Sunday, June 28, 2009
I love food. Big surprise I know - you probably believed my big-bone argument. In any case, I was thinking today of the dishes I've had that were inspirational. Not just good, or a little memorable, but ones that are benchmarks. Choripan (Argentina Sausage Sandwich), Chichi's Place, Buenos Aires Lengua a la Vinagre (Tongue Vinaigrette), Chichi's Place, Buenos Aires Schnitzel, Kuhia's House, Salt Lake Quail Fois Gras and Escargo (separate dishes), Inn on the Creek (Jean Louis), Midway Prime Rib, Magnum's, Chicago Oyster Shooters, Pacific Seafood Company Outlet, Rockaway Beach, Oregon Apple Cider Pork Ribs, Ben's House, Lindon Duck Spring Rolls, Metropolitan, SLC Braised Short Rib w/Horse Radish Cream and Polenta, Pizzeria 712, Orem Garlic Shrimp, Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, Kahuku Ribs, Pat's BBQ, SLC Baby Greens with Truffles, Vinaigrette, and a Soft Boiled Egg, Pizzeria 712, Orem Fried Chicken, Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, Inglewood Lemon Grass Pork Bahn Mi, Dew, Provo Thai Basil Rice, Rooster, Provo Update: Duck Breast with Wilted Leek Risotto, Swiss Chard, and Cherry Gastrique, Pizzeria 712, Orem. It really was unreal - the standard by which all duck shall be measured.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I'm fortunate that some of my very best friends are amazing artisans who are passionate about the same things I am.
For example, anyone who's seen a Sabrosa knows that Jon's attention to detail is unsurpassed. But as many mass-production companies have proven, there's more to how well a bike rides than how it looks. That's what makes Jon's bikes even more impressive - every aspect of the bike from the exact (and I do mean exact) head angle to the nature and type of the dropouts is thoughtfully selected. The result is a bike that handles intuitively from the first time you ride it.
Anybody who knows Racer knows in addition to being easily the best mechanic in all of Utah County if not the state, he's also the nicest guy in the whole world.
And then there's Rooster in Provo (in previous location of Racer's Cycle Service coincidentially). A foodie's kind of spot without the foodie's entry fee. Andy and Simi are providing something out of the ordinary.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Between my first and second years in law school (my 1L summer), with the help of some friends I was able to land a paying clerk gig at a law firm in Portland, Oregon. I'd previously only been to Portland once on a whirlwind 36 hour run with Jem. Surprisingly enough, that short trip wasn't enough for me to get to know the town very well and not the apartments at all. Cindy had recently been promoted at work and didn't want to leave her job. She stayed back in Provo. That left me to find a place on my own. Fortunately, another one of the clerks wanted to split an apartment. Cindy found a place for us that seemed (on paper) to be the right combination of price, size, and proximity to the office. We only had one car, so I built up a commuter bike, threw it in Jem's truck, and headed north. I had been living in student apartments for several years. And not the nice ones by Condo Row either. I lived in Miller for two years before I was married. There was a reason that Miller was the cheapest place on the approved list. After I was married, I lived in toaster oven of an attic apartment. My point is, I had very low expectations for the apartment. Even with these low expectations, to say I was disappointed with the apartment I ended up with would be an understatement. While the wet carpet in the place when I arrived pointed to management having recently cleaned the carpet, I remain convinced that nothing short of completely gutting the apartment could remove the smell of dog shit and stale smoke that permeated the place. Maybe not even that. And it was mine to stew in, with no car to get away from the place. My roommate had brought his girlfriend out and there was no way they were going to wallow in that mire any more than they had to. After a while I thought the smell had dissipated. Not so much. I'd just become accustomed to the smell. After a month of the smell B stopped by on his way to a family vacation. He informed me that the place reeked and it was then that I realized the smell must still be permeating everything in the apartment, clothes included. In all likelihood, I had been walking around the office smelling like a dog with a fecal fetish, an aversion to bathing, and a nicotine addiction. Not surprisingly, our co-tenants had some issues as well. As we learned through several police raids in the middle of the night, complete with battering rams and foot chases, for many Cornell Courtyard Apartments was subsidized housing. One afternoon as my roommate and I were getting home, we were followed in by a middle-aged women dressed in a smart suit. "Good to see someone in here getting out and trying to get a decent job," my roommate commented. A few minutes later, she emerged in her regular clothes to soak her feet in what a sign described as a pool, but what in reality was an infrequently cleaned duck pond. As she sat down, she made clear, "That judge was a total bitch!" Of course. She then recounted how the judge had made clear she needed to be doing more of what she agreed to do if she was going to retain custody of her six-year old girl and her infant/toddler, who appeared to be about a year old. Maddy, an ostensibly single mother, didn't seem to agree. All of this is background for what has to be one of my favorite overheard conversations. Toward the middle of the summer, Cindy and our ultimate travelling/dining companions Lani and Patrick came up to visit. After an epic day at the coast, the four of headed down town for some seafood at one of the restaurants on the Willamette. When we finally arrived back to the apartments, it was well after one in the morning. Maddy and another snaggle-tooth were out front smoking cigarettes and talking. As we passed, Maddy excused herself, "Well, I'd best get going - I've got a man in my bed." "Then you'd better go, you don't want to keep a man waiting," her companion concurred. "Nope, don't want keep him waiting." I never did actually see this man as he was gone the next day to never return, but I imagine he was a keeper.
