Category Archives: Food & Restaurant

Peace Food (NYC)

My Top Secret Accomplice Dr. Allison and Top Dog Sir Jack recently came to visit for the weekend. Unfortunately Top Dog Sir Jack was suffering from a bum hip and couldn’t strut his Top self around town as he had hoped. Fortunately (sorry Jack) this left Dr. A and I able to spend the day in The City (NYC if you somehow don’t just assume this when you hear the word “city”) relatively guilt free. While I probably should spend the post discussing the time we spent at the Science Museum – the awesome dinosaur exhibits, the whale in his great hall and the display of meteors and meteorites in the space exhibit – I will instead blabber on about the restaurant of the weekend, Peace Food. We (by “we” I mean “Dr. A”) found this perfect little joint by using our (our =her) mad Yelping skills with a focus on the upper west side. Now for me, using Yelp often ends up being a bit of a crap shoot. Allison rocked this crap shoot!

Peace Food is very much what you’d assume from its name — a hippy dippy local organic vegan vegetarian friendly bomb of a restaurant…

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There is a bakery, juice bar, sandwiches, salads, soups, take out options and tables for dining in. The staff are super friendly and cheery and, frankly, so are your fellow patrons (…albeit a bit malnourished looking in some cases…but never mind…)

The menu

We went for lunch at 2 pm or so and had a great menu to choose from. The dishes are largely familiar items but with a hint of Peace Food personalization. Frankly, everything looked great and as the tables around us got their food, the decision just got harder and harder to make.

We were both actually in the mood for soups so in the end Dr. A got the leek soup while I went all in for the vegetarian chili…and then we split the Asian greens salad on the side. Now my fat self is always one to worry that I’m going to have enough to eat, and of course I was concerned that this little soup and salad wasn’t going to do the trick. Dr. Trott was wrong! (Surprising, I know.) The bowl of chili was serious and the corn bread removed any shred of doubt that I’d still be hungry. To be honest though, our salad is probably the one item that I’d recommend if I could only pick one. The greens were perfect, the cheese was fantastic the tempeh was perfectly done and the Asian dressing was equally interesting and delicious. If/when I go back, I would also like to give the juice bar a try. They had a well oiled operation going on behind the counter that I was kinda bummed about being too full to partake!

The staff

Our waiter was excellent and that really seemed to be a prerequisite for working there. Super helpful, attentive, nice, personable, talkative — but not too much. We had exactly what we needed when we needed it and could enjoy our lunch without feeling smothered. The atmosphere, with loads of positive energy, was undoubtedly a product of this. If you like good service you won’t be disappointed.

The ambiance

Peace Food has a great ambiance/atmosphere.

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The restaurant is bright and open and filled with funky decorations, cheery people and delicious smells. The staff set a great mood which, IMHO, draws in a great clientele. The dining room is high, positive energy, without being overwhelming or stifling. There is chatter and movement and commotion, but just the right amount.

$$

“Vegan, vegetarian, local, organic” (never mind “Upper West Side”) generally = three days of fasting to follow, but Peace Food was very affordably priced. Now, if you’re looking for a dollar menu this might not be the best fit for you, but we got really great food at a very reasonable price. Both the quantity and quality of all the grub we got was outstanding. <$20/person for a great lunch of familiar yet interesting dishes made from high quality ingredients in a most delightful atmosphere. I will definitely be going back, and dragging my friends with me. (Friends, consider this your warning.)

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Tortuga’s (Princeton, NJ)

Not to sound like a broken record (I can’t help it), but this post is way over due. Upon arriving at Princeton in June, one of my top orders of business was to get the scoop on the top eating (and running) and eating opportunities in town, of course. Upon my declaration of love for good authentic Mexican comida, I was directed to the wonderful Tortuga’s. This cozy little restaurant is located off the tourist (and undergrad…but never mind…) beaten path in the neighborhood on the north-west side of town. They don’t take reservations and typically have a bit (it really isn’t bad) of a wait but they start you off with bottomless and fantastic homemade salsa and chips and follow-up with dishes that are well worth any wait. They are also BYOB/BYOW, which I have come to totally love (Come on, I am picky and cheap…a most endearing combination…don’t act surprised…) Anyway, this is where I took Dr. Samia when she moved to town (town = NJ … yes, this is totally fair) and where I have been with my group mates for dinner and where I took Dr. Allison for her first dinner in town (town = Princeton … Why are you confused?) and where I will insist on going with Dr. Maroof next time he is in town (town = your definition of choice).

