Summer at Opa: Cheese Pies & Blue Skies

Summertime in Philly…

The temperatures are sweltering, the weekend trips to the shore test our patience, and Center City Sips has filled the streets every Wednesday with drunken 20-somethings rocking suit jackets and teetering on heels.

But there’s a distinct joy that comes with some of the sweat – Summer Menus are hitting the Philly Restaurant Scene. Seasonal produce and ingredients, seafood, and creativity galore. And Opa, known for contemporary Greek plates in Center City, is bringing out the big guns. Or, in this case, the small plates.

The highlights?

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Dakos – Barley toast with sour cherry marmalade, fresh chevre, and fennel.

I may be on a toast kick lately (check out my latest post from Fitt for the Top 9 Spots Artisan Toasts in Philly!) and Opa’s take on the dish features a tart cherry marmalade that I want in all food and drink in the future.

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Aritchokes stuffed with crab, fresh herbs, Meyer lemon, & squid ink romesco. Then topped with cheese. Whoah.

Anything stuffed with crab is a-okay in my book, but this artichoke dish had us scraping the plate clean.

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Beet Cured Salmon – carpaccio style, melon, vidalia, arugula, pickled pepper

Lox comes to dinner with Opa’s beet-cured salmon. The little melon cubes add a hint of sweetness, though the pickled peppers are ENTIRELY too hot to eat.

So, ya know, don’t make the same mistake I did.

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Spaghettini – lobster, spicy tomato, olive oil crumbs

That spicy tomato is NOT A DRILL. But neither are the chunks of juicy lobster scattered throughout this dish. A small enough portion to not weigh you down, but large enough to satisfy for a summer dinner.

And now my FAVORITE two dishes:

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Lamb Loin – filo, lamb demi, charred spring onion, potato purée

Beef Wellington goes Greek! The filo is crispy, flakey, and buttery. The onion is perfectly charred, and the lamb is juicy AF. For only $10, this dish is the star of the new menu offerings.

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Tiropita Kataifi – kefalograviera & robiola, filo, orange, honey

Cheese. Pie.

Typically speaking, that’d be enough for me. BUT for your sake – I’ll hit you with some thoughts. Crunchy pastry strings surround a core of kefalograviera (a hard Greek table cheese typically made with sheep milk) & robiola (y’know – more cheese). The whole mess is drizzled with honey and tastes of bright citrusy orange.

Dessert has arrived. It’s unexpected and whimsical and delights the tongue.  Try not to fight over the last bite.

Chef Bobby Saritsoglou and his team are making a serious name for themselves in Midtown Village, and I can’t wait to see what fall brings. Just try to keep your visits limited to Thursday through Tuesday – those Wednesday SIPs crowds are an unforgiving lot.

 

 

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Revolution Taco: Now so much more…

Look, I love Taco Tuesday as much as the next millennial. It’s not that we NEED an excuse for tacos any day of the week, really. It’s just that alliteration is fun, themed days are fun, and tacos are delicious.

Unfortunately, for my health, I have to eat things that aren’t tacos sometimes. Part of a balanced diet or something (though some have tried this “all vegan taco diet“, I’m gonna need a bit more meat in my life). Enter: Revolution Taco.

I know what you’re thinking, and Yes, they DO have a taco heavy menu. (Sidenote: They’re all flippin’ delicious, order the duck/scallion pancake for a real mouth-party). But, since man can’t live on tacos alone, the team has added some new kids to the bloc– er… menu.

Up first: Arroz con Pollo WEDNESDAYS! February Wednesdays, let Revolution take care of dinner for you.

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Arroz con POLLO!!

I tried their first week’s take (Classic Arroz con Pollo) and, for $11 per order, was greeted with a MASSIVE serving of moist and juicy chicken and some zesty rice. But the kicker here, each week you’re getting a new take on the classic dish!

