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big night out, take two

31 May

Last night we headed out on the town to go to opening weekend of a new restaurant: Rosendale’s Modern Bistro. Although Rosendale’s opened a couple of years ago, Chef Richard Rosendale switched things up this past year, putting the formal, white-gloved service restaurant upstairs, and making the downstairs into the Modern Bistro. Getting back to basics with custom dining, the bistro is a more social experience, with moderately-priced dishes that are simple yet complex, and perfect for sharing. In light of the economy, Rosendale’s Modern Bistro is music to a foodie’s ear.

We’d made reservations in advance, and I’m glad we did – they were bustling! As we waited for our table to be ready, we were greeted by Vince, who offered to make us something special from the bar. More than a bartender, Vince wowed us with what he prepared – we had to track him down and make him give up the ingredients. My drink, on the left, included Creme de Cassis, orange Vodka, Triple Sec, a splash of cranberry juice and a squeeze of lemon. E’s drink, on the right, has (from what I remember!) Rye, Elderflower Liqueur and fresh lemon juice. I’m usually a lightweight, but these were so good that I had 2, along with a couple of sips of Malbec later in the evening.


Palates open and bellies growling, we were happy to see our appetizers and get dinner started! I didn’t want anything heavy or cloying, so I chose the Ham and Melon Skewers, composed of watermelon topped with prosciutto, which sat atop a reduced sherry vinegar syrup. Salty, cool and sweet, this was a perfect way to start off.


I normally don’t mention E’s meals too much, but I’ll make an exception. E chose the White Truffle Popcorn as his starter, and after I tried a piece, I was hooked. Tossed in butter, sea salt and truffle oil, it was reminiscent of the escargots in garlic sauce that I grew up with. Then again, I have a really strange palate, so maybe it’s just me.

We also had some really fresh bread, which was just how we like it; soft on the inside with a crisp crust, and sliced somewhat thin.


It was served with butter that was sprinkled with Himalayan sea salt and black pepper, which enhanced the butter’s creaminess and flavor.


When it came to mains, Chef Rosendale had me at “braise”. I ordered the Olive Braised Lamb Shank, which was described as “traditional braise, rosemary, natural sauce”. The lamb was perfectly tender, and the flavor was deep and complex. The meat fell off the bone, and was somehow tender and luscious at the same time, making it the perfect comfort food.


Since the menu was sharing-friendly, E and I split several sides. I normally hate sharing, but this weekend has been really fun – why limit yourself to one dish when you can try two?

The definite star of the meal were the French Beans with smoked honey, toasted almonds and tangerines. Absolutely magical, the beans were perfectly tender and the honey was smoky-sweet, with a slight bacon undertone. The almonds and tangerines rounded out the dish fabulously, adding just the right amount of crunch and acidity. Complex yet simple, this was a must-try.


I love ketchup, to the point that I was shipped two giant bottles of Canadian ketchup to tide me over last year. The sweet potato fries were so good that I didn’t even want the ketchup, as good as it was.


I loved that the Steamed Asparagus was subtle. Flavored with Hawaiian sea salt and lemon oil, they had a slight crisp left to them, and tasted just like they should. Simple works, and I wish more chefs would understand that the way Chef Rosendale does.


We were lucky enough to have the chef take a moment away from his busy kitchen and come to our table. It was especially great for E – in high school, he was at the Greenbrier in the middle of a culinary competition, and needed to crack a coconut and be able to use the shell, meat and water for various dishes, but had no idea how. In a world of hurt, E spent dinner preparing himself to crack the coconut using (sterilized) machinist tools his shop teacher had brought along. Thankfully, the then-sous-chef came over to his table, bringing over a chef’s knife and coconuts, and taught him how to do the cracking.

You may recognize Chef Rosendale from numerous specials shown on Food Network, and was the youngest member of Culinary Team USA and the captain of the team in 2008. He’s also a certified ice carver, the youngest chef to be on active status for the Certified Master Chef exam, and an all-around nice guy.

We had a hard time choosing a dessert to share, but finally decided on the Lemon Curd, which also had ginger ice cream, toasted meringue and crushed berries. Refreshing, tart, crunchy, sweet and soft, it was a great ending to a wonderful evening.


We were also brought out a teeny bit of creamy tapioca to try. Olivia (our server) was right – this was just like Grandma’s, only better.


Check out the tiny spoons, especially compared to a sugar cube!

