Archive for the category “Italian Dining”

My Favorite Dining Experiences of 2013…

I wrote about my favorite experiences of 2012 last year, and it has been fun to go back and revisit some of them periodically.  So…I thought I’d make another list for 2013 – the first full year of “She Ordered What?”.

First, let me say that 2013 has been a fantastic year!  I left a job that, to put it nicely, was un-fulfilling, moved to Milwaukee (a city that I am LOVING!), am working for a supervisor I respect – and like, and have coworkers I enjoy (so much so that we opted to spend time together after the holiday party this year).  I am living in downtown Milwaukee, and am thoroughly enjoying metropolitan living (as are my (now 13-year-old) dogs!). I am also traveling a bit more again, allowing for some interesting dining experiences.  For me, change has been very good!

So…I started compiling my top 5 choices of 2013, but the list quickly grew beyond five.  I’ll list my “top 5” and a few honorable mentions – which provided great memories with a bunch of friends and colleagues.

5) Melt Bar and Grilled: This is a bit of a cheat, as I actually posted this on December 28, 2012.  However, I think Melt deserves a mention since the sandwich was so very good!  Full of carbs and comfort, the “Mom’s Meatloaf” grilled cheese was excellent, and very filling!  I did end up having the second half of the sandwich for lunch the next day – and I ate it cold.  It was really delicious as a cold leftover!  I’d also like to thank Melt Bar and Grilled for posting a link to my blog on their website.  I really appreciate the additional traffic!  I’m looking forward to hitting up Melt when I make it back to Ohio next year.

Melt

4) AJ Bombers:  As I mentioned, I had been following AJ Bombers on Twitter ever since I read about their social media program a couple of years ago.  So…when I moved to Milwaukee, I was really excited to walk over and check the place out in person.  After all, the place promises “Happiness, with a side of burgers”.  Not only is the food far better than your average bar food (let’s face it, it’s NOT healthy!), but the Bloody Mary drinks are the best in town – I don’t care what WISN readers say!  Finally, the service is always outstanding – though I tend to favor being a customer of this girl.  😉

AJB

3) Braise: I was introduced to Braise through a local food blogger, Phi, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dining experience with her and another food blogger, Shanon.  The atmosphere is so cool.  This used to be a bowling alley, and the owners repurposed a lot of the old elements to create a unique and inviting space.  But, the food…is SO good!  The menu is changed up regularly to incorporate the best ingredients, and it’s not an overwhelmingly large menu so one doesn’t have to feel pressure to sift through pages of options, hoping to make the right decision.  I’ve been to Braise several times now, and in my opinion, any decision is a good one!  Also, Braise just opened a second floor bar/lounge area.  I’ll need to check that out!

Braise

2) Bacon Bros. Public House: Another locally sourced restaurant makes the list!  I have Yelp! to thank for introducing my friends and me to this hidden gem.   While visiting South Carolina to see my Clemson Tigers beat Boston College, we stumbled upon Bacon BrosThe food:  the meat is locally sourced, and spectacular, and the side dishes have a definite southern flair to them, but with a new twist.  The service was fantastic.  And, their motto is “Powered by Bacon”!  What’s not to love about this place?

BaconBros

and…the top “She Ordered What?” dining experience of 2013 was…

1) The Publican:  The fact that I drove ~90 miles each way to and from Chicago on a Tuesday night (in traffic and weather) could not even put a damper on this meal!  Our server, whom I mentioned a few times in the post, was very good – and he was totally on board to surprise us that evening.  The food was expertly prepared.  Again, The Publican is a restaurant that sources its ingredients locally – must love that!  All in all, the atmosphere, the service, the food, and the company (Chanda!) were top-notch.  I loved this place that is off the beaten path, so to speak, but may be home to the best meal I’ve had in Chicago (and I’ve had some REALLY good meals there!).  I highly recommend The Publican if you’re looking for an excellent dining experience.  The menu changes up frequently here as well, but here is the selection from which we had to choose.

Publican

Honorable mentions:

I kicked the year off by celebrating a dear friend’s birthday in Detroit.  I was able to meet some of her other wonderful friends, and we just had a fantastic time enjoying a city that tends to be “off-limits” after work or late at night. Detroit does indeed have some safe and fun spots to enjoy “after hours”.

I also enjoyed celebrating my own birthday with friends – in Massachusetts.  My friends gave me a perfectly balanced weekend.  We had fun “out on the town”, enjoyed chilling at home, oh, and we ran a 10K in the middle of it all!  I’m looking forward to seeing this crazy crew when we meet up for our other friends’ wedding in Memphis this February.

Finally, categorize this under the “last, but not least” header… I had some fun times traveling with my new coworkers this year.  We had some really fruitful business trips, but always seemed to sneak in a good meal or two! There was the “first meal in Nola”, the “marathon trip”,  the “French food in Montreal”, the “mussels in Brussels”, and the “pork in Paris”.  We’ve had other dining adventures, but not all warrant a “She Ordered What?” post.

I will say this, I’m grateful for the way my colleagues have embraced me, and I find it refreshing to enjoy having a meal and/or a drink (or two!) with my coworkers. It certainly makes work more enjoyable!

“She Ordered What?”: 2013 by the numbers:

I wrote 22 posts to contribute to the overall number of 83 posts. The readers and I have posted 221 comments to the blog.  There are over 1,800 “She Ordered What?” followers who viewed the blog almost 17,000 times.  And, from all over the world…83 countries, actually (led by the US, Canada and Singapore)!

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Thank you again for your support and readership.  As I mentioned last year, if you would like to write a guest post, please let me know.  I enjoy sharing others’ experiences as well!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2014!

Cheers!

Ker

Miscellaneous in Milwaukee

Happy holidays, friends! I hope you’re all enjoying a lovely holiday season.

Wishing you warm and wonderful holidays from Riley (top) and Seamus (bottom).

Wishing you warm and wonderful holidays from Riley (top) and Seamus (bottom).

I’ve already written a few posts about some of my adventures in Milwaukee, but there are a few experiences I have yet to share.

I have written about AJ Bombers, my first outing to a local hot spot.  I’ve also written about Coquette Cafe  (a major disappointment) and Braise  (home to several wonderful dining experiences).

I’ve been to Louise’s (both locations) a handful of times.  Homemade pasta,  a warm environment, good service, and fun experiences with friends and family!  I first met my friend, Wendy, at the Brookfield location while she was in town for work.  Since then, I convinced coworkers to forgo dinner at a chain restaurant and dine out at Louise’s.  I’ve also taken my friend Eric to the downtown location – conveniently located just blocks from my place – and I’ve taken my parents there too.  My favorite dish is the Pappardelle with Italian sausage, plum tomatoes, and fresh garlic. The homemade pasta is tossed in tomato cream sauce with red chiles – and it has great flavor!

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Papperdelle with Italian sausage, plum tomatoes, and fresh garlic

Wendy had the chicken marsala, which she said was the best she’s ever had (with a caveat that pregnancy may have played a part!).  Everyone I’ve dined with at Louise’s really enjoyed his or her meal.  One note, the Arrabiata sauce does have a small kick to it, so if you don’t care for spicy dishes, I’d stay away from Penne All’Arrabiata (though I enjoyed the dish quite a bit when I had it!).

Another place I’ve gone to a couple of times, once with Eric and once with The Wine Guy, is Kanpai (sushi) Restaurant.  Kanpai is located in the Third Ward, about a mile from my place.  It’s a spacious restaurant, with a good-sized bar and plenty of seating.  There are “service buttons” on each booth – not that I’ve had to come close to using one!  The first time I went there was with Eric, and my time-management skills were absent…so, we were very rushed – yet our server took excellent care of us!  The second time was with The Wine Guy, and he was a minor celebrity at Kanpai – employees and customers all seemed to know him!

I don’t have many photographs of the beautiful, and delicious, food I’ve had at Kanpai, but you’ll see several rolls on their homepage.  And, here’s a token photo taken when Eric and I dined there.

O My God roll:  shrimp tempura & avocado topped with shrimp, eel sauce, spicy aioli and wasabe aioli - served flaming

We were fortunate enough to dine at Kanpai during their anniversary celebration – half off!  We tried a couple of flaming rolls (like the one above) and some cold rolls.  The Kamikaze, the Red Dragon, and the O My God were just a few of my favorites!  When The Wine Guy and I had dinner, I decided to treat, since it was my invitation to him to meet up.  As a “thank you”, he offered me a ticket to his wine shop’s tasting later that weekend.  I really enjoyed the event, and I bought quite a few bottles of fantastic wines!

