Archive for the tag “Beer”

“Powered by Bacon” – Bacon Bros. Public House, Greenville, SC

It’s taken me a week to write this post, and it’s a shame, because this meal was one of the most wonderful surprises I’ve had in a long time! I was back in South Carolina to visit with friends and to see my Clemson Tigers win their sixth game of the season, and we decided to grab lunch in Greenville after I landed at GSP! It was my choice – uh oh! So, I turned directly to the Yelp! app on my iPhone.

I scrolled through the list a bit, and one name stuck out to me – Bacon Bros. Public House. I’m not going to lie…it stuck out because so many of my friends, and in particular the guys I was to be meeting up with the next day, are bacon fanatics! (hashtag #BACON)

I knew that the restaurant’s name alone would inflict a little pang of jealousy! Aside from that, this fairly new establishment averaged 4.5 stars and had some very positive reviews. My friend Cindy, who was my hostess, taxi driver, and friend extraordinaire, was all in for Bacon Bros., so we headed in that direction. We were meeting up with our friend Greg for lunch on Friday since we weren’t sure if we’d be able to meet up at our tailgate the next day (Greg is a reporter for Clemson and has a pesky job that gets in the way of tailgate fun). ūüėČ

We found Bacon Bros. Public House in a small strip mall. We would soon discover that this is a hidden gem on Pelham Road!

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We waited for a few minutes for an outside table, and for Greg to arrive. As we waited, I was able to check out a bit of the restaurant’s atmosphere. The meat locker immediately caught my eye.

Bacon Bros Meat Locker

Bacon Bros Meat Locker

It was nice to be able to see the (locally sourced!) pork, beef, etc that would be served up. Not that I’m generally suspicious of restaurants, but transparency like that really inspires confidence in my mind.

I’d also like to give shout-out to the beautiful sink in the ladies’ room. I didn’t take a picture, but it was a very nice sink/faucet.

When we sat down, we were warmly greeted by a gentleman who poured us water. His voice was so calm and sweet that I found myself (somewhat jokingly) asking him to sit down and join us! He politely declined, since he was at work, but he clearly had a good sense of humor about it.

We were then greeted by yet another gentleman (hey, this is the south, y’all!) who “threatened” to sit down and join Cindy and me if Greg didn’t show up soon.¬†Greg did show¬†up just moments later.

In the meantime, at my request, a third gentleman, in the form of our server, Tanner, chose a red beer for me. From start to finish, Tanner proved to be a really engaging and attentive server. He added to the overall experience in a very positive way.

Boont Amber Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co)

Boont Amber Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co)

He then chose my lunch. Tanner was very cool about the whole process – not a single flinch. It was clear that he and the other gentlemen that work at Bacon Bros. not only know the menu well, but are confident in the food that’s being served.

Tanner chose what he called the sandwich that “is becoming our signature sandwich” – the B.E.T., with a side of Farro Verde.

The B.E.T. and Farro Verde

The B.E.T. and Farro Verde

Y’all, this sandwich…maybe it should be called the O.M.G. instead of the B.E.T.! The sandwich consisted of pork belly pastrami, Swiss cheese, fried duck egg, green peppercorn mayo, arugula, and yellow tomato. A fantastic combination – and expertly prepared! Note: the sandwich can get a little messy due to the runny egg yolk, but it’s worth a little finger licking to clean up!

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A close up of the B.E.T. and Farro Verde

The side is definitely not one I would have picked out on my own since it’s centered around boiled peanuts – a snack I never really developed a taste for when I lived in SC. I’m here to tell you that when boiled peanuts are mixed with field peas, tomatoes, and hominy, they are DELICIOUS!

Cindy and Greg were more than happy with their respective choices as well. Cindy chose a burger and onion rings (perfectly battered), and Greg chose the Pulled Pork Shoulder (served with waffles that have country ham in the batter!).