February 1
Fried Chicken Arroz con Pollo
Fried chicken served with Creole Style Dirty rice

February 8
Coq Au Vin Arroz con Pollo
French red wine braised chicken served with fried risotto cake

February 15
Char Siu Arroz con Pollo
Chinese BBQ chicken with seared sticky rice, pickled mustard greens

February 22
Confit Duck Arroz con Pato
Duck leg slow cooked in duck fat, served with mushroom arancini

Pigs Fly Fridays!

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “When pigs fly…”, but if you thought that was impossible, you’ve probably never seen Pig Wings.

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Come to Mama!

Clear out your Friday plans, because you’re gonna wanna get as many of these braised pork shanks into your mouth (and schedule) as possible. From dry rub to Korean BBQ to Chipotle, these juicy hunks of pork fall off the bone quicker than you can say “¡OLE!”

For ten bucks, you get three of these succulent spears with a side of rice and beans. Trust me, you’re gonna wanna go hungry, because you’ll be leaving full.

Also on the menu (ALL THE DAMN TIME): TAMALES!

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Peel back the husk for a salty surprise

Tamales are tasty pockets made of corn dough that is steamed in a corn husk, and since there was a serious dearth of them in Rittenhouse, Revolution said “Don’t worry, we got this.”

$4 each, a perfect appetizer, lunch bite, or shared app with a friend.

Here’s the thing: I’ve already been going to Revolution Tacos more often than I’d like to admit. But with those pig wings on the menu… If you’re looking for me on a Friday night, you’ll know where to start.

Spring Fling with Bing Bing (Dim Sum)

If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Unfortunately, I think Philadelphia has a case of the opposite. We, as a city of foodie folks, expect the very best from our chefs. The new ones. The veterans. The young ones. The oldies (but goodies). And then, if they don’t deliver to every single expectation…. Philly people get ticked. I feel like there’s a general air of disappointment that surrounds eaters in this city when they enter a restaurant that’s been hyped up.

Like those overly aggressive dudes that go into every bar, party, or pub ready for a fight, they, too, are looking for someone (or something) with whom they can take issue. I say this because I finally had a chance to mosey down to Bing Bing Dim Sum, East Passyunk’s new contemporary dim sum spot opened by the fellows that brought you Cheu Noodle Bar. Everyone that I’ve talked to has given this place the typical “Oh yes, it was decent BUT __________.” I’m here to tell you it was delicious.

Pac Man Bun: scrapple, quail egg, and pickles

Pac Man Bun: scrapple, quail egg, and pickles

Admittedly, my last dim sum experience was what I like to call my “brush with death” at Joy Tsin Lau, a mere few days before one of Philly’s biggest food poisoning outbreaks. So maybe all there was to go was up…. but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s perfectly cooked quail eggs and savory scrapple. I think it’s an outdoor seating and happy hour that, though newly launched, brought joy to my tastebuds (and wallet).

$5 bites, $3-5 bevvies

Cumin lamb rolls ON FLEEK. Truly, these were ethereal. Crunchy and filled with a tangy, stringy lamb. Oh, yes.

Sure, it’s not “bargain dim sum”. But I don’t think you’d want it to be. You pay a bit of a premium for something new, something different. And with dumplings like these, you get what you pay for:

Jade dumplings full of shrimp and leeks

Jade dumplings full of shrimp and leeks

My pal from grad school was in town and, though I love her, it’s hard to admit…. she’s gluten free. Yup, one of my best friends…. she can’t enjoy a normal beer, pizza, or bagel with me.

The struggle’s never been more real.

Luckily, Bing Bing gets it. Beyond our Pac-man Buns, scallion pancakes, and the lamb rolls, we enjoyed a variety of gluten free options that tasted anything but.

Green beans with fermented garlic and crunchy fried quinoa

Green beans with fermented garlic and crunchy fried quinoa

Fried cauliflower with shrimp salt, lemon, and scallion

Fried cauliflower with shrimp salt, lemon, and scallion

The vegetables, our first two dishes of the night, were filling and delicious enough to make an affordable, tasty meal for one. But dim sum is all about MORE.

