Zahav x Momofuku: Isreali Breakfast

“Oh, you write about food? What’s your favorite restaurant?”

It’s a question I field regularly, from travelers coming to Philly for the weekend to casual acquaintances at networking events; from friends and family to total strangers that ALSO wanna gab about food. And, to be honest, there’s an easy answer, but it hurts to share.

Zahav hits every checkbox in my dream resto:

  • Diverse array of tastes served in one meal
  • Impeccable service, from the hosts to the folks tidying up the table between courses
  • Killer soundtrack (seriously, who’s curating the Zahav Spotify playlist, and can I get your info?)
  • Masterful presentation (from the open kitchen to plating of individual dishes)

This is unfortunate because, in addition to being one of the most wonderful places to dine, it’s also one of the toughest reservations to get in Philly, so I try not to boast too much when I do manage to get a meal on my calendar. But this… this was something special.

Zahav collaborated with the team from Momofuku’s Ssäm Bar (known for some killer Korean-style meat and Asian fusion dishes) for a one-time Israeli breakfast for the ages.

When I saw the tickets go up live Thursday, May 18 I’d purchased a table for 4 before 7:30am. When an opportunity like this occurs, you pay first, ask questions later. I had no trouble finding three willing dining companions and, Saturday at noon, we were seated with no idea what we’d be eating (but a certainty that it would be delicious).

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 1.56.57 PM.png

I’m going to do that thing that some people love and others hate, which is rehash the menu, so if you don’t care for that kinda thing, feel free to scroll through the photos.

First Course:

  • Israeli Breakfast Breads – we’re talking Kubaneh (linking to David Chang’s Lucky Peach article, keep it in the family) and a sweet Rugelach (perhaps date flavored, I must admit that detail was hazy)
  • An insane rose(?) and strawberry jam that I wanted to drown in (yes, we ordered extra)
  • Bentons Bacon Salad – frisée, poached egg, and smoked / cured egg yolk
  • Country ham – sliced paper thin, served with red-eye coffee gravy
  • Beef tartare – made with Yuzu Kosho (an incredible citrus chile condiment you should put on all dishes) and MORE egg yolk
Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 2.22.47 PM.png

That beef tartare, though…

18952794_10104641179406088_6942474859675884034_n

Making frisée fun again…

Second Course

  • Short Ribs Al H’aesh – this was an incredible dish that was (I believe accidentally) brought to us three times. I apologize, Zahav, for not mentioning our second and third portions, but if you bring me short ribs on a skewer, I will eat them all without question.
  • Shakshuka – with smashed English peas, tomato, Saffronella, and an egg. I wish Zahav offered this for dinner, too.
  • Spicy pork sausage with rice cakes – easily my favorite dish, this dish had texture, heat, and an egg. What more could a girl ask for?!
Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 2.30.24 PM

Shakshuka & banchan (Korean side dishes like kimchi and ginger scallions, that went with EVERYTHING!)

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 11.05.25 AM

Added bonus to spicy sausage dish – when your friends can’t take the heat, you get extra.

We were promptly rolled out of Zahav and into the street, where we blissfully walked the 20 blocks home on cloud nine, stuffed with the best foods around.

Zahav – you dog. You got me again. I’m unabashedly enamored with the entire CookNSolo restaurant group (and like to maintain a healthy obsession with Federal Donuts), so just keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll keep blindly throwing my money your way.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 11.05.12 AM

Gratuitous food pics

Advertisements

The Top 5 Things You May Have Missed at the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show

The Philadelphia Flower Show is a tradition like no other. Every year, right at the tail end of a dreary winter, the Philadelphia Convention Center transforms into a taste of spring with millions of blossoms (okay, I don’t know if it’s actually millions, but the entrance bridge had over 30,000 so I’m ballparking).

17352412_10104387770444678_4637084430806323912_n.jpg

Bulbs and Bulbs – GET IT?!

This year’s theme was “Holland: Flowering the World” and, no surprise, the show had Philadelphians and out-of-towners alike tip-toeing through the tulips for nine straight days. And though a “snowstorm” did make for a bit of a hiccup on day 4, the Philly Flower Show went on without a hitch.

I’ve been to the PHS Flower Show before. once during grad school and once on a pretty ridiculous date sponsored by Yards Brewery (long story, but click away if you’re curious.) But every year I go, I find something new to love. This year was no different. So yes: there was the epic flower bridge at the entrance… but some of the bits and pieces that were my favorite, a lot of my friends missed. SO here you have it:

The Top 5 Things You Might Have Missed at the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show

  1. PEDALS: The White Bike Plan
    17353187_10104389185773348_4932305366466536279_n.jpg
     

    While you may not have MISSED this exhibit, it is possible you didn’t realize exactly why there was a huge exhibit all about white bicycles in the middle of the show. Turns out, it was an ode to Witte Fietsenplan (translation: The White Bicycle Plan). This was actually part of a Dutch counter-culture movement from the 1960s called Provo, and  one of the very first bike-sharing plans in the world! We’re all newly spoiled with Philly’s Indego, turns out Amsterdam had the idea over 50 years ago!