And, I couldn’t resist taking a piece (or two – Bacon Bros.¬†recently increased their dessert portions – the one thing about this restaurant that I would change – revert back to smaller servings of sweets) of Orange Dreamsicle pound cake home.

Orange Dreamsicle Pound Cake (top), burger (left), Pulled Pork Shoulder (right)

Orange Dreamsicle Pound Cake (top), burger (left), Pulled Pork Shoulder (right)

I didn’t end up eating the pound cake until Sunday, and by then it was more dry than I would have liked. However, the flavor was very good – not too overwhelming with the citrus, but light and tasty.

So, in addition to being amongst great company, Bacon Bros. Public House offered fantastic service, a unique and comfortable atmosphere, and spectacular Southern style food. We all agreed that it’s a place to go back and visit.

Note to self: next time, I’m going to get one of those “Powered By Bacon” t-shirts! I should have picked one up last weekend.

And, through Twitter, I learned that my colleagues in the Greenville area had also recently discovered Bacon Bros. and frequently visit for lunch. They had been holding out on me!!!

Because this trip was planned around meeting up with good friends to see my Clemson Tigers play, here are a couple of pictures from campus.

L-R, CC: The guns!, beer and egg rolls, Shorter Porter (Frankly Good Beer Co), and my college roommate, Bill and me.

L-R, CC: The guns!, beer and egg rolls, Shorter Porter (Frankly Good Beer Co), and my college roommate, Bill and me.

It was a wonderful weekend – as time in South Carolina always is! If you’re in the Greenville area, I highly suggest finding time to make it to Bacon Bros. Public House. Have you been? What was your favorite Southern style dish?

Cheers!

Ker

Mussels in Brussels…A Pot Full of Perfection, Brussels, Belgium

I‚Äôve been in Brussels, Belgium since Sunday morning.¬† The trip got off to a rocky start (our company’s IT team forgot to grant me international phone access, thus causing me to miss connecting with a coworker for a ride from the airport to the hotel, cars were banned from Brussels for ‚Äúsustainability day‚ÄĚ, my room was not ready for five hours after I arrived to the hotel, etc.), yet, the trip has been a good one!

On Sunday afternoon, I did meet up with my coworker, Loren, and he and I set out to explore the city.¬† First stop?¬† Belgian waffles, of course!¬†Actually, it was Belgian “waffle”, singular.¬† Loren and I split a traditional waffle with powdered sugar and cinnamon.¬† I have to admit that the waffles topped with some combination of Nutella, whipped cream, strawberries, and nuts did look decadent, but I preferred the simple sugar and cinnamon version.¬† IMG_4957

Once we continued on our way, we headed to the most popular place (at least with everyone I‚Äôve spoken with) ‚Äď The Grand Place.¬† Because of ‚ÄúSustainability Day‚ÄĚ, the plaza was quite full ‚Äď of both energy and people!¬† Much more so than usual.¬† It was a bit hectic, but it was also quite beautiful.

The Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium

The Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium

I had asked my Loren if we could have a beer (it is Belgium, after all!) and toast to my friend Erica, who passed away two years ago and who would have been 32 years old on Saturday (while I was flying across the Atlantic).¬† So, we sat in The Grand Place and had a toast to my friend.¬† It was lovely of Loren to oblige me ‚Äď that‚Äôs the kind of guy he is.

Cheers to Erica!  Miss that angel...

Cheers to Erica! Miss that angel…

After enjoying a leisurely beer in the plaza, we set out to find a place to have dinner.¬† Loren was craving mussels (and I’ll never turn down mussels!), so we found ourselves wandering around the area adjacent to the plaza while trying to find a good place for mussels. We ultimately ended up asking two young men where the best place for mussels is and, at their suggestion, made our way to Chez Leon.

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Friends, I LOVE seafood, and especially mussels!¬† So, I was quite happy with the menu options.¬† I asked our server, Atia, to bring me his favorite mussels on the menu.¬† He didn’t even hesitate.

