Freehouse Fitness FAQs

In early 2016, South Street got a brand new exercise studio, Freehouse Fitness. Nestled dangerously close to Sweet Freedom Bakery and the summer favorite PHS Popup Garden, this bright space houses some of Philly’s most challenging (and fun!) classes. Seven days a week, Dana and her team lead fitness junkies on the trampoline, the reformer, the mat, and at the barre. I’m certainly no expert, but with ClassPass bringing new guests daily, who couldn’t use a little more scoop before your visit?

What to Wear/Bring

  • Leggings or crops – I love wearing shorts, but NOT during these workouts
  • Tank top – You want your arms and shoulders free to move
  • Water bottle
  • Grippy socks – IF you choose to wear socks (I think a few classes suggest/request that you do), you’re not slipping. Most folks I see go barefoot

That’s it! You don’t have to bring a mat, or a lock. They have lockers with keys you can use during classes. They also have towels AND free Rival Bros. coffee for those 6:10am classes!

What Types of Classes Can You Take?

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Looks confusing? Yeah, I thought so too. BUT here are some key words:

  • Rebounder – This is a small, personal trampoline that, when combined with killer cardio, torches serious calories. Lower impact than just jumping on hardwood, rebounders at Freehouse are used to light up cardio classes.
  • Reformer – This thing might look like a torture device… and that’s probably because, depending on the instructor, it can feel like one, too! Using adjustable resistance bands, a pulley system, and physics, these things allow for a super low-impact, incredibly difficult workout when used correctly.

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    The Reformer is a double-edged sword: Incredible workout BUT doesn’t let you coast. At all.

  • Jumpboard – Like a foot plate they put on the reformer, this allows you to “jump” from a horizontal position. Any reformer class that mentions cardio will probably use this to get you sweating.
  • Bands – A little more user-friendly than those resistance bands you got in physical therapy, these bands have handles and allow you to “lift” in a dynamic fashion not available with your classic barbells or dumbbells

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    Bands high and low

How much does it cost?

Well, much like any fitness studio, that depends on how often you go and what type of classes you purchase.

Reformer classes, at $26 for a drop-in  or $120 for five classes, cost more than the rest of the classes. Consistent with most reformer-based studios, this is because the equipment is expensive and the room only has a few reformers. You’re getting the benefit of very personal attention when there are only 6-8 students in the class.

Fitness classes on the rebounders or with the bands are $18 for a drop-in or $80 for a five-pack. You’ll have more students in the class, too, but you’ll still get lots of attention as all the instructors at Freehouse really know their stuff.

There are also some $14 yoga sculpt classes AND if you’re lucky (and follow the FreehouseFitness Instagram page, you might be able to take advantage of one of their free classes they throw every now and then!

What’s the Vibe?

When it comes to fitness studios or gyms, they can give you the best workout of your life but, if you’re not “feeling it”, you’re not going to come back. BUT the vibe at Freehouse is a fun, fit, and enthusiastic one. PLUS Dana is always throwing special events like vegetarian/vegan brunch or mimosas with fresh-pressed juice in the studio. In the summer, she even had pop-up classes on the Schuylkill River banks. The showers are clean, the amenities are luxurious, and the lighting and windows keep the mood light and bright.

Whether you’re on a “New Year, New You” kick, or just looking for a way to change up your fitness regime, Freehouse could be the spot for you! Plus, just think of all the incredible photo opps…. Just saying.

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Flying High!

 

Flotation in Philly: Don’t Fear the Unknown

I’ll start with a confession: I’m rubbish when it comes to recovery. Well, active recovery, or even conscious recovery. I love to destroy my body with a great workout, and there’s no pain sweeter than the deep muscle soreness the following day. It’s after the sweat has dried, that’s when I get lazy. I may half-heartedly stretch a bit, or cool down with a walk, but a gal needs some help now and then.

Enter: flotation Philly

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After somewhat secretly starting Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide a few weeks ago (more on that, soon), I was feeling the burn in all the best ways. When I got the opportunity to finally try one of these sensory deprivation tanks, I went running (in the rain, to Fishtown).

