(Meat)Ball So Hard on South Street

I never had one of those Italian grandmothers that you see in the media. You know, the short, plump ladies who you never see without an apron, hand permanently glued to a saucy wooden spoon that practically lives in the kitchen.

“Eat, eat! You’re wasting away!!”

My grandmothers’ specialties were deviled eggs and baked beans, or sneaking me Godiva chocolates from the fridge. Needless to say, I loved them…. But I kinda liked the idea this Italian grandma. Someone whose only goal was to fill the bellies and hearts of everyone around her and keep the house warm and smelling of gravy and sausage. It’s no surprise, then, that I immediately felt at home walking into the doors of Me N Mo, South Street’s new meatball home, specializing in balls of meat and pasta to eat!

11024718_10102611107606248_4300518456023421343_n

I was lucky enough to attend a pretty fantastic grand opening party and the staff pulled out all the stops. And, by all the stops, I mean just about any meatball you could imagine!

10473976_10102611107396668_7745953110060823354_n

Stuffing fontina into meatballs? Brilliant.

Making ANY chicken based dish Buffalo-style? My kinda joint.

10403011_10102611107506448_4531821187138172198_n

They also have some more traditional options, including spicy pork and beef. But, oddly enough, my favorite was a combination I never even considered.

I believe they call this their "Hong Kong" meatball

I believe they call this their “Hong Kong” meatball

Pork and Shrimp?! No, these bad boys aren’t Kosher at all. But they ARE delicious, moist, and jam-packed with savory flavor.

As I am a dainty and delicate lady, I made sure to enjoy tiny portions of each. I literally couldn’t stop eating these saucy spheres.

This may or may not have been my second plate.

This may or may not have been my second plate.

The cost for four meatballs of any type and some Sarcone’s bread is $8 which is honestly a little steep for beef meatballs alone, IMHO. However, I think that for some of the more interesting options (Pork and shrimp, lamb!!) it would be worth a trip. Surprisingly, the vegetarian balls tied for second place for me and my buddies. So whether you want your balls meaty and spicy, meat-free and creamy (their mushroom-cream sauce would be a great option for the veg-heads!), Me N Mo has got you covered. You can also get a buttload of balls from their catering menu, as a few of my friends did for Super Bowl Sunday this year. Nice little variety from the standard pizza and wings offerings, and who doesn’t wanna show up to a party armed with buckets of balls?

….Maybe don’t answer that.

Me N Mo: Meatballs & MORE!
214 South Street
Philadelphia, PA

Townsend does East Passyunk Restaurant Week…. perfectly.

Fun Facts about Chef Townsend Wentz:

  • He goes by Tod.
  • He’s a pro at deboning entire pigs (check it out!) and posting it on Instagram
  • Homeboy KNOWS how to do Restaurant Week right.

I’ve always been a little wary of restaurant week. My inner cheapskate breaks down the numbers of the restaurants offering everything from special dishes to old favorites to one-off dessert experiments, and weighs this with my typical levels of hunger. Most often, the result is a decisive Nahh, I’ll just wait for the crowds to die down and order the exact amount of food I want for the price I expect/am willing to pay. 

That said, when I saw that East Passyunk Avenue, Philly’s hottest nook of up-and-coming dining spots, was hosting their own neighborhood restaurant week, I immediately raced over to OpenTable to make a reservation for my two girlfriends and I. I gotta say that, while I was A-OK with the mandatory phone-in reservation at Zahav a few weeks ago, there’s a remarkable ease and convenience to being able to filter using number of diners, date, and time when we were looking for a Monday night out on the town. We spotted space at Townsend and booked it post-haste.

We made the right choice.

You can look at the EPRW menu here if you’d like, OR you can check out this difficult-to-read but beautifully lit photograph below.

Elegant and simple

Elegant and simple

Since there were three of us, we figured we’d try one of each course. Then we saw that one of the first courses was a foie gras butternut squash terrine. And since I’d just binged on terrines last week…. looks like we’re doubling up on Brandades!

