What I Ate in New York City

Chrysler Building view while I'm crossing the street

This past week I was lucky enough to travel to New York City for work, going on Wednesday morning and coming back Friday evening. Another way of putting it is that I was in New York for three lunches and two dinners, and we did our best to try as many things as possible. (I sincerely appreciate my job for making this possible; 4 out of these 5 meals were with colleagues.)

Day 1: Lunch was a Cuban pork pressed sandwich plus salad, so good.

Dinner was at Rossini's, an old school classic Italian restaurant in Murray Hill complete with red and gold decor, a pianist playing Sinatra standards and show tunes, and a heavy leather-bound menu. We ordered a bunch of appetizers to share, most memorably a super-soft fresh mozzarella. I had scallops for my entree.



Day 2: For lunch we ordered a bunch of Indian food and ate it family style, including Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, and Lamb Vindaloo. This was very exciting since Brattleboro has no Indian restaurant at the moment, so it's pretty much a required cuisine for Brattleburghers who travel.

After work, I had a great evening on my own that involved shopping at H&M, a fabulous Juilliard student concert of student work, and dinner at Molyvos, the Greek restaurant in my very own hotel. I adore Greek food and it's hard to find in New England.


I started with a light taramasalata that I spread on pita wedges. It was pretty good: not too salty, not too fishy, and with the nice pops that you'd want from roe. Of course I had a glass of retsina with my meal.



My entree was lamb souvlaki, done medium. Delicious! It had good char but was moist and juicy. The tip of the bamboo skewer was burned and fell right off when I touched it, which I took as an excellent sign of real grilling.


Day 3 lunch: SUSHI.


I got a seaweed salad, a Christmas roll, and a spicy tuna roll. I ate every bite.


St. Patrick's Cathedral in the evening sun

Do you have a required cuisine that you seek out when you travel? Or a favorite meal you've had on the road?

Dinner Gets Pinteresting

Oh hi! It seems to be April 2016 now. Spring is here. The hyacinths are blooming!

Also, we are eating dinner. Again. This seems to happen every day, and sometimes I don't quite know what to make. Today I had a piece of salmon and a red cabbage but no ideas, so I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. (Pinterest is basically a bulletin board of links to other places on the web, and I use it to find crafts, recipes, interior decorating, and clothing ideas.)

For the cabbage, I picked out Asian Slaw from Add a Pinch.

I didn't have green cabbage or sesame seeds, so I added fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice instead. That makes sense, right?


The food processor helped with the carrot & cabbage shredding.


 
 A dressing of Asian flavors, with rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil.



Asian Slaw is ready to go!


For the salmon, I chose Baked Salmon with Garlic and Dijon by Natasha's Kitchen. Didn't have parsley for this one, so I skipped it.


Dijon mustard, lemon juice & garlic are part of the mix.


 

I insist on Wild Alaskan Salmon, because it's sustainably caught and it tastes WAY better than farmed.


 

Brushing on the lemon-garlic mixture.



Popping in a super-hot oven to bake.


I also found a handy box of Near East quinoa blend in the cupboard, so that's our side dish.




Voila! Dinner is served.



PS, the salmon recipe blog makes a big point about putting foil under the fish. She's right. Not only does the foil make for easy clean-up, but the skin bakes to the foil meaning we could just peel the fillets right off. Perfect!



What about you, how do you solve dinner dilemmas? Do you like Pinterest?

How I would rather spend $300

This week I had a surprise! I got to spend $300, totally unplanned. Yes, that's three hundred spontaneous clams!! However, now that I've given it more thought, I would have preferred to spend that money in other ways. Here's what I'm thinking for an ideal layout of that much money:

DVDs of the first 2 seasons of Broad City ($30)

Small ceramic pitcher for milk or gravy ($10)

Gift of a therapeutic massage for a loved one ($80)

Sunday brunch with my family at duo restaurant ($80)

3 pairs of technical underwear (I like Ex Officio) ($60)

A new waffle maker, possibly that makes heart shaped waffles ($40)

 

 

Instead, somewhat under duress, I spent this money on a "front O2 sensor" for my Subaru. Also, I don't really have that money to spare, so I borrowed it from my daughter's college fund. But I'll pay her back next month, really!

