Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Aloft Arundel Mills

Aloft Arundel Mills
7520 Teague Road
Hanover, MD 21076
(443) 577-0077


 I didn't think to check Yelp before booking an allegedly upscale hotel.  I won't be making that mistake again.

This hotel was designed by people who never stay there.  I get the movement to smaller (European-style) rooms, but that doesn't mean you can just rip the door off the bathroom and call it Euro-style.   Seriously! There was no door between the room and the sinks.  There was a sliding door between the sinks and the toilet and shower, but it was completely inadequate at blocking odors and sounds.  Add to that the light leaking into the bedroom from the sink area and you've got the holy triumvirate of bathroom occurrences right in the main room.

There were other design problems.  Between the concrete floors and the metal doors on the one hand and the colors which were clearly picked by a recent Parsons grad it was unclear what this hotel was trying to be.  I will say that in some of the rooms the window looks directly into the window of the elevator lobby and vice versa.  If you find yourself in this establishment and value your privacy at all don't take a room ending in 26.

Cleanliness was an issue.  There were unidentified stains on the sliding door to the toilet area, on the main door, next to one side of the bed and perhaps other areas that I didn't want to look for.  Linens and towels were clean, though, so there is that.

I can't really evaluate the bar area because we were there on Christmas Eve and that's an unfair day to test someplace like that.

The staff was helpful and cheery.  The nice lady at the front desk couldn't have been nicer about a) changing my room from the aforementioned 26 series and b) informing me that no, unlike every other hotel on the planet, there were not ice machines on the floors but if I wanted to come downstairs I could get some there.

Saving this review from "run away!" are the shower, which is adequately large, had sufficient water heat and pressure and one of those rain-style shower heads and the bed, which was king-sized and reasonably comfortable.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: Tremblay Apiaries

Tremblay Apiaries, LLC
154 Warner Rd
Van Etten, NY 14889

Union Square Greenmarket


The farmer's markets in NYC are great.  You get fresh, locally-grown produce.  Often it's organic and frequently you find stuff that just doesn't sell quite enough for grocery stores to carry but which you might want to try (purple carrots, ramps and low-production leafy greens, for examples).

But there are tradeoffs.  Despite cutting out all the middlemen between farm and consumer, the prices at the farmer's markets are often as high or higher than in the grocery store.  And as much fun as it is to actually go to the greenmarket, having to go at their limited hours and days is a terrible way to distribute a product for both producer and consumer.  There's a reason grocery stores existed even before Big Corporate Semi-Food took over the shelves.

Tremblay Apiaries does not solve the convenience problem.  But in terms of quality and price Tremblay is right at the top.  Tremblay will sell you honey better than you've ever tasted unless you're some kind of honey connoisseur who travels the country the way wine guys go to Napa.  Even if you're that guy this honey is really good.  It's unclear to me whether it's raw or strained, but it's not fully filtered like most grocery store honey.   That makes it thicker, and it will crystallize over time, something easily remedied in the home if you manage to keep it long enough.  Which you w on't, because this stuff is so good you'll be using it to replace other sugar applications, like putting honey in your coffee.

The honey comes in several varieties, depending on what the bees were pollinating at the time of production, so you can choose how light or heavy you want your honey depending on your tastes. They offer free samples of all their honeys, so you don't have to leave your choice to chance.

And the great beauty is that you can buy this superior honey for less than the stuff that comes in the little bear.  Although I grant that the bear is cute.

Tremblay also sells a few other bee-related products here like pollen, creamed honey, and some kind of product derived from the royal jelly bees use to make a new queen.

I don't happen to believe that the science exists to support the notion that honey helps with allergies or that local honey helps more.  But I do believe in buying great products from local sources at discount prices.  How can you not like that?