The question that everyone’s been asking: what was it like?! Here goes nothing:

You’ve got three options

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The Tank is SERIOUS business (at least outwardly. It’s the more classic sensory deprivation option, but I was warned it can be a bit much for first timers.

The POD is the most fun word to say, and apparently, also one that most folks choose for their first time. It’s got lighting and music you can control from the inside, so if you’re prone to claustrophobia, this could be the one for you!

The Cabin, well, that was mine. As a 6’2″ Amazon lady, I was placed in their largest option. So that’s the experience I’ll speak to.

You’re led into a room containing the sensory deprivation tank of your choice. Scrub off in their WONDERFUL shower, jam some earplugs in, strip down, and dive in (well, step in, it’s only 10 inches deep).

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(OK here’s what it was really like)

There’s a little optional head rest float to put your noggin in, but other than that, your body just floats in water saturated with HUNDREDS of pounds of epsom salt. I closed the door, laid back, and closed my eyes. For once, I hadn’t done a ton of research on the experience, checking all the reviews. I was going in blind. And as the darkness set in, I was left alone with my thoughts.

Initially, those thoughts raced. Everything from my week’s workout schedule to cookie recipes to bridesmaid dresses. Sometimes I forgot to breathe for a second and had to take big gulps. Gradually, and then all of the sudden, it just stopped. I realized I had my eyes open at one point and didn’t remember opening them, because it was pitch black. My mind was blank. I didn’t fall asleep, I just… floated. I couldn’t tell which parts of my body were under water, because everything was the same temperature. But my breathing slowed, and I kept floating, completely weightless. It felt very natural.

Not asleep, not fully awake, my mind floated along with my body. I can’t remember thinking anything specific, just a peaceful dreamlike existence for my hyperactive mind. Fun bonus for the sore body: All that epsom salt can boost your magnesium levels, which can improve your circulation, improve your body’s ability to use insulin, ease muscle pain, regulate electrolytes, and relieve stress. So flotation has science backing it, too.

Unfortunately, my reveries were interrupted towards the tail end of my float (I opted for the 60 minute experience, but you can do 60 or 90). The jets that regulate the temperature kicked in, and shook me a bit. I’m assured this does not normally happen, as they can assure they’re off, and a total mistake. I will say, though, I wasn’t able to get back into that same state after settling back into my cabin of quiet. It was definitely calm and soothing, but I had trouble disconnecting like I did for the first 40 minutes.

That said, I was still surprised when the quiet music began and the glowing lights came back on.

REALLY?! That was already 60 minutes?!?!
(plus a few he added to make up for the jet mistake)

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Typical.

I, of course, immediately documented my post-soak spooky cabin on Snapchat (@jpreezy22 in case you’re interested), and showered again.

For the rest of the night, I realized that despite leg day the previous day, my legs were no longer sore. Nothing was sore. Full disclosure: a day later, I’m sore again, but that’s probably because I worked out about 3 hours before my float.

flotation’s pricing ranges from $75 for a 90 minute float, to $60 for 60 minutes, and this price drops if you sign up for a monthly membership.  If you have trouble shutting your brain off, floating could be great. If you want to soak up some of that beneficial magnesium, head on over. If you’re looking for the gift for that fit freak that has everything, or your workaholic pal that could use an hour of relaxation, BAM consider a giftcard.

flotation’s up in Fishtown, at 534 E. Girard Avenue.

honeygrow, hgAthletics, and YIP!

A little while back, a group of road warriors banded together, as they do every month, for the YIP (Young Involved Philadelphia) Running Club. The only difference that month: I joined them. That’s right, this  self-proclaimed “non-runner” decided to lace up her sneakers and sweat-wicking tank top and bring new meaning to “fast-casual”.  Lured by the guarantee of wholesome treats and an insider’s look at Honeygrow HQ, 20 of us knocked out 3.5 miles from Center City to Fishtown before reaching the Promised Land at Front and Oxford.

