Category Archives: Restaurant

Things I Highly Approve Of

Ahhhh….the weekend. A time for rest. A time for relaxation. A time for carefree enjoyment and jubilance.

In honor of the weekend, I present to you a list of things I highly approve of, particularly on weekends….

1) Taking the time to try out any recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, 101 Cookbooks.

My mom and I joined forces this past Friday in an effort to make Heidi’s Spinach Rice Gratin, a delicious casserole dish made of brown rice, tofu, spinach, shredded gruyere, olive oil, eggs, pine nuts, and olives.

It was basically heaven in a casserole form. Who knew?

Before spending some quality time in the oven:

After + garnish:

Oh baby. Oh baby. It reminded me of a lighter version of a quiche.

My only  complaint about the recipe revolves around the number of serving sizes the recipe is supposed to produce. Reportedly, it serves 8-12. In reality, it served my mom, my dad, and myself. That’s it. We finished the whole damn thing in one sitting….

I don’t know if this says more about my family’s collectively exorbitant appetite or Heidi’s understanding of portion sizes. On second thought, don’t answer that….

I would definitely agree that the recipe serves 8-12 if the 8-12 in question are midget chipmunks. In all fairness, I think it could possibly serve six people, provided there are lots of side dishes to supplement it. But if that’s the only thing going on at the dinner table, it serves three or four. Tops. Actually, I could probably eat the whole thing in a sitting if I really put my mind (or stomach) to it. Don’t believe this 8-12 business.

2) A cat in a bucket.

That’s right…no need to be suspicious now. I will say it again: A cat in a bucket.

Such an entity provides hours of quality entertainment.

Provided the cat is not sleeping in said bucket, which is a high probability when it comes to cats. See what I mean?

3) Using cross-training days in the marathon training schedule as an excuse to do nothing but stretch. Today, I spent 30 minutes doing easy Hatha yoga (aka. yoga for 90-year olds), and I loved every second of it. Who needs heart-thumping power yoga when you can instead lounge on a mat for half an hour? That’s exercise, now. No judgements.

4) Lemon Drop Martinis.

I’m not the biggest fan of hard alcohol. But for the lemon drop, I will make an exception. It’s achieves the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Just like my personality? Maybe?

5) A nice dinner out with the family.

This is a picture of my aunt Deb and I while under the influence of the Lemon Drops mentioned above. My mom, the photographer, is probably also exhibiting effects of the lemon drop martinis. Notice the complete lack of focus in the picture. Way to go, Mom. One lemon drop martini, and the photography abilities go right out the window. 🙂

Besides exhibiting an obvious enjoyment of martinis, the fam and I also ate a lot of food. A lot of really good food. Food that I certainly will not be able to afford once I start up with my AmeriCorps job in a few weeks.

With my parents footing the bill, I enjoyed the likes of:

Oysters on the rocks

Lobster salad with caramelized pine nuts, grapefruit wedges, and a honey olive oil dressing of sorts. BEST course of the night!

Sea scallops with truffle risotto, green beans, and grilled summer squash.

My aunt’s dish, a seafood pasta concoction of sorts, was also beautiful, so of course, I had to take a picture of it. I am a food blogger, after all.

Honestly, can you every go wrong with having that many mussels in your seafood pasta dish? I think not. Usually, restaurants are skimpy on the mussel front, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that the entire Pacific Ocean’s mussel supply had arrived on my aunt’s dinner plate.

And don’t think for a second that we, as a family unit, had any trouble whatsoever finishing all those mussels. As I mentioned above, my family members are known for their “healthy” appetites. If that’s what you want to call it….My aunt, however, wasn’t in the mood to eat the entire truckload of mussels for dinner, so I transferred some of them onto my plate and devoured them within 0.2 seconds. It was quite the sacrifice I made.

I’m telling you. The things I’ll do for family….

Question: What is your alcoholic beverage of choice (and if you’re underage, what is your “theoretical” alcoholic beverage of choice)?

I’m a wine gal for the most part, but obvious exceptions will be made when lemon is involved.

Epic Music, Epic Spiciness

After my epic day of mountain climbing on Saturday, I had another epic day planned for Sunday. Epic in a completely different way.

I didn’t have to face cliffs or rocks or summits as I did during my mountain sojourn. No. This time, the enemies were smelly hippies, intense heat, and drunk high schoolers. In other words, I spent my Sunday at an all-day outdoor music festival, specifically the Mile High Music Festival in Denver!

A lot of people were getting their Rocky Mountain high on, if you catch my drift, and weren’t exactly in the right state of mind to realize where the heck they were stepping as they meandered through the crowds. Armed with sunscreen, chairs, blankets, water bottles, and some dark chocolate, my friend Heather and I were ready to defend our turf against all the crazies who happened to stumble upon our blanket.