IMG_4974Turns out, he favors Moules Poulette (mussels with mushrooms, scallions, and cream sauce).¬† The mussels were delicious (perfectly cooked!), and the cream sauce was light and flavorful.¬† I had no trouble sucking down a pot full of mussels!¬† In Belgium, mussels are always served with ‚Äėfrites‚Äô (French Fries), which I could take or leave.¬† Knowing that it‚Äôs a Belgian tradition, I ‚Äė took‚Äô them this time!

Also, if you weren’t aware (and I wasn’t), there is apparently a “pro tip” to eating mussels.¬† Use one shell as your utensil to pull a mussel from another shell and slurp it down!¬† See how Loren demonstrates this technique?

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After dinner, later that evening, I emailed another coworker, whom I mentioned here, about The Grand Place and Chez Leon.  He and his family are going to be in Brussels next weekend, so I promised him I would provide recommendations if I found anything worth seeing/doing.  Chez Leon, in my opinion, is worth stopping by (if you like mussels).

And, funny enough, Loren and I ended up taking a customer, his wife, and one of our Parisian colleagues (Benoit) to dinner on Monday evening.  After striking out a couple of times at restaurants along the way, at Benoit’s suggestion, we ended up back at Chez Leon.  While I thought it was a bit of a bummer that we had dinner at the same place two nights in a row, at least it was a good restaurant!

This time, I ordered the Moules Provencale (mussels with butter, garlic, tomatoes, and cheese).  The mussels were served on the half shell, and were broiled to bake the cheese on top.

Moules Provencale

Moules Provencale

This made them seem a bit overcooked and chewy.  Not at all terrible, but not as delicious as the mussels I had the prior evening.  Although I love cheese, I think I’ll stick to traditional steamed mussels from here on out.

On Tuesday evening, I met up with a friend of mine, Tina, who is now living in the Netherlands.

Tina, one of my favorite people - funny, smart and beautiful! Oh, but she moved to the Netherlands.  :-(

Tina, one of my favorite people – funny, smart and beautiful! Oh, but she moved to the Netherlands. ūüė¶

We always wear bibs when we’re together.¬†ūüôā

Just teasing…we donned the bibs for our photo-op, and for the forthcoming lobster dishes we were awaiting.

It was a joy to be able to grab dinner with her and her current coworkers!¬† We walked past the Nord Station (train station north) and over to The Rugbyman¬†restaurant ‚Äď situated on a small spot of water.¬† We sat outside and enjoyed the evening in Brussels.¬† Tina and I both ordered a preset menu of scampi (in garlic butter ‚Äď SO WONDERFUL!), half of a lobster (her‚Äôs with cream and vegetables, and mine cold), and dessert.

Incredibly flavorful scampi and salad!

Incredibly flavorful scampi and salad!

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Cold lobster and salad

We both opted for Cr√®me Br√Ľl√©e over chocolate mousse ‚Äď and cleaned our dishes!

Creme Br√Ľl√©e, 'nuff said!

Creme Br√Ľl√©e, ’nuff said!

As good as the food was, even as the lobsters were quite difficult to eat (we looked like “stupid Americans”!), what made the evening grand was being reunited with my friend again.¬† We both traveled from another country to meet up in Belgium for dinner.¬† How cool is that?!?

Now, I’m on a train and on my way to Paris for two evenings before heading back to the States.  I believe I’ll be on my own for dinners, so we’ll see what happens there!

Language barrier or not, there is almost certain to be a ‚ÄúShe Ordered What?‚ÄĚ in my near-term future!

I hope you enjoyed my post from Brussels.

Cheers!

Ker

A Girls’ Weekend that Always Centers Around the Guys…

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to travel to Greenville/Spartanburg to meet up with some of my favorite ladies (and men) for our annual trek to Dabo¬†Swinney’s Ladies’ Football Clinic. Y’all, this is not a “tell me what 3rd down means” football clinic. This is a gathering of 1000+ women with pretty high football IQs (well, most of them know the sport!). The coaching staff is generally quite impressed with the passion for: coaches, players, hometown heroes, and the sport, as well as the knowledge demonstrated through the intelligent questions being asked.