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Photo Credit: Matt Wargo, Inquirer

YIP, an organization full of civically minded young professionals in the City of Brotherly Love, puts together these 2-5 mile runs every month. Each run begins at Philadelphia Runner’s Center City location and ends at an interesting spot in the city where the gang can explore and mingle with some new and like-minded Philadelphians. It’s no coincidence that I chose September as my first running club. What can I say? I’m a sucker for post-run snacks, especially if they’re from Philly’s own Honeygrow.

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See, Honeygrow.and I, we go way back. Or, at least 4 years back. In June of 2012, Justin Rosenberg, the founder of Honeygrow, opened his first location at 16th and Sansom. And a few months later, I moved to town, following the migration patterns of approximately 100,000 other 20-34 year olds since 2006 seeking an urban center teeming with creativity and potential. Justin, who chatted with us briefly when we arrived, explained that despite a rocky first few months, the idea soon caught fire.

Like many health-conscious millennials, I chose Philly for the affordable rent, thriving job market, and, of course, the 24/7 accessibility to soft pretzels. The idea of an affordable, healthy, and customizable fast-casual dining experience is appealing to the young professional – none more so than Philadelphia’s own Honeygrow. Honestly, I don’t know a 20-something in the city that hasn’t waited, salivating, for their stir-fry or salad at one of Honeygrow’s Philadelphia locations. From my own experience as a graduate student at Penn and a frequenter of many of Center City’s boutique fitness studios, their West Philly and Rittenhouse locations have saved me from mid-study session starvation or post-sweat stove-top slumming more times than I can count.

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Dinner a la Five Spice stir fry!

Speaking of which, we only could explore Honeygrow’s inner sanctum for so long before our stomachs began to rumble. Luckily, the team had us covered and quickly doled out their signature Honeybars and something a bit more savory. In between shoveling stir fry into our mouths, we were able to have a revealing Q&A with David Katz, the culinary director and palate powerhouse of Honeygrow. He spoke to the focus on regional styles and recipe popularity, Honeygrow’s plans for expansion over the next year (spoiler alert: it’s gonna be fast & furious, with over 15 locations by 2017) and, of course, how his Jersey Shore and Philly roots influenced the menu.

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Love this message right in the heart of their HQ!

In a swirling sea of fast-casual options, Honeygrow stands out for the hungry and healthy, who are often in a hurry. Their founder, a former financial analyst himself, knows the grind well, and saw opportunity in Philly like so many of us did . We’ve got some of the most passionate eaters around and, with YIP being just one of DOZENS of run clubs, I can almost guarantee there’s always going to be someone down to carbo load.

ALSO, Honeygrow’s new hgAthletics program has opportunities for fitness of all kinds. From testing out PLUSgives new yoga mats

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…to a BOOtcamp with an Olympian, check out the hgAthletics Facebook page to stay in the know and get involved!

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I’m a GOLD RUSH. Get it? Don’t worry, no one else did, either. (Photo cred to Kyle Huff, Honeygrow’s social media master)

Check out Honeygrow’s monthly run club if you wanna get in on the “dash & dine” action on the fourth Tuesday of every month. After your 3-5 mile run, you’ll get 25% off your Honeygrow order! How’s that for instant gratification?

ALSO, word on the street is that the next hgAthletics event is going feature a partnership with PLUSgives AND Reading Terminal Market. Stay tuned!

UrbanStems: Happiness (and flowers) On Demand in Philly

(Pro tip: Scroll to the bottom for a discount code to get a bouquet for $20 with free delivery!)

There are plenty of things to worry about in Philadelphia these days:

But there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about: doling out flowers to friends/loved ones at a moment’s notice!

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We’re all busy bees. From work to play, dating to dining, school to spinning, it’s easy to forget things. Birthdays, anniversaries, you know… the kinds of things that make us depend on Facebook reminders. Enter: UrbanStems.

Your friends in D.C. and New York have been sending stems for a year or two now, but with their Philadelphia and Baltimore launch, UrbanStems is growing like a weed. Luckily, their bouquets are a little nicer than anything you’d pick from your backyard.

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From seasonal shades to surprise succulents, I love that UrbanStems isn’t just jamming baby’s breath around some carnations and a rose or two, tossing it all into a fish bowl and charging $65 to deliver in the city. In fact, their system is pretty awesome.