  2. Open Bar
     

    17352232_10208768499038025_3642074791166922058_n.jpg

    Let the St. Germain flow!

    Truth be told, I learned this little gem from a fellow student during my income-light grad school years. Never underestimate the ability of a grad student to find free (or deeply discounted) drinks. If you’re looking to channel your inner bee and go through the Flower Show with a buzz, the folks at Fine Wine and Spirits are ready to pour you an endless array of samples from 2pm-7pm.

    Seriously. It’s the ultimate pregame.

  3. The Philly Belle

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    Well, if you missed this flower, you missed something pretty special. This gorgeous, unique tulip is named the Philly Belle, and is a one-of-a-kind tulip bred specifically by Remarkable Tulips for the show. I recognize that geeking out over a flower is not something I’d normally do, but this vibrant, fringed tulip was like nothing I’d ever seen.

  4. The Design Gallery
    17265028_10104387770409748_2555325941668119162_n.jpg

    Yup, that is a flower.

    I really don’t know much about gardening. I have kept an air plant alive since I moved to Philly nearly 5 years ago, and that is what I consider my greatest green-thumb feat to-date. That said, the Design Gallery is probably the most impressive portion of the Flower Show to me. The things people are able to make with plants, seeds, flowers… from jewelry to sculptures to miniature scenes, it’s insane.

  5. Butterflies! Loads of ’em

    Butterflies2017.jpg

    This could’ve been you, but you were playing (Image courtesy of PHS Flower Show)

    Did you see the 1,000+ butterflies floating around at the Philly Flower Show? Probably not, unless you strolled out of the main expo hall and over to Butterflies LIVE!. Just imagine… hundreds of butterflies flitting around, landing on you, giving sweet butterfly kisses to your face because they think maybe you’re a flower. It cost $5 and yes, there was a line.  But if you’ve never had a chance to be a butterfly landing pad…. just saying.

What was your favorite part about this year’s show? Did I miss anything spectacular?!

Whole30: 20 Days and Counting

20 days into Whole30  (well, at least when I started writing this post) and I’ve had a handful of questions from friends (IRL and Internet alike, or any strangers with whom I’ve discussed Whole30 .

To those strangers, I apologize. Really, to everyone. Sorry. Because I’ve found that, when y̶o̶u̶’̶r̶e̶ I’m on Whole30 , chances are… most conversation focuses on Whole30 . For a life that revolves around food, sweat, and beers, when you get rid of most of the foods (and all of the beers), it’s just sweat (and that’s mostly gross). But hey, in case you’re interested and I haven’t told you already, here are some updates.

How am I feeling?

When I last updated, I was feeling TERRIFIC. And now?

9fce0ef9-0d23-4cef-ae7e-d91913c4d733.png

Flying High

I’m still feeling pretty great. No super-powers, and my energy for exercising has kind of ranged from normal to SUPER HYPE, but mostly normal. My skin isn’t magically clear, and I don’t have rock-hard abs.

But I wake up nearly every morning before my alarm feeling well-rested. My stomach doesn’t feel bloated like… ever (ok there was one day where I ate too many potatoes.) I go to sleep feeling as good as I feel when I wake up. It’s just an even, relaxed, consistent feeling of goodness.

What’s been the hardest part?

Sugar is in EVERYTHING.

I don’t crave anything, not anymore. But I hate reading food labels to find sugar in ketchup, sriracha, salad dressing, this Brussels sprouts dish that sounded delicious but then it contained pomegranate molasses… I feel obnoxious asking to see the list of ingredients when folks offer me things, but sticking to the plan is the only option. Taking a break or veering off never was, not even for a day.

What has been the most surprising experience?

The other day, I went to put on some dress pants I hadn’t worn in a while. And then, they practically fell off. I was swimming in them.

I’ve lost weight before, but this feels different somehow. Like my body’s shape is changing. I wish I felt motivated or energized enough to exercise more. But some days, I feel like I spend enough time preparing my food that I just say “**ck It” to the gym. I’ll be curious to see the scale at the end.

I am also surprised that potatoes are allowed, and MAYBE have abused that a bit, but these smashed potatoes are the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.

What have you missed the most?

This isn’t terribly different from what I eat typically, or how I eat. But damn, I miss cheese.

What I have NOT missed is fun Philly things. Even as a teetotaler, turns out you can still find some joy in Philly Beer Week activities

d1890225-10ce-40b6-8dba-69aa752f17db.jpg

Dunkel Dare 2016 (that pie was NOT compliant)

What tasty foods have I been eating?

Thank the LORD for Pinterest. It’s a Whole30 GOLD MINE! (Click image for source/recipes)

 

 

 

How will you celebrate when you’re done?

I will officially complete Whole30 Wednesday, June 29. Whole30 advocates for a slow “reintroduction” phase. But the thing is…. On Thursday night, I’m going to get pizza. Specifically from Nomad Roman. Maybe a beer (I’m sure I’ll be a real cheap date).