A couple of other highlights from visits and adventures are:

Breakfast at the Plaza Hotel and Apartments – right across the street from my place.  It’s not a fancy venue, but the food is excellent!  I have other breakfast spots to explore, but in a pinch, I’m glad to have a great option just across the street!

Seeing a graphic novel (aka: comic book) come to life as a live-action stage production.  Eric and I enjoyed The Intergalactic Nemesis quite a bit!  It certainly stimulates one’s senses with actors voicing out the novel’s storyline, a sound effects guy providing additional atmosphere, and a pianist improvising the score as the show plays out.  It was definitely a unique, if somewhat nerdy, experience!

Capture

During the holiday season, I also enjoyed the holiday spirit that embodies downtown Milwaukee.  There are so many fun holiday decorations throughout the city.  Here’s just one example – a mailbox that sends mail directly to Santa. I know it works, because my letter was answered!  You’ll also see the outdoor ice rink, which had free skating on the day it opened.  Just beyond the rink is a slew of holiday lights which were celebrated with fireworks and hot cocoa.  Milwaukee is a city that LOVES to celebrate!

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Just before I left Milwaukee to visit my family in the Cleveland area, I decided to head over to The Rep theater and see a show I’d been anxious to see – Noises Off.  Back in the early ’90s, the movie was one of the funniest movies I had ever seen, and the reviews for the stage show were fantastic, so I was really looking forward to seeing it.  The stage production did not disappoint!  The audience was laughing throughout all three acts, and an enthusiastic standing O was delivered at the end.  I’m glad I took a little “me time” to enjoy the show.  If a stage production comes to a city near you, I highly recommend seeing it!  Your abs will likely be sore from all of the laughter!

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And, just to leave you with a taste of the holiday weather, here is a sunrise picture taken on December 19th during the morning walk with the pooches, and a picture taken the morning of December 22nd during our morning walk.

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I’m sure I’ll have plenty more adventures in and around Milwaukee.  If you have an opinion as to something I should “not miss”, please feel free to leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

 

The Marathon Business Trip – CA, WA, and PA

Some of you may recall my first business trip with my current company.  I still owe y’all a post on the other dining adventures in New Orleans, but this post is about a few meals I had on my second set of business trips.

This particular trip saw me visit six different airports, three different customers, three different time zones, travel 6,200+ miles – in four days.  (the kicker… last leg of the journey had a four-hour delay!  But…I got home, and that’s the important part!)

My coworker, Jeff, and I (bless his heart for having to travel with me from 6AM Monday to 7AM Wednesday!) first went to California to visit my old stomping grounds in Orange County.  It’s amazing how much I had forgotten about getting around the OC.  I was not the best navigation guide!  However, we did have a nice, healthy lunch in Irvine, and then after meeting with our customer, we had a fantastic dinner out in Newport that evening before heading out to Seattle the following morning.

In Newport, our customer led us to Newport Landing – a great location right on the water.  It was a lovely view, and the food was pretty darned fabulous too!  We started with the oysters on ice and calamari strips (friends…that calamari was some of THE BEST I’ve ever had – really meaty, with a light tempura breading).  Shame on me for not snapping a picture of our apps, because they were worth selling y’all on having them!

For dinner, I handed our server my trusty little card. She was quite receptive, and decided to bring me a dish from the downstairs kitchen.  I was delivered the “Hawaiian Nut Opakapaka”, macadamia nut crusted, and served with mango salsa, roasted tomato with cheese, and fantastically delicious wild rice.  Seriously, the flavors on the fish were tremendous, and the wild rice was amazing – red peppers, onions, celery, cheese, spice, etc.

Newport

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The wild rice – YUM! And, the mango-pineapple salsa – so good!

This filet was quite thick in the middle, and for me, it was a bit undercooked in the center. There was plenty enough food on the plate for me, so I simply picked around the center of the filet.  I was rather impressed when our server came by and asked if she could have the chef further cook the fish to make it more palatable for me because she had noticed that I was picking around the edges.  I politely declined, because I was already full, and there was no reason to send the dish back. However, I did admit that the center was a bit undercooked, IMO, so she could provide feedback to the chef.

All in all, the service, the apps, and the dinner (despite a slight misstep) were fantastic at Newport Landing!  Not to mention that the atmosphere was casual and beautiful – who doesn’t enjoy looking out on Newport Bay?