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 3.45.50 PM

Course one (served shortly after a DIVINE bread basket [that may have been divine or may have merely been ‘good’, we were pretty hungry]) included a creamy parsnip veloute with brown butter chestnuts, a hint of black truffle, and just enough brussels sprout leaves to leave us wanting more (hee hee). The brandade, a dish I’d never had before, was a crunchy brioche topped with a quail egg, shellfish bouillabaisse, and pernod. How such a tiny little toasty brioche could be so full of flavor…. well I don’t (per)nod, but it was incredible. The veloute was rich and creamy, a nice complement to the light fluff and crunch of the other appetizer. But the best was yet to come…

Enter: the mother lode

Enter: the mother lode

I’ll shoot you straight, the saffron malloreddus, pictured top right, was a little cold by the time it got to us. Flavor-wise, it was fairly unremarkable, and the tastes of caramelized onions and fennel, while there, were hints. If you were only getting this dish, I would not consider your experience worthwhile. BUT if you’re lucky enough to have some dining pals, perhaps they’ll slip you bites of the glorious speck-wrapped cod (bottom right) atop Tarbais bean garbure with tiny cockles (that came with their own fork!) This fish fell apart the moment your fork touched it, delicate… dare I say exquisite?

Oh, if I dared, I’ll repeat that word for the venison en crepinette (different from the online menu, description here). Exquisite. We nearly came to (fork) blows over these half-dollar sized medallions, each soaking up the jus and pairing perfectly with the parsnip pureé. This dish would bring me back again and again.

Somehow, we had room for dessert. Luckily, it was both light and a delight.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 4.11.01 PM

The crème brûlée, flawless. Visible vanilla bean is my jam. The blue cheese plate was a nice tangy option for those without a sweet tooth. And for those WITH a sweet tooth: enter pavlova. No, she’s not your exotic, sexy neighbor (maybe she is, I don’t know where you live). She is actually an it, specifically a crunchy meringue dish topped with mixed berries and strawberry coulis, speckled with fresh mint.

Yup. Imagine the finest cotton candy you can even fathom. And then make it fancy, and French, and bury it in berries. We couldn’t get enough.

Take your dates, your dads, your dudes, your dames, yourself, take them all to Townsend. I’ll be back soon to try out their take on rabbit…. I’ve only heard (read* since I practically live on Yelp) the best things.

Thanks, Tod and team, for the tasty treats.

Cinder-eat-a: A Night Out at #PhillyCooks

As far as princesses go, I’ve never identified much with CInderella. Sure, I’m blond and my whistling skills have been known to call woodland critters to my side (though, in Philly, it’s mostly pigeons and Rittenhouse rats. Gross.) But I can’t stand house cleaning, I get along famously with my siblings and mother, and I’m rubbish on heels, glass or otherwise.

Last night, however, I think I had my Cinderella moment. Instead of a fairy godmother, I had the team from Philadelphia Magazine as my benefactor. My pumpkin coach was an UberX, and my gown was a hastily thrown together number sourced from Athleta and Nordstrom. Most importantly, instead of seeking out a dance with the handsome prince, I was here for one reason.

header-largev2

Philly Cooks.

One of the city’s premier dining and drinking experiences, this soirée is put on every year by Foobooz, my go-to for all Food and Booze news in Philly. Tickets range from $85 for the early birds to $100. This plucky princess managed to win a pair, due to some sort of pixie dust I’m sure. And so I grabbed my date (read: my mom) and headed to the castle Marriott.

Imagine an enormous room with vaulted ceilings, complete with warm lighting and the dull roar of live music, chock full of Philly foodies, sprinkled with some of the top chefs in every genre of edibles from neighborhoods far and wide.

Yup, I was in paradise.

Yup, I was in paradise.

From ceviche and smoked salmon to pork, pizza, and potatoes to more terrine than you could shake a stick at (seriously…. what’s with all the terrine, chefs?) With a gauzy, tent-like speakeasy stationed in the middle of the vast space pouring cocktails from Franky Bradley’s, Olde Bar, and Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co. (my personal favorite was a Reverse Valencia from Olde Bar – Tanqueray, Oloroso Sherry, Manzanilla Sherry, and apple bitters), the party was in full swing by the time we arrived around 7pm.

