9.28.2014

This Weeks Eats 9.28.14 (and a Canlis Recap)

What an amazing week I had eating around Seattle!  I decided to hit up Dahlia Lounge with my friend Clare for her visit to town, since a Tom Douglas restaurant seemed quintessential to Seattle.  It did not disappoint.  We got amazing cocktails to start,
a vodka martini concoction that involved blueberries, Clare got one that involved gin and sage simple syrup and it was fantastic
and then proceeded to order more than half the appetizers on the menu to share.  Everything was wonderful and I tried geoduck for the first time - chewy, but tasty.  I really enjoy the service and atmosphere at Dahlia.  It reminds me of Daniel's: cozy and lively with friendly conversational service.  And if there's one thing you must order at Dahlia Lounge, it is the made to order doughnuts for dessert.  HEAVEN.

And, of course, it was our 12th anniversary and big ten year Seattle anniversary.  We decided to finally have the Canlis experience.  If you watched Top Chef Seattle, here's a refresher on the Canlis episode.  For those that requested it, here's a rundown.  

First of all, if you are going South on Aurora Avenue it is a major pain in the you-know-what to get there.  We had to do lots of recalculating on the navigation to get going North to right turn only into the Canlis entrance.  We still arrived early so that we could experience the lounge and some cocktails and I tried a sparkling wine cocktail, the tasty Arc de Cezanne.
my husband always orders Grey Goose L'Orange and Soda
We decided on the three course menu, where you choose a first course, main and dessert.  Prior to our first course, we were served an amuse bouche, which is always fun.
From left to right, something involving a mushroom mousse and pickled onion, a puffed rice cracker with edamame and other goodies and a tater tot! with an amazing dipping sauce, I think that involved saffron.
And for the first course, we had to try the traditional Canlis salad, which they prepare table side.  It's similar to a Cesar, but has fresh oregano and mint, as well as the most amazing heirloom tomatoes I've ever tasted.  Plus, the serving was huge!  
There wasn't much of a question as to what we'd order for our main course, as we are steak people.  I decided on the filet, while my husband got the Waygu NY Strip.
Filet with shitake mushroom sauce and crispy Yukon gold potatoes
The strip served over a sumptuous bean puree
We had to add on the twice baked potato, positively sinful
Duuuuuuude.  Everything tasted amazing.  In addition to geoduck, I've now tried true Waygu beef this week!  Just superb.  

We are not really dessert people, and kind of wish the menu was a la carte.  But, tasting the flavor combinations they put into these confections was fun.  
I got the berry tart and it had this amazing white balsamic granita on top, as well as DOUGLAS FIR FOAM.  You would think that'd be all kinds of wrong, but it tasted really interesting and fun with the other ingredients.  My husband went for the chocolate fondant and it was delish, too.
Canlis is big on dessert apparently.  Not only are you locked in to ordering it with the prix fixe menu, but they gave us macarons to cap off our meal and a chocolate bar for the road!

Macarons are fun, but I reaaaaaally enjoyed my chocolate bar the next day with a crunchy puffed rice, peanut butter and hint of sweet berries.  

All in all, we are so glad we finally went and loved every morsel.  Did we love it more than our beloved Daniel's?  On the whole, no.  I still feel that the filet there CANNOT be beat and I prefer the atmosphere and service there.  Yes, Canlis is known for it's impeccable service, but it's a little over the top if you're into that kind of thing.  I mean, the waitresses pretty much did a curtsy when they presented our food - placed on the table in a synchronized manner, 'natch.  And we were at a banquet table and seated on the same side, facing out into the whole dining room.  I'm more of a cozy booth, tucked away, facing each other over candlelight kind of gal.  And as the waitresses would come over, I almost felt nervous unlike at Dahlia or Daniels where the waiters are conversational and know just how to chat you up and when to leave you alone.  It's fun to have that kind of outing every once in awhile, and it reminded me of one of our favorite meals ever at Delmonicos in Las Vegas (seated on the same side, synchronized plating, etc.) but I can only take it in small doses.  Also, the price point is a once in a few years kind of indulgence as well.  Full disclosure, with everything above plus one of the more inexpensive bottles of wine on the menu at $75, the cost of the meal plus tip came to about $375.  A trip to Daniel's totals at least $100 less, not factoring in Costco gift cards (we always get two $100 cards for $80 each) and our membership rewards.  So there's the down low on a meal we'll most certainly never forget!

