new jersey eats

Monday, February 28, 2011

So far, I have eaten tofu ...

... pizza ...

... and pasta.

(Apparently, I'm on vacation from gluten-free eating. I couldn't resist -- every time I come out here, we eat at Carmine's, and eating at Carmine's without ordering pizza and pasta would be a travesty.)

guess where I am?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'll give you a hint.

(Saw this poster when I was walking/limping to the car after the SF Half last July. Thought it was hilarious and have been saving the photo for just the right moment.)

tough job

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back to it again this morning. The big wine event was at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, and after the barrel tasting, the students served up a mean lunch.

I thought dessert was the prettiest part.

How could anyone resist the macarons? I ate three, of course. (I held back -- I actually wanted to take one of each color, but I thought that might not be polite. Must share with others, right? And in case you were wondering, macarons are gluten-free.)

good reasons

Friday, February 25, 2011

So I missed a post -- my first since the start of the year. My excuse? It's showtime in the Napa Valley, and as a wine PR girl, I've got a role to play. Tons of media are in town for this event.

Of course, it's not all work. Last night, Laura and I went to a tasting at Farmstead.

Favorite wine of the night? The Marston Family Vineyard 2009 Albion, a Sauvignon Blanc with a touch of Semillon. (Seriously, it's amazing what even the smallest amount of Semillon does, especially to the mouthfeel of a wine.)

After the tasting, we had dinner at the restaurant. There was a beautiful basket of beets on the counter.

Which meant I just had to order the beet and arugula salad as a starter. I didn't regret this decision.

For my main, I had Farmstead's version of risotto -- California arborio rice with mushrooms and an egg on top. Yum.

The fun continued this morning -- I was up before dawn so I could start uncorking bottles at 7 a.m. for a trade and media tasting in St. Helena. That's right -- I opened 39 bottles of wine (and tasted through 10 bottles to check for cork taint) before 8 a.m.

While my favorite wine from the tasting was the Ancien Pinot flight (especially the 2007 vintage), the absolute best moment was meeting one of my media contacts in person for the first time and having an amazing conversation with him about -- you guessed it -- ramen. He was flying out of the Sacramento airport this afternoon, so I told him he had to stop by Shoki for lunch. He got extremely excited and actually left a seminar early just so he could make it to the restaurant. (His parting words were: "I could sit and listen to a speaker talk about wine writing, or I could go eat ramen. Hmmm. I really like ramen.") I so hope he shared my opinion and loved it!

Anyway, events continue tomorrow with a barrel tasting and auction, so I'll be in the Valley again, bright and early, wearing a dorky name badge and a big smile.

(On a totally unrelated side note, the snow that everyone was predicting did not happen. But there was hail. In fact, I went for a 7-mile trail run in Annadel with Neveia late this afternoon, and we got hailed on.)

perfect pairings

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Meep and Mari. So cute on their own, but extra-fantastic, out-of-control adorable when they pose together.

Gluten-free Girl's Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika and Cocoa Powder. Smoky-sweet with a touch of heat on its own ...

... but taken to an all-new level when served alongside a glass of white wine from the Basque region of Spain. (After tonight, I'm convinced this wine is smoked paprika's soulmate. They were born for each other.)

And finally, a pair of purple boots (with the fur, of course). Weather reports are predicting snow here in the North Bay, possibly starting tonight.

Give me some skinny cords and these babies, and I say: "Bring it."


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So tired right now. I think yesterday's trail run, coupled with allergies, has totally worn me out.

and so we return

Monday, February 21, 2011

Met up with Neveia this morning for our first trail run in more than month. Our route? Foothill Regional Park -- a small park with wide, not-too-technical paths and several short trails that loop around a series of three ponds. We thought it would be a good place to ease back onto uneven terrain, start banking some miles and work on hill stamina.

We ran two full loops around the perimeter of the park. This included climbing a steady but moderate hill twice (which was not that bad -- it was a good spot for hill repeats) and then a ridiculously steep, somewhat rocky incline twice (this was so tough that we had to take walk breaks, and on our first pass, Neveia actually felt nauseous).

Perhaps we should have paid more attention to this sign.

This is how I felt at the summit:

Thankfully, there was a good view up there. Look, the town of Windsor in all its glory!

On the way down, we spotted a glimpse of snow-covered mountains in the distance -- a rare sight in Sonoma County.

We finished our run with a single-track loop around Pond B (I assume this is what they call it, since the trail was called Pond B Trail. Clearly, very creative.)

And we saw some ducks.

