Monday, February 27, 2012

new orleans - day 2 (cont'd)

we take the streetcar back from the garden district to the french quarter, where it's time to get our grub on at the famed café du monde.

streetcar approaching
behind the driver
at long last!
historical landmark

a french market fixture since the early 1860s, café du monde is best known for their café au lait and their beignets, which are pillowy powdered doughnuts served three to an order. since the line was cr-A-zee long, we decided to go to the take-out window and enjoy our treats at nearby jackson square.

outside jackson square
manicured gardens
street musicians
st. louis cathedral ceiling

after taking in the beautiful scenery, we make a pitstop at the tiny voodoo museum (literally one hallway and two rooms) to learn a bit more about the mythology and traditions - and to play with one of the proprietor's snakes - before heading back to the b&b to rest our weary feet.

we return to the quarter for our 8:30pm reservation at NOLA restaurant, the funkiest and most casual of chef emeril lagasse's three new orleans eateries (emeril's and delmonico being the others). on the heels of wednesday's amazing dinner at mr. b's, NOLA steps up to the challenge and keeps the train running.

our appetizer, dubbed miss hay's stuffed chicken wings, is one of the tastiest and most unique takes on the chicken wing i've ever had. our server let us in on their secret: during prep, they peel back the skin, remove one of the wing's joints and its accompanying bones and feed the asian-style stuffing before closing the flap. then they pop it in the oven for 20 minutes to seal the wing of its ingredients before flash frying it to turn it crispy. combined with a homemade hoisin dipping sauce, it's one of the best things i will eat all week.

and that's not to mention our entrées!

heidi: shrimp & grits - sautéed gulf shrimp, grilled green onions, smoked cheddar grits, apple smoked bacon, crimini mushrooms & red chili-abita butter sauce
me: garlic crusted drum (fish) - cooked in the wood burning oven w/brabant potatoes, crimini mushrooms, bacon & sauce beurre rouge

to top off our meal, we had the banana pudding layer cake, which almost put us in a coma. i'd also be remiss if i didn't point out our two servers, who made our meal even more special. they couldn't have been more funny, gracious and accommodating, all the while putting smiles on our faces all night.

NOLA restaurant
534 saint louis st.
new orleans, LA 70130

Thursday, February 23, 2012

eats - casamento's

working up a hunger with all of the walking, we passed up po boys at mahony for fresh oysters at casamento's, an italian neighborhood joint on magazine st. that's been in business since 1919.

immediately we're welcomed by mike rogers, who's casamento's resident shucker and 5-time oyster shucking champion. not only is he muy rapido, he flips one five feet in the air and catches it on the half shell with ease...

resolute in our plan to sample as much good food in new orleans as possible, we stay on the path to not over-order no matter how hungry we are, so we can hit up multiple spots over the course of a day. subsequently, we opt for the oyster stew, 1/2 dozen oysters on the half shell and a 1/2 oyster loaf.

i thought the raw oysters were the truth, but the loaf teeming with fried oysters, mayo, lettuce and tomato took the cake. one of the tastiest sandwiches i've ever had, period.

oyster loaf
don't ask about the bent leg
 FWIW we're not ruling out a return engagement before we depart...

4330 magazine st.
new orleans, LA 70115

new orleans - day 2

snuck out at 7:30am for a 4.4m run up esplanade ave. to city park, passing by lil dizzy's café and st. louis cemetery #3 along the way. the ground was wet due to a light rain overnight, but it definitely wasn't cold as the humidity was out and in full force. within a few blocks i was sweating, so i can't imagine how runners make do in the summertime...

colors of mardi gras
preparing breakfast
blueberry pancakes & sausage
bourbon st.

we got to talk shop with john and it was cool learning about his background and college life at northwestern state university (louisiana). he prepared a delicious breakfast of blueberry pancakes and sausage and prepped us on our day ahead.

today's goal was to find some running shoes for heidi, as she forgot to pack hers and needed another pair regardless. a brief search turned up nothing on the nike town or REI front, so we decided to hit up varsity sports on magazine st., reachable via the st. charles ave. streetcar.

we get off at louisiana ave. and stroll down to magazine st., enjoying the historic homes and mansions along the way.

garden district
typical stately home
st. stephen's church
saints country indeed

we struck out at varsity sports, but manage to find her a pair of nike free run+ 2 at a lady foot locker instead. on to lunch!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

new orleans - day 1

touched down at louis armstrong international airport at 4:20pm to temps in the 70s and slightly windy. after a kamikaze cab ride to our b&b, we were given a quick rundown of the place and area by john, our friendly innkeeper. it's situated on the ideal intersection of the famed bourbon street and esplanade, just a stone's throw from the jazz-heavy frenchman street in the faubourg marigny.

a few minutes later, we were off to an early dinner at mr. b's bistro for their renowned barbecue shrimp and crawfish ravioli. the shrimp did not disappoint - whole jumbo shrimp sauteed in worcestershire-spiked butter sauce with french bread to dredge up all the excess sauce.

a walk down bourbon street had us stop at lafitte's blacksmith shop for a NOLA blonde before settling in at d.b.a. for a 10pm show from walter wolfman washington & the roadmasters.

d.b.a. is a cozy but rockin jazz bar with an incredible list of hard-to-find beers alongside an equally impressive list of scotch and whiskey. bourbon street is akin to a college town, but frenchman street, on the other hand, is where it's at...