And now for some home cookin' - except for the fact that we got talking about Seattle institutions at dinner and decided that it's been too long since we picked up Salumi sandwiches for dinner...

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!

9.24.2014

Inaugural Beat The Blerch Race Recap

*Edited to add that there were FREE race pictures and I've added my faves at the bottom. Another Huge thumbs up for this race!*

This race was so much awesome.  How could a race with cake, Nutella, grape drink, couches and 'Blerches' in fat suits be a bust?  If that last sentence made absolutely no sense, I encourage runners and non-runners alike to read Matthew Inman's inspiring and hilarious comic on running
now a hilarious and inspiring book
Even prior to race day, the organizers (the same lovely folks that coordinate the Sonohomish River Run, Snohomish Women's Run, Snoqualmie Valley Half, Mustache Dache and probably others I'm forgetting) were on top of making as many runners as possible happy.  When the event sold out in minutes, another race was added on Saturday to accommodate over four thousand people that signed up for a waiting list, should anyone drop out of the original Sunday race.  Additionally, switching between the Saturday and Sunday, transferring race bibs or race distances (for a small fee) was allowed and easy to accomplish with few clicks on Race It's website.  I decided to switch down to the 10K from the half AND from Sunday to Saturday with absolutely no fuss.  Being able to transfer bibs for a fee is really so convenient and I hope more races do this in the future.  Especially for races that sell out, since it gives people who didn't get in an opportunity that might have otherwise gone to waste.  
perpetual line down the block for packet pickup
Packet pickup was a little crazy with some long lines at Road Runner Sports, but that's to be expected when so many people wanted to get Matthew's autograph and all the goodies for purchase, including advance copies of his new book The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.  I decided not to wait for an autograph or pic because I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Oats in the past at a Greenlake Beat the Blerch 'training run.'
I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that we received half zip long sleeve shirts in our goody bag, along with a Blerch magnet and sticker.
Getting the shirt took awhile because they were not only separated by size/gender, but by race distance.  I'm thinking that in the future it'd probably be easier for everyone to get the same shirt with all the distances included.  Maybe if I was running the marathon, I'd think differently?

On race day, I drove over with Dawn who scored a parking pass for the lot right the start/finish area, Tolt MacDonald park.  However, it seemed that parking nearby was easy and plentiful for all, parking pass or no.  Speaking of parking, The Oatmeal had his Spaceboat of Light and Wonder right up front.

The full marathon started at 9AM, the half at 9:30AM and the 10K at 10AM which was just another reason I was glad to have switched down to the 10K.  We got settled in just in time to watch the half runners start and pretty soon we were off.