What would you do with $300?

 

Family Trip to NYC, February 2016

Two years ago (2014), we stayed home as usual for February break. It turned out to be a recipe for cabin fever, stir craziness, and frowns that lasted for weeks afterward. So last year (2015) we escaped New England to stay in Manhattan for 2 nights, taking in the Central Park Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History. It successfully distracted us from an endless Vermont vacation, so we did it again this year—staying 3 nights this time.

Sights Seen


 
At Rockefeller Center I was amazed to see people turning their backs on the scene... so they could take a selfie that included their big smiling head along with the fountain.


 
Outside Rockefeller Center. I failed to get a photo of the Radio City marquee showing New Order (playing there March 10!!).



A big gorgeous tree in Washington Square park


Things Accomplished

We attended a classic movie at the Film Forum (Jean Cocteau's Beauty & the Beast, 1946, black-and-white, in French with subtitles). We visited 4 different parks: Central, Bryant, Washington Square, and Union Square. Collectively we visited three mega-groceries/markets: Westerly Natural Market (several times), Whole Foods, and Eataly. Collectively we visited 9 restaurants/bars (lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, drinks, other drinks, dinner). We saw about 30 canines, most of whom wore sweaters or jackets and sometimes shoes.


 
We went to the Lego store in Rockefeller Center.


 
We went to the Central Park Zoo where a bevy of tropical birds bedazzle the moist, warm "Tropic Zone" building. The birds here are crowned pigeons; we later saw them sauntering around the walkways amongst the onlookers.


 
We have a big penguin-lover in the family so made a point to see the Central Park Zoo penguins at feeding time. There are King, Gentoo, and Chinstrap penguins. After a lovely, leisurely morning at the main part of the zoo, we also took in the small, charming Tisch Children's Zoo next door.


 
Grand Central Terminal, home of a Shake Shack and much more (read Mommy Poppinsc for family friendly tips)

Food Consumed (my favorite!!!)


 
Meat & cheese plate with pickled vegetables (and rosé) catching up with two of my Main Peeps at Eataly


 
Tonkatsu Ramen at Ramen Thukpa on 7th avenue (near the Film Forum). This tiny spot was a super-savory and reasonably priced relief after a lot of tourist-trappy options.



 
3 eggs with grilled bacon and homefries at the Carnegie Deli. Across from our hotel, we kept seeing a line outside this place at all times of day. At 8:30 one morning we noticed there was no line so we ran in to get the total deli experience.


The Carnegie deli has a ton of signed headshots on the walls. Check out Brooke Shields at the bottom of the back corner.


 
John's Pizzeria in the village, famous for its carved graffiti booths


I thought it was hilarious that John's wine offerings are "red or white." I picked red--see half-full glass. We had a pepperoni pizza with chopped garlic added to half.


 
John's also has famous people up on the walls--I have no idea who is flanking Al Pacino. Do you?


On another day we went to Angelo's Pizzeria on 57th street (near our hotel) and had another pepperoni pie. I actually liked this one better than John's. It was SO good. We also got an order of Linguine alla Vongole (clams & white wine sauce) and a salad--great meal for a family of 4.


Day 1 lunch we visited Schnippers Quality Kitchen for comfort food—burgers, fries, chicken tenders, hot dog, Coke. Their Classic burger was really good! On another day we got burgers at Shake Shack in Grand Central Terminal, because our smallest member is a huge fan. Do add a chocolate malted shake to your Shake Shack burger order, don't bother getting fries.


 
We found a delicious Indian dinner at Benares on our first night there. They were super accommodating to our party that included CHILDREN, and seemed totally charmed by us by the end. We ordered Chicken Dansak (chicken morsels with vegetables and sauce with an amazingly tasty slow burn), Lamb Vindaloo, and Dal Makhani, plus a Basmati rice and a ton of naan.


