30 October, 2010

Another training week in the books, and I feel good!

Granted it was a 'short run' week but I'm still very happy!  I was finally able to pre-plan when I was going to run and I was able to stick to it. 

10/26/10:  3 miles of hill intervals....went to the gym Tuesday and was worried my IT band would bother me since it did on my 14 miles.  Jumped on the treadmill and walked for a few mins and then bumped up the speed.  Like last time, kept it at a 12 minute pace (5.0 on the treadmill) but this time used 4% incline instead.  1 min of incline, 2 mins of recovery at 0 incline.  No IT Band pain...woohoo!!!

10/28/10:  5 miles at a steady pace (Garmin Data)... Knew I had to do this before work since I had a work happy hour at night.  Woke up bright and early and headed to the park.  Um...I forgot the sun doesn't rise until later now so it was pretty freaky.  Luckily there were others in the park running and biking but there were definitely spots that had me skeptical.  Not too mention it was soooo foggy out!  It was right out of a horror movie.  Luckily the sun came up halfway through the run.  Felt ok, although it was hard to bump the pace over 10:30.

10/30/10:  9 miles at a steady pace (Garmin Data)... My friend Tony, who's ran the NYC Full a few years ago and has been keeping me semi-motivated over the years asked if he can go with me on my long run.  He just signed up for a triathlon so he needs to kick his butt into gear too.  I warned him that I'm much slower than him but he was ok with that and mentioned that he'll still try to push me a bit if I'm up for it.  Beautiful day out when we got to the park this morning, in the 40s but nice.  Now, normally I keep a 10:30 pace on runs this long and when my Garmin beeped at Mile 1 and I saw 9:45, I knew this run could end up either horrible or fabulous.  We kept up around a 10min pace throughout the whole run, minus 2 miles at 10:20 where I got a horrible side stitch twice due to not breathing correctly.  Picked up the pace for the last mile and overall we ran the whole thing in 1:30:27, or a 10:02 pace...woohoo!!!!  I'm definitely more tired than I normally am, and my legs felt like jell-o by the end but I'm still realllly happy.

Unfortunately I didn't make it to the gym at all this week, other than my run on the treadmill there.  It was crazy with work and school and I just never made it.  I did go horseback riding yesterday (Friday) and that was a good workout.  For anyone that doesn't ride, I swear it's tough!  Definitely a great cardio and leg workout.  

Next up on the agenda for next week is another big one.  4 miles on Day 1, 5 or 6 miles for Day 2, and then the big 16 on the weekend!  I'll have to do the 16 Saturday because Sunday, Dan and I are going to the D23 Sneak Peek of the new Disney Store in Times Square!! :)  I'm sure between the two of us we'll take a few thousand photos so get ready for them!

Have a great week everyone, I'll try to get back on here and write some more fun stuff in a few days.

27 October, 2010

The remainder of my training schedule

So I was going through my training schedule that my gym owner created for me, and decided to tweak my long run schedule just a bit.  He originally had me running my longest runs somewhat grouped together at the end of my training.  Knowing myself though, and my tendency to over think and over analyze everything, I know I would feel better with a 'short' run in between every long run.

I also know myself and if I post the schedule for the whole 'world' to see, it's more likely that I stick to it.

So here it is... just seeing those big numbers is still daunting and intimidating.  My stomach flutters every time I realize how close this really is.

      Run 1        Run 2          Run 3
Week 11, Oct 25-31   3 (Hill)   5 (Steady)   9 (Long)
Week 10, Nov 1-7   4 (Interval)     5/6 (Steady)     16 (Long)
Week 9, Nov 8-14   4 (Hill)   6 (Negative)   10 (Long)
Week 8, Nov 15-21   4 (Interval)   5 (Steady)   18 (Long)
Week 7, Nov 22-28   4 (Hill)   5 (Steady)   10 (Long)
Week 6, Nov 29-Dec 5     6 (Interval)   6 (Steady)   20 (Long)
Week 5, Dec 6-12   6 (Hill)   8 (Negative)   10 (Long)
Week 4, Dec 13-19   5 (Interval)   10 (Steady)   22 (Long)
Week 3, Dec 20-26   5 (Hill)   8 (Steady)   12-15 (Long)
Week 2, Dec 27-Jan 2   4 (Steady)   6 (Steady)   12 (Easy)
Week 1,  Jan 3-9   4 (Easy)   3 (Easy)   26.2 (Race Day!)  
  • Hill: usually do hill intervals on a treadmill. At the higher distances later, I'll need to go out and find hills in my area. 1 min hills / 2 min recovery (for now).
  • Interval: speed intervals... 1 min fast / 2 min recovery jog
  • Negative: where the first half of your run is slower than your second half

25 October, 2010

Baby Steps, Baby Steps...And a few Stumbles...

Like I said in my last training recap...I was feeling PRETTY crappy all last week so I never got a chance to run or go to the gym. I just wanted to focus on getting better. So what did I do yesterday? With no activity the week prior? I decided to get out there and go on a 14 mile run. Yes, I'm crazy...I realize that now.

