My first day away from home, waking at 3.45am.
My first ooops!
I have two pairs of black casual shoes at home.
Similar. Especially in the dark.
I took two shoes for the trip.
Wanna fill in the blank?

Some last random thoughts on Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Casinos. Big industry.
Parking. 100% in paid lots. There is no street parking. Anywhere.
Influence: Papa John’s, Outback, Applebees, Denny’s, Friday’s, Hooters, and Starbucks, at least 6 of them.
Local eateries: saw a handful only.
The falls: dramatic.
Visit: unstructured. You just walk up to railing and look over at them. No guides.

Here are some notes leftover from Tuesday’s visit to Niagara.

When you get into town, several restaurants legitimately boast serving dinner overlooking the falls.
Some ae outdoors so you get the sound as well as the fury.
But I chose “The Keg’ because they boasted Prime Rib.
I chose well.
A well-done dinner.
An excellent view.
Am going to try to post a couple of the photographs I took so you have a sense  of my perspective.

I had to wait an hour for a window-side table (well worth it. Where was I going?
So I went into the closest casino, a 5 minute walk.
Have been into casinos about 10 times in my life.
But I love the sounds, the colors, the tension, the fun.
Everyone a winner.

Impressed by the size.  

And the size of the buffet.
And the line.
and the wait; and it’s only 5.30pm.

No wait if you are a platinum or gold card member.
No hiding what it takes to get ahead here.
Gone are the days when ‘the boys’ ran the casinos.
Then, even a nobdy like me could get special treatment.
Nobody except that I grew up in the North End of Boston alongside some of those self-same boys.
Friends. Bet friends, even.

Those days are gone.
Computers run the casinos.
Determine who gets comps.
Avoids lines.
Not a streetwise person in the bunch.
But all professional.

Ooops! Two.
I forgot an extension cord.
But I got though the night.

Went to sleep early (10.15pm) and woke accordingly, 3.45am, early even for me, an early riser.
But too much to do.

Booked today’s hotel (a Red Roof for 75.00 total, inc. parking and taxes.)
Got directions to the hotel and added the contact info to my “Today is…” sheet.
Also added the main routes from Niagara to Dearborn in case I lost the internet.
unlikely, but it’s jut copy and paste.

During the drive I concluded that I should alter my plans and make a 5 hour road trip my maximum.
Remembering that yesterday was 7.5.
Add 20% for stops and I’m on the road for 6 hours.
More than that leaves very little of self to sightsee or relax.

Like right now.
I got to the café, outdoors, an independent, and have already spent two hours working on the blog and contacts
(for example, responding to kay kane wishing me a grand time and my son Dom and Granddaughter Francesca, sharing birthdates) and dinner reservations. Al ameer does not serve alcohol.

When I left the hotel this morning I had the damnedest time finding coffee until I went off the highway and found a Tim Hortons.
I have forever thought that if I ever met a tim Horton he would be a country western singer.
he’s a chain.
Coffee excellently hot.

Why did I pick Dearborn as my next stop?
My son Mino had sent a link to restaurant reviews that might prove helpful.
Al Ameer was on it.
A nice drive from Niagara on way to Chicago so I chose it.
Although they don’t serve liquor, they do have a 14-course dinner for 28.00 that interested me.
Maybe they don’t serve that anymore.
The hostess who booked me wasn’t aware of it and she professed knowledge.
Oh well.

That’s why I chose Dearborn.
Nothing more dramatic than a good meal on the way.
You can sometimes win a pot with a pair of deuces.

That link:

The drive this morning was as boring as the drive yesterday.
But not as long.

So that’s it for now.
It’s 2pm and I’m heading to my room where I’ll unpack and plan for tomorrow’s trip.

Today is Thursday, September 6
This is my 149th consecutive daily posting.
Time is 3.52am and the weather in Chicago is rainy and cool.
Quite the change.
Today’s dinner is at one of the great restaurants in the United States, Spiggia, coming from a link that Howard Dinin sent me:


Photo of the Day


The Eater and Al Ameer

Hey Dom

I didn’t know until you mentioned it today in the blog for tomorrow that the recommendation for Al Ameer came from a list that was forwarded to you via Mino.


