Brunch in Brooklyn

IMG_4802There’s something magical about finishing a workout with a healthy side of brunch.  I’m not sure if it throws me back to the days of cross country long runs, which were followed by a classic 2x2x2 at Hill Street Cafe, but it sure does make me a happy camper.

Brunch is a term that I was not very familiar with growing up.  It’s that awkward time in the day where you are either starving because you didn’t eat, starving because you just finished working out, or not really hungry because you already had breakfast.  Not to mention the fact that we weren’t really the “brunching” type – feeling overwhelmingly full midday just didn’t sound appealing.

But, when I came to New York, I realized we had been going about the process all wrong.  Here, brunching is an art.  It’s a habit, a hobby, an activity, a date, and outing. When you ask someone what they are doing on the weekend, inevitably they will tell you where they will be brunching.  How fabulous, no?

I still stand by the fact that I don’t like to be uncomfortably full midday, but that’s another story between me and my stomach.

IMG_4804I have learned my way around the city and have found that it’s always nice to dine out with a friend.  This time I was dining out with a new blogger friend, Nicole.  She is also planning to attend the Blent Retreat in just over one month and we thought it would be nice to meet up before hand.  She selected a number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants as she doesn’t fancy dairy and is most vegetarian.

IMG_4809 We met up in Brooklyn at a quaint little diner called Champs and boy was it a delight.  My friends already make fun of me and my love for diners, so I can’t wait to share this little gem with them.  Sure it’s vegan but don’t let that scare you away.  I was salivating over other items the minute I walked in the door. 

IMG_4805I had just finished a track workout with a couple of my friends and thought that a nice tall green juice would be worthwhile.  With the “Green Face” I would get all those vitamins in one fell swoop.

Speaking of green juices, they opened up a store in my hometown and my mom was utterly shocked at the prices.  Let’s just say I’m used to paying $8 a pop thanks to NYC prices.  That and the fact that there are some bottled varieties that range up to $12!

IMG_4812We chatted for quite some time as we eyed the menus, deciding between breakfast and lunch items.  From Drunken Cowgirl to Tofu Benedict to their Red Velvet Pancakes, it was a sure tough bet.  But, I’m a breakfast gal true and true and the stack of pancakes was calling my name.

IMG_4810Bananarama Pancakes ~  Some of the best I have ever had in my life.

IMG_4813I’m sure Mr. Pilsbury was eyeing my heaping plate of pancakes.  Or maybe he was keeping a lookout over the case of cakes, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls, all of which are vegan. Imagine that.

IMG_4817Champ’s Family Diner
176 Ainslie St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
*Cash only


I’ll Have What She’s Having

When it comes down to it, people are more apt to connect with to a movie or television show when they recognize the setting or are able to visit afterwards. If it isn’t famous before Hollywood swoops in, it’s quite possible that it will be famous afterwards.


Fenton’s Creamery in the last scene of Up


Sideways brought in oodles of revenue for Santa Barbara and surrounding areas – people searching for the most authentic wineries and soaking up the perfect California sun


Shows like Friends and Seinfeld were both based in the Big Apple.

My friend Laura and I have actually been watching the series from the start and there is oh so much more that I understand.  Sure it helps to be a bit older – most of the jokes and commentary went over my 7th grade self, but the fact that I’m navigating my adult years in such a mixed up city, also helps me relate to the characters at times. (On a random note…anyone want to indulge in a banana split with me?)

So, I’ve been on a hunt to find all the best spots in the city, making sure I’ve conquered all that NYC has to offer.  I’ve created my own big city bucket list, gathering tips from family, from Time Out New York and even the morning’s AM New York to find some hidden gems.  Not exactly the best for the world’s top stories, but it’s easy to read and fun to pass the time on my morning commute.


So back to this funky little title – “I’ll Have What She’s Having”.  If you are all cultured in art of Hollywood, you would know exactly what I am talking about.  No?  Check out this clip (not exactly “G” just a warning)

The movie “When Harry Met Sally” and the part where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal argue about something that really doesn’t need to be included in this blog at the moment. Anyways, the movie itself is based in New York and this lovely scene occurs right in the heart of Manhattan in Katz’s Delicatessen.

IMG_4658For those of you who aren’t so familiar with Katz, it’s a kosher style deli located in the Lower East Side (LES).  Back when New York was just getting started, the LES was the central hub for hundreds of immigrants, all of whom brought their classic family recipes to the city for a new beginning.  It’s been satisfying locals and tourists alike since 1888 (yep, that long ago) with its pastrami and hot dogs.  Apparently they turn out 10,000 pounds of pastrami, 5,000 pounds of corned beef, 2,000 pounds of salami, and 12,000 hog dogs…PER WEEK.  Judging by the amount of meat they placed on our sandwich, I could very well believe these figures.


I love the classic feeling this building has, the homey feeling you get when you walk in.  My friend Laura makes fun of me because every time I see such a building (namely diners), I’m bouncing about, dying to go in and eat.


Their system is pretty simple – each person is handed a ticket when they enter and there is the option to seat yourself or wait to be seated.   The ticket serves as your food pass and you walk up to various counters to order the sandwiches, sides, and drinks.

