Half marathon recovery binge

Sometimes, I can be a bit of a space cadet. About eight months ago, I signed up for the Navy Air Force Half Marathon on 9/20 and then promptly forgot about it since fall seemed like a whole other world away. A few months later, I decided fall would be a great time for a half marathon and signed up for the Parks Half Marathon for 9/13. After telling my mother about this, she seemed a little confused and asked me, “So are you not doing the other half marathon a week later?” Well shit. Looks like I just will just be running two half marathons in the span of a week.

Unfortunately, my running prep went a little awry when I fell during a long run in August and skinned a large part of my left knee. I could not even sleep for the first week after my tumble because my entire leg hurt, and running was definitely a little tough for the next couple of weeks. So by the time the first half marathon rolled around mid-September, I knew it was going to be a painful 13.1 miles. I definitely did not make things easier for myself by heading out the Friday before the race for a birthday party of the boy I’ve been crushing on for the past two months. After telling myself I would be “taking it easy” that night, I found myself making out on the dance floor of Local 16 like some 23 year old, followed by several drinks at Bar Pilar, and then before I knew it, it was 2:30am and I was still not in bed yet. The next morning (the day before the race), I woke up with a pounding headache that lasted the entire day. Since the race started in Rockville, I headed home to my parents’ house in Gaithersburg that afternoon and had some Vietnamese food for dinner before passing out at 8:45pm, hoping that nine hours of sleep would leave me hangover-free and well-rested before the long run. Instead, I woke up at 10:30pm and was completely unable to fall back asleep until 1:30am. Half marathon prep complete fail.

The next morning, I woke up exhausted, and very apprehensive about how the next couple of hours would go. My wonderful father dropped me off by the start, and I started in the third wave. The run ended being very painful after 9 miles due to my completely inadequate training, and my legs felt like heavy lead by the end but I was happy to have finished around 8:30min/mile pace. My adorable mother met up with me at the finisher’s tent, and we grabbed some watermelon and snacks before walking over to the Mama Lucia’s breakfast tent where they were providing eggs, sausages and pizzas to everyone. I was too exhausted to enjoy the food, and headed back to my parents’ house for a long, hot shower and laid down for a half hour. I started to feel a little bit more of a human being after closing my eyes for a few minutes, and so my father suggested we grab pho for lunch before I made my way back to DC. I knew at some point I would have to eat, and a nice light bowl of noodles sounded like the perfect way to tide me over until the real hunger hit.

Our family’s go-to spot in the suburbs is Pho 81 in Germantown, a small little restaurant located in a strip mall next to Honey Pig. As usual, there were plenty of open tables, we immediately put in our orders (this is after my mom asked if I wanted to split a small bowl and I asked if she was a crazy lady). I got my own small bowl with chin (well done beef) and bo vien (vietnamese meatballs), topped with blanched bean sprouts and thai basil. As usual, the fragrant broth and delicate noodles hit the spot, and I dipped each piece of meat into a generous scoop of sriracha and hoisin sauce to make each bite a perfect mix of salty, sweet and spicy. I had no problem finishing off the bowl, and we were out of the restaurant in less than thirty minutes. Talk about efficient!

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After packing my stuff back up, I swung by SM’s parents’ house to pick her up, which made me feel like a 17 year old again, picking up my high school friend for a day in the suburbs. Instead of hanging around MoCo, we went back to DC for an afternoon of day drinking. I thought that a bowl of pho would be the perfect recovery meal, but I realized after parking the car that I was ravenously hungry again. I needed food stat, and I need carbs to be a heavy player in this meal.

Even though we had just brunched at Etto a few weeks, that light, sweet crust and their high quality toppings were exactly what I was craving. Luckily SM and N were totally down for pizza, and we got seated on the beautiful and surprisingly empty outside patio immediately. Although ordering their mind-blowingly good breakfast pizza again was definitely a tempting option, I decided wanted to try something different today. Their cotechino pizza with fontina and egg seemed like the perfect way to pad my stomach before some afternoon brews. I also added anchovies to the pizza.

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The pizza arrived shortly, and our attentive waitress sliced up our pies for us. The egg was perfectly runny, so I popped it open and spread the creamy yolk all over the surface. As I bit into my first slice, I could feel my body start to (slowly) forget about the pain inflicted on it earlier than morning. The thin crust was, as always, remarkably soft and chewy. The thick slices of pork sausage were incredibly satisfying while the white cheese kept the pizza relatively light. I polished off the entire pizza with no problem, while SM and N both enjoyed their breakfast pizzas. It was another incredibly satisfying meal at Etto, and I felt like I was slowly coming back to life.

