1.30.2009

b Bistro in Bolton Hill: Review (1.30.2009)

b Bistro is nestled in the Bolton Hill area of Baltimore which I feel is a hidden gem. The homes are huge, beautiful, and classy and I would live in any of them.

We arrived right at 8pm for our reservation and were told it would be a few minutes while one of the tables finished up. The place was packed. The one downside is that it is tight quarters - there wasn't anywhere for us to stand, but the host told us to come towards the back where we could stand by the wall of wine bottles, overlooking the kitchen.

The host immediately took our coats and then offered us a drink. He handed us a wine list and also went over the wines available by the glass, explaining the flavors in each one. We chose a Chianti-type red and our glasses were poured in stemless glasses (my fav). We had the best time checking out all the dishes coming out of the kitchen.
We ended up having to wait about 20 mins for our table, but the host informed us that the wine was on him since we had such a long wait. :)

Once we were seated, I realized that we were very close to the other two tables on either side of us and was nervous about taking pictures of each dish. I apologize in advance for some of the blurry photos...I was trying to be quick.

Our server brought over a ciabatta type bread with a cute little olive oil container. The olive oil was so buttery and delicious that Kevin asked what type they use. The server went and asked the chef, who wrote the name down on a piece of paper for us. Antica Italia. She said we may be able to find it at this great italian market nearby.

She went on to tell us that Trinacria was an amazing Italian market/deli. We had never heard of it!! I think we may be heading there this weekend.

Sorry for my long-windedness. I just get really excited about this kind of stuff.

Let's talk about the food!

I decided on the Roasted Beet Salad w/ Toasted Walnuts, Chevre and Mache as my First Course. It was the perfect combination of flavors and I didn't want the plate to end.

Kevin went with the Fried OystersCaper Aioli, Arugula and Fennel Salad. (He had already started to dig in.)I love raw oysters, but have never been a big fan of them fried. My mind has changed. The bite I had was incredible.

Since I went lighter on the appetizer, I decided to go all out on the Second Course. Gnocchi w/ Shrimp: Potato Dumplings with Jumbo Shrimp, Zucchini & Saffron Cream. These were the best gnocchi I have ever tasted. SO light and fluffy - they literally melted in my mouth.

Kevin chose the Slow Roasted Lamb Ragout over Fettuccine. He loved it and I thought it was very flavorful.
My dessert was the star of this show. Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Gianduja, Crispy Feulletine, Blood Orange Gelee and Banana Custard. The bottom layer was the Crispy Feulletine, which was chocolaty crispy crepes. I think this layer MADE the dish.Oh man - I was stuffed, but still managed to finish every bite of this.

Kevin ordered the b Bread Pudding which was good, but not his favorite of all-time. I took a bite, but don't remember what it tasted like because I was still mesmerized by my dessert.
I truly believe that every restaurant out there could learn a few things about service from the people working at b Bistro. I was seriously impressed.

At one point during our meal, Kevin said that this could be the best restaurant he has EVER been too. Now that is a big statement, but I think I am in agreement. Service, Food, Atmosphere - it was all impeccable in my book.

I would highly recommend a trip to this restaurant for anyone in the area or visiting. Baltimore Restaurant Week was extended for another week (through Feb 8th), so get in there for a 3 course meal at a great price!

Food coma was in full effect last night and I am really looking forward to my run tonight to burn some of my big dinner off. Key Run Workout #2 this week calls for 6 miles. (2 miles easy, 3 miles short-tempo, 1 mile easy)

Unfortunately, the Superbowl Trail Race I was planning to do this Sunday has been cancelled. The trails are not going to be in good shape after all the ice we had recently. The good news is that my dad has already planned a replacement 10 miler out on country roads near their house.

Hope everyone has a great weekend planned!

B, Bolton Hill Bistro on Urbanspoon

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1.29.2009

No Pudge Brownies (1.29.2009)

I think I have decided what I am going to get for dinner tonight...thanks to all your suggestions. Will do a full review tomorrow!

Last night, I took an hour spin class at the gym. My first Wednesday spin class and I won't be going back. The instructor didnt stop talking the entire time and said the corniest things. The worst "motivational" line of the night, "Ride like you stole that bike". Umm, no thanks.

I may be the last person on earth to try these, but I finally picked up some "No Pudge" Brownies. It says you just have to add yogurt. Easy enough. I added some chobani vanilla greek yogurt.The box also tells you that the batter will be thick. They weren't joking. My arm was aching from mixing this batter. Spreading it in the pan was challenging - the texture was like a thick, sticky icing.