I started out in a bit of a crowd, so I did my usual zipping around (probably too fast) to find some space to settle in to a nice pace.  I wasn't trying too hard, but I wanted to make SOME sort of effort.  There's a bit of rocky gravel in the first half mile or so and I was trying to get through that as quickly as possible.  There were also a few runner 'carrots' I was chasing and trying to pass to keep me entertained on the way to the turnaround (all distances were an out and back along the gorgeous Snoqualmie Valley trail) which was apparently a slight uphill grade.  After sitting on the couch, taking a Blerch selfie and having some electrolytes disguised as grape drink, I felt revived and took off with wayyyy more pep in my step.  
huge couches! running blerches!
blerch selfie!
A great thing about an out and back with a slight uphill grade at the beginning?  There's a nice downhill boost for the second half of the race, when you really need it (kinda like the Seattle Hot Chocolate 15K but WAY less steep). Another great thing about and out and back is that you can sort of size up the competition.  I started checking out every woman that was coming my way and wondering if they were 40 or older, if you catch my drift.  Most people at this race were not putting forth much effort, and rightly so - it's probably best to do as a fun run.  But, I was feeling good and thought that it wouldn't hurt to kick it into high gear since there weren't any more couches calling my name.  And, yeah, biggest awesome surprise was that I won my age group and got a PR with 53:50.  I felt like the course was maybe a little short?  But I'm not 100% sure because, as usual, I failed to turn off my Garmin until well after I'd cooled down.  Either way, the age group placement is what it is and I'll take it!
age group medal!
individual race medals for each distance
I got my medal and water, thankfully there wasn't much of a line for cake and post race goodies after most the 10K runners finished.  If there was any problem at this race, I'm thinking the lines for food would probably be it.  There was quite a line by the time the half marathoners were finishing up.  
so. much. cake. The cake and Nutella sandwiches were available at the finish as well as at all the aid stations.
After I ate, stretched, and bought a copy of the book, I decided to go ahead and get in line to have him sign it, since there were less than 20 or so folks queued up.  Luckily I met a nice gal to chat with while waiting and pretty soon I was chatting with Matthew, who is ridiculously nice.  Running two half marathons in two days, plus doing the second one in a fat suit on a hot day while taking tons of selfies with fans is pretty awesome.  I'm sure signing books all the livelong day is a huge part of his job, but he certainly doesn't have to take the time to chat for five whole minutes with people and make them laugh or draw pictures of dogs upon request.
pic I showed him of Chewy and his rendering
The things we covered in less than five minutes included... a congrats on my AG win (he noticed my extra medal right away), I told him that we were those Oiselle girls screeching at him during Ragnar and congrats on conquering the horrific miles of runner 8.  He told me that he also took over the legs for some of his van mates in addition to his own.  Dude.  It was also his first Ragnar and he loved it, especially running at night and that awesome bit runner 8 gets to do on the boardwalk over Fidalgo Bay.  But, he didn't like being 'covered in Ragnar' and if you've run one, you know what he means.  I laughed and agreed, even the hand sanitizer compounds in grody layers.  I asked what the grape drink was on course and when he told me it was Clif, I suggested Nuun for the future.  Apparently, he does drink Nuun (awesome) and went to them first but the timing for budgets was off.  Hopefully next year!  He's training for an ultra and I told him that more Greenlake meetups would be fun, and he said that maybe people could join in as he did 20 or so laps around?  Hahaha.  All the while, he was drawing the lovely picture of my pug.
These signs were plentiful, and I took them to heart.
The Oatmeal is a true force for good in the world (Tesla Museum for the win!) and, of course, he is effing funny as hell (This comic on religion is a personal favorite, really they're all a favorite - just spend an afternoon on his website).  I'm so, so happy that he has made this race a reality and I can't wait to experience it next year.

Also, I just learned that on Sunday's race, a young man collapsed and died.  Such a terrible tragedy.  If you would like to donate to Evan Sebenius' memorial fund, please go here.






9.21.2014

This Weeks Eats 9.21.14

We're having a guest for dinner this week - yay!  I'm so freaking excited that one of these gals (who's laugh I adore) happens to have a work trip to my neck of the woods.  She asked for a shout out on This Weeks Eats, so she's getting one.  Like all my hometown best buds, Clare and I go back as far as junior high.  Sadly I can't seem to dig up any pics more than 20 years old (I'm sure she's disappointed).  Well, there were some from the 8th grade field trip to DC, but they were huge group photos.  Here we are in 2000, though:


And of course, our 20th high school reunion in 2012, lookin' EXACTLY the same - riiiiight?

And whaddya know, this reunion pic was taken almost exactly two years ago - on my 10th wedding anniversary, I was hitting the town with these gals.  This week, my husband and I will be doing some fine dining for our 12th, which also coincides with our 10th Seattle anniversary.  Yep, we ended the epic road trip from Chicago on our 2nd anniversary.  Will give a full report on what we ate next week, as we are *gasp* venturing out from Daniels Broiler.

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!

9.18.2014

Hot Chocolate 15K/5K 2015 Discount Code for a Free Hat!

I was just sharing this year's freebie code with my Oiselle peeps and realized that  I didn't have an official post up on the blog with the info for this season's Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Seattle!  Here are the deets:
code: SEAHAT2
  • The race is Sunday, March 1st 2015 - perfect time of year for some hot chocolate.
  • The swag is always awesome, and this year is no exception:
Fleece lined full zip hoodie!
  • This year, they added medals for the 15K and they are super cool, city-specific bling.
Hella awesome, right?
  • The folks at RAM Racing put a lot of thought, time and effort into choosing the hot cocoa and fondue - trust me.  And it is goooooood.  
yesssss.
Hopefully I've tempted you to join me and get yer free hat.  If not, here are my recaps from Seattle AND Chicago.  I can attest to the fact that the race in each of these cities is so fun and really well organized.  If you wanna run in any of these other cities:
  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Chicago
  • Columbus
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Minneapolis
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • St. Louis
  • Nashville
  • Los Angeles 
Go here and check out this great race series!

