to beer cider, like Scrumpy Jack, Magners and the like. So, in the eyes of my UK colleagues, I had just started to conduct an interview while drinking a can of beer (at 10.30 am my local time no less!)

The Resolution

I then spent the next several minutes explaining that ‘cider’ in America can also mean apple juice – with no alcohol.  Furthermore, spiced hot cider is a traditional American cold weather drink, like hot chocolate.

In Review

On a serious note, this funny little incident speaks to the larger issues that come with doing business across cultures. Although I spent seven years living and working in England, this particular issue around cider never previously surfaced because the British don’t drink warmed apple juice.

Now that I am back in the US, I have reverted to this beverage to fight the chill on cold autumn days. And then, by failing to fully appreciate the cultural (or epicurean) differences between me and my audience, I landed myself in an uncomfortable situation.

What other cultural pitfalls might I land myself in?

Hidden gem: Henry’s Bar + Café

As I have written about on, I travel about London for work, heading to client meetings and the like. Recently, I wanted to check out one of those pubs that now open early to serve coffees and teas, trying to boost profits by expanding their offerings.

Henry's Bar + Cafe

Exiting the Green Park Tube station, I climbed into the sunlight on a brisk spring morning a few months back. As I had about three hours before my lunch meeting, I decided to give Henry’s Bar + Café a try. Pushing through the doors to see the Illy coffee sign behind the bar raised my hopes and expectations.

Unlike the Starbucks or Costa Café, Henry’s was pretty empty. Still, the chap behind the bar was friendly and pleasant. I ordered a cappuccino and asked if I could sit anywhere. ‘Yep, please do. I’ll bring your coffee over,‘ was the reply. Hmmm … table service? I hadn’t expected that. I chose a big table (for six), unpacked my computer, plugged in headphones, mouse and dongle and began to work. A few moments later the bartender brought over a lovely, big, hot mug of frothy cappuccino. (Not sure if that’s the right description for the fellow … I was at a pub, after all. Barista maybe?) I worked for two or three hours, enjoying a pint of Coke at some point. Slowly the place filled up, but the staff continued to provide a quality table service. I was really pleased.

As I packed up for my lunch meeting, I asked for the bill. When it arrived, I smiled. £4.50. £4.50!? For a cappuccino and a pint of soda and a big empty table to work at for hours? Try getting that at Starbucks!

Concerned that it might just have been a lucky day for Henry’s, I popped in there again on Thursday of this week. Again, same friendly staff, same top quality coffee and same great work environment. I am sold. Call me a Henry’s regular.

Brakspear’s Oxford Gold

Last summer, whilst tooling about Henley with friends on a Saturday afternoon, I popped into the liquor store. Checking out the selection of ales, I grabbed a couple of bottles of Brakspear’s Oxford Gold. I like to support my local breweries and Brakspear’s operates out of Witney, which is on the west side of Oxfordshire.

A bottle of Brakspear's Oxford Gold

It wasn’t until at home later that evening that I tasted the organic beer. Fantastic! Refreshing, fruity and uniquely flavoured, the out-of-the-bottle ale carried an authentic from the barrel taste. As the brew was bottle conditioned, I needed to be careful not to pour the sediment at the bottom of the bottle into the mug. Definitely more of a summer drink with its light flavour and colour, but still top quality.

So, why am I just posting about this now, when last summer is almost a year ago? Simple: because I just discovered that my local Tesco carries the ales in its shelves. Win for me!

Oxfordshire Ales Marshmellow

bottle of Oxfordshire Ales Marshmellow and mugAfter a long break from writing about the finer things (pubs and beer), I have discovered a new ale worth talking about: Marshmellow by Oxfordshire Ales. I came across this bitter in Tesco and eager to try a local brew, I picked up a bottle.

Listening to England thrash Croatia in the World Cup qualifiers, I sipped my way through this lovely pint of beer. Oxfordshire Ales describe their bitter as ‘a classic, strong beer with a generous warming flavour. The taste is delicious fruity and malty with a lingering bitter after-taste.’ I must say that I agree. It’s really a great little beer. Well done, local boys!

(However, I would suggest that Marshmellow is a not a good match with a spicy pepperoni pizza! That was definitely a mistake this evening.)

Pint of bitter, please

A pint of Marston’s bitterToday at the Star Inn in Stanton St John, Oxfordshire, I was reminded of one thing that I really like about country pubs in England: their simplicity. You actually can walk into a country pub and just ask for a pint of bitter. And you get one. The guy or gal behind the bar, more often than not, will simply pull you a pint of whatever the house favourite ale is. It’s brilliant – almost old school Hollywood where the characters on the big screen walk into a bar and order a beer. In those movies, the bar-keep doesn’t bother asking about brand or anything; he just slings a drink. Great stuff!