Cocktail line-up looking so fly

Cocktail line-up looking so fly

After we obtained our beverages of choice, we began to loop around. Laurel’s Nicholas Elmi (who all Top Chef fans know as a winnnnnerrrr and all Philly folks know as proprietor of restaurant you can’t get reservations to) started off my night the right way with duck confit and foam, and the party kept going strong from there.

I’ll shoot you straight, when you’re surrounded by ravenous hoards of hungry folks all queueing up for tiny plates, whipping out your phone for photos becomes low on the priority list. In fact, I kinda forgot about it for some standouts. Like, sure I can’t recall EXACTLY where I consumed the most divine lobster (maybe) grilled cheese and tomato soup, when my mother thrust it in my hands (Maybe… The Hunt Room?). But I guess when I went back for my 2nd 3rd, let’s be honest here, slow roasted boar and foccaccia panino with pickled red onion, I deemed it worth for a photo (SERIOUSLY SOMEONE TAKE ME TO CAPOFITTO POST HASTE!)

 unnamed-3

I want to fall asleep on this soft focaccia next to a pile of that boar. Is that an appropriate way to describe food?

Probably.

Weirdly enough, though I rarely have much of a sweet tooth, the dessert area was my dream-come-true last night. Wonder why….

Sweet Box glory

Sweet Box glory

Goat cheese ANGLAISE?

Goat cheese ANGLAISE?

Huge up to The Master’s Baker, who have given a new lease on my concept of goat cheese’s LIFE.

But then, I reached the mecca.

Oh, what's that? JUST A S'MORES BAR!

Oh, what’s that? JUST A S’MORES BAR!

Yup, 10 Arts brought the HEAT quite literally. Because, in case you didn’t know, s’mores are my favorite dessert. Want proof?

YOU GOT YOUR PROOF

YOU GOT YOUR PROOF

That’s unbridled joy at the thought of consuming a s’more consisting of graham cracker, housemade marshmallow, AND A REESES CUP.

The rest of the night was a blur of snacking, sipping, spinning around in awe, and sadly seeing some spots sans sustenance. By 8pm, a TON of vendors were fresh out. Made me wish we’d come early, but no one wants to be THAT Cinderella. Princesses need to make an entrance. And as my stomach swelled happily, and the clock struck midnight (JK it ended at 9pm but all that eating tuckers a gal out), my mother and I raced down the escalators, pausing only for one farewell photo.

unnamed-4

Foobooz and Philly, you know how to feed a gal. And you just let me know if you spot any glass slippers in a women’s size 12. I’m not saying they’re mine or anything…. but you wouldn’t believe the blisters those puppies give ya!

Zahav’s Temporary Transformation: The Lamb Shack

If anyone says they heard the term “Lamb Shack” and didn’t immediately start thinking in terms of the B-52’s 1989 hit, they’re a liar. Or they were born in the 1990s. Either way, I probably would avoid hanging out with them, and instead click this link and listen to it while you’re reading along. It’ll bring you along for one of the more delicious rides of my life.

(apologies for the lousy pictures, hate to whip out the DSLR on a date in a fancy resto…)

Having followed Mike Solomonov’s work religiously since I moved to Philadelphia like some sort of food-groupie, when I heard that one of the most coveted dishes in Philadelphia was going to be available to the huddled masses, I immediately called to make a reservation. If you’re not “in the know”, this legendary dish, a whole lamb shoulder, is described better by Adam Erace, so I’d recommend checking out his review. This dish is typically reserved for parties of 4+ and has to be ordered in advance. For the brief month of February, though, Zahav decided to offer this decadent meal to every visitor for a mere $36 per guest (along with the standard fare of hummus tehina, house made pita, vegetarian salatim, and a dessert).

Oh, it’s also BYOB.

Yup, the hits keep coming. But let’s get to the good stuff.

Salatim and hummus

Salatim and hummus

Six different vegetarian sides that almost almost make you forget you’re about to devour a hunk of lamb so rich, so flavorful that you can taste the fields in Colorado where the lamb grazed. My absolute favorite sides were the pickled cabbage and onions, the twice-cooked eggplant, and a tabbouleh salad with pomegranate arils littered throughout. All of this served with house-baked pita that was sprinkled with spices.

Don't worry, I promptly cleared this plate for the main event.