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This convenient little box is hand-delivered by a super-friendly courier, complete with a hand-written note AND handles (that’s a lot of hand-iness, right?) They even send a photo to confirm your flowers made it to their destination! PLUS the convenient tote allowed my flowers to make it home safely (and easily) on a city bus!

Another bonus: UrbanStems works with Rainforest Alliance Certified™ and Veriflora Certified farms to source their environmentally friendly flowers!

The little tote also had a pull tab which, when yanked, pushed the bouquet out as if the petals were opening up!

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I verify, no “fluffing” up took place. This is exactly how my bouquet looked when I pulled it out of the tote!

They switch up the bouquets all the time, so your flowers are always going to be different. AND, you don’t have to be a big-time baller to deliver your daisies (or mums, or rosehips, or whatever is in this season!)

Bouquets start at a mere $35 with free delivery within a few hours (or you can schedule in advance, if you’re a planner).

BUT since I’m a little obsessed with UrbanStems, they gave me a discount code to share getting you $15 off your first bouquet!

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Just type in FoodSweatBeers15 as your “Referral Code” when you sign up on UrbanStems’ site and you can get a killer bouquet to your bae (or mom) for $20! You probably spent that on cold brew in the last week, anyway. So make some at home, and #SendHappy (and then tell me how it went!)

 

Scarpetta Comes to Philadelphia

As you stroll out of the picturesque Rittenhouse Square and through the revolving doors of Scarpetta, the ultra-modern Italian restaurant and bar that recently opened in The Rittenhouse, the feeling is almost instantaneous.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

From the warm and sexy lighting to the bumping bass, the bustling staff and the attentive hostesses, Scarpetta feels like you’ve been transported to a hip Manhattan joint. Everyone we saw, from dates to businessmen, girls groups and buddies, was dressed to impress. The wine flowed like water and the bread baskets flowed like slightly-doughier water.  Scarpetta is a place to see and be seen, a place to bring your boss, a place to show-off to your parents, and a place to woo. I’ve gotta confess:

I loved it.

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So sleek. So sexy.

But I’ll also admit, if you wanna hear about the scene, the square footage, Uwishunu and Foobooz have done a much better job than I ever could.

I’m here to tell you, instead, about one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten.

Remember that bread basket I mentioned? Yeah, that bad boy is filled with some flawless, airy and crunchy foccaccia AND house-made stromboli.

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Heaven in a basket

Served alongside mascarpone butter, citrus infused olive oil, and an eggplant spread that wouldn’t quit, we definitely had them refill this basket (….twice).

Scarpetta’s menu is divided into four parts.

  • Crudo (raw!)
  • Primi Piatti
  • Pasta
  • Proteins (including fish, meat, and poultry)

The folks at Scarpetta were generous enough to give my date and I a little bit of everything, and I’d definitely recommend going that route if you have the opportunity.

The options for the crudo were honestly the biggest challenge we had as every dish looked better than the last. In the end, we had three of four options (don’t worry tuna, we’ll be back for you!)

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Scarpetta manages to elevate each dish in a way that not only let’s the quality of the fish shine but accentuates the natural flavor with expertly chosen garnishes. Our favorite was the  scallops. The pea and aleppo purée brought a zip to the smoothness of the scallop flavor I’d never experienced before.

The primi piatti that spoke to my date and I was something we’d tried at their preview party: Braised short ribs of beef with vegetable & farro risotto.

As expected, it didn’t disappoint. It merely melted in our mouths.

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Up next: the pasta!

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Scarpetta’s signature dish is their spaghetti, a flawless example of the classic dish. But I suggest you get at least one more pasta dish: the duck & foie gras ravioli. Velvety, rich, and drizzled with a marsala reduction, this is easily the most delicious pasta I’ve ever tasted. Each pocket was stuffed with a perfect blend of tender duck and creamy foie gras.

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Dry-aged ribeye, featuring trumpet mushroom, cipollini onion, fingerling potato & truffled spinach. Our “Carne” choice, cooked medium rare and served pink and juicy.

