Coffee Tasting

A few weeks ago, Matt and I went over to our friend’s office to do a coffee tasting for a line of coffee that he did some marketing work for. Lamill Coffee is a boutique coffee roaster that takes coffee very seriously. They view coffee like fine wine: coffee has notable vintages, is aged, has narrow growing parameters, and most importantly, has the depth and character of a fine wine. And they are on a mission to serve the best coffee in the world.

Matt and I were luck enough to taste a few different beans,  all freshly ground and brewed, as we learned all about coffee bean regions, roasting techniques and the proper way to brew coffee. It was definitely an educational and caffeinated experience!

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You can find Lamill coffee at either of their two boutique stores in LA, at the Four Seasons or buy the beans online and roast in your own home!

OMG – We’re Adults!

"Heeeeey. Today is my Birthday"
“Heeeeey. Today is my Birthday!”

Today is Matt’s 30th Birthday! Not only is this exciting because it means we get to have cake and celebrate but it also means that Matt can stop reminding me at every change he gets that I am 30 and he is 29. Honestly, the 3 months between our Birthdays are the worst. To be honest, I don’t mind that I am a little older than Matt but I don’t need to be reminded of it all the time.

We kicked off the celebration a little early last night with a dinner party at our friends apartment. We have known Lucy and Smeets since our early days in Boston and have continued to remind friends over the years. They are lovely people with whom we’ve taken a few ski trips , gone to many dinners and shared more than a few glasses of wine! A couple week’s ago we celebrated Lucy’s birthday together with a dinner at Peels, one of my favorite NYC restaurants. That night we ordered some oysters for the table and got to talking about how Matt and I have recently gotten into oysters. It just so happens that Lucy’s uncle owns an oyster farm in Cape Code, Sweet Neck Farms, and knows a thing or two about the slippery delicacies. I mentioned that I really wanted to learn how to shuck them so Matt and I could enjoy them at home (and not have to pay the ridiculous price of $3 per oyster at a restaurant!) So I was pleasantly surprised when Lucy called me on Tuesday night to tell me that her uncle had shipped her some fresh oysters and invited Matt and I over for a shucking lesson and dinner party.

Now, this may shock you – but this was the FIRST real dinner party that Matt and I have ever been to. I know – weird. I think it is because NYC apartments are so small, that very few people have dinner tables so we always go out to dinner. It is sort of funny because the only person I can think of who has an actual table in their apartment, which chairs and adult things like that, is Kinsella – and his version of cooking is opening a can of soup (which IS pretty impressive). We’ve had many a football watching party at his place, but those normally involve Bleeker Street pizza and eating off our laps (please don’t mistake my tone for judging – Matt and I sit on the floor and eat off a coffee table at home).

It was nice to play house for a little with Smeets and Lucy and feel like real adults. Thanks for keeping us classy guys!

 

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Here is Smeets in the Kitchen - hoping that rubs off on Matt!
Here is Smeets in the kitchen – hoping that rubs off on Matt!

 

The Meatball Shack

For the second half of our trip, Matt and I ventured over to Aspen. The drive over was beautiful and Matt booked us in an awesome hotel, The Limelight. After checking in and showering off our failure from the 14er, we took to the town.

Aspen has a very different feel than Telluride. Gone were the small coffee shops and in were the high-end designer stores and trendy restaurants. While in Telluride, we fit in with our jeans and fleeces, in Aspen, we stood out. And not for the right reason.

After a quick drink at Jimmy’s (I highly recommend the margarita), we settled on The Meatball Shack for dinner.

 

This relatively new restaurants combines different meats and sauces into unique and delicious meatballs. We went with the classic beef with marinara sauce and the chicken with buffalo sauce. While both were delicious, I have a special place in my tummy for buffalo.

I wasn’t planning on ordering desert until I saw the menu.

Design your own cookie? Yes, please! Matt and I went with the original cookie dough with health bar  and salted caramel topping.

Oh yeah, and with a scoop of homemade ice cream on top. It was heavenly. And gone in about 2 seconds.

How didn’t I think of this idea? Maybe I can create the NYC version.

The Taste of Telluride

 

With all of the hiking, biking and climbing Matt and I did in Telluride, we got really hungry. Thankfully there were plenty of options to chose from. Here’s out edible tour of Telluride.

Breakfast Spots:

Telluride boosts a few bakery/coffee shops, all located within a 5 minute walk of each other. We visited 3 different spots during our trip.

The Steaming Bean –  An electric coffee-house by day that turns into a rowdy gathering place at night. While this seemed to be the most popular place in town, Matt and I found it to be our least favorite of the three. The breakfast sandwiches we pre-prepared and the service was very slow. However, the “cool” factor and prime location of this spot will definitely keep business coming in.

Baked in Telluride – With their wide variety of breakfast pastries, donuts and coffee this place was probably our favorite. That being said, they make more than just baked goods; they also offer sandwiches, pizza, etc. I am a fan of bakeries just sticking to baked goods and breads. I think it takes away from the atmosphere and the quality of produces to branch out too wide.

The Butcher and the Baker: This small bakery definitely had the best atmosphere. Unfortunately their food didn’t quite keep up. Matt’s breakfast sandwich was again, pre-made, and the oatmeal that I ordered was too thick and prevented the toppings from getting mixed in. But again, their cute decor and homemade napkins definitely spoke to my style.

 

Lunch:

For lunch we found a couple interesting places. Typically, we were eating later in the afternoon after our “activities” and as a result, were coming into the restaurants starving.