I couldn't believe it, but they did puff up and came out great. I really liked how "fudgy" they were. No pudge, but fudgy? sold.I have to share my favorite new video of Oscar and Lucy. Lucy was playing with Oscar's rope and he gently grabbed it back. The tv show playing in the background is a guilty pleasure of mine. ;)

video

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1.28.2009

Foodie Help Needed (1.28.2009)

Last night I managed to run 5 miles on the treadmill. My legs were sore from the squats and lunges on Monday night, so the fact that I even made it to the gym is a miracle.

  • Warm-up: 10 mins
  • 4 x 800 interval pick-ups, with 90 second rest intervals
  • Cool down: 20 mins
For the intervals, I would increase my speed by 1. So, if my comfort/normal speed is 6.0 - I would push it to 7.0 for 1/2 mile. I was supposed to do 6 intervals, but my legs were so tired and I couldn't push-it any further.


I came home and made a simple, but filling dinner. Broccoli and Tofu.


After pressing the tofu to remove the excess liquid, I baked them for 20 mins at 400 degrees. Flipping once. I used the Soy Vay Teriyaki sauce again and they turned out delish.
I never thought I would EVER say that I really like tofu. I am actually starting to crave it. WEIRD.



I sauteed broccoli with a little butter, garlic, and pepper. I drizzled lemon juice on before eating. yum.
A little later, I decided I wanted some popcorn. I popped a 100 calorie bag of kettle corn. The bag felt like it had nothing to it when I was putting it in the microwave, but it popped a ton.
This morning, I woke up to ICE and lots of it. I wish I could say that I am typing this from home, but my boss sent an email last night that she wasn't going to be authorizing working from home unless the building was closed. Our building never closes. So if I wanted to stay home - I would have to take the day off. UGH.


I decided to wait for the ice the melt and roads to be cleaned up before coming into work. Oscar got a long, slippery walk in the park. He fell a few times and I couldn't help but laugh - poor guy. He loves this weather though, so snow/ice angels were in full effect.


I took my time getting to work. I stopped by my local coffee shop and got my new favorite morning drink - Green Tea Latte w/ Honey.


Basically, they take a green tea bag and steep it in a little water. Then, they add steamed skim milk and a squirt or two of honey. yum.


Good thing I had my tea because I was in my car for about 20 minutes waiting for the ice to melt on my front wind shield. I found another way to take care of the ice on my windows. (Obviously I don't have an ice scrapper.)

As I rolled down the windows, the ice stayed put, so I would punch it out. It was fun.

Ok, so I need your foodie help.

This week is Restaurant week in Baltimore. You get to choose 3 courses from a special menu for a fixed price. Kevin and I have reservations at b, a Bolton Hill Bistro for dinner tomorrow night which we chose because they had a ton of choices. But now, looking at the menu - I am completely overwhelmed!

Here are the options:

First Course (Choice of one)
  • Soup: Cannellini Bean with Lardons~
  • Warm Crotin de Chavignol with Arugula, Fennel, Candied Pecans and Apple Cider Dressing~
  • Panzanella Salad of Rustic Italian Bread, Marinated Tomatoes, Capers, Red Onion tossed w/ Aged Balsamic & EVOO~
  • Pumpkin Stuffed Ravioliwith Pancetta and Sage Brown Butter~
  • Rhode Island Calamari sautéed in House Tomato Sauce over Grilled Polenta~
  • Roasted Beet Salad w/ Toasted Walnuts, Chevre and Mache~
  • Fried OystersCaper Aioli, Arugula and Fennel Salad~

Second Course (Choice of one)

  • Slow Roasted Lamb Ragout over Fettuccine~
  • "b" House Ravioli: Roasted Vegetable and Ricotta Ravioli tossed in brown Sage Butter & Parmesan Cheese topped w/ Basil, Tomato & House Marinara~
  • Gnocchi w/ Shrimp: Potato Dumplings with Jumbo Shrimp, Zucchini & Saffron Cream~
  • Pan Seared Arctic Char with Butternut Squash Risotto and Crispy Hen of the Woods Mushrooms~
  • Grilled Japanese Sea Bass with Saffron Aioli, Sautéed Spinach and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes~
  • Grilled Branzini over Cremini Mushrooms, Arugula & Parmesan Salad finished w/ Lemon Infused Olive Oil~
  • Duck Confit with Cannellini Bean Ragout, Gremolata, and Veal Reduction~
  • Grilled Leg of Lamb Steak with Nebbiolo Demi Glaze, Sautéed Kale and Pancetta, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes~
  • Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce, Asiago Mashed Potatoes and Caramelized Wild Mushrooms~

