Monday, September 30, 2013

Mino For Runners mile sensor review and #giveaway

One of the most common running questions my fiance Gabe asks me "when can I buy new shoes". I always think about how many miles you should run in shoes and what month we bought them before I respond. Since math was never my positive strength, this mental exercise usually takes a few minutes before an answer is given.
That will be a problem no more. I was asked to check out a new product for running shoes called Mino. The creators of Mino is a start up tech company located in the US. The mino is a small sensor device which is placed under the sock liner of your shoes. It automatically tracks the age of your shoes while you are running, alerting you when you hit 400 miles which will avoid injury from worn out running shoes.
I placed the mino in my Mizuno Wave Sayonaras which I received in June. I switch up shoes a lot based on distance and these have the least amount of miles ran on them. When you press the blue button on the mino, you will have one of 6 lights appear. One of the 4 blue lights means you are in the good zone. A yellow light means you've hit 350 miles and should should start shopping for new shoes. And the red light which means you have hit the 400 mile mark. 

When I took my first few steps, I could feel the Mino mile sensor in my shoe. It's only 2mm and my Mizuno's are 10mm. After 2.5 miles of interval training, I honestly forgot it was there. I ran 6 miles yesterday with the Mino and didn't feel it or think about it once. 
I think the Mino is a genius invention for those who put a lot of miles into a pair of shoes. It's time for Gabe to get replacement shoes and he will be running with a Mino.

Now it's time for the giveaway! The nice people at Mino are giving away Mino mileage sensors to THREE of my lucky readers! Let me know in the comment field below how many miles you put on your sneakers before retiring them. Also, be sure to log your entries in the rafflecopter widget below as that is how I randomly select a winner. Once you comment, you will have an opportunity to gain additional entries.

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Note: This was a sponsored post by Mino. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

One year ago today, I nearly retired my running shoes

It's hard to believe it has been a year since the Inaugural Walt Disney Tower of Terror 10 miler. It will be a race I will never forget for multiple reasons. So much has happened in the past year and looking back makes me realize how much I have accomplished, helping me through the negative thoughts that I deal with on a daily basis.
The 2012 Tower of Terror 10 miler was my first long distance run. Since the TOT started at 10:30pm, we trained at night after work to get used to running while being exhausted from the day. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared us for what we were about to experience.
There were three major issues which resulted to a bad ending of this race. We dressed up since it was a Disney race. Gabe and I were Jesse and Woody from Toy Story. I hated everything about our costumes somewhere around mile 3. My Jesse hat ended up in the trash and Gabes 100% shirt was quickly removed. We stressed out so much over what to eat prior to the race. I blame this partially on Keri, who is a control freak about doing everything by the book. I put too much different stuff in my stomach prior to the race (peanut butter and banana sandwiches, protein shakes, gu, all of which all followed a pasta dinner). The next issue was completely out of our control...but 80% humidity at 10:30 pm is NOT conditions you want to run in. This is one of the reasons runDisney moved the race up a year in 2013. It made for very difficult running conditions.

Result: Along with a reported 60% amount of participants, I got sick. Right smack dab in the center of Hollywood studios with no where to go. I found a trash can, hid behind and threw up everything in my body. All of the bananas, peanut butter, gu, even the pasta from earlier in the day. I left the park in a wheel chair because I couldn't move. I was utterly exhausted. Even worse, I got sick in the bus on the way back to our car. That was a huge blow to my ego.

This race almost ruined my running career and I wanted to quit running. If I thought I had self doubt prior to this race, what followed the months after was downright awful. I didn't want to train and I was afraid of anything over 8 miles. To make matters worse, My first Half Marathon followed a few months after and it was a total disaster. I went into the Disney Half in January with so much doubt and I didn't want to run it. To be honest, if my best friend and former roomate weren't running it with me, I would have deferred. Yet I crossed that finish line with a huge smile on my face with spirits lifted. I had to quickly jump back aboard the positive running train, knowing I had the Rock n Roll St. Pete Half, Rock n Roll New Orleans Half and Sarasota Half in a two month span.

So here I sit on the one year anniversary of the race that caused me to doubt why I lace my shoes up. I reflect at what I accomplished vs. what almost made me quit.

