Shake Shack Shake Up: Beer AND Chicken!

I first learned about Shake Shack several years ago, while I was still in North Carolina, when my buddy dated some sort of manager or something. I don’t really remember his exact role, and I refuse to check LinkedIn for that kind of thing, but it was a very gentle introduction to the concept of what was already a staple in New York for nearly a decade.

Coincidentally, about 3 years ago, Shake Shack must’ve heard I was moving north, because they decided to open up their first Philadelphia location just about a month before I became a permanent resident of this fair city. Me and “The Shack”, we’ve had some good times together. Almost all were burger related, and I’m more than okay with that. And, when they decided to collaborate with Yards Brewery and La Colombe to brew a very special Coffee Stout, well, I had to make a stop to check out the brew!

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Philly, burgers, AND beer?! Speaking my language.

As Shake Shack, Yards, AND La Colombe are all about community, $2 from every pint sold was donated to City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. And, instead of the typical Yards Love Stout, this Coffee Stout is a dark ale brewed with roasted malt to create a smooth, creamy brew. La Colombe coffee beans infuse the beer with lavender, orange and caramel. It was a blend of typical CO2 pour and nitro, making it a realllllly smooth mouthfeel and experience.

 

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If you’re near a Shake Shack and you see it around, FIND IT!! And drink it.

However, as the team for Shake Shack is insanely generous, they didn’t stop there. They wanted me to try something new.

Something…. chicken.

That’s right, Shake Shack is going BEYOND THE BURGER! And straight to Clucktown with their Chick’n Shack. This sammy is a crispy 100% all-natural and antibiotic-free chicken breast with lettuce, pickles and buttermilk herb mayo.

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I promise, I only ate most of this

Y’all: It’s so good. There’s been a lot of comparisons made to other chicken sandwiches, some local, some less local. But I beseech of you: go in with a clear mind. Order a Chick’n Shack. Get this beer (or the classic Shackmeister Ale). Get a side of cheese fries (do NOT skip the cheese.)

Pro-Tip: Order a side of cherry peppers (traditionally reserved for their SmokeShack). Take a bite of the sandwich, untainted. THEN, doctor the hell out of it by slathering on some cheese sauce and cherry peppers.

I don’t even know how to put into words that bliss. Heat, melted cheese, chicken, PICKLES! Rapture.

The fellows at Shake Shack Center City, Tom and ESPECIALLY Derek, took SUCH good care of us. In fact, they wouldn’t let us leave until  without a boozy adult dessert.

Yup, vanilla custard in a grown-up beer float.

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Talk about a sweet ending!

What I SHOULD have done after this meal: Take a long run with the Shack Track and Field group.

What I DID do: promptly waddled home and laid in bed, drifting to a full-bellied half food-coma, half-regular sleep.

SO MUCH THANKS to the entire team at Shake Shack for treating me to the tastiest pre-blizzard meal possible. Perfect prelude to a long weekend hibernating… If you have the ability to hit up the Shack in Center City OR University City, do yourself a solid, Chick’n up, and meet me when the snow melts in the spring for some Shack Track runs!

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SweatX Launch (or Why I Can’t Date a Crossfitter)

We’re gonna start out with a tale. It’s brief, I promise. It’s called “Why I Can’t EVEN with Crossfit.”

Once upon a time, I dated a fellow. He was charming and handsome and had quads for days. There was also a laundry list of reasons we were rubbish for each other, but I’m a sucker for a strong vocabulary and a tight end. But then, it happened. Or rather, I noticed it was happening. He evolved from casual enthusiast to full-blown “Crossfitter.”

You know the type.

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Suddenly, those quads were gains. The term “Thruster” was not sexy at all. And paleo living made for really lame dates (this coming from the woman who eats her way through every city she visits.) And all he ever talked about was the gang at the box. What meat they were eating… Cool.

We didn’t last, and I vowed that I forever would give the Crossfit Cult a side eye.

Damn shame since, beyond the typical reasons everyone else gives it a side-eye, Crossfit sounds right up my alley. Competitive, team vibe. Hype AF. Unfortunately, also super expensive. Oh well.

Only this week, something magical occurred. I think I found the perfect combination of all that to a lighter degree, at a gym I already know and love, without the cave people (no offense to you avid Crossfitters out there, I’m sure you’re lovely).

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SweatX classes are taught by SWEAT Fitness’ top instructors and are customized for each participant’s fitness level and ability. Translation: Whether you’re used to working with 50 pound kettlebells or you’re a newb to weights entirely, they’re here to help you have a killer workout at YOUR skill level. You’ll use weights, ropes, kettlebells, box jumps, interval training, and more to lift your fitness game to new heights.