Third Course (Choice of one)

  • b Bread Pudding
  • Crème Brulee with homemade Cookies
  • Pot De Crème with Homemade Cookies
  • Lemon Sabayon Tart, Burnt Meringue and Raspberry Preserves
  • Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Gianduja, Crispy Feulletine, Blood Orange Gelee and Banana Custard
  • Caramelized Banana Tart, Almond Cream, Golden Raisin Caramel and toasted Cardamom Ice Cream
  • Ice Cream Plate:Fresh Made Profiteroles served with any of our House made Ice Creams and Salted Caramel (Ice Cream Flavors: vanilla, nutella, mocha, panna cotta, olive oil, amaretto, pistachio, bacio, fragola)

Can you see why this is SO hard?! Everything sounds INCREDIBLE...and I don't even know what half the things actually are. ;)

Please let me know what you would choose, so hopefully it will help me decide!!

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1.27.2009

Wintry Mix (1.27.2009)

Today, I woke up to a light dusting of snow and it is supposed to turn into ice later tonight through tomorrow. Meetings are being rescheduled for tomorrow, so that means that "working from home" may be in effect for tomorrow. Yippeee.

Sunday

I woke up Sunday morning and had a bowl of oatmeal with all the usual suspects mixed in.
Then, I headed to the gym for a run. I haven't run outside in a long time because I have been digging the whole TV thing at the gym.

I was able to run just under 6 miles in 60 mins on the treadmill. I have decided 60 mins is my limit for treadmill mileage. Any longer is torture.

After my run, I met my parents in Patapsco State Park for a hike with the dogs. I grabbed a Chocolate/Banana Vivianno (with an espresso shot) from Starbucks for my ride in to meet them. My mom had half an egg/cheese on an everything bagel for me when I got there.I was able to get some errands done which included two different grocery shopping trips. First, to a newer, nice Giant where I finally found the White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter!!
I also picked up some Peanut Butter Puffins and finally see what all the fuss is about. These are SO good. I think half the box is gone and it is only Tuesday. I did have some help from Kevin though.
More Sunday eats included lots of clementines,
Sushi (not pictured), and then a snickerdoodle cookie from Whole Foods. It was chewy and soft - just the way I like them.

Monday

Instead of the normal Monday spin class, Kevin and I moved the dining room table to make room for a home workout that a friend at work told him about. It is a website called I Want Six Pack Abs and I figured it would be fun to try because hey, who doesn't want six pack abs?

We modified it slightly since we don't have a pull-up bar handy. It was funny doing it together at home and Oscar kept trying to lick my face during the push-ups.

We grouped the exercises in twos and would take a 30 sec - 1 min break in between 1 set.

  1. 20 Push-ups x 3 sets
  2. 20 Squats x 3 sets
  3. 30 Stationary lunges (15 on each leg) x 3 sets
  4. 20 jumping jacks x 3 sets
  5. 15 Burpees x 3 sets
  6. 45 sec plank x 3 sets
It was definitely a tough workout!

I tried making a new recipe out of Cooking light and was very excited about it. Endive Gratin.

Pre-baked Endives sprinkled with turkey bacon
Covered in a mixture of skim milk, whole wheat flour, butter, and spices. Topped with parmesan cheese.
Baked for 20 mins at 400 degrees.
It looks like it would have been great, right?

It was HORRIBLE. The endive was super bitter and took on this slimy texture. yuck. Kevin and I both picked off some cheese and turkey bacon (the good stuff) and then we threw it out. I hated to waste it, but I couldn't think of anyway to save it.

Good thing we had also cooked up the remaining brussels sprouts,
and baked coconut crusted tilapia.
Tuesday

Tonight is Key Run Weekly Workout # 1 at the gym
  • 10-20 minute warm-up
  • 6 x 800m (90 sec. RI)
  • 10 minute cool-down

I need to update my blog to show my 2009 Race calendar, especially since I added one for this weekend!

We are doing the Superbowl Trail Race on Sunday @ 9am which is part of a series that the Baltimore Road Runners Club puts on. It is a 5 mile loop that you can do once or twice. Kevin and I are going to try and do the 10 miles.

This is the exact way it is described on the website:

"The course is a five mile loop you can do once or twice for a 5 or 10 mile race. The terrain is trail, grass and one or two small inclines (hee, hee)."

I guess that means the "two small inclines" will really be a couple of large mountains? we shall see...

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1.24.2009

Brrrrrr (1.24.2009)

I did it and am finally warm enough to write about it.

