No lake crossing today, fortunately. I needed the time to get ready for the cruise. First job: paying off my American Express bill to make sure I have a functioning credit card. It was a heart-stopping amount, thanks to some extraordinary expenses for the kids as they began their new school years, and the $3k operation on the dog Mac. It was the second highest in history. So I was doubly glad that a royalty check from the cookbook came in day before yesterday. Whew. On the way back from the bank, I stopped for lunch at Thai Thai. Ricky, the chef and owner, no longer allows me to order what I feel like eating. He insists I try whatever he's excited about. I enjoy rolling the dice like that, and the prices at Thai Thai are so low that the risk is tiny. Today he sent out the familiar and good tom yum goong soup, a clear broth spicy with red pepper and tangy with herbs, with a few shrimp creating the substance of the dish. He followed that with a pile of jasmine rice interspersed with crabmeat, green onions, and lemongrass. This is not my kind of dish, really, but it was delicious. The portion was so insanely large that I brought home half of it for Mary Ann. This would be right to her taste. The main reason I'm on the North Shore today is to host our remote broadcast at Heiner Brau, a microbrewery in an old hardware store in the heart of Old Covington, right across from the ancient train depot. The depot is still there, but the tracks are long gone, having been replaced by the Tammany Trace cycling path. We were contracted by Henrik "Heiner" Orlik, the owner and brewmaster, to help promote his Oktoberfest celebration. We broadcast from the midst of the copper tanks where the beer is brewed. Heiner is a native of southern Germany, and is one of the best and most successful micro-breweries in the area. He makes all the specialty beers for Zea, as well as a full line under his own name. For awhile after Katrina, he made Dixie Beer, but gave it up as too big a project for his artisan, hands-on operation. Mary Ann sold this package to Heiner, and so the heat was doubly on me to make sure we drew a nice crowd. I needn't have worried. The weather had become perfect during the day, cool and sunny. When the doors opened at five the people streamed in. By the end of the first hour, there were long lines for beer inside the brewery. Beck 'n' Call, the little café across the street, had people lined up too for its platters of sausages, sauerkraut, and the rest of its German menu. And the German band was rolling right along. Its leader, Julie Council, dropped by the microphones to play "Roll Out The Barrel" and "The Happy Wanderer" on her cute red accordion. Lots of kids were running around, taking part in the games. Nice little festival, in a marvelous venue. Downtown Covington is the most charming place anywhere on the North Shore.