The night before I had a friends wedding so I woke up fairly late (for my standards). Took my time waking up and bumming around and then finally around 1pm started to get ready for the run.

Got out to the park, stretched, and off I went. I wasn't sure how this run would end up so I decided to go a bit slower than my normal pace. Wanted to keep it between 11:30-12/mile.  It was a beautiful day out, temps around 65-70 and the leaves on the trees were gorgeous. Should have brought my camera because I'm sure by next week the leaves won't be as fabulous.

Around mile 4, I saw a lady chugging along ahead of me. I was barely running faster than her so it took me awhile to catch up. As we got shoulder to shoulder, she said hello and we got to chatting. Turns out she was .2 miles away from completing her 20 mile training run for the Space Coast marathon in Florida in a few weeks! I told her I was doing my first 14 for Disney in Jan and she was so positive and encouraging that I wanted to hug her and cry. She just kept telling me that I will rock this run and to stay positive when it gets crappy. After chatting about both races, we finally reached the parking lot where her car was. We both said congrats and good luck on our races and she dropped back as I kept chugging along. I think I ran the next mile with a smile on my face, seriously. This lady was awesome and I wish she knew that she completely helped me get through my run yesterday. Hopefully I'll get to run into her again in the park to say thank you again.

The run was going well for the first 8 or 9 miles. I felt great and enjoyed every minute of being out there. Around mile 10 I started feeling sluggish. I had been snacking on the Jelly Belly Sport Beans the whole run (first time I used them) so I started eating more. Mile 11 is where things started going even more downhill. My IT Band, which had given me HORRIBLE problems training for the half last January, started twinging. Grrr...I haven't had IT Band problems since last year and had gone through many hours of physical therapy so I started getting annoyed and worried. The pain wasn't horrible so I kept on trucking along. By mile 12 though, I had completely ran out of gas. My pace had dropped down to 13-13:30 miles and I felt like I was running in reverse. At 13.1 I looked at my watch and realized I've ran the slowest half marathon distance of my life, but was surprisingly ok with it. I just wanted to finish!! The last mile was torturous, but when my Garmin beeped at 14 miles, I smiled and let out a huge sigh of relief.

I had done it! I ran 14 miles for the first time EVER! Was it pretty? Not at all. But I honestly don't care about that, I'm just glad I finished! There was definitely a few spots that I contemplated stopping but I knew I would have been pissed off at myself if I did.

So then my brain started analyzing the run and I was trying to figure out why it didn't go as well as I wanted. Carbs were most likely a huge factor. I wasn't having trouble breathing, so it wasn't a cardio issue. My body just seemed drained. I thought I had eaten enough but I guess not? Could have been the Jelly Belly Sport Beans just didn't give me enough oomph. I have to see what else I can use. The Gu gels are just gross, and I really can't stomach them. Gu Chomps aren't bad but they're starting to get a little old and bleh. I only ate a bowl of oatmeal prior to running so maybe I need to eat more the morning of. I'll keep tweaking and see if it gets better.  What do you guys use for long runs?  I've heard pretzels, crackers, etc.  When we met up with Jeff Galloway at the runDisney event, he swears by the original Powerbar, so I might try that next time.  

And, like always...here's my Garmin data for the run!
10/24/10: Garmin data, 14 mile run

Yesterday after the run I headed to my dads while they were at a wedding so I can do some laundry.  I ended up taking a nap on their couch after my shower and woah was it near impossible to get off the couch!  I was hobbling around so slowly.  This morning is much better though.  I used my foam roller last night and this morning and that helped.  Still feel the IT band but hopefully can nix that pain soon.  Looks like I'll be wearing my IT band wraps again for awhile. :(

Happy running everyone! :)

21 October, 2010

Marathon Weekend Race Retreats, what do you guys think?

I saw on runDisney's site that they're starting to advertise the Race Retreats again this year...

From Disney's site... "Are you looking for a way to put a little more magic into your Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend? Experience the race as a VIP with a Race Retreat Package. The Race Retreat features a temperature controlled tent with patio seating at the finish line where you'll have private restrooms and bag check, access to live results, a full brunch, massage and character appearances."

They also posted a flyer with more details, which you can read here. Bagels, fresh fruit, hot/cold drinks, private bag check, private rest rooms, changing area, character greets, massages (for a $10 fee), and a few other things.

All for the 'low' price of $105 for marathon runners ($85 for half marathon runners)!! 

Has anyone that's reading (is anyone reading?) actually done the race retreat in the past?  What were your thoughts?  Is it worth it?