Next, we headed a few blocks down to the Standard beer garden, which I will continue to refer to as “Standard” despite their name change to “Garden District.” It was a beautiful day, and we managed to snag a picnic table outside. I ordered a hefe-weissbier, which was light, wheaty, and perfect fuel for basking in the sunlight.

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I got a text Tinder Will, who after watching the Redskins lose, wanted to meet up. I told him that we had no immediate plans to move from our sweet spot in the sun, and he came from Virginia to join us (major points for crossing the river). It’s always interesting to see how a new guy vibes with your friends, and in this case, it went well! We spent the next couple of hours telling ridiculous stories about Dewey and sitting in the warm sunlight. My legs appreciated the rest, and my body appreciated the afternoon of delicious eats and great company.

The barbecue speakeasy

Full disclosure: this post is coming about six months late after sitting in my draft posts for about 5 months. Back in March, I had read about a “secret” bbq spot operated by the folks from Wagshal’s Market and Wagshal’s Delicatessen. Pitmasters Back Alley BBQ is a small take-out joint located in the alley directly behind the Wagshal’s shopping plaza, and first got my attention when I read an article in the Washington Post about the non-disclosure agreement the cooks must sign. I immediately emailed my (real) roommate about ordering dinner from there one evening since it was on my route back to DC. He enthusiastically, agreed, and the following Thursday I called ahead to place in our order since the food is made to order:

Pork ribs + “mother in law” + cheddar biscuits
Prime brisket + apple slaw + mac ‘n cheese
Fried okra
I had no trouble locating the shopping plaza, but Google Maps took me through the back alley where I could not seem to find parking or the entrance so I went back to park in the Spring Valley Shopping Center in front of Wagshal’s. The kind folks at Wagshal’s directed me through the back of the shop and pointed out the door, which is beneath a large green canopy right across the back kitchen door. Once I got closer, I noticed the adorable little pig sign on the door that simply says, “Come in We are OPEN.”

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Inside, I found a narrow hallway and followed the signs that directed me around the corner to the pick-up counter.

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The guys at Pitmasters packed up my order for me, and let me know that there were reheating instructions inside. While I waited, I noticed the display case of beautiful looking pies. Since I’m a sucker for desserts, I figured we should at least try one and the guys suggested the key lime pie. They threw that into the big paper tote and sent me on my way. I could smell the barbecue the entire 30 minute drive back to the apartment and by the time I hit 11th street, I was lightheaded with hunger and had sent several hysterical texts to my roommate about my stomach pains.

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Luckily, Jason had set up plates, knives and all necessary eating tools when I walked in and so we just spread out our bounty and dug in. The pork ribs were wonderfully tender and came off of the bones easily. The smokey meat was juicy and tasted fantastic on its own, even though the meats came with several different sauces. The thick slices of brisket had the perfect fat to meat ratio, I finished my portion of this meat despite my stomach warning me that it was starting to reach its limit.

The sides were all solid. The fried okra help up surprisingly well, staying relatively crispy and the mac & cheese tasted buttery and decadent. My favorite side was the cheddar biscuits, which were just fluffy, savory pillows of dough. These were perfect carbs, created the way God intended them to be. We managed to put away a sizeable portion of the order, but definitely had plenty leftover for the next day.

Once I filled my belly and gotten over my hunger hysteria, I was able to appreciate the care put into the packaging of the orders. The meat is placed in sturdy cardboard containers, the sides and sauces are all packaged individually in plastic and everything is clearly labeled. This is definitely a place that takes all the steps to ensure you enjoy your meal. After getting our fill of the savory dishes, I had a slice of the key lime pie. While it was pretty good, the whipped cream topping was a little too sweet and thick for me. Next time, I will be trying the chocolate pecan pie.

The problem was that I immediately felt guilty for inhaling all of this, so I put on my running shoes and tried to go for a run. I only lasted about 20 minutes before I started feeling nauseous. So lesson learned, just wait and enjoy the butter and animal fat seeping into your blood. Don’t try to sweat it out.

Navigating a second date at Room 11

A couple of days after our first date at 2birds/Doi Moi, Will texted me and asked me if I was free the following week for dinner. I suggested Columbia Heights, and he asked me to pick a spot since he had never really spent time there (Virginites, amirite?). I suggested Room 11, because obviously that’s just the date spot. For anyone who has never made it up the hill to Columbia Heights like inexperienced William here: Room 11 is a place that contains anything and everything you could want for a summer night date: great cocktails, great bartenders, chill atmosphere, a beautiful outdoor patio, cozy inside, and absolutely delicious food (and also – not too far from my apartment since I am lazy and usually running 5-10 minutes late).