Tortuga’s is a locally owned and reasonably authentic (as far as this Minnesota girl … with a thing for food and other cultures … can tell) Mexican joint. The menu is big, offering something for everyone, even a diverse set of vegetarian entrees. 🙂 The dining room is often quite crowded, loudish and the service is often a bit slow. Like I said, there is a reasonable amount of authenticity to the place and with the food comes the ambiance. Enjoy it. (I’m not being a smart ass here, for once.)

The menu

La Tortuga is open for both lunch and dinner. However, I have somehow (quite unbelievably) only been there for dinner so far! The dinner menu is large and constant, and I assume the lunch menu is similar. There are a nice variety of single entree dishes (variety in terms of preparation styles – tacos, burritos, chimichangas, tomales, tostadas, soaps, ensaladas, enchiladas… – and types of protein – steaks, pork, chicken, fish, beans, etc… – as well as combination plates. A word of warning is that all of the dishes are big so bringing half home for an awesome lunch is a good mindset to have before things spiral out of control (not that I know this from personal experience or anything…)

So I’m one to enjoy trying lots of new and different food so I have always gone with some form of vegetarian combination platter. The vegetarian burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas and tomales are all fantastic. The combo platters come with both beans and rice that totally hit the spot. In contrast, my dinner dates have always gone with some kind of main meat entree – steak or chicken have been the hot choices I think. I have yet to hear a complaint from any of them.

Additionally, thanks to agreeing to participate in a game of musical tables, Dr. A and I scored free desserts on our visit. It’s probably a good thing that I hadn’t looked at the dessert menu until then because they all looked amazing! In the end we “settled” on the key lime pie and the chocolate tort (when dessert is on the house you don’t split). Damn. Both were super good – just sweet enough for a satisfying end to a rich meal, but not over the top. Again, they were both good-sized (note: this is not a complaint) so in the event of actually having to pay for your dessert splitting might be a good choice.

The staff

The staff are authentic. They are friendly enough but not the speediest. It’s part of the charm though. Your food will come out correct and hot and in the order in which it was received. (I’ve been on hold with customer service too much recently…stupid glove box…never mind.) So, there really isn’t anything to complain about, but just be warned that if you’re on a tight schedule, either let them know ahead of time (this may or may not make a damn bit of difference) or think of doing dinner after the show.

The ambiance

The ambiance is authentic, cozy and busting. Everyone is there for a nice relaxing neighborhood dinner with friends and family. Plan to Do the same next time you’re in the Garden State 🙂

$$

Very reasonable. Entrees are ~$15 and can easily be 2 meals. NOTE: Tortuga’s is cash money only! YES, CASH ONLY! Not a big deal (unless you don’t bring cash and don’t have a particular fondness for washing a restaurant dining room worth of dishes on an overfull stomach of course), just remember to grab some green as you walk out the door. (Not that green…)

Anyway, the chips and salsa to start with are a nice added bonus and the BYO policy really adds to the affordability. Sharing works well too if you’d rather not be carting left overs around. The ingredients are high quality and the preparation is mindful soooo (IMHO of course) you really would be quite stupid not to 😉

P.S. I realize a restaurant review without pictures is a bit bullshit, but lets cut me a little slack and consider this one a work in progress.

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Week 16


Mon 10/28 – rest

Thank you.

Tues 10/29 – 6ish mi 

A lovely early morning in lab lit the fire under my ass to get the run done early. The cooler weather is nice, but it does necessitate a bit more though to go into dressing and a bit more time to get the stiff joints and tight muscles all warmed up. That, and I’m old. 😦 Now I’m probably the only one saying this, and I will probably eat my words later, but it’s nice that the winters here are still rather damp. I can feel even this very modest drop in humidity (coupled with the cooler temps) through out my lungs. MN, how did I ever survive you?!

