Kaszeta's 2012 in Review

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buffetbuster
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/19 02:08:38 (permalink)
Next time in the Twin Cities, I just have to get a Paul Molitor juicy nookie. That looks to be something special.

Thanks so much for this amazing report!
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/19 07:50:28 (permalink)
Awesome food/travel/photo documentation! Thank you! I love the Cafe Biaggio Art Deco Streamline front, that Lobster Grilled Cheese, and the Drink's riff on the famous TRADER VIC'S drinking slogan. Great stuff.
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/19 08:00:43 (permalink)
Thanks for all the Austin tips I am spending two months here and am quickly finding out Austin is a great food experience.
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ann peeples
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/19 08:00:52 (permalink)
I sure hope your travels allow you to meet up with some of us one day.......
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/19 15:05:13 (permalink)
ann peeples
I sure hope your travels allow you to meet up with some of us one day.......

I'm somewhat surprised that I've never run into any roadfooders, aside from meeting the Sterns once many years ago.
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/19 15:16:55 (permalink)
And now I've caught up to the places I went in 2012 after I started this thread.  Most of that was in one big holiday trip to Michigan, with stops in Bennington, Buffalo, and Cleveland on the way to Detroit, and several days in Cleveland on the way back.
 
The first stop was The Blue Benn (full review here) in Bennington, VT.  This place has been on our hit list for about a decade.  It’s not that we’ve never tried to come here before, it has just never worked out. At least once we arrived just after they stopped serving. Another time, a kitchen fire had caused them to be closed. And yet another time, a power outage had them closed… and at that. this visit was a close call on that front, since several power lines were down in the area and detoured us around in our efforts to get there.  But this time we finally made it. Pulling into the Blue Benn around 12:30, we got there in time for a late breakfast with only a short wait in line in the cramped vestibule. Moving inside the restaurant, it’s a cozy diner (I originally thought it was a Worcester diner, but more careful research indicates it’s actually a Silk City diner) with the classic long counters and two sets of booths:


Our meals were quite good.  I went for the spinach pesto omelet (I've been craving spinach a lot for some reason):

And Carol got these most-excellent chocolate chip raspberry pancakes:

 
Next up was, hours later, a stop for the night in Buffalo meeting up with a friend.  We ended up at Duff's, one of the landmark wing joints (full review here:

And then on to Anderson's (full review here) for Custard:

I don’t normally review soft-serve places (oh so many of them taste pretty much the same), but I’ll have to say, Anderson’s has a particularly creamy and delicious custard going on, with a rather pleasant texture. Combine that with the fact that they use real cream, and our Turtle Sundae (with butterscotch, chocolate, and pecans) was a particularly enjoyable dessert:

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kland01s
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/19 15:57:01 (permalink)
Kaszeta, what do you do that you can fly all over the world on a moments notice and still find time to eat such great food and see stunning views while working?! I'd have loved your job....    when I was a lot younger.
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/19 18:09:00 (permalink)
I'm a consulting engineer. I fix other people's problems.
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/20 08:39:51 (permalink)
Truly excellent report and photos. Makes me wish I was more consistent with documenting my travels and eats, although in general the locations aren't as interesting as those you've documented here. Thanks for taking the time to share, really enjoyed it!
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/20 20:20:20 (permalink)
Our next stop was the Detroit metro area.   I love Detroit.  People always look at me funny when I say that, but I'm not kidding.  Despite its troubles, it's an architectural gem:




 
As well as a nice art destination:




 
But in addition to that, it's a seriously good roadfood destination, especially if you branch out into the suburbs a bit.  We were a bit harried with our schedule this time, but managed to stop for burgers at my absolute favorite burger joint, Miller's Bar in Dearborn:

 
After that, it was mostly the western suburbs this time, with a return trip to Bode's:


 
And then one of the neater finds of the trip, Curry on Crust Desi-Style Pizza (full review here).  Over the 14 or so years I’ve been visiting Canton, MI, it has increasingly becoming a suburb that’s attracting a lot of immigrants, and as a result now has a pretty significant Middle Eastern and Indian population. Along with this, it has picked up a rather large number of restaurants and stores, with some of the most notable growth being in Indian food and groceries (see my 2011 review of Neehee’s, for example). So I’m used to going through strip malls in the area and seeing some new Indian eateries, and this time I was particularly intrigued when I saw Curry on Crust driving by.