Peaceful, right? For about two seconds. Shortly after I snapped this picture, total duck porn ensued. It looked like the male was trying to drown the female. And when they were done, there was a lot of butt-shaking and feather ruffling. Neveia and I couldn't stop laughing.

To reward ourselves for a good seven miles done, we went to Cafe Gratitude for brunch. Neveia ordered the Indian biriyani bowl. I got the enchiladas.

And we both shared some coconut pudding for dessert.


in sum

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It snowed -- not at our house, of course, but in the hills. So strange to look up and see a dusting of white.

We went to the city. Spent the afternoon at Terroir with a beautiful bottle.

After dinner, a show: Equal parts orchestral, jazz improv, performance art, brain massage. Behind the musicians, hung a screen that flashed images. First, the word "hope." Then a single flame. Medieval drawings of the devil. A shadow dancing in a storm. I thought about taking a photo, but I decided it wouldn't be the same.

We left after an unfortunate incident involving -- of course -- an ankle. It wasn't mine, but I felt strangely guilty, like maybe there is curse and I bring it.

Today: A large serving of comfort. I chose butter corn in shoyu. It was delicious.

And then a long walk. Finally, the rain stopped, and we looked up and saw this.

snug as a bug

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Busy night ahead, so I'm posting now. It's cold here, and still raining.

And if I were an orange cat, I'd stay under the blankets, too.


Friday, February 18, 2011

And so begins the weekend.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rain all day, and the back patio has started to look like a small lake.

the slow road

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tomorrow marks the three-week point since the sprain.

I can't believe it's taking this long to recover.

Yes, I'm running again, but as you can see (in what can only be described as yet another awkward photo of my ankle), I'm still swollen. Also, the area right around the bone still hurts to touch.

So I'm taking things extremely slowly right now. I'm trying to increase mileage a little at a time, vary terrain gradually and not run on consecutive days so I can give my ankle some rest between workouts.

Last week, I only ran nine miles, and I stuck to roads and the track -- flat surfaces and as even as possible. So far this week, I've run three miles and managed to introduce some hills without any problems.

In between runs, I'm doing a lot of cross-training. I went to a pretty intense spin class tonight -- the instructor wanted to work as close to lactate threshold as possible, and I left feeling rubbery and like I wanted to barf (but in a good way, of course). I'm also still going to my Pilates reformer sessions once a week, lifting weights and trying to swim whenever I can.

And I'm working on ankle strength -- standing on a Bosu ball while using free weights, sticking a yoga block between my feet and doing relevés, balancing one foot at a time on a foam roller that's been cut in half.

I'm not going to lie -- rehab feels interminable. I constantly have to talk myself out of freaking out, getting anxious or becoming depressed. I hate the fact that I've missed out on weeks' worth of trail runs with my training group (and this includes runs in awesome locations like Shell Beach and Mt. Burdell -- and I'm going to miss China Camp this Sunday), as well as speed workouts with the track group. I'm worried I won't be ready in time for Chesebro and that I'll be too weak to pace Derrick when he runs his first 50-miler in April.

To cope, I have to keep reminding myself that no matter how many concerns and insecurities I have about future events and training, none of them are as major as this: If I rush out there too soon, I could hurt myself again or keep this injury from healing properly, which would only set me back even further.

So I'm trying my best to be patient. I'm telling myself all this work, all this slowness, is like money in the bank. And when I'm ready -- when the swelling and the pain are completely gone -- it's all going to pay off.

book club

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I recently finished reading this book by Shauna James Ahern, the voice behind the Gluten-free Girl blog -- possibly the best-known, most widely-read blog for those with celiac disease.

The book is mostly a memoir, with a few recipes sprinkled throughout. I like Shauna's writing -- the way she describes food is absolutely hedonistic (and this helped me overlook the parts of the book that seem a little too sentimental or too I-hate-my-parents-for-raising-me-on-packaged-convenience-foods ranty). I love her positive outlook and the way she turns a diet that most people likely view as limiting into a tool to explore new cuisines and ingredients.

Also, I can't wait to try out her Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika and Cocoa Powder recipe. (Doesn't that sound like the most random combination of ingredients ever? I am totally intrigued.)

But overall, the book has left me with one distinct feeling: Guilt.

Yes, that's right. Maybe this is silly and I am just letting the recovering Catholic in me take control of my feelings, but I feel guilty because I don't need to be gluten-free. Until I read this book, I had no idea how absolutely debilitating celiac disease is, and I feel embarrassed that eating gluten-free is more of a choice for me than a mandate. (Although I guess my nutritionist would argue otherwise.) It sort of makes me feel like a big poser or like I am taking it for granted that I really can eat things like ramen or pie without being completely destroyed/bedridden/chained to a toilet for several days afterward.