They are equally (okay, probably more so) entertained by the giddy “teenage girliness” that is evident in every session of the “locker room visit”. Some of the women are downright inappropriate (I’m nodding your way – woman who shoved dollar bills in Adam Humphries waistband – with a phone number on one! Incidentally, the money was PROMPTLY returned so as not to violate any NCAA regulations!)

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CW from upper left: Kathleen Swinney and Ali Rogers, Kesley and me, 2013 “All In” token, and Mama Watkins (left), me, and Mama Boyd – all very lovely ladies!

CW from Upper Left: Adam Humphries, Daniel Rodriguez, Zac Brooks, Daniel Stone, a whole mess of gigantic football players - and me!

CW from Upper Left: Adam Humphries, Daniel Rodriguez, Zac Brooks, Daniel Stone, a whole mess of gigantic football players – and me!

The Ladies’ Clinic is a fundraiser (in its fifth year with Dabo, and twelfth year overall (I believe)) to raise money toward breast cancer research. That’s a cause near and dear to my heart, as well as to the Swinney family. 25% of the registration fee goes toward research (and is matched by Dabo’s All-In Team Foundation) and tens of thousands of dollars are raised through silent and live auction items such as a ride-along with the team from the hotel to the game, participation in Tiger Walk, and tickets to the game ($21,000 total for 3 pairs – one donated by Coach Swinney¬†to match the other two fan purchases), signed jerseys (Nuk Hopkins, anyone?), personally signed helmets (2 x $1,400), and many more. It was a fantastic day – as always!

But, alas…this blog is about adventures in dining – and friends – I had some!

After spending some time in my company’s Greenville manufacturing facility on Thursday, my “second family” and I went to R.J. Rockers for the Thursday night tasting tradition. I’m actually not a big beer drinker, but we always feel the need to get a “double-fisted Ker” shot – for posterity’s sake, I guess. (note: it was HOT and MUGGY that night…not a pretty sight for the chick w/ blown out naturally curly hair!)

My American Red Glare on my right, and Cindy's Strawberry Wheat on my left.

My American Red Glare on my right, and Cindy’s Strawberry Wheat on my left.

We then headed down the street to Wild Ace in downtown Spartanburg – with a small group of friends who gathered at Rockers. I quickly made friends with the bartender while we were waiting on the rest of the group to arrive. It’s what I do. ūüôā

As a result, he was kind enough to come upstairs and take care of everyone’s drink orders while we were acquainting ourselves with the menu. Wild Ace offers a lot, so I quickly gave up. I turned my fate over to our server, Devin. He started to ask a few questions, but I simply gave him the “talk to the hand” gesture – along with an encouraging smile.

When I was served my meal, I was informed that I was receiving the “Sopwith Camel” (aka: Wild Ace version of the French Dip). The sandwich was fine. I wouldn’t say it was any better or any worse than any other French Dip I have had, but it was good. It was served with chips, which were actually quite tasty (maybe because I had already had the equivalent of three beers at that point, and salty food just tasted good! But, I do think the chips were good stuff).

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On Friday, Cindy, Kesley and I were determined to meet two of our favorite Clemson men in Charlotte for lunch. A mere 90 minutes away, give or take! We met the guys at Duckworths in Ballantyne. We arrived shortly before the guys did (after we amended the meeting time because we were running late!), so we started with some Buffalo bleu cheese chips (OMG!)

Chips

We were meeting my friends Anthony and Daniel, who both work in the Charlotte area. I first met Ant¬†several years ago. I’ve lost count now how many years ago that was. He’s the sweetest, most charming guy – but he bucks that description every chance he gets! He has hash-tagged himself the #LargeAngryBlackMan on Twitter (it’s a joke, y’all…look at that smile!).