Monday, June 15, 2009
The Short Version: - Boise is a pretty cool town - Wind and rain made for a long day - Two flats and only one spare tube made for an even longer day - I finished and enjoyed it, for the most part We spent Thursday night in Burley and headed out Friday morning for Boise. I'd allowed twice as much time as things could possible take to keep things relaxed and calm. It worked for the most part. Friday afternoon we spent leisurely getting ready - signing in, dropping off the bike, doing a practice swim in cold, open water, and driving the bike course. There was even time for a short swim in the hotel pool, which was too cold to spend too much time in. I'm used to waking up on race day and putting my game face on as soon as possible since most races start at 7 a.m. or earlier. The 2 p.m. start threw me off. Even after sleeping in and eating a full breakfast, I still had hours before I needed to board the bus to take me to the swim. It wasn't until we arrived at the swim venue that I started getting excited to race. The swim was a disaster. The wind kicked up enough to cause waves big enough to completely envelope people. It made it tough to find a decent rhythm. It also blew the buoys all over the place. The last turn buoy was blown nearly completely to shore. Of course, I followed it all the way there before making the turn. I was confused at the line the other swimmers were taking as I headed for the finished. I later learned that the buoy was several hundred meters off course and that some of the kayakers had directed the majority of the swimmers back to the swim finish at the right spot. I wasn't one of them. I completed the first half of the course in 21 minutes and felt stronger and faster on the second half of the swim. Based on this, I'm estimating the detour added between 400-500m extra (300 out, plus the difference between the hypotenuse and the opposite leg on the way back in). I also had the added benefit of calf cramps about 200m in, which was a nice bonus. I came out of the water in 50:20, but wasn't too disappointed as many of the bikes from my wave were still in the racks. It turns out the swim was slower for every body as I finished near the middle of the pack. The bike had promise. Shifting winds and rain were the order of the day on the bike. I do well in that kind of weather and was feeling particularly strong. I kept my eyes on my computer and tried to stay steady with a cadence over 85 rpm, HR below 160 bpm, and power over 200W and below 300. Everything was going according to plan until I flatted at mile 30. No big deal, I had an extra tube. Just over six minutes later and I was back on course, enjoy the only steady tail wind of the day. And then I flatted again. This time, I didn't have an extra tube so I walked the 500-600 yds to the corner that was manned by some police. 25 minutes later the volunteers showed up - apparently they had went to the wrong place and didn't realize it for several minutes. The time off had let my legs get cold and it took several minutes for them to come back. Once they did, I caught up with Devin, who had apparently passed me while I was changing my second tire. Though I have no proof, I suspect from that point forward I acted as a rabbit for Devin to chase as he picked up his pace and we traded places for the rest of the bike. I came in at 3:29:48, which was about the same time I did in California without the flats. Despite soaking wet feet that had started to numb my toes, I had a decently quick transition and felt very strong coming out of transition. Remembering the California run, I focused on rehydrating and saving something for the second half of the run. Despite what I thought was a decent pace, I'd only managed to put a few seconds on Devin and didn't see Dave until near the end of the first lap. I assume that he'd put on a burner and was finishing his second lap - which would have put his total time around 5:20. If he had been on his second lap. But to my shock,the wasn't and was in fact just over a mile behind me as I started my second lap. I was nearly a mile ahead of him and had thoughts of being able to push to the finish to pull out a very improbable win in the grudge match despite the flats. I continued to push on the flats, but despite the increase in effort (and an ever bigger increase in pain), I was only maintaining the same pace I had on the first lap. Then, completely unexpectedly, Dave caught me between miles nine and ten. And the wheels came off, motivationally speaking . We slowed and waited for Devin. Devin refused to walk and Dave and Devin traded sharp jabs while discussing running slowly vs. walking. And then we were done. All things considered, I had a good day. I enjoyed most of the swim, most of the bike, and most of the run. The venue was good and the Boise down town finish was awesome. This is a course that I'll be doing again in the future and I actually can't wait until next time. Next up is the Utah Half, where I'm hoping to avoid the mechanical demons and finish well regardless of the conditions.