Don’t worry, I promptly cleared this plate for the main event.

But I knew, despite the cloud-like pillow of pita in front of me spread with assorted salads and dips, the best was yet to come. And then…. it came. And it might just be the delicious smells that surrounded me, or the killer 90s soundtrack that blasted through the tented rooms that resembled the inside of some sort of casbah… maybe it was the second glass of Shiraz. But I’m pretty sure that my waiter was briefly replaced with an angel who floated a tray of meat my way.

hubba hubba

hubba hubba

That angel deposited the goods on our table, my date and I shared a moment or pre-meal bliss, and we began to carve our lamb.

One word: Nirvana.

Served on a bed of Persian rice and chickpeas, this hunk of fatty, flavorful, tender and incredibly juicy meat just fell apart at my touch. And then I fell apart with each bite. We tackled as much as we could, but we made sure to hold out a bit of extra space in our tummies.

The grand finale:

unnamed-3

Chocolate kanafi – basically a bird’s nest of shredded phyllo dough filled with a melted chocolate ganache and topped with a dollop of passionfruit mascarpone (which was maybe a hint too tart for my tastes). The ganache was like a gentle chocolate lava that oozed into my mouth and filled me with assurance that everything would be okay.

We waddled home, our to-go bag running over with leftovers, knowing full well the glory that awaited us the next morning. Because you better believe, when a meal is this good on a Saturday night…

unnamed-4

…Topped with an egg or two, it’s going to be even better on a Sunday morning.

They’ve still got a few reservations if you wanna try to sneak in before March hits Philly (give them a call at 215-625-8800). And if you can’t get in before then, find yourself a handful of friends that dig good food and round em all up. You won’t regret it.

ClassPass in Philly: A Review from a Center City Gal

(Heads up: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I make a few dollars if you sign up for ClassPass using this link [You’ll also be able to skip the waitlist!] I received no compensation for writing this post, however, and all opinions are my own.)

Ok, phew, had to get that out there. Because the thing is: I LOVED my complimentary month (and some change) of ClassPass (in case you missed THAT whole announcement or initial feelings). And I’m really impressed with the progress I made in my classes I attended. Unfortunately for me, my time with CP fell during the holidays and two longer weekend trips, which resulted in me attending about 16 classes over the course of my 43ish days. This WOULD have cost about $150 on ClassPass (pro-rating my half month, and basing it on the former prices).

Pretty happy camper, over here

Pretty happy ClassPass-Kid, over here

I think I visited something like 8 studios (two for spinning, two for yoga, two for barre, one for rowing, and one for cross-training) which is definitely not even close to scratching the surface of the options. And this worked for me. I went 110% in every class, I enjoyed all but two, and I fell in love with a few. That said, as of right now, I’m going to hold off on renewing my ClassPass. Partially this is because of my personal circumstances, which are currently a little helter skelter at work with a fair amount of “off-schedule” hours coming up, partially because I’m commuting to-and-from Wilmington every now and then which can really cut into my after-work and before-work workouts, but mostly because, despite their recent drop of prices from $99 to $79 per month in Philly, the cheapskate within is not sure the increase of $35 from my standard gym membership is worth it (however, that recent drop in prices may have me checking back in come March!!)

The PROS of ClassPass

  • Diversity of classes. Y’ALL, there’s a ROWING class!! There’s yoga, hot yoga, power yoga, Lithe Method, spinning (total FlyWheel convert over here), cross-training (weights! Cardio! Yoga! OH MY!) bootcamps, and things I have never heard of (and still haven’t tried yet…) No need to get in a rut when you’ve got all these options!

    Sick form on that stroke, eh?

    Sick form on that stroke, eh?

  • TECHNOLOGY! I love the App, the website is super easy to use, and some of the studios (COUGH FLYWHEEL COUGH) even give you the bonus tech of THEIR sites. Below is a report of my 4 FlyWheel classes. Pretty amazing way to track progress and how you perform day to day!

    Clearly Monday, January 26 I became an ANIMAL

    Clearly Monday, January 26 I became an ANIMAL

  • The Studios Themselves: ClassPass has done an amazing job of getting the TOP fitness studios in Philadelphia signed up. If I’d taken 16 classes individually, I likely would’ve spent at least $300. And then been kicked out of my apartment for inability to pay rent. These are the finest, cleanest, most-updated studios in the area. And I loved being a part of them all, in some capacity.