Ant

Ant

And, Daniel…well, he and I met through the Clemson Twitter fam as well, but we had a real-life connection as well! One of my most dear friends, Chanda, grew up with Daniel in Orange County, CA! It is indeed a small world, folks! I dug this man since the minute I met him. And…he’s a proud member of the #FKC (Fat Kid Club). See how excited he is about food? (sadly, I went the other way…from skinny kid to not-so much…but we’re both still happy!)

Dnaiel

Former FKC, Daniel

Both Daniel and Ant were very excited to see my indecisiveness play out in real life. When our server, Sandy, came by to take orders, I simply let her know that everything on the menu was fair game, and that she should choose her favorite lunch item for me. She was a little panicked, but ultimately agreed to order for me.

When she came back, she informed me that she had chosen the Fajita Chicken Philly (marinated fajita chicken served on a Philly roll with cheese, peppers and onions).

Fajita

It had great flavor, but it was HUGE! I knew that I could count on Ant to finish the leftovers, and he did. With a smile! After a nice, long lunch, we headed out in different directions. It was so nice to see the guys though!

Daniel, Cindy, Kesley, Ker, and Ant at lunch at Duckworth's.

Daniel, Cindy, Kesley, Ker, and Ant at lunch at Duckworth’s.

Later that evening, we were meeting another favorite Clemson friend, beat writer Greg, for dinner in downtown Greenville (one of my favorite cities in America!). Greg chose Nose Dive (a Table 301 restaurant – of Soby’s¬†fame (the place I had my graduation dinner so many years ago)). Nose Dive is a newer Gastropub, with an inspired menu! Again, everything looked fantastic, so I just turned my order over to Brian, our server. I let him know early on that I’d have him choose my meal, and that I would like a glass of white wine to pair with it.

Brian was totally game. I could tell he was really considering what to bring me, but he wasn’t worried when I gave him carte blanche. He first came back with a glass of Pinot Grigio – which was nice and refreshing since I had asked my friends to sit on the hot and muggy patio!

NoseDive1

Then, he brought the Roast Chicken which was really half of a chicken served over a bed of croutons¬†and tomatoes (yummy!) and topped with herbs and Dijon sauce. The portion was ridiculous, so half of it went home for Cindy’s daughter (who is a gymnast with a never-ending appetite!). The half that I did eat was delicious! The chicken was so moist and tender, and the herbs and Dijon were perfect accents. Although there wasn’t much in the way of “healthy” sides (I love veggies!), the crouton salad was very tasty!

I’d definitely go back to Nose Dive (although Greenville has so many good restaurants to choose from!). It was great spending time with Greg too (whom we’d also briefly meet up with after the clinic on Saturday – and whom I neglected to take a picture of! Shame on me.)

Saturday, we hit the road nice and early to make it to the clinic, and then just took it easy that evening. We hit up Thai Taste, with Daniel, his wife Kate, and their baby girl, Ella. She is, incidentally, the only child I’ve held in a long time who did not cry! She must be the perfect baby! ūüôā And, she’s stinking cute too!

It was so nice to get down south again, spend quality time with several friends, and have a bit of southern cookin’! What’s your favorite taste of the south?

Milwaukee! The First Post… AJ Bombers!!

I haven’t quite moved into my apartment in downtown Milwaukee yet, but I have been spending my weekends here in an attempt to learn a little bit about my new home.

I've graduated from using the dogs' bed to an air mattress.  This is all I have at "home" right now!

I’ve graduated from using the dogs’ bed to an air mattress. This is all I have at “home” right now!

I decided to try to maximize my day (and the nice weather) this weekend by exploring different aspects of the city.

This morning, I got up and took part in my first Bikram yoga class in three years! ¬†The studio is about 1.2 miles from my place, so it was a nice morning walk over to class. ¬†Then, Bernadette, the instructor, proceeded to kick my toosh! ¬†Well, it really wasn’t her fault – it’s the nature of Bikram! ¬†The walk back home was a nice way to decompress and keep the muscles stretched a bit. ¬†But, y’all, I smelled FOUL! ¬†I really should have showered at the studio, but space is limited. ¬†In any case, I managed to make it home without offending other pedestrians!