Scallion pancakes with black bean hummus

Scallion pancakes with black bean hummus

Un-pictured: a delightful set of (gluten free) ruby red beet dumplings full of tofu and crispy garlic, and a bowl of (also gluten free) ginger scallion rice, chicken, furikake, long hots, and a pickled egg that had me playing the fun game where you see if you can pluck single grains of rice using your chopsticks.

If your food tastes that good, you’ll find a whole new set of skills.

Rice noodle rolls with garlic sausage, peanuts, and herbs

Rice noodle rolls with garlic sausage, peanuts, and herbs

These rice noodle rolls came out last, after I thought I couldn’t fit any more food in my belly. I was (luckily) mistaken. This nutty sauce, complimented by the hot chili oil Bing Bing has on each table, were full of garlicky sausage that both sated any leftover appetite, and guaranteed I wouldn’t be smooching any vampires that night. Not that I’m into that kinda thing #teamJacob.

Sure, we went during Happy Hour so the prices on some of the items were a little cheaper. But between the four of us, each getting at least one (DELICIOUS) alcoholic beverage, we came out paying $100 before tip. I’m more than cool with that. Throw in a wacky, dumpling themed decor (they’re everywhere. Even in the bathrooms) and you’re in for a unique night, to say the least. And while I rarely encourage anyone to follow the advice of Sylvia Plath (for assorted reasons), I think she’d make a hell of a food critic.

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.

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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!)

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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.

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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!

GC 2012: We Make This Look Good

I’m insanely exhausted, my throat’s sore, and I may be getting sick…  But it was all worth it to have so many brothers and sisters, friends old and new, invading my home!

My OTHER significant other

I was dapper by association

I may have been over served a number of times with these fancy cocktails... Oops.

A New, Tall Spanish Sister!

Heavenly dinner

Time to veg out, watch so much TV my brain turns to mush, and sleep VERY early!!

Winston-Salem: More like WINNING Salem!

Good afternoon and happy belated No Pants Wednesday! A day late, I know, but I was out in public yesterday and honestly, I doubt the folks at Shiki Sushi would’ve been too happy if I de-pantsed during the lunch rush.  That’s not the Shiki way….

Today, though, lunch was enjoyed in the comforts of my own home. And that can only mean one thing (well, false, it can mean several things, but today it means one….)

The greenest of all salads

I’ve missed the crunch of the spinach and peppers, the almost sweet taste of the tomatoes, creaminess of the avocadoes, the warm black beans and the HOT CHA CHA of the salsa. I definitely needed this taco salad.

See, the first two days of this week, after hopping off a (delayed) Southwest fight (due, of course, to my Irene experiences), I hopped right into my car and headed to Winston-Salem, NC. Home of the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest, Old Salem Museums and Gardens, and, for two short days, Yours Truly!

Though I was in town for a work training, all work and no play makes Jordy a dull girl. Instead of boring you to death with tales of lesson plans and interactive sessions, I’ll skip straight to the good stuff.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner for the historic Old Salem Tavern.

Oh, you fancy, huh?

This Moravian gem has been around for over 200 years!! And, yes, I’ll admit, at times you were reminded of this. The seats weren’t too comfortable, and the tables were rickety, but if you’re looking for ambience and an authentic experience, look no further.

Stunning outdoor seating!

Though we weren’t able to enjoy the outdoor seating, it was gorgeous. I wish that I could take a certain Philly boy on a date here, if only for the possibility of sitting out here!

We were served a warm basket with two different kinds of bread.

Heavenly, just like your Morvian mama would make!

I went for a roll several of the small pumpkin raisin rolls. Oh sweet mother of Morvians! This was unbelievably good, warm, and so crumbly, accented perfectly with a few swipes of their butter pats.

While the menu was not too long, the options felt endless!

So many options, how will I choose?!