Smuggler Joe’s: Located near the base of the gondola this micro-brewery is convenient for a post-mountain drink and bite to eat. Matt and I came here after our hike to get out of the rain and enjoy a locally crafted beer. The food was very typical bar food – I ordered the homemade chicken noodle soup while Matt chose the chili. Then we shared a buffalo chicken sandwich and fries. None of these options were bad but we definitely weren’t blown away. The beers were solid – I had the Shred Betty Raspberry Wheat and Matt had the Strong Scottish Ale.

Floradora Saloon: Right on main street, this a family owned and operated restaurant and bar offers a wide array of dishes. Matt and I sat outside and enjoyed the burger and the grilled cheese. We both enjoyed our meals and left full.

Brown Dog Pizza: The walls of this sports bar/pizza place are lined with Red Sox and Patriots posters. Naturally we felt right at home. We ordered buffalo wings and a pizza. Clearly we were really trying to eat healthy! The service was great, the patrons friendly and it was a great place to watch some of the US Open tennis while we avoided the afternoon rainstorm – something that is a daily occurrence in Telluride.

Dinner:

In addition to eating at there… (we loved it so much we ate there twice!) we found a couple other places:

Siam: While Matt loves Thai food, what really sold us on this restaurant was the live music that was being played on the large outdoor porch. They had a very large menu offering both traditional Thai as well as some more unique dishes that blend exotic tastes of Thai Cuisine with recipes from around the world including France, Malaysia, India, North America, China, Greece, Italy and Japan. I had drunken noodles and Matt opted for Chicken Friend Rice. This was definitely a good meal.

Allreds: Located on the mountain at the top of the gondola, Allreds draws people up out of Telluride for the incredible views. Matt and I decided to ride the gondola up and enjoy a glass of wine at their bar. The views were truly breathtaking. It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Telluride.

 

 

 

10 Pounds Later

Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE Panera. In high school I worked here for about 6 months and to this day, it was probably my favorite job. Unfortunately, when I moved to New York, the closest Panera was over 6 miles away, outside of the city. As a result, whenever I would leave the city of go home for a weekend, a trip to Panera was always on my list of things to do.

So when it was announced that Panera was coming to Manhattan – I freaked. The first store opened earlier this year at on 7th ave between 28th  and 29th. This is about 15 blocks north from my office and 3 avenues west (i.e not very close) but that didn’t stop me. On opening day, I trekked over to the store for lunch. I was so excited I could hardly contain it – well, the fact is, I didn’t. After ordering a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with a massive grin on my face, I announced to the cashier that “I used to be you! I worked at a Panera once. It was awesome.” I thought she would join in on my elated state however, she responded by saying “So does that mean, one day, I will get to be you?” Clearly she didn’t understand that I thought, by working at Panera, she was the lucky one.

While the experience of eating Panera that day was fantastic, I had to come to terms that it wasn’t going to become a daily experience. The store was just too far away.

But then, I saw they were opening another Panera in Union Square – a 2 minute walk from my work. Nearly every day for months, I would walk by the site and peer in the windows to see how far along the construction was coming. Sadly, with union protests the work was slowed. And I was denied my “fresh” bread, soups and sandwiches.

Last week, after returning to the office from a nice lunch out with some co-workers, another one of my colleagues asked me if I had been to Panera yet? I freaked out – not realizing that it was opened. I was so upset that I had already had lunch that day – for a second I thought about making myself throw up just so I could go and eat another lunch but then decided that wasn’t a good idea, not to mention gross.

The next morning, I happily left my apartment without breakfast so I could stop at Panera for a cinnamon crunch bagel and a caramel latte. I know, not the healthiest of choices, but boy did it make me happy. I practically skipped into work.

Needless to say, it was delicious and I can’t wait to go back. So in honor of the 10 pounds that I will inevitably gain from all of the food I will eat from Panera, I am running my very first Giveaway on my blog. Leave a comment with your favorite menu item at Panera and you will be entered to win a 15 dollar gift card to your local Panera! The winner will be announced on Monday.

Happy eating!

Pigging Out

On Saturday Matt and I went to Blue Smoke, a BBQ restaurant in NYC that I have been wanting to go to for a while. Although the food isn’t the healthiest, it was pretty tasty.

Matt had gone for a 92 mile bike ride earlier in the day and I had done an 8 mile run in the mid-morning heat. We didn’t eat a lot during the day, so when we showed up to the restaurant, we were both pretty much starving. Well, we knew how to fix that – by ordering a ton of food!

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While the food was good, I have to admit that I think the BBQ at Fette Sau in Brooklyn is far superior. And a lot less touristy!

Traveling Below the Mason Dixon Line

Over Memorial Day, Matt and I ventured south to the land of the Flowering Dogwood, the Cardinal and civil war reenactments. Yes, we went to the Old Dominion State, otherwise known as Virginia.

My sister, Abby, moved to Fredericksburg, VA nearly two years ago after taking a new coaching position at the University of Mary Washington. And even though I have seen a lot of pictures of Abby’s new town, met some of her swimmers and  even took a “FaceTime tour” of her apartment, I’m embarrassed to say that I had never visited her. I know, I am a bad sister — but thankfully those days are behind us. Not only did I visit Fredericksburg, I am fairly certain that I dominated it.

After living in New York City for six years, the transition to Fredericksburg has been a little challenging for Abby. Just as she grew accustomed to city life, she moved to a fairly suburban area. While it isn’t suburban like New Hampshire with lots of trees, cows and fields – it is suburban like strip malls, chain restaurants and a slower pace of life. And while we spent a lot of time celebrating everything that is great about America: dinner at Applebees, shopping at Target and getting ice cream at the local “dairy bar” — we also got to experience a little of the history that makes Fredericksburg so special.

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Thanks Abby for an incredible trip. I can’t wait to come again — Carry me back to old Virginny!