Five weeks from today, I will be running the ING New York Marathon. Am I stressed out? OF COURSE, it's what I do best.  If you are a reader of this blog, you are aware my training did not go as scheduled. I erased those hopes and dreams of crossing that finish line under 5 hours. Now, I can only hope and dream to finish it. I am also very sad because my parents were flying up and are now unable to be there. This will be an experience - what kind of experience is up to me. It can be an amazing experience or a bad experience. What I really hope is that my first full marathon will a once in a lifetime experience.

And the answer is no, I am not running the Tower of Terror 10 miler next week.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tom Douglas Spicy Tokoyo Rub with Love Seared Tuna Recipe

While in Seattle last week, I had the opportunity to check out two of Tom Douglas's restaurants. Etta's and Serious Pie. If I had more time in the city, I would have made it a mission to visit every one of his 13 restaurants throughout Seattle.

Tom Douglas is a fantastic Chef with more James Beard nom's than your eyes would believe. He is also an entrepreneur, selling his world famous Rub with Love all through Seattle and online. My Mother actually introduced me to Salmon Rub with Love years ago so I already knew what to expect.

One of the three flavors of Rub with Love that I purchased was Tom Douglas Spicy Tokyo Rub. I cook a lot of seared tuna at home and the Spicy Tokoyo Rub was the perfect option for this 5 minute meal.
This was incredibly delicious and easy and took less than 5 minutes to cook. I served the tuna over Asian style green beans which I sauteed in garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce.

Tom Douglas Spicy Tokoyo Rub With Love Pan-Seared Tuna Recipe
1lb Sashimi grade tuna, cut into 4 chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Pat spice rub evenly on all the tuna chunks. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet (note: I use my cast iron skillet when preparing seared tuna) over medium high heat. Add the tuna and sear on all sides, 2 minutes each side. The tuna is still raw or medium rare in the center. Remove the tuna from the heat and thinly slice. 
If you're wondering what is in the Tom Douglas Spicy Tokyo Rub : Red Pepper, salt, sesame seed, smoked paprika, coriander, natural lemon juice powder, orange peel, shredded seaweed.

I served this delicious meal was served with a bottle of Dead Bolt™ White Winemakers Blend, the follow up wine to Pernod Ricard's wildly successful Dead Bolt Red Blend. The White Winemakers Blend is a full flavored, juicy blend lead by Chardonnay and featuring Chenin Blanc. As a Chardonnay lover, I really enjoyed this wine. It was fruity with a sweet spicy finish which paired excellent with the tuna. My Mom is not a Chardonnay drinker and I know she would love this as much as I did. This wine will accommodate many white wine drinkers palates. Expect to see Dead Bolt White Winemakers Blend on the shelves soon! 


Thursday, September 26, 2013

How Dorie Greenspan helped plan my honeymoon - IFBC 2013

Warning - there's a lot of words going on in this post without a lot of photos, but you need to live this moment through me. It's inspirational, incredible and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Many months ago, I was very excited upon hearing the news that Dorie Greenspan (who New York Times called a Culinary Genius) would be the keynote speaker at IFBC. Why you ask? Dorie's never ending accomplishments are listed below (hint....Julia Child) and she was among the first culinary professionals to produce cooking apps for mobile phones and tablet computers. I can say with my whole heart, this woman changed our lives in the kitchen we know it today.
Sitting at a table in the very back of the room at the first IFBC session, I found myself straining to get a better look at Dorie. Yet I swore she kept looking in our direction during her key note. More on that in a bit.

Dorie had my attention at go. I took more notes in her key note than I did during the entire conference combined. Impressed? Amazed? Intrigued? Encouraged? Yes, yes, yes and yes. This woman started her life at a normal day job. She was a runner (yay!) with no training in food or journalism. In fact, she didn't bake her first chocolate chip cookie until she was married. Present day, she's written 10 cookbooks, won six James Beard and IACP, including Cookbook of the Year (twice), IACP Cookbook-of-the-Year Award for Desserts by Pierre Herme, The New York Times Bestseller, James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. Wait, that's not enough? She's also the co-author of two cookbooks with Pierre Hermé, Paris's king of pastry and she wrote the Café Boulud Cookbook with Daniel Boulud, the famous French chef in America. I am not done - Dorie wrote Baking with Julia, for Julia Child.