Wed 10/30 – rest

Thurs 10/31 – 8ish mi 

There is something very satisfying about bailing out of work from 8-9:30 am to get my run in during daylight hours. Although I felt like I was working harder than I really should’ve had to, it was a beautiful morning, I didn’t get lost and I finished the run all toast warm in my ruffled skirt and tank top. Once again, my complaints are unwarrented…I suppose…

Fri 11/1 – rest

Off to AICHE for the annual (oversized) national chemical engineering conference! (And some serious mischief-making around San Francisco of course.) For example…

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…early on the first evening of the conference…

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…and a bit later in the evening. (Don’t worry, we were all seeing double at this point.)

Dr. Maroof and Queen Penny were absolutely gracious hosts for the two days that I spent in Berkeley before heading into DT SF for the conference. They made me a most fantastic dinner for me when I arrived on Friday night.

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Making

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dinner.

They also gave me a most totally perfect belated birthday gift – a purple marathon Camelbak!

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My super sweet new purple marathon Camelbak (and me on the side)

What a great way to start off my pre-conference weekend! I could get used to CA!!

Sat 11/2 – cross – 20 mi biking – HILLS!!

On Saturday morning we got up and turned dinner left overs into an awesome brunch of south Asian seasoned rice + beans and shrimp + potato + cauliflower + cheese quesadillas. We might be kinda into weird fusion foods. Maybe.

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Fusion Brunch

Then, we got all suited up

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Us…all suited up…

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…and a close-up of my new glorious compression socks from Aki. Happy Birthday to my feet!!

and took out the bikes (thank you Noem for lending yours to me, it was awesome!!) for a leisurely 10 mile ride along the north coast of the bay, 

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bike trail + SF Bay

and then a grueling 10 mile battle up to the top of Berkeley, to Tilden Park

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Tilden Park

and then back home.

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The climb up was honestly the most challenging and treacherous bike climb I think I have ever done. The perpetual gradual incline wore you down while the wicked steep sections totally blew out your quads in no time. And then the switchbacks. Ahhh yes, the switchbacks (at this point, why not?). They made everything super precarious, just to ensure you were actually being challenged.

Also, once we conveniently arrived at the farthest point from home in our route, we had an unfortunate spat between Dr. M’s ankle and his bike pedal clip.  (Apparently frantically trying to clip in before you roll backwards down the damn hill is not the safest.)

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Booboo!

Luckily there were some EMTs in the area (originally called to help with “a dog that was having a problem in the lake…” WTF?!?!…) who helped us bandage things well enough to get home. Thank god it was 5 miles DOWN the mountain to get back. :-/

So (of course) this was not the most ideal Saturday workout to do two weeks out from marathon weekend, but who is going to pass up on a day long SF Bay Area biking expedition? The only people who come to mind are total idiots and professional athletes. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t find myself fitting well into either category.

Sun 10/6 – 10 + 3 = 13ish

I started the day with a beautiful early morning run along the bay, taking the same route that we biked yesterday.

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Good morning San Francisco and SF Bay!

In case you’re interested, there is a positive correlation between ones amount of Facebook posting while running and the likelihood of appearing to be still drunk from the previous night. I may (or may not) have been both one of those…

After getting back from these first 10 miles it was time to dash off to SF for the first day of the conference. In contrast to Drs. S & M, my talk was not until Tuesday afternoon, so I did the only rational thing upon arriving at the hotel – I dashed out the door for 3 more miles through Golden Gate Park and then a 3 mile walk home. (I sadly don’t think I get to count these last three towards my daily mileage though…)

Total mileage =  27 mi

So obviously this mileage is quite low, even for the beginning of the pre-race taper. On the bright side, was able to take advantage of the northern Bay Area and get a beautiful, and extremely challenging, bike ride in (yes, I am telling myself that this counts for something) as well as my long run for the week (albeit only 12 miles and broken into 2 segments, but never mind…) On an even brighter side is that there are only two more weeks until the marathon!! (Ok, fine, there is really only one more week now that I’ve finally gotten this damn thing written x-(

Threads – tanks or tees (+/- arm warmers), running skirts or capris for the chilly mornings, + compression for the long runs and Mizunos (Wave Creation 11s and Wave Elixer 6s)

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Week 15

Mon 10/21 – rest

Tues 10/22 – 6ish mi / fast enough

Out the door after work before the sun went down. Nothing special, I’ll take it.