Wait, what? That’s right, “Desi-Style Pizza”. Instead of the usual pizza toppings, Curry on Crust offers a choice of eight different sauces ranging from “Spicy Tomato” to “Makhani” and “Tikka”. Add in some Indian style veggie toppings (corn, mint, peas, potatoes) to some of the more standard toppings (tomatoes, peppers, onions), offer up a few Indian-style paneer or meat toppings (Chicken Tikka, Malai Chicken, and Butter Chicken), a light layer of mozzarella, and bake. Voila, you’ve got something that’s actually one of the better examples of fusion cooking I’ve seen in recent years.  Here's my  Hara Bhara Pizza, with spinach sauce, malai chicken, red peppers…. and mozzarella cheese:

 
After that, it was off to our next destination...
 
(But as an aside, I've got several places on my Detroit hit list that I didn't get to this trip.  Anyone been to Le Petit Zinc or Steak Hut in Detroit, or Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck?)
post edited by kaszeta - 2013/01/21 08:54:20
#70
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/21 08:30:11 (permalink)
Absolutely love that photo from Anderson's Custard.  And those architectural pics from Detroit are gorgeous as well.  That third photo, with the outline of the lower peninsula in the back ground, where is that from?
 
I have been to Polish Village Cafe and highly recommend it.  Especially the soups.  There are a few things I like better at Polonia, but overall, I like Polish Village better.
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/21 08:53:21 (permalink)
buffetbuster
Absolutely love that photo from Anderson's Custard.  And those architectural pics from Detroit are gorgeous as well.  That third photo, with the outline of the lower peninsula in the back ground, where is that from?

The top three photos in that set are from the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit.  It's also informally known as the "Cathedral of Finance"

I have been to Polish Village Cafe and highly recommend it.  Especially the soups.  There are a few things I like better at Polonia, but overall, I like Polish Village better.

Good to know. 
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/21 10:32:36 (permalink)
My wife is from Dearborn and when I flew to Detriot to meet her family we went to several Polish eateries and I was hooked.
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kland01s
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/21 14:14:09 (permalink)
I loved the picture of the corned beef hash! It looks just like my local mom and pop serves! Also enjoyed the Desi pizza! Again....    your photos are excellent as is your commentary!
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/21 21:03:12 (permalink)
And the last stop was.... Cleveland.  Like Detroit, Cleveland doesn't get nearly the respect it deserves.   I have to go to Cleveland a lot for work, and when most people hear that I'm going there, they kind of look at me like I was just selected for jury duty.   And that's sad, since, like Detroit, Cleveland has something going for it.  Indeed, it has a <i>lot</i> going for it.
 
First of all, going by my interests, it has architecture almost as interesting as Detroit, although much of it is slightly older than Detroit's Art Deco movement.  Anyone recognize these landmarks?




 
And like Detroit, it has one heck of a good art museum:



 
And of course, it has food.  A lot of food.  And most of it is really damn good.
 
Let's start off with a trip to the market (which was our first stop).  The West Side Market has been around since 1840, with the current structure dating from 1902.  And it's one of the most impressive indoor markets in the US:


Inside, it's pretty much all little restaurant stalls, grocers, and, of course, lots and lots of butchers:


Most every time I come to Cleveland with a car and have a free slot during the daytime, I make sure to visit the Market, and inevitably end up with an entire cooler filled with items like cherry-smoked kielbasa, hot Polish Boys, applewood-smoked bacon, kolbasz, and the like (indeed, I have a special cooler that permanents smells like smoke after all the trips to the West Side Market in Cleveland, and Karl's Sausage Kitchen in MA).
 