Instant culinary crush on a woman? Yep.

With that resume, you could think Dorie would be self righteous. I mean, she has all right to be....but listening to her speak, you knew within moments that wasn't the case. This is someone I could imagine teaching me to bake without screaming at my KitchenAid or my oven. Someone I would love to learn from. I took my pen to paper as quick as one could, with quotes flying. Here are a few of my favorites.

"I am lucky because I work hard" Dorie - you have no idea what those words mean to me. I state them on a daily basis.

"I am so fortunate because I say YES"

"Food writers have the power to bring people together and do what makes them happy"

"Write for yourself and cross your fingers someone else will like it too"

Someone asked Dorie what her most memorable yes was and she said, "my husband is here!" Dorie's husband was sitting directly behind us, which is why she kept looking in our direction. I only wish for one thing in my life, to have the love her and her husband obviously have for one another years into our marriage. You could feel the romance in the room.

How Dorie Greenspan helped plan our honeymoon.....
OK - now you want to know how Dorie Greenspan helped plan our honeymoon? Dorie lives in Paris and NYC. I could tell instantly how much she treasures the city of love. When IFBC opened up the session for Q&A's to Dorie, people asked all sorts of questions but I had a burning one that I couldn't ask because it was about me.

Many hours and cocktails later, I found myself in the gift suite at IFBC. Upon walking in, I felt like someone going through a hurricane. Women were grabbing swag off the table, shoving, pushing, etc. That may be a little dramatic but it was the overall sensation I had. With bug eyes, I hopped from table to table trying to get out of there as fast as possible. I said under my breathe "I feel like a f#$k&! rat" and heard a giggle behind me. I turned around and it was Dorie. Great first impression Meg.

I instantly told Dorie how much her key note meant to me. That she was a true inspiration for any food blogger and inspiring chef. She was so kind and I seriously felt as if I were speaking to a friend.

That's when I asked her.

"Dorie, during the Q&A, I really wanted to ask you a question, but it was about me so I held off. I am honeymooning to Europe and spending two days in Paris. Can you tell me one restaurant that is a must go to?"

Dorie was so excited!! She asked me for a pen and a piece of paper. I never imagined this and sat there a little bug eyed. The first question she asked me was "sweet or savory" to which I too quickly responded "savory". Although I am savory as savory gets, I wish I responded sweet to the woman who has written multiple books about baking. Anyways -
Not only did I receive one suggestion, I got three. With food suggestions.

Oysters at Regis
Pastry at Pierre Herme
l'Araunt - Comptoir, Dorie's favorite wine bar (and I need to have the croquets)

Graciously, I sat there in awe over this inspirational woman who was kind, helpful and down to earth. We spoke a little about running and of course, I told her I am running New York this year. I could tell she enjoyed helping me out with suggestions. I have been asked by everyone, "did you get a photo with her?" No. The suggestions above are more than any photo could ever do for me and it would have been awkward to ask after she spent so much personal time with me. I know this question is frequently asked because I am known as a celeb chef photo addict....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - Wearing Different Bridesmaid Dresses

I never thought selecting bridesmaid dresses would be the biggest decision I have had to make for our wedding. The reception venue, ceremony location and my wedding dress(es) were beyond easy to decide upon. Yet the dresses that the girls closest to me is a giant unknown.

I have four dear friends who will be standing with me on my big day. All four girls are beautiful and fit but shaped differently. While one would be stunning in a form fitting strapless gown, the other needs straps or we would be having a totally different kind of after party. Just saying....

So I made the decision to allow my girls to select their own dress. One that would accentuate their individuality and look best on their figure. Plus I cannot get accused of picking out ugly bridesmaid dresses.

At this time, I am certain of two things - the dresses will need to be the same shade (charcoal grey) and will not be an infinity dress. Since the wedding is in New Orleans, I am encouraging the girls not to have a long dress since it will get nasty during the second line parade.

