Crocodile Dundee pub is for sale

Want to buy a piece of movie history? Wrestle crocodiles and relive the 1980s? Now you can, because the Walkabout Creek Hotel, location of some of the most memorable scenes from the 1986 hit film Crocodile Dundee, is up for sale.

Located in the small town of McKinlay in Queensland, northeast Australia, it’s on the Matilda Highway and gets good business from both Australians and tourists. It was previously named the Federal Hotel but was called the Walkabout Creek Hotel in the movie. When the movie became a hit the owners changed the name. It was originally built in 1900.

Needless to say, the place is filled with movie memorabilia and is a pilgrimage site for movie buffs visiting the Outback.

Crocodile Dundee, a sensitive and realistic portrayal of Australian rural life (sarcasm) was part of the boom in the Australian film industry during the 1970s and 1980s. The boom started when the eerie 1975 mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock received international acclaim. The working class drama Sunday Too Far Away became a hit that same year.

Mad Max came out in 1979 and launched a trilogy of hugely popular films. Plans to make a fourth Mad Max film experienced long delays and now it appears the fourth movie will instead be a remake of Mad Max 2 (released as Road Warrior in the U.S.) and will be titled Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s due to be released in 2012.

Carnival to feature brew pub on new Carnival Magic

Long known for its piano bars, wine bars, sports bars and wildly themed lounges, Carnival Cruise Lines will feature its first pub at sea on Carnival Magic, which is set to debut in May 2011.

In addition to a bunch of Caribbean beers, the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub will have its own micro-brewed draft beer, Thirsty Frog Red, and a menu that includes conch salad, spicy chicken wings and other bar food favorites as well as an array of the region’s finest rums for those whose taste runs more toward spirits than brews.

To, er, gin up interest in RedFrog Pub, Carnival is holding an online contest where barstool poets can enter their own creative slogan for the pub’s coasters. Running through Sept. 7, the contest is for those 21 and older.

Ten finalists will be chosen – nine by Carnival and one wild card entry selected by votes – and visitors to the site will vote to determine three winning slogans. The winners will receive a commemorative version of their winning slogan, a digital camera, RedFrog bar paraphernalia and, of course, eternal bar bragging rights.

For details or to enter your own clever coaster catchphrase, visit the Carnival Magic contest website.

The Sunday roast: British cooking at its best

Who says the British can’t cook?

Every Sunday all across this green and pleasant land pubs serve up a fine roast. The Sunday roast is an old tradition here. It generally includes chicken, beef, pork, or lamb, along with vegetables, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding, all washed down with a pint or two of real ale. Some pubs even serve vegetarian roasts.

The quality of the pub roast varies widely, so it’s best to get some local advice. Many pubs don’t have a real kitchen but rather a microwave where they heat up packaged meals. A true pub will spend hours getting their roast together and you can taste the difference with your first bite.

If you’re in London, the folks at Time Out have made an excellent guide to the best Sunday lunches in town. Many are pub roasts, but there are other meals on offer too. We’ve also written up some suggestions for gastropubs, which are pubs that specialize in gourmet cooking.

In Oxford, there’s an excellent pub roast at The Fir Tree, which is where I took this photo today. As you can see, I’ll be skipping dinner.

So next time you’re enjoying a Sunday afternoon in England, take a break from their amazing and countless curry joints and tuck in to some fine British cooking.

Lon-done? Try St. Albans

London is one of the most popular destinations for American travelers. It’s big, exciting, and there’s always something going on. Sadly, many visitors never get beyond the city limits. There are plenty of smaller towns just a short journey away that are worth visiting on a day trip or longer stay. St. Albans in Hertfordshire north of London is my favorite.

Located just a twenty-minute train ride from King’s Cross, St. Albans feels a world away from the big city. There are woods, quiet lanes, and friendly pubs. The air is even breathable!

St. Albans has been a pilgrimage center since Celtic times. When the Romans conquered Britain, they built the city of Verulamium here. Part of the city wall still pokes out of the grass in the town park, and nearby you can see the excavated remains of the old Roman theatre and other buildings. An excellent museum explains the history of the Roman settlement and occasionally hosts reenactments by “Roman” soldiers. Check out the museum website for the next event.