Post-Bikram: A little sweat and a lotta water!

Post-Bikram: A little sweat and a lotta water!

After making it home, showering, and throwing my drenched clothes into the washing machine, I was finally able to cool down enough to think about venturing back out.

The group I failed to meet up with last night was heading to AJ Bombers for lunch. ¬†I missed them (again), but the seed was planted and I decided to make my way over for “Happiness, w/ a side of Burgers” by myself. ¬†It’s about 0.7 miles to get to Water Street. ¬†I love that I can walk so many places – and the city feels so safe!

AJ Bombers, at the corner of Water Street and Knapp.

AJ Bombers, at the corner of Water Street and Knapp.

I passed by the giant chairs, which you can see at the right of the picture and into this unique establishment. ¬†It’s funny, because I have been tweeting @AJBombers¬†for a couple of years – ever since I read about them in an article and sent them a link. ¬†I never imagined I’d be living in Milwaukee and would walk my way into their building. ¬†As I was walking over, I tweeted @AJBombers to let them know I was finally coming by for a bite to eat.

I took a seat at the bar, rather than waiting for a table. ¬†I perused the laminated menu (their Web site advises customers to bring a Sharpie!), ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and asked my server to choose her favorite thing to serve me (No, I didn’t bring the trusty card with me! Shame on me!). ¬†She asked me how creative I am willing to get with my food, and I answered her by advising her that if she thinks something is good, I trust her.

By this time, AJ Bombers had tweeted me back – and a conversation began. ¬†In fact, I learned that my server’s name is Emily because I mentioned the jersey she was wearing to their Twitter account, and proceeded to get the skinny on her! ¬†And, when I showed Emily the tweet, she jumped right in!

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How fun are these folks!?! Not to mention that we were “bombed” with peanuts shortly after I took my seat at the bar. ¬†You’ll see the peanut delivery system if you look closely (sorry, the sun’s glare made for poor picture quality).

Do you see the bombers in the background?

Do you see the bombers in the background?

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When my meal arrived, Emily let me know that she chose the burger that came with American cheese, bacon, and chunky peanut butter <– Yes, CHUNKY PEANUT BUTTER! on it. She advised me to try it without ketchup or mustard to start, and then doctor it up as much as I wanted.

I never messed with it – the burger (known as the Barrie burger) was delicious just as it was. ¬†Emily also chose sweet potato chips to pair with the burger, rather than the standard fries. ¬†While I’m not typically a huge fan of sweet potato fries (because I feel like they tend to be mushy), these chips were fantastic! ¬†Not greasy, just enough salt, and crispy.

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Emily and I talked about the fact that I would likely never have chosen to put peanut butter on my burger, and that’s the beauty of having the server choose a meal for me. ¬†I’ve tried plenty of things that I otherwise may not have tried. ¬†And, she was totally game for making the recommendation (though she did say that she would bring me something else if I hated her recommendation).

All in all, I had a great experience at AJ Bombers. ¬†Emily was a wonderful server/bartender, and the food and atmosphere were equally fantastic! And, I’m looking forward to going back to try one of these

BOMBERS SECRET Bloody  Mary Recipe:garnished  with a lemon, lime, olive,  pickle and our signature  AJ Burger strip with  muenster cheese and bacon. Served with your choice  of domestic shorty.

BOMBERS SECRET Bloody Mary Recipe:garnished with a lemon, lime, olive, pickle and our signature AJ Burger strip with muenster cheese and bacon. Served with your choice of domestic shorty.

(thanks to the dude next to me who allowed me to photograph his drink!)

Off to meet some folks to explore more of the city!

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 Рit 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 risqu√©”… 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 Рwithout 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. ¬†ūüôā

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 Рjust 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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