The CONS of ClassPass

  • The diversity is spread PRETTY far…. Here are all the classes offered in “Philadelphia Metro Area”:Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 4.42.47 PMNot too shabby, right? Except, as a woman without a car (and no real interest in trying to get one just to work out), THESE are the studios I can/would go to:Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 5.03.40 PMAnd even some of those in the Northeast are pushing it…. It’s still more than my current gym offers, but far less than it appears in that first map.
  • The cost Whoah. As I was writing this up, CP dropped down to $79… and suddenly seems less out of reach and more… manageable.
  • ClassPass classes only: Lots of studios should mean the feeling of an endless SMORGASBORD of classes, right? Except… not always. Many of the studios I’ve visited before only have “ClassPass” Spots in the early morning, or during the middle of the day…. For someone without a very flexible schedule, this can be an issue. I tend to prefer to workout before work or IMMEDIATELY after…. but sometimes classes were only offered to certain studios at 11am or 7:30pm. Not my cuppa tea (whether it’s because I’m working, or already considering bed…)
  • No-Show Fee: You cancel a class within 24 hours of the time it starts? $20 fee. YES this made me feel very accountable. BUT come on, life happens. $20 is a steep price to pay if you get caught in traffic, or if plans suddenly change.

All in all, if you’re already spending money for a gym membership and you don’t feel like you’re getting a ton out of it, ClassPass could be just what the doctor ordered!

PLUS if you wanna skip the waitlist and join ClassPass ASAP, click this image to use my affiliate link.

unnamed

Juno: No Match for Meat Week at Percy Street

There was this one time that every meteorologist in Philadelphia predicted the storm of the century. Her name was Juno, and she was supposed to be a beast. And so we watched, and we waited, and we bought an outrageous amount of milk, bread, and eggs (as is tradition). It was briefly beautiful.Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 6.40.16 PMThe weather outside was frightful. But not REALLY that frightful. So I made my way to Flywheel, like a winner.

Lemme tell you what could happen when you DESTROY a Flywheel class: you MIGHT hit a PR (I know I did). Your heart rate will DEFINITELY be up. Your blood will almost certainly be pumping. And, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll feel like you belong at the top of the food chain.

Enter: Percy Street Barbecue. Namely, their Meat Week. For $20, the Meathearts (like sweethearts, but meatier) at Percy Street are offering family style Brisket (MOO), Chicken (cluck), and pulled pork (OINK!), pinto beans with brisket burnt ends, german potato salad with a warm bacon vinaigrette, collard greens with smoked ham hocks, coleslaw, extra sharp cheddar mac & cheese, and buttermilk chive skillet cornbread.

Do yourself a solid and reread that. And then, ogle the goodies.

Housemade Pimento Cheese!

Housemade Pimento Cheese!

I had to take a separate picture of the mac & cheese because it disappeared so fast

I had to take a separate picture of the mac & cheese because it disappeared so fast

The cornbread, unfortunately, was too quickly consumed for my phone to take a photo. Sorry, folks. But it was delicious…

And then, the money shot:

MEAT'S ON!

MEAT’S ON!

Yup. A little bite of every beast you could want, savory sides, Texas toast. The hits seemingly kept coming, and by the end of the meal, the five of us were left with bellies teeming with protein (proteeming?) AND leftovers. All for $20 per person! Can’t be beat.

If you’re gunning for meat week you’ve got until January 30th (that’s TWO MORE NIGHTS!!) but here’s some pretty good scoop:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 7.26.46 PM

Percy Street’s Lockhart can be purchased ANY DAY OF THE YEAR! Sure, you miss out on mac & cheese and cornbread, but pretend you’re going low-carb and you’ll never miss them.

(You might miss the mac & cheese, but for $6 it could [and should] be yours.)

If you’ve got any other meaty meals in Philly that are must-tries PLEASE share. Because I’ve realized that the only thing I want after a hard workout is to remind myself of the Viking Woman Amazon Warrior within.

And she’s hungry.