And while the West Side Market and the surrounding neighborhood (Ohio City) are filled with great restaurants.... that wasn't our first stop.  Our first stop was a newer place recommended by my friend Nancy (who runs a blog as well: Fun Playing With Food, who, in the ways of the internet, I've exchanged many a recommendation with, but have never met.)  The place?  The Emperor's Palace (full review here):

You know, that sort of name is fairly generic, the exact sort of name that countless generic Chinese-American restaurants use, usually in front of a place with some tacky dragons, red placemats, and furniture that looks like it was misplaced from an office supply warehouse. But here in Cleveland’s Emperor’s Palace, the decor actually looked vaguely like… an Emperor’s Palace, with a richly-decorated interior with many large dining tables, lots of ornate gold trim, mirrors, and smartly-dressed waitstaff humming around between tables:

And Emperor's Palace is mostly a dim sum place, but they don't use the carts, they pride themselves on making everything to order in the kitchen.  Which, if you come like us at an off-hour, is a very good thing.  How was the dim sum?  Some of the best I've ever had.  Seriously:





 
#75
scrumptiouschef
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/21 21:16:25 (permalink)
Kaszeta, great work as usual. What's the origin of your screen name, if that's not too personal? Also, do you have a blog or website where you write and post pics?
#76
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/21 21:21:49 (permalink)
I've had online accounts since the 1980s, so my screen name is.... my name.  Last name, to be specific.  It's Lithuanian (proper spelling is Kašėta, before the US Immigration people renamed it.  Oh well, a whole bunch of my distant relatives became "Cosetta" since they arrived along with a bunch of Italians...)
 
And for the full set of pics, see my flickr feed.   And the blog, Offbeat Eats, is here.
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/22 00:17:33 (permalink)
Killer site, happy with that woo theme on WP? I'm about to switch from coldfusion to WP. And let me know next time you're in Austin I can shoot you a list of a few places you may not know about yet.
#78
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/22 07:06:42 (permalink)
scrumptiouschef
Killer site, happy with that woo theme on WP?

It was a relatively good way to get up and started, but I had to do a *lot* of under-the-hood tinkering to get something that worked reasonably, especially with the maps.  (A lot of the better mapping features I had to implement myself, like having the various maps autozoom, and I just had to implement clustering since plotting hundreds of markers on a map is slow)
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MetroplexJim
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/22 18:19:27 (permalink)
Since you asked - the tall building at the top of your Cleveland pics is the Terminal Tower; if memory serves, it was once the tallest building in the U.S. West of The City.
 
I have only been to Cleveland once when I was 7 or 8 (1955 or '56) and i remember that we made it a point to visit the TT's top floor.
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/22 20:57:57 (permalink)
Cleveland is good at all levels of food.  On the "cheap eats" end of the spectrum,
while walking alking through Ohio City, we came across this interesting little place attached to the back of the Old Angle Bar: Bogtrotter’s Doorstep (full review here), which specializes in Au Jus Sandwiches, and it looked like the exact sort of place we should stop in for lunch.  Bogtrotter’s is an interesting sort of place. It’s isn’t it’s own restaurant, it’s actually just a service counter located in what used to be a side entrance to The Old Angle bar next door, with just two stools and a shelf for eat-in dining. But they also have a nice arrangement with The Old Angle, who doesn’t mind you eating a Bogtrotter’s sandwich in their dining room, particularly if you are washing it down with one of their tap beers.

As far as the sandwiches go, the basic idea at Bogtrotter’s is the au jus sandwich. You know, like a French dip, or a Hot Italian Beef sandwich. And, indeed, one of their menu items, the “Chicago”, with beef, peppers, and provolone, is basically a Chicago Style Hot Italian beef sandwich. But they go far beyond that, with a full menu board of different sandwiches, ranging from the “Philly” (basically a variation of the Philly cheesesteak, with beef, grilled onion, mushroom, and cheese sauce) to the “Porkopolis” (roasted pork with spicy greens and provolone) to the vegetarian “Haight” (roasted veggies, provolone, marinara, and mushroom jus). All served up on crusty French baguettes, with your choice of how much jus to be applied (“dry”, “wet”, or “soaked”), and whether or not you want “crunch” on it (broken up kettle-cooked potato chips). And they aren’t cutting corners here, Bogtrotter’s seasons and roasts all the meats themselves, and makes their own jus.
So, looking over the menu, I opted for the Porkopolis, wet, with crunch. The resulting sandwich, shown here, was pretty much the definition of a “hot mess” (I barely managed to actually eat the thing with my hands, with plentiful napkin usage), but oh what a tasty mess it was. The sandwich ended up combining some of the best aspects of a good roasted pork sandwich (like I would get from Tony Luke’s) and a Hot Italian Beef Sandwich (like I would get from Al’s). The pork meat itself was a rich, flavorful, and tender pork loin, with a good spice rub on it, served up in thick slices. The spicy greens were flavorful and complemented the pork quite well. The pork jus was a wonderful thick and garlicky pork broth that thoroughly soaked the entire sandwich, but the French loaf was crusty enough to (mostly, it was a close call at points) hold up to the liquid onslaught. And the “crunch” turned out to be a nice textural addition to the sandwich; I’ve never been much of a fan of potato chips on sandwiches, but once they slightly softened up from soaking up the jus, they just, well, worked:

Carol did the "Philly", which was inspired by the Philly cheesesteak.  A cheesesteak it wasn't, but it was still damn good:

 
Another truly Roadfood worthy place was Happy Dog (full review here)on the West Side, known known for their wide variety of hot dog toppings.
Okay, I can already feel the skeptical vibe coming from some of my readers. The world has a lot of hot dog places, what makes a place like Happy Dog worth some of your precious stomach sapce? And I’ll be the first to admit, hot dogs as a menu item are often a high-risk item: while there are a lot of really great hot dog places out there (Indeed, I’ve reviewed about 20 on my site), there are a lot of dubious ones as well, and for every lovingly-assembled Gold Coast Chicago Dog, or pepper-relished-covered Blackie’s hot dog I’ve had, I’ve also been served up more than my share of Oscar Mayer 10 per lb hot dogs slapped onto a stale bun with ketchup and mustard to know that hot dogs generally aren’t the sort of thing I get without doing some research first. But I’ll tell you that from my visit, Happy Dog isn’t one of those places, instead, they are a great dive-ish joint that’s serving up some really great hot dogs with some good toppings.

So, let’s work our way through all the things that make Happy Dog great. First of all, despite the focus on hot dogs, Happy Dog is a bar that serves hot dogs, not a hot dog place that sells beer. There’s an important different there, especially when it comes to ambiance, but this is definitely a “bar”. Walking in the door, the interior of Happy Dog, it’s like you are walking into the bar area of a bowling alley on the wrong side of the tracks: the colors are subdued, the lighting a bit dim, the seating a little dilapidated, and the floorspace dominated by a bar and a small impromptu stage. Nothing wrong with that, indeed, I usually like divish places like this, since it means the people here care about their beer more than maintaining a TGI Friday’s atmosphere. Then you sit down, order up some beers, and the bartender then comes by with a couple of stubby pencils (again, like a cheap bowling alley) and half-sheet menus for ordering your dogs:

The hot dogs are $5 each, with your choice of a real hot dog or a fake veggie one, and then all of the toppings you can cram on there from the list. Let’s start with the building blocks, however. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill generic hot dog, the hot dogs at Happy Dog are custom-made, quarter-pound each, coarse-ground and extra spicy hot dogs from Blue Ribbon Meats, a local purveyor of sausages.   After a bout of indecision due to so many choices: I started with one with  chopped Roma tomatoes, escarole, pickled onions, and chopped applewood smoked bacon:

Next was a combination of my favorite spicy toppings (Black truffle honey butter, sriracha, chimichurri, onions, and sport peppers), and I was pleased with this:

Carol's dogs were good as well, #1 being caramelized onions and mole:

And dog #2 baked beans, mole, and mac and cheese(!):

#81
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 09:12:17 (permalink)
Often when I try a new Dog place, I"ll order it "plain" for the first one.  I love those snappy skinned dogs and want to be able to really taste the meat and roll.  Subsequent Dogs might get duded up a bit, especially with whatever "sauce" is made there
#82
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 09:59:15 (permalink)
Next time in Cleveland, I am headed straight for Bogtrotters!  Those sandwiches look wonderful. 
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 11:37:40 (permalink)
I forgot to mention before, the fourth photo looks to be inside the Hyatt Regency at The Arcade, which is where I usually stay in Cleveland.  Beautiful place!
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 11:40:14 (permalink)
buffetbuster
I forgot to mention before, the fourth photo looks to be inside the Hyatt Regency at The Arcade, which is where I usually stay in Cleveland.  Beautiful place!