Though I’d checked Yelp for some recommendations, I wasn’t really in the mood for the infamous Moravian Chicken Pie. So I went for something a little different. And after enjoying the heck out of the pumpkin rolls, that may have tainted my choice.

Pumpkin an sunflower seed crusted salmon over wilted spinach and a blood orange vinaigrette

This was hands-down the best choice I could’ve made. The salmon was cooked perfectly for a gal like me, still pink but definitely all the way done. The pumpkin taste wasn’t actually too obvious, but the blood orange vinaigrette stole the show. I wish I could pour this over all future fish endeavors (and then bathe in it myself…. TMI? NEVER!)  The wilted spinach also featured a few onions, and had soaked up the flavors of the blood orange the make it both sweet and tart. The dish was light enough (and I was hungry enough) that I really had no option but to try some of their many tasty looking desserts.

Moravian Gingerbread with Lemon Ice Cream and Key Lime Pie

I promise, these two desserts were not just for me and, in fact, we split them among the three of us.  I will admit, and it should go without saying, that I could’ve eaten every last bite/drop without hesitation. I’m just that kind of human garbage disposal.

My other favorite pie.

Key lime pie is a usual favorite of mine and, though I doubt this was a “traditional Moravian recipe”, the taste was totally on point. It was tart to a slight pucker, but sweet and creamy with a texture that resembled a cheesecake.  The crust was so thin, yet tied the whole pie slice together. And whipped cream…. well that was just icing cream on the cake pie.

It was the gingerbread that stole my heart, though, served warm and paired with a teeth chatteringly cold, tangy lemon ice cream. Not lemon sorbet, not lemon water ice. TRUE lemon ice cream. This is not an easy accomplishment, to make a quality lemon ice cream, but Old Salem Tavern hit it out of the park. The combination of cold and warm left me LITERALLY picking up little crumbs with my fingers and wishing we could order a road-dessert. Alas….

Sweet tunes, sweet outfits, sweetness abounds.

The servers wore authentic old timey outfits, which is always fun and uncomfortable looking, but went nicely with the theme. There was live music, though it definitely was not my cup of tea. Luckily, the average age of the clientele was about 3x my own age (which is 24, IN CASE YOU FORGOT MY BIRTHDAY!!) and thus they enjoyed the “easy listening” as I personally felt that Tracy Chapman would’ve turned over in her grave listening to it.

Sidenote: Tracy Chapman isn't actually dead. But I think hearing the butchering of her music may have killed her, and then had her turning over in her untimely grave (click for Source)

Luckily, we were seated across the hallway of the cool jams, and so we enjoyed our meal in peace (mostly… thin walls = you can hear pretty much anything. That’s just math.)

When I returned to the hotel, I spent about an hour or so prepping for the next day of training, and going over notes.  And then I crashed into this bed…. HARD.

Is that a cloud? Nope. Just my bed.

But not before engaging in another new Winston-Salem favorite… That’ll just have to wait until the next post, though.

Pants on, back to work.

Have you ever been to one of those “old timey” restaurants where the folks stay in character like it’s their job (oh wait it is their job)? Did you like it?

What’s your favorite kind of pie?

Healthy Living Summit Weekend: The Eats

As well received as my Healthy Living Summit Cocktail Party recap was, I decided to hold off on a recap of day two until I have time to fully devote myself to a complete writeup of the Saturday sessions.  However, that doesn’t mean you should miss out on everything.  And who doesn’t like food posts?

Before my trip, I wanted to enjoy a tasty little treat, so I whipped up my traditional pre-flight beer and snack!!

Weyerbacher Hops Infusion? Don't mind if I do.

Turkey and Cheese and Lettuce on a sandwich thin! Beer! Carrots! The best.

I also did my best to eat the rest of the spinach before I left.

I felt like a straight bunny, nibbling on leaves. But it got the job done.

At the home of Ali, we whipped out all the stops (aka the baked goods):

I promise, we didn't eat all of this. Some. Most. but not all.

