Russian River Brewery and other highlights from Santa Rosa

Almost a month ago I made my second trip up to Sonoma Country. Better late to blogging about it than never blogging about it, right?

You might remember that I went to Sonoma for the first time last summer. I loved the time I spent there and have wanted to go back since. Last month I had my anniversary with my boyfriend and to celebrate we decided to take a trip with north to drink beer, taste wine and eat. These are our three of our favorite activities so we’re perfect for each other.

We drove up on Friday with the one goal of getting to Russian River Brewery before happy hour ended at 6:30. We were successful and made it in plenty of time!

I’ve wanted to go to Russian River for a very long time. I’ve been a Pliny lover for years and I wanted to try new beer as well. Going to this brewery was on the top of my agenda and let’s be honest, what guy is going to protest his girlfriend dragging him to a brewery? No guy I’d be interested in. The happy hour is an amazing deal: almost all the beers are only $3.75 a pint! That alone, on top of the amazing quality of the brews, was enough to get us in the door.

Round 1 was Pliny the Elder. I also tried Little White Lie before finishing off with another Pliny.

Side note: I got highlights! Do you like?

We ordered beer bites as well. I believe we had the Drew beer bites (with pepperoni and pepperoncini’s) and the Pliny beer bites (with white cheddar and jalapenos). Beer bites are essentially pizza cut into little bite sized pieces. Perfection!

Between the three rounds of beer and the beer bites I was stuffed! Love when I get to eat a dinner that is 90% gluten.

The next day we continued our trip with wine tasting. We mostly kept it local to Santa Rosa. We loved the Paradise Ridge winery. Check out how beautiful the property is…

Everyone we encountered there was so nice and lovely. They gave us a number of recommendations of places to go throughout the rest of the day which was very kind of them. We surprised ourselves and did something uncharacteristic, buying a bottle of sav blanc!

We went to a total of 5 wineries throughout the day. Our other favorite winery was Hook and Ladder. The pours were generous, flavorful (not too sweet, except for the port, obviously) and free of charge. The people taking care of us was really nice, chatty, and laid back. We ended up buying a bottle of the Pinot Noir at Hook and Ladder which I cannot wait to open.

I was pretty relaxed all vacation. How could you not be with all this beautiful scenery?

On the way back to LA we stopped off for mango drinks (which were thick, creamy and delicious. If I could have this for breakfast every day I would!)…

San Francisco

And Tartine, because I cannot enter the city without stopping for a morning bun and a hello to law school bestie, Chrissy.

Road trip fuel.

Overall, it was a very relaxing vacation. Next time I go I really want to hit up the Bear Republic brewery and Lagunitas! Any other suggestions?

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Bru Haus: So Close and Yet So Far.

Brentwood is known for many things but a happening night life scene is not one of them. Despite this there are a handful of bars along Wilshire my friends and I like to frequent occasionally. So when my friend Gwen suggested dinner at Bru Haus before going out Saturday night I was excited to check it out.

source

If you follow me on twitter, or read this blog or have talked to me for more than 1 hour you know that there are two things I feel very passionate about: tater tots and sweet potatoes.

Thus, when I opened up the menu and saw sweet potato tots I nearly broke out into my Carlton Banks happy dance.

I also easily decided to order an IPA: Widmer Brothers Drifter Pale Ale.

I will give Bru Haus credit for having a killer beer list. Probably the best beer list in all of Brentwood (really, it isn’t a competition). I choose this one from the IPA section of the menu. Honestly, I mostly chose it because it was the cheapest option. It was just OK. It wasn’t that hoppy- kind of a letdown. However, it was $6 and I drank 2 so clearly it wasn’t that awful.

The major disappointment though?

When the sweet potato tots arrived I asked for ketchup. However I was told there was no ketchup. Only “Beet-chup”.

OK. Let’s break this down for a second.

I consider myself to be down with food snobbery. It’s not like I live for it or love it. I can be happy with fast food, at a greasy spoon or at Tavern. When I go to Father’s Office I do not care one lick that they don’t have ketchup because they have the most awesome aioli ever. I’m generally a roll with the punches kind of girl. I like food. I’m not too picky. I actually love beets. I have been known to roast a beet in my day.

However, this beet-ketchup is an abomination. Not to be dramatic, but it really wasn’t my favorite and I didn’t feel like any of the aiolis made up for it. It kind of ruined the sweet potato tots for me.

Overall: Great beer list (but didn’t love the Widmer Brothers), sweet potato tots (but maybe sneak in some ketchup packets from the Mc Donald’s across the street?), and great outside seating. I will probably make another appearance at Bru Haus. I mean, you can’t go to Cabo Cantina every night I suppose. But I would choose a different beer and have to figure out how to better negotiate the ketchup situation.

Ok blog readers: Beet Ketchup. What say you about beet ketchup?

Law School Perks

Sometimes law school is a soul sucking experience designed to make you feel like you’ll never be right again.

Sometimes you get free things branded from West Law and Lexus, the two major legal research engines. For example, t shirts, water bottles, and free copies of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Constitution. Sexy.

And sometimes you win in a major way and you get free food and beer for making it to 3L.

And if you’re really, really lucky your professor will let you get food and beer and bring them into class.

Exhibit A:

Free tacos and beer!

In exchange they wanted a donation for the class gift. I almost asked if I could post date my check for 15 years from now. I restrained myself.

Also!

It wouldn’t be a blog post without a marathon update. No, I am not going show you another picture of me covered in water at mile 19+. But I will show you a picture of the amazing Chicago themed 26.2 sticker I affixed to my car the other day.

Yep. I’m one of those people now! I’m so glad I waited and ordered this Chicago specific one rather than getting a generic 26.2 sticker. It goes nicely with my red car and my Obama 2012 sticker.

I also did an excellent job of getting to Zumba directly after class today. On Wednesday I’m at school for 10 hours and normally am completely exhausted by the end of the day. During marathon training I always took a rest day on Wednesday but it was really nice to get out and get moving. I was still tired at the end of the day but I wasn’t nearly as exhausted as I usually am. I also went on a 3 mile run yesterday, my first since the marathon. I’m really glad I took a full week off after my marathon and I definitely need to train myself off walk breaks if I want to get faster. The temptation to walk was so strong on my run yesterday. Clearly this is a sign that I need to work on pacing and motivation in the future but for now it’s nice that working out is low pressure.

What is your favorite workout that I should try?

Summer Nights

I already have gushed plenty about how much I love summer. This Friday was particularly awesome because I got to hang out with Bloggers and sing songs at the top of my lungs here…

Who doesn’t love that? Friday there was a Grease Sing a Long at the Hollywood Bowl.

Basically you get to watch the movie outside, on a big screen and singing is highly encouraged. I love musicals so I fully participated in the loud singing.

But first, I high tailed it over to The Alcove to pick up my dinner.

I’ve been to The Alcove several times but I’ve never blogged about it before.

After looking over the menu I knew exactly what I wanted! I also grabbed an iced tea.

And this cookie. Isn’t it beautiful?

Then I made my way over to the Bowl to meet up with Kaitlin, some of her friends and Kelley and her husband Irving. I always have a fantastic time with these ladies!

Thanks, Kelley!

For my dinner I had the blackened salmon sandwich. This sandwich, like all sandwiches at the Alcove was pretty much amazing. Look at the HUGE portion of avocado. I have been eating a ton of salmon as of late and this sandwich continued to feed the obsession.

There was also spinach and a lovely spread on the sandwich. On the side there was an apple and pear slaw. It was unconventional and crisp. Perfect health conscious side dish!

I brought one of my favorite summer adult beverages: Sam Adams Summer. This reminds me of summers in Boston and it was the perfect pairing for a night at the Bowl.

Then we settled into our seats. One of the best parts of the event was the people watching. There was a costume contest and there were tons of people who got really into it. The actress that played Frenchie was the MC for the contest and they did a little tribute to Jeff Conway who died recently.

As usual, Grease was fantastic. It really holds up on a 5th or 10th viewing. It was fun watching the movie with the peanut gallery all around. Anyone who has seen Grease as an adult and as a child knows that the movie is actually really dirty. It was fun seeing all the adults laughing and all the little kids being confused by the adult themes.

Going to the Bowl was a great way to kick off summer. I can’t wait to make it back!

San Diego Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon Recap

What a day it has been!

When I set out this morning on my second half marathon I wasn’t sure what to expect. I set some conservative goals a week or so ago on the blog and truthfully, I wasn’t sure myself what I was capable of. I knew it would be nice to set a new PR (personal record) but I certainly didn’t expect to set a new PR. Well, not only did I set a new PR in San Diego I trounced my old PR by 9 mins!

Backing up to this morning…

I woke up in the Coronado (another post about the Coronado to come later) at 4:00 AM. Even though it felt extremely early I rolled out of bed and got ready. Traveling for a race meant I was forced to lay everything out the night before.

It takes a village people.

Then I dined on a typical pre race meal: coffee, huge glass of water and a bagel with peanut butter.

Hotel coffee was nasty. It made me miss my little French press but I dealt with it.

Dad came over and I handed him a bag of things I’d want at the finish (flip flops, camera etc). He took a picture of me before I headed out.

This is my “it’s 4 am, don’t eff with me” face. Please ignore the fact that I’m breaking out like the before picture on a proactive commercial.

The Coronado was great. They provided a shuttle to the start line. I picked up the shuttle at 5. There were several more experienced runners on the shuttle and it was fun to chat with them. Many of them had run Chicago so it was interesting to hear what I have in store for me this fall!

The race started in Balboa Park and was very well organized. I managed to make it to bag check and drop my bag with very little trouble. Then I waited in line for the bathroom and ran into Melissa! Melissa ran the FULL because she’s a rock star like that. Melissa also was with her boy friend Whit, who was running his first half marathon and her friend who was so fast she got seeded in corral 2! Melissa, Whit and I slipped into corral 18. I saw a 2:10 pacer and thought to myself that as long as I could stay in front of them I would be able to PR. Before we knew it we were walking forward to the start, the gun when off and we were running. I lost Melissa and Whit quickly.

I wasn’t sure when I crossed the start line but I felt great. The first three miles my foot felt a little tight but it loosened up and I was cruising but I actually didn’t feel like I was killing myself. I just felt like I was out for a casual jog. At mile 1 I finally saw a clock and it said we we’re 30 mins in (because I didn’t cross the start line immediately). At mile 2 the clock said 39 mins. I realized that I was running 9 min miles and feeling fantastic. I hit the 5k at 26:56 which is only 1 min and 30 secs off my 5K PR. I was pretty excited about this development.

Seriously, I cannot overstate how good I felt for the first 10 miles of this race, especially miles 1-5. I was doing my thing, enjoying my music and looking around. The first 5 miles were beautiful, shady and every short uphill had a downhill. The bands along the course were having a good time, keeping the energy up, and there was good crowd support including a little boy clutching a sign that said “I thought this was supposed to be a Justin Bieber concert”. So adorable. I was a happy camper for the first 5 miles.


At mile 4 the full marathoners split off from the group and we ran onto Route 163. Again, this part of the course was shady and I felt great. My legs were starting to feel tired on the up hills but the down hills revived them. I felt nothing like I did in Malibu. At this point in Malibu I was already digging deep and swearing I would never run another race, not even a 5k, as long as I lived. I walked though all the water stations. We were running on the 163 for a while (I believe it was miles 4-8).

At one point there was a water station staffed with all Big 10 School Supporters. They all had flags and T Shirts representing the different Big 10 schools. For those that don’t know my Dad went to Northwestern and I grew up walking distance from the school. We are season ticket holders for Football and Basketball plus I worked at NU in a social psych lab for two summers in Undergrad so my family has a close connection with the school. Sadly however there was no Northwestern representation. I yelled at a Michigan man asking where NU was but he said there weren’t any. Thus I was forced to take water from an Ohio State supporter. I ran over the 10k strip at the 55:02 min mark which is faster than I ran a 10k in October. Can’t lie, that makes me feel like a baller. I also took a Gu between mile 5 and 6. Mile 5 was also the magic point where I stopped really caring about my finishing time.

Miles 7 – 9 are kind of a blur. I was still feeling and chugging along. A women ran up beside me with a 2:10 pace number on her back. I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her if she was doing her pace and she said no, she was doing 9 min pace. I felt good at that point. I knew that I had built up a good bank of time. I was on track to PR even if my pace dipped down a little bit. Then, just before Mile 10 I saw LCCDad! I actually saw him before he saw me. I’ve only ever seen family spectators at the finish line and seeing him really put a pep in my step. Later, he said he was shocked by how good I looked.

Waving back between mile 9 and 10.

I crossed the 10 mile mark at 1:30:19.

After mile 10, the heat started to get to me. It wasn’t even that it was hot, it was more that it was very sunny. There was no marine layer this morning (layer of clouds that keeps the sun away until the late morning, its common along the coast in CA in June) and the sun in Southern California is HOT. I knew I had time in the bank and I didn’t want to burn out by forcing myself to run like crazy. I was feeling hot and a little bit nauseous so I decided that for the final 3 miles to use a walk/run method. I walked through water stations, taking two and pouring them on my head. It was hot but I ran and walked my way through the final 3 miles. Between mile 11 and 12 I grabbed a cup thinking it was water and poured it on my head. Sadly, it wasn’t water, it was Cytomax a nasty sports drink that I was not partaking in along the course. Then I threw some water on my head to water down the Cytomax. One of my head phones was in the line of fire and got water logged. Whoops.

Before I knew it I was coming up to the Mile 12 sign. I started to run again. There was a short incline just before the mile 13 sign…

This is me at mile 13. After I saw the mile 13 sign I took off at an unreal pace to the finish. Way faster than I ever sprint at the end of a run.

I crossed the finish line at 2:02:58. Not only is this a PR, it is 9 mins faster than I ran at Malibu! Average pace: 9:20. I also finished 214 out of 1092 in my division!
This is a major step up from my last half marathon and I am very, very proud of this accomplishment.

Post race photo! LCCDad even got me flowers. I believe that I was tweeting the good news in this photo. You can see in this picture that I ran in my new running skirt. It worked out well and I didn’t chafe. This is for sure going to be my go to skirt for marathon training.

After the race we walked about a mile back to the trolley station, took the trolley to Qualcomm stadium where we parked. My legs felt good while walking but I am sore and I will be feeling it tomorrow. I also had a lovely blood blister on my right foot which is not going to be pleasant tomorrow. It actually grossed out LCCDad. I am almost at the point where I need new shoes. Hopefully I can remedy this blood blister issue with the next pair of shoes. We made our way back to the Coronado, showered and grabbed lunch. I was starving!

The lunch view.

I never want to leave San Diego. Seriously, a 9 min PR AND this view? Not leaving.

To start I had a beer, because running makes me crave beer (don’t ask). This was a local seasonal beer but I forget the name. It was like a lighter version of Blue Moon.

To eat I had a chicken BLT. The bacon might steal the title of best bacon. It was so thick! Plus, the tomatoes were heirlooms. Obviously, I also had fries. Duh.

After lunch we hit the road back to LA. I will be back later this week with posts about the Coronado and a running post about the two halves I’ve done and laying out how I will cover my training for Chicago on the blog.

Overall, I had an amazing experience at Rock n Roll San Diego. I will definitely be back for another race! Extra thanks for all the tweets, texts, facebook notes, and blog comments I got during and after the race. You guys are the best! 

Bieres De Champagne

The other fantastic part of vacation, besides running, cooking and unlimited yoga is spending time with friends I haven’t been able to see in a while. Wednesday night met up with Kelley and Kaitlin at the Eagle Rock Brewery for a Women’s Beer Forum on Bieres de Champagne. I’d never been to the Eagle Rock Brewery before. It’s totally off the beaten path (as in it doesn’t really have a store front) but the main room was nice and inviting. We were in a back room for the event.

You can kind of see the actual store through the glass. We felt like we were in a fish bowl. OR were they the ones in the fish bowl? Yeah, think about that for a little while.

The room we were in had barrels and other beer type things.

The event was focused on beers brewed with the Methode Champenoise. This is a traditional method of making sparkling wine and is adapted here to the making of beers. The technique creates a higher level of effervesance from a secondary fermentation that occurs after the beverage is bottled. Further, the emphasis of this process is to remove as much of the solid yeast sediment as possible to achieve a higher level of clarity. Champs + beer? SIGN ME UP! The beer even came in Champagne bottles.

We tried a flight of 4 different beers. Once they were poured people made a bee line for booze.

The first beer was Dues, which is bottled in Belgium. It had notes of pear, cider, cumin, cinnamon, honey, light fruit, lemon grass, and baking spices.

I really liked this one, and the girls and I decided we could totally taste the honey (prefect for Kaitlin).

Ting, from the Eagle Rock Brewery told us all the details about the beers in between tastings.

We also got these handy cheat sheets…

The second beer, Maltose Falcons Brut from Woodland Hills, CA was my favorite. Of course, because it’s my favorite it’s also the one that is rare and isn’t commercially available. It’s made by a home brewery group and is only made once a year. You know what that means? It’s different and special every time! I love exclusivity.

So crisp, so tasty.

The third beer was very different! Liefmans Curvee-Brut from Belgium was deep, bright and red. It was dark cherry-like with a hint of tartness. The flavor was tart and had a bit of sweetness.

It tasted like grape soda and was good and different.

The fourth and final beer was Malheur Brut Noir from Belgium. Honestly, I don’t remember many details from this beer. I know I drank it and enjoyed it!

Cheers!

According to my cheat sheet this had notes of tart cherries, cotton candy and spicy fermentation character. Sounds good to me!

It was great to catch up with Kaitlin and Kelley. I haven’t seen them in like a month.

Yay for lady time and blog talk! These are some awesome ladies.

After 4 beers I needed to feed the beast (my belly). Luckily there was a food truck waiting outside for us!

The truck was called Almoosal and featured Vietnamese sandwiches. I ordered one with beef, arugula, caramelized onion and tomato. It also came with sweet potato fries and a garlic sauce.

I loved every bite!

Overall, the Eagle Rock Brewery knows how to throw an event! I would love to return for another Wednesday night event. They run them once a month and I would love to return to the actual brewery sometime. They seemed like they had a lot of interesting and affordable flights and parking was easy, which is such a blessing in LA. Overall, a fantastic vacation Wednesday!

Have you ever tried Bieres de Champagne?

She Runs LA: The After Party

Last Thursday after completing my 10k I took a quick shower and headed downtown to the Nokia Theater for the After Party!

I was excited to attend this event for a number of reasons. I loved