What ALSO sets this program apart is that the classes are capped at ten participants allowing SWEATX Instructor and Director of Personal Training (Oh, and total babe), Chris Harris and his team to oversee each class member’s progress.

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Here’s Chris warming the team up.

Is there a slight competitive nature? Yup. Is there that hyper-crazy GOTTA BEAT EVERYONE vibe? Nah. Maybe it’s like… Crossfit Lite.

Was I a little bummed out when women 9″ shorter than me were squatting literally double my weights?

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Maybe.

But I’ve gotta say, having Chris and the team right behind me, as someone who’s never used a squat rack before, coaching me on form and telling me to just push a little harder was more motivation than I would’ve been able to muster up alone in the gym.

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Ample Opportunity to Tighten my Own End

ALSO: Gotta appreciate any opportunity to get a photo of my tush looking like that….

We warmed up as a team and with partners, we did dead lifts, we squatted our asses off (just kidding, it’s still there. A little sore, but it’s there), and we even rocked some kettlebells.

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Far too high energy to be caught by modern technology

Clearly, this wasn’t a time to be looking terribly photogenic. But it was a time to break a NON-STOP SWEAT. We ended with five sets of 25 squats and these terrible nightmares called Ramp Runs that I hope you never have to experience (just kidding, come join us, they’re a total joy).

Even though I never felt like I was ENTIRELY unable to push myself anymore, I was drenched. That was a hell of a workout, and the numbers don’t lie. Sub-hour workout, 718 calories burned. You really can’t beat it.

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Whoah.

I just may have something in the works to see what SweatX can do beyond the first workout. But I’ve gotta say, if that first round was any indication, this style of class can take you from a Jelly-legged Jordan to an elite athlete if you put your mind to it. For $149 per month, you get unlimited SWEATX classes PLUS a full SWEAT Fitness membership and access to all 8 of their locations. Luckily, I’m already a member of Sweat, so I’m feeling this price point for something that has the potential to be transformative.

Wanna know more about SweatX, or sign up? Head to Sweat’s Queen Village location at 700 East Passyunk Ave

Stargazy: Got Me Pie-Crazy

I’m a big fan of Harry Potter.

My best friend’s about to get married to a bloke from the UK.

My favorite non-alcoholic breakfast drink is Earl Grey tea, over-steeped and served somewhere between room temperature and piping hot.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes makes me melt a little with every episode.

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Smoldering

I believe that’s about where my direct connection to anything British ends. Until now.

Sam Jacobson, a dual UK/US citizen, decided to bring a little taste of home to 1838 E. Passyunk Ave. this summer. Stargazy is now THE place for pies and mash in Philly.

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The offerings change daily, but the charm, that’s always available

Admittedly, it may also be the only place for pie and mash in the city, but don’t let that hoodwink you into thinking it’s anything less than dreamy.

Despite opening in the summer, Stargazy still manages to rock that “New Resto Smell” and the lines haven’t stopped for these flaky, piping hot meat pies. My buddy and I picked a (slightly) chilly December day to stroll down south and see what the hype was about.

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Starvin’ like Marvin, girl

We were the first ones in the door, and the pies weren’t quite ready, so we loitered outside, reviewing the day’s menu on my phone, licking our lips and clutching our empty bellies. Oh, and sipping some (free!) tea.

Our patience was soon rewarded.

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Come to mama

Pie, mash, and parsley liquor (spoiler alert: no actual liquor in there, you’ll have to hit the pub afterwards). So simple. So very, very satisfying. BONUS: If you spot a star on the bottom of your pie, they reward you with… ANOTHER PIE!

As you can see in the case below, Jacobson is also offering an assortment of British treats straight from the source. I haven’t dabbled (yet), but I had my eyes on the prize.

Or, should I say, I had my eyes on the pies?

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Hot sausage, broccoli rabe, and mozzarella. I went “off-tradition” away from the regular offerings of beef and onion pies because I spent most of my life trying to find new ways to enjoy spicy sausage ( #notaeuphemism).

It was absolutely to die for. The crust was perfect. The fillings were steaming and rich in flavor. The parsley liquor made me consider a life of sobriety if I could, instead, just have a steady stream of that to pour over any and all savory treats.

You catch my drift?

Sure, I didn’t have the stomach capacity at the time for a sausage roll or one of their legendary bananoffee tarts. But that’s the point, right? Much like with the velvety voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, all it took was one taste for me to begin jonesing for more.

Stargazy, I’ll see you soon. Keep the kettle boiling, and I’ll be looking for stars.