Let’s just say that it was a bit of a smorgasbord.

Wawa: The stuff my dreams are made of...

For dinner:

  • Wawa Shorti with Roast beef, cheddar cheese, light on the mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, salt, pepper, oregano. I always get this when I go to Wawa. It is like a second nature, entering it on the touchpad.
  • Wawa Diet Raspberry Iced Tea

Can someone PLEASE explain to me why there is no raspberry iced tea, diet or otherwise, to be found in North Carolina? I can’t even get the Snapple kind…. If you know where to get some, PLEAES email, call, text, or tweet me. ASAP. This is not a joking kind of request. This is so heartfelt I feel it deep in my heart.

The highlights of the cocktail party food were already shown, minus one: Philly Cheesesteak Empanadas. I didn’t take pictures of these, because I was shoving them down my gullet. Imagine a philly cheesesteak. then fry it.

You get the idea.

Breakfast in the morning was sponsored by Attune Foods, and featured mostly a wide array of their cereals, fresh fruit, hardboiled eggs, and yogurt.

Pineapple. Cereal. I forgot how delicious real milk was, especially from Lehigh Valley.

Oh. A pluot. I had no idea what this was until I bit it.

I could’ve eaten the lunch for days.

Roasted veggie sammy, caprese salad sammy, cous cous and chickpeas, and Perrier. Oh, you fancy.

GIANT ups to Great Harvest bread. Which filled my belly totally and heartily.  The mozzarella was so creamy, and the onions in the cous cous…. ooh, girl.

Snacktime was not really my favorite, but I partook because who don’t want no free foods?

Cinnamon raisin nut butter = the poo. So take a big whiff. The hummus was a little watery for my liking... oh well.

To be honest, though, there was a much more important meal waiting for me at home, after the summit. Something I’d been seeking out since I arrived in Philly.  The holy grail of Philly cuisine.

We belong together.

I went a little off the beaten path with the Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak and was rewarded handsomely with spicy, cheese, chickeny goodness.  Something about the rolls up North, they just know how to do it right.  And, even though it wasn’t in empanada format, it was at least as (if not much, much more) delicious.

What’d you eat this weekend that was delicious? 

Do you have any favorite foods/drinks from growing up that you can’t get now wherever you live (due to a move or [gasp!!] someone stopped producing them?)

Healthy Living Summit: Cocktails and Tasty Ales

Greetings friends, old and new, and Happy MY BIRTHDAY Week!!

Have you not been celebrating?  Might I suggest a No Pants Wednesday (or Monday) in my honor?  Perhaps crush a cup of tasty beer with a friend.  You just gotta ask yourself, WWJ(ordan)D? (No sacrilege meant here.  I’d really be curious to know what folks did when they thought, What would that Jordan do?)  If you’re new here, check out my 7 Links post for a little more about me!!

I’m currently celebrating my birthday week in style with a private, GIANT booth at Rockfish Seafood Grill (my home away from home).

How many people will be joining you? None? But you need a table? We got this.

Yet again, I can’t thank the folks at Rockfish enough for being so accommodating (always) AND emailing me a gift certificate for my birthday (!!!! FISH IS THE GREATEST GIFT EVER !!!)

Anyway, chances are, you didn’t come to hear about my fish fiesta.  You came here to find out what this whole HLS drama is that I’ve been posting about, tweeting about, and generally abuzz about since…. well since I bought the ticket.

I’ll start at the beginning….

The beautiful Krissie from PhillyNerdGirl picked me up moments after I walked out of the PHL airport, a grin on her face and a bag of tiny pumpkin donuts in her hand.  What a giver!

And a chatter! Love talking blog-talk.

Krissie and I sped crawled through some serious 3:30 traffic in Philly before eventually reaching Chez Ali (aka the Infamous Allison who planned the entirety of the Cocktail Party and saved us all from sobriety).  Without wasting a moment (ok, we wasted several, ogling Krissie’s sexy shoes and eating s’mores crack like it was…. crack), I politely requested hungrily demanded a trip to Wawa.  This Southern girl needed her fix.