9.14.2014

Crock Pot Chili Round Up and This Weeks Eats 9.14.14

As I mentioned last week, I'm a big fan of having chili on Sundays in the fall.  There's not much better than an easy crock pot meal on a chilly night while watching football.  It's a wee bit difficult to imagine that right now, since we are having quite a heat wave here in Seattle.  But, we are Midwesterners who installed air conditioning in our house as soon as we possibly could, so it's alllll good.  I thought it'd be fun to share my favorite crock pot chili recipes and if you have any to share, please, please do so in the comments!

my adaptation of Pioneer Woman's Chicken Chili for the crock pot

Tequila Lime Turkey Chili from Pink Parsley
Cream Cheese Chicken Chili from Plain Chicken (I use 1/2 the cream cheese and it's still super tasty)
Steak Chili from Spoonful
Jalapeno Popper Chili from Everyday Reading
Pioneer Woman's Chicken Chili in the Crockpot - my own adaptation of her great recipe

And this week I'm trying an easy one pot chili mac, so I'll let ya know how that turns out...

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!

9.10.2014

Women Of Wonder Race Recap (and my ideal women's race)

A couple of months ago, Oiselle hosted a ladies night at my favorite local running store - Everyday Athlete in Kirkland.  After a nice group run, we were treated to local wines, chocolates and a raffle with awesome prizes.  I was pretty stoked to win an entry to the Women of Wonder race at Greenlake and I promptly signed up for the 5K.  

Despite not having done much speed work all summer, I felt like my fitness was better than the last time I ran a 5K way back in March and hoped to better that time at the very least.  My 'A' goal being to improve at least 45 seconds and my 'B' goal was to place in the top 10 of my age group.  Normally, any kind of placing is not within my goals - but based on last year's results, my recent 5K time would have got me 3rd in my age group.  So yeah, this is a popular race for first time 5K-ers.

Race day finally rolled around and I was super glad that Dawn had decided to sign up and we drove over together around 8AM for a 9:30 start, in order to pick up our packets and catch some Jasyoga, of course.  


I love seeing familiar faces at a race and after hanging with the Jasyoga peeps, I had the pleasure of seeing Julie (last year Ragnar teammate) and Amanda (this year's Ragnar teammate) at the start line.  Amanda also placed 2nd overall, coming in juuuuust over 20 minutes.  

In addition to the Jasyoga prep, I tried really hard to channel Lauren Fleshman's most recent blog post on how to run the perfect 5K.  I did some mobility exercises, a 10 minute warm up with a few strides and (as mentioned above) set my A, B, and C goals.  The real kicker was that I executed the race strategy almost perfectly!  This was what I was most proud of at the end of the day.  I remember reading an article a few years back that contrary to popular opinion, you should go ALL OUT at the the beginning of a 5K, as that actually results in faster overall times.  However, I think this was probably meant for much more skilled runners, because that has just not been working for me!  SO, I tried to get into a fast but maintainable pace for the first mile and it went by so quickly. Yay! I should also point out that I had no idea what this pace was, because I inadvertently let my Garmin time out just as the race was about to start.  In mile two, I did my absolute crazy best to stay focused (per Lauren's instruction), because that's normally where the wheels fall off for me.  I barely remember mile two, just that my mouth was so very, very, dry and that I kept repeating mantras ('I am/here now', 'faster as a master', 'head up/wings out') and mile two was OVER.  Focus for the win!  However, it just seemed to push back my usual meltdown into mile three.  About half way through that mile I could feel myself slowing down, my legs turning to jello and the self doubt talk crept in.  But, this is a much better point in the race to have this happen!  The doubt and negativity can only hang around for less than half a mile, rather than a whole mile and a half.  With a time of 26:22 I ended up meeting my 'C' goal, doing a wee bit better than my last 5K, and I met my 'B' goal by placing 5th in my age group (30th woman overall out of about 800).  
post race with Dawn
Women of Wonder is mostly geared toward the fun-run and first-timer crowd, so there's lots of pomp and circumstance to lure those runners.  I enjoyed my post race brownie, they had lots of great vendors/sponsors, and sure I'll take a medal for a 5K!  And I might have taken more advantage of the mimosa/beer garden if the race was on a Saturday.  I really do love the idea of getting more women interested in running (I wish ALL my girlfriends were runners!).  However, there are some aspects to these kinds of races I love, and others, not so much...