It’s a list that I’m familiar with, on the website called The Eater, another one of those sites that is staffed loyally and tenaciously and with a certain kind of ferocity. The kind of ferocity that one would be otherwise smart to be wary of, if there was not the reassurance that they’re on our side. So to speak.


Bill Addison, who compiles that list, is also the restaurant editor of The Eater. But that’s not his job. His job, as it has been for I think 18 years, is restaurant critic for Atlanta city magazine (another of that kind of city magazine, that is, Chicago (for your next stop) I alluded to, in my email, that works hard to stay current and on top of any place worth dining at, at least once). Addison apparently is on the road as much 2/3 of the year, flying all over the U.S., and Hawaii and Alaska in order with some validity to be able to offer critical views, we assume impartially, across the breadth of the country. Kind of an impossible task, but what the hell.


He cannot know about, and hence never mentions, the kinds of places I personally am aware of in the context of the microscopic view that even my largest ambitions could not enlarge – not without disrupting the course of my entire life. As you are, I’m sure, I am aware of any number of places along the routes I end up traveling just in the process of living my life as I have, mainly up and down the states of northern New England, and especially a well-trod corridor along the east coast between Boston and let’s say Portland ME. And peppered here and there in towns deep in New Hampshire and Vermont.


Really good places, worthy of any list, and yet perpetually neglected, which is to say, to be fair, overlooked entirely by critics like Addison who cannot stray too far for too long from airports that are serviced by reliable carriers. It’s amazing that he’s able to take in what he does in any specific market. And it’s kind of comical that he ends up with a list, as he did in 2017, the list that Al Ameer is on, and that includes exactly 38 establishments. And it’s heartwarming (I guess that’s the world) that he has the gumption, and a slight flare-up of self-importance, to speak of “essential” restaurants. If anything is oracular, that is. And who can blame him? Most of the time, though his name by now is well-recognized, his face is not, because he apparently does not allow his image to appear anywhere. Like restaurant critics of old he can’t afford to have his cover blown. Especially now that he’s created a countrywide reputation for himself – thanks to the omnipresence and ubiquity afforded by the Internet.


I personally couldn’t possibly know about the virtues of his choices in virtually all of the venues that he identifies as home to “essentiality.” But there are enough studding the lists of a few years running now – because he does not repeat himself if he can help it, and of course there are new places that open that are spectacular and that goes on all the time – places I am familiar with, so I infer he knows whereof he speaks.


He seems particularly taken with a truly world-class restaurant here in Philadelphia called Zahav. It’s the brainchild and certainly the culinary offspring of the genius of Israeli-born Michael Solomonoff, who is now based in Philadelphia. The restaurant features the cuisine of Israel (who’d ‘a thunk it?), which consists of far more than the hummus and falafel that the rest of the world probably believes are the chief contributions to gustatory marvels from the streets of Tel Aviv. But Israel is a bigger countrey than that, and the food far more varied, especially when rendered through the imagination of a chef like Solomonoff. It’s no wonder Addison seems reluctant to remove Zahav from his list of definitive places to eat in America.


There’s another nice thing about Addison’s take, and I hope you are discovering that this is borne out, possibly at the same time exactly that I am writing this on Wednesday evening, by your experience at Al Ameer. And what that nice thing is would be the diversity of the restaurants on this list, in cities coast to coast and border to border. Yet another instance of the beauty and worthiness of the concept of the United States where the wonders and beauties of so many other cultures and cuisines (in particular) are permitted not only to shine, but to be shared by the rest of us.


And you know what? I think once again I’ve written the thoughts inspired by where you are and what you are doing, and almost in real time. So that’s where I’m putting this.

Links mentioned :

The Eater (from this summer), the 18 Best New restaurants in America |

Chicago Magazine (from this summer), the 50 best restaurants in the city |

See you on the flip-flop