You are correct.
#85
kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 11:50:59 (permalink)
Cleveland was also about fine dining.
 
Our first stop was at an old favorite, Greenhouse Tavern (you can read a review from 2011 here), renowned as the place where their $44 tasting menu includes the option for half of a pig's head on a plate:

Well, this time I wasn't quite up to that level of gluttony, but I really enjoy Greenhouse, so this time I again did the tasting menu, but set my sights a bit lower.  First, we started out with our beer, some of the most excellent (and somewhat hard to find) Arctic Panzer Wolf from Three Floyds:

Then, it was off to the appetizers.  Carol got the fried smelt, while I got the crispy fried hominy:


Our second course was clams for Carol:

While I had their nightly "Fifth Quarter" special, which was pulled pork served up "chicken-fried steak style" (yes, that's filled with pulled pork):

The main course for Carol was the braised oxtail:

While I went for the Dry-Aged Rib Steak Frites w/ braised salt & pepper beef rib, thrice cooked potato, and a roasted marrow bone.  This was particularly flavorful, especially the rib steak and the perfectly-done thrice-cooked potatos:

Dessert was their famous "Salted Popcorn Pot de Creme" for Carol:

 
While I had the financier with chocolate cremeux, toasted oat, lemon & parsnip puree, almond crunch & candied walnut.  Not used to parsnip in a dessert, but it worked:

#86
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 17:45:58 (permalink)
That report almost makes me want to go give Cleveland a try. Man, nothing looks bad in that list!
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kaszeta
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 17:49:21 (permalink)
The other highlight of Cleveland was Black Pig (full review here).  Several years ago, I met a guy that was graduating from the New England Culinary Institute (NECI).  Shortly after that, the chef, Michael Nowak, was in Cleveland, working as executive chef at Bar Cento (you can read an old review here), and then after that he took on similar responsibilities at Market Garden (review from 2011 here).  While I ate and drank at both of those fine establishments on this trip, the main goal was visiting his new venture, Black Pig.  Earlier this year, he finally had a change to open his own places (Bar Cento and Market Garden were partnerships), and Black Pig was the result.

The Black Pig is basically bistro food, with the bulk of the menu focusing on French-inspired cuisine with a heavy emphasis on seasonal local meats and vegetables. While the overall menu has everything ranging from burgers to vol a vents, we both decided that it was hard to pass up the tasting menu. Like a lot of the other bistros in town, at The Black Pig the chef’s tasting menu is indeed the chef’s tasting menu, with the chef deciding what to prepare for you. At The Black Pig, the chef even comes out to talk to you, so I got to talk briefly with Mike and give him some basic directions (“light on the seafood, otherwise knock yourself out”), and then we kicked back and waiting for the food to come out while I enjoyed a köelsch.  The courses included a poached pear salad, pate, a rabbit cassoulet, an Ohio Beef special, and Crepe Cake:





 
http://offbeateats.org/20...lack-pig-cleveland-oh/
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 17:52:13 (permalink)
So, in a nutshell, that was 2012.  Several dozen places I didn't mention here, and a lot of great travel and photography.
 
So far, no real plans for 2013, although I'm pretty sure I'm going to go visit my brother in London again, and maybe have a few days' trip to Belgium.  Otherwise, it's primarily where work takes me, with Ann Arbor, MI; Washington, DC;  El Segundo, CA; Boxborough, MA; and Orlando, FL already on the schedule.  And the Boston Death March in May. 
#89
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Re:Kaszeta's 2012 in Review 2013/01/23 22:29:14 (permalink)
Here endeth the lesson..................on how to do a great trip report.....my meagre offerings are put to shame and rest..........this, along with Iceland report, has to be one of the all-time best...........although BB and Wanderingjew are giving you a run for the money...........TY to all 3 of you
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