Like I said, I really wish all races could be held on Saturdays.  It just lends itself to more people hanging, celebrating, etc.  Adding beer to the mimosa garden this year was a fantastic call.  My ideal women's running event would also involve not only mimosas or champagne at the finish, but beer as well - because, hello, women like beer, too!   

Jasyoga would also be a part of my ideal race, and kudos again for the organizers for including them.  Although, I wish they were given more spotlight - maybe even a microphone and a bigger area for yoga next year, by the community center?  And if my race couldn't nail down Jasyoga, maybe some local elite runners to lead everyone in some warm up and activation exercises.

Even though I've run a few 5Ks in my day and knew going into this race that there would be a lot of new runners, I know that we are all indeed RUNNERS.  Notably, the race corrals should reflect this fact.  Because I'm running slower than an 8 minute pace does not make me a JOGGER.  And running slower than a 12 minute mile does not make one a SHUFFLER, GOOD GOD.  Just post the paces for runners and a spot for walkers.  Easy peasy.




So, this is personal preference, but I would have neither pastel pink nor lavender (really any pastel color) themed ANYTHING - tees, medals, etc.  It's like the girls toy aisle in Target: pink or lavender people, those are your only choices.  I'm just not into it. 



Why the foofy shade of pink?  Why butterflies?  With a Superwoman themed race, where was the red, white and blue?  I like the navy shirt but I'd rather the theme be more simple and bold with NO BUTTERFLIES.  ALWAYS NO BUTTERFLIES AT ALL.  (This is a take on a Friends reference, in case you missed it.)  




I suppose ideally I would want Oiselle to design a kick ass race tee with strong, bold lines and pink that you can totally rock.  Like Kara Goucher at New York Fashion Week.  FEMININE FIERCE people.  Failing that, I'm still waiting for the offer of pajama pants as race swag.

If I had to pay for this race, I'd say it's a little pricey for a run around Greenlake, of which there is one almost every weekend.  However, if it's your first 5K and you really want a medal, fun atmosphere, or an opportunity for your kiddos to run, it's got everything you're looking for.  It would definitely be a race I'd consider running with my girl one day.  It's very family friendly and, in addition to a free kids dash, you can register as a mother and daughter duo with kids 12 and older.  She would most certainly be down with the butterflies and pastel pink...


9.07.2014

One Pot Cheesy Italian Spinach and Sausage Tortellini and This Weeks Eats 9.7.14

Looking over last week's Saturday recipe for the one pot tortellini, I was compelled to give it an overhaul.  The idea of cheddar jack cheeses with tortellini just didn't jive, in my opinion.  Plus, I'm all for decadent meals and I LOVE cheese.  But, this recipe has a wee bit too much going on for my taste.  So I hope you enjoy my adaptation.  It's still WAY cheesy; I'm thinking I'll even eliminate tortellini next time and pick up some other fresh pasta from the refrigerated section, and/or eliminate the sausage and add more spinach.  Either way, this turned out REALLY good!


One Pot Cheesy Italian Spinach and Sausage Tortellini

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of diced onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 pound of turkey kielbasa (or 1/2 pound of hot Italian sausage)
28oz can diced tomatoes with juice
20oz package of refrigerated tortellini (or other fresh pasta)
2-3 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan
1/3 cup of grated provolone or mozzarella
heavy pinch of salt and pepper
crushed red pepper to taste
basil for garnish

Heat a large 12 inch straight sided pan or dutch oven to medium heat.  Saute onions with olive oil until soft.  Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add sliced turkey sausage and cook until browned.  (If you are using raw Italian sausage, cook through.) Add chicken broth, tortellini, tomatoes, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until pasta is cooked to al dente. Add chopped spinach and stir until wilted and incorporated.  Stir in cream and cheeses, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for five to ten minutes. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired. 

This Weeks Eats
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!

 

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