However, this is not to say that I don't have a reaction to gluten. In the past month, this is what I've noticed: I am significantly less bloated when I'm not eating gluten. My digestion is better. And -- to put it very bluntly -- I fart less and poop more.

And honestly, folks, what is more satisfying than a good poo?

(Dear Shauna James Ahern: Please do not be offended by the fact that I have written about your book and my poo in the same post. Thank you.)

happy hearts

Monday, February 14, 2011

I'm not big on Valentine's Day.

If you love someone, why not celebrate 365 days a year, instead of just Feb. 14? It seems silly to limit yourself.

But I admit it: Today was nice. And no, I did not limit myself.

I started off by bringing some blossoming teas from Tillerman to work for everyone in my department. (Aren't they so cute? Don't you love the ribbon and the little heart sticker?)

Then tonight we had a fantastic dinner -- mushroom cheese fondue and a beet and arugula salad accompanied by the 2004 Château Ausone, a first growth Bordeaux from Saint-Émilion that is a blend of 55 percent Cabernet Franc and 45 percent Merlot. (The fact that I even managed to get a bottle of this wine is a miracle in itself. First growth Bordeaux? Seriously. This is not something that happens every day, trust me.)

How to describe it: Like someone took dried cherries and dusted them with cocoa powder and then took a handful of violets and crushed them right next to my nose. An amazing, amazing wine -- the kind of stuff that makes me excited about wine all over again.

define 'gift'

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I was all set to write about celebrating Shaya's birthday.

(This pic of the birthday girl is from when we were at Daikokuya in December. That was the last time we saw each other. So glad she was able to make it up to SF this weekend!)

I was going to write about how great it was to get together with my friends from the college paper to toast Shaya and reminisce about those early journalism days: The Team Snob vs. Team Grub undercover shopping survey in which we dressed according to stereotypes and went to South Coast Plaza to see if the store employees would treat us differently; the feature story about a polyamorous group on campus (and how they invited me to join after I finished interviewing them); Shaya's waterpolo curse -- every time she went to a game to cover it for the paper, the team lost. Ah, good times.

I was also going to write about the ramen we had at Suzu tonight and how I was kind of disappointed when I asked them to add an egg, and their egg was just a regular hard-boiled egg -- real ramen eggs are slow-cooked!

And I was going to write about the photos we took at Pika Pika. That's right -- we finally figured out how to work those ridiculous photo booths!

And then after the photos, we went to Sophie's for crêpes -- and they were light and fluffy and wonderful. (Todd ordered the Japanese crêpe -- green tea gelato, red bean paste and matcha sauce. Clearly, it was a hit!)

I was going to write about all of this. In a lot of detail. But then I came home and discovered that one of the cats had pooped in the bathroom sink.

That's right. Pooped in the bathroom sink.

And now all I can think about is which of these little monsters is the guilty party.

Maybe they wanted to give Shaya a birthday present too.

going green

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If Kermit the Frog were a muffin, what would he look like?

Yup, that's right -- made Spinach Quinoa Muffins tonight. (Note: They're not gluten-free. Spelt is an heirloom variety of wheat. It's supposed to be easier to digest than wheat is, but it's still possible for people with gluten sensitivity to have a reaction to spelt also.)

So how do they taste? They could be better. I love the texture and the color, and the grassy smell of the spinach when I was pureeing it was amazing. But I think I screwed up and overdid it on the lemon zest -- the muffins have a bitter citrusy flavor that throws everything off balance. I need to try this recipe again and go easy on the zest the next time around.

kitten belly

Friday, February 11, 2011

I couldn't resist.

all wrapped up

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I like to think of it as a present with a whole lot of healing inside.

Ran three miles this evening without any problems!

blame the cuboid

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I love my physical therapist.

After a wiggle here and a wiggle there, a little flex and point and squat action, and some poking and prodding, she figured out that my cuboid was out of place, causing a lot of swelling and limiting the range of motion in my ankle. I've had issues with my cuboid shifting out of place before, but this time, it was pushed too far up, so my self-help strategy didn't work since that technique is only good when my cuboid is too far down. When I thought I was popping it into place, I was actually pushing it even farther up. Doh!

As my PT repositioned my cuboid, I asked her: "What can I do to keep my cuboid in place?"

Her response: "Don't step in a hole and sprain your ankle."

Oh, PT humor.

But once that little bone was back where it should be, the tightness in my ankle disappeared, and I felt like I had my range of motion back. Granted, I'm still sore and a little swollen, but I feel so much better than I have since the sprain.