I plan to continue eating relatively clean, but I haven’t drank the Kool-Aid enough to join the Whole9 movement and make Whole30 my WHOLE LIFE.

I’ll definitely be doing a recap post afterwards but, in the meantime, welcome to THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!

 

CorePower Yoga in Philly: A Review!

When we last met (digitally), I was talking fitness. Specifically about how Philly is lighting up as far as fitness goes. I’m not the first to notice this (Be Well Philly even put together a list of all the new studios coming to town).

As I mentioned before, I’m definitely not the first to experience most of these. But hey, maybe some of y’all are on the fence about some of them. Maybe you’re not sure what the workouts are like, maybe you wanna know what to wear, maybe you’re just narrowing down your list of which fitness to focus on this week / month / year. So I’ve been checking some of them out. Since we went ahead and got RIPPED, let’s focus on our cores, eh?

CorePower Yoga has come to town.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 5.33.21 PM

They offer new members one free week (click the link for your own!) so, being the budget babe that I am, I jumped on the opportunity. One week (ok, maybe two weeks, I had my buddy’s wedding to attend!) later, I’m ready to write about the 4-5 classes I took (one was outside of the week).

CPY is a HUGE company, it seems. They’re also not that new to the city, opening in December. But I hibernated until the weather was a little closer to the temps of their signature hot yoga classes. I tried three of their four types offered at the Philly studio, descriptions here (didn’t manage to make it to Hot Power Fusion, but the candlelit ones sound terrific!)

CorePower Yoga 1 was nice and easy, a fast moving flow but not so challenging (OR so hot) that I felt out of my league.

CorePower Yoga 2: hotter (like, over 95 degrees), harder, and uncut. The class moved fast, the poses were challenging, and I was definitely pushing the outer limits of “my league”. But I survived, and felt strong (though maybe not as strong as that yogi easing into Eka Pada Bakasana like it ain’t no thing. 

timthumb.jpg

Dang Julie Wilcox. Show me how it’s done (click photo for source)

Yoga Sculpt, though, was my favorite. By far. This class keeps things sweaty to begin with at 94 degrees, PLUS you use hand weights for things like push-ups, tricep extensions, etc. There’s even a cardio break built in that reminds me a bit of Lithe Method.

This was the most I’ve ever sweat in ANY fitness class. That includes Bikram’s 104 degree temps, and brutal bootcamps in the middle of the summer. Seriously, my workout gear needed to be wrung out before I put it in the laundry basket.

It was all very gross (and weirdly satisfying).

The PROS:

  • Insane workout catered to your skills
  • Lots of classes offered daily (like, 10-12)
  • Beautiful studio, lots of space
  • Variety from your standard yoga class (loved mixing in cardio and weights, even though it was hard as hell)

The CONS:

  • No mat storage
  • Corporate feel
  • Crowded locker rooms for some of the bigger classes
  • (I hate to sound like a cheapskate BUT) The price

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 2.45.22 PM.png

However, with prices of Classpass skyrocketing across the country, maybe this is the cost of boutique fitness now. Scary thought for a gal in pediatric research… However, I will note they have a discount through a “work-study” program if you help clean 3ish hours a week. Worth looking into, if you’ve got the time.

Thank goodness for all the Free Fitness in Philly.

ONTO THE NEXT WORKOUT!

Sometimes, You Just Knead Bagels (get it?)

I woke up Saturday morning feeling, as my Carolina friends might say, like death warmed over. And I’m not sure if it stemmed from a restless sleep, my general malaise in the winter, or (most likely) a few too many celebratory Proseccos following a buddy’s successful dissertation proposal defense. Whatever it was, I spent the first half hour of consciousness sending whiny Snapchats and wondering, David After Dentist-style, “Why is this happening to me?”

2n04rwmBut then, something magical happened. Something that social media, god bless it, made possible. The folks at Knead Bagels, a new bagel joint at 7th and Walnut, tweeted out this picture.

Come to mama.

Come to mama.

In case you can’t see, that’s a Nigella Seed Bagel, jalapeno bacon (from 1732 Meats) and Agave cream cheese. As I’ve been eye-ing Knead for some time now, drawn to the exciting bagel flavors and intriguing cream cheese options, I had a feeling this was just what the doctor ordered. I begrudgingly donned all the rainy cold weather attire needed for a miserable winter morning and headed out the door. A woman with a mission.

Mission accomplished.

Mission accomplished.

The space is open and almost rustic. Think wood, think chalkboard menu, beautiful art on the walls. And though my tastebuds were piqued by options like pastrami spice, togarashi, fennel seed & sea salt, flax and chia seed bagels…. scallion lime, kimchee, roasted tomato, and balsamic cherry cream cheeses…. I knew what I needed.

unnamed-2

I squirreled my special bagel back home to be enjoyed on the comfort of my couch as I watched something dumb and mindless on TV. The verdict?

unnamed-3

MEDICINAL. Momentarily disregard the bags under my eyes and realize that these bagels…. I’m fairly certain they’ve got healing properties. Because as I consumed my nigella seed bagel, full of burnt onion flavoring, and the hearty bacon-filled cream cheese (spice and sweet, oh yes), I felt rejuvenated from the inside out.