What do you think about bridesmaids wearing different style dresses? I have always been a matchy-matchy girl so this is a big deal for me. After being in around 10 weddings, I know this will take a lot of stress off of my shoulders knowing each girl will be happy with their dress.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Savor Seattle Pike Place Market Food Tour

While in Seattle for IFBC, a group of 8 bloggers from Tampa FL headed out for the Savor Seattle Pike Place Market Food Tour. We met up with our amazing tour guide Rich to learn history of the Pike Place Public Market.
We started outside the Market theater, home of one of many Seattle landmarks -the gum wall. Something totally disgusting and beautiful at the same time. Of course I had to leave my marking.
After heading into the market, our first stop was at Daily Dozen Doughnuts and we were welcomed with bags of hot mini doughnuts topped with sugar. I am not a doughnut girl but I am marrying a guy who requested a Krispy Kreme cake as his 30th birthday cake. I would say he would approve of these little guys!
 After we were finished with the doughnuts, we headed to MarketSpice, a specialty tea and spice store that opened in 1911. I instantly fell in love with the charm of this store. I am a spice addict and my cabinet is out of control. A little overwhelming for someone like me, I couldn't decide what to buy. Luckily, MarketSpice has an online shop and I do plan on shopping away! We sipped on one of their best selling tea's while checking out the goods.
Now for my 5 seconds of fame. If you have read my bucket list, you're already aware one of my items was to catch a flying fish  at the world famous Pike Place Fish Market. We were welcomed by very enthusiastic fish mongers and got to try out 4 types of smoked salmon (including candy salmon!!).
When it came time to watch the guys throwing fish, we received an exciting show. Sadly, my phone didn't turn to video fast enough. Luckily, they asked if anyone in the audience wanted to catch a fish, to which I jumped. Even luckier, Jen caught it on video and Leslie took plenty of photos. The excitement in my face and the fact I hugged a huge raw smelly fish in my Burberry jacket shows how proud I was that I actually caught the fish (I was panicking). 




After leaving the guys, we visited Franks Quality Produce, a family owned and operated fruit stand who sell to the public and wholesale to many local restaurants. I do not like peaches but tried one handed to us and good lord, it was the most amazing piece of fruit I have ever consumed and I wanted more....so I took seconds.  

We took some time to stroll through Pike Place Market, visiting Chukar Cherries.We sampled multiple dried and candied cherries from their menu. You could easily see why this is such a popular mail order company. While in the market, we saw many stunning flower bouquets, priced at $15 for the highest. If we lived in Seattle, there would be no excuse for Gabe not to bring me home a bouquet of fresh flowers on a weekly basis.


Up next was Beechers Handmade Cheeses, a very famous cheese shop who is widely known for their Mac and Cheese and artisan grilled cheese sandwiches. The Mac and Cheese was creamy and delicious. It had a hint of spice to it and tons of cheese. Going to Beechers is a must visit for anyone in Seattle.
Speaking of must visits, our next stop was Pike Place Chowder. This chowder was legit - and I am going on a limb here by stating it was better than chowder I have feasted on in New England. Apparently I am not the only one who feels this way - Three years in a row, Pike Place Chowder was named “Nation’s Best Chowder.” After the third win, our New England Clam Chowder was retired from the competition and inducted into the Great Chowder Cook-Off Hall-of-Fame. IT WAS THAT GOOD.

Around this time, all of us were going into food coma mode with two more stops. Piroshky Piroshky was next, a Russian bakery known for Piroshkies! This was the first time I have tried this Russian Pastry, which comes savory or sweet. We tried both, an apple cinnamon and a beef and cheese. Both piroshkies were awesome but the beef and cheese was out of this world.
Finally, last but not least was one of Tom Douglas's restaurants, Etta's. We sampled Etta's crab cake and it was so good that we came back for dinner here later that night but I will do a separate post on that magical experience.
I would strongly suggest anyone visiting Seattle for the first time to experience Savor Seattle Pike Place Market Food Tour. You get to see many Seattle landmarks while trying multiple bite size samples of delicious foods. It's the only way to experience Pike Place for the first time. Multiple high fives to our Tour Guide Rich for such a memorable experience on my first trip to Seattle!