Come to Mama. That's the good stuff.

Then, it was time for some Boost Boozy (DAMN YOU, AUTOCORRECT!) Arnold Palmers (I’m sure there’s a real name for them.  But I like to imagine Arnold Palmer himself, all liquored up, hanging out with us.)

Thumbs up for booze, buddy! (Click image for Source)

Krissie, Ali, and Jordy: Sipping

We could only drink and gossip for so long before the itch to primp kicked into high gear.

A Glam Slam! (like a grand slam. I wish this was a real phrase.)

My best friend Ring, who was quite a hit at the party

We took an incredibly easy cab ride over to Reading Terminal Market, a place where I once enjoyed the best roast pork sandwich known to mankind (at DiNics) and the home of the HLS Cocktail Party.  After jimmying the door open with my superior lock picking skills asking a security guard to let us in, we rounded up the rest of the ladies and, like a herd of extremely willing cats, headed to the party spot.

Hell hath no fury like HLBloggers tryna get some snacks.

Guess where I headed, with my two complimentary drink tickets?

Am I really that predictable?

The selection was actually top notch:

  • Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
  • Voodoo Brewery’s Pilzilla
  • Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Fleur de Lehigh
  • Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Kenzinger
  • Some wine (yeah, I had no eyes for that)
  • A YUMMY cocktail made with DrinkChia that was like a creamy daquiri with jelly chia bits

I went straight for the Chicory Stout first. And then I realized that I could still enjoy a few nibblets.

Quite the spread.

Single asparagus spear? Ok.

Also, I wore a tiara.

See, the thing is, with Ryan moving this week (Wahhhhhhhhh! – Snookie) and me having a work training then heading to OCNJ (again) for my cousin’s bridal shower, I wanted to celebrate.  But really, I just wanted to wear a tiara.  That’s What Jordan Would Do.

I met bloggers, large and small.

A lesson in extremes

I tried to meet them, one and all.

That's a lotta ladies.

I even took a picture near a stall!

Class-Act.

There were spider senses,

With the Okie in Pink, Lisa

And some blog-lebrity blends(es? I’m just trying to rhyme here)

Courtney and Julie, two of the women I read before knowing what HL was!

Birthday buddies!

Carly and Michelle finalllllly found some tiaras! (and a really weird fellow who photobombed from within a photobooth. that's skill.)

And my very favorite sponsors of the entire conference, Chandra and Mark from Drink Chia!!

Ch(i)andra!

I also think I found a kindred spirit in Jess, a fancy lady from the heart of dairy land.

Sassy as hell.

There was dancing.

There was not dancing.  This might be my greatest disappointment of the weekend.  There was something wrong with the iPod hookup, or something, and I felt very weird mingling and running around with no (and then, later, very quiet) music.  Sort of like if the cocktail party was hosted in a GIANT elevator (full of food and drinks).

However, they more than made up for it by allowing me to drink as many cocktails as I wanted.  Either there were so many pregnant ladies that their drink tickets somehow all were given to me, or they overestimated how much folks would drink…. or the beer gods were shining down on me (I choose this one.)  Whatever happened, it worked out completely in my favor.

I want them all.

I tried to mingle, I truly did.  I figured the tiara and octopus ring were both great ice breakers.  And some folks were totally happy to chat.  Other ones were either uninterested, or in the zone with their own little groups.  I’ll admit, I’m not very well “established” in this particular community, and I had never met most of the men and women before, so I understand.  But I’ll say that my heart was swollen with joy when Katy Widrick chatted my head off about beers.  Finally, I felt like my two passions were merged and I didn’t feel like the odd girl out.

Then again, maybe I’m just a little too rambunctious to be brought out in public to new people.  Like that time, at the end, that my overzealous flinging of an umbrella resulted in the demise of said umbrella.

JORDAN SMASH!!