I'm seriously tempted to do this, even at that crazy price.  For one, it's my first full marathon and I know I could use the extra pampering.  Second? Considering how miserable and cold we were in the snow/sleet/rain/25 degree weather last year, this would be absolutely amazing.  I remember looking longingly at the tent and wishing that I had a credit card on me...and that they were accepting walk ups! :)

Why wouldn't I do it though?  Well, it's expensive.  But if I hear from enough people that it's worth it...I will splurge.  The other thing holding me back is what to do after the race.  In reality I'll most likely only use this splurge prior to the race.  My friend Christina will be with me during marathon weekend (she's running the half the day before).  We'll both be on the sidelines during each others race cheering our hearts out.  After the race, if either of us wants to 'visit' the other in the retreat tent, it's another $100 fee for a guest.  THAT I don't think is worth it at all.  So while the tent will be fabulous before the race, I won't want to stick around after the race because I'll be looking for her around the finish line! 

So what do you guys think?  Yay? Nay?

20 October, 2010

Delicious Eats at the New Karamell Kuche

The Disney world has been all a buzz about the newest addition to the Germany Pavilion, the Werther's sponsored sweet treat shop, Karamell Kuche.  The new store, which is German for 'Caramel Kitchen', replaced the old Glas und Porzellan store, and I'm guessing that Karamell has already gained more fans in it's short opening than Glas ever had.  

We were in Epcot the day that Karamell opened and it was a mad house every single time we walked by, no matter the time of day.  Of course we had to go in each time and check out the offerings!  The delicious smell of caramel welcomed us every time we stepped foot in the store and it was definitely a battle to not spend a small fortune trying everything behind that dessert counter.   

Every item for sale had some form of caramel infused into it.... caramel apples, peanut caramel apples, chocolate and caramel covered strawberries, caramel drizzled cupcakes, caramel fudge, caramel pecan chocolate clusters, caramel corn, and the list goes on and on... wow...I sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump!

I sadly wasn't able to try as much as I wanted...hardly anything really...but I will say the dark chocolate and caramel covered strawberries were amazing! Too bad they were $4 each! I could have easily eaten the whole tray.

Please try not to drool all over your keyboards....

T-Minus 12 Weeks Until the Disney Full Marathon!

Wow, just typing that made my palms sweat! (and it's now technically 11.5 weeks away....*sigh*)

So I've sadly only ran 3 times since the half marathon.  I usually take almost a week off after a big race so that's kinda normal for me.

10/7/10:  Headed to the gym and did some legs & plyometrics...

10/10/10:  Yes, on 10/10/10 I went and ran 10 miles.  Did I plan that?  Actually, nope!  I honestly didn't even realize the date until I was going to send a tweet after I had finished.  The run felt AWESOME!  I definitely needed this to be a great run after the crappy half marathon so I'm thrilled.  It was a very chilly 39 degrees when I woke up and started getting ready.  By the time I got to the park, it had warmed up to 45.  During the run it easily warmed up to at least 65, probably warmer.  I run SO much better in the cold, I love it.  This was also my best time ever for 10 miles.  If only I kept this pace for the Wine & Dine half, I would have killed my PR.  Oh well, right?  There's always next time.

Garmin Data: 10 mile long run, 10/10/10

10/11/10:  Went to the gym and did a full arm and chest workout...

10/12/10:  My next run was only two days after my fab 10 miles and it still wasn't bad.  According to my training schedule, I needed to do 4 miles of hills.  It was already pretty dark by the time I got to the gym, and I realized that I didn't bring any light colored clothing to be seen by cars on the road.  Plus all the nearby hills were a hike from the gym.  Realizing I would be on the treadmill, I grabbed my friend Christina, who's training for the half, and forced her to run next to me as she does her training run.  She wasn't too happy with me!  Since I haven't done hills in forever, I started out at a 5.0 pace and alternated between 3% incline for 1 minute, and 0% incline for 2 minutes.  Felt pretty good.  Next time I'll bump it up to 4%.  Baby steps! Finished that in 46 minutes...slow and steady.

10/14/10:  Went to the gym for a leg workout... Had donated blood that morning so took it really easy and didn't get to do everything I wanted.  Definitely started feeling light headed so I didn't want to push myself anymore!

10/15/10:  My second short run of the week.  This time I was scheduled to do 5 miles of negative splits, where the first half of your run is slower than your second half.  It's supposed to teach you to pace yourself and to train your body to store energy for the toughest part of the race....the end.  I started out at a 10:45 pace (give or take some) and then when I turned around to head back at 2.5 miles, I tried to open it up as much as possible.  Tried to keep a 10-10:15 pace and for the most part I did.  Not gonna lie though, it was tough!  All I wanted to do was slow down and go back to chugging along at my original pace.  Glad to say I felt good after though.

Garmin Data: 5 Mile Negative Split, 10/12/10

And unfortunately, that's where my training kinda halted since then.  I had family come and stay over during the weekend and had no time to get out for a long run.  Add to that I had my first huge exam for grad school on Monday so I was busy locking myself in a room and studying.

To make things even better?  My family got me sick while they were here and I feel like I've been hit by a truck. :(  So there hasn't been a gym day or run day this week yet either. 

I hate how I always feel like I finally get in a groove (like last week) and then things just fall apart the week after.  Yes, it's only a small bump in the road and I'll keep on chugging along.  Life just gets in the way and it's getting pretty darn annoying!

19 October, 2010

Check us out!! Discover Epcot's Food and Wine 2010 Video

Andy and I had a hilarious time putting this together for his podcast. Watch us stuff our faces and give reviews of the Food & Wine kiosks that we hit up on Sunday. And if at any point you think I look miserable in the video? Try eating all that stuff in a matter of hours and try to function... it's near impossible! :)

And yes, I'm proud to say I survived the Mission: Space (Orange) challenge as well. :)

The Food & Wine Festival Recap... aka "OMG I think I might burst!"

FINALLY!  It's taken me forever to get this post completely written.  I didn't realize how much food we actually tried at the festival.  Hopefully after this post I'll have some time to catch up and write a training update post.

Just going through all my food photos from our Food & Wine adventure makes me hungry again.  By the end of the day on Sunday when I was on my way to the airport, I didn't think I'd be able to eat any more food for weeks!

Throughout the weekend, Andy and I attempted to try as many of the food kiosks as possible.  I only had a limited amount of time to accomplish this goal and I was going to try pretty hard to succeed!  We agreed that we would buy one of each food item on the menu, and possibly a drink or two depending on if I had ran in the half or not.  Also agreed to split the cost and rotate who pays at the booths. 

The first day that we met up (Thursday), we were only able to try a few of the kiosks.  Friday was more of the same, where we only sampled a few.  Sunday was the all out, go hog wild, shove as much food down your throat as possible adventure.  I mean...I did just run 13.1 miles the night before!  Oh...and we had to ride Mission:Space Orange afterwards just to prove that we're troopers and can hold down mass quantities of food.  

So here's the list in alphabetical order, like I posted last time.  I'll only include the booths that we went to and don't worry...there's photos for each and every item we ate, minus the two things I ate after the half marathon.  I'll be sure to review them too though!

Argentina - In terms of food, Argentina ranked up there as one of our favorites.  Out of the two offerings, the grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce was the hands down clear winner. 
  • Roasted Corn and Cheese Empanada ($2.75) - We both enjoyed the empanada but both agreed that it wasn't anything amazing.  It consisted of corn and cheese, and some spices.  All of my favorite empanadas contain some sort of meat in them, and I think that's what this was missing.  It was definitely on the 'heavier' side so you could definitely fill up on a few of these for a decent price. 

  • Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée ($4.75) - The definite winner in Argentina (and the majority of the other booths in the 'Latin Quarter' as Andy says).  The beef was tender and perfectly marinated and cooked.  Very easy to pull of the skewer.  The Chimichurri sauce was delicious!  I was trying to figure out what else we could have put this on.  I think it would have gone very well with the empanada and maybe given it that something that it was missing.  The sauce wasn't overpowering at all and was, for lack of a better word, refreshing.  It's usually made with finely chopped parsley, garlic, oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes.  I would have enjoyed it slightly more if it had more of a kick but I know Disney has to cater to the masses.  The boniato (a type of potato used in Latin cooking) puree was also very good.  If I didn't look at the description, I would have thought that we were eating normal mashed potatoes. 

Australia - I had high hopes for Australia and unfortunately, it didn't wow me.  If I HAD to pick a winner?  I'd reluctantly say the lamb chop.
  • Grilled Lamb Chop with Roasted Potato Salad and Red Wine Reduction ($5.75) - I loved this dish the way they prepared it last year.  This year they added the potato salad into the mix.  The lamb was still very good, tender, not too fatty.  However the potato salad just didn't do it for me at all.  First, it was cold.  Not even warm and I felt it should have been.  The potatoes were also slightly undercooked and had little to no flavor at all.  So overall the lamb received a thumbs up, yet the side dishes got a thumbs down, making the whole dish just ok. 

  • Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Lemon Oil ($4.75) - I completely skipped this dish since I don't like seafood but Andy tried it.  From what I remember he said it wasn't anything special.  What I did notice was that all of the other dishes of barramundi had a much larger piece of fish on it.  Ours?  Was tiny!  We were jipped!!

  • Lamington (sponge cake dipped in chocolate) ($3.00) - I didn't think I would enjoy this and I was right.  To me it was just a piece of vanilla cake, dipped in chocolate, and then rolled in coconut flakes.  Nothing spectacular.  I took one bite and gave the rest to the 6'6" human garbage disposal that was with me. :)

Brazil - out of the two food options available, I only really tried one (the pork).  So that's my winner by default, but I wasn't thrilled.
  • Grilled Pork Skewer with Farofa ($4.00) - I had never had farofa (almost like a corn meal or corn flour) and I wasn't sure how they would incorporate the two ingredients.  When I went to go order, the CM grabbed a pork skewer and dipped it in a bowl of farofa, coating it almost like you would put sprinkles on an ice cream cone.  To us, the pork wasn't that flavorful.  The farofa didn't add any flavor either, just an interesting texture.  Andy commented that it would be great if it had some A1 sauce, haha.  I sadly have to agree, or SOME kind of sauce!

  • Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime ($4.25) - Andy tried this one for the both of us (again, don't like seafood) and wasn't wowed by it.  From looking at other photos that are online, this looks MUCH different from the past.  Guess they changed it up a bit?  

    Canada - Sadly I didn't get to try the Chipotle Sausage, which is what I really wanted to try during the weekend.  I was able to use one of my food vouchers after the race to get some of the soup and since I was so miserable after the race, forgot to get the sausage!  Can't ever go wrong with the cheddar cheese soup though.
    • Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup ($3.75) - What else can I say that hasn't been said?  Most of us have already had this at Le Cellier, and love it.  I will point out that this was a much smaller portion than I was expecting.  I'd say my little cup was only half full.  Might have been because it was 3am after the race?  Also, I found it pretty salty.  Again, not sure if it's due to the race, but I know the main complaint of Le Cellier in general is that things are over salted. (Sorry no photo)

    Chile - They definitely had one of the standout dishes that we sampled all weekend.  So the winner?  Possibly even top 3 for the whole festival?  The Pastel de Choclo! I could totally go for some more right now. 
    • Pastel de Choclo (Beef and Corn Pie) ($3.75) - I could probably eat this for days and not get sick of it.  I believe in my video interview for Andy's podcast, my exact words were 'fabulousness'.  Yes, I made up my own word.  The combination of ingredients went extremely well together.  There was ground beef, raisins, olives, onions, all topped with a corn casserole.  Sweet and savory all combined to perfection.  

    • Shrimp Ceviche ($4.75) - Another dish that only Andy really tried.  I had some of the pico de gallo and it was plain.  No seasonings at all.  Andy agreed and said that the whole thing didn't have much flavor to it.  

    China - Wasn't a huge fan of this booth either.  Everything was slightly too greasy.  The pork pot stickers were the best of the three choices for me. 
    • Pork Pot Stickers ($3.50) - These were typical pot stickers, like I assumed before getting there.  They were a little greasy for my liking.  Decent flavor but, how can you really mess up a pot sticker?

    • Xinjiang Barbecue Chicken Stick ($3.50) - I really wanted to try this, and I really wanted to enjoy it but I just couldn't.  It had a decent teriyaki flavor, slightly too sweet for me, but the piece of chicken we had was pretty fatty. 

    • Black Pepper Shrimp with Sichuan Noodles ($4.50) - Andy said the shrimp was decent, I only tried the noodles and found them SO oily that one bite is all I could handle.  It tasted like typical mediocre Chinese food, unfortunately.   

      • Caramel Ginger Ice Cream ($3.25) -  Huge serving for the price!  I'm not a big fan of ginger ice cream in general but this was tasty.  It has tiny pieces of ginger in it, and the caramel flavor wasn't too overpowering.  Nice and refreshing after all that greasy food!

        • Happy Lychee ($7.00) - One of the only drinks we tried on our last day.  No photo either.  I love lychee fruit and was excited to try it.  It was lychee puree with vodka.  Not bad, sweet but refreshing.  I definitely enjoyed it but it would have been nice if they put a lychee fruit in there for some garnish!  Instead we got a lime wedge.  

        France - This was the first booth we tried during the preview night and really enjoyed it.  I wish I had gone back on other days to get some more food goodness!  The winner was definitely the short ribs, even though I think they didn't even put the sauce on ours.  It was still delicious.
        • Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet with Mashed Potatoes ($4.75) - By far the favorite of the booth, maybe even the whole festival.  The short ribs were tender and very flavorful and the potatoes weren't too heavy.  We noticed that later on in the weekend, people had some sort of gravy or sauce on top of their mashed potatoes, we didn't.  Didn't really need it but it would have been nice to see what it tasted like.  I could definitely eat this multiple times and not get sick of it.  It was also large enough and filling enough to make a meal out of this and a few other items.  

        • Escargots Persillade en Brioche ($4.75) - I was coerced into trying one of these things.  I had NO intention of ever knowing what snails taste like.  Honestly?  It wasn't horrible.  All I tasted was bread, butter, and garlic.  So at least now I can stay I have tried snails.  No need to try them again.  ;)  Don't base your decision on my review though.  People LOVE these things!

        • Crème Brulée au Chocolate au Lait ($3.75) - I enjoy good creme brulee, who doesn't?  When I saw that this was chocolate, I immediately had to try some.  The sugar crust was perfect and crunchy, the creme was silky with a hint of chocolate.  I would have like a little more chocolate flavor but still enjoyed this.  Also would have enjoyed it if the creme was slightly thicker.  It was a little 'runny' for me. 

        Germany - I wanted a beer SO BAD! But we hit up the Germany booth the night before the half marathon so no beer for me.  The winner for me was definitely the spatzle.  Not what I remember from when I was in Munich, but delicious regardless!
        • Spätzle Gratin with Ham and Cheese ($3.75) - This reminded me of a hearty macaroni and cheese casserole.  Like I said earlier, not what I remember spatzle to be from Germany, but we enjoyed it a lot.  Could have probably used a little more cheese but I can say that about any dish.

        • Nürnberger Sausage in a Pretzel Roll ($4.25) - This was good, but after one bite, I didn't want to waste any more room in my stomach by finishing it.  The pretzel roll tasted just like the one you get at Le Cellier.  The sausage was good, nothing spectacular.  The mustard that accompanied the dish had a nice kick to it and went well with the sausage.  

        • Apfel Strudel featuring Werther’s Original Karamell Sauce ($3.25) - This WOULD have been perfect... if only it were warm!!  Who serves apple strudel cold?  I just didn't enjoy it as much as I should have.  The caramel sauce was delicious, but isn't almost anything that has the name Werther's?

          Greece - Unfortunately I wasn't able to do the official 'Greek Girl Critique' all weekend.  We started on the wrong side of the lake!  Luckily I was feeling better enough after the half marathon to quickly pick up some spanakopita on the way towards the front of the park. 
          • Spanakopita ($4.00) - What a pleasant surprise!  I'm usually really picky about spanakopita.  Either I think there's not enough cheese, too much spinach, no flavor, too much phyllo, etc.  The spanakopita had the right combination of everything, and even had an extra kick at the end which I couldn't put my finger on.  Either way, it was delicious! (Sorry, no photo)
          Italy - The major dudd all weekend.  I wasn't a huge fan of any of the offerings.  I know, I'm biased...I grew up in one of the best Italian food areas in the country, but still!  Good Italian food is still good Italian food.  I enjoy Tutto and Via Napoli so this shouldn't have been any different.  If I had to pick one winner though, I'd say the polpettine. 
          • Polpettine Toscane with a Rosemary Breadstick ($4.50) - Three tiny meatballs in marinara sauce with a stale breadstick.  I found the meatballs were on the tough side, slightly rubbery.  The marinara had a good flavor to it though.  And the breadstick? Leave it out next time!  At least there was extra marinara when we finished so that we could add it to the ravioli....

          • Baked Cheese Ravioli, Creamy Bolognese Sauce, Melted Mozzarella ($4.50) - Um, I've read reviews were people are in LOVE with this dish.  I don't get it. :(  To me it was a heap of cheese ravioli that had no flavor, some ground meat at the bottom, and drowned in flavorless mozzarella cheese?  The only way we all agreed this was edible was after we poured the extra marinara on it from the polpettine. 

          • Cannolo Al Cioccolato ($3.50) - *sigh* 3 for 3 on the thumbs down.  I know I mentioned this before I went down to Disney, but I'm not a fan of chocolate cannolis, so keep that in mind.  To me, the only reason to dip the shell in chocolate is so the shell doesn't get soggy and they can have the cannoli sitting around longer before going bad and getting mushy.  The cannoli filling did have a nice flavor to it.  Tasted just like the one I had at Tutto.  Just couldn't get over the chocolate shell, that was way too hard from sitting in a fridge all day. 

          Mexico - Almost everything we had from Mexico was delicious.  The winner, by far, though was the taco.  I've been craving more since I've been home!
          • Tamal de Pollo ($4.50) - I do love me some tamales and this one didn't disappoint.  It wasn't the best I've had but it passed my test.  I would have rather had a different sauce on it instead of the white sauce/sour cream that they used.  The chicken had a nice flavor to it, and the cornmeal wasn't too heavy.  

          • Taco de Chilorio ($3.75) - Hands down the winner of Mexico!  The chilorio had such a good flavor that I could have easily eaten 5 of these little babies.  After googling how chilorio is prepared, there's no wonder why it tastes so good.  I'll spare you the details, but lets just say that it involves cooking the pork in some fabulous unhealthy for you substance and then spices are added.  :)  The green sauce added some 'refreshing' flavors, again...can't think of a better word.  Anyone want to send me some more of these?

          • Esquites (Pan-Fried Corn and Spices) ($3.75) - Bleh...just looking at the photo reminds me how much we really didn't enjoy this.  I'm not a huge fan of mayonnaise so I guess you should keep that in mind.  It was pan fried corn with a cheese/mayo sauce on top.  I didn't care for the flavors at all, and neither did Andy.  The sweet corn and the 'sweet' mayo combo just did not work for us.  This was one of the only two dishes that he and I did NOT finish and just threw out.  That should tell you something. 

          • Churro ($3.50) - What else can we say about the Disney churro that hasn't already been said?  You can't really mess up deep fried dough topped with sugar and cinnamon.  I've been a fan of these since back in the day when you could buy them at a cart in Frontierland.  Yum!  This one definitely didn't disappoint either and was a nice ending to the taco and tamale.  

          Morocco - Looking back at the photos, it's impossible to decipher between the kefta and the falafel.  I only know the difference after looking at the time stamps on the photos and remembering that I tried the kefta first.  The winner?  Definitely the kefta pocket!
          • Kefta Pocket ($5.00) - The kefta (a Middle Eastern meatball) was pretty tasty!  It wasn't too dry and had the right amount of spices in it.  My only complaint is that the pita was pretty bland and dry.  It would have been nice if they had toasted it a bit, or at least added a tahini sauce into the mix.  If I had it again, I would have left out the pita. 

          • Falafel Pita Pocket ($4.75) - This wasn't as dry as last year, which made me happy.  The falafel did have a nice flavor but again, the pita was too dry and didn't help matters.  Plus it definitely could have used a tahini sauce or something. 

          • Baklava ($3.00) - Shh, Wanna know a secret?  I usually like Moroccan and Turkish baklava better than Greek.  Don't tell my mother that though, k?  But umm...unfortunately?  This one wasn't one of my faves.  The phyllo was very dry and I think there was too much of it on top.  There wasn't enough honey syrup either, which probably would have helped the dry phyllo.  I only had a few bites and left the rest for the gang. 

          New Zealand - Was definitely looking forward to the lamb slider!  And since it's the only thing I could eat at the booth, it was definitely my winner. :)
          • Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney ($.475) - Another winner of the festival!  I wanted to compare this lamb dish to Australia and I do believe New Zealand wins.  The slider was moist and flavorful and the tomato chutney was a perfect compliment.  Luckily I didn't try the scallop so Andy let me have most of this to myself.   

          • Seared Sea Scallop with Vegetable Slaw and Lemon Oil ($4.25) - Another dish I didn't try but Andy said he enjoyed it.  Umm...I honestly can't remember his full review though.  Sorry!

          Poland - I was looking forward to the pierogies and kielbasa all trip and this didn't disappoint!  Can you say comfort food?  Considering we both hate cabbage, the pierogies were by far the winner. 
          • Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream ($5.00) - Like I said in a previous post, who doesn't like pierogies?  Especially topped with sour cream.  If you're wondering where the caramelized onions are... you're not seeing things.  Unfortunately when we went to the booth, they had just ran out.  Instead they gave us an extra piece of kielbasa.  I would have LOVED to try the onions though!  Regardless of our onion debacle, we both really enjoyed this dish.  The kielbasa had great flavor was perfectly grilled.  Someone want to send me some of these too up to NJ?

          • Golabki (Pork Stuffed Cabbage) ($2.75) - OK, so I'm going to start off this mini review by saying that both Andy and I are NOT a fan of cabbage.  AT ALL.  But we sucked it up for the benefit of this blog and his podcast and decided to try this anyways.  Well?  We still aren't fans of cabbage.  We each took a bite of this and that was enough for us.  I can't tell you if this is how it's supposed to taste but we didn't enjoy it.  

          Puerto Rico - Hmm...this was definitely a toss up between the two dishes here.  If I really had to decide on a winner, I would say the chicken soup, but only by a little. 
          • Asopao de Pollo (Chicken Soup with Rice) ($2.50) - I was skeptical about soup on a hot day but I enjoyed this!  Overall it was a little too salty for both of us but it still had great flavor.  The serving we had had a decent amount of chicken and olives.  The olives are probably what made the dish salty but they went well with everything else.   
          • Medianoche Sandwich ($2.75) - This was a decent sandwich, nothing bad to say about it!  It reminded me exactly of a Cuban sandwich.  It just didn't wow me and wasn't one of my faves.  Wish I could say more about it but, it wasn't that memorable. 

          So there ya have it!  

          Overall I enjoyed the Food & Wine Festival this year.  I usually don't do any of the extra events, so I can't say anything about those.  If I had to pick my Top 5 items?  Hmm... in no particular order...the Pastel de Choclo in Chile, Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée in Argentina, Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet with Mashed Potatoes in France, Spanakopita in Greece, and Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney in New Zealand.  There were SO many other food items that I wish I had been able to try!

          Next time I know to try to spread all the booths over a longer period of time.  I probably spent too much time in the MK on this trip, considering that Epcot is my favorite park and all the yummy goodness was there as well.  If I do the half marathon again next year, I might stay at least until Monday, just to have that extra day.  Plus I doubt I'll need to rush down there for another Jeff Galloway event so I'll have some vacation days!

          Is it sad that I've been pricing out flights to get back down there before closing weekend?  REALLY doesn't look like it's going to happen but... a girl can dream! :)

          Next post I'll link you guys to the video that Andy and I created for his podcast!

          14 October, 2010

          Wine & Dine Weekend Trip Recap, Day 3

          Ahhh...the morning of the big race.... :)

          I woke up and slowly started getting ready. I planned on meeting Keith at the Magic Kingdom around rope drop so I was still trying to keep to a schedule. I headed out to the busses and the MK line was already pretty long. I thought to myself that I should have grabbed breakfast in the food court but then remembered the Main St Bakery. THAT was Mistake #1 of the day. A MILLION buses came and went, none for the MK. Finally after what seemed like forever, one finally came and we were on our way.

          So it had been my goal on this trip to take my time and really slow down and appreciate the parks. Go into the stores, mingle, look at all the smaller details. Well? Looking back, I didn't do that at all. :( And who knows when my next solo trip will be. Maybe next Wine & Dine? Who knows...