Jeff and I then continued on to Seattle to visit with another customer.  We were delayed out of LA and into Seattle, but we got there in time to have a good business discussion.  Following our meeting, we headed over to Salty’s for a pre-dinner cocktail.  That one cocktail turned into another and eventually turned into dinner as we waited out a thunderstorm.  Again, we were sitting right on the water, so we had a cool view – even during the storm.

2013-06-25 16.54.56A bit reluctantly, Jeff and I tried the calamari appetizer at Salty’s, and as expected, it simply did not live up to the calamari from the night before.  It wasn’t “bad” calamari; we simply had extremely high expectations after the appetizer at Newport Landing!

2013-06-25 17.14.49We had the blackened fish taco appetizer as well.  I couldn’t really taste the “blackened” flavor, but it was still tasty – if a bit messy!

For my entrée, our server, Chloe, enthusiastically chose the Grilled Copper River Salmon – because it was in season and had been a really popular choice of late.  The salmon was served over sticky rice and with an Asian salad consisting of green papaya, radish, daikon sprout, Oregon baby shrimp, and finished off with a creamy red wine vinaigrette chili sauce and toasted sesame seeds.

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Chloe had asked to have the fish prepared “medium”, and it was cooked absolutely perfectly!  It was a really nice choice, and I love that Chloe chose the dish because she really felt it was the best entree and the right time of year to serve it.  She and I talked for quite a bit at the end of the evening, and this woman knows her stuff!  She’s also going to school to become a dentist and volunteers time helping folks who cannot afford dental care (helping prepare them for job interviews and such) – just a really cool woman!

I have to admit that I think the food is a bit overpriced at Salty’s.  It was good, but $50 an entree is more than I would generally spend.  There are lower-priced options, but the four of us still managed to rack up a rather hefty bill.  I’m glad Jeff took that one to expense!  🙂

It was still raining a bit when we left Salty’s (I know, raining in Seattle – shocker!), and one of the guys mentioned that there was “liquid sunshine” above us.  I’d never heard that phrase, but I quite like it!

2013-06-25 22.59.35The next morning, Jeff and I headed to the airport and then headed in different directions (sort of). He headed home to Milwaukee and I headed further east to Philadelphia for another customer meeting.  The evening that I arrived, another coworker took me to dinner at a charming haunt that is a fave of our business contact.  We went to dinner at The Saloon Cucina Italia on 7th Street in downtown Philadelphia.  It’s now one of my recent favorites as well.  Everything from the exterior door, to the interior decor, to the service – and THE FOOD!

I was actually able to decide what I wanted for dinner, so this doesn’t truly warrant a “She Ordered What?” post, but the food and atmosphere were too fantastic not to mention!

We started off with a hot appetizer plate of two each of the: Grilled Langostino, Poblano Peppers (yum!), Clams Pavorotti, and Clams Casino.  The Langostinos lacked flavor, but everything else was divine!

I ordered a half order of a salad special that evening. Spinach, mozzarella, apricots, & toasted walnuts wrapped in prosciutto, and topped with fresh black pepper.  It was such an interesting spin on a salad, and it was spectacular!

2013-06-26 20.35.48For dinner, I chose the Fettuccine Lobster Amatriciana.  It just jumped off the page and sounded exactly like what I wanted that evening.  Folks, I made a good choice!  The dish was made of homemade fettuccine with lobster, bacon, onion, fresh tomato, leeks and sharp provolone cheese in tomato sauce.

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I’ll just leave you with this, friends.  If you’re in Philadelphia and want good Italian food, friendly service, and a cool atmosphere, please check out The Saloon.

And…when you see me and I’m fat and happy – you know why!  My new job has me eating a very well thus far!  🙂

Cheers!

Ker

Sto mangiando da solo – DiParma Italian Table, Seekonk, MA

I had a brief business trip to Providence, RI recently.  I was traveling solo, and therefore, was dining alone (Sto mangiando da solo, according to the Internet, which we all know is NEVER wrong!)  as well.  Being that it was 6:30PM on a Sunday evening, I decided to take the recommendation of the hotel clerk and walk a short distance over to the local Italian Table, DiParma’s. photo (25) It really was only a 5 minute walk or so – not a big deal as I walked over there, but on the way home, in the dark, I was questioning my own decision.  Especially as I passed three squad cars – lights flashing – as they surrounded the gas station situated between me and the hotel in which I was staying.  I decided to look at it as though I had at least six cops in striking distance should something happen (glass half full!).  Luckily, nothing did happen, and  I arrived back safely to my hotel in time to gather my thoughts for the following day.  I didn’t, however, stop to take a picture, for fear that I might catch the actual moment that guns came out a blazing! (Dad, you didn’t read that part!)