Beer Match: Finding the Perfect Match EVERY TIME

This is a guest post.

We can all agree on one thing (except those poor souls with gluten issues): Beer is a beautiful thing, and there’s nothing better than cracking one open at the end of a long day… except, of course, having said beautiful beer in hand as you sit down to a delicious meal, and enjoying the way flavors of the beer and the food complement each other. But pairing beer and food isn’t always easy, or even something that most of us know about, and while sometimes you may think that some pairings are “good enough”, there can always be better pairings that more trained tongues can distinguish. Always something to learn…

Lucky for everyone (except, again, the gluten-challenged), an app called Beer Match gives us all that we could possibly need. That’s right, just like it can now get you rides home or show you where the nearest public bathroom is, your phone can help you take taste to a whole new level and enjoy your beer in never-before-seen ways.

screen320x480-1

It doesn’t really come as a surprise, as we continue to use our phones in innovative ways every day. AlchemyBet, the proud owners of Pocket Fruity, have said that we now use our phones everywhere from in church to at school and at work, and we’ve all seen those brilliant souls who walk into the streets, eyes glazed over at their phones, nearly colliding with oncoming traffic (this is a real thing, I just watched the other day!). Luckily, with Beer Match, your phone isn’t just a distraction; it’s a powerful tool that helps you get the most out of your meal and the brew you choose to drink it with!

The way it works is you select a food from the list of over 500 foods already on the app, and the app then generates a list of beers – kinds of beer, not brands – that go well with your selection.

screen320x480

If you find yourself on the other end of the line, beer in hand and wondering “goodness, what should I eat with this auspicious ale?!”, you can use the app to find food that match the beer you have at home too. Major bonus: the fact that you don’t even need an internet connection to use it. Once you’ve downloaded it, all information is stored locally on your phone so you can look up great beer and food pairings no matter what pub, restaurant, or microbrewery you’re in. Even if it’s a secret sneaky restaurant underground… or you decide to have dinner in your basement.

Whatever floats your boat.

The app costs $0.99 on the iTunes App Store, and its developers have also made mobile apps for other pairings such as wine-and-food and wine-and-cheese. Really, an app for every palate and pairing.

Two Dames Do Dogfish Head

When I visited the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago, I was impressed with lots of things. The hoards of bearded beer bros. The wonder of Denver. The tartness of sours. The bitter hops that can be packed into imperial double ULTIMATE IPAs!! But something else struck me… The line for the Dogfish Head stand. It seemed to span a mile! WHAT WERE THEY ALL WAITING FOR?!

See, though I’m just mad for the brews produced by Dogfish Head, I was born in Delaware. I grew up there, and though I migrated to Pennsylvania when I was 10, it was “Delaware County”, a stone’s throw from Wilmington. It’s no surprise, then, that DFH was never perceived to me as “rare” or “special” merely…. present. Ubiquitous, even. That said, I get it. If you’re someone who doesn’t have access to the tasty beers from the First State, they become something to seek out. Rare gems. And where better to pan for gems than the source? (That was my best try at a segue. Don’t hate me.)

Paradise

Paradise

My dear buddy Claire came down right after the new year cracked so we could take a journey south to Milton to visit the brewery for the day. We were promptly greeted with tickets to the tour and four sample pours. I chose the four I hadn’t tried before, and we enjoyed a little pre-tour tasting

Working my way through the ranks

Working my way through the ranks

Beer's better with buddies

Beer’s better with buddies

Before I’d even started my fourth pour, it was time to tour!

And I have a confession….

The tour was (at least the portion we were on) dreadfully dull. I have a feeling it isn’t always this way, but we got shafted by a tour guide who somehow managed to make my absolute favorite topic boring, while periodically making me feel weirded out… Claire put it best, saying that Lars (our tour guide) left us feeling like his entire spiel was a long joke that never got the punchline, and never really taught us anything about what makes Dogfish Head special.

Not for lack of looking!

Not for lack of looking!

It’s okay. Their website can tell you plenty. All we knew was that, after about 30 minutes of saying what felt like nothing, we had to get outta there.

We left the tour early for greener pastures (after one last beer…)

One day I'll get a new hat. but that day isn't today.

One day I’ll get a new hat. but that day isn’t today.

Lucky for us, Dogfish Head’s Brewpub is in Rehoboth Beach, a mere 25 minutes away. So we hit the road for some eats and dranks.

Tapas, anyone?

Tapas, anyone?

Pickles, cheese, olives, and beer: What else could two gals ask for?

The beers were brewpub exclusives, Pennsylvania Tuxedo and Analog, and they were world-rocking. Claire had the higher ABV since I was driving, but we both made sure we didn’t leave empty bellied….

Oh baby.

Oh baby.

We each got a porchetta sandwich with MORE PICKLES (quickly becoming something I seek out, don’t offer to dining partners! #growingup), arugula, roasted (or was it “blistered”) red peppers, and a rich aioli that I don’t even really remember beyond just stifled moans of enjoyment from both of us.

We both left proud members of the clean plate club, stoked that our DFH dreams came true, just a little distance away from where we thought they would.

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for those off-centered ales, and with a setting like this outside…. well, I still recommend a visit!

Steampunk Treehouse, anyone?

Steampunk Treehouse, anyone?

It was still a solid day trip, and if you’ve got the time (especially in the summer) worth the trek!

Best brewery tour you’ve ever taken?

New Belgium still has my heart…

ClassPass in Philadelphia: Reflections and Progress

(Heads up: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I make a few dollars if you sign up for ClassPass using this link [You’ll also be able to skip the waitlist!] I received no compensation for writing this post, however, and all opinions are my own.)

Ok, Christmas is fast upon us. And, if your office/family/friends are anything like mine, you’re likely experiencing a deluge of sweets and treats flooding from the gates of Pinterest with unparalleled force. A veritable nonstop influx of all things sugary, savory, seasonal, and sensational.

Corned beef and cheddar latkes? Sure.

Corned beef and cheddar latkes? Sure.

Cupcake in a Jar? WHY THE HELL NOT?!

Cupcake in a Jar from office mate? WHY THE HELL NOT?!

However, due to my dedication to this Jan1 Challenge inspired by my uber-fit bro and a pretty regimented tracking document with a few friends, near and far-flung, I have, for the most part, been able to steer clear of the mounds of muffins, caches of cookies and cupcakes, and the droves of donuts (nope, someone brings in Federal Donuts, I’m like a woman possessed). The past few days, especially though, have been jam-packed with potlucks and dinner parties, holiday parties and ugly sweater crawls so, despite keeping a pretty tight lock and key on the sweets, there’s definitely been a fair amount of indulgence lately.

1920267_10153646560343504_1063637603234754817_n

Lucky for me, I’ve got a secret weapon. It’s my new ClassPass and I’ve definitely been giving it a workout lately. In the past six days, I’ve gone to three different classes with the pass, and one without it. The results? I’m actually feeling fantastic!!

Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

I’ve visited Bikram Yoga Philadelphia for an early morning class (WOW, talk about sweaty!!) I actually went to BIkram about 8 times earlier this year through a little daily-deal unlimited package. I believe it was 2 months, and I actually got pretty into it. There’s something really soothing about the same 26 poses over the course of 90 minutes in a piping hot room. Sure, maybe I’m just relishing in the opportunity to rock spandex shorts again in a socially acceptable fashion, but repeated visits had me noticing marked improvement in my balance and back strength.

This most recent visit…. rude awakening. I was teetering and tottering, but found my center towards the end. I’m hoping to go back at least once if not twice before the pass runs out!

Focus Barre and Yoga’s Barre Class was…. insane. First, the studio: Clean, bright space, comfortable carpets for the barre class, and check out the view!

unnamed-4

I know, it’s just Chestnut Street, but I do appreciate a good window in a studio, especially one where you can actually see out of it. There are a number of classes scheduled (click link for schedule), though not TOO many, which could be tough if you were going here regularly.

unnamed-2

The class itself, though, that was the most impressive part. I haven’t felt that type of burn in my legs and arms since Pure Barre in North Carolina! Lotsa gear in this class, from balls to weights to resistance bands.

Because what woman doesn't love to accessorize?

Because what woman doesn’t love to accessorize?

