Saturday, June 30, 2012

SoCal Round up: Linda Fed Me

Besides eating through SoCal and the mud run, I had a great visit with Linda:

Besides hanging with her, which is always awesome, she also fed me.  Delicious vegan minestrone:

Strawberry shortcakes:

And her cool creation of furikake crostini:

Man, so tasty--she is crafty in cooking as she is in, well, crafts!

Friday, June 29, 2012

SoCal Roundup: Palm Springs & Los Angeles

To top off my SoCal trip, I also enjoyed some new places outside of Orange County:

Like Tinto-a Tapas restaurant by Jose Garces (winner of Iron Chef America!)

And Gjelina-a fabulous restaurant in Venice:

And topped with N'ice Cream!  I had the salted caramel, but next time I'm definitely getting the honey yogurt!

These were definitely more high-end than I normally partake in but I didn't want to miss out on the opportunities.  Worth it...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SoCal Round Up: Orange County

Man, I miss eating in SoCal! But do I make up for it whenever I'm out there. This time out, I caught the KogiBBQ truck:

And enjoyed a tofu taco and tofu burrito:

Also got to try the new Crispy Chickin' plate at Veggie Grill, featuring Crispy Chickin', Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with porcini mushroom gravy and steamed kale--so delicious!

And went to the Umami Burger in Costa Mesa. I was excited to visit this branch after my amazing experience at Umamicatessen. The cheesy tots were a great treat--especially after completing a mud run the weekend before it!

And I decided to try the classic Umami burger a try, with a portabello mushroom instead of the beef patty.  Truth be told, I wish I had stuck with the Earth Burger--the portabello mushroom was incredibly oily and overwhelmed any other condiment or flavor. Next time...

The next day, a lovely friend dropped off this Banzai Bowl from Banzai Bowls:

It's this GIANT (see my pen cup for comparison) portion of acai smoothie with delicious fruit like bananas, strawberries, and granola.  So tasty--and bonus--good for you!

Already craving this food again!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Camp Pendleton Mud Run

So glad I can finally STOP RUNNING.  I can now cross the Camp Pendleton Mud Run off the bucket list.  It was really great accomplishing this with my co-workers. I suggested this tag line for our team shirts--dig the takeoff on the classic phrase?

Thanks to Carol (my team captain from the SC Mud Run), who lent me her silver cape that she was given for her first mud run -- I needed all the good mojo I could get! Though I didn't wear it on the actual run (I foresaw getting snagged and garrotting myself), I loved the good will and positive energy and encouragement that traveled with me from SC to Camp Pendleton:

This mud run was very different from the experience I had at the SC Mud Run in that this was a LOT more running. This Camp Pendleton Mud Run was a 10K (roughly 6.3 miles) compared to the 5 mile in the SC Mud Run.  And unlike the SC Mud Run, which was so loaded with obstacles I felt that the most distance I ran at once was about a quarter of a mile, this mud run was ALL running for the first 3 miles and most was UPHILL.  It was a steady and steep climb and made for a very challenging "run" for the first half hour.  At some moments, I thought, Okay, for sure, we're done with this hill and nope, I'd turn a corner and see a long line of people going upward and onward ahead of me.  Each one of these moments was fairly demoralizing, but I carried on.

There were a bunch of co-workers who had been training after work regularly for this Mud Run, running about 7 miles, 2-3 times a week, but all I had the heart for, on my own here in SC, was a weekly run on Saturday mornings.  The longest was a 6.5 mile run a couple of weeks before on Memorial Day:

I tried to make up for the holes in straight running with boot camp and kettle bell classes and hoped it would do.  It turns out I managed to keep up with them in general, though initially I just wanted to get ahead of the crowds which, for what it's worth, was kind of never-ending when you're in the last wave.  You start catching up with groups of those who started in an earlier wave and were gassing out. 

Unfortunately I jerked my hamstring during the steep downhill where I was like the boulder in that infamous Indiana Jones scene.  Observations from my teammates indicate I was flailing mess tumbling down that hill but I needless to say, I made up some time from my slower uphill run.  Another observation confirmed that I am indeed, a "gasping" runner from the get go.

But surprisingly, even with the low mileage training and contracted hamstring, I managed to finish with the first team (our company was divided in 3 teams, roughly based on time estimations) who finished in 14th (out of 294) in the Mixed team category with a collective time of 1:18:11.