Blonde hair, don't care. (Balaguer, 2011)

But, as I’d learn later in the conference from the wisest of all owls….

Thanks, Pauly.

But to see the source of this hilarious picture…. well, you’ll just have to stay tuned.

Demand and Dinner

Good evening folks, I hope none of you are still as sweaty and gross as I am.  But if you are…. I salute you.

After my lunchtime post where I showed you my advanced icing techniques, my ankle actually started to feel a little better. I spent the day in a long meeting, taking care of business, and then tidied up my desk to show off for the new employee tomorrow.

This might be the most normal it has ever looked.

If you take a closer look, you’ll notice a McCormick’s Italian Herb blend, a toy dog wearing a fruit hat, and my iPhone got a text! A rare opportunity to look at my life, behind the scenes. Cherish it, y’all.

After work, with my ankle feeling up to snuff, I hit up Zumba (considering my favorite instructor was there, I had to do it.)  I’m glad I did, as I rocked it out.

Woo, baby.

I specifically remember the track where my HR reached 180 because, in the midst of panting, I glanced over at the watch and was like WHOAH! My ankle’s feeling a little sore now, but during the class I actually felt pretty decent.  It was a packed class, lots of total newbies, but everyone handled their business and rocked it out.  The energy was awesome, the music was perfect, and we even did an all-arm track to Carry Out by Justin Timberlake.  I’m sore, but in the best way possible.

Following the gym, I received word from the beau that he was going to be late for dinner, so I made the executive decision to go shopping.

In case you didn’t get the message, my 24th Birthday is Next Wednesday, August 24. That’s right, one week and one day away.  Feel free to shower me with sexy presents like beer and sports bras and Norts (Nike shorts, for the folks who aren’t familiar) and all the like.  Or packages, or tweets, or email love.  Or just buy me a cocktail and compliment the tiara I’ll be wearing on my big day and, more than likely, the night of the HLS cocktail party.  I’m needy like that.

Now that we all are on the same page for what I was shopping for, you might understand that Nordstrom Rack was at the top of my list.  Since my feet are huge (size 12-13), any store that carries my size is somewhere I frequent.  And today, I finally got lucky.

Sam Edelman, you've done good.

I’ve been looking for a pair of sandals with this single long strap.  Though these weren’t the silver I hoped for, the gems and spikes on the back…. I felt like Lady Gaga when I put them on.  And then I found my birthday dress.  Which just so happened to have little white streaks in it. The price was a little steep, and there was a gem missing, so I asked the man at the front if there was another one, or if I could get a discount.  I couldn’t get a discount, and he almost wouldn’t sell them to me….  and then he told me they were the only size 12 Sam Edelman sandals of this style AT ANY NORDSTROM RACK IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY!!!!!

I left, one pair of shoes richer (and a few more bucks than I wanted to be poorer…. but they were shaved about halfway from their original pricetag…. I’ll chalk it up as a win.)

With my birthday outfit success warming my heart, and my zumba class rumbling my tummy…. I headed home for dinner with the beau.

It was clean, it was fast, and it. was. tasty.

Grilled chicken covered in Frank's Red Hot and Laughing Cow Blue Cheese, steamed veggies, and a Diet Cherry Pepsi

Sweet Moments Caramel Delights

Now, it’s time to finish The Adjustment Bureau, shower, and sleep, sweetly and hopefully for a long time.  So. So. tired.

Do you get yourself birthday presents?  How about special birthday outfits?

I pretty much always do.  And rest assured, I’ll be rocking a tiara that day…. hard.

Molto Bene: A Tale of Triumph

Good evening, Ragazzi!! (I’m not an expert, but I’m gonna pretend I’m certain that means boys and girls)

Monday’s been a long day for me.  I hit the office early and running and stuck around late to clock in some extra time (as I’ll be doing all week).  I hate hate hate taking vacation time if I think I can make it up during the week and, since I’ll be taking about a half-day on Friday for my travels to the Healthy Living Summit (I’d stop linking, but it’s addictive), I’ll be trying to earn about an hour extra each day. Then, voila! guilt free time off on Friday to schmooze with all the friends and blends-to-be (P.S. since I don’t even think I mentioned it, this one time I did a Guest Post for Alexa of Simple Eats a while back about how I make friends in new places… there’s even a picture of me and Jason Segel so check it out.)

At work, for a snack, I enjoyed some strawberries, an Adora Calcium disk, and some seeds. It was just like a tasty bird food mix up.

Paired with a side of Coke Zero

Now that I’m done shamelessly promoting myself (which is needed since I’m the only one who ever read/commented on my own guest post) and my snacks, it’s time to get to the meat of the day.  Or, in this case, the meatBALLS.

To get there, though, we have to go back.  Old school….

One time, for one month, I lived in Florence, Italy, home of MichaelangeloAmerigo Vespucci, Acqua al Due (which fed me the greatest steak of my life), and (more recently), my twin, Snookie.

Only one? Come on, Jordan!

That's my goal... Only I'd never ever smoke a cigarette. YUCK! (click for Source)

Italy was a glorious place to live, even just for a month.  Only all… we ever…. ate… was pasta.

Pasta and Nutella

Pasta with veggies, pasta with sauce, pasta with prawns, pasta with pepperoni, pasta with meat…..

By the end of the month, I was so sick of pasta I never wanted to see it again.  And honestly, since then, it very rarely has.  Unless I felt obliged to eat it due to being at someone’s home (as a guest), I avoided it like the plague.  But tonight, after saving my poor little basil plant , I was inspired.  It helped that sauce and pasta was on sale too….

I purchased a package of Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Spaghetti at the store (sticking with the whole grains, though not too low carb…)

Snagged picture, click for the Source!

I also snagged some turkey meatballs from Harris Teeter and some sauce I already had on hand…

In a little sauce-pan, I sauteed some spinach and green peppers, several leaves from that dear basil plant, then added the sauce, and some tomatoes.  Once the pasta was sufficiently done (I like it tender, not a bit al dente), I threw it in a big ol’ bowl with about 3-5 of the turkey meatballs, and covered it in a few sprinkles of reduced fat mozzarella cheese, OODLES of crushed red pepper and dried oregano, and gobbled it up like I hadn’t eaten pasta in years (when it may have actually been a year.)

Pas-TASTIC!

Loved the effect the basil had, and how hearty the meal tasted even though I went with less-pasta and much more veggies. Pasta made a triumphant return in my life, and (if I always make it this veggie laden) I foresee it becoming a repeat offender.

Even though I was, for the most part, full, I wanted to chase it down with a tiny sweet treat….

Pillsbury Sweet Moments Brownie Bites in Cocoa Caramel Obsession

There were 12 of these tiny nibblets in a package, and I limited Ry and myself to 2 each (so we could feasibly repeat this 2 more nights!)

I’m gonna shoot you straight, as tiny as they were, they tasted like tiny gooey bites of sweet, delicious sin. I could EASILY have wolfed all 12 of them down, but the 2 that I enjoyed were a perfect 120 calorie way to end my night on a sweet note.

I forgot to take a shot of their size, but luckily someone else did that for me (see Finding Inspiration in Food’s review for a finger comparison!)  I love caramel mixed with chocolate, and anything that combines them in an itty bitty bite is even more enjoyable.  I found these at Harris Teeter for $2.50 and had a $1/off coupon so it was a bargain.  You can get your own coupon at the Pillsbury site (just make sure you have a printer ready!)

All in all, this has been a top notch Monday, as far as Mondays go…. and in due time (3.5-ish days…. but who’s counting?) I’ll be on a plane headed North!

Do you like pasta?  If so, how do you like it (shape, sauce, cooking style, veggies or meat)?

What’s your favorite weeknight “dessert” that doesn’t kill the calorie intake but satisfies your sweet tooth?