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Elden's post today reminded me of my own encounters with skunks. And since I haven't had any real inspiration for blogging recently, I'm taking his inspiration. Recently, in a rare occurrence a skunk sprayed somewhere around the neighborhood. My guess is that someone hit it while it was crossing Canyon Road. My wife was sure it had sprayed our dog in our yard. I knew it hadn't- I had first hand experience as to what skunk spray smells like up close. The smell was just too weak, too distant. There are certain things you learn by growing up in the sticks. When I was young, one of my older brothers assassinated a rogue skunk that had been stealing eggs and killing chickens at night. It was a gifted shot from the roof of our house into some bushes over 25 feet away. Lit only by moonlight, my brother had hit the skunk in the head. But in its death throws the skunk managed to complete half a revolution while spraying wildly. So the bushes near our shed were a hemisphere of skunk spray. I was asleep in the room below my brother's vantage point, so I learned quickly what skunk spray smells like in your yard. I also learned I didn't want to have anything to do with that again. Several years later, I stepped out on the front porch one evening to feed my cat and see how she was doing. She was a long-haired cat, with fluffly dark fur and tabby markings. As I reached down to pet her, I wondered what she had on her coat as it was streaky. I managed to figure it out just before I touched its head that it was not so much my cat, but a skunk. Like any properly raised teenage hick, I instinctively ran for the .22. My dad stopped me, reminding me what happened the last time we shot a skunk. He had a different solution, one that still boggles me to this day. His solution: a wrist rocket. You know, the super-duper sling shots that have the extension that braces the handle to your wrist so you can pull back the super stiff bands? One of those. I figured it was exactly the wrong tool - too much force to keep the skunk from feeling threatened but not enough to be finish the job. Both of these scenarios ended in spraying. My dad insisted - he grabbed the wrist rocket and sent me to grab a marble from the marble can. Now armed with a wrist rocket, my father headed out to confront the skunk. The skunk saw my dad approaching and responded by lifted his tail and meandering away. My dad loaded the marble into the pouch, pulled back those bands further than I would have previously thought physically possible, and moved-in ridiculously close to the skunk. Instead of hearing the skunk spray (which I figured was immiment) I heard a terrific thump as the marble found its mark. I was stunned by the absence of an overwhelming odor - my dad had hit the skunk squarely in the spine, which disabled his tail immediately. I looked on in stunned disbelief, asking my dad as he came near, "Aren't you going to finish him?" "What for?" came his response. And that was that.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
I've come to terms with the fact that I'm a triathlete. Almost. And triathletes all have one or two 'priority' races they train for each year. My first priority race is this weekend, Ironman Boise 70.3. Which means I've been tapering since last week. The decrease in training volume has me doubting myself. Being well-rested has me feeling like I haven't trained all year. I think I have a pretty good idea of how my fitness will hold up, but the fresh legs have me wondering if I've done enough. Even though the odd and random aches freak me out, I'm not going to do anything rash and will instead focusing on my mantra during taper weeks - 'Run what ya brung.'
Friday, June 05, 2009
Last night Cindy and I had an opportunity to go to the rehearsal dinner for Rooster Dumplings and Nooble Bar (DNB) in Provo. The way I understand it (from Google), Sriracha = Rooster = One of the Owner's Favorite Hot Sauce. If you liked Dew, you'll like Rooster, although there isn't too much overlap. The Chinese Dumplings, Pho', and Lava Cake carry over. New offerings we tried included four additional varieties of dumplings, a new noodle dish, a new rice dish, and new Sesame and Bean Paste Doughnuts. I very much appreciate the fact that each of the new dishes was different than anything I'd tried before. My personal favorites were the bulgogi dumplings and the new pork rice dish. It was definitely a culinary adventure and one I'll be repeating soon. It's exciting for me to see people in the UC willing to cook good food that is original. The P712 guys have been tearing it up for a while and I am excited to see others having success as well.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Although I brought lunch today, I just wasn't feeling it. I needed some Mexican. Real Mexican - no Los Hermanos, no Cafe Rio. So I heeded DR's advice and followed the latino construction workers to their preferred taco stand on South Temple and West Temple. It was worth my time.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Elden was recently bitten by a dog. Chad has also blogged about this. In the past, I've noted my run-ins with dogs on my wife's blog. In any case, it's worth repeating - I'm not a big fan of being bitten by dogs. But much like being hit by a car, my reaction depends on the other party's attitude. If were to get hit by a car and then have the motorist get out and start yelling at me to get off the road or whatever, it could get ugly pretty quick. If on the other hand, they're sympathetic, that's a different story. Similarly, if a dog owner is apologetic about their dog attacking, I can understand that. But at the end of the day, I have a pretty standard approach to a dog giving chase. If I'm riding and a dog chases me long enough and hard enough to get close enough to bite me, I operate on the assumptions that 1) the dog intends to bite me and 2) there's nothing the owner can/cares to do about it. With those two assumptions in mind, I kick the dog. Period. I'd expect someone to do the same if for some inexplicable reason Jesse decided to chase somebody down on a bike. What about the dog owner? I don't really care - after all they're out with a dog that either they can't control or they don't want to control. And when it comes down to choosing hurting their feelings or risking a dog bite, I know which way I'm going.