Don’t we just look intimidating? Not. Maybe that’s why all the drunks liked to stumble by us on their way to go barf in a trashcan. We just look like the type of people that will get out of the way for them….and we certainly did. Neither of us are stupid enough to stand our ground when the drunkies are out and about. They could just as easily yak on your blanket as in the trashcan.

In addition to the smorgasbord of people watching, we might have also seen a few musical acts. Ya know. Because it is a music festival.

Train put on a solid set. I just loved hearing their songs Meet Virginia and Hey, Soul Sister live.

Weezer made a fantastic appearance too. Their frontman had the energy of 100 Energizer bunnies on crack. He was bouncing all over the place during their set, and his enthusiasm was infectious. The crowd (including myself) ate it up as they breezed through a bunch of their hits and a hilarious cover of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.

The headliner and main event of the Mile High Music Festival was Dave Matthews Band, and they certainly did not disappoint. Their set was epic, sprawling (almost a bit too sprawling, to be honest….I grow weary of jams after they reach the 10 minutes mark), and perfectly suited for the Colorado crowds. Regardless, I enjoyed hearing the prodigious musical talents of the band’s members. Dave is a veritable guitar hero!

How, I wish I could have brought my DSLR to this event! My P + S just couldn’t hack it in this kind of lighting. Regardless, take my word on it. The little tiny guy in the black shirt in this pic is Dave.

All in all, it was a fantastic outing. Mile High magic for sure.

Now, don’t think that I’ve forgotten about the food. I know I have a tendency to drone on and on about mountains and Colorado and things of this nature, but not to worry. To go along with my kickin’ music festival action, I rocked a pretty epic meal today.

Enter: the spiciest green chili I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Now, I don’t go around throwing around the word “spicy” lightly. I adore spicy foods, and rarely is anything too spicy for me. If I was a lesser food champion, this chili might have been too much for my poor little tastebuds.

But I’m a food beast, and I definitely beasted this bowl of chili from King’s Chef, a little diner in downtown Colorado Springs well-renowned for the both the quality and the spiciness of their chili.

Doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this joint had some great food!

The entire dinner fit eight people tops. It was legitimate.

They love their green chiles here. 🙂

Because few people have the cajones to finish off the whole bowl of habanero-infused green chili, I received a reward for my efforts: membership in the “King’s Chef Clean Plate Club.”

I was honored.

I wore my sticker proudly. You bet I did.

The chili may have left my lips red and swollen for a solid hour or two afterward, and I might not be able to taste anything ever again.

BUT… it was totally worth it to finish off that chili. Best bowl of green chili I’ve ever had.

Question: What’s the spiciest meal you’ve ever had?

Midwest Road Tripping

Greetings from Kansas City, Missouri!

Didn’t think Kansas City would look this nice, did you?

Kansas City gets such a bum wrap, but there are definitely nice parts of it…..like where my aunt lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. It’s chock a block full of trees and lakes and huge houses.

Not too shabby, Kansas City. Not too shabby.

The past two days of driving have been loooooong. The first day, my dad and I journeyed from Hartford to Dayton, Ohio….and it took us nearly 13 hours to complete the drive!

We departed Connecticut around 9:00 AM or so and said our last goodbyes to beautiful New England. Even though we’ve had our ups and downs (especially with your mercurial winter weather), you’ve generally been quite good to me over the past five years, New England. Thanks for the memories….

For a long stretch of I-80 through Pennsylvania, we encountered roadwork about every 10 miles, and we think that it delayed our arrival time in Dayton by at least an hour. It became so frustrating at points that I resorted to taking strange pictures just to keep myself from attacking the road workers. WHY were they doing so much roadwork on such an isolated and altogether random part of Pennsylvania? It confused me. I think they were doing it just to annoy me and my dad….and it worked. Mission accomplished, Pennsylvania roadworkers.

We saw a lot of this type of view yesterday. Lots of cars and trucks. Sitting still. Like a parking lot. Boring!

I decided that taking self-portraits would be a good idea at this point. Boredom can make you do funny things.

Head shot.

Feetsies.

Knees + feet.

As far as food goes, I’ve been subsisting primarily on the following items:

  • Souped-up Starbucks oatmeal (who honestly thinks that the toppings they give you can last you more than a couple hours? Please…my appetite needs MORE than that!): Oatmeal + banana + chia seeds + Barney Butter blob

  • Coffee: need I say more? It soothes my savage soul before spending a bazillion hours locked up in a car makes it savage again.

  • Subway’s Veggie Delite on Wheat bread + apples: I’ve had it for lunch the past two days and will try to convince my dad to eat it again tomorrow, if he’s up for it. It’s the only fast food place I can tolerate. I always get “the works” on my subs including the jalapenos and banana peppers. I like it spicy! I tried some guac on sub today, and it was especially delicious. Highly recommended for veggie delite fans!

  • Homemade trail mix + stash of Bora Bora granola bars: I’ve been snacking on these items in between stops. I love my trail mix, and the Bora Bora bars are pretty tasty too! Not to mention made with all organic ingredients….my fav flavor thus far is the Tiki Blueberry Flax. It has the right amount of crunch and sweetness to satisfy my snacking needs.

Exercise

In the exercise department, I took a 45 minute walk before the infinite car ride to Dayton, which was a pleasant way to start the day and say goodbye to the West Hartford Reservoir one last time. While I walked, my dad took a run. It worked out pretty well.

This morning, I somehow dragged my butt out of a very comfortable hotel bed and ran a painful 6 miles in 59:40 among the concrete-clad suburbs of Dayton. Even though I kept up a good pace, my legs just felt so heavy and tired. Maybe spending 13 hours cramped up in a vehicle isn’t a good idea? It didn’t help matters that I ran without music….I had never realized before how much music motivates me during my runs and helps the time go by faster. Each mile seemed ENDLESS, but I got it done. I have a rest day tomorrow for the final leg of the trip, so my next run will be in Colorado, where I know it will be beautiful and awesome! Hooray!

After the run, my dad and I made the considerably less lengthy drive from Dayton to Kansas City (only 9 hours versus 13 hrs from Hartford to Dayton).

We saw fields. Lots and lots and lots of fields.

We also passed through St. Louis, Missouri and saw the famous arch!

Gateway to the West, indeed.

Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball also popped up along the drive.

We made great time to Kansas City, so my dad and I were able to take a nice stroll before dinner in this beautiful area. It felt great to give the old legs some breathing room.

The old man….

This was his “studly model” pose.

We then ventured to a restaurant called Mongolian BBQ. It’s a place where you can build your own stir-fries using whatever meats, veggies, and sauces you like, and then the chefs will make your stir-fry for you right in front of you. It’s a cool concept, and I liked how it was executed!

I loaded up my bowl with all sorts of veggies+teriyaki sauce + a seafood medley which included salmon, crab, scallops, and shrimp.

It was awesome. Just what my body was craving….

I also had a little bit of brown rice to alongside of it. I liked that the restaurant even gave the option of having brown rice. Some places don’t even bother with it.

Blue Moon + stir-fry= a great way to end a long day of driving.

Tomorrow, we’re heading across Kansas (oh joy of joys) and FINALLY into Colorado! I can’t wait!!!!!!!!

My mountains are beckoning….

A Night Of Tapas

Greetings from Beantown!

I hope you’re all having wonderful weekends so far….mine started out on a high note with a rather epic tapas dinner at Tasca (a restaurant in Brookline, MA) enjoyed with a few of my closest friends.

The fabulous company included myself (dur) and my lovely friend Julia….

….and the always hilarious Nick, who specifically requested (no, I think the better term would be “demanded”) that I put a picture of him up on the blog. What a famewhore. You happy, Nicholas??? 🙂

We started things off with some refreshing sangria, which tasted particularly wonderful on such a hot and sticky night. The Spanish definitely knew what they were doing with this fruit-infused wine stuff….

And then we made our tapas selections!

Roasted mediterranean vegetables served on a garbanzo pesto toasted flatbread….

Herbed goat cheese fritters served on roasted sun-dried tomatoes….

The table’s vote for best dish of the night….Warmed brie cheese served with an amazing apple + raisin chutney, apple slices, and toasted baguette slices.

It may not look like much based on this picture (the lighting was very low in the restaurant), but holy crap, my taste buds were dancing in delight with this one! The chutney was what made it so special. It was full of spice and flavor. Mmmmm….

After ingredient assembly:

Balsamic-marinated portabellas with red pepper toast points, capers, and a greens salad….

Sizzling shrimp with garlic oil and chili pepper…

Pan-seared tuna with Dijon aioli and bean/mango chutney….probably my second favorite dish!

Leek quiche with smoked cheddar and manchego cheese….

We might have also enjoyed another serving of the brie + apple chutney plate. Maybe….

We all agreed that Tasca was fabulous. All of the dishes were incredible, the service was good, and the atmosphere of the restaurant was perfect (minus the terrible low lighting which wasn’t conducive to great photography, but I’ll forgive them that one misstep).

I’m definitely one of those people who likes sampling other people’s plates at dinners, so the tapas dining experience is perfect for someone like me. I get to eat as much good food as possible without stuffing myself silly….and instead of being annoying, the whole “sampling a little bit of everything” thing is a part of the package when it comes to tapas dining. Love it.

Question: Have any of you ever gone to a tapas restaurant? Do you like that style of dining, or do you prefer to have your own entree?