Friday, February 29, 2008

Bound for Hollywood!

Though my acting career fizzled in '91, I'm still following my dreams and heading to Hollywood. My dreams at this point consist of a respite from the 20 degree weather 'round here. And so it will be. Hollywood, FL, here I come!!

Rocked a tough trainer session last night. Z5 stuff. Sweat out half my body weight. I'm pretty bummed to have to hang up the cleats for the next four days, as I'm feeling on a good trajectory. Feeling like I must keep the hard efforts up to be ready for racing in two weeks. Maybe four days off will yield an even deeper drive when I return to DC next week.

Truth is, I should probably ship the Ritchey down to Florida so I have something to ride when I visit my parents. The bike would probably see more use that way. As it stands, it's collecting dust in G'burg. If I can't sell it, I might as well use it...even if that's once or twice a year.

On the dining front...the trip will include a visit to some old favorites. We've been going to Wagon's West for at least 25 years. Not surprisingly, they have no Interweb presence, otherwise I'd post a link. Needless to say...some of the best down home b'fast in the universe. Yes, the universe.

We'll also hit Joe's Stone Crab. Miami institution with a classic and straightforward menu. 'tis the season for succulent crabs. These creatures are a bit of magic. In the wild, they exhibit autotomy. So they can amputate their own claws. Further, if (and when) harvesters de-claw the crabs, they still grow back the amputated limb! And so we can eat these guys with a little less guilt. Lyonnaise potatoes, anyone?

Hoping to make Tradezone next weekend. I should be hard to miss...fat and crispy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


The blog has seen a dearth of food-related entries in recent months. I'm tempted to shift the food course towards only reporting on 2 Amys outings. Each trip seems ripe for analysis and comment, as each trip yields fresh, new, impeccable dishes and flavors. And we go often enough that focusing on that one restaurant would yield weekly, if not more frequent, entries.

Most recent trip was solo. Solo means I'm free to create my whole meal from wine bar offerings. Without SVR, there's no obligation towards pizza and, despite being a pizza restaurant, I'm fine skipping the pie in favor of cold items. And so it was a completely cold dinner for me at the bar.

I had:

Goat cheese and chive crostini--A go-to option. Rich, creamy, smooth, and only slightly pungent cheese flecked with enough chive to add sweetness and bite. As with all things from Scott's arsenal, quality black pepper and salt make the subtle flavors 'pop' that much more.

Root vegetables with speck--Different from the roasted root vegetable salad, this version benefits greatly from the smoky speck. The roasted version carries a certain smokiness from the char on the vegetables, but cured and smoked meat offers a far greater level of fire-y flavor. The earthy vegetables pair really well with the meaty ham and all flavors are balanced by the sweetness and tartness of a balsamic drizzle. So this dish really has it all...the sparkle of vegetables (albeit heavy, winter vegetables), the richness and depth of those vegetables mingled with cured meat, and the offset of sweet vinegar. I'd like to see this on the menu more regularly than the roasted root veg.

Smoked mackerel and potato salad--Never seen this on the menu before, but I knew I HAD to have it. Colors were subdued and boring, but I knew looks were bound to be deceiving. Found out Scott, in fact, smoked the mackerel in-house. Very cool. And my best guess is that the potatoes were fingerlings. Dominant flavors were the cedar from the smoked fish, the salt from the curing the fish underwent before smoking, the mild sweetness and creaminess of the potatoes (a lot like a fine Yukon gold), and the extreme savory punch and mineral-iness of the granular sal de mer. A winner.

Rabbit stuffed with rapini and pecorino--Another winner. This dish is, once more, about balance. The rabbit meat seems to be a mix of darker and lighter flesh and is kept in the skin. The skin adds good moisture and tenderness to the white meat which, in past experience, can dry out pretty easily. Beyond the skin's fat tenderizing the meat, the skin also crisps nicely on the outside. A bite of this rabbit starts with the crunch of the crispy skin, yields some softer fat, moves on to dense meat, and finally rewards with the bitter rapini and sharp pecorino cheese stuffed all up in the center. Scott pairs the meat component with a fruit preserve/marmalade. I don't know what fruit he uses, but I think it might be quince. Of course, the jam serves as the real icing on this savory cake. All the flavors described above are, once again, balanced with a blast of sweet. I'm a sucker for the sweet/savory pairing and this dish dials it pretty perfectly.

Beverages included a Beirra Uno (not entirely clear on the name). It was a refreshing and straightforward pilsner. Nothing complex, but a good thirst quencher.

Also had an Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale. I'm willing to call this a perfect beer and easily my favorite of all time. Did I mention how balance is my thing? Apparently the Boont Amber is a pale ale, but you wouldn't know it by looking at it. Rich copper in color, it's a joy to look at before taking a sip. The dominant flavor is the rich and mildly sweet malt. Bitter and slightly floral hops cut the sweetness just the right amount and achieve the right balance. I've had this beer on tap and in the bottle and the stuff from the keg achieves this balance best.

