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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CrossFit in Fort Worth

You may or may not have heard about CrossFit. If you do it, you probably love it. If you've only heard about it, you may be intimidated. I tried it out and am here to give you the scoop.

Is it hard? Yes. Is it extremely fun? Yes. Do you ever get bored? No.

I love physical fitness but have found running to be monotonous. I've never lifted weights or done pushups or sit ups because I think they are boring as well.

I started running in Fort Worth events (Turkey Trot, Friends of the Trinity, Cowtown, etc) to change things up and reach new goals. I even bought a bike to mix it up a bit, but I always find that I'm looking for more.  Like a puppy, I need to get tons of energy out or I'll be running in circles in my living room.

I finally found something that engaged and challenged me on a new level when I started a bootcamp two months ago. It focused on core strength and the trainer changed the workout every session. I thought it was really fun but was bummed when it was over in 6 weeks. I was close but no cigar. So what now?


Some of you may be feeling jaded by your workout routine as well. If so, I encourage you to find the closest CrossFit gym and participate in a free class. The first class had the energy of a group run with words of encouragement rising up in the crowd. Every few seconds you are onto another workout. Music that gets the tush moving blares in the gym. Chaos ensues as each person tackles their station to the best of their ability.

And that's what makes it so great — the workouts are relative to how much you can do and how hard you push yourself. Before I tried it out, I assumed everyone was extreme and everyone had to do the same level workout. I imagined people throwing up everywhere and trainers yelling at you saying, "you're lame!" My experience was nothing like that. It was awesome.

We'll see what I say after a month. Stay tuned.

UPDATE (6/10/11): CrossFit has been a blast! Such a great workout!!

Fort Worth CrossFit locations:
CrossFit Seven
CrossFit Iron Horse
CrossFit Fort Worth
Downtown CrossFit
GSX CrossFit

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Restore Memorial Day ... and have a good holiday

Memorial Day is a solemn holiday organized to remember those who died for our freedom, but it's become a day to grill by the pool, spend a day at the lake or take a long weekend vacation. Have we forgotten the cost of a free country?

Maybe the original meaning of Memorial Day has faded from our consciousness. While war rages on in the Middle East, we could stop and remember those who made it possible for us to enjoy Memorial Day festivities. Those who died became martyrs for our freedom and are the reason we don't live in fear every day. And I guarantee they don't get a day off of work in Afghanistan.

Memorial Day was traditionally May 30 every year, but the government eventually moved it to the last Monday of May so people could have a three-day weekend. Some say this further distracted us. Maybe it's how the holiday is marketed that distracts us. Whatever it is, let's put our flags out and at 3 p.m. on Monday have a moment of silence to remember the dead.

I don't intend to make anyone feel bad on their day off. I intend the opposite — our life and all of its joys will be that much richer if we stop and think about the blood, sweat and tears that went into making our country great. A good thing usually doesn't come easy. I hope, if anything, it helps you to enjoy the day you have off even more.

So let this not be a day where we debate whether or not this current war should have ever taken place. Let it be a day where we can all come together and thank those who died for the freedoms we enjoy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fort Worth Hiking Trails

It's summer and time to get out of the house! I'm always looking for things to do outside and after a little research I found some hiking trails that I can't wait to check out.

I stumbled on the website Your Guide to the Outdoors and looked at what they had on Fort Worth. There are a bunch of hiking trails all around us! You'd think I would know that as a native, but alas we get lazy.

Click here for some information on a bike route that takes you through historical Fort Worth. For other hiking trails and maps click here.

Lake Mineral Wells Trail
My roommate in college used to spend weekends hiking and camping at Lake Mineral Wells State Park (click name). She grew up in New Mexico and Canada where the outdoors are appreciated a little more. She told me how beautiful it was and that I should check it out. Now that my life is settling down a little bit, I think I will.

The Fort Worth Nature Center looks like a promising stop!  I have to thank Fort Worth Hole in the Wall for the tip. So nice of them. Pssst ... it may be worth stopping in the FW Nature Center this weekend for the center's canoe tour May 28, or the Fitness Walk guided tour through nature on May 29.

Lake Mineral Wells

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fleet Landing in Charleston, SC

One restaurant you must try when visiting Charleston is Fleet Landing. It has a great atmosphere on the water, and the food is even better than the view. Check out our awesome orders.

Best biscuit I've ever had ... really

Fried oysters on a bed of cheese grits smothered in barbecue sauce. 

"The best thing on the menu," our waiter said. This is a whole flounder, scored and fried with the skin on. I know, I know, but the skin adds texture that made this treat incredible. 

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée 

View from the balcony

Charleston Grill, SC

Rarely can I justify spending $100 on myself for dinner, but I didn't feel one ounce of guilt at Charleston Grill on King Street in South Carolina. The food here was an experience, an explosion of flavors, a culinary roller coaster ride. 
I knew it was going to be good when the chef brought out a complimentary taste that was already one of my most memorable bites of food. It was a taste of what is to come. Above is a piece of jumbo lump crab meat served with a yellow tomato gazpacho jelly, vanilla sea salt and lemon crème fraiche. I wanted this for my dinner, but it wasn't on the menu.

We started with the Foie Gras, which was sitting on sauteed apples smothered in a bourbon-cider sauce. To the side of the of the fatty duck liver was a cake doughnut also smothered in the sauce. The little white blob is a creamy, buttery mascarpone. This dish was divine and not like anything I've had before. We took a little bite of the foie gras with a little bite of doughnut and dipped it in the mascarpone to make a sweet and salty marriage that should never get a divorce.  

Below is the tuna sashimi topped with a Greek salad, lemon and basil. It was very refreshing. I've never had uncooked tuna with olives and yellow tomatoes, but I adored it.