I can not WAIT to hurry back and try the rest of the options. Or perhaps, when I’m feeling peckish, I’ll even enjoy some of their new lunch options.

Knead has won my heart and my tummy. Philly (k)needed a new bagel spot, and Knead delivered.

Tennis (Lessons), Anyone?

I’ve been an athlete my whole life. It’s something in which I take pride. Whether manning the goal in peewee soccer games (easily distracted, I wasn’t too great at this position and was known to wander from my post), flunging my way down the strip during fencing, or (my favorite) blocking the spike dreams of shorter, less awesome girls on the volleyball court, sports have always given me a thrill, a team, a purpose. And while most of my athletic endeavors these days tend to be off the assorted courts and in group fitness rooms or the occasional steps of an art museum, I think that the athletic aspect of a person doesn’t ever truly fade away.

So when someone from MyTennisLessons.com reached out to let me know about their site (which allows users to book tennis lessons with all sorts of different instructors based on distance, cost, experience, etc) and offered me a chance to give it a try, the competitive juices started flowing, and I immediately said yes. Sure, my hand-eye coordination at the ping pong table isn’t too great, but I’m long. I’m strong. I’m basically a Maria Sharapova in the waiting… Bring it on!

So what do I do with this thing?

So what do I do with this thing?

The process of booking a lesson was incredibly simple, and the user-interface of the site is basically fool-proof. Put in your zip code and you’ll get instructors from your area, as well as suggested courts close to you. Luckily, I live right down the street from one of the public courts in Philly, so before I knew it, it was time for my (very first ever in my whole life) tennis lesson. I invited my mom along for moral support and we hit the court.

Talk about 15-LOVE HER!

Talk about 15-LOVE HER!

I’ll say this right there: Lesson 1 showed me pretty quickly that, regardless of your past experience with sports, the tennis court isn’t a place to be proud. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to swing and hit the ball out of the “containment area”. You’ll hit it into the net. You’ll hit it into your mom (THAT WAS ONE TIME!) And sometimes, you’re gonna swing and not hit it at all.

I mean... almost?

I mean… almost?

Tennis uses parts of your body that are different from almost any sport I’d ever participated in before. Oddly enough, the sport it reminded me most of was fencing. The short bursts of energy, the closed stance. The fact that you’re using a tool as an extension of your body.

I like this one because it actually looks like I may have connected with the ball!

I like this one because it actually looks like I may have connected with the ball!

It was initially a little disheartening to not be instantly great at something. That said, I had a pretty fantastic instructor. Nick, my instructor, took a special trip out to Philly (as his normal radius is a little closer to where I grew up around Delaware County, PA) to help this first-timer learn the ropes. It was obvious that he was a total professional, coming armed with rackets, a super sweet set of tennis whites, and enough balls to let me go a little buck wild with the occasional POWER SWING. Patient and experienced, Nick spoke in a way that even someone who had never watched a match would understand. That someone was me.

MOTHER DAUGHTER DOUBLES!

MOTHER DAUGHTER DOUBLES!

The coolest thing about the site, I think, is that you can read reviews from previous lesson-takers. This makes sure that you’re getting the ideal experience, and you can choose not only someone who is convenient to you, but someone who has been vetted by other folks. There seems to be instructors for everything from a beginner to someone who really wants to step up their game.

Little close to the net... but look at that focus!

Little close to the net… but look at that focus!

It was really exciting for me to eventually, over the course of the hour, start to connect with the ball, and play a little tennis with my mom (who’s been playing for years now and basically showed me up the entire time). I can definitely see myself hitting the court again (and, come on, who can resist rocking those little skirts?!)

If I were trying to get into tennis shape, I would absolutely use this service. I also think it would be great for people who are trying to get their kids into a sport but might not know where to start.

Thanks, Nick!!

Thanks, Nick!!

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is… if anyone needs a mixed doubles partner, I might not be your first choice. But if you wanna see a 6’1” gangly gal flail wildly with racket in hand, and periodically put together a solid volley… well, after my first lesson, I’m ready.

I totally look ready. Right?

I totally look ready. Right?

The Doughman Race 2012: We Ran, We Ate, We Conquered

I never thought I’d say this, but I ran one hell of a race (dressed like a bloodthirsty honey badger after eating a vegan tako).

Yeah, I think the whole sentence is what I never thought I’d say. MAYBE I thought I might have run a race (or swam, or biked, or crawled one)…. but NOT dressed like a honey badger, and NOT with a tummy full of treats.

Saturday morning, I met at my teammate’s house bright and early to put the final touches on our costumes (ok, let’s be honest, mostly my costume… I’ve got a flair for the flamboyant) before carpooling in the direction of downtown Durham.  Our goal? The Doughman, an event that may have been the first thing I put on my Triangle Bucket List.

Note the honey…. gotta stay true to form.

We registered our team bike (a road bike… remember that, as it comes into play later) and checked out the scene.

