Day 9 – Santa Fe, NM to Scottsdale, AZ

We went into Historic Santa Fe for brunch and window shopping around the town.  I was pretty excited to have Huevos Rancheros in Santa Fe, and Brendan had a smothered breakfast burrito.  We have tried to really experience the food of the region everywhere we’ve gone.  Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard without a local guide.  For example, we feel like we were less successful in New Orleans than we would have liked to be, and we wish we had more time to experience the food in Austin.

Brunch in Santa Fe was very tex-mex…

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We walked around and admired the architecture, parks, art endless art galleries, and artisan goods.  It definitely made me want some moccasins.  IMG_0348 

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We have definitely become experts at walking around without a purpose other than to try and experience an area.

IMG_0352 IMG_0354 We spent the next 6+ hours driving through the desert, which can be pretty draining.  I think this was the first day where we both slept while the other person was driving.  We were surprised to see how often the geography changed during this drive through West New Mexico and East Arizona.  It went from cool high desert to mountains with pine trees to bare desert to cactus covered hills. 

We finally arrived in Scottsdale, where my dad lives, and it was 104 degrees!  I had just shivered walking down the street in Santa Fe!!  It is SO HOT in Scottsdale, but much more tolerable than the humid heat in the Southeast.  Before dinner, we walked around the outdoor shopping area in the misters…

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My dad took us to one of his favorite restaurants – True Food Kitchen.  I seriously recommend it.  They also have locations in Atlanta, Dallas, Colorado, and various locations in Southern California.  We all got super cool drinks.  I got kale-aid, which had kale, apple, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger.  So Good.IMG_0356My dad got the other drink I almost got, which was pomegranate limeade – lime juice, evaporated cane, pom juice, chia seeds.  Brendan got Hangover Rx – Coconut water, pineapple, vanilla, orange juice.  They were all so fun, fresh, and refreshing.

For dinner, Brendan and I shared the best Bison burger we have ever had and a kale salad.  We loved this place. IMG_0357 My love of all things yuppie became very apparent.  I love clean places with trendy food and boutique workout classes.  As much as I don’t like to admit it, I would probably love to live in LA.


Day 5 – Nashville, TN to New Orleans, LA

The drive from Nashville to New Orleans was our longest so far – 7 hours or so, so after breakfast in Nashville we hit the road.  Tip – I found a great place in Nashville for breakfast and coffee called The Frothy Monkey.  Their menu for lunch, dinner, and dessert looked awesome as well… I had the California breakfast, which was sourdough toast with fried eggs, avocado, sprouts, and salsa.  Brendan had an egg white omelet that included kale, sausage, and avocado, and toast with homemade jam.  Go there!

On our drive, Brendan used Yelp to find lunch in Birmingham, AL.  We went to a taco truck in a gas station parking lot that is super popular.  People literally came there with chairs and filled the parking lot to eat there.  It was nice to have real Mexican food from Mexicans!  The tacos were amazing.  Plus, $10 for lunch for two is a pretty good deal.

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We arrived in New Orleans just before dinner.  Our hotel was right on Bourbon Street, so it was exciting from the moment we pulled up.IMG_0291 We went to dinner on Royal Street, which runs parallel to Bourbon.  We went to Royal House and we sat on the balcony!  The balcony was tiny and slanted down, so I had a minor panic attack throughout dinner.  IMG_0293IMG_0295

We ordered redfish beignets as an appetizer…

IMG_0298 And we also got the shrimp and grits!! IMG_0299At the end of dinner, the waitress asked if we wanted another cocktail to go!   IMG_0300

We spent the evening wandering around the French Quarter.IMG_0301

  And then we went to the famous Cafe Du Monde, which I have wanted to go to since I was a little girl watching the Travel Channel. 

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We got six beignets covered in powdered sugar!  They were piping hot, crispy on the outside and doughy and warm on the inside!IMG_0304I also found this great outfit at one of the nearby shops if anyone still needs an outfit for the Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon on the fourth!

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Day 4 – Asheville, NC to Nashville, TN

I LOVE ASHEVILLE!  I knew I would like it before we came because it is a lot like Santa Cruz or Berkeley, but in a mountain setting – yoga, music, hippies, and lots of good food.  It was so easy to find a breakfast place that we would absolutely love.  We ended up going to a local cafe that had an emphasis on local and organic foods.  Then we headed about 45 minutes outside Asheville to Pisgah National Forest for a hike.  We hiked to John Rock in Pisgah National Forest.  We picked the hike based on blog posts I’d read from Peanut Butter Runner.  It was gorgeous.

The view from John Rock…

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Mushrooms along the way…

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A real rattle snake!! IMG_0269Playing near waterfalls on the way down…

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Tiny tree frog… IMG_0276 We were hot, sweaty, and hungry for another good Asheville meal when we were done, so we headed back into town to Chai Pani.  This was another tip from Peanut Butter RunnerChai Pani is Indian street food with an emphasis on local ingredients.It was SO GOOD.  Their motto written on all of their shirts is Namaste Y’all, which I think pretty accurately describes the whole city! 