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Winebag Wristlet! Wine Gabby #Giveaway

Is it a winebag or a wristlet? The Wine Gabby™ is both of those necessities - the only 2-in-1 handbag that can carry your essentials for a girls night out, but also unfolds to carry a large bottle of wine, vodka, champagne or whatever else you fancy.
Imagine making plans out with the girls for a night on the town, but you wanted to do some cocktails at home first. I have found myself countless amounts of times with too many bags - carrying the wine, my handbag, makeup bag, etc. The wine gabby will hold your bottle then re-fold into a clutch! In the US, 1.2 billion wine bags are thrown away each year. This versatile fashion accessory does more than make you look good, it also helps save the environment!

This review really excited me and I was very impressed upon receiving the product. While used as a cluthc, it's large enough to hold your phone, a small camera, lipstick and a zipper compartment for your ID's and cards. Once folded out into a wine bag, you could easily fit a 1.50 liter bottle of wine! Hello double bottle holder :)

Here are two videos to show how easily this transformation is:

From a clutch to a wine tote
And from a wine tote to a wristlet
Here is the awesome Wine Gabby wine tote / clutch I received. PS - I so brought this with me to Seattle for the International Food Bloggers Conference!
So I have one Wine Gabby wine tote to give away to one lucky reader!!! Let me know in the comment field what your favorite beverage is to bring over to a friends house. Make sure you enter your entry in the rafflecopter widget as this is how I select my winner. You can also unlock additional entries!

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Greetings from Seattle! Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce Recipe

I left for Seattle very very early this morning to attend the IFBC - International Food Bloggers Conference. It is crazy September today is already here. I recall signing up for this conference this Spring, and as each month passed, my excitement grew. This is my first trip to Seattle and I haven't been to the west coast since 2004.

As the good wife to be - I always try to prepare easy foods for Gabe to make whenever I leave town for an extended period of time. Homemade sauce is always one of my go to items while traveling due to the amount of leftover sauce we have.

I found a slow cooker bolognese recipe from Kelsey Nixon, one of my favorite contestants from The Next Food Network Stars a few seasons past. I modified her recipe only a bit - replacing nutmeg with cinnamon and omitting 1lb of pork (I thought 1lb of meat was enough). This gave us enough sauce for dinner and 2+ meals for Gabe while I am in Seattle. This was beyond delicious an so easy. The crockpot literally does all of the work for you. Do not brown the meat prior to placing in the slow cooker - this is perfect as is. I am bookmarking this and will be making it again in our future.

INGREDIENTS

  • tablespoons olive oil
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • large carrot, finely chopped
  • celery stalk, finely chopped
  • yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Two 28-ounce cans crushedtomatoes
  • pound ground sirloin
  • Pasta, for serving












DIRECTIONS 

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste, thyme and cinnamon, and continue cooking until the vegetables have softened and started to brown, about 2 minutes.

Deglaze with the wine, pulling up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully transfer to the slow cooker. Stir in the cream and tomatoes. Mix the sirloin together in a separate bowl, using your hands, until combined. Stir the meat into the slow cooker, spreading out evenly and avoiding any large clumps. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours. Skim the accumulated grease from the surface before serving.

WINE PAIRING

I paired this delicious meal with a bottle of Masi Brolo di Campofiorin Veronese IGT 2008. Talk about delicious - this wine, OMG. The Masi Broli is a 92 Point full body wine with a long flavorful finish. You could taste the fruits along with hints of cocoa and vanilla on the finish. It was the perfect wine for this meaty pasta dish. I will proudly state, I took it down in one night, with no headache the next morning. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Picking up marathon training when you fall behind #BeAmazing

I will be honest - when I signed up for the 2013 ING New York Marathon lottery, I was not expecting to get in. I had already signed up for two half marathons in November. I am running the 2013 Rock n Roll Savannah Half Marathon and the 2013 Womens Running Series half marathon in St. Pete. When the full marathon acceptance came over, I was a ball of emotions between ecstatic, excitement, panic and self doubt mode. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to running, and my self doubt has been at an extreme high over the past two months. This has interfered with my training and it needs to stop.

I sit here with a little more than 40 days away from my first full marathon and am no where near where I should be in training. If I only had New York on the schedule in November, I wouldn't be as panicked as I am today. It's the two halfs following the full that have me bug eyed. What if I over exert myself and get hurt? What if I lose my drive like I did earlier this year? I'm trying not to panic and keep telling myself that the goal is simply to finish the New York Marathon. I am not going to stress myself out over my time or the amount of walk breaks I will surely be taking. 