Backing up a little, this morning I woke up and knew I wanted a big bowl of WARM oatmeal to start my day off right. I went with a decadent combination since I was about to jump into freezing cold water and if I didn't make it out alive, I wanted my last meal to be a good one. ;)

  • 1/2 c oatmeal
  • 1/2 c skim milk
  • blueberries
  • sprinkle of brown sugar
  • white chocolate and peanut butter chips
  • spoonful of almond butter
It was one of the best bowls of oatmeal I have had in awhile. I love when blueberries get hot in the oatmeal and they burst. mmm.

After breakfast, we headed down to pick up Kevin's sister, Molly, who was our team captain. We met up with everyone and headed over to Sandy Point State Park.Kevin's company sponsored our team, so we were lucky enough to score corporate parking passes and loaded all 16 people in 2 big cars. Our passes got us in the parking lots closest to the warming tents and the water, which was really convenient.

It has been awhile since I cracked a beer open at 10am, but it went down easily and helped build up my "liquid courage". We had a fire pit for extra warmth, but it's main purpose was to grill up hot dogs, hamburgers, bratwurst, and chicken wings. Kevin had marinated the wings overnight using two sauces:

Regular Hot Wings: Franks Hot Sauce, Garlic, and Butter
Barbecue Hot Wings: Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue with Old Bay Seasoning
All the food went fast. I downed a hot dog, a chicken wing, and some tortillas chips with homemade guacamole that I had made the night before.

I also did a shot of dutch chocolate vodka for dessert. Hey - everybody needs something sweet after a meal, right?

Time to plunge! Most of the group...Kevin and I were huddled together (temperatures in the 30s) trying to keep warm moments before we plunged into 36 degree water. Yes, you read right. 36 degrees. I was scuuurred, but excited too. I left my hat and scarf on for the plunge. The hat is my grandfather's that he gave me recently because I told him I thought it was cool. It has flaps on the sides that cover your ears. Flaps are cool.

I ran in the water until it was up above my belly button, splashed around and then ran out as fast as I could. It was a rush....a major adrenaline rush.

I forgot to take any "after" photos because I was rushing to get into the warming/changing tents. We ran into the first tent we saw. I noticed that there weren't a lot of, if any, women in there and felt proud of myself for being one of few women to get in the water. I felt hard core.

I was able to remove the layers under my towel and get changed pretty quickly. Then, I realized a lot of the men around me were naked. It was too much. Molly and I were snickering like little girls. I saw things I never wanted to see.

Some man finally came over to Kevin and said that we shouldn't have been in there. Meaning me and his sister Molly. We were in the MEN's changing tent. Oopsie. (and yeah, plenty of other women plunged - they just went to change in the WOMEN's tent like they were supposed too.)

I was also excited to tell you about my celebrity sighting. Borat! Ewww, right?! Have a great rest of your weekend!

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1.23.2009

Friday Catchup (1.23.2009)

First off, I received an award and wanted to send a big THANK YOU to Lori over at Fake Food Free. I happen to think her blog is fabulous also. She describes herself as a "realistic nutritionist" and is all about having a healthy balance with real food. Sounds perfect to me, so I really enjoy reading her tips! She loves to travel and I think that adds a special "something, something" to her posts because you get to see all the delicious eats from different places she visits.

Food

Dinner on Tuesday night was Mediterranean Crusted Salmon with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts. I went the easy route on this one.
I overcooked this a tad, but it still had good flavor. I am slowly getting back into salmon since I had a bad case of food poisoning a year or so ago after eating a bad piece.
The fish was served with steamed cauliflower that I seasoned with smart balance, parsley, and fresh parmesan.
Wednesday night, we went out to dinner and I had a chicken caesar wrap with steamed veggies. No pics, but I wanted to share because I was proud of myself for saying "no" to the fries. I love fries - like really LOVE them. But I want to try and cut down to just having them as part of a splurge meal every now and then.

Last night, I cooked up a quick stir-fry using Trader Joes Beijan Style frozen veggies, thinly-sliced chicken, Soy Vay Teriyaki sauce, and brown rice.
It turned out pretty good, but I just wasn't into the chicken, so I picked around it. I decided to bake up some tofu using the Soy Vay sauce as a marinade so I could get some protein. These little cubes were caramelized and delicious.