Full to the brim, I assumed we were done.

I assumed wrong.

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I’m so sorry that these photos don’t do the food an ounce of justice. I’m sorry I didn’t feel comfortable enough to bring my bulky DSLR to a gorgeous resto.

I’m also sorry I don’t have a vat of “unknown crunchy bits” to pour over all future desserts.

Scarpetta is a place to be spoiled, and to spoil someone. It’s a place I could easily write a thousand words about, but I’ll let these photos try and make up for about 400 of them.

Just go. Eat here. Be happy.

 

DIY Juicing on a Budget

In the fall, the term “basic” is tossed around in the direction of those well-coifed women clutching their pumpkin spice lattes and rocking boots and vests for 3 months straight.

I think the summer equivalent would have to be a Lululemon-clad lady, yoga mat swinging from her shoulder strap and a pricey green juice in the other.

And if that’s basic…. I’m guilty as charged.

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you’re damn right I am.

Nothing like a fancy juice after a workout class to make you feel like you’re on a different level of healthy.  Which is why, after 2-3 weeks of straight up INDULGENCE on the eating front, I decided to reboot with juice (let’s take it down a notch from Jordan’s Whole30 experience). 3 days, 5 juices, on meal of vegetable and lean meats.

Unfortunately, Ryan Crown Juice Club seems to be MIA, and is more expensive than I’d be able to handle. Even if I nabbed my juices at Philly’s most affordable “juice bar”, Fuel, it’d be over 20 bucks a day, and I’d be working with what they offer. Even the cheapest “juice cleanse” I found online seemed steep, and I hate paying for what I can do at home.

Luckily, I had all I needed to DIY my juice on a budget:

  • An affordable juicer (the least “budget friendly” portion of this, I received mine as a gift, and isn’t that exact model, but is similar. I’m not going to include this cost in the price, as I received mine as a gift, but “I get it”, they don’t grow on trees.)
  • A few hours of free time

I modeled my juice “recipes” and timing off of BluePrint, one of the better known “Juice Cleanse” companies online (who ships your prepared, bottled juices directly to your home!) And then I made a list of ingredients I needed and headed STRAIGHT to Reading Terminal Market to bring back fruits and vegetables from Iovine Brothers and OK Produce. (This is Philly specific but I’d recommend you just go straight to your local produce market, if possible).

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New FRIENDS!!

Green Juice (2/day)

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 apples
  • Little bit of parsley
  • KALE!
  • ROMAINE!
  • SPINACH! (the amounts on the greens are up to you, but you truly can’t taste them at all)

Snack Juices (2/day)

  • Spicy Lemonade  (I just used honey instead of “Agave” because we had some)
  • PAM (Pineapple Apple Mint)

Dinner Juice (1/day)

  • 2 large green apples
  • 2 beets
  • 3 large carrots (or 1/3 bag of mini carrots!)
  • 1 lemon
  • Honking chunk of ginger

I got all the ingredients for these (other than the honey, which I already had) for $33.86, or about $11.28 per day. I used the leftover kale for my “greens” and I did buy a pound of turkey for $3.99, making the total cost for all the food-products I put into my body $37.85 for 3 days.

A 3-day “Renovation Cleanse” from Blueprint costs $195 (and does NOT come with turkey, though they do include a sort of dessert juice with cashews and blueberries).

The cost difference is $157.15. That’s enough to buy a juicer and still have money for savings.

I’ll admit, it took me about 40 minutes a night to make the juices for the next day and they didn’t come in sexy BluePrint bottles. Toting them was a bit weird, as I’d have glass bottles in my bag headed to work each day.

But I’ll take a tasty and fresh juice that clanks when I walk if it saves me $157.15…

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This is kinda pretty, right?

After the three days, I actually had enough ingredients for another green juice in the morning. I also felt fantastic and refreshed. I didn’t weigh myself, and I didn’t take photos. I just wanted to remind my body what all those good veggies and fruits tasted like, and see if I could do it on a budget.

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Mission: accomplished.

Now, can someone pass me a carb?

Urban Axes Comes to Philly!

If you’ve ever thought any of the following:

  • I love darts… I wish there was something bigger and sharper I could throw competitively at a target, though.
  • Why don’t more intramural leagues in Philly let me wear street clothes and eat pizza while I’m playing?
  • I don’t spend enough time in converted warehouses in Kensington.
  • Axe puns are great. I should use more axe puns.

…then you should probably continue reading.

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Urban Axes is a new competitive axe-throwing spot in Kensington and unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

There are heaps of intramural sports leagues in the city where you can play everything from kickball to cornhole to volleyball to broomball to ultimate frisbee. But, apparently, in Canada, the trendy move is axe-throwing leagues. And you know what I always say,

“If it’s trendy in Canada, sign me up.”

This got me in heaps of trouble during the poutine shortage of 2014, but that’s another story entirely.

I schlepped up to Kensington with beau in tow to check out the scene and we were promptly introduced to our Axe-pert (if this job sounds perfect to you, UrbanAxes is hiring!) who quickly showed us the ropes (REALLY quickly. Like… 2 minutes. This isn’t rocket science.) And then, it was throwin’ time.

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You may have a few questions about how I went from gentle giantess to axe-throwing Amazon in two minutes. Or just about Urban Axes. I’ll answer a few now:

  • Wait. How can I do this exciting activity?!
    Well, just hit up their website and click UrbanAxes – BOOK NOW. They offer axe adventures for the die-hard (leagues that run 8 weeks long) to newbs like myself (walk-in sessions every night except Monday and Wednesday!) Costs range from $20 for a 2 hour session to leagues for $120, and even some group events if you think this would make a great Bachelor party or potluck spot. Not good for a Sweet 16, though. Urban Axes is 21+ only!
  • Did you just say potluck?!
    I did! You can bring food, or have it delivered! We nibbled on some Federal Donuts and soft pretzels because I’m fairly sure axe-throwing requires carbo-loading. They even have refrigeration to keep your treats (or your drinks) chilly.
  • DRINKS?! ADULT DRINKS?!
    You bet. No hard alcohol, but they allow you to bring beer and wine. I know this may sound counter-intuitive (sharp objects + booze = ???) But their Axe-perts aren’t gonna let you get sloshed and toss axes. So be responsible.

If you have more questions about what to wear and how you get their and parking, check out theirUrbanAxes FAQ Page!

Their first leagues sold out, but they’re selling space for their October league already, so get moving!

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Urban Axes
2019 E Boston St, Philadelphia, PA 19125
(267) 585-2937

Butcher Bar in Philadelphia: Eat All The Meats

There’s a new kid on the block. This kid is juicier, meatier, and full of whiskey. And he’s a welcome addition to an area that is mostly populated by a hodge podge of restaurants full of, sushi, Thai, and other pan-Asian cuisine. Welcome to town, Butcher Bar. Our meat mouths have been waiting.

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Butcher Bar, located at 2034 Chestnut Street

Butcher Bar is warm and welcoming AND has the ability to have all those beautiful windows hurled open and transform into an open-air party spot.

Last night, my beau and I joined a few foodies for a real sausage fest as the Butcher Bar team flung out the red carpet for friends and family. They brought the meat, and the heat (literally, we were a sweaty mess). Luckily, the bartenders were happy to cool things down with refreshing cocktails.

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Their cocktail menu is bourbon-centric and this New York Sour packed a tart and boozy punch. But if you’re a fan of old school classics (See: Old Fashioned, Sazeracs, and Vieux Carres) you’re in business. And baby, business was BOOMING.

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Just a few close friends…

Highlights ranged from the small….

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Fontina stuffed Italian meatball made with pork, veal, and beef (side of Mint Julep!)

…to the less small.

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The Trough

That’s right, “The Trough”. Carried by two men, this bad boy is a cornucopia of carnivorous pleasures: rotisserie chicken, house-made sausages, grilled skirt steak, rack of ribs, kabobs, house-smoked bacon, bone-in short ribs, fries and grilled pita. For $250 (and 24 hours notice), this could be yours (though they recommend sharing with 6-8 friends. For health.)

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

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Don’t mind that beautiful, dripping skirt steak… Sleeper hits included their seafood sausage (made with scallop, lobster & shrimp) and the french fries (could’ve eaten a trough of them alone). If you’re looking for a big, celebratory meal, I can’t think of a better way to reconnect with your inner animal.

This space also has a cute little dessert menu, which we didn’t get to sample, but sounded delicious and simple. Butcher Bar would totally make for the perfect late-night date spot. Their kitchen’s open until midnight, and who wouldn’t wanna woo with some whiskey?

Thanks for the meat sweats, Butcher Bar. We can’t wait to see what else y’all can do with your beautiful kitchen.

 

 

Take a Holiday in Maine (Portland, Specifically)

Whoah, it’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it? Blame August, it’s rubbish for second dates (according to the Washington Post) and also for blogging. With weekends at the shore, helping put together a small, understated pop-up party for 5,000 in this city I love, and trying not to fall completely off the health wagon after finishing Whole30, there’s been less time to write it all down.

LUCKILY, I did manage to find time for a quick vacation to Portland, ME with my Main(e) squeeze. It was picturesque as can be, but I spent more time snapping shots of our eats than light houses or sunsets (sorry, not sorry.) We did a LOT of recon before our jaunt to make sure that we enjoyed the tastiest treats and most delicious drinks. I’m pretty proud to say we succeeded; demonstrated especially by the fact that we were inadvertently tailing the New York Times, in town to update their “36 Hours in Portland” piece.

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Ok, fine, I took one picture of a sunset. You’re welcome.

The drive from the Philly area to Maine isn’t TOO bad, a comfortable 7ish hours. Luckily, en route, you pass almost DIRECTLY through New Haven, CT. Cue a fully necessary stop at Frank Pepe Pizza Napoletana. I’m no expert, but as a pizza lover, you’d be remiss to skip any opportunity to stop by for some of that New Haven-style Pizza GOODNESS!

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Not from Portland, but I had to mention it.

This “apizza” isn’t a perfect circle, just an oblong oval of crunchy, cheesy perfection. We also got pepperoni, because YOLO. But… I digress. Onto the Maine attraction (hehehe).

Portland: I love you. You’re breezy and chill when the rest of my world is muggy and hot, you’re lobster rolls when everyone else is grilling burgers, and you’re full of weird and wonderful shops and eateries. Here’s the tip of one of the most scrumptious icebergs ever….

We were in town for three mornings. Two of them featured breakfast from Portland’s “The Holy Donut”. By breakfast, I just mean a buncha Maine Potato Donuts.

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My favorite: Blueberry!

Don’t get me wrong, my heart is always in Philly with Federal Donuts. Whether it was the crisp air, the morning rush, or the delicious glaze, this donut tasted ethereal. Apparently, the addition of Maine potatoes makes the dough especially moist. And if you’re one of those people that hates the word moist, get over it, because these donuts are insane.

The next image may LOOK like it’s still breakfast, but don’t like your eyes fool you.

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One skillet. Seven slots. Infinite joy.

Boda is a hip little joint inspired by Thai street food and tapas, serving up gems like these Kanom-Krok Quail Eggs seasoned with soy sauce and scallions. I know we ate other stuff, I promise you. I have vague memories of killer brussels sprouts that are all but washed away by the distinctly crispy edges of these huevos, the salty soy, the vibrant bite of the scallions. If I could eat only these for all meals, I’d be happy. Minus the high cholesterol, or something, but definitely happy. And hey, while we’re on the topic of eggs…

Duckfat was our singular “breakfast” that wasn’t donuts. And also, we kinda ate lunch. BUT the egg on our poutine basically makes it brunch, right?

Right.

Belgian fries cooked in (what else?) duck fat, cheese curds, duck gravy AND chives. Served with (let’s call it a side of?) a house-smoked brisket panini. You know, gotta keep that girlish figure… The “vegetable chow chow” in the brisket panini is practically a salad.

And while I could talk about Portland eats for hours, but the thing is, when you go to Eventide Oyster Co., you basically hear an imaginary mic drop on your tastebuds. So here goes nothing.

Y’all.

This place.

It screams MAINE in the way that a true Maine-iac might. Which is to say it’s cool as a cucumber, hip AF, and probably tosses around the word “wicked” for good measure. We had lobster chowder (lobstah chowdah? top right), salmon poke, and (of course) our only lobster roll of the trip. But, despite the trendy take on the roll (instead of a “roll”, EOC used a steamed bun and brown butter for the lobsters. Enough of that brown butter that Paula Deen would’ve been proud.

Shoot. It’s been well over 700 words. And I’ve scratched the surface…. I guess I’ll just have to visit again.

Cheers to you, Portland. I can’t wait to come back.

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On the scene at Allagash. Doing important research.

 

 

Whole30: Results, Regrets, and Reintroduction

“So….”

“Hmm?”

“How’d it go?”

“What?”

“Come on! WHOLE30?! How’d it end?!”

Has it been a full week since I finished that Whole30 days?! It seems like I just started it. And then I was 20 days in. And then I was finished.

Regrets

It ended with success. The results were fantastic, and I woke up on Day 31, June 30th, feeling incredible. But I just want to start off with one part that I did not succeed in. The second part of Whole30: Reintroduction.  They recommend introducing foods back into your system one group at a time, in order to figure out how your body responds.

I introduced just about every possible lousy food into my body in one fell swoop this weekend. And I’m paying for it today. See, the 4th of July is my favorite holiday. I spent it with my favorite people, surrounded by my favorite food. And instead of gradually reintroducing, I rocked my body like a hurricane.

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Captain of the S.S. Eatsa Lott

From pizza to beer to hoagies to donuts, I didn’t even bat an eyelash. And on the morning of the 5th, I woke up with an aching tummy finally understanding why they suggest gradual reintroduction. Feeling like a garbage fire the past 2 days was NOT part of the plan.

I’m back on a semi-healthy wagon for a bit, not quite as strict as Whole30, but I would like to feel as incredible as I did on day 31. Ideally, I’d like to feel that great all the time, but I could realistically shoot for 80% of the time and still be living my best life.

RESULTS

Ok, let’s get to what you really wanna see. The results.  Left is the morning of Day 1, right is morning of Day 31.

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So yes. 30 days of clean eating. I forgot to weigh myself on day one, but remembered by day 3. So, in 28 days, I went from 173.2 to 166 lbs.

166 lbs is the lowest weight I’ve ever been in my adult life (I believe I hit 166.1 once before back in 2012, but in a much less healthy way that involved over-exercising, under-eating and ZERO socializing).

The most amazing thing about this experience?

I never felt like I was missing out on things. Not even once. Were there some nights when I wished I could’ve attended a PR event or try a new restaurant? Sure. But I never experienced the crippling FOMO that my generation is known for.

My friends all knew I was on Whole30, and (even though they knew I couldn’t drink or eat fried foods or food truck offerings) invited me to dance, to explore daytime festivals, to festive Game of Thrones finale meals. I felt supported and encouraged every step of the way.

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To my squad: Thank you. I love you and would be lost without ya!

Advice for folks who wanna try Whole30

I was lucky enough to have a wildly supportive partner AND a super enthusiastic mother who were both doing Whole30 with me. It definitely would’ve been nearly impossible without them. If you’re thinking about undertaking this challenge, find your support network. Teamwork REALLY made the dreamwork here.

Also: trust the process. Do NOT introduce ALL your favorite foods in the weekend after you finish. Sure, have a slice of pizza. But you don’t need pizza for 3 meals in two days (oops).

Going forward

I think I can sustain, as I mentioned, about 80% of this type of lifestyle. Whether that’s eating clean during the week and partaking in one night of indulgence every now and then, or adding cheese but not grains, or shifting my focus to some grains to fuel exercise (I never really felt SUPER STRONG during this challenge. Didn’t feel hungry after the first week, but the sustained energy just wasn’t there.)

I’ve got to feel it out. I’m thrilled to continue this journey, and learn more about what makes my body feel good, look good, and operate at peak efficiency.