I also treated myself to Scott's herbal digestivo. Not for the faint at heart, this concoction lives at the very back of the bar coolers and, from what Scott tells me, rarely sees daylight. Like something out of a mad scientist's lab, this stuff is wild in look and flavor. The current batch isn't quite as blindingly fluorescent green as the last version. Still, though, the color is about as garish as Rock Racing's current green scheme. (I couldn't let this post go without at least one cycling reference.) Basil infuses most of the color and a lot of the flavor. This batch had at least fifteen other herbs thrown in the mix and the effect is pretty much liquid Ricola. To me, this drink is simply of the earth and very soothing.

Dessert was straciatella ice cream. Awesome. Good, sweet, rich vanilla cream laced delicately with dark chocolate shavings. Paired it with an espresso and sipping the coffee right after a bite of ice cream was really good. It was like a deeply pungent cup of coffee with the right amount of cream and sugar. But the mixing happened in my mouth, so it was a slightly different and better sensation.

It's funny to imagine many of the uninitiated bop in to 2 Amys, order a pie with mushrooms or some such, and never come near experiencing what makes the restaurant really shine.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Zoning In or Zoning Out???

As mentioned, I've had the ol' power meter since some time in October. It has been a lot of fun to use and toy with. Ultimately, it's a pretty expensive tool to just "toy" with. I know I've been mistreating it as a thing to play with and not using it to become a better and more powerful cyclist. Part of that problem was not having baseline measurements to make the tool useful and productive. I'm happy to say, "Those days are gone!"

Winter training has been unsteady and say the least. This past year, I came to lean heavily on my coach for variety and specificity in the training. I've been a bit passive these last few weeks with my feedback and it was starting to show in my motivation and enthusiasm. I think it's fair to say, "We're back!"

I sucked up a twenty minute threshold test last night. Brutal stuff. And not pretty to watch, I'm sure. While not overjoyed with the results, it's a good enough starting point. JB was quick to turn around the full slate of zones, so now training can begin in earnest. I have to say, I think having my clear zones is gonna offer a new lease on life, er, cycling. I know it's late in the winter season, but hopefully the timing is right for me to put the numbers to good use and be moderately ready for the racing season. Time will tell.

Ooooh. Before I forget. I saw Mr. Puma in the gym last night. This time he was actually sporting some Puma apparel. That's the confirmation I needed to know he's a loyal customer and not just some weirdo with a random corporate tattoo. Oh, wait. Loyal customer or not, he's still a weirdo with a corporate tattoo!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Groundhog Day!

Last weekend merits a bit more attention and documentation than time allows right now, but the short story is Groundhog Day weekend was awesome.

Friday: Solid evening trainer session. Followed it up with some fancy-pants eating at D&S's. I've heard about their roast chicken. Now I've tasted it. Pretty impressive. And the roasted root vegetables on the side were what I love about winter. Rich. Comforting. Colors of the earth. a good way. Dessert was pretty effin' impressive. Profiteroles from scratch. Who does that? D does that. Nice work...even though the chocolate sauce was from a can. At least it was from a can and not a plastic bottle. Something about Hershey's chocolate syrup from a can screams, "Classy!" I'm serious.

Saturday: Up relatively early and caught a little TV news about Punxsutawney Phil and his exploits. SVR and I watched as the news showed several couples get engaged in front of the official groundhog hole. I couldn't help but chuckle inside considering what I had in store for later that night. SVR commented on some supah fly groundhog winter hats folks sported at the event. I'm sure I can find those things online.

Innaugural outdoor ride on the new Cannondale was next up. Good times out on the road with some fellers...MattyD., hEllicott, Hot Karl, and E-rock. Also saw Kyle out on the roads. The Rival group was good enough, but initial performance confirms how much I love my buttery-smooth Dura-Ace. I'm sure Rival will feel a bit better once broken in.

Came home and promptly shipped SVR off to a baby shower in Adams Morgan. Followed up with a swing past D&S's for some final pre-engagement errands. We bopped up to Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits to get Tony's help picking out a special bottle for the big night. The idea is to follow up and buy an entire case so we can enjoy a bottle on our anniversary in the coming decades. Some Dos Equis and enchiladas at Cactus Cantina and a quick trip back to the condo to show D&S the beauty of HD and the day was nearly done. Funny...not an ounce of nerves until D&S walked out the door and I was left alone until the magic moment.

SVR arrived home at the appointed hour. Off to 2 Amys. Crowds like we've never seen. The staff did everything right, SVR was surprised out of her pants, and now we're engaged. Happy Groundhog Day!!

Sunday: Another stellar ride, this time just with Evan in the hot, hot sun, and some putzing around in the lead up to the Bowl. The game was incredible. A perfect ending to a perfect weekend. Wish my grandpa was around for all of it. Alas...