          I was able to meander for about 15-20 mins when I arrived at the MK. I wanted to explore the Main St Railroad Station since I had heard of all the little details that were there.  I headed upstairs and watched as everyone else around me was sprinting to the train.  I definitely got some weird looks since I was just walking around taking photos!

          Burlesque Bouncer
          penny movies hiding at the train station

          I heard that all of these machines still work but I absolutely forgot to test them out.  Next time! :)

          The foozeball table (or whatever it really is called?) might have been my favorite.  Unfortunately, the glass case was VERY dirty so all of my pictures of the soccer players didn't come out well at all.


          Blue Team
          Red Team

          Another little hidden treasure I found was the railroad office that I'm sure everyone runs by as well.  If you look through the windows you'll see what looks like to be the ticket window, conductor office with lots of train tickets on the desk, conductor hats hanging on the coat racks, etc.  All very dusty, of course!  Again, the dirty window and sunlight against wasn't conducive to great photos, but I had to post them anyways...


          As I was up there exploring, I had called Keith to find where he was and he was already on Main St.  Headed down to meet up and I asked to go explore the barber shop, fire station, and barn for a quick minute just to look around.  I have a photo of my dad in the barber shop chair from 1987 and I wanted to see if it still looked similar.  I'd post the photo here but he might not be too thrilled.  :(

          While waiting I started exploring and admiring all of the decorations they put up for the holidays by the Roy an Minnie statue.  If they sold these Mickey dolls...i would totally have bought one!!

          Mickey pumpkin

          The barber shop looked slightly different from the photo but you can still tell the similarities.  Snapped some pics of the little details that we never seem to notice and then we headed on our way up Main St.

          Details at the Emporium

          Oh, and remember how I mentioned that I was hungry and would eat at the Bakery?  Well it was chaos, and I decided to skip it and find something else (Mistake #2 of the day!).  We new Cosmic Rays MIGHT have something for sale so we headed towards Tomorrowland.  There was only one area open that was serving burgers and such so I opted for the kids turkey sandwich.  NOT the best meal by any means, and definitely not what I should have been eating the morning before a race.  I just didn't want anything fried and that was the only thing that wasn't.  The only good thing about eating at 10:30am?  Sonny Eclipse was all ours!

          Sonny Eclipse

          traveling through space

          Tomorrowland was dead (as was every park and land that we went to that weekend!) so we quickly knocked out Buzz Lightyear (I lost...miserably!), Carousel of Progress (I still sing "Now is the Time..."), and then good old Space Mountain.

          As we finished Space Mt, we realized that this would be the last time we'd ever see Toontown! *gasp!*  Yeah, not THAT huge of a deal since I still have never ridden Barnstormer, etc...but we still wanted to go pay our final respects.


          So in Mickey's house, does anyone know if there is actually a video playing on the tv or if it's just sound coming out of a speaker?  I attempted to lean over the railing to find out and umm... BAD IDEA.  I triggered the alarm and pretty much woke up the whole neighborhood!  Quickly leaned back over to the 'correct' side of the railing and we continued on our way.  Still didn't catch a glimpse of the tv though!

          Looking at the time, it was close to Keith's lunch reservation at Tutto Italia so headed towards the front of the park.  Figured we'd hop on a bus to the first Epcot resort that shows up (Boardwalk, Yacht, or Beach) and then walk through the International Gateway to Italy.  Lucky for us, there was a bus waiting so we quickly made it to the Boardwalk.

          Were seated right away at Tutto and had a fabulous waiter, Eduardo (I think I'm spelling that wrong. I remember noticing that he spells it slightly different), from Naples.  We figured it was far enough before race time that we could have some pasta.  Looking over the menu I noticed a new pasta dish that I hadn't seen before.  Had a delicious meal of orecchiette with a lamb tomato ragu, artichokes, and olives, and ricotta.  It was delicious!  For not wanting to over stuff myself, I sure ate every last morsel on that plate.  I haven't had a bad meal yet at Tutto and, like I always say, the eye candy of beautiful waiters is worth the slightly higher price.  :)

          dessert sampler at Tutto Italia

          Since Keith was on the dining plan, we shared the dessert sampler.  The menu on allears.net is outdated but there was tiramisu, a hazelnut/chocolate cake, and a mini cannoli.  All were really good but I think winner for me was the tiramisu and the cannoli.

          After paying the bills, we headed out to do a little bit of Future World before heading back to our hotels to get ready and relax before the race.  I'm in love with the Voices of Liberty so we had to go stop in and hear them and then watch the American Adventure right after.  Can never get sick of the Golden Dream song!  Next up was Mission: Space and then Spaceship Earth to finish off our day in the park.

          Jumped on the bus to head back to All Star Sports and the rest of the day, including my 'fabulous' race experience you can read all about right here.

          Next up?  My Food & Wine recap!  I'll probably skip doing an individual Day 4 recap because ALL we did was Food & Wine. :) Yum!