Tuna Sashimi
For dinner we each strategically ordered something different and everything was toothsome. I ordered safe with the prime beef tenderloin cooked medium and smothered with bourguignon sauce. Just to make sure I was stuffed to the brim, I ordered pimento cheese grits with apple smoked bacon and lump crab meat. It was incredible. The plate was a work of art as well ... as you can see below.

Prime Beef Tenderloin
South Indian Curry with White Sturgeon Fish
Duck Confit with Blackberries and Foie Gras
Everything we tried was nothing less than perfect so I had to ask who the chef was after this meal, because she knows how to entertain a guest with tasty and eye-catching cuisine. 

Executive Chef Michelle Weaver incorporates fresh local ingredients prepared simply into four different menus — Pure, Lush, Southern and Cosmopolitan. She wowed us by proving she can do all of these styles well. The atmosphere was alive and warm with jazz music and dim lighting. Click her name to see her story and the series of awards she's brought to Charleston Grill

Jazz Ensemble with Quentin Baxter
If you get a chance to visit Charleston and have saved a little cash, then I recommend this place. Some people there just grabbed a drink and listened to the band, so don't feel like you can't enjoy this experience without spending tons of money. 

(Side note: $100 included tip, french-pressed coffee and dessert. It didn't include wine.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

An Exploratory Jog Through Charleston ... and sights I saw along the way

I heard one time that the best way to travel is to do what you love to do at home in the new city you're exploring. So I eat and jog. My adrenaline is up, my mind is sharp, and it's much quicker to get around when I jog. I also feel that I absorb more around me when alone, so this is a great way to discover new territory before the rest of your crew gets moving for the day. 

This morning I wanted to explore the tiny peninsula that is Charleston. I also wanted to see water because oceans make me happy. Below is a description of my route to give you an idea. 

I jogged down the west shore to the Ashley River and traced the edge of the water back up the east side of the peninsula that faces the Atlantic. I then jogged Broad Street across the peninsula back to where I started. I didn't have a definite course mapped out — I just went for it. Below are some sights I saw along the way.

Cool flowers that look like fireworks. Hydrangeas light up almost every home in this moist environment.  

Cool old homes. 

The most glamorous driveway I've ever encountered. Nice garden!

Cool really old home

Once I made it to the edge of town I encountered water. I wanted to leap onto that sailboat and blow around the Atlantic all morning. 

Jogging along the peninsula's edge.

The morning sun. 

Old cobblestone road on the East Battery. 

This is a beautiful pier where people sat on the end and fished. 

I stumbled upon Broad Street, which is filled with neat stores and restaurants. 

"Home of Doctor John Lining who made the first systematic weather observations with weather instruments in America, January 1738 - February 1753." Before independence! 

Cathedral of St John the Baptist
This Catholic church on Broad Street was established  in 1821. 

A carriage ride through town.

Jogging through the College of Charleston campus. It truly is beautiful, and I love the Spanish moss that drapes all of the trees. My friend told me this building was in Mel Gibson's film The Patriot

College of Charleston campus.

More beautiful flowers. They really are everywhere!

College of Charleston campus.

College of Charleston campus.

Isle of Palms, SC

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hominy Grill

We arrive to Hominy Grill early to beat the lunch crowd and good thing we did — the wait at noon was 45 minutes.

The place was more low key than I imagined given it's mentioned in a national food magazine on a regular basis. It was quaint and fitting for a romantic southern town. The specials were written on a chalk board (side note: soup of the day ... tomato bacon), and the waitresses wore khaki shorts and tee shirts.

When the menu came I was already drooling. Things like the fried green tomatoes, grilled eggplant and herbed goat cheese sandwich, and the pecan-crusted porterhouse pork chop with spiced peach sauce had my taste buds running laps in my mouth. I knew what we had to do. Each of us ordered something different and we all got to taste something. Below are the heavenly items we got to sample.

Picnic Sampler: pimento cheese, shaved country ham, okra pickles, picked eggs and toast. 
That was the best pimento cheese I've ever tasted. I can't stop thinking about it. The ham was basically prosciutto, and I layered some of the pimento cheese spread on the toast with the ham on top. So much flavor.

okra and shrimp beignets with salsa and cilantro-lime sour cream
I really don't need to say any more ... the description is sufficient. 

shrimp and grits with mushrooms, scallions, bacon and cheese

The only other time I've had shrimp and grits this good was by James Beard award-winning chef John Currence at City Grocery in Oxford, Miss. You'd think with all of the goodness in this dish it would be hard to screw up, but very few people get it right. The grits need flavor but can't be too rich. The shrimp are easy to overcook and sometimes this dish can be too salty. Not at Hominy Grill. Everything was perfection.

sesame-crusted catfish smothered in sauteed okra
and a peanut sauce, sitting on a bed of deep fried cheese grit cakes. 

Ever since a friend of mine wrote a feature story on catfish and how northern folk view this bottom dweller, I haven't been able to bring myself to enjoy it until I tried this. Thank you Hominy Grill for kicking me off the catfish wagon. 

the famous coconut cake
I've read about this heavenly cake in Bon Appetit magazine, but I've had a ton of coconut cake and am pleased but indifferent. I had zero apathy for this cake. It was dense, rich and had some of the best cream cheese icing I've had. None of that lemony stuff either, just a good traditional cake.

boiled peanuts
You can't go to Charleston without trying a boiled peanut. It took me a few minutes to get used to the foreign texture, but soon I was asking for seconds. I also advise that you don't leave Charleston without going to Hominy Grill.

Next post: sights I saw on my 5 mile run this morning.