Trends Noted

A lot of Canada Goose brand parkas and jackets (thanks, Drake!).

Bars and restaurants have covered entryways that jut out onto the sidewalk and include doors. One never just opens a door from outside to inside, but opens an outer door into a middle zone. This is a new development since I last lived in a city about 20 years ago.

The usefulness of Yelp: how would I ever know where to eat or what to do without the Yelp app on my smartphone? I can either choose the kind of food I want and do a search in my area, or just search an area and even move the area around to change the search geography. It's thanks to Yelp that we discovered Benares, Ramen Thukpa as well as Angelo's Pizzeria on 57th street.

People walking briskly while appearing to talk to themselves (but are actually talking into the small mic attached to their earbuds).

 


We stayed at the Wellington Hotel on 7th avenue just south of Central Park & Carnegie Hall. Modest, clean, efficient, centrally located--if you have AAA membership try booking through that site or check the hotel site for deals. This time our double bed was a full rather than a luxurious king like last time, but it'll do.

How is your February going?

Valentine's Day 2016

Whether you like Valentine's, Palentine's, Galentine's, Zalentine's, or nothing at all, hope you had a lovely February Sunday today. We got into the Valentine's side of things with a mellow family day.












I decided to break with tradition and make an EXTRA pie in 2016, as a special Valentine's gift to a certain someone who only likes one kind of pie. (APPLE!) Most years I only bake a rhubarb pie in the spring and an apple pie in the fall, so I am already way ahead of myself.

Dietary Quality in 2016

Hold on. Put down those buttery-rich crackers! Wait a sec on that savory mac & cheese! Look away from the triple layer cake! Before you taste any of those things, eat some broccoli, some whole wheat toast, some whole milk yogurt, some berries, some clementines, some soup with baby kale and lentils. Good. Now, are you still hungry? The cake is all yours.. IF YOU CAN FIT IT IN!

I'm practicing this basic method of "crowding out," a term I learned from an herbalist that means I'm consuming so many healthy things that I really don't have time or room for other stuff. Except I always manage to fit in wine somehow.

In my last post, about plans for 2016, I mentioned wanting to work on my nutrition because it was kind of crap. I've done a lot of "healthy" diet programs over the years, including vegetarian, macrobiotic, gluten free, and paleo. Recently I started reading a new book: "Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance," by Matt Fitzgerald, and I'm completely taken with his explanation of eating for dietary quality. The whole idea, and I've heard this elsewhere, is to choose nutrient-dense foods whenever possible. I even found an app ($1.99) that I use to track my "Dietary Quality Score" every day. I love it! Rather than depriving myself of anything, or NEVER eating certain foods, I can choose to eat whatever I want--knowing that some foods will add to my score and some foods will subtract from it.

Examples:
  • Eating vegetables will add to the DQS for the first 4 servings. Then they count for 0 (but don't reduce points). Fruits are similar.
  • Nuts & seeds add to your score up to a point, then you start losing points with subsequent servings. Same goes for whole grains, dairy (preferably whole), and high-quality meat and seafood.
  • In terms of alcohol, you get one point for the first drink, then lose 2 points for every drink thereafter.
  • Foods that will always lose points: refined grains, sweets, processed meats, fried foods.

For more info, please read the book! I have been tracking my DQS for about 6 weeks. First I did 4 weeks of trying to eat pretty well but not really having a goal other than trying it on. The last two weeks I've been trying to hit a certain score, so being a little stricter.