Since medieval times the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban has been a major pilgrimage center. St. Alban was a Christian resident of Roman Verulamium in the 3rd century AD. One day he saw a fellow Christian fleeing from the soldiers and he helped him escape by exchanging clothes with him. St. Alban was caught and marched up the hill overlooking town and beheaded. It’s said that when the sword cleaved through his neck, the executioner’s eyes popped out! There’s a wonderfully graphic painting of this inside the cathedral. A monastery was founded on the site of St. Alban’s martyrdom in the year 793, and the oldest bits of the current cathedral date to the 11th. You’ll notice that many of the bricks in the church are actually reused from crumbling Roman buildings, poetic justice indeed!

%Gallery-83298%The town itself makes for a relaxed and very English experience. There are numerous timber-frame, thatched-roof houses dating to the 16th and 17th centuries, especially along Fishpool St., and a 600 year-old clock tower that you can climb up to get a good view of the town and surrounding countryside.

If you’re feeling thirsty try Ye Olde Fighting Cocks next to the duck pond in the park. It’s one of the many pubs that claims to be “the oldest in Britain”. While it’s impossible to tell which pub is truly the oldest, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks certainly is a strong contender. The central octagonal section dates to about 1400, and there may have been monks brewing here as early as 793. The pub gets its name from the cockfights that used to take place here. One of the stuffed champions is on display.

There’s enough to do and see in St. Albans that you might consider staying overnight. I’d suggest The Lower Red Lion. This 17th century coaching inn is still much as it was. I love these old buildings with their narrow stairs, small-paned windows, undulating floors, and resident ghosts. The pub downstairs is one of the best places I’ve seen to get real ales. The last time I was there they had seven guest ales on tap. The kitchen will cook you up a hearty meal to go with your pint. There are only seven rooms and it’s best to book well in advance.

So if London is beginning to grate on your nerves, get out of town! St. Albans is a good place to start.

Real Ale–the way beer ought to be

A trip to the pub is a quintessentially British experience, and if you’re a beer snob like me, you’ll insist on drinking real ale. The term “real ale” is reserved for beer that’s brewed using traditional ingredients and secondary fermentation.

“Traditional ingredients” means there are no artificial clarificants, preservatives, or other additives. “Secondary fermentation” means the yeast is still alive in the cask, so that fermentation continues, providing a fuller, fresher taste. Don’t worry about getting the microscopic little guys in your glass, because the yeast settles to the bottom and never comes out of the tap. Because they’re still fermenting in the cask, such beers are often called “cask conditioned” or simply “cask” ales.

The British take their beer so seriously that they have a full-time lobbying organization to ensure real ales don’t disappear under the onslaught of tasteless lagers. The Campaign for Real Ale is a national organization that promotes the brewing, selling, and drinking of real ales. They support traditional pubs too, on the basis that they’re an important aspect of British culture and need to be preserved in the days of theme pubs, big chains, and plasma screen televisions.

One of CAMRA’s campaigns is for an honest pour. A pint glass is only a full pint if the contents come to the bottom of the lip. While this makes it a little hard to carry back to the table without sloshing it on the ground, you will be getting what you paid for. Some people take a sip before leaving the bar, but a real Englishman can carry a three or four pints at the same time through a crowded pub without spilling a drop. Legally, up to 5 percent of the glass can be head, so don’t threaten to sue if you see a bit of white at the top.

CAMRA sponsors real ale festivals across the U.K. These can be a great way to sample lots of different styles. Their website has an up-to-date calendar.

While constant vigilance is the price of good drinking, traditional brewing is actually enjoying a heyday. There are more than 600 breweries in the U.K. brewing an estimated 2,500 ales. Many of these are small, local operations that only distribute their product to a few nearby pubs as a guest ale. Others have national distribution.

Another important organization is Cask Marque, a body that reviews how pubs serve their cask ales, rating them on variety, serving temperature, and overall quality. Those that get high marks are awarded a Cask Marque sticker on their window, shown here. You can rest assured that within there are quality ales served the proper way.

If you’re headed to England, Scotland, or Wales, the folks over at Real Ale Pubs have done your homework for you and have made an extensive list of pubs serving a variety of real ales. If the article I did on gastropubs whet your appetite, then check out the site Dining Pubs, which lists not only gastropubs, but pubs that serve more traditional yet still excellent fare.