The closest I came to the trophy, don’t worry

The sweet slap bracelet that served as our “baton” to pass from person to person

There were amazing costumes by some of the other teams. It was clear that folks had gone all out and, despite the fact that I probably looked like a road-killed skunk, I was channeling my inner bloodthirsty honey badger. And I was feeling great.

Team BHB aka Team 38! Jordan, Katie, Ben, and Paul

The organizers of the race called the teams together for a few announcements. First things first, they covered the rules. I can get behind that, everyone needs to know the rules.  Then they covered some other stuff.

For instance, if you’d raised $250 or more as a team, you got a “time bonus” of a 2 minute head start. If you raised $1,000 or more, your head start was 5 minutes. We’d raised $160 as a team and, in my opinion, that’s awesome. I’m so thankful for my loved ones who donated, and I LOVE that we raised money for SEEDS. But the entire time the organizers were talking about the time bonus, I felt a big whopping pile of guilt being ladled onto those of us who didn’t raise enough for a time bonus.

Look at all those teams hopping up to the start early, all of you other teams… Maybe next year, you’ll think of that when you’re raising money.

Whoah. Wait a minute. Is my money not also doing great things?  That wasn’t all that was said to us, and I feel like we were basically made to feel like second-class citizens for not meeting THE QUOTA. If there’s money you NEED us to raise, make it a requirement. Otherwise, don’t give us hell for not doing it.

ANYWAY, Team 38’s lead leg, Paul, faced a daunting meal before his 8.5 mile bike ride.  From Dain’s Place: Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich with Homemade Marshmallow Fluff on Fresh Bread (contains nuts)

A worthy foe

He chomped it down, hopped on his bike and got to getting. And then, the unthinkable happened.

EEK!

The chain on Paul’s bike fell off the moment he started riding it. LUCKILY this happened inches away from the starting line, so Ben QUICKLY jumped into action and fixed it. But it didn’t bode well for the bike ride.

See, the thing is, according to Ben we “broke the first rule of races”. Don’t change something on Race Day. Paul had never used a road bike before, just mountain bikes. Uh oh.

I waited. I was the second leg and, after 27 minutes, the first speedy racers came in from Leg 1. I was getting fired up. I stretched. I jumped around. I ran through the course in my brain. And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

According to Paul, since he wasn’t accustomed to gear changing, every time he had to go up a hill, he had to walk the bike. And then re-mount it.  Translation? Slow and (semi-)steady.

Result?

Mercy rule, they let me go at 1 hour in….  And THEN I was off!  Ahead of me? 1.8 mile run followed by a “water activity” (paddling across a pool in an inner tube!) after eating a treat from Kokyu.  Ahead of me was their V-Tako: Soy Nuts, Sprouts, Vinaigrette, Cilantro, Kokyu Chili, Sesame Kimchi’d Radish.

Hello, nemesis.

I ran the short distance from the corral to the table and had at it. My first instinct? TAKE A HUGE BITE!

The many faces of eating Jordan

WOW! That was a spicy tako! The initial HUGE bite was the hardest to chomp on, knowing that every time I bit down, a burst of spicy Kimchi was coming at me. I wised up after the first half of the taco, ripping it into small pieces and chasing each bite with water. FINALLY, I got it down. Well, mostly down.  I had to take a last few swallows when the judge asked me to show him my mouth.  Oops…

The run BEGAN!

I jumped out of the gate FAST, much faster than I’m accustomed to running.  I knew the course, I was ready for this.  What I was NOT ready for was how very lonely it is out there when there aren’t any other runners.  Since that whole “mercy rule” was instituted, it was just me and one other runner, one who was faster than I was. He sped by me (though, I WILL say I ate my tako before him, HA!) and, since I didn’t bring my iPod, I was alone with my thoughts.  I know it was only 1.8 miles but, for me, that’s more than I’d ever run before practicing the route earlier in the week.  After speeding the initial uphill + downhill portion, I looked at my HRM. Where I was at 10 minutes in my practice round, I was at 7:45 during the actual race. So when it came to the uphill portion, the quiet, the loneliness, and the TAKO got to me.  There were a few portions that I had to walk (namely uphill, right across from the Durham Bulls stadium).  I couldn’t help myself, I was sucking wind and thinking to myself “Whoah, there’s phlegm and cilantro in my throat.” I know that is gross, and probably TMI.  Sorry.  But the moment I saw the YMCA in the distance, I knew I’d made it. So I hauled ass to the Y, yanked all my clothing off (don’t worry, I had a bathing suit on!), tossed my HRM to the side, and hopped in the pool.

I HATE that I don’t have pictures of this, because I imagine it was hilarious.  But I placed my butt in the inner tube and paddled my honey badger heart out.  And I ran the last 50-70 yards barefoot, clutching my shoes and clothes.

CHAMP!

My final leg time was 20:05. For eating, running, and paddling, that sounds GREAT to me.  To give you a range, the fastest time I saw was 12:41 (Damn Bull City track team speed demons) and the slowest I saw for my leg was 30:40, so I feel comfortable in the middle of the pack. I really think I could’ve gone faster if I’d run the whole thing, but morale wasn’t as high without any volunteers out to cheer me on, or fellow runners to feed off of their energy.