Wed 10/23 – cross: flag football Princeton IM league championships

We won!! 😀 So I somehow managed to be roped into playing flag football again tonight. I figured what the hell, it’s the last game of the season, why not? It was cold (50F…god, I’m becoming a sissy…) and there were extra girls so I wasn’t on the field the whole time. I can’t say I caught a single pass or did a whole hell of a lot on defense to be perfectly honest, but we won! 🙂 And I came away with a lovely bright orange Princeton Tigers Champion t-shirt. That’s what this is all for anyway, right?

Thurs 10/24 – 12 mi / fast enough

I’m 30, I’ve been wearing a bra for 20 years (or something like that) and yet somehow still manage to forget to pack the damn thing when I’m loading all of the other running essentials into my bag in the morning. Really? This is like packing half a shoe! What is wrong with me? Anyway, I needed to get the run in and I needed to learn a lesson, so after work I set off for the 6 mile run home to change and then run back. So, only half of the run was totally out of control (this is really all that I could have taken of this) and although I finished cold (again, it’s like 50F…I need to stop using the word) and in the dark, at least it got done. I was actually feeling pretty good at the end, which was a nice consolation prize (this may or may not have had something to do with the packages of fruit snacks that I gobbled down while I was at home…)

Fri 10/25 – rest

Rest = off to NYC for my 30th birthday party!! 🙂

Sat 10/26 – rest

Rest = participating in my 30th birthday party!! 🙂

So I’m just going to start by putting it out there that I was VERY BAD this weekend.

a) I did not run today. None. Zero. Zilch. I did spend the morning walking to and across the Brooklyn Bridge though.

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We do look our best freezing cold and in 50 mph (at least) winds.

b) I threw my 30th birthday party dinner at Cacio e Pepe that began with having my fill of the most delicious Italian cibo (this includes homemade tonnarelli tossed in pecorino and served out of a cheese wheel…

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tonnarelli tossed in pecorino and served out of a cheese wheel

…as well as the best pumpkin ravioli you’ll EVER eat). For a full review, be patient, there will be/may be one on here soon(ish).

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everyone

c) 4 words: Hooka Bar Bottle Service.

Here are a few more words (and photos to replace more words — as they are generally far more embarrassing and incriminating consise and illustrative than just the words) to take you through the next parts of the evening…

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What’s a birthday party without fire works in the bar?!?!

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Drs. AnneBelle, T and Sami

I know I know … for shame!

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But, who can say no to smoke rings for all?

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certainly not Dr. T and Dr. Dragon

But also super fun…

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Drs. Trott, Akihiro Yoshida and AnneBelle

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Drs. Louboutin

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Drs. KaAnne

…and not something I’ll do again…or at least not for a very long time…

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…ahem…

d) And then there were beers and dancing…

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…with the real troopers who were still left.

e) And closing out the night by scarfing red velvet cupcakes (thank you Samia!!)

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The perfect 3 am snack – red velvet (cup)cakes

Sun 10/27 – 7 mi through Central Park 🙂

This morning Team CEMS drug their asses out of bed and climbed into our team uniform for a run around Central Park.

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(Part of) Team CEMS!!

It was fantastic 🙂 It was calm and cool out and I had the best running company ever. 🙂 Of course it wasn’t the long run that I was supposed to do, and I might pay dearly for this in 3 weeks, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

After the run it was off to brunch at Friedman’s. The wait was a bit long (>30 min for 5 hungary people) but the food and coffee were perfect. I had the Southern Breakfast which was…

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…two eggs , housemade biscuit, cheddar grits and fried green tomatoes.