Room 11 opened about six years ago and is the brainchild of Dan Searing (formerly of Punch Club) and Paul Ruppert (Crane & Turtle, The Columbia Room, Petworth Citizen). The perfect mix between a neighborhood bar and cocktail lounge, it obviously was immediately a big hit and the place seemed almost always packed. The tiny restaurant expanded with 24 more seats in 2012 and added daily breakfast and lunch service. Even with these additions, Room 11 remains a popular spot despite all of the new openings in Columbia Heights in the past few years.

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The evening of the second date was a hot, steamy night so I ubered up 11th street. The patio looked pretty packed, but luckily Will had arrived before me and snagged two seats at the small inside. After we ordered our drinks (manhattan for him, Biz Marquee for me), we decided to stay at the bar for dinner instead of heading back out into the heat. I also actually prefer eating at the bar when I’m with someone because it feels more casual and less stiff than sitting across a table staring at them. You’re actually sitting next to them, and plus the service is better when you’re just chilling right in front of the bartender.

We started with the burrata over strawberry relish, spring blossom, and pistachio puree. While I usually love burrata, I did not like this dish that much. This is also maybe the first time I have ever not loved something I ordered at Room 11. The burrata was a little on the stiff side, and I was hoping for some creamy cheese that just ooooooozed as soon as I cut into it. The strawberries and pistachios made each bite a little nauseatingly sweet and the texture of everything together was not really going down my throat easily. Luckily, our main courses arrived shortly after.

I was pretty hungry and craving something meaty so I got the Four Barrel coffee burger with BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar with ranch salad. Will ordered the grilled pork chop with honey gastrique over tongue of fire beans, chard, pea shoots, pickled pearl onions. The burger was excellent: slightly crunchy on the outside, slightly pink on the inside, and smokey, with a kind of earthy taste from the coffee. Will approved of his pork, which looked like it was grilled perfectly (so tired of restaurants overcooking pork!). We managed to polish off both of our dishes completely in a short amount of time, so we hung around for another drink at the bar (beer for Will, another Old Fashioned for me) and kept chatting.

On our first date, I had noticed that I was talking more than him, and asking the bulk of the questions. But I figured that was just because 1) I just talk nonstop to anyone and everyone if they do not stop me and 2) it’s so easy to find things to ask about someone on the first date when you know absolutely nothing about them (besides what Google tells you). This second date, I noticed that I was, again, steering the conversation and asking him a lot of questions. A couple of times, I wanted to see if he could take over the talking, so I just did not say anything after he answered a question. Both of those times, he just looked at me, and I felt crickets hop into the tiny room and start some melodious chirping. Normally, I would take that as a sign that a guy is maybe not that interested in me, but he stayed engaged and seemed talkative when I asked him questions. After we finished our second drinks and he got the bill, he offered me a ride back down 11th street since he was heading home to Virginia, which was so sweet. As he dropped me off, we had a very sweet good bye kiss which was, just like the date, very nice and pleasant. But both the date and the kiss left me wondering whether there is an actual real connection between us, and if he was too reserved for me. I had no reason to dislike him, but was not sure if I actually liked him yet.

The following weekend, I headed to Rehoboth Beach with a couple of girlfriends. We met up with some of our guy friends for a bachelor party one afternoon in Dewey Beach, where Will also happened to be. We decided to meet up during an outdoor cover band show, and when he texted me to let me know he was across the crowd from me, I was surprised to see the reserved, put-together guy from the two dates (who had always been dressed in a button up and slacks), standing in front of me in a neon cut-off thank top, a backwards baseball cap, and bright green sunglasses. WHO is this? We ended up having a blast dancing and drinking cheap beer, and he was so friendly with my girlfriends. It was a shock to see this side of him, but I definitely appreciated it and was intrigued by these two different sides of Will. I guess the only way to learn more is to keep spending time with him….

Sunday brunch at Etto

On beautiful Sunday morning, I woke up craving carbs. At times like, I cannot believe I actually did paleo twice for a month each time. Anyway, while still laying in bed, I sent a text out to my version of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood #squad: A (fake roomie), N (from across the street), AC (hilarious badass with a great collection of crop tops). Luckily, they were all down to stuff their faces with me,  and after AC invited her roommate, we decided on Etto. Alright, that’s not totally true. I decided I needed Etto’s pizza, and they were all nice enough to appease me. After a long run, I met up with these beautiful friends on the outside patio of Etto since the sun was out and we wanted to soak in the weather for a bit.