Now, back to the dinner… I don’t mind eating by myself, but sometimes other patrons or the wait staff appear to be a bit uncomfortable when there is just one person at a nearby table.  I caught a stare or two from a couple sitting near me, but the server who attended to me was quite pleasant and gave me just enough attention without appearing to rush me, and without ignoring me.

When he initially approached me, he asked what I’d like to drink.  I simply smiled at him and handed him my trusty little card, while letting him know that I would like him to choose my meal and a glass of wine to compliment it – along with a glass of water.  He quickly returned with a glass of red wine (no explanation) and a glass of water.  He also never introduced himself, but I overheard him speaking with other tables, so I knew his name was Nick (and ultimately, my receipt confirmed that).

Nick then delivered some fresh bread, which was tasty enough, and said he’d be back with my salad shortly. photo (23) The salad, my friends, was delicious!  The Italian dressing had great consistency and flavor, and really made the salad for me.  It was a huge bowl, and I didn’t come close to  finishing it, but I did have a couple of servings! photo (24) When Nick had confirmed that I was done with the salad (I usually use the sign I was taught while serving tables to indicate that I’m finished, but I’m not certain it’s really a US standard practice.), he indicated to me that he would bring my entrée out momentarily. And, when he did place the plate in front of me, he started to walk away without letting me know what I had been served – until I stopped him to ask what I would be eating. photo (26) He clearly  felt bad about his oversight, and then quickly gathered his composure.  He told me that he had ordered me the marinated Steak Tips, prepared medium well.  Medium well?  What is it about my blog card that makes people read “MW” instead of “MR”? photo (27) Somewhat skeptically, I asked Nick if the Steak Tips are normally prepared medium-well, and he said that they were.  I’m not sure I believed him, because the Steak Tips, which tasted as though they were marinated in the Italian dressing, were really delicious!  And…they were prepared more MR-M than MW.  They were tender, flavorful, and a great portion size (though I didn’t finish everything). The smashed potatoes were fine, but  the green beans were fresh, crispy – prepared just the way I like them. I left quite a bit of the potatoes on my plate (too much!).

Although I was expecting a more “Italian” dish, I was pleasantly surprised by Nick’s choice.  And, he did not turn toward the most expensive items on the menu – this one being $15.99 for the entrée.  I think I threw him off a bit with my unorthodox order, but even without properly introducing himself and forgetting to tell me that he had served me a “5 River” Pinot Noir and the Steak Tips, Nick did a nice job of providing me a delicious dinner and enough attention to make me feel welcome, but not overwhelmed.

I’m excited (and hopeful that I’ll have opportunities) to visit downtown Providence again (it’s been several years since I’ve spent time there) to check out the really terrific culinary adventures the city has to offer.

So, friends, I wonder… do you ever dine alone?  Is it fun for you? Do you find it to be ntimidating?  Please leave your comments!

Cheers!

Ker

Alphabet Soup – part II (Massachusetts)

This past weekend I headed east and visited a close friend of mine, Eric (whose last name is a ridiculous mess of letters, and thus I dubbed him “Alphabet Soup” when I first met him, “AS”, for short.)  I hadn’t seen him in just about a year, and I hadn’t seen our mutual friends (whom I met through him) since that last trip either.  Azelie and Trey (aforementioned mutual friends) are getting married in May, and I wanted to squeeze a visit in before their planning chaos prevented us from being able to spend quality time together.  So, we decided that I would visit during St. Patrick’s Day weekend – which also serves as the joyous (errr, 28th (29 is just too obvious!)) anniversary of my birth, and an annual reminder of just how lucky I am to be blessed with a good life, great friends, and fabulous family!

While I didn’t necessary pull a true “She Ordered What?” all weekend, I did often defer to Eric to choose my/our food.  And, sometimes, it’s just fun to share culinary and personal experiences – even if they don’t follow the theme of this blog to a T.

I arrived Friday afternoon, and Eric was kind enough to drive ~2 hours east to pick me up at the airport.  After a ridiculous scene at the airport that mimicked that one in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (skip to ~2:10), wherein we were on the phone, trying to find each other, we headed west toward Eric’s place in Greenfield.