Breakfast this morning was oatmeal. I am all out of fruit, so this combination included:

  • 1/2 c oats
  • 1/2 c vanilla soy milk
  • sprinkle of brown sugar
  • spoonful of part-skim ricotta
  • spoonful almond butter
  • pecans
Mmm. Mmm. Deeeelish. I ate my oatmeal while checking out some new reading material - Cooking Light. A Christmas present from my friend Carolyn that just arrived last night. There are a ton of delicious recipes, so expect to see some in the near future.

Workouts

Last week, I talked about the training program I started and am proud to say that I am keeping up with it! I put together this handy-dandy spreadsheet to help me track my progress against the plan. Here's a peek:
You may have to enlarge it to actually read it. Items highlighted in green have been completed.

I am playing indoor soccer on Wednesday nights, but last week, our team had a bye. This week the game was at 9pm and after my Tuesday run, my lower back was killing me. I ended up going to the gym earlier on Wednesday to do light cardio and a little lifting (not anywhere near my back), but didn't think playing indoor soccer would be a good idea.

Polar Bear Plunge

Tomorrow is the Polar Bear Plunge and I am still nervous. Today is a beautiful day and the temperature is up in the 50s. Why cant it be like that tomorrow?! The temperature is supposed to drop all day tomorrow.

Our plan is to get there around 10am and tailgate until the plunge at 1pm. I am going to layer up, so that I can decide what I want to wear for the actual "plunge" right before. I will probably end up wearing my triathlon outfit. Tri shorts and a wick-away tank. Oh and my scuba booties because someone told me I definitely need something on my feet.

If you have time, check out some of the pictures on the Plunge site. http://www.plungemd.com/

It looks like it is going to be a blast.

What are you all up to this weekend? After the plunge, my goal is to get warm. Then, get some housekeeping done around the blog...and my house!

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1.20.2009

Tuesday is Here... (1.20.2009)

And I wish it was Friday. And I couldn't think of a good title for this post. I haven't even told you about my Sunday eats. I am behind.

Sooooo, looking back to Sunday afternoon/evening...it was basically spent recovering from a weekend full of food and too much wine.

I found this soup at Trader Joes which looked interesting. Lunch was Lentil Soup w/ Vegetables.
Nutrition Facts, for your information. (holy sodium)
My first bite is below, but that is as far as it went...
...I didn't like the soup. Cant put my finger on the exact reason, so it could have been because my "hungover" state had me feeling nauseous most of the day. I ate a piece of dry toast after this and then passed out for at least another hour on the couch.

Sunday dinner was simple - exactly what I needed. Rotisserie Chicken with broccoli.
I like sauteing broccoli with a little EVOO, chopped garlic, and lemon.
My dinner plate.

Monday

I must have been sleep walking through Monday because I have no recollection what I ate for breakfast and lunch.

Oh wait - I know I ate too many of these things...
Trader Joes's Roasted Plaintain Chips. They are addicting. I currently have a plantain chip obsession and told Kevin that he can't let me buy them anymore.

I made it to spin class, which was grueling, and came home to Kevin cooking up some yummy brussels sprouts with mushrooms, onions, and turkey bacon in a white wine sauce.
I quickly cooked up some shrimp in EVOO, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Katie's Spicy Garlic Shrimp were my inspiration. I didn't have any sesame oil, so I went with regular EVOO. They were delicious...and SO quick and easy.
I am horrible with using up the fresh herbs before they go bad, so I often resort to these bottles. They last much longer and until I find the frozen type a few bloggers have tried recently - I will be buying these. Dessert was part-skim ricotta with semi-sweet chocolate chips, almonds, and a drizzle of agave nectar served in one of my cute little anthropologie bowls.
These bowls are great for portion control, which can sometimes be my problem. They probably hold about a half cups worth, maybe less.

Tuesday

I woke up and had a bowl of regular puffins with sliced bananas, blueberries, and skim milk.
My mid-morning snack was a new one - so wanted to mention it. Sliced zucchini with a smear of edamame hummus and a grape tomato. Sorry about the blurry picture, I was trying to quickly take it at work before someone saw me.
Perfect little bites. Would be a healthy, party appetizer! The edamame hummus from Trader Joes would make rocks taste good. seriously.

Lunch was a laughing cow swiss cheese wedge spread on a flat-out wrap with spinach and leftover shrimp from last night.
I rolled this and heated it in the microwave for 30 secs. Very tasty.

Hope everyone enjoyed Inauguration Day. A good amount of people took off, but my company set up a conference room with the live broadcast for all of us that were working. I couldn't believe the shots of the crowd - completely overwhelming.

I leave you with my girl, Lucy, who managed to move her head ever so slightly just as I snapped this photo. It is still a favorite and a nice reminder to "stop and smell the roses". :)

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