IMG_0280 Next we went to French Broad Chocolate Lounge, which is a SUPER popular dessert and coffee shop, which I also read about on Peanut Butter Runner.  We got a chocolate snickerdoodle and a slice of carrot cake.  They were both so good, and they had approximately 100 other things I wanted to try!

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Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Asheville and continue on the journey.  I really want to go back to Asheville for a weekend (or week) to go hiking and yoga-ing and eat at all of the amazing restaurants.  The next stop on our trip was Nashville, TN.  Unfortunately for us, our trip coincided exactly with the Country Music Festival and the Country Music Awards, so Nashville was CRAZY.  We walked down the street a couple blocks from our hotel and we were outside the arena where they were holding the awards live.  The streets were full of people with several concerts going on, and the awards were being played on huge screens in the streets.  It was definitely not our scene, but a really cool thing to witness.

IMG_0283 Unfortunately, we didn’t really get to experience the laid-back-live music everywhere culture I’ve heard so much about, but we did see a lot of cowboy boots and short shorts.


The Philadelphia Half Marathon

Last weekend I met up with my bestest friend from college, A.Jay, in her new hometown for a little run.  Aje and I had initially signed up for the full marathon, but we both dropped down to the half as training went on.  It was my first time in Philadelphia, and Aje sure made sure I fell in love with it! 

Our weekend together included tons of shopping at our favorite stores: West Elm, J.Crew, Anthropologie, and the local farmer’s market.  I even tried on some super awesome PJ’s at J.Crew!

IMG_2870 And lots of awesome food!  My favorite place we went to was Pure Fare, which is a cafe that was started by a nutritionist.  The entire place is gluten free, and it has tons of vegetarian, vegan, and allergy friendly food.  But mostly the whole place is crazy delicious and nutritious.  I fell in love with the Quinoa cranberry muffin and the Kale-Apple smoothie!!

IMG_2888 IMG_2884The race was AMAZING… It was super well organized, especially for a big race: 30,000 people!  The expo was big and overwhelming as expected.  We picked up our packets, bought some matching sweaty bands (pictured above), and got out of there!  The start was less than a mile from A.Jay’s apartment, so we enjoyed a nice walk to the start while we drank our coffee.  We decided to wear matching race outfits AND matching pre-race outfits!  

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The porta-potty lines were long, but they were just the right length because they gave me time to do my pre-race potty dance.

IMG_2873If you’ve ever run a race with me before, you know this is an important part of the process!

The race was well-supported with lots of bathrooms, water, gatorade, and Cliff Shots (eww).  I brought sharkies!  It was chilly, but the temperature ended up feeling great during the race.  What really made this a great race was the AMAZING crowd support.  MILES of this course were lined with people.  Lots and lots of people.  I have never experienced that much enthusiasm at a race.  It made me realize how much I really want to do one of the famous races… mostly I really want to do NYC, which is famous for the crazy crowd support all along the course.

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We had lots of fun!  And we finished in a great time!! I really couldn’t have done this without Aje.  I was really hurting, but she was FULL of energy and speed.  At mile 11, she asked me if I wanted to pick it up for the last stretch.  I was like, “I am picking it up!!!”  I am so glad I held on. 

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This was also the first time I’ve raced in my Vibram Five Fingers.  It went great!  My toes were a little chilly, but not too bad.  I thought about my form quite a bit because I still struggle with heel striking when I get tired, and that really hurts when you aren’t wearing shoes!

IMG_2886 This was my last distance race before my jaw surgery, so I was happy to end the year with a strong half.  Here’s to a healthy resting period, so my leg can repair itself!!  Thanks for a super fun weekend, Aje… and thanks for being my photographer!!


Daily Dose of Ice Cream

Maybe I should change the name of my blog.  When people ask what they should do while in Berkeley, I can usually only think of food-related activities.  Like eating.  Duh.  When you look at the Berkeley travel tab on the top of my blog there are two links: one for Ici and one for Chocolatier Blue

Whenever we have company in town I inevitably end up taking them to the Mission in San Francisco to eat at Bi-Rite Deli and Creamery.  DIVINE.  Yesterday we had a San Francisco day with Brendan’s mom.   We went to a couple of sites that we had wanted to visit before leaving, and of course, we took her to Bi-Rite!

First, we went to the Legion of Honor, a gorgeous palace turned museum.  I catered a wedding at the Legion and it is on the top of my list of places to get married in the bay area.  It is so stunning, and the views from the cliffs of the ocean and the Golden Gate are just stunning.

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STUNNING, right!?  Next, we went to the Sutro Baths, which are ruins, but used to be a huge salt water swimming complex right on the cliff by the ocean.  The ruins are slightly less than beautiful, but the views are great.  I actually sat down by myself here and spent a few minutes thinking about my love for San Francisco (and crying about it). 

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Then!!!! We went to the Mission for a picnic lunch from Bi-Rite in Dolores Park, and then ice cream from Bi-Rite.  This is literally my FAVORITE thing to do in San Francisco.  I love picnics and I love being surrounded by people relaxing and eating fun food.  The people hipster watching is great!