I waited less than 20 minutes for the rest of my team members and we finished with a collective time of 1:34:09--coming in 100th place.  And our third team finished at 200th place with a collective time of 1:51:12.  Not bad considering with one or two exceptions, this was all our first time doing the Camp Pendleton Mud Run.

Immediately afterwards, I remember thinking that I was so dunzo with running--that I was crossing this motherblesser off the bucket list and never looking back at this Camp Pendleton mud run.  But after seeing that our company almost cracked the top ten of the Mixed team list, my mind starting turning with a bunch of what if?s.  What if I actually trained more than once a week running?  What if we trained so we didn't turn our ankles, jerk our hamstrings, or cramp our calves?  For what it's worth, other folks kind of thought the same things but for now...who knows...

Comparing the two mud runs, I liked that the Camp Pendleton Mud Run was not anywhere near as muddy as the SC Mud Run.  Honestly, I think these runs are enough without the added mud.  I would love a fun run with an obstacle course, sans mud.  I definitely preferred the more challenging obstacles of the SC Mud Run--the Camp Pendleton obstacles in comparison were very, very doable and frankly, welcome breaks in the running.  Besides the challenging aspects of SC Mud Run obstacles, I liked that it was more team-oriented.  So whether you did the obstacle by yourself or not, you had the encouragement and support (sometimes literally) of your teammates with you the whole way.  But I will tip my cap to the Camp Pendleton Mud Run--it is a very grueling run.  I definitely recommend it to runners who aren't so interested in obstacles but a really (and famously) challenging run.

Going forward--some of my co-workers are moving on to the Long Beach half marathon (13.1 miles--of JUST running!) in October and I'm wondering if Carol would be up for the doing the SC Mud Run on October 13.  But for now, I'm looking forward to relaxing and NOT running.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mellow Mushroom

Craving pizza, we decided to hit the Mellow Mushroom.

The Mellow Mushroom is the only pizza place I know in the area that has a vegan cheese option and I had the Holy Shiitake Pie. So good. The caramelized onions really made it for me and the mushrooms (shiitake, portabello, button) had a great smoky meaty flavor.

Paul enjoyed the House Special which featured lots of meat (ham, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, ground beef) and veggies (peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms):

Needless to say, it was a tasty pizza night. On top of their delicious pizzas, they have an impressive beer menu--we enjoyed an ice-cold Maisel's Weiss. Can't wait to eat there again.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pok Pok

My sister, my nephew, and I were able to squeeze in a meal at Pok Pok in Brooklyn before my flight back to Columbia. It had been getting great reviews and my interest was peaked by Amy Karol's post on drinking vinegars so I was excited to go.  We arrived about the time it opened and there was already a line of people waiting. In Brooklyn! Crazy. Fortunately, they seated everyone pretty quickly--split between inside and the tented outside seating.

Of course we had to try the drinking vinegars--I had the raspberry and my sister had the pear:

We both loved them.  It was a fairly hot and humid day so the acidic bite of the vinegar cut the sweetness of the fruit to make this such a refreshing drink.

We shared the vegan version of the Khao Soi (coconut curry noodle soup):

and the vegan version of the Papaya Pok Pok salad:

The Khao Soi was dynamite--we ordered a second. The Papaya Pok Pok salad was a little plain but I caveat that since we had the vegan version it probably is more tasty with the salty kick of dried shrimp and fish sauce of the original version.

The one thing I was a bit disappointed in was the wait staff's underwhelming attitude in the particulars of their food, given how unique the food is at Pok Pok.  The waitress was definitely nice and not rude at all but when I expressed interest the drinking vinegars her tone was like, yeah, haha, some people like those--they're just kind of like these syrups...yeah...  And when another waitress/food runner delivered the Khao Soi, she defined the sides (pickled mustard greens, shallots, cilantro, chili paste, lime) and when I asked if I was supposed to mix these in with the noodles, her answer was sort of shruggish, yeah...if you like.  We decided to mix them in and the sides added a great fresh pop to the noodles.  Now is that so hard?

Overall, I recommend it -- the drinks and dishes are wonderfully unique and refreshing.  Looking forward to trying other flavors of those drinking vinegars!