Katie’s leg started off with a doozy.

From Nosh,  Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with Roasted Red Pepper Spread (contains nuts).

Yummy!

It was delicious. Not that I ate many bites of it….

MOVING ON!

Alas, I didn’t get any pictures of the only meat-item of the race, but Ben had the pleasure of eating Old Havana’s Cuban Sliders on Gugelhupf Brioche with Maduros. 

Jealous.

He ran like the wind (the fast wind) and actually had like, the 4th fastest time for his leg of all the teams. If we were ALL Bens, we would’ve won that trophy, I’m sure.  We’re not, but I love him for keeping us in a position of honor for the last leg.  They saved the best, of course, for last.

The DESSERT LEG!

On the menu?


Leg 5, team sprint: The Parlour, Mad Hatters, LocoPops & Daisy Cakes
Meal: Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream with Strawberry Swirl; Chocolate Walnut Whopper Cookie; Water-based Raspberry Coconut Popsicle (vegan); Strawberry Cupcake with Almond Buttercream Icing

I decided to take control of the strawberry cupcake with almond buttercream icing.  I knew, if I could dominate anything, it was a cupcake especially with almond flavored ANYTHING.

The two “cold” items not pictured to avoid melting.

I dove right in.

The frosting was FLYING!

I’m pretty amazing at eating cupcakes fast, I learned and, after the rest of the teammies wolfed down their dishes, we sprinted to the finish line.

Team 38/81 came in 58th place…. But I know we’re #1 in your hearts.

WAHOO!!

It was brutally hot, it was tough to down food then go running, and bike issues got us down initially. But, on the other side, it was exhilarating, it was hilarious, it was delicious, and it was a blast! I would TOTALLY do it again. In a heartbeat.

I feel so lucky to have amazing buddies to make up a dream team, and I LOVED the chance to Doughman-ate the Doughman!

I think I wanted to pretend it was a cape?

I am the Dough(WO)MAN!!

Craziest competition you’ve ever been a part of?

Eating, running, racing, swimming, I’d love to hear about it!

Would you ever do something like the Doughman?

Pure Barre: A Breakdown (by a First Timer)

Good morning folks!

You’re probably here because you’re interested in this:

(Click for source)

Yup, I tried my very first Pure Barre class yesterday!!

Pure Barre in Chapel Hill, NC recently had a Groupon-esque deal through OurLocalDeal based in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County in general. For $36, I got 4 Pure Barre classes and, after asking around, this is one heck of a deal!!

I’ve been looking for a new exercise method to get me excited about working out again. Well… look no further.  I look excited, right?

Excited, nervous, they’re all the same.

Ok, I’ll shoot you straight: I was actually totally nervous! I’d go so far as to say there were butterflies in my tummy. After reading an INTENSE review of Pure Barre from Lauren of Raw is Sexy, I was ready for the worst. I walked in the studio, accompanied by my buddy, Anne, and, as expected, the studio entrance was chock-full of Lululemon attire for sale, as well as some fancy shmancy Pure Barre socks.  Luckily, I brought my own.

This little piggy went to Pure Barre

I was honestly more nervous, initially, as to what to wear than anything else. Luckily, my ToeSox have little grippy dots on the bottom that are perfect for not slipping and sliding, considering the floor is carpet!!  For some reason, I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

As for what else to wear:

  • Most women were rocking yoga pants, with the occasional legging/crop legging mixed in there (I went for the crop legging). I would NOT recommend wearing shorts, as they could ride up during the seated portion
  • Tank top/tshirt that breathes. You’re going to be sweating a lot, don’t make it worse by over-dressing. Again, I’d recommend a longer length, as there are portions that could lead to riding up.
  • Socks – Grippy dots are helpful, if you’ve got em or have access to them

My instructor asked us to grab some equipment, and I picked up what I needed.

All the Accoutrements for a Pure Barre class!

What you need:

  • Resistance band
  • Mat
  • Ball
  • Weights (2lb set and 3lb set…. but I only ended up using the 2lbs!!)
What I wish I’d brought:
  • Water bottle
  • Towel
  • Another towel (seriously, I was drenched in sweat)
But I managed to make due.
 
The class started out promptly (which I LOVED) and, honestly, the music was much less irritating than most workout classes I’ve taken part of (like, for instance, the BodyPump track featuring none other than…. Nickelback. Blech.)  Within the initial five minutes, I was sweating.
Within the first set of pushups, I was straining.
After the first set of squats at the barre, I was burning.
Not just a little burn.  A burn that felt like the insides of my thighs were literally being hit with a cold blue flame.
We started with some small weight lifting and a few leg actions that were very reminiscent of that time I hated tried pilates. We did pushups, we straightened our legs, and, without fail, I was the first person who was approached by the instructor who fixed my form.

You want me to do what with my butt?