One of the (many) things that I love about Etto is the minimal vibe, for both the decor and the menu. And everything I have ordered off of their straightforward menu has been amazing (although I am partial to the cauliflower and anchovy pizza). For brunch, Etto serves a lot of their smaller plates and pizzas from the dinner menu, in addition to some breakfast options like frittatas and a breakfast pizza. We decided to split the burrata to start, which was brought out quickly and along with their house bread. The burrata here is simple: just incredibly fresh cheese served on a plate with some olive oil. No toppings to distract you from the slight sweet, rich, cream.

For my entree, I definitely wanted to get one of the Neapolitan-style pizzas (made with house-milled flour). I decided to forgo the cauliflower and anchovy pizza this day for their breakfast pizza. When it arrived, I had regrets about going a different path:

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This pizza had all the right things: potatoes (extra carbs!), bacon (protein! sodium!), eggs (extra protein!), cheese (dairy!). The egg was cooked perfectly, and runny enough for me to spread the creamy yolk all over the surface. The softy, chewy crust somehow manages to hold together under the wondrous combination of toppings, and is light enough so that you don’t feel like you are just filling your belly up with breading. This was one of the best pizzas I have had. (Disclaimer: I feel like I make a similar statement every time I eat at Etto). I managed to polish off all but 2 slices, which just meant I would have a great breakfast option the next morning. Word to the wise: Etto pizza tastes fantastic when it’s cold.

After such a fantastic meal, we wanted to sit out on the patio and let our stomachs digest a little so we decided to order a round of drinks. I ordered a bloody mary (only $6!), which turned out to be one of the better bloody marys that I have had. The tomato juice was very thick and slightly salty, just the way I prefer it, and the pickled vegetables were a great garnish. It was the perfect end to a good brunch: my favorite babes soaking in the sun with me, pizza in my tummy, and a fresh cocktail in my hand.

Tinder Potential at 2birds and Doi Moi

Sometimes, you just see something that speaks to your soul. This basically represents my life right now:

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Tinder so far, after TBM, has been on giant bust. There’s a small, irrational part of me that believes I have used up all my good Tinder karma on TBM and now I will be forever cursed with guys who say things like, “Are you going to be naughtiest girl on my nice list or the nicest girl on my naughty list?” And of course, because I am stuck comparing every guy I come across to the intense chemistry I felt between TBM, no one measures up. So I am just constantly suppressing the urge to send a (sober) text to TBM demanding to know how he could screw up something with so much potential. Now the rational part understands that this is not smart because it’s not even like TBM and I worked out so why am I comparing every male to this situation? Also, I keep meeting guys who seem promising and then completely ghost before I even have the chance to decide there’s no spark. I mean, hey don’t you even want to get to know me before you find a legit reason to reject me?

Anyway, after a month and a half of weird messages, exhausting first dates that go nowhere, I got a fairly normal message from Will:

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Finally, just a normal opening. After chatting a bit about our travels, he asked me if I wanted to grab a drink. He first suggested Bar Pilar, but I happened to remember that the sweet Bar Pilar bartender, who I had gone on a few dates with last spring, works on Wednesday, which makes it a little awkward (and also rude for me to show up with some other random dude), so I attempted to not sound too pushy and suggested 2 Birds 1 Stone across the street. Luckily, he was totally fine with the idea and we met up on a beautiful Wednesday in the basement bar. He looked like his pictures (tall, longish blonde hair, boyish good looking face), which is always a good start. We ordered a round of Manhattans and started talking. It was the basic first date conversation and we seemed to have enough in common to keep it going at least until he suggested heading upstairs to Doi Moi for dinner.

Since it was such a pleasant night, we decided to eat outside on the patio. The only food aversions he listed were duck and lamb (debating right now if that’s a deal breaker since these happen to be two animals I love shoving into my mouth). We started off with the Mức Rang Muối (fried salt & pepper squid). The baby squid were seasoned with salt, pepper, a little garlic and ginger, and were crunchy little bites of savory deliciousness. This crispy mouthwatering dish is a great way to kick off your meal and to quell your empty stomach after the whiskey hits it.

We decided to split two entrees between the two of us: the Bún Bò Xào (stir fried lemongrass beef with vermicelli noodles) and the Chiang Mai Chicken & Noodle Curry. The lemongrass beef was good, but in my biased (and experienced!!!) opinion, nothing compared to what you can get in Eden Center. I really enjoyed the chicken and noodle curry, which was topped with crispy noodles. The curry is incredibly flavorful, slightly spicy and satisfyingly creamy. The chicken is on the bone, but so tender that it basically falls right off. We worked our way through the two dishes, and continued to talk although I did notice that while he was definitely able to talk once I asked the questions, he was not very good at steering the conversations or asking me questions. At one point I wondered if it was because I was not giving him the chance to ask questions so I just paused a couple times…. and got crickets and a nice smile from back in return. Maybe it just takes him a little bit of time to warm up to someone. Dinner went well enough and he seems normal enough (god, I am at the point where seeming normal enough earns a guy points) to get the benefit of the doubt.

