travel

Off to Run!

St. Michaels Photos

I’m heading to Maryland this weekend, but I’m not going to my sister’s place, as usual. Instead, we’re meeting in Saint Michaels, a historic town on the Chesapeake. We rented a lake house, but won’t be chillaxin’ the whole time. Mal and Peter are running a half-marathonВ (so excited to cheer them on!). And I’m running a 10K.

I went through a 5-year running phase during my early to mid-20s. I ran a half-marathon, two 10Ks and a few shorter road races. But a couple years ago, I decided to restart ballet and couldn’t balance both activities. So I gave up running and didn’t miss it at all. Until recently. Mal and Peter’s half-marathon training motivated me to jog twice a week on non-ballet days. And I’ve been enjoying it way more than I remembered.

Some of the best runs I’ve had were during my recent weekend trips. I loved running along Chicago’s Lake Trail

В …and by the canal houses in my sister’s Maryland neighborhood…

Ocean Pines, Maryland

…and when I was in Boston, I was so happy to complete one of my all-time favorite runs: the loop from Harvard to MIT–especially the run over the Mass Ave. bridge. (That was the one nostalgic thing I managed to do that weekend–and good, too, to work off the calories I consumed!)

I’d originally planned to run a 5K this weekend. But I felt so good during those long runs that I signed up for the 10K.

The other day, I found my time for the last 10K I ran in–back in 2005. I finished in 53:31. I have no idea how I’ll do tomorrow, but I don’t think I’m going to be as fast. Overall, I feel like I’m in better shape now, but I’ve only been running for two months. The bulk of my exercise is ballet, which really is my first love. So I’m going to be proud of whatever time I get–though of course I’m hoping to come close to that old number!

Got any last-minute running advice for me? I’d love to hear your tips!

(Top photo via TripAdvisor)

Restaurant Recipe Recreation: Stella’s Orecchiette with Cured Tomatoes and Sausage

When I was in Boston a few weekends ago, I ate a lot of great food. But one meal that particularly stuck in my mind was Stella’sВ orecchiette with chile flake, sausage and cured tomato. I was surprised at richness and the depth of flavor in such a seemingly simple dish. It was hearty with a fresh, robust tomato sauce. I was still thinking about it this weekend, so I recreated a version of it on Sunday.

I hadn’t cured tomatoes before, so I used this recipeВ as a guide.В I washed, scored, boiled, peeled and cut 2 pounds of grape and cherry tomatoes. (The recipe called for Romas and I would definitely use them next time. I just happened to have these little guys on hand and used them anyway because I’m a pro at making things more difficult for myself, even though it took much longer to peel all of them.)

Next, I seasoned the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, placed them on a baking sheet and sprinkled sliced garlic on top. They went into the oven at 200 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Later in the evening, I prepared a box of orrecchiette. While the pasta cooked, I browned spicy chicken sausage. (I opted for that over pork to make the dish a little healthier.) When the meat was almost cooked, I added the cured tomatoes.

Once the pasta was al dente, I mixed the orecchiette with the tomatoes, sausages and a generous handful of chopped basil. В I was so happy with how the dish came out. It was a little less rich than Stella’s (due to swapping pork for chicken) but just as tasty–and so pretty, too!

Orecchiette with Cured Tomatoes and Chicken Sausage (inspired by Stella‘s Orecchiette with Chile Flake, Sausage and Cured Tomatoes; cured tomatoes adapted from Cork’s Oil-Cured Tomatoes)

Ingredients:

2 lbs tomatoes (I used a mix of grape and cherry tomatoes, though it’s probably best to use Romas)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking the sausage

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1 lb orecchiette

1 lb spicy chicken sausage, casing removed

a handful of fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

1. Wash and score tomatoes on the side opposite stem. Place in boiling water for 20 seconds. Scoop out and immediately dunk in an ice bath. Remove skin and seeds. Cut into halves or quarters.

2. Toss tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet and sprinkle garlic on top. Bake at 200 degrees F for 45 minutes. Once cool, let tomatoes marinate in a container for at least two hours.

3. Cook orecchiette according to package directions. Once done, drain, reserving one cup pasta water.

4. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and break up into pieces. Once nearly cooked through, add cured tomatoes, pasta and pasta water, if needed. Toss in basil before serving.

A Weekend of Good Eats in Boston

Two weekends ago, Reen, Karen and I escaped to Boston for a girls’ weekend. In the years since we graduated college, we’d made separate whirlwind trips back to catch up with friends. But the last time the three of us had been there together was eight years ago–and we felt we were overdue for a return trip.

Originally, we planned to have a ridiculous nostalgia fest. We came up with a long list of places to hit up to relive our college days: Cactus ClubВ (um, it was going to be Cinco de Mayo, after all), Whiskey’s, People’s Republik, Mike’s Pastry,В Anna’s Taqueria. We even considered going to Allston bars like Common GroundВ before deciding that would be too sad and embarrassing, nostalgia weekend or not!

But once we got to Boston, we scrapped those plans. The city had changed so much in our time away. Instead of drinking like college kids and going to our old faithful places, we decided to experience Boston in a more “age-appropriate” way–especially now that we’re no longer dirt poor, like when we lived there, as Reen said. (Though in my case, I’d say I’ve barely moved up one step from “dirt poor.”)