The instructor was super high energy the entire time, and chimed in with helpful, non-judgmental sounding critiques every now and then (if you’ve ever been to a barre class, you might know what I am alluding to when I say her critiques didn’t sound judgmental. If you haven’t, LUCKY YOU!) My thighs were on fire, my arms shaking, and my abs resonating with the deep burn of an incredible workout, all in only one hour.

FULL recommendation to this joint, truly. When can I go back?!

Finally, Philly Power Yoga. I’ve visited this studio a handful of times in the past, so nothing really blew me away. They are tough workouts. The instructors won’t hesitate to tell you when you’re doing something wrong, or where you should be pushing yourself. However, I’m not 100% sure it’s my favorite style of yoga/critique. I don’t know, the jury’s still out, but the location is almost too convenient and the temperature too comfortable warm to write it off completely. They have so many class options, it’s hard to say no.

I also threw in a BodyPump class on Sunday, just for good measure. All this, and a trip to Zumba last Monday, and I’m finding myself working out 5 days in one week! I’m sore, but in that muscle ache because you know you’re doing it right soreness. And I’ve got a lot of ClassPass left to use like crazy. Tomorrow’s agenda calls for a Cross-Training lunchtime class at Unite, which I’m maybe even a little nervous to try. But if there’s ever a time to give new exercises a go, this is it.

I know that life isn’t ALL about the numbers, but I will say that, since November, I have lost about 5lbs. My clothes are fitting better, I’m falling to sleep more easily, and my independent weight lifting feels like it actually…. matters? That sounds about right.

Now all I’ve gotta do is make it through Christmas without being trampled by Bell-jar baked goods. Wish me luck.

ClassPass Comes to Philly!!

(Heads up: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I make a few dollars if you sign up for ClassPass using this link, or the links throughout the post [You’ll also be able to skip the waitlist!] I received no compensation for writing this post, however, and all opinions are my own.)

I’ve been holding onto a secret for about a week or so, but the cat is outta the bag: ClassPass has officially arrived in Philadelphia!!

unnamed

If you’ve ever met me, spent time with me, or really even read my blog, you might understand why I’m so pumped for this arrival. For $99/month (the cost of some gyms around the city, and the cost of something like 4/5 classes at a lot of Philly’s premiere studios), you get unlimited classes to use at studios in the ClassPass network (Well, unlimited to a point… While a member can take as many classes per month as they’d like, they can visit the same studio up to 3 times per monthly membership cycle.)

It’s basically an all-access pass to work out at different studios all throughout the city (and some are even in the suburbs). For more information, check out their FAQs.

I’ll admit, I’ve been anxiously awaiting launch because I’ve been given a month membership to try out Philly’s own take on ClassPass. My heart skipped a beat when I received the email that launch had gone down, and immediately signed up for my first class. After ogling all the others, you can BET I’ll be visiting a buncha spots. Here’s just a sample of the studios that are participating in Philly’s ClassPass (and the ones I can’t WAIT to check out):

  • Focus Barre and Yoga (20th and Chestnut)
  • Allongée (Old City) – ballet based fitness, I’ll give it a try!
  • Body Cycle Studio (Also 20th and Chestnut, looks like the same address as Focus) – for all my spinning needs!
  • RowZone (Rittenhouse) – I’ve been DYING to try a rowing class!!
  • Lithe Method (because DUH)
  • Unite Fitness Studio (12 and Arch) – they’ve got yoga AND cross training, which is like cardio strength and yoga!
  • Bikram Yoga (16 and Sansom) – LOVED this earlier in the year enough to do 2 months unlimited. I think I went at least once a week throughout, great for the cold weather, let’s get bendy and sweaty!
  • FlyWheel (Rittenhouse) – Another one I’ve been meaning to try forever…. now’s as good a time as any!!

If I even went to a single class at each of those, with drop-in costs, I’d probably be dropping at least $160. However, I can go to all of those spots like… 3 times each. I’m overwhelmed with anticipation.

I’ll keep y’all abreast of what this experience is like, and feel free to follow along on Twitter with #ClassPassPhilly and #LivingtheSweatyLife!

T-minus 2 hours until my first class, wish me luck!

PLUS if you wanna skip the waitlist and join ClassPass ASAP, click this image to use my affiliate link.

unnamed