There was a lot to think about, much like pilates. You were tucking your hips in, you were straightening your leg, flexing your foot, pointing your toes, and squeezing balls between your legs (in the least sexual way possible). Despite all the well-dressed ladies looking fierce in their form fitting Lulu gear, I’ll admit, there was NOTHING about this class that looked sexy. That’s not to say that the women didn’t all look gorgeous. But when they’re drenched in sweat, standing on their tiptoes, thrusting their hips back and forth, it’s a lot less sexy than you’d think (who bets someone finds my blog in the future searching “Lulu hip thrust”?)

My thighs and butt definitely felt the most worked out, with my abs feeling the least. The thigh set at the bar was AMAZING! Literal burning, like Icy Hot minus the sexy rubbing that goes on beforehand. Just Pure Burn. The portions where we were squatting and on our tiptoes, working in tiny little thrusts and tucks, I felt like my legs were about to reject the rest of my body and walk away.

They didn’t.

I think, however, I have figured out why the abs weren’t getting their full workout.

Oh, don’t mind me, giant wooden bar. Just trying to workout.

An entire ab set was supposed to be set with us sitting against the wall, and your head/back against the wall. Only, when you’re 6’1″ with a torso that goes on for days, well…. apparently the studio wasn’t ready for that.

My head was literally jammed against the wood of the bar and I couldn’t even turn it straight. It was…. ridiculous. Anne looked over at me and chuckled as I strained to turn and face the instructor (which required a bit of bobbing/weaving around the wood.) It was hilarious, it was distracting, and it was REALLY difficult to adjust accordingly.

Oh well, I guess there aren’t too many tall ballerinas, right?

The tail end of the class focused on…. our tail end.  Lots of booty work including lifts and bridges that pushed the burn out to the last moment of class.  I felt worked the entire time. There were very few breaks, very little arm work, and LOADS of sweat (I think my perspiration may have left watermarks on the bar.)  I felt worked out the whole time.  I feel like the lifting at the beginning was kind of silly and put in there just to make use of those fancy looking weights.  However, the aspect of the ball was CRUCIAL and I think a core part of this Pure Barre method.  The resistance band was best for stretching.

My fanny is sore, my thighs still feel like there’s some creep who’s lighting small fires on them now and then, and I honestly can’t even wait to go back.

Pure Barre Virgin, NO MORE!

What’s been an exercise that’s gotten you excited lately?

Have you ever tried Pure Barre? If so, what do you think? If not, would you want to?

Tri-Foodie Tweetup: Jujube Style

Hey all you crazy dreamers out there….

So, I’m sure a few of you out there like to enjoy that wonderful social network of the Twitterverse.  And if you haven’t, you’re missing out on a lot (namely: following me!!) But honestly, Twitter’s given me the chance to go from just an onlooker of food, beer, and wine events in the NC Research Triangle to an active participant. And one of my big goals with this year, as well as this blog, was to become even more active in the awesome world of food and beer in this blossoming culture.

To sum it all up in layman’s terms: I wanna be more of a mover/shaker and less of a parasite sucking off the teet of the shakers and movers out there.

One of my favorite recurring events that goes on is called the #trifoodietweetup. In the past, they’ve been hosted by such fantastic Triangle locations such as Four Square, Six Plates, Fearrington Village, and (most recently) Jujube in Chapel Hill! Andrea Weigl and Johanna Kramer know how to get great venues, and set up some classy evenings.  Tonight’s theme: Asian Tapas and Artisan Rum Cocktails.  I believed, when I was going, it’d be more like a small sampling of cocktails and tapas all included in the cost (a bit more than $11) but when we showed up, the menu listed the food as included and the drinks were separate.  Also, nothing felt all that Asian (except some spring rolls they served later in the night, but that weren’t on the menu).

Tasty menu offerings!

I couldn’t resist one of the drinks, listed, a Traditional Daquiri with white rum, luxardo maraschino, lime, and cane syrup for $8. I have to agree, this was a delicious cocktail, and I was pretty happy to pay for it, I think it was worth it.

Close up on the drinkies!

I also saw there was a Dogfish Festina Pesche that I knew would be my last drink of the night.  But anyway, onto the foods.

First Course: salads

The pink salad on the right was a Watermelon Cucumber salad with piqant mint dressing and Johnston County country ham. This. Was. Brilliant. Seriously, I was so surprised by how well the watermelon paired with the ham. It was almost as if it drew out the natural flavor and maybe some sort of spice in the fruit. The cucumber was nice and crunchy (which actually was a wicked bummer with this tooth infection, but would’ve been enjoyed otherwise). The salad on the left was an Octopus-arugula salad with orange and sorrel. The octopus… was not worth writing home, in my opinion. Loved the orange and arugula mix though, good little wilted quality.

Won ton (and some progress on the cocktail in the back...)

Up next was a fried lobster-shrimp won ton with lemon, miso butter. The first batch of these were great. Alas, when I got another one a little later, it was more won ton and less filling, and was just too much crunch for my liking, like the flavor was fried right out of it.  The blend of lobster-shrimp inside was fantastic though, and left me very excited for the next offering.

Been spending most our lives living in a fried-stuff-paradise...