So how's it working? I've noticed a few effects:
  • I love vegetables! On many days I'll eat enough vegetables to scoop up all the possible points, then go on into zero-point territory. Making vegetables "pay" in terms of points is all I need to go veggie-heavy.
  • Fruits are harder. I make myself eat one piece of fruit a day, but it's not really my thing. Too fruity.
  • Whole grains and dairy are fairly easy. Matt Fitzgerald says there are so many whole grain versions of things available there is really no excuse for eating refined versions. And it's true! Did you know one can get whole wheat BREAD? And also PASTA that's whole wheat? Plus brown rice, whole wheat pitas, whole wheat English muffins, sprouted wraps, quinoa--it's really incredible what one can do with whole grains these days.
  • Meat & seafood is also a bit hard for me. I probably get most of my protein from beans or other plant-sources, as I've taught myself to work around meat or to treat it like a side dish and only have a little.
  • Best side effect so far—I've lost that gnawing incomplete feeling that I used to get, whether or not I'd just eaten something. Now that it's gone I theorize that deep down, my body has been starving for more nourishing foods. Even though I tried to fill that void with cheese and crackers and beer, those choices were not really feeding my body. I feel better now, more solidly fed, more solid in general.
Here are some favorite foods from this experiment so far:

Amy's Soup for lunch, which I doctor up with at least two servings of veggies (baby kale, chopped green beans, sliced carrots, sliced zucchini, sliced mushrooms, frozen carrot-corn-peas, canned beans) and sometimes some leftover brown rice or pieces of chicken. I never knew that an inspid watery can of soup could become a thick, rich, stew-ish medley that makes my tummy truly full and happy. Sorry about the "watery" thing Amy's--I do love your soups.

Pizza made with Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain wrap, tomato sauce, cheese, spinach, kalamata olives, feta

Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted English muffins toasted and topped with 2 scrambled eggs and a dab of butter

At a restaurant: grilled wild salmon over mixed salad--this is at least 6 points on one plate. (Try to ignore my partner's fried clams & tartar sauce.)


Whole grain rice cake with peanut butter or almond butter

Whole milk yogurt with mixed berries

Hummus with carrots and celery

POPCORN

Smoothie with frozen berry/kale mix, whey powder, whole milk yogurt, whole milk, and fresh ginger

Whole wheat pita with Moroccan spiced hummus, sweet potato, sprouts, tomato


Quinoa bowl with baked chicken breast, steamed broccoli, toasted pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, and candied pecans (Christmas gift--deduct for "sweets")


VT Dinners frozen meals include chicken enchilada (with corn tortilla), vegetable curry (with brown rice), and shepherd's pie (beef, potato, corn, vegetables)

Matt Fitzgerald also has co-authored the Racing Weight Cookbook, with a nice recipe for Thai Green Curry with Shrimp. Here are some of the ingredients:



A few days later I used the curry leftovers to bulk up a can of Amy's Thai Coconut soup, so good.



Grocery shopping is a fresh experience, as I embrace the produce section rather than avoiding it:


Even my birthday dinner, consisting of tenderloin, rapini, and a cauliflower gratin, was bursting with QUALITY.


How is your 2016 going so far? Did you know this about adding stuff to a regular can of soup?

Running Recap 2015, Goals 2016

Yesterday I went for my last run of 2015. Today I went for my first run of 2016. Just a mile each, but I love the successive feelings of culmination and new beginnings. Happy New Year!

For my own reference if nothing else, here's a recap of running in 2015 and plans for the coming year. I wrote the goals below a year ago--updates added in bold.

2015 Goals (with comments!):

Continue with usual shorter races (four 5ks and two holiday runs) I only did one 5k and one holiday run, but for good reasons--more below
Try a new distance: 10k? 50k? Yes! I managed to run 50k during a 6-hour race
More snowshoeing in the winter months FAILED. I forgive myself though.
More fun runs in summer months YES! I also switched to the trail option and love it
Half Marathon (probably the same one in May) YES! Slower this year but that's OK.
Streak from Memorial Day-July 4  Made it. I streaked 10 more days after that, meaning daily runs of at least a mile from 5/24-7/14
November Pile on the Miles So-so. I got up to 69 miles but had foot issues after a 6-hour race. Did not make 101 mile goal.
Get a couple of 100+ mile months  I got in 3: March, April, and June. High five!
Learn more about using heart monitor FAILED, due to both my heart monitors not working
Try some trail running, get more confident on hills YES! I had a great year for hills and transitioned to mostly trails during the summer
change hydration system (handheld? I still hate my waistpack) YES! I like my UD handheld and rigged up another water bottle with duct tape that's almost as good. My back and pelvis thank me.
pay more attention to nutrition, both while running and with everyday food  FAILED. This will be big on my list for 2016. I feel like my nutrition in 2015 was pretty poor, mostly just being uninspired and/or waiting until I was too hungry and then making poor decisions


How about some data!?