Friday, February 17, 2012

salomon exo s-lab ii short

just pulled the trigger on a pair of these really hard-to-find technological bad boys trail running shorts from salomon, except in white:

the honeycomb pattern on the hamstring and thighs is supposed to provide muscle support and alignment, tone down road shock from uneven terrain and increase blood flow... all in one fell swoop.

not to mention the handy mesh pockets on the front and back waist - note the section highlighted in yellow - to stash your gels and/or keys. it's always tricky finding the right short with pockets that don't affect your stride by swinging back and forth, so i'm looking forward to taking these out for a spin...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

wildwood canyon hike

since heidi is a big fan of bakeries, i decided to surprise her on sunday with a stop at porto's in burbank. it's a cuban, family-owned bakery that serves up out-of-this-world treats, like their potato ball (one of my top 25 things to eat in LA) and their guava & cheese strudel.

since we were way out in BFE, i was able to tie-in a nearby hiking trail (wildwood canyon) to try out for the first time, and it was a winner. the trail from the parking lot was just over 4 miles total, but it was a steep ascent that definitely got the lungs burning.

not only that, but we encountered an 11-year-old girl named mariam that appeared to be by herself, making the impressive trek up with considerable pace. after she passed us more than once, i introduced myself to her and had to give her props... turns out she's been hiking since she was 2!

a look back at where we came
reclining chair at the top
view of downtown LA
heidi chasing mariam

since we got off to a late start, we didn't quite get to our original destination (verdugo peak), but we still were able to climb over 2,000 feet in no time flat. all in all, a great hike and definitely one to revisit...

Friday, February 10, 2012

2012 warrior dash - socal

FYI my buddy martin clued me in that LA weekly's current deal is for 1/2 off registration at this year's warrior dash (march 31 in lake elsinore, CA). it's a great deal at $37 - normally $75 - and may prove to be the impetus for us signing up for a 3rd time!

here's the link:

looks like it's valid for another 63+ hours, so get it this weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 stone winter storm

after our race on sunday, we took advantage of our surroundings and headed to nearby stone in escondido to celebrate at their 6th annual winter storm. it was my first trip there and was it ever a doozy. so glad i made lunch reservations ahead of time because it was packed!

multiple bars open
main dining area

i wasn't able to take full advantage of the tap list - i ended up driving us down - but i still did damage by way of the 4oz taster. a brief rundown on what i imbibed:

2005 stonewall ale (previously unavail)
2008 12th anniversary bitter chocolate oatmeal stout (aged in bourbon barrels)
2006 double bastard (aged in brandy barrels)
2012 the alchemist/stone/ninkasi more brown than black IPA collabo
2012 crime (2011 lukcy basartd as the base, brewed w/multiple peppers)

oh and by the way i had a bomb prime rib sandwich on ciabatta to boot. definitely will be making a return trip for future winter storms!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012 xterra 15k mission gorge - results

sunday marked the 3rd xterra trail run i've entered this season, and mission trails regional park was the site of the most difficult challenge thus far. not only did we have to contend with two peaks (the second included the thousand steps), but the race organizers decided to tack on an extra 1.5 miles to the course since one of the original trails was washed out.

a brisk 37 degrees in san diego on sunday morning, we arrived at mission trails at 7:10am to register and pick up our tees (green, black and now yellow!). a quick recap of my armor going into the start:

top: nike race day singlet
bottom: nike tempo 2-in-1 7" shorts
shoes: salomon XR crossmax neutral

and we're off!

we shoved off a little past 8am to accommodate the late arriving crowd, and the pace was quick right off the bat. the first mile was predominantly flat, as the first major ascent up north fortuna took place around mile 2. i ran up nearly the entire hill, save for the last bit at the top which was so steep you could literally slide back down.

miles 3 and 4 were great for recovery, as flats were sprinkled in with descents and rolling hills. mile 4.5 started the punishing ascent up south fortuna. quite fortunate for me, i was drafting behind this blonde girl in a black tank top who relentlessly attacked the incline, so i said to-hell-with-it and tried to keep pace. she carried me all the way to the top of the peak before we made our mad descent down.

miles 8-10 were a blur; i just kept my head down and found myself attached to a small group of 5 that stayed in the same order without any change. this was welcome, as my mind had been reduced to blubber at this point and i wouldn't have been able to process much more. the finish line couldn't have come any sooner, as i left nothing in the tank as i limped across. my unofficial time for the 10.8 miles was 1:38:58 - a pace of about 9:16/mile, or 57 seconds faster than my pace at crystal cove on a much tougher course.

all in all, i was very encouraged by my pace and stamina over a brutal course. all the training i put in definitely carried me thru and it's neat to see the direct correlation of effort, hard work and sacrifice validated in the form of greater speed and endurance.

the question is, what's next?