My personal chauffuer

My personal chauffeur

By the time we got home, we were both starving, so we headed to Magpie for some pizza.  We were greeted with a “Here they are!!!”.

Wait, what??

Turns out, Jim, the lovely (and cute!) proprietor, and his staff were greeting us as the first customers of the evening.  I joked that we should be wearing blue wigs – it was 4PM, and here we were having dinner!  Or, was it a late lunch?  Not sure!

Before I even checked the menu, Eric suggested ordering the “bread to share” with sea salt and olive oil and the Meatball pizza.  I was totally agreeable, so that’s what we went with.  And…it was ah-mazing!

The Meatball - tomato sauce, roasted pepper, onion, Ricotta, and Parmesan.

The Meatball – tomato sauce, roasted pepper, onion, Ricotta, and Parmesan.

We, reluctantly, decided against the “Fudge bottom pie” and the special shot of the day: Jameson w/ pickle juice and a pickle  (Eric thought it sounded fantastic!).

Later, we headed over to Northampton, which I’ve previously posted about to meet up with Trey, Azelie and Trey’s roommate from college, Chris, who was visiting for the weekend.  We hung out, catching up at Trey’s place, before heading to The Elevens for a monthly stand-up comedy show.  Trey was kind enough to pay our cover charges (very reasonable, folks!), and Azelie handed out our raffle tickets.  Turns out, everyone with proper admission gets entered into a raffle.

There were some really funny comedians that night – a variety of younger and older, male and female, “cleaner” and “more risqué”… though I have to admit that most of us were busy talking amongst ourselves and missed many of the jokes that got really big laughs.

At the end of the comedy show, the raffle prize was to be drawn.  Confident in my recent winning streak, including my second consecutive strong showing at The Phillip DeVito Reverse Raffle, I was boasting to Trey that I just KNEW that I’d win, especially when he said that the prize would be a ticket to the next show.  I’m an out-of-towner, and wouldn’t be able to go to the show, so surely I would win.  And as the raffle numbers were called off…my numbers matched, one for one…I did win!!!

Turns out that I had won a perfectly executed surprise birthday cake and celebration!  My friends DUPED me – big time!  Thank you, Aze (the clear Mastermind), Trey, and Eric. Y’all stink at following orders, but you’re fantastic people!

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This was a DELICIOUS chocolate cake!

We ended up sharing this cake with a man with a March 16th birthday, and with the wait staff at The Elevens.  Later, we may have *allegedly* regretted that decision – meaning the “less sober” folks in our group may have wished for cake at the end of the night.

Trey, me, Aze, and Eric (clockwise from top left)

Trey, me, Aze, and Eric (clockwise from top left)

Aze and I were sober, and ready to run our 10K on Saturday.

Okay, to be fair, Aze was ready to run, but I was still scared because I had not trained well at all for the race!  Despite my Asylum training, running was not a natural workout for me these days!

On Saturday morning, Eric and I headed to Shelburne Fall Coffee Roasters for breakfast on the way to Holyoke for the annual St. Patrick’s day 10K.  I had fond memories of Shelburne Fall from last year.  I’m not normally a fan of cream cheese on bagels, but last year, Eric had convinced me to try their homemade veggie cream cheese.  Folks, I am a fan!  Yet, on Saturday, I found myself trying the “Hadley” breakfast sandwich – bagel, strip bacon, cheese, and egg – and it was a PERFECT start to race day. Note: the race didn’t start until 1PM, so the sandwich wasn’t going to sit heavily in my stomach. (until it did)

Aze (actual name = Catherine) and I ended up running pretty much step-for-step during the whole race.  She was a GREAT running partner!  Easy-going, yet motivating.  Between mile 5 and 6, I recall Aze asking “Am I trying to keep up with you, or are you trying to keep up with me?”  The answer?  We didn’t know!  We’re just a good match!  We both finished with the exact same time:  1 hour, 1 minute, 0 sec.  Go figure!

Mine and Azelie's scores - couldn't be in much better sync!

Mine and Azelie’s scores – couldn’t be in much better sync!

That night, we spent some time hanging at Trey’s again – I got a bit of “guy talk education” when Eric left me with the guys so he could visit a friend for a bit (thanks a lot, Eric!).  I’m still hopeful that the scars will heal! LOL.