We basically ate and drank our way through the weekend. Some highlights–and lots of food pics:

Dinner at Stella: One thing hasn’t changed about Boston: the lack of late-night dining options. By the time we checked into our hotel on Friday, it was 11 p.m., past the hour most restaurants stop serving. (Our concierge actually told us IHOP was our only option.) We wanted a relaxing, sit-down meal, so we headed to Stella, in the South End–and were so pleased with our choice. The restaurant is stylish with a chill vibe and the crowd mostly 30-somethings. Plus, Stella has a great (i.e. girly) cocktail menu and fantastic food. We loved the short rib flatbread pizza and orecchiette with sausage.

Brunch at theВ South End Buttery:В When I lived in Boston, there weren’t many brunch options. There seem to be quite a few now, and Reen made a great choice for Saturday. We had Bloody Marys and amazing eggs Benedict with shaved ham on homemade biscuits. The dish was so good that I wish I knew a place in NYC that made a variation on par with it.

Dinner and Drinks atВ Island Creek Oyster Bar:В I love the decor here. The mix of weathered wooden planks with ultra-modern lighting fixtures really makes the space feel like a fancy seafood shack transplanted into a city. The cocktails were great (I’m planning to make/drink my own version of the Bergamot Buck all summer) and the oysters and lobster roll were among the best I’ve had.

Mint julep–because it was also Derby day.

Margaritas at Lolita Cocina and Tequila Bar: We met up with our Cambridge pal Doug for Cinco de Mayo drinks. Loved the margaritas–especially the Diablo and Naughty Pineapple–but not the long line we waited on to get into the place. We had a great time once we got inside, though!

SoWa Open Market:В Apparently, this farmers/design/vintage market has been around since 2003 but I didn’t recall hearing of it before. It was totally cool and reminded me of Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. We browsed the artisans’ wares and had great sandwiches and tacos from the BBQ Smith food truck before hitting the road back to NYC.

Did I miss anything? What other places should I check out on my next trip up? (Boston peeps, I’m hoping to return sometime this year!)

Off for a Girls’ Weekend!

karen, heg, reen

Happy Friday!В I’m especially excited because I’m getting out of town with Karen and Reen. For ages, we’ve been talking about having a girls’ weekend–and now we’re finally doing it. (We’ve probably been saying that since the photo above was taken…back in 2004 after we graduated from college.)

I’m looking forward to lots of great food (and drinks–it’s gonna be Cinco de Mayo/Derby Day, after all), but mostly, for the time together.

Have a good one, too!

(P.S.: A hilarious link to start the weekend–though it’s all stuff I try not to think about when I’m not at work!)

First Crabs of the Season

I had such a nice weekend in Maryland with my favorite people. As I’d guessed, it was too chilly to go to the beach (will summer please start, already?) but we did manage to indulge in our second favorite Maryland activity:

Maryland’s blue crab season runs from April through October. The best crabs are, admittedly, in September and October, after the crustaceans have had months to grow and fatten up. But the first crabs of year are always fantastic, too–I think that’s partially due to anticipating them for six months!

Last year, we tried out a number of crab joints along the Atlantic coast and unanimously decided that the best blue crabs are not in Maryland, but in Delaware. They’re at the Blue Crab in Bethany Beach. We stumbled upon the restaurant about a year ago, on another chilly, pre-summer day. Little did we know that it would become our favorite crab place in the region. The crabs are always fresh and meaty and the hush puppies are amazing.

As usual, Peter and I got the All You Can Eat blue crabs and Mal opted for snow crab. As we eagerly awaited our meals, we readied our tools…

…and tried not to eat all the hush puppies and fried chicken they bring out first in an attempt to fill you up.

Finally, the main event arrived!

It’s funny; eating crab is like riding a bicycle–it takes a minute to remember how to do it, after it’s been a while. But once we did, we were cleanly breaking those guys apart, effortlessly extracting big chunks of meat and savoring the meal for a good hour or so.

Off to Maryland!

I’m starting my weekend a little early. I took the day off and I’m headed down to the Maryland shore to see my favorite people in the world. (So excited!)

I was hoping for warm weather of 75-80 degrees so we could go to the beach–at the very least to just hang out and have a picnic. But since the forecast is looking cooler, we’re planning to grill, go shopping and running–and hopefully get my first crabs of the season!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Flight Patterns

When I was in Chicago this weekend, I spent an hour at the Art Institute. Though that short amount of time didn’t allow me to see everything, I was able to explore most of the gorgeous modern wing, as well as two special exhibits: “Fashioning the Object: Bless, Boudicca, Sandra Backlund”В and “Rethinking Typologies: Architecture and Design from the Permanent Collection.”В They were both beautifully done, but one piece from the latter really wowed me.

“Flight Patterns” is an animated rendering of air traffic patterns over North America during one day (August 12, 2008). To create it, artist Aaron Koblin parsed FAA data and charted the courses of 205,000 different planes; the colors correspond to the type of aircraft model.

The resulting video is both beautiful and mesmerizing. The individual flight paths converge until they form a rough outline of the United States. Within that, you can see various hubs–like NYC, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles–light up as more of the traffic passes through them. I eventually had to tear myself away from the piece because I could have watched it for hours.

Watching the video at home isn’t the same as seeing it on a larger, gallery screen, but you can get the idea:

(Photo via The Art Institute of Chicago, video via Aaron Koblin)