Full disclosure is that my food was actually just ok. After sampling everyone elses’ food though, I feel qualified to testify that overall, the food was fantastic. Per usual, there will be a review…someday…

Total mileage =  25 mi

Not what I needed for the last high mileage week. But,  you know what? I also needed a sweet 30th birthday party (yes people, this was a need, not a want) and even I know that at some point we have to make choices. I know/think/hope/know that I made the right choice on this one 🙂 (Ask me about this on the afternoon of Nov 17th…on second though, maybe not…)

Threads – tanks and tees, running skirts or capris for the chilly mornings, + compression for the long runs and Mizunos (Wave Creation 11s and Wave Elixer 6s)

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Week 13

Mon 10/7 – rest

Thank you.

Tues 10/8 – 6ish mi / fast enough

As usual, I had to force my run in between time points and I clearly didn’t quite know where I was going. 4.5 months later and this is still going on. Grand. To be fair, I was very thankful for this dysfunctional 6 mile break from the grind of the rest of the day. The cool weather is making the runs so enjoyable – it’s almost like I’m back in Minneapolis…and then I try to make a left turn or pump my own gas and the illusion is ruined…

Wed 10/9 – rest

Thurs 10/10- 6ish mi / fast enough

Today was supposed to be 12 miles, but I have an irritating and unpredictable work schedule (please see Tuesday’s post) and I live in the state that is apparently hell bent on winning an award for having the most unpredictable torrential  rain storms, sooooooooo 12 mi quickly became whatever I could get in. The 6 and change that I ran felt good so I guess I should stop complaining.

Also…

Happy Birthday Dr. Maroof!!

It’s my favorite partner in crime’s birthday today! Hopefully just the right amount of bad decisions will be made on the other side of the country tonight!

Speaking of bad decisions, there is a new rule that birthday wishes on the blog must entail a search of Dr. Trot’s phone’s photo gallery for the top entertaining images of said birthday boy/girl. Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Trot tries to follow the rules. Soooooooo…in no particular order, here you go…

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Stylish Dr. Maroof
Scarf credit: Rachael May

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“What in the hell are we eating?” Dr. Maroof

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Jersey poolside Dr. Maroof

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Perfect timing while celebrating a freshly defended Dr. Maroof

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Peep-hole + hung over (see above photo) of a brand new Dr. Maroof

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A bucket of KFC (that couldn’t wait until we got home) to celebrate a half marathon PR Dr. Maroof

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Happy Birthday Dr. Maroof!

Fri 10/11 – rest

Sat 10/12 – 21ish mi / too long

Today’s run had to get done early before my buddies Dr. Allison and Sir. Jack came to visit for the weekend. Early morning weekend runs are really the greatest…until they turn into the worst. :-/

It was cool (~60 F), sunny and calm and I went out feeling great. The first 6 miles were perfect, the next 9 became a bit of a pain in the ass (and everywhere else for that matter) and the last 6 were the worst. A big part of the problem was – per usual – hydration. My pea-brain needs to stopping assuming that cool weather = I don’t have to worry about hydrating, because YES. I. DO. x-(

I didn’t drink enough water the night before, I didn’t drink enough water in the morning, and I quite obviously didn’t drink enough during the first 15 miles of the run. Consequently, during the pit stop at mile 15 I guzzled way too much and ended up with stomach cramps and digestion problems all the way home. Joy. My 4 oz water belt bottles are enough when I’m not too damn brain dead to prepare properly. I think a larger bottle may be a necessary investment at this point, genious. While I don’t like carrying things while I run…aside from my music, my snacks, my lip gloss, my mascara and a pack of smokes…but never mind, I hate the water belt, and this sort of end to the week’s long run is not acceptable. Boooo.

There were a few positive points to highlight though (even I can’t complain all the time…although we all know I’ll try… 😉 –

1. It was the debut run for my Philly Marathon Team CEMS outfit (minus the arm warmers) and it was awesome (obviously 😉 –

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2. Aside from being dehydrated and upset-stomached (yeah, that’s a word) and slow and grouchy at the end, that was really the worst of it. The lungs, legs, knees, shins, ankles, feet, etc… were all doing ok. YEAH! 🙂

3. After dragging myself back home and recovering like a boss, I got to spend the rest of the day with the very best company, Dr. A and Sir Jack –

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Sir Jack.
(Dr. A: not pictured.)

Unfortunately Sir Jack hurt his paw getting out of the car (things like that are difficult when you’re a foot tall and somewhere between 63 and 91 yrs old) and wasn’t able to strut around Princeton the way all had hoped. But, he was back in top form by the end of the weekend so we’ll just have to plan on strutting it out next time. On the other hand, Dr. A’s and my paws were all just fine, so we spent the day walking and eating our way through Princeton. The Bent Spoon and Tortugas were the two highlights of the day. A full review for TBS is on its way and too many words and not enough pictures reviewing Tortugas can be found here .

P.S. Allison, why have I no pictures of you/us?

Sun 10/13 – rest (i.e. important company in town)

And by “rest” I mean that Dr. A and I hauled off to NYC on the 8:30 train for a day at the Natural History Museum with future Drs. DJ, Jamie and Eric and then to Peace Food for the best lunch of the weekend (and perhaps month). Peace Food has composed and posted a full review for itself here. In stark contrast to Peace Food, we had a most disappointing dinner at La Mezzaluna. There will also be a review for this unfortunate little establishment coming soon, written by moi.

Total mileage =  32ish mi

The week’s running felt good (aside from the last part of the long run) and the Philly Marathon Team CEMS  outfit’s debut was a success! Now this was the first week in ~2 months that the milage ended up being quite a bit lower than what the training schedule called for so I’m not too worried about it. I got the all-important long run done and overall I feel like I’m where I should be (plus, I had a damn good reason for the -10 miles on Sunday 🙂 There are no big scary achs and pains and while the long run ended up being a whiny little bitch, why should I really be expecting anything else?

Threads – tanks or tees (+/- arm warmers), running skirts or capris for the chilly mornings, + compression for the long runs and Mizunos (Wave Creation 11s and Wave Elixer 6s)

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Tacuba’s taco bar (Branford, CT)

 So I’m majorly in the mood for Mexican food for second dinner tonight. (Un)fortunately, it’s 12:30 in Princeton, NJ thereafter this hr there is no Mexican food to be found for sale anywhere. What I did find though was a partially completed post about a wonderful Mexican joint that I recently got to check out. While I was visiting my best marathon running buddy Dr. Annabelle we also had a most gluttonous fantastic dinner at Tacuba’s taco bar In Branford, CT. This little place is a nondescript hole in the wall with a menu full of wonderful.

The menu

So we went for dinner with big appetites and were welcomed by a beautiful selection of appetizers and entrée options. We totally wanted to try everything!

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Between the three of us  (Yes, I can count. Unfortunately the waiter who took the photo of all three of us was dderrrunnnkkeerrr than we were and the result more closely resembled a lesser known work by Degas than a good mediocre picture of us. Thank you Mike for stepping up to the plate and showing him how it’s done.) we ordered a shit load of the menu and there wasn’t so much as one complaint. We decided to start with an appetizer of guacamole and damn. Now the guac was good, damn good, but it also came with fresh, warm, sea salted chips and three different dipping sauces (hot, mild and pineapple). Taken together I couldn’t have asked for more!

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the guacamole

Next we shared the lobster arepa. WOW! There were big, tender lumps of lobster in a rich tomato cream sauce topped with avocado , sour cream, oaxaca cheese and served with a fresh grilled sweet corn cake. I have dreams about the lobster arepa. One word of warning is that it is damn rich, but this makes it a great dish for sharing. Three good eaters had a few bites during dinner, were satisfied and brought the rest home to enjoy later.

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the lobster arepa

Then, we each ordered a taco platos. I got two vegetarian tacos and one fish taco. Our waitress was seriously talking up the vegetarian taco, how it was the absolute best item on the menu. Now, this isn’t a complaint but of all things that this place serves, the vegetarian taco is nothing to write home about. I don’t know what the hell she had eaten, but it was not the same thing I was served. Like I said, don’t take this the wrong way, it was fine, it was more than fine (especially considering it’s just sheet of smashed corn and binder filled with some veggies) but the fish taco — O.M.G. Now this is something that I will write, call and smoke signal home about. The fish was fantastic, lightly breaded and fried lumps with avocado, lettuce, sour cream and a special sauce. It’s the fish taco that’s the best item on the menu! The taco plates were served with rice and beans that complemented perfectly.