A bit later, Eric and I decided to go to enjoy a sushi dinner.  The others were happily drinking, so we ventured off together – without them.  We went to Moshi Moshi, and had a great dinner!  We went up the spiral staircase, sat on the second floor and enjoyed the Spicy Tuna Roll (2x over), the Moshi roll, and the Rainbow roll, along with the Tuna sashimi.

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Left to right: Spicy tuna, rainbow, Moshi rolls
Bottom: Tuna sashimi

Everything was truly excellent.  We left as happy patrons.

And, then, headed to East Hampton to the Brass Cat to meet Eric’s friend Brannon, and his girlfriend, Abbi.  We had a nice time chatting with these two – down-to-earth, funny, real, and all-around good people.  Eric, has really fantastic friends.  We share that trait.

Following our chat with Brannon and Abbi, we chased down Aze and the group at “The Deuce”.  The “group” consisted of Trey’s sister Cassie, whom I had met last year too, but hadn’t spent much time with prior to this trip, and Aze, since the guys had gone home and “crashed”, per se.

I have to admit that I was incredibly tired late Saturday night, since I hadn’t slept well Friday night, and was jealous that Aze had (wisely) snuck a nap in earlier.  She and Cassie were dancing up a storm, and they were having a blast doing so!  I WISH I had their rhythm, and their energy!  Luckily, Eric and I shared that lack of talent. We ended up heading home early to catch some zzzz’s.

On Sunday morning, we lounged around for a bit laughing out loud to this series of video clips prior to heading into downtown Greenfield to grab brunch at The Brass Buckle. Eric had the Cowboy (hashbrown patty, bbq, scallion sour cream, bacon & egg on Texas Toast), and I had the Buckle (rocket pesto, tomato, avocado (I LOVE avocado!), & egg on Texas Toast).  

Forefront: The Buckle (mine)Background: The Cowboy (his)

Forefront: The Buckle (mine)
Background: The Cowboy (his)

Both were INCREDIBLE breakfast sandwiches!  (we shared with each other)  We also couldn’t pass up the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, made with Guiness and Jameson Whiskey.  Hey, it was my birthday (and St. Paddy’s day), after all! 

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The cupcakes were good, but I wouldn’t say they were super special.  They had more of a carrot cake (mild spice) flavor to them than the chocolate base I had anticipated.  Still, we managed to polish them off!

Then, we decided to head into Boston for the day/evening.  We took the T in from Brookline and headed toward the North End.  After walking all over searching for a place to eat, we settled on ducking into a little Italian joint called La Familia Spagnuolo’s.  We wanted something casual and laid back.  Well, um…

We witnessed the most epic fight between the owners and a patron that I have ever seen – In. My. Life.

I tried to record it, but by the time I got myself together, I had missed the majority of the epic cat fight.

Eric and I sat across the table from each other, each looking like two deer in headlights.  What were we to do in this situation?  Two extremely loud women were yelling at the top of their lungs at each other – trading insults and threatening to call the cops.  This lasted for a good ten minutes or so.  And, we never received an explanation or an apology from the owners, so we’re really not sure exactly what went down!

We did, however, have a tasty stuffed mushrooms (really delicious!)

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That’s our server’s hand, not mine!

and the house pizza to which we added sausage.

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Peppers, onions, mushrooms, chicken and sausage – oh my!

Parts of the pizza were missing sauce, but it was still a good pie.  I’d say, if you want, err, a “colorful” atmosphere, this was probably a good place to try.  🙂

Yet, we were happy to leave that restaurant and find a nice place to grab a few drinks and catch up.  We ended up in the Faneuil Hall area for the rest of the evening – just having a good time hanging out.

I always make AS pose for a picture… (he’s photogenic, he should pose!)

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And, while I am wildly UNphotogenic, I wanted a picture with the St. Paddy’s day headband some randomly nice woman gave me earlier in the evening.  Too bad I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that they were backward (they actually light up) before Eric took the picture (and, no, it wasn’t due to excessive alcohol).

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That was my last night in MA, and then Eric dropped me at the airport Monday morning and we headed our separate ways again.  He headed back to Western Mass, and I headed west!  I’m grateful to have had a few days to spend with wonderful people – to “take a leave” from real life, and to (reluctantly) celebrate my (28th) birthday.

Thanks so much, friends!

Cheers!

Ker

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