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It’s so creamy I want to die!  Ignore Brendan’s mom photo bombing my Bi-Rite pic.  Really, this is Brendan’s fault for taking it. 

Oh and what?  my hair is flying around kind of crazy?  Well, sorry because I refuse to adjust my greasy hair more than once or twice a day.  Must keep finger grease out of greasy hair!  At least my hair can still fly in the wind, right?  Not glued down!  This was taken on day 3 of not washing my hair.  I am trying to wash it every Sunday right now.  You can read about why I am not washing my hair here

Now I’m off to spend the day with A.Jay before I leave her!! sad…


Mangio italiano

I’ve always been a Spanish speaker when it came to second languages.  I didn’t really even consider French (too impractical here) and my dad pretended to know knew and randomly spoke quite a bit of Spanish while I was growing up.  We traveled in Mexico a few times when I was in school and I LOVED being able to order in Spanish! 

When we started college, Brendan and I were really excited about all of the language offerings at Cal, so we enrolled in Italian I during our first semester.  That was probably the easiest class I took in college because Italian is so similar to Spanish, and I was super excited to be expanding my traveling opportunities.  After my first semester I started trying to take classes that could only be taken at Cal or that would be uniquely intellectual at Cal because I was paying a pretty penny to take language classes that could also be taken a lot cheaper.  I’ve really wanted to take French, so that I could formally learn the pronunciation (and learn how to say foods like clafoutis without sounding super dumb), but I will probably take it later. 

Needless to say I know very little Italian because I only took it for one semester, but I can read it and translate it pretty well because it shares its Latin roots with Spanish. 

I may not speak much Italian, but I do eat quite well in Italian!

Tonight I made Italian Wedding Soup from my Trader Joe’s cookbook!  I adapted it quite a bit, actually, but it is super simple and makes a nice meal.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

Adapted from Cooking with all Things Trader Joe’s

Ingredients:

1 bag frozen turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s

EVOO

1 cup diced onion

1 tsp crushed garlic

1/2 cup halved baby carrots

1 small zucchini (chopped)

1 (32 oz) carton chicken broth

3 cups southern green mix from Trader Joe’s

fresh parsley, chopped

Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over med-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, carrot, zucchini.  Cook for 5 minutes-ish.  I start cooking before I’m ready (always), so I just add things as they are chopped and ready and add them in.  That means the onions cooked for longer than the garlic.  Whatever.

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Add the chicken broth and meatballs.  If you had time to thaw your meatballs then you are a planner!  Want a medal?  You should chop your meatballs into bite-size pieces/quarters/sixths/you decide.  If they are still frozen because you also go to the grocery store 10 minutes before it is time to make dinner, just empty the bag into the pot.  We will deal with those big boys later. 

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.  If you were in the frozen meatball camp, scoop your meatballs out and chop them up OR tell your boyfriend to suck it up and cut up his own food in his bowl after you serve it.  I scooped and chopped.  I also added a cup of water here because I wanted to (turned out great, felt like I could/should? have added more water).  You can be the judge. 

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Add the greens and let boil for 10 more minutes or wilt that stuff however much you please.  When your boyfriend gets home, ladle out some boiling soup into a bowl, quickly top with chopped Italian parsley and grated cheese and watch as he digs in and burns his whole mouth!  Muah haha…

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Things I am thinking of adding next time: more liquid, cannellini beans, diced tomato, more carrots, more zucchini. 

FYI: the recipe calls for chard or spinach (not the TJ’s crazy pungent blend, but I’ve been wanting to try it, so I did, and it was great…)

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Food photographer of the year goes to…

I served this with sourdough bread and caesar salad.


Runner attacked by… a tree.

I started this morning off with a nice warm morning run on a bike path in Berkeley.  I didn’t have very long because I pressed snooze, ate a big breakfast, and read blogs for too long the light in our bathroom went out, which made it harder to get ready.  I decided I had time to fit in 4 easy miles.  It was a good run and a beautiful morning.  I ran without music, which is rare for me lately, and it was so refreshing to enjoy all of the excitement as everyone was getting ready for the holiday weekend.  I just LOVE the 4th of July. 

There were a bunch of yard sales going on along one part of the trail, and while I was scoping out my next purchase I was attacked by a tree branch.  It scared me so bad because I thought I had been ducking enough.  Apparently not.  When I came back up from ducking/looking at the branch that  had hit me, I was immediately whacked on the other side of the head by another branch.  I’m now realizing that it was probably (hopefully) because I was wearing a hat, and I suck at being aware of things above me when I wear hats. 

Check out my battle wounds…

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I was so confused when I looked in the mirror and saw this grass stain on my freshly cleaned hat, but then I remembered…

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I ended my run at Trader Joe’s so that I could get my favorite airport snacks. 

Even though Brendan wasn’t here this morning, I still wanted to walk through the farmer’s market on my way to the BART station.  It was super crowded since it was sooo nice out. 

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The flower stand was especially vibrant this morning.  I loved the sunflowers! 

I’m in Portland now, where the weather is just as beautiful.