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taco platos: ensenadas y vegetarianos con frijoles y arroz

Finally, our arms were twisted into splitting the tres leches cake for dessert. Served with ice cream and banana it was the perfect way to end the meal.

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tres leches cake

The staff 

 Aside from our waitress having a difficult time identifying the best item on the menu, the staff was great. Our waitress(es) were excellent. It seemed like more of a casual group effort by the wait-staff than normal and this made it a really nice dining environment.

The ambiance

Walking inside it was like entering a little restaurant somewhere far from Branford, CT. It was dark (in a good way) and quaint and cozy and friendly and chatty and bustling. We sat at a table with chairs on one side and a bench along the wall on the other, right across from the bar and kitchen window. It was fun to be in the middle of the action yet we still had enough space to enjoy good conversation and company. I’d imagine kids would love it…and the wiser generation should pack their strongest cheaters and double-check their batteries (well worth it though ;-).

$$

Pricing was what I expected more or less. Not exactly the dollar menu, but very reasonable for a small business serving niche food in a great environment. Excellent quality and appropriate portions all around. We each spent ~$50 on a dinner that included a butt-load of different fantastic dishes and cocktails.

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Bella’s Cafe (New Haven, CT)

My bestest marathon buddy Dr. Annebelle and I recently had an amazing 2 pm brunch at Bella’s Cafe in New Haven, CT. This little find is tucked away in the Westville community and is must if you’re visiting CT. (Seriously! It only takes 2 hrs to drive across the whole damn state! And New Haven is in the middle.) Almost as awesome as their food, is the support that they give to a number of local charities. 🙂 They also do catering, and man would I love to get this instead of pizza at lunch meetings once in a while! As if this isn’t enough, the icing on the cake is that they are local and family owned (…and operated? Sure, why not?)

The menu

So we went for brunch (yes, 2 pm is brunch time) but the entire menu looked amazing. Of course we started with mimosas and (white wine) sangria. The mimosa was good and I will have dreams about the sangria. Now this brunch was after completing our weekend long run of +16 miles and we were both pretty effing hangry.  I really could have ordered half the menu (and consumed it myself) but (thankfully…in retrospect…) was  restricted to a human sized lunch portion.

Dr. Anne and I got to dishes to split and I think we made particularly good choices with the… 

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Crunchy Breakfast Burrito

and the…

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Fried Polenta

The CBR was awesome! It was a fresh flour tortilla stuffed with beans, onions, peppers and a mystery ingredient that I’m not going to disclose but semisuccessfully picked around. The burrito was then lightly fried and topped with two over easy eggs and salsa!! The spice combinations were great, there was just enough kick and the eggs on top were perfect (rather than being scrambled into a homogeneous mush and packed inside the burrito…shamelessly diluting all of the inside goodness in the process…)

While the CBR was awesome, the FP was fanfreakingfenomenal! It will costar with the sangria in my dreams. So this little treasure was two dense, yet moist and creamy, and lightly fried patties of polenta (not mushy or dry or tasteless in any way as polenta is so often reduced…) over an excellent arrabbiata sauce. The seasoning was herby (but not too much…yes that’s a word…on my blog it is anyway…), savory and had a nice kick. Broccoli rabe (with just the right level of bitterness) topped the polenta and all was topped with two perfectly poached eggs. I don’t even really like poached eggs but my mouth is watering as I write this! Get the polenta!

The staff

Our waitress was a bit odd (I know, I’m one to talk…) but she was good.  Since it was 2 pm and there were all of 4 tables in the restaurant, everything was super fast and correct (the first time).

The ambiance

Bella’s is a chic little restaurant and bar open only for breakfast, lunch and brunch. The dining room is open and light and super pleasant. I think they might even have some tables out on a patio, but given that it was 700 F outside and 200% humidity (at least) I paid no attention to these options.

$$

If you’re looking for a dollar menu this might not be the best fit for you. But, if you’re looking for great food at a very reasonable price, then you’ll be totally satisfied. Both the quantity and quality of all the grub we got was outstanding. ~$25 for a great bunch (adult beverage for optimal post-16-mile-run-on-a-hot-day hydration included) at a chic little family owned joint that supports local charities…sign me up!!

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