I was on a FitFluential chat last week for marathon training and heard some amazing tips and encouragement for runners who have fallen behind on training. I saw many marathon runners state that you should pick up where you left off - not where you should be if you missed several runs (guilty as charged). 

One training method I incorporated this week was two a days. On the days I would typically run 45 minutes, I am running 3 miles on the treadmill in the morning and using my nightly 45 minute run as a recovery run. This can enhance recovery and increase adaptation. While I do not particularly love this method, I am pushing through.
Another training method we started last week was interval training. Interval training has been shown to burn fat while preserving muscle mass. It greatly improves cardiovascular capacity which I need a lot of assistance with. Also, your metabolic rate can be increased for hours (even days). We are doing Interval training 3 times a week, 30 seconds at full speed, 4 minutes recovery x 8. The day following my first interval training, my body felt like I ran a half marathon the day before.  I realized very quickly that massive stretching, rolling and icing was very important following these session, regardless of the distance or length. The last thing I want to do is get hurt.

I found a study that showed six sessions of four to seven all-out thirty-second sprints (with four minutes of recovery between sprints) could be as effective at improving cardiovascular fitness as an hour of daily moderate-level aerobic exercise.

The most important thing I need to realize over the next few weeks is tapering. I will taper prior to the full marathon, then use the Rock n Roll Savannah as a recovery run. I have family running with me in Savannah and will not stress about my time. The week following Savannah, we have Run For Your Lives 5K and two weeks following the Rock n Roll Savannah, I will be running the Women's Running Series with my best friend Keri. My goal is to run the Women's Running Series strong and hopefully survive the Run for your Lives 5K as a non-zombie.
Meg & Keri 2012
I must be positive over the next 66 days. 66 is not the number away from the ING New York Marathon, it is the amount of days away from the Womens Running Series Half in St. Petersburg. After the WRS, I have a little over a month before the Dopey Challenge at Disney.

I do have discount code for runners interested in the Womens Running Series in St. Pete! Save $10 with the code FITFLMEG - Keep in mind, prices increase on September 30th, so make sure you register before then! The Women's Running Series will be in Nashville next week and you can follow along with the runners with the hashtag #beamazing.

What is the most amount of races you signed up for in one month?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - Centerpieces purchased!

According to the Knot.com, I should be in the process of interviewing caterers, visioning my wedding gown and hiring a wedding planner. hahahaha.

Being a control freak with an extensive background in corporate event planning is the best and worst combination when planning a wedding. The only thing that is past due according to the knot is obtaining ring insurance, something I should have done the day after my post-engagement hangover. I'm putting that on my very lengthy list of things to do this week.

Thanks to my obsession with Weddingbee.com/classifieds, I have purchased our centerpieces (prior to finalizing our color scheme). Once we decided to get married in New Orleans, there were two decoration items which had to be included in our wedding - lanterns and candelabras. One day while browsing through the classifieds on weddingbee, I found someone in South Florida selling candelabras and other pieces from her ceremony for pick up only. As soon as I clicked on the link, I knew this was meant to be.

I purchased my centerpiece items from a sweet girl named Nicole, who gave me an amazing bulk deal for $250. The following pictures are from Nicole's wedding but you will get the general idea.

I received 15 of these Ivory Candelabra's which are over 16" high. They are the perfect height for what we are visioning. Amazon currently has them for $22+. If I were to buy these 15 individually, my candelabra total would have been $330.
Here are the candelabras on the table.
Along with the 15 candelabras, I also received 32 of these Square Crystal Acrylic Beaded Votive Holders. I want to use these to hold smaller bouquets of roses with an led candle lit up.
One lantern card holder (I LOVE THIS - so New Orleans!)
And two lanterns
While some may be shocked I purchased all of these items without finalizing my color scheme, I have a general concept of what we're doing. I cannot believe I got all of these items for $250.