Then my PT taped me up and told me to run. (Yes! She told me to run!)

So I did. One mile on the track and around my block. And so far, feeling good!

gluten-free pizza

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

And the experimentation continues: Tonight I tried Udi's gluten-free pizza crust. I was pretty hungry and didn't want to spend a lot of time prepping, so I just used canned pasta sauce (which was OK -- homemade would've been better) and then topped the pizza with shallots, thinly sliced tempeh and freshly grated parmesan. I popped it in the oven for about eight minutes, and when it was done, I drizzled some truffle oil on it.

Yum. Scarfed the whole thing. And the crust was light and crispy.

(By the way, Udi also makes awesome gluten-free bread -- I'm mad for their cinnamon raisin bread, which is especially out-of-control fantastic when it's topped with sunflower seed butter. So far, their stuff is the only gluten-free bread I've found palatable -- good texture, doesn't fall apart, doesn't weigh a ton. Grab some.)

And on a totally unrelated note, I haven't run since Thursday. I'm trying so hard not to go insane or start stressing out about my next race (which happens to be next month). I'm also trying not to get angry about the injury -- I know that's not going to help. Instead, I've been cross-training -- swimming yesterday, spin class today. And tomorrow I'm seeing my physical therapist -- really hoping she'll have some good news for me.

from the kitchen

Monday, February 07, 2011

The best benefit of my nutrition consultation?

Experimentation and variety.

That appointment was a wake-up call for me: I was eating the same food all the time. Toast or cereal for breakfast. Some kind of sandwich or a burrito for lunch. Pasta or rice dish for dinner. (And if I was feeling lazy, Chinese takeout or pizza.) Over and over and over. And if you look at that list, that's a lot of wheat and not enough veggies or fruit.

Changing my diet so it better suits my metabolic type has forced me to cook more and think about my meals. I'm trying foods I had never thought about (chia seeds!) and discovering new ways (kale chips!) to prepare my old favorites. Within the past month, I feel like I've become much more confident as a cook and am enjoying myself more than I ever have in the kitchen.

Tonight I made One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf. (I wish my kitchen had better lighting -- this photo just doesn't do this dish justice.) It was kick-ass and was ready so quickly that I could barely believe it.

I'm already thinking about what I can cook up tomorrow.


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Since I couldn't run Kaiser, I decided to be the best spectator I could possibly be.

So I made signs.

It was so awesome to watch people laugh as they ran by -- felt really damn good to be able to make people smile in the middle of a tough race. (And it was tough -- temperatures in the 70s -- way too warm.) There was a lot of whooping and hollering. Some people yelled: "Zombies! Yeah!" One guy shouted: "The end is nigh!" And a few fellow spectators took photos of my sign.

I loved cheering for my friends -- saw them start and caught them around the 6-mile mark and then right before the finish chute. Even though I've run with Jessa many times and we've been in the same events, this was my first time actually watching her race. She did great -- 1:46:05. I also saw Dana, who finished in 2:00:46 (so close -- she was going for sub-2). And I was so proud of Laura -- this was her first half ever, and she clocked 2:22:35.

I'm grateful they all finished strong and healthy. Not everyone was so lucky. Laura said she saw two people passed out and one guy about to topple over. And tonight, we found out that one runner didn't make it -- a 35-year-old Orinda man finished the race, collapsed and then died. So incredibly sad -- 35 years old!

My thoughts go out to his family and friends.


Saturday, February 05, 2011

I checked my ankle this morning and discovered a bruise. It's a small one, and it's faint, but it's there. No half marathon for me tomorrow.

To get my mind off of my injury (and yes, I am pretty down right now -- I guess I spent the past week hoping for some kind of miracle, and now it's absolutely apparent that nothing is going to change), I went to Petaluma Pie and got a brunch pie -- spinach, egg, potato and cheese. Yes, it had gluten in it. Whatever. This was an emergency situation.

I love pie. I love the people at Petaluma Pie. Every time I see Lina, she says: "Didn't I come to your house to deliver a pie? That was so sweet of your friend to call us!" And then we start talking about how amazing pie is. Seriously, I believe it may have healing powers.

After that, I went home and spent the afternoon making veggie burgers from the Mark Bittman book. The ingredients: Kale, cannellini beans and sweet potatoes spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.

They turned out pretty well. A little crumbly, but delicious. Not bad for my first-ever attempt at veggie burgers.

And now: Time to break out the markers and posterboard. If I'm going to be a spectator tomorrow, I might as well do it right.
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