Note: while I have enjoyed the last two meals at Doi Moi immensely, I continue to this the service is very lacking here, which is disappointing for such a great spot. The servers just are not attentive, I find myself having to wave someone down to put in food orders, to refill my water glass, and clear the table. The patio was not even packed that evening, so I wish the staff could pay just a little bit more attention to the diners. Anyway, these two entrees were enough to fill us up, and I was getting a little tired at this point so we decided to call it a night after dinner. Will kindly offered to drive me home, since he was heading back to Fairfax where he was dog-sitting his parents golden retrievers (yes, we can all say “awwwww” in unison here). Of course, I took a look at his preset radio stations once I was in his car (what? what if we are not musically compatible? what if he thinks Justin Bieber is a dealbreaker??), and was relieved we like the same standard, basic white girl tunes: country, country, top 40, and a mix radio station to keep things interesting. So far, pretty good. After a hug and kiss on the check goodbye, I figured there was enough potential there for us to actually exchange numbers so I messaged him on Tinder to thank him for taking me out, along with my cell. A minute later, we had our first official text exchange:

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Conclusion: So, maybe there is some hope for Tinder after all.

 

 

 

 

A 1.5 day Blue Print Cleanse

Half of the summer always seems to happen without me even realizing it. Before I knew it, July had flown by and August was quickly coming to an end. My friend Shay, who graduated from law school this past May and took the Maryland bar at the end of July, decided to emerge from his self-exposed study exile and throw a graduation/end-of-the-summer pool party bash. Now with outdoor patios, day drinking, happy hours, dinner parties, I feel like I had been eating kinda crappily for awhile. Since Shay’s party was probably going to be the last big pool party of the summer, I decided to just bite the bullet and do a juice cleanse.

Now I have never done a juice cleanse before. I’ve gone Paleo twice for a month each time, and actually felt fantastic during and after it. However, I did not have a month before this pool party, I had a week, and that week also happened to be Restaurant Week. So I just figured I would cut out solid foods for a day and a half (from Thursday afternoon until Saturday at 1pm) and drink the koolaid from the BluePrint Cleanse. I was also looking for a mental reset, hoping that by forcing myself into a strict regimen of nothing but fruits and veggies in juice for a day, I’d have an easier time getting back to healthy ways as fall approaches and I have to wear pants again. Whole Foods was having a sale on the BluePrint juices, which also meant I did not need to pay for any delivery fees, so I just went to the closest Whole Foods during my lunch break and picked up eight juices (it is usually 6 juices a day). After a fantastic dinner at Nonna’s Kitchen during RW, I woke up the next day ready to go. To keep myself sane, I detailed my thoughts through out the following day and a half:

6am: Can I sleep in and just go to the gym after work?

6:01am: GET UP. Think about that bikini you have to wear in 31 hours.

6:15am: I should take a few sips of this chard basil apple romaine celery cucumber collards lemon juice before heading out. Oh god, it taste like just like grass in liquid form.

8:10am: On my way to the office after the workout. I am starving. I sip some water. My stomach grumbles in protest.

8:50am: In the office and ready to eat!!! I take a few more sips of the chard basil collards lemon juice at my desk. It still tastes like grass. I sip water in addition to it to fill my stomach up. I already miss solid food and I can see the candy bowl sitting by the HR Director’s door from my office, taunting me.

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8:54am: I get up and move the candy bowl out of my sight.

9:37am: I make green tea. I burn my tongue on it. I wonder if singeing my taste buds will make these juices taste better?

10:15am: I am starving. I take a sip of the apple lemon cayenne ginger juice. My stomach curls up from the ginger and cayenne. I just wanted chicken broth or something savory at this point. I put juice back in the fridge after a few sips.

10:30am: I make a second cup of green tea and pretend it is chicken broth.

10:45am: I open a DC food blog to catch up on things. It immediately (obviously) makes me depressed so I close the browser.

11:43am: I decide to attempt drinking the apple cayenne juice again. It is very spicy. Does the spiciness suppress appetite? I do feel less hungry but I do not enjoy the taste of this very much. It’s a little too sweet for me but I can imagine it would taste good after a long run on a hot day.

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11:52am: I cannot drink this juice anymore. Put it back in the fridge and finish off another bottle of water.

12:00pm: I seriously have never craved chicken broth like this before. Oh man, savory, salty, flavorful chicken broth. Why don’t more restaurants serve just plain chicken broth? That should be the new fad food, once cauliflower dies down. Hmm, is this my first juice cleanse hallucination? Exciting!