In all honesty, it has never taken me this long to write a review, let alone post it. Having worked in several restaurants and eaten in many others, I’m pretty critical. I kept waiting to find a flaw, but I couldn’t. Dinner at Rosendale’s Modern Bistro was, in all honesty, the best meal of the year, and one of the best of my life. The food was fantastic, and had a price point that allowed us to spoil ourselves, and try some of everything. The staff was amazing – after we were done, Olivia apologized for being so short-staffed. Apparently, there were only 3 servers that night handling a full restaurant, and we never even noticed. We must have had every single one of them at our table at one point or another, and not only were they friendly, attentive and fun to be around, but they genuinely seemed happy to be there, even with all the stresses of opening weekend. The blog actually came up in conversation, and Olivia even wrote down the URL and later invited me to a girls-only brunch the next time I was in town. So Olivia, if you’re reading, thanks for an amazing time, say hi to the rest of the crew for us, and give yourself a huge pat on the back for all of your hard work.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication for a restaurant to survive, never mind thrive. I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing Rosendale’s for many years to come.

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motown express

16 May

Happy Friday!

Today’s been a great day – my mom came with me to the gym, and it was really fun. I’m so proud of her! She hasn’t exercised in at least a decade, and boy, was she ever a trooper. Not only did she come to Weighted Workout with me, but she did all 45 minutes of it! It wasn’t easy, but she did it, and I don’t know too many people that would’ve. She seemed to enjoy aqua aerobics a little more, and it was easier on her joints, so she’s pledged to do that all of next week. It may be baby steps, but they’re pretty big ones to me.

We rushed around most of today, so not too many food pics. Breakfast was a pumpernickel bagel with a little Smart Balance with Flax for 228 calories, and in between classes, I munched on a string cheese and a handful of almonds for 122 calories. Since my mom has never been to Panera Bread, we had lunch there. The Fuji Apple Salad with chicken sounded amazing, so I ordered that with a side of the french baguette. Boy, was I in for a shock! Without any changes, the salad alone was 520 calories and 30 grams of fat, which is absolutely nuts for a salad! I only used 4 forkdips of dressing, and they forgot the pecans, so that brought it down to 357 calories and 12 grams of fat. Not great, but definitely better! Between the salad, the baguette, and a teensy sample of a cinnamon crunch bagel, lunch came out to 518 calories.

E’s little brother is graduating from WVU’s school of nursing tomorrow, so we made the drive to Morgantown earlier this evening. For some reason, I get super munchy anytime a road trip comes into play, and today was no exception! Even though it only took us about 3 hours, it felt like we were driving for-e-ver. I ate dinner pretty early on, which was probably my first mistake. Since we took home some of last night’s picnic leftovers, I took sliced up some of the jerk grilled chicken and grilled zucchini and squash, and mixed it up with some fresh pineapple salsa and pasta salad (whole wheat penne, a few pine nuts and broccoli). It came out to 370 calories, and even though it was definitely tasty, it wasn’t filling at all!

I found organic carrots on sale the other day for $0.19/lb, so I peeled some up this afternoon. Good thing, too – by the time we’d gotten to our hotel, I’d eaten 4 of them, and they were the best carrots I’ve ever had, hands down.


Once we got to the hotel, I had some orange sections and some of the biggest cherries I’ve ever seen – imagine this x2. My fruit and veggie snackout came out to 208 calories.

Which means the total for today was 1447 calories – perfect! Tomorrow I may not be so lucky – we’re having lunch with the fam at Red Lobster, and my goal is to avoid the Cheddar Bay biscuits at all costs. They’re total Kryptonite, and I can never stop at one. I’ll report back, and let you know what happened.

When is one never enough for you? I can’t be alone in this!

102

15 May

Apparently I hit 100 posts yesterday and didn’t even notice.
I wish I had made some kind of fanfare, but I’m not really a fanfare kind of gal. I don’t like birthday cakes because of the singing, I can’t take compliments very well, and I panic when I’m the center of attention.

I’m growing as I’m shrinking, or at least trying to, so happy freaking 100th to me.
It’s a learning process, people!

Now onto the food!
Today was the first day of easing back into ‘normal’ life after a week off and also having my mom in town, so we were kind of all over the place. Thanks to Mom, I got to start off my day with an amazing, fresh Montreal pumpernickel bagel, half spread with Smart Balance with Flax and half spread with the greatest butter known to man, a.k.a almond butter. I’m absolutely addicted to the stuff, and so far, MaraNatha Natural is my drug of choice.

Went to the gym and did an awesome workout. It just felt nice to be back, youknowwhatimean? I never thought I’d say this, but man, not working out was killing me, along with Mr. Sickey. I can’t imagine how I never got into the gym before. Well, no, that’s a lie, I do know – I never wanted to get into the gym before. Amazing what just a few months can do, huh?

I was pretty hungry after the gym but was running off to an almost-forgotten doctor’s appointment, so I grabbed some almonds to tide me over for 55 calories. By the time we were done, Mom and I were in the mood for food! With the beautiful weather we’ve been having, fresh seafood seemed like the perfect choice so we headed over to Jewel City, a local gem.

I grabbed a few of Mom’s fried pickle chips and a clam strip. Fried food is definitely not the healthiest option, but it was nice to have to munch on – you’ve got to try a fried pickle once in your life!

I decided to live on the edge, so I got the daily special – SHARK! It was pretty darn good, perfectly grilled and really meaty. One of my favorite things about Jewel City is that they don’t add any animal products or grease to their vegetable sides, making them healthier and just as tasty! I had the fish (aside from a bite to the mom), a hush puppy, the collard greens and half of the potato salad, along with the juice from the lemon. Super satisfying, the entire meal comes in at about 583 calories.

For dinner, we were invited to the park for a grilled picnic by the show‘s staff. I was a little worried about what we’d be eating, but I shouldn’t have been! It was really nice to have so much fresh food available, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.

My plate, with jerk grilled chicken, a couple of whole wheat pita wedges, cilantro hummus, tabbouleh, fresh pineapple salsa, cucumber and red onion salad and grilled asparagus, zucchini, squash and red peppers. I wasn’t a fan of the tabbouleh or cucumber salad, but I ate everything else, aside from a small piece of chicken to Mom. It’s so much fun being able to share meat with her!

I also had dessert:
A little piece of angel food cake with fresh strawberries and (I’m assuming) Cool Whip. This wasn’t more than 3 or 4 bites, but it was the perfect size, and was so summery. Including dessert, dinner clocked in at about 452 calories.

That means the grand total for the day is 1358. I have a little wiggle room left, but since I’m not hungry, I won’t use it! I’m glad I avoided the healthy food trap – like so many others, I tend to overeat on ‘healthy’ foods. The healthier it is, the worse I get. I’m really proud of dinner especially; no bites off anyone’s plate, no nibbles on the side, and no seconds!

Do you fall into the trap? How do you deal with buffet-style meals?

P.S. check out Junghwa’s giveaway!

back in the saddle

14 May

I cannot believe it’s Thursday already – The week’s just flown by!

I was really bummed out from not being able to be in the gym all week, but today I bit the bullet, sucked it up, went and had a blast. I did two classes – weighted workout and express fitness, and mixed up my pre-class cardio by doing a little stair climber and cross trainer and the good oltreadclimber. I don’t know how accurate the calories burned on Fitlinxx are because today, with everything combined, it came out to 1146, which just seems crazy! I’m thinking of possibly getting a Polar or something similar to monitor calories burned and heart rate, but I still haven’t decided yet. Also, I have a confession to make: I took yoga last week and didn’t hate it. There, I said it. Don’t get too excited, though, I was under duress! It’s definitely nice to know that yoga’s there when I need it to be, instead of forcing myself to do it every week. It totally takes the stress out of “de-stress”.

We picked up my mom at the airport last night, and are we glad to see her! She brought us each some really cool gifts (which she totally didn’t have to do!), including our very first kiddush cup, some really cool books, and my absolute favourite pumpernickel bagels and whole-wheat challah rolls! Nothing says home like fresh baked goods, so they’re definitely appreciated. I just have to make sure to freeze them ASAP before I eat them all, which would definitely be bad news bears.

My appetite seems to back, which is awesome, but now I have to be careful to not eat everything in sight! I weighed myself today and I’m down another 2 pounds, so the week off hasn’t hurt me, which I’m so very thankful for.

Latest eats!

Tuesday

Breakie!
Kashi GoLean, the last of the Strawberry Glucerna, fresh strawbs, walnuts and nonfat milk, 294 calories

Lunch!
canned salmon mixed with dijon, a little light mayo, sriracha, herbs and paprika on a light italian FlatOut wrap with a mango and string cheese, 357 calories

Dinner!
Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom with extra veggies and avocado instead of mayo

with half an oz of skinny chips!
calories? 423

The day’s total was 1075 calories, which is way way way too little, even if I was sitting around all day. Not healthy!


Wednesday

Breakie of Kashi GoLean, the last of the Cinnamon Life, walnuts, strawbs and nonfat milk for 348 calories. Cereal just doesn’t taste like cereal without walnutty goodness!

Lunch was super-boring; a Boca Chick’n patty on whole grain white bread with garlic and herb Laughing Cow for 335 calories

I got pretty hungry right before we left for the airport, so I grabbed one of E’s crunchy granola bars for 95 calories. Maple and brown sugar = delicious!

My mom’s flight kept getting delayed and we were hungry! I had about 5 oz. of this Bud Light Lime, although it wasn’t very good.

I also had a side salad – radishes, carrots, green peppers, tomato lettuce, and red onion, pepped up with a dash of parm, some black pepper, and about a tsp of Golden Italian dressing. I also had 3 slices of pepperoni, 2 slices of thin salami and about 1/4 cup of diced lean ham on top. This ‘snack’, with beer, came out to 293 calories.

Mom came bearing trail mix! I had a giant cashew out of the bag for 8 calories

We were all starving at this point, and headed back to Bluegrass for a late dinner. I had all of the salad and goat cheese with 2 Tbsp. worth of the homemade super-chunky amazing blue cheese dressing, 2 slices of the bacon, and half the sandwich with 1 Tbsp. of sun-dried tomato mayo. This sandwich was the bomb! It had lemon-thyme roasted chicken, field greens, tomato and onion on some amazing french bread – now I know why they call it the Perfect Chicken! I wasn’t going to eat the bacon, but once I took a bite and it was seriously the best bacon I’ve ever tasted. Local and nitrate-free, it was porky perfection! With a bite of my mom’s burger (meat only), dinner, part 2 came out to 579 calories.

The day’s total came out 1657 calories – a little higher than I’d like, but still within range. I’m just glad my appetite’s back!

monday mood

12 May

Waking up yesterday morning, I was still feeling like absolute crap, and couldn’t work out due to congestion and breathing issues, which pissed me off tremendously. I was going to cancel my appointment for a hair cut, too, but figured since I waited 3 weeks for it, I should probably go. I grabbed the usual cereal before I went, but amped up the protein and fiber – the combo of the day was 2/3 Strawberry Glucerna, 1/3 E’s Kashi GoLean, 1 Tbsp. of walnuts and some nonfat milk.

If nothing else, the haircut made my head feel a little lighter and slightly less congested. I walked a couple of minutes down the street and got my weekly immunotherapy shot at the same time – gotta love a 2fer trip! I decided to walk a little bit, and somehow ended up almost a mile away when it started to pour. I happened to be in front of Fat Patty’s, so I hopped in for a bite. I had their Cobb salad, but made a few changes to healthen it up – I omitted the dried cranberries and sliced olives, got the dressing on the side and added bell peppers and carrots. I forgot to ask for no cheese, and I didn’t realize it came with garlic bread. I ate the egg whites, all the veggies and chicken, half of one piece of garlic bread and only the cheese that was stuck to the chicken and lettuce, which was about 2 Tbsp. I did 6 fork-dips of dressing, about 1 tsp. and accounted a tsp. of oil, which I guessed was about the amount the chicken was cooked in. With two big glasses of lemon ice water, it came out to 428 calories.


The salad filled me up really well, so I didn’t snack much at all. Around 5:30, I got munchy and grabbed 3 almonds and a yogurt pretzel and dark chocolate almond from my candy stash. With the starlight mint I had at the salon, it came out to 87 calories.


I was out of ideas for a creative and yummy dinner, and was way too stuffed up to make anything time-consuming. I didn’t want to order out, so I threw something quick together. We had some It’s All Good Chick’n Bites Provencal sauteed with spinach and shredded carrots with a half each of Kashi’s Mayan Bake and 1 3/4 baked corn tortillas with Blue Smoke Salsa. I liked the plantain in the bake, but the sauce just wasn’t my thing, and could’ve used something to brighten it up. The chick’n bites were good, but a little too springy for my tastes, so I gave 1/4 of them to E, bringing dinner to 375 calories.


I wasn’t too satisfied from dinner – it just didn’t work for me! Around 9ish, I heated up a strawberry Bagelful for 200 calories, bringing the day’s total to 1359. It’s under the daily range that I try to hit, but the protein was high, the carbs were low and the fat was right at range, so I decided not to eat any more. With a very random appetite, it’s hard to eat properly when you’re sick, so I did the best that I could, and I’m okay with that.