IMG_4664Prices appear to be a bit on the steep side, so don’t assume because it’s old-fashioned, you’ll be walking out with a $5 sub.  No sir.  However, they are very generous with their portions.  Laura and I ended up splitting a sandwich and fries and still weren’t able to consume it all.  That’s saying something since we runners can pack it in.

IMG_4662 The interior reminded me of Philippe’s, a classic joint known for the French dip sandwich in Los Angeles – Not too uppity, plenty of space, photos adorning the walls, and old-fashioned advertisements.  I’m pretty sure I feel more comfortable in an environment like this than I do in a high-scale steak restaurant.  No judgement, just good food.

IMG_4663We opted for the seat-yourself option and wandered around the counters eyeing our options.  At first we weren’t sure what we wanted to order.  It’s known for its pastrami, but roast beef, and brisket were also viable options.  The guy behind the counter was a gem and sliced off a piece of each so we could take the flavors for a spin.  He also dished out some tips on the place and recommended with go with the pastrami.  After savoring each of the flavors, I had to agree.


The sandwich was sliced up right in front of us and handed over on a cafeteria tray.  Not only were we presented with a heaping pile of meat, but also a few cucumbers and salty pickles.  It was almost as good as the jumbo pickle you can pick up at Disneyland.


We used our ticket to check off the food items ordered and used it to pay when we exited the restaurant.  Of course it’s a cash only joint, so make sure to stop by an ATM on the way.  No worries if you forget because like many other NYC restaurants, there’s one located in the back.

IMG_4669Yes, we even managed to snag a spot at the famous location.  Ok, not sure if that is something to brag about but it made it oh so much more fun.

I was pretty surprised the place wasn’t more crowded for a Friday night.  Then again, it has been around since 1888 and “When Harry Met Sally” came out a solid number of years ago.  I’m sure the locals known when to arrive and when to stay away.  Plus, 9pm on a Friday would be prime bar-hopping hours rather than pastrami-eating hours.  Who cares, I like to go against the flow.


Katz’s Delicatessen
205 East Houston StreetManhattan,New York City, 10002

More Fitness Half Marathon

How often do you get to say you ran a half marathon with a couple of your best friends?  As you may have read yesterday, or picked up from other posts and social media, my two best friends were in town and somehow agreed to run a half marathon with me.  My friend Lindsay (on the left) had run two half marathons in the last year, but my friend Laura was just signing up for her first half ever!


We sure shared our fare share of nerves throughout the weekend, even leading up to the start of the race.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I still get race jitters – no matter how many times I’ve run an event.

This guy’s sign pretty much sums up most of our feelings.  Ok, just kidding.  I knew what I was in for and definitely could have trained better for it but let’s just say the countless Polar Vortexs didn’t help with that.


Anyways, let’s take a step back and go over pre-race routines.  We considered going out to dinner Saturday night but realized ordering in would be so much more “New York” and just more relaxing and comfortable.  For a few girls who had been out and about all day and had a race to rest up for, it was a no-brainer and so enjoyable.

We found a hot spot of Italian food just a short distance away and ordered up some favorites – spaghetti for Lindsay, Rigatoni for Laura, and cheese ravioli for me.  I felt like I’d been transplanted back to the days of high school cross country where we would have a pre-race pasta dinner filled with pasta, lasagna, bread, fruit salad, salad, and dessert.  Goodness knows how I didn’t gain more weight back then.


The alarm went off bright an early at 6am and after reminding myself why the alarm was set for such an early hour, we got dressed, and scarfed down a bit of oatmeal and banana. I honestly don’t always enjoy eating before running, just because my stomach likes to act up, but 13 miles is a bit of a doozy without any fuel.

The race was in Central Park and boy was it a picturesque day.  The temperature was around 55-58 (I swear by the amount we sweated it was warmer) and plenty of people were out to cheer.

For some reason the first few miles were surprisingly tiring and I have no explanation why.  Maybe we were just getting warmed up or it hadn’t sunk in that we were actually running a half marathon.   The course took us twice around Central Park (counterclockwise), which happens to mirror the route my friends and I take on a weekly basis.  This helped in my favor because I actually could envision the course, something I’m not usually able to do.

I was surprised to note that there were no fuel stations (other than Gatorade and water) along the route, but this was fine because I rarely eat or drink while I run anyways.  Although, after finishing the race, I really could have downed an entire bottle of Simply Lemonade.  I settled for some original Gatorade and a crisp apple and held out until breakfast.  The bagel was all for show as it didn’t really seem appealing and was clearly not a New York bagel.

IMG_3897_ Fotor_Collage

I loved watching all the different runners – different bodies, different paces, different outfits (dominated by Nike and Lululemon), but all out to run a race. We were even surprised by a high school friend who happened to be in the city and stand along mile 12 and cheer.  We were so happy to see a familiar face and ended up grabbing brunch with her afterwards.  I was quite hungry at this point and gladly inhaled a stack of diner pancakes with fruit, over easy eggs and coffee.

The only way it would have been a more perfect weekend is if I knew when I would be able to see these girls again.  Until the next trip 🙂


“Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They’re what make the instrument stretch — what makes you go beyond the norm.”
– Cicely Tyson