12:14pm: I can intensely smell everyone’s lunch, even though my office is in the back corner. I have never been so aware of the smells of different foods. Have I morphed into a hormonal pregnant woman?

1:00pm: I make another cup of green tea. It still doesn’t taste like chicken broth.

1:31pm: I attempt to drink more apple lemon cayenne ginger juice. It tastes just as bad as before, so I alternate tiny sips of the juice with huge gulps of water. My body is so full of liquids right now and I have peed three times in the last two hours. For the first time, I understand the appeal of a catheter.

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1:40pm: Okay okay I can’t take it. I put the juice back into the fridge.

1:58pm: I get juice again, and really put effort into drinking it, as well as staying awake.

2:13pm: I finish second juice!!! I want someone to give me a high five but I realize that no one cares about my cleanse so I go back to writing this blog post.

3:10pm: I try the beet apple carrot lemon ginger juice. I immediately regret trying this. I am someone that does not like the taste of carrot juice or beets, so this drink made my stomach turn. I chugged water but it still could not get rid of the thick coating of juice all over my tongue. I definitely did not feel hungry, which was surprisingly since usually around this time I am starving. I wonder if I just feel the need to eat around 2 or 3pm out of habit.

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3:17pm: I attempt to drink a few more sips of the juice. Ohmygod it really is so bad. I chug more water and pee half of my body weight out. My pee is completely clear! I feel like a human Brita filter.

3:20pm: Honestly my stomach is screaming at me to just stop every time I take a sip of the juice. This is coming from someone who loves balut, quail, bone marrow, chicken liver, beef/tuna tartare, beef intestines. I feel like I am down to eat anything. But I am not down to consume this. But I cannot believe I spent $8.99 on this, and my mother did not raise me to grow into an adult who would toss a 16oz bottle of something that expensive down the sink (which is what I am currently fantasizing about doing whenever I look over at that murky purple liquid). I force myself to finish off 1/3 of the bottle.

4:05pm: I make one last cup of green tea for the day.

4:40pm: I head out of the office, and grab the beet juice on my way out. Maybe sitting in traffic with nothing to do besides listen to the same 12 songs on HOT99.5 will make the drink seem more appealing.

5:35pm: I finally get home, and have finished off about 3/4 of the juice but my tongue feels like it is completely covered in sugary residue. I run to the bathroom to pee yet again, and then chug some more water before brushing my teeth and tongue for a solid four minutes.

5:50pm: I decide I am in no state to go out even I do not feel hungry. I’m already tired and looking forward to hours and hours of sleep. However the sun is up, so I turn on NetFlix and snuggle in bed. Somewhere out there, someone is “netlfix and chill”ing, and here I am literally watching Netflix completely alone on a Friday night two hours before the sun sets

7:10pm:  I grab the cashew vanilla cinnamon agave drink. It tastes delicious!!!!!!! I want to chug it, but I tell myself to try to make it last as long as possible.

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7:14pm: Okay clearly I have no self control. I go brush my teeth again and snuggle back into my bed.

9:10pm: Time to sleep!

8:30am: Well holy shit I just slept for over 11 hours. I wake up feeling fantastic, until I realize that no one texted me while I was asleep. What if I didn’t go out because I was kidnapped, everyone? Is no one concerned? (Answer: crickets)

9:30am: I take a few sips of the chard basil apple romaine celery cucumber collards from yesterday morning that I could not finish. It does not taste any more appealing today.

9:45am: I go for a long run and end up at the gym to lift some weights. I surprisingly feel very energetic and not at all hungry! I work out without any issues.

11:45am: I finish off the chard basil apple romaine celery cucumber collards juice, which is a little easier because I am totally parched after returning from the gym. This is actually satisfying, and although I am usually ravenous after a long run, I feel totally fine today. Then it’s time to get ready to party!

Since I have no real solid base of food in my body, I hold off of consuming any alcohol until around 3pm when I finally give into peer pressure and have a vodka soda. I was a little nervous that my already low tolerance would completely disappear and I would feel ill or wasted after any alcohol in my blood. I surprisingly (I keep using that word to describe my BluePrint experience!) feel only mildly buzz but not at all nauseous. By the time I leave and head back to my place around 6pm, I am hungry but still managing to hold everything together just find. I have a light salad at my place, and take a nap to finish off the BluePrint cleanse.

Overall, a day and a half on this went very smoothly. It was a little tough to drink some of the juices, but I did not feel hungry after the first few hours. I think a cleanse like this is probably best if you have a big event coming up that you want to lose some quick water weight for, or if you have been eating crappy for a while and want something to force you to think a bit more closely about what you’re eating. I realize that I probably snack in the early afternoon out of boredom, and not necessity so will focus on reducing that. After this little trial, I would definitely be down to try BluePrint for the full three days (although maybe during a month where my online shopping is controlled because this cleanse is definitely not on the cheaper side of anything).

Restaurant Week Review: Del Campo lunch (oh wait, NOT)

I wanted to do at least one Restaurant Week lunch this summer, but was limited to spots that were open for lunch/brunch on the weekend. Del Campo was listed on the Restaurant Week website as offering lunch, and their menu look fantastic (why hellloooooo prime rib) so after shooting an email out to see who would be available, I made a reservation online for three people. The morning of our reservation, the Del Campo hostess called to confirm my reservation, before letting me know that they would be offering neither their standard bottomless, all-you-can-eat brunch (for $45), OR the Restaurant Week menu (three courses for $22). Instead, they would only be offering their a la carte menu. This was disappointing and unexpected, so I cancelled our reservation.

After browsing through the RW list, A and I could not find anything that stood out to us. I knew I would be starving and ready to EAT after my long run though, but I also knew I would want something satisfying and not too pricey. The obvious answer to this was Eden Center. A and Nina of course were on board (um, what kind of sociopath would turn down Vietnamese food?), so after sweating out all the alcohol in my system from the previous night, I loaded up my trusty Camry with two other hungry girls and we headed across the river to Falls Church. On the way there, I informed Nina, who was a newbie to A and my Eden Center adventures, that the following things would be occurring (no negotiations allowed):

  1. Rice Paper or bust.
  2. We would be ordering quail as an appetizer.
  3. We will order too much food.
  4. We will digest the mountain of food consumed by walking around the international grocery store afterwards.

After parking in the back lot of the shopping center, we discovered that there was apparently some kind of karaoke event going on along the sidewalk. This is my father’s absolute worst nightmare, and I could only imagine what he would have said had he witnessed the people screaming along to Vietnamese music as everyone tried to enjoy their Sunday lunches. I’m not sure if the restaurants were busier because people were crowding Eden Center waiting for their turn on the mic, or if the restaurants were more packed because people were trying to escape the singing outside. We put our names down for Rice Paper and were told that it would be approximately a 20 minute wait, which was the perfect amount of time to grab bubble tea and do a short walk (in the opposite direction of the singing).

I put in the order for quail as soon as we were seated at Rice Paper, before opening the menus, and it arrived shortly afterwards. Vietnamese quail is just amazing, and one of my favorite dishes. As usual, the crispy roasted quail was juicy, perfectly seasoned, and exactly what my body needed after the run (sodium? check. protein? check. extra sodium from the salt, pepper and lime dipping sauce? okay maybe unnecessary but still, check). I mean, just look at that skin. I imagine this is how 12 year old boys feel when they see supermodels baring skin in tiny bikinis.

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For our second starter, we went with the Gỏi Hải Sản (salad of pineapple, carrots, onions, lemongrass, roasted peanuts, shrimp, calamari, and scallops over lettuce and tomatoes). This was the first time I have ordered this dish at Rice Paper, and it did not disappoint. The generous seafood toppings, and sweet fruit mixed together were a fantastic light shared dish. For our main dishes, we actually all ordered the same thing: the Rice Paper Combo Platter (which came with grilled squid and scallops, grilled pork, and grilled beef wrapped in grape leaves). This came with vegetables, noodles and dried rice paper.

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Everything on this plate was great, and there was bit of everything I could want to eat. I had fun teaching N how to dip the rice paper in the water to make little rolls (spreading the gospel wherever I go, folks), and she was making her little Vietnamese burritos like a pro in no time. All three of us agreed that the dish hit the spot. The seafood was cooked perfectly (nothing was too chewy), the pork and beef were smoky, tender, and satisfying. I ate until my stomach hurt, and yet there was still more food on my plate. I ended up taking about a third of the food home, which made for the best lunch the next day although the office microwave may have smelled like fish sauce for a few minutes afterwards.

After we pushed our bodies to the limit (in terms of eating, not in terms of any productive physical activity), we headed over to the Asian grocery and picked up necessary supplies like dried anchovies, quail eggs, chili oil and dragonfruit. It was little tough to push the cart when my stomach was telling me that I needed to be horizontal, but it probably did help to move around at least a little. It was another productive Sunday at Eden Center, the highlight being the delectable food at Rice Paper. Thanks Eden Center for salvaging our weekend after discovering that Del Campo did not want to cooperate with our Sunday food goals.

Kung Fu Tea Rockville

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Before my cousin Emily and her husband returned to Michigan, we decided to get together one more time. It’s hard coordinating schedules with our group, so the only people available ended up being Emily, her husband, her unborn baby and my cousin Ashley (Emily’s younger sister). We decided to meet at the new Kung Fu Tea in Rockville. It really only took me half of a drink in NYC to make me climb right onto the Kung Fu Tea bandwagon. When I arrived, there was a short line, but nothing compared to what I heard the lines were like when this location first opened this spring. It moved quickly, and I ordered the taro milk green tea this time (last time I got taro milk tea) and with 30% of the sugar.  I also added nata jelly and tapioca pearls, which brought my total to $4.50. The one annoying thing about Kung Fu Tea is the $8 minimum for credit card, so just remember to come prepared with a few dollar bills.

I appreciate the option to pick your sugar levels, because I like my bubble tea sweet, but not too cloyingly sweet. My drinks was delicious, in part due to the freshness of the milk and the overall smoothness of the taro and green tea flavor. The nata jelly and tapioca pearls were great, but tried my cousin’s drink which had custard in it and I made a mental note to definitely add that next time. The four of us sipped on our drinks and enjoyed some of the games laid out of the tables through out the shop. It was all fun and games, until I was forced to pick a harsh but undeniably true Cards Against Humanity white card winner:

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Nothing pairs with bubble tea quite like a dose of reality.

Cousins tackle pork belly and Duck Donuts

My father’s side of the family is on the larger side, since he has 7 siblings with numerous children. My cousin Emily and her husband Anran currently live in Michigan, where Anran attends medical school. After the first part of his Step 2 board exams, they decided to return to the area for a few weeks, which made it the perfect opportunity for another cousins’ get-together. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we met at my cousin Ashley’s (Emily’s little sister, oh god I know, I need to draw a chart mapping everyone out) new house. Let’s not go into how inadequate I feel about my little cousin being both engaged and owning property, while I continue to shell out rent money in the city while living with a secret roommate. Now while I screwed up making a simple salad (apparently 1 cup of balsamic vinegar instead of 1 tbsp really messes things up) and had to rush to Whole Foods to buy dips and pita chips, my cousin Johnny decided to roast 12 lbs of pork belly for us. Different strokes for different folks, everyone. After roasting it for three hours, and letting it cool for another 30 minutes, Johnny arrived in Rockville with this beauty:

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He warmed it back up in the oven for 10 minutes, before slicing it up into stunning bite sized pieces. BOOM JUST LOOK AT THAT PLATE. Look at crispy, golden skin, that smooth white mean, so totally ready to go straight into my mouth.

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This dish was absolutely perfection. The fatty, crunchy skin crackled as I took a bite, and the mouthwatering fat beneath it melted in my mouth. The pork meat was succulent and juicy, and we inhaled the first plate in a matter of minutes. Johnny kept slicing up more pieces and we just continued to eat until it heart. We took a brief tour of the new house to give ourselves a break from eating but, and this is not an exaggeration, we had all eaten such an incredible amount of pork that halfway through the tour we found ourselves all sprawled out on the floor of the guest bedroom with stomach cramps and meat sweats. I literally lifted my shirt and started rubbing my own belly in an attempt to gain some relief.

What was appreciated, what absolutely did not help the situation, was my cousin Linda’s contribution to the potluck: a dozen cake doughnuts from Duck Donuts, which opened in March in Virginia. Duck Donuts originated in the Outer Banks, and has expanded up the East Coast, opening shops in Herndon and most recently, Fairfax. I had heard of Duck Donuts, but had yet to try them (especially since I rarely cross the river for anything besides Vietnamese food or Hong Kong Palace) so was ecstatic when she showed up with a giant box of these. All the doughnuts are made to order, so they are extremely fresh. Linda ordered eight doughnuts with chocolate icing, topped with peanut butter and bacon pieces, and four other doughnuts that I honestly cannot remember the name of because the memory of that cousins’ lunch is now a sugar/fat-fueled haze. I actually totally forgot to take a picture, and by the time I remembered to snap, I could not even realize how blurry it was (again – sugar/fat-fueled haze excuse):

IMG_3731We cut each doughnut into fourths, since we were all so incredibly stuffed with pork belly, but these bites were so addictive that we kept coming back to munch of more. I usually prefer yeast doughnuts to cake doughnuts, but these were so light, fluffy and slightly crispy, with the perfect amount of toppings. After tasting these, I would definitely make the drive to Fairfax for these bad boys. Of course, I need a few more weeks to detox from this lunch, since I consumed enough animal fat and butter in that one sitting to last me until winter.