Would you purchase your centerpieces this far in advance if you were getting a good deal?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Marchand's Bar & Grill Brunch at Vinoy Renaissance St Pete

This Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit Vinoy Renaissance St Pete and check out the brunch at Marchand's Bar & Grill. Marchand's recently took their award winning brunch buffet and turned it into an amazing menu, where you can order A Lá Carte or pick 3 items For $32 (two entrees and one dessert). Amazing food, live music and a perfect atmosphere, you cannot ask for more - Marchand's is a must visit for brunch in the bay area.

Marchand's offers a 'Build your perfect' Bloody Mary bar for $9, a bottomless mimosa bar for $7 or a bottomless bellini bar for $8. The bloody mary bar was unlike any I have ever seen, offering homemade spicy and regular mixers and a topping bar that would make any southern girl squeal: Pickled Green Beans, Pickled asparagus, Pickled Okra, Onion, Salami, Giardiniera, Green Tomato, Horseradish, Goat Cheese Stuffed Olives, Feta Stuffed Peppadew, House cured Beef Jerky, Shrimp, Peppered Smoked Bacon, Provolone, Mozzarella, Assorted Spices & Hot Sauce. WOW.
I made what was one of the best bloody mary's I have ever had. With this amount of toppings, how could one go wrong!
After we had our libations in hand, we were presented a tray of pastrys. I am generally not a pastry lover but good lord, this was good stuff. A jumbo pecan sticky bun and Monkey Bread were both presented in a staub skillet (that presentation always makes me very happy). We also had coffee cake and warm cinnamon donuts. This non-pastry person will go out on a limb and say I will order the Monkey Bread or Jumbo Sticky Bun on my next trip. You made a pastry believer out of me.
Now it's time for the courses. Two days later I am still in a food coma and you are about to see why.

Starting off with my favorite dish of the day, the EGGS IN A JAR - Anson Mills Lil Moo Cheese Grits, Poached Eggs Corn Meal Fried Rock Shrimp, Roasted Chili Hollandaise. Every bite of this dish was perfect. Since it was served in a jar, you were able to get the right amount of egg, yolk, shrimp, grits and cheese.
Do not adjust your monitor, those are Purple Grits you see. CRISPY MAPLE CURED PORK BELLY with Parmesan Fried Egg and Roasted Corn Grits. These grits had such a great texture combined with the corn. The maple cured pork belly is something I could eat everyday and that egg was so creative. I loved this dish.
After seeing Marchand's new menu, one item stood out to me above all else. HOUSE BRINED CORNED BEEF HASH topped with Fried Duck Eggs & Heirloom Potatoes. Corned beef is my ultimate weakness when it comes to breakfast. I generally make up my own meal if it is on the menu. I create my own eggs benedict with a side of corned beef, topped with two poached eggs and hollandaise. Bring a duck egg into the mix and you have my attention! This corned beef was off the charts incredible and I am hoping Marchand's has a St. Patricks Day dinner next Spring - if so, I will be front and center.
Speaking of eggs benedict, another dish that grabbed my attention from the start was RED WINE POACHED EGG, La Quercia Prosciutto, Sourdough, Béarnaise Sauce. There were so many great things going on with this dish, from the perfect poached purple egg to the prosciutto.
Another hit at the table was the QUICHE, made with Lump Crab, Roasted Pepper sauce, Charred Leek, Lil Moo Cheese. This quiche was full of flavor, the lump crab was the perfect amount. It was like a lump crab cake and a quiche had a baby.
And finally, as Gabe would say, you cannot have brunch without French Toast. RHUBARB FRENCH TOAST, Oranges, Candied Almonds, Mascarpone, Bacon. This particular dish was a little too sweet for me but if Gabe was with me, I know he would devour it.
At this point, I was considering how one would expect me to stand up and leave the restaurant. I needed a wheelbarrow. And then the desserts came out. Up first was a Lemonade Cake with Candied Lemon and blueberries. This was my type of dessert - not too sweet and light, perfectly delicious.
The Smore’s Cheesecake was one item I couldn't leave without trying, a Milk Chocolate Cheesecake, Graham Cracker Crust and roasted marshmallows.
We received another item served in a jar! Blackberry Cobbler with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
That my friends was a very delicious brunch and I cannot wait to return. I know one thing is certain, I will be dining at Marchand's Bar and Grill following the Womens Half Marathon Series in St. Pete on November 24. That will be my special treat for running one full marathon and two half marathons during the month of Nov!
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