Southern Grub in NYC

We’re all aware that New York’s got it all.  From the melting pot ethnic flavors of Indian, Chinese, and Italian food to the all the delicious diners and good ‘ol American grub.  I’m bound and determined to taste it all and with some help of my friends (usually pointing me/us in the right directions or flat out ordering for me), it will be accomplished.

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Hearing rave reviews from another friend, we decided to make Hill Country our next stop.  This joint located off Broadway and 26th (closer to the west side and 6th Ave) is more of a homage to Texas BBQ restaurant.  Something I learned quite quickly from my friend Sam was that BBQ is not the same in every part of the south.  You may shaking your head and thinking “duh” but it’s quite an easy aspect to overlook.  No my friends, part of the south, be it Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, etc., has its own specialty.   (ASK SAM FOR EXAMPLES)

Vegans and vegetarians beware.  This post includes some mouth-watering beef, brisket, and pork products.

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Tips Before You Saddle’ Up:
* Hostess will request that the entire (or good majority) of the party be present
* Meat portions are sold by the pound (1/4, 1/2, 1, etc)
* Your best (most enjoyable) option would be to order family style
* Each person handed a meal ticket, which is used when you walk up to order

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We came as a party of three and just decided to use one ticket to order and split the check that way.  If you are so inclined to order individual portions, feel free to use your own meal ticket.

IMG_5360 Once seated, the waitress will gather drink orders and deposit mason jars filled with tasty NYC still water.  With the large wooden tables, a welcoming and casual feel about, and the smell of BBQ wafting, we were off to a good start.

IMG_5362It was off to the meat station because I had been volunteered to gather the food.  Actually, to clarify, I volunteered but immediately regretted the offer as I had to choose between two types of brisket and deal with multiple other first world food problems.

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We ended up with 1/2 lb “lean” brisket (solid but a bit dry…possibly tastier with the “moist” aka more fat), 1/4 chicken (chicken only sold by the parts rather than weight), and 4 spare ribs (tasty but a bit chewy…not as good as the ribs my mom makes in the oven but that’s apples to oranges)

IMG_5364~ SIDES & MORE ~
Longhorn cheddar mac & cheese** highly recommend
Bowl of red chili
Confetti cole slaw
Sweet potato bourbon mash
Beer braised cowboy pinto beans
Braised collards w/ bacon** highly recommend
Cool as a cucumber salad

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On Tuesdays they offer the unique of opportunity of ordering an entire hog.  Not hungry or gutsy enough? Don’t worry, neither am I so there are plenty of other selections.

IMG_5369~ WEEKLY SPECIALS ~

Monday - All you can eat (5pm-10pm) – $22/pp and $15/kids

Tuesday – Whole Hog & Twang Karaoke (singing starts at 8:30pm)

The Pitmaster ($27) – 1/4 lb “Lean” brisket, 1 pork spare rib, 1 HC hot link, 1/2 chicken, 2 Good Eatin’ sides

Wednesday – Chili rubbed wings – $11/lb

Thursday – Sunday – Short ribs cooked long and slow – $29/lb

Kid’s Menu $7 (although I might try to order this…I could pass for 10, right?) – 1/8 market chicken, Longhorn cheddar mac & cheese or green bean casserole & chocolate chunk cookie

IMG_5370If you are looking for some nighttime activity, check out their live bands that play weekly.

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There’s something comforting about having classic old-fashioned bottles of soda.  Not a fan of soda?  How about a classic cocktail made up in a mason jar?

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If you possibly left an inch of space for a sweet treat, look no further than some southern classics.  From the famous Texas Blue Bell ice cream to banana pudding, seasonal crisps to a few different cookies and brownies.  I even spotted a mega cookie for $2 and while it would have been a steal, I couldn’t fathom eating one more bite.  We’ll just have to save dessert for course #1 next trip ;)

Hill Country BBQ
~ Menu ~ Locations ~ Music ~
30 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10010

California Mountain Summer Bliss Part 2

Time to share some more pictures from my summer trip to the California mountains.  We spent about three days in Mammoth itself – hiking, biking, running, and reading.  There was an afternoon of bowling and a trip to Roberto’s for dinner.

IMG_5612Kodiak Cakes Waffle Mix thanks to my 2014 BlendSwag.  We put it to the test and while it’s packed with protein, it didn’t taste like any of that gritty protein powder!  I tested my luck with the Kodiak Cakes Waffle Mix.  This stuff is protein packed and yet still tastes delicious!

IMG_5613 Look at that delicious California fruit!

IMG_5614Someone looks ready for an afternoon of biking.  This nutty girl ran 11 miles earlier in the day!  Ok, dedicated rather than nutty as she is mid-training for cross country.

We spent a few hours along the Uptown-Downtown trail, which passes both Twin Lakes & Lake Mary

IMG_5616Arriving at the midway point of our ride – Horseshoe Lake – Sadly it’s at its lowest point yet!  Notice all the remaining water rings?

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TFred is dressed for the part – biking shirt, gloves, clip shoes.  About ready to crush the rest of the ride.

IMG_5618Driving from Mammoth to Yosemite’s White Wolf with a stop at the Whoa Neli Deli in Lee Vining.

IMG_5620 IMG_5624 Packed inside the Tioga Pass Gas Mart, there is a little gourmet food spot to satisfy one’s hunger.  Sure you can pick and choose a few candy bars or pack up some camping necessities, but how about some home cooked grub?

IMG_5626It’s pretty much your typical diner fare with some hefty omlettes and pancakes the size of your face.  Just the right amount of fuel before hiking the afternoon away.

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Into the park we go!  A short trip to White Wolf campground before driving onto Groveland for our rafting trip.

IMG_5632“Oh it’s just an easy 8 mile hike” … suuuure.  Nothing is ever that flat ;)

IMG_5635 Despite the fire, those are some pretty gorgeous views.

IMG_5636There’s nothing like finishing a hike with an ice cream sandwich.  This San Francisco classic was just what we needed for the 6-easy turned 8-moderate/strenuous hike in Yosemite.  Oatmeal cookie with vanilla ice cream and covered in chocolate.  We totally could handle the distance, just were a bit taken aback when the route changed halfway through the hike.

One day I hope to hike Half Dome, but it requires a few more logistics and planning ahead.

Have you been to Yosemite or Mammoth?  What’s your favorite part of hiking?

NYC Summer Discoveries Part 1

When you live in a city, it’s not uncommon to wander the streets and stumble across shops and eateries you have never heard of.  Of course there are also places you seek out just because everyone else is talking about them.   I’ve made it my goal to merge my identity as a tourist with becoming a full-fledged NYC local.  Let’s give it a whirl.

~ Summer 2014 ~

Happy Bones
394 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
Mon – Fri / 7:30am – 7pm. Sat – Sun / 8am – 7pm

Happy Bones

Certainly worth the splurge for a strong latte (iced latte in the warmer months).  Since I did indeed visit on a summer morning, it was not ideal temperature to order a Flat White.  I’ll just have to make my way back when the leaves start to change.

IMG_5683A walk through Central Park.  This could be done all day every day.  You have the SE corner by the Fairmont Plaza and the Central Park Zoo, a corner that is inhabited by countless tourists.  The farther you edge into the park is where all the action and beauty really is at. From the Boathouse to the Alice in Wonderland Statue and every trail, baseball field, and playground in between.

The Highline
Around 23rd and 10th Avenue
~ Walking ~ Running ~ Eating ~ People Watching ~ Relaxing ~

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My friend Laura and I usually hit this spot around 7am when there is practically no one around.  I actually prefer the peace and quiet of the place during this time over the hustle and bustle of tourists.  Not only is it quiet, but it’s quite difficult to run when there are that many people around.  However, the benefit to arriving later in the day is that there are pop-up eateries such as Blue Bottle Coffee and People’s Pop’s.

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Once finished with your shaved ice or gourmet fresh fruit popsicle, head out to the west side highway and walk along the Hudson.  There’s one pier, closer to Battery Park, that offers a free half hour of kayaking in the Hudson!

IMG_5717 On a warm afternoon, this is the perfect place to run, walk, bike, and even sunbathe. (Can you tell I’m really into the running and walking?) There are patches of grass to sit on, tennis courts to use, jungle gyms, and even a golf driving range.

IMG_5715Within an hour we have seen the Freedom Tower and dropped into the 9/11 Memorial to pay our respects.   This must have been the 3rd or 4th time since I have seen the memorials and I still am in awe every time.  This time however, the surrounding barriers had been lowered and we were able to enter the grounds without the long lines or obtaining tickets ahead of time.  I have yet to see the museum itself, but need a solid 3-4 hours to do so.

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Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

Ready for a snack or maybe even dinner?  Momofuku Noodle Bar is one of my favorite touristy places in the East Village.  I’ve bounced between the momofuku ramen {pork belly, pork shoulder, poached egg} and chilled spicy noodles {sichuan sausage, spinach, cashews}.  No joke, you better be ready for your mouth to light on fire.

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Take a walk or subway ride up to Bryant Park for some Thursday night yoga, a movie in the park on Monday, or simply a casual game with your friends.

IMG_5730The game section is located on the south end of the park (closer to Le Pain) and they have pretty much every childhood game you could imagine!  We found ourselves thoroughly entertained by Scattergories for almost 2 hours!

By then, it is probably late afternoon or early evening.  If you are interested in gelato, check out the Talenti pop-up shop at Bryant Park.  However, for a more authentic New York experience, take a trip back down to SOHO and check out Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream.

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
2 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

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It’s almost like a mini-trip down memory lane (if I lived during the time of soda shops and creameries).  I’ll certainly have to invest in a large sundae, maybe even the “Good Morning Vietnam” in honor of the wonderful Robin Williams.  But really, the name of a product is often the most crucial selling point (right behind the ingredients) and they seem to have it all figured out.

With that, it’s time for bed or another walk about town to check out the night life :)

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” ― Tom Wolfe

California Mountain Summer Bliss Part 1

Back in the day we used to make scrapbooks so we could look at pictures and remember the good times we had.  Since I don’t have all my crafting supplies back east with me, posting here is the next best thing.  Well, it might be better because I get to share all the California love with you :)  Here’s a little look at some of our Mammoth Mountain favorites from last month.

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Schat’s is a MUST and if you can’t make it to Mammoth, there’s also one in Bishop.  I remember the days that my grandparents would always bring back a medley of donuts for us kids.  Their bread is above par and I highly recommend the sourdough, wheat, and oh the cheesy loaf.  If you happen to be there in the winter, pair the cheesy loaf with some spaghetti and it makes for a divine post-ski dinner.

There’s even a cafe in the back if you are up for a sit-down kind of deal.

IMG_5580 Checking out the samples and surveying our options

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Meghan the head chef for the night grilling up some personalized pizzas.  This was a first for me and if I had a grill in NYC, it would happen weekly!

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Simply pick up some dough from Trader Joe’s, brush with olive oil and pop on the grill for a hot second (seriously).  Flip, allow the dough to bubble, add some sauce and toppings, close the lid, and viola, dinner is served!

IMG_5585Kaitlin’s meals are never complete without a scoop of ice cream.  And this is why you will not see me on the cover of Fitness magazine.  No matter how much I exercise, I can’t seem to cut out my sweet tooth habit.

But anyways, Jeni’s is definitely the way to go if you are willing to make the splurge.  Even better if you can find a 50% discount like we did!

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OH MY DEER! Wildlife alongside our trail!  She was interested in what we had brought for lunch.  I don’t think she would have liked the peanut butter rolls I had packed, but one never knows.

IMG_5599 Oh John Muir, what a guy.  I really would have loved to see the land from his perspective and then compare it to how drastically it has changed.

IMG_5603Our epic hike to a hidden lake past Convict lake was interrupted by a freak rainstorm.  Of all the time I have spent in Mammoth, I’ve never encountered such weather.  Luckily we were only 3-4 miles away (yeah really “only”) and it was a short trip down the mountain.

IMG_5611 From hiking in the clouds to running in the clear air.  I can never get enough Mammoth in the summertime.  It’s actually one of my favorite places to be and while I do love it in the winter, nothing beats moving around in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt in the great outdoors.

IMG_5527More marvelous Mammoth memories to come…

Challenge Yourself

For my last birthday, one of my best friends sent me a 3-month Birchbox subscription.  So it really was the gift that just kept giving :) I was able to select the areas in which I was interested in – perfumes, snacks, hair products, etc. – and they included itty-bitty trial products in each box.  As a part of my last Birchbox, I found a booklet of challenges, which seemed pretty inspiring, so I here I am to share some with you.

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1. Write It Down – Keeping a workout log, eating log, or “list for success” can make type A personalities such as myself happy :) It also is a way to recommit to your routine and keep pushing for more!  I usually have 10 random post-its among my planner and iPhone calendar.  Enough to keep me sane, don’t you think?

2. Part Ways – Whether it’s with some bad habits or maybe just changing your hair part, why not try something new?  I took a big leap and had my hair trimmed about three-four inches.  Part Your Hair Differently – Changing the part could help add volume! – Right now my hair is too short for my liking (not that you usually see it down anyways) but maybe changing my part will help make me feel better about it.

3. Eat Veggies For Breakfast – We all know how tough it can be to consume the recommended 2.5 cups of vegetables.  Sure, a salad for breakfast may not be the most appealing, but there are ways around this and will certainly get you pumped up for the day.

avocado toast(source)

~ Green juices (find one with some veggies and maybe an apple for sweetness) ~ Kale/spinach in your smoothies ~ Farmer’s market frittata/omelette ~  avocado atop toast with some arugula/tomato ~

fall outfits (source)

4. Get Out of Your Color Comfort Zone – Did you know women used to have their colors done?  As in find out which color palate worked best for their complexion and hair?  It’s also almost time to bring out the fall weather gear so get excited and maybe re-organize your closet!

~ Adding blue to your weekly wardrobe or makeup (try eyeliner) will help to tone down redness and make the whites of your eyes even brighter ~

5. Sit Smarter – Slouching can zap your energy and your mood – this could lead to muscle fatigue, pain and possibly injury.  No bueno and yes, I’m GUILTY as charged.  My posture is absolutely atrocious and I know this.

Tips:
– Sit towards the front of your chair with your hips tilted forward
– Plant both feet on the ground, hip-width apart, and toes pointed straight ahead
– Keep your chin parallel to the floor, with your eyes over your shoulders, and shoulders over your hips

6. Skip the Mirror – Yes, from bathroom mirrors to those sneaky windows in stores.  They are everywhere.  A study found that staring at your reflection for up to 10 minutes increases anxiety.  So, try to focus more on how you feel rather than how you look.  And remember, confidence is sexy.

make yourself shine(source)

7. Sleep More – Oh boy, this NEEDS to happen in my life.  Ready for total-body wellbeing?  Add a few more shut-eye hours and it could help turn your day around.  Plus it might help clear up any acne or skin/digestive issues! Fancy that!

~ Try setting your alarm 5 minutes early each week.  If you want to start working out in the morning, test this method here as well! ~
~ Skip caffeine in the afternoon and evenings as it will last in your system for over 12 hours ~
~ Keep your bedroom clear of any bright gadgets and turn the temp to 65-70F~

Sweet Dreams :)

8. Take a Cold Shower –  Gradually turning the temp can help with  circulation, boost your immune system, and increase your metabolism.  Plus, turning down the temp can help stimulate parts of your brain that are associated with mood.  Just like setting your alarm, test the water gradually.  For an added bonus, taking a cold shower post-sweat can help prevent muscle fatigue and soreness.

*Information based from July’s Birchbox challenge guide

What are some of your challenges?

Fancy Food Hidden Gems

I totally human nature to keep to what’s comfortable.  From clothes to fitness workouts and even the items we stock the pantry with.  The same peanut butter you grew up on, the same cereals from those good ‘ol camping trips, or even the same brand of milk or yogurt.   But once you’ve seen something new and fabulous, it really is difficult to go back.

It’s always nice to throw a couple of new goodies in the shopping cart when I’m at home, mostly because my mom will pay for it (if she doesn’t catch it before it slips through the conveyer belt) :)  But when I’m on my I don’t do it as much I like to pick up new samples when I’m shopping at home.

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Breakfast Time
~ Power O’s ~ Purely Elizabeth ~ Bob’s Red Mill ~

Love Grown Food Power O’s
~ www.lovegrownfoods.com ~

Purely Elizabeth Granola
~ www.purelyelizabeth.com ~

Bob’s Red Mill
~ www.bobsredmill.com ~
We all know this brand for it’s wide selection of flours, oats, mixes, and more.  Their motto is “whole grains from the heart” and who could argue with that? Bob founded his company on the idea of taking care of one’s health and it certainly is a name you can trust.
~ Products ~ Recipes ~

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Grady’s Cold Brew
~ www.gradyscoldbrew.com ~

This New Orleans-style iced coffee is actually brewed and bottled here in New York (Brooklyn to be specific).  I’ve spotted it in quite a few stores, most notably Whole Foods, and boy do they have some great recipes – from the normal iced brew to a boozy sort and even smoothies (they are big on the chia seeds too ;) )!  They’ve recently started selling coffee bean bags, which are perfect for brewing your own cold brew coffee at home.

What makes it so special? (source)
~ One 32oz bottle makes 8 cups of coffee (iced or hot)
~ Gourmet iced coffee straight from your fridge & fresh for a month!
~ All-natural ingredients: water, coffee, chicory, spices.  No preservatives!
~ Low-acidity (clutch)
~ Locally brewed and bottled by hand out of Brooklyn, NY

IMG_5296_Fotor_CollageAnd who could forget the delicious dairy aisle?
~ Siggi’s Yogurt ~ Arctic Zero ~ Fage + Fage Fruyo ~ Magnolia ~

Magnolia Iced Treats 
~ www.magnoliaplease.com ~
Premium tropical ice cream, made in the USA with real fruit.  Just grab a bowl and you are transported straight to the islands of Hawaii. Aloooooha!

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Nikki’s Coconut Butter
~ http://www.nikkiscoconutbutter.com/ ~
Paleo + Vegetarian
Gluten + Dairy Free
Made with organic coconut + natural organic sweeteners

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“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson