TNT night at the Brooklyn Cyclones

I have been spending a lot of time volunteering for Team in Training and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this season. I am the Brooklyn borough TNT Social Captain and I had the opportunity to help plan a fundraising/awareness/social event with the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team this month.

Participants could purchase the tickets for a low price and then sell them for more to raise money for their personal TNT fundraising. Our TNT crew bought and sold 500 tickets to the game!! I was blown away by the response.

The game happened on Tuesday night at the Coney Island stadium and it was truly a fabulous time. So many of our Brooklyn friends were there and it seemed like everyone had fun. Brooklyn team members participated in some on-field fun (including a hot dog race!), sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch, and ran the bases at the end. Lots of crazy fun! We also manned a TNT info table (where we raffled off a signed Cyclones jersey and made over $600 for LLS) and a bone marrow donor registration drive inside the stadium. All in all, a very successful event. Fun and fundraising for a good cause — can’t beat that!

I have been putting a lot of time — maybe too much — toward TNT this season, but it is rewarding and fun. There are so many incredibly good people on our Team, I feel lucky to be a part of it.

extreme summer

It has been a BIG summer. It is only half over, but I feel like I have already packed it as full as possible with fun adventures. Including…

Lake Placid

The weekend after I completed the San Diego marathon, Travis and I piled in a van with a few of our friends and drove upstate to cheer on our teammates in the Lake Placid full and half marathons. It was a quick, one-night trip, but we had a great time dancing on the side of the road and eating Purple Cows at Stewies. View the full photo set.

Heather’s Wedding

My cousin Heather was married on June 15th in Rhode Island. The event was beautiful and I had a great time running the cliffs in Newport, visiting with my cousins, and dancing at the reception. View the full photo set.

Mom & Dad visit NY

After the wedding, mom and dad traveled with us by train to New York City. We had three fun days of eating pizza, donuts, visiting the Tenement Museum, and exploring the Cloisters. View the full photo set.

Camping at Mongaup Pond

At the end of June, my friends Joel and Casey planned an awesome upstate camping trip. We had a great, relaxing long weekend of putting up tents, swimming in the pond, making S’mores, and getting shushed by the park rangers for laughing too much. Such a great time. I hope to do it again before the summer ends. View the full photo set.

Fourth of July

The Wednesday holiday started with a seven mile run to Coney Island, a dip in the ocean, Nathan’s hot dogs, and the Cyclone roller coaster. An epic Brooklyn morning. In the evening we had some friends over to watch fireworks from our roof. View the full photo set.

Boilermaker 15k

While Travis was in Kansas City going to the All Star game with his dad, I went on one more quick, impromptu road trip upstate to run the Boilermaker 15k in Utica. The race is a huge small town event and it was amazing. The whole town came out to cheer and there were popsicles and beer and music. I recommend it. View the full photo set.

More and more running

Travis and I are a month into our Fall season with Team in Training, and like usual, we are having a great time. Running has nearly taken over my life, but I couldn’t be happier. My training is going very well (so far) this season. I feel strong. I have ambitious goals. I hope to never stop. View the full photo set.

In between all of this fun, I’ve been working hard on Swap-bot and doing a large amount of volunteer work for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I am definitely staying busy. What have you been up to this summer?

new brooklyn restaurant: Talde

I do not watch Top Chef, but if you do, you probably know that Dale Talde was a contestant on Season 4 and Season 8. And, if you are a fan, you probably also know that Dale (along with John Bush and David Massoni of Thistle Hill Tavern) opened his namesake restaurant, Talde, in Park Slope in January. The new Asian-American (i.e. asian fusion or pan-asian) restaurant has already received rave reviews, including “best dumplings” from New York magazine. It seems that Brooklyn truly is the place to be for hip, new, delicious restaurants!

I was interested in Talde, but had heard that the wait to get in was ridiculous. Luckily, my friend Becca organized a group outing for last Thursday. (You can only get a reservation for a party of six or more.)

We ordered just about everything on the family-style menu, including two orders of the pretzel pork and chive dumplings (seen above) and the crispy oyster and bacon pad thai (seen below), plus Hawaiian bread buns, chilled soba noodles, Korean fried chicken, grilled kale salad, Saigon fried crepes, fried rice, black pepper butter toast, and roasted corn. Between the seven of us (Travis was there, but not in the photos) we had no trouble finishing everything. There were plenty of vegetarian options for Travis and lots of seafood and meat options for the rest of us.

I don’t know what I can say that more eloquent food critics have not already said, but everything was delicious and interesting. The pad thai with its thick chunks of bacon and the dumplings with their salty pretzel exteriors were my favorite. The Hawaiian bread buns were fun, tasty, little sandwiches, and I could have easily eaten the full bowl of soba noodles. I loved passing the dishes around the table and trying a little of everything. It was the type of meal that makes me grin uncontrollably and continuously blurt out, “This is so good!”

Dale Talde is proud of his new restaurant and he is in the kitchen most nights. We saw him walking the floor early in the evening thanking a few customers. After our meal I thought a photo of the kitchen (and maybe Dale) would be an excellent edition to this blog post, so I ventured over to the kitchen with my friends Casey and Sarah. Somehow Dale came out and started to chat with us! He was kind, and funny, and very excited about Talde and his future restaurant plans. I learned that he will be opening Pork Slope, a roadhouse-style bar and barbecue place, on 5th Ave where Aunt Suzie’s used to be. I can’t wait since that is very near our apartment!

Mr. Talde was nice enough to pose for a few photos. It was awesome to meet such an enthusiastic and talented chef and restauranteur. I wish I could eat at Talde once a week, but its popularity will most certainly prevent that…

You can follow Dale Talde and Talde on Twitter, and check out the restaurant menu here.

In addition to Talde, I’ve visited PokPok Ny, Fort Reno, and Mile End Delicatessen. What should be the next stop on my trendy Brooklyn restaurant odyssey?

new brooklyn restaurant: PokPok Ny

I must admit, I feel quite hip. On a surprise three-stop date on Saturday (planned and executed by me!) I took Travis to the very new, much hyped PokPok Ny. A tiny Thai restaurant which just opened in the Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill/Red Hook area of Brooklyn on April 18th.

PokPok Ny is the newest addition to chef and restauranteur, Andy Ricker’s, Portland (as in Oregon) Thai food empire. His restaurants and special fish sauce chicken wings (seen above) have been winning awards since he opened the first PokPok in 2005.

My secret sources in Portland suggested that PokPok PDX is a bit over-hyped and more of a scene than a comfortable restaurant, but I was still determined to try those fish sauce wings just the same…

Travis and I arrived at PokPok Ny at 5:30 pm and were already the fifth party in line outside the door. If you plan to go, I suggest doing the same. They don’t take reservations. The restaurant opens at 6 pm, Wednesday-Sunday, and by the time the doors opened there were at least 30 people in line. Travis and I sat inside, where there are probably only 24 seats, but thankfully the tented outdoor space was open for seating as well. I think the entire restaurant was full by 6:05.

We ordered the specialties: Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings and the Papaya PokPok, a fresh salad of papaya, chili peppers, peanuts, and tomatos. Plus, Travis ordered vegetarian Khao Soi, a curry noodle soup with tofu. We also ordered both the sticky rice and the jasmine rice to mix with everything.

It was all so fresh! The Papaya PokPok was excellent, especially when you had a bite with plenty of peanuts, but it was spicy! Maybe I’m just not accustomed to so much spice, but my mouth was burning! I drank a lot of their initially strange, but ultimately refreshing Pandan table water to cool it down. I suggest pairing the Papaya PokPok with lots of sticky rice (which comes to the table inside a plastic bag in a grass basket) to cut the spiciness.

The wings were awesome!! NY Magazine just named them the city’s Best Wings, but I was not sure if I should believe the hype. I am not much of a “sports bar wings” person, but these sauce-coated, salty, sweet, spicy, crispy, mini chicken parts were delicious. At first I was skeptical of their top tier status, but the more I ate, the better they tasted. I ate the entire plate and attempted to totally clean the bones of any sauce. I think my dinner consisted almost entirely of saucy chicken skin, but I didn’t leave feeling greasy-food-gross or overly full.

In addition to simply being at a new, talked about Brooklyn restaurant, I felt even more NYC cool because I am nearly positive that Travis and I were sitting next to one of my favorite cool girl bloggers and Captain America party friend, Edith Zimmerman. Darn. It turns out it wasn’t her, but whomever it was, they truly were dining with a food critic (I’m guessing from NY Magazine). Andy Ricker (the actual restaurant owner and chef!!) brought at least a dozen dishes, half a dozen drinks, and three desserts over to their table over the course of the meal. I was jealous of all the food, but just sort of silly-happy to be part of the scene. I am most certainly a dork.

Anyway, if you like Thai food and a unique, casual dining experience, definitely try out PokPok Ny. It is not ousting Fort Reno as my favorite Brooklyn restaurant, but I must go back because I didn’t get to try their “drinking vinegars” or the highly recommended Hoi Thawt.

What NYC restaurant should I try next?

new favorite restaurant: Fort Reno BBQ

Warning: bold statement ahead.

Fort Reno BBQ is my favorite restaurant in Brooklyn.

Fort Reno is a very new, very tiny barbecue restaurant in Park Slope on Union Street. (Supposedly, it is the Slope’s ONLY barbecue restaurant… for now. Dinosaur BBQ is coming soon!) It is completely and totally “Brooklyn hipster,” with mustachioed bartenders, old-timey cocktails, reclaimed wood tables, and local, grass fed meat. I’ve been three times.

Usually, I try to avoid Brooklyn hipster hangouts — I’m just not cool enough — but ever since becoming a full-fledged marathon runner, I have been craving meat more than anything else. More than sweets even! I know. Crazy. (It is sort of a problem since my husband has decided to be a vegetarian marathon runner. Thankfully, I have meat eating friends.)

Once upon a time, I hated ribs (too much trouble) but lately they are all I think about. The rotating menu at Fort Reno contains anything from brisket to pulled pork and chicken to sliced beef to Saint-Louis-style ribs. Thankfully, each time I’ve been, ribs have been on the menu. They also offer southern-style sides, like mac & cheese, coleslaw, biscuits, collard greens, baked beans, red beet salad, and corn bread. You order your food at a counter and then take it to your table on a tray with butcher paper. Drinks (including a selection of $10 specialty house cocktails) are ordered at a separate bar.

The house-made barbecue sauce and the sides are all great, but I don’t even care. All I care about is ribs!!! I may have a problem. You can order them in a 1/4, 1/2, or full order. (Far above is a photo of the half order, above is a full order.) They are so meaty and tender and slide right off the bone, and I love their dry rub seasoning. So good!

I have a bad/good feeling that Fort Reno will be unbearably crowded once summer truly begins. I had better fit in plenty of dinners there before that happens! Thankfully, I already have my fourth trip planned for Sunday afternoon…

Read more about Fort Reno on Here’s Park Slope and Serious Eats.

What is your favorite Park Slope restaurant?

brows & lashes

Freaky photo, right? Last Friday, on a whim, I decided to go get my eyebrows and lashes tinted at the Benefit boutique in Soho. My friend, Casey, had told me they offered the procedure and I was in the neighborhood on Friday and in the mood for an experiment.

For a little more than I was expecting — $49 plus tip — I got my lashes and brows tinted and my brows shaped and waxed. (Above is what it looks like during the tinting.)

I am low maintenance (Travis laughs when I say that) and rarely wear makeup. I am blonde (obviously) and have light brows and lashes, which can sort of blend in with my skin. I wear mascara when I do wear makeup, but I am way too lazy to fill in my brows or even tweeze very much. So, a semi-permanent make-up solution sounded like a good idea.

I know that for many women brow waxing is a routine thing, but this was my first time. I was pleased that it didn’t really hurt much at all.

The full procedure — tinting and waxing — is not something that I plan to spend money on every month, but I am actually really pleased with the results! Darker facial features are just more photogenic.

The girls at Benefit also did my makeup, which is shown in the “After” photo above. (And of course, I got talked into a few purchases. I love the new eye shadow I got.) The second photo is after the brow and lash tinting, but before the makeup. I have mascara on in the final photo, but my lashes are dark enough now to go without.

The brow and lash tint is supposed to last for four to eight weeks, depending on the person. I think that I will save it for special occasions (mainly because I don’t want to spend the money) but I definitely recommend the Benefit boutique in general. They also do facial and body waxing, plus other procedures, like tanning, and they totally accept walk-ins.

Do you “groom” your brows?

Mile End Delicatessen

Last week, I took a lunch trip with my friend, Brian, to Mile End Delicatessen. The deli has received a lot of buzz and hype since it opened at the end of 2010. It was created by a Montreal couple, Noah Bernamoff and Rae Cohen, who wanted to re-create the Jewish deli comfort food that they missed from home.

Mile End is a tiny, tiny shop right off Atlantic Ave in Boerum Hill. Brian and I went for a mid-week lunch and luckily got the last two seats at a shared table. (Don’t worry, Travis was not jealous. Mile End does not have many vegetarian options.) We ordered the signature dishes: the Matzo Ball Soup and Poutine to share, and I got the Smoked Meat Sandwich on Rye and Brian ordered the Beef on Weck.

It was all so, so, so, so good! I wish I were more of a food critic and could discuss the different textures and flavor profiles, but sadly I am just an inarticulate lay preson who likes good food. I can tell you that the Smoked Meat Sandwich blew Katz’s Deli away, and I am a huge pastrami fan. The poutine was salty and delicious and the matzo ball soup was heavy on dill, which was perfect. I was a very happy customer… as you can tell by my stuffed-mouth smile above.

Dinner at Mile End looks interesting (with chopped liver, lamb’s tongue, and veal shortbreads) but I think it will remain a favorite lunch spot for me. I can’t wait to take out-of-town guests!

Now that I checked Mile End off of my restaurant wish list, I am eager to visit the rest of my list: Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, Little Neck, Pok Pok Wing, Momofuku Ko, Pies N Thighs, Fatty Cue, Brooklyn Fare… etc, etc…


Last Sunday, my Summer 2012 Brooklyn Team in Training (seen above) ran the The Race at Roosevelt Island 10k. It was a fun day full of firsts for me — my first time on Roosevelt Island, first time on the Roosevelt Island sky tram, first time on a NYC bus! — but the actual race may have been the worst of my life.

Despite wearing my Team Sparkle skirt for the first time, I just couldn’t get my body into race mode. I was in pain with terrible shin splints and my pace was my slowest ever in a race. I am not really sure why it went so badly. I don’t really have an excuse. I ate well on Saturday. I had basically rested for the full week before. I drank plenty of fluids and ate breakfast before the race. My shoes were semi-newish, so maybe that is it… but i wore the same shoes at my triumphant NYC Half Marathon two weeks ago, so I don’t think they were the problem. I guess I’ll just tell myself that I was having a plain old bad day.

Luckily (or unluckily, if it goes as badly) I have a do-over this weekend. Tomorrow, I am running the Scotland Run 10k in Central Park. My somewhat unrealistic goal is to run it in 59 minutes. My more attainable goal is to simply have a better race than last weekend.

Wish me luck!

The Wendy Williams Show

So… you know that I have an ongoing list of things I hope to do each year, right? Well, on my “31 while 31” list, I have: attend a taping of The Wendy Williams Show. Thanks to my friend, Brian, I can now check that item off my list!

I’m not obsessed with tv. Really. But I had a lot of fun attending a few tapings of the Martha Stewart Show, and The Wendy Williams Show just looked like a party for the audience.

My assumptions were correct! Despite having to get up really early last Tuesday and go into the city to wait in line in the cold — Brian got tickets online, but you still have to arrive early to get in the audience line — it was a wild and totally fun experience. Alison, Casey, Brian and I had a great time. (Sadly, Travis was at work and couldn’t come with us… but I have a feeling that Wendy Williams may not be his scene.)

We spent a long while in the green room area before entering the set. I was interviewed by a producer who wanted me to ask Wendy a question on air. (In every episode of the show Wendy answers an advice question from the audience.) I was willing to do it, but nervous. I am terribly awkward on camera and glad that I didn’t ultimately get picked. Whew!

Once we entered the set, the fun started! The warm-up guy for the show was excellent. Very funny and energetic and cute. All of the ladies loved him. There was also a dj playing music to pump us up. They wanted the audience to be really excited and loud when Wendy entered the set. It was definitely a little more rowdy than the Martha Stewart Show! At one point in between segments, there was an audience member dance contest. It was crazy and hilarious and embarrassing. Don’t worry, I did not participate.

We didn’t receive any free items like I did at the Martha Stewart Show, but that is totally ok with me. We spent the two hours laughing, which I think is even better. The show guests were an actor from CSI:NY, a gospel group, Run from Run:DMC, and Beverly Johnson, an ex-supermodel with a new reality show. I enjoyed it all and am even tempted to watch Beverly Johnson’s show… maybe.

Wendy Williams is the real deal. On screen she looks like a giant, but she is much more normally-sized in person. (Although, the three giant body guards that she had around her at all times helped to put her height in perspective.) And she is beautiful. She was very sweet to the audience, and funny, and a total pro. She only had to re-take a few lines when she was taping the promo segments. I was impressed. You could easily dismiss her show as unserious fluff, but I actually think she is very talented. She is honest and matter-of-fact with her guests, not afraid to ask tough questions. I actually think she has a long, successful career in front of her.

Anyway, I recommend attending a taping of The Wendy Williams Show if you can. You can request tickets here.

Which television show taping (in NY) should I attend next??

Check out more photos from our Wendy visit on Flickr.

cupcake review: Little Cupcake Bakeshop

My sister-in-law, Chelsea, was in town visiting last week. We did many fun things (like shopping, the Tenement Museum, the Staten Island Ferry) but our favorite activities were trying out the city’s best sweets!

I had been passing by the cute store front and very hip neon sign of the new Nolita location of the Little Cupcake Bakeshop for months (it opened in October of last year) but I saved my visit for when Chelsea was here. On her first full day in the city, we headed straight there!

We visited on a Saturday afternoon and the shop was packed with a fashionable Soho crowd. My first impression was that the Little Cupcake Bakeshop is a near replica of Magnolia Bakery, complete with a pastel color scheme and an icing station in the front picture window, but I tried not to dwell on the comparison.

We bought three cupcakes: Chocolate with chocolate buttercream icing, a Chocolate Cloud with meringue icing, and the Princess, an almond cake with jam topping and both buttercream and meringue icing. I also got a Nutella Latte from the Illy espresso bar out of curiosity.

Travis, Chelsea, and I shared all three cupcakes and we all LOVED the icing! I love marshmallow-style icing and the meringue icing was very similar — nice and light and springy — but the chocolate buttercream icing was the favorite of the group. We could have eaten a bowl of it! Not too greasy or sugary, more fudge-y. Yum!

All three of us were a little disappointed by the cake. It was dry and the almond flavor of the Princess cake was overpowering. Thankfully, there was plenty of icing to balance out each bite.

As for presentation, the store was really beautiful and I liked the creativity of the Princess cake with its towering icing, but I can’t give a perfect score. The Magnolia Bakery influence feels too strong. It seems like the owners (brothers Massimo and Luigi LoBuglio) said, “Magnolia Bakery is popular. Let’s just re-create that.” Even the icing swirls seem to be in the Magnolia style. The cupcake trend has been around for so long now that I need to see true uniqueness in new shops in order to be blown away.

Overall, the cakes were delicious, but I think there is room for the Little Cupcake Bakeshop to distinguish itself by coming up with more unique cupcake creations and not relying on the general cupcake trend to bring in customers.

We really enjoyed our stop at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop and I am sure I will go back. The bakery also has giant, full-size cakes and other baked goods, like brownies and cookies, that I would love to try. And the full espresso bar makes it a great Soho shopping trip pit stop. (Although, I don’t know if I’d order the Nutella Latte again. It was interesting, but it had about 1/4 cup of real Nutella at the bottom!) I also plan to visit the orignal Little Cupcake Bakeshop location in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn… maybe I’ll run there!

Have you tried out the Little Cupcake Bakeshop? What did you think?