This is where the party really got started. Clockwise from the upper left: Tempura fried prawn (and okra, eaten already) with a little heirloom tomato conserve; Porcini and tellegio stuffed rice fritters (the tan fried balls of awesome); Shrimp-zucchini fritters with grilled chile aioli (cute pink phone… that’s mine.)  The breakdown: the tempura fried prawn was great, mostly because it was so simple. Just a prawn, covered in fried batter. hooty hoo. That being said, the fried okra was no bueno, just too dried out.

The rice fritters: ethereal! The tellegio cheese inside kept the fritters moist and delicious, and though I’m not normally a fan of mushrooms (pretty sure that’s what porcini is, right?) they just blended into the tastiness.

The shrimp-zucchini fritter might have been my very favorite, though. The chili aioli added the perfect amount of spiciness, and made me wanna guzzle down my daquiri (which I did. Classy.)

The star of my show

I’ll admit, I’d been waiting anxiously to try the Dogfish Head Festina Peche.  From the brewer:

It is delicately hopped with a pale straw color and served as an aperitif or summertime quencher. To soften the intense sourness, Berliner Weisse is traditionally served with a dash of essence of woodruff or raspberry syrup.  In our Festina Peche since the natural peach sugars are eaten by the yeast, the fruit complexity is woven into both the aroma and the taste of the beer so there is no need to doctor it with woodruff or raspberry syrup – open and enjoy!

I’ve said it before: I love summer seasonal ales, especially if they’ve got some fruit in there somewhere. And this was one of the finest I’ve tried. The peach was there and more reminiscent of a peach I had last year from the Durham Farmer’s Market, fresh and even a little earthy. Not all all like I imagined it would be (which would be like when a candy company tries to make a peach flavored treat… overly sweet and chemically). Coming from a bottle, I didn’t have a glass to check the color, but it had a nice medium amount of carbonation and was tart enough to compete with my fried frittery treats.  It rounded out this evening perfectly.

Big thanks to Jujube and the fine ladies who threw this event together (even though I didn’t win a cookbook) and it just goes to show you the moral of this story:

Even if you have an aggressive gum infection on your wisdom tooth, you can utilize half of your mouth to enjoy the flip outta some fried Asian tapas and badass cocktails/brews.

Tastes like Summer: Fullsteam Summer Basil Ale

Hello friends!  I greet you this evening with tasty beer in my belly and having spent a wonderful night with friends and even a few strangers (aka new friends)! Once a week, I host a Glass Night Meetup on behalf of the BEST meetup group in the Triangle area, Tri-Beer (seriously, if you like beer, and you live in the Triangle, join this sucker.)  We meet up at Rockfish Seafood Grill at Southpoint mall for $2 pints and free (or DEEPLY discounted) glasses dependent on the beer of the night, and almost all of their appetizers are half off until 7. It’s basically the primary reason I so look forward to Thursdays.

Tonight was a special occasion SUPER BONUS because, other than being a glass night, it was a glass night in honor of Fullsteam Brewery’s summer ale: Summer Basil Farmhouse Ale. I will precede this entry with the following. I am a HUGE Fullsteam fan.  Photographic proof:

Fullsteam, my love!

I also have a Marry Durham commemorative glass somewhere in this apartment, but it wasn’t easily findable.

So maybe that makes me a bit biased favorably, but I will be as objective as possible.

Light and Summery!

This beer, straight from the tap at Rockfish, is definitely a summer staple in my house. The growler in the above picture contains the Summer Basil ale, and I had two glasses of it tonight.  This cloudy beer honestly smells more like basil than it tastes like basil. As a huge basil fan (I have three adorable basil plants growing on my back porch in a pot), I was bound… nay, destined to like this beer.

At first sip, I was pleased with the amount of carbonation in the beer. It was  chock full of bubbles, and that got me all tingly. I think the picture to the left is an accurate portrayal of the golden color, and the oh-so-sexy glass that I bought with it. The taste was slightly sweet with a bit of spice in it. I didn’t taste the basil until it got to the back of my tongue. And it is totally drinkable. I definitely saw several people get 2-4 glasses of the beer in one night. Having purchased 2 myself, I can attest to drinkability. My plan for this weekend is to make a shandy in my NEW SEXY PITCHER FROM A SOUTHERN SEASON! This will basically contain a growler of the beer, some lemonade, and (if I can get my hands on it) ginger liqueur.

Basically, what I’m trying to say, is if you get this beer, and have access to a pool, combine the two. If you like beer with a bit of earthy flavor to it, this is the brew for you. (I PROMISE one day I’ll review a beer I don’t like.)

From the brewer:

A cloudy, rustic country beer brewed with local wheat and local whole-leaf basil. Summer Basil pours with a  creamy, white head and a bouquet of herbs and flowers, with a subtle basil finish. A refreshing thirst quencher that’s a lawnmower beer…if you mowed over your herb garden. This was the very first batch we brewed on our big brewing system, and we offer it only when basil is in-season.

Availability: MAY through NOVEMBER.5.4% ABV.