 
Distance chart—besides three 100+ mile months there were a total of 7 months where I ran over 75 miles. That seems like a comfortable active baseline to maintain this coming year.




Total data collected by my Garmin for 2015: I covered 905 miles in over 179 hours (over a solid week of running), with elevation gain of almost 75,000 feet.



For comparison, here's the same set of data for 2014. I ran almost as far (875 miles), but with much less elevation. I was also faster (I put the difference down mainly to running flat roads instead of hilly trails).


Next, here's my race data (I'm also adding to my Running List page):

Mother's day half marathon 2:01  (about 5 minutes slower than last year)
Bill Power Memorial Firecracker 4-miler 30:56 (ONE SECOND slower than last year)
6 hours in Paradise: 24 miles in 5:33 
Maple 5k 23:25 (45 seconds FASTER than last year)
Hamsterwheel 6-hour race: 31.2 miles in 5:54 (11:17 average pace)

I'm seeing two main things happening here--fewer 5ks, and a NEW kind of race, the 6-hour/ultra. I've written about my fascination with ultrarunning already. I think that... I find running longer, slower, trail-based distances more enjoyable than running 23 minutes all out. 5ks are acutely uncomfortable. It's possible that I prefer the long game of hanging in for an effort of 6-ish hours, something that is more chronically uncomfortable. A long race is more chess-like, with more feeling of community (because you get to know people over all that time), more zen, and much more feeling of accomplishment.

About that lost holiday race, I'm pleased to say I didn't run it because I was busy co-directing it! A runner-mom friend and I took over the classic Brattleboro 3-mile Thanksgiving Turkey Trot from the long-standing directors about 7 weeks before the race. It seemed like short notice but we pulled it off and even managed to add a food donation aspect. I'm already excited for next year!

2016 Goals:

CALENDAR:
Jan-Feb: build up mileage again, slowly. Aim for at least 20 miles a week by end of February
Mar-Apr-May: Follow same half-marathon training plan as last year
May 9, Mother's day: HALF MARATHON!
May-June: Switch to trails/hills and increase mileage a reasonable amount. Start fun run season. And streak!
June 18, 2016: Vegan Power 50k in Pittsfield, MA (registered!)
June-July: As much trail-running as possible, maintain higher mileage & hills
July 4, 2016: Bill Powers Memorial Firecracker 4-miler
August 6, 2016: Moosalamoo 36-miler? or 14-miler? (not yet registered)
August-Sep: Keep it up! Fun runs end around late August
Late Sept: Pisgah 50k? (not yet registered)
Late Sept: Maple 5k
Fall 2016: Something else? I'd love to do another 6-hour race at some point.
November 2016: Co-direct the Thanksgiving Morning Turkey Trot--year 2!

NUTRITION: A main goal for 2016 is to dial in my healthy eating. I tend to let this go and it's just silly. A stupid part of me thinks it's selfish to eat healthy food—the expensive raspberries go to my children, and I just eat fries or crackers. This year I want that to STOP. I have been reading Matt Fitzgerald and started experimenting with his Dietary Quality Score system. I'll post more as I figure it out!

JOURNALING: I used my Believe Training Journal by Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas to record runs, thoughts, events, and dinners every single week. I want to continue this year. It's a great tool for tracking both physical performance and mental space & aspirations. I highly recommend it for runners. It's not just a weekly diary to fill in, there are also short articles, training suggestions, check-in pages, goal-setting tools, race-planning calendars... It's awesome.

OTHER: Other running "goals" are more of a gear wish list—it would be great to get some sunglasses for running, a heart rate monitor that works, a reflective vest that fits, maybe a hydration pack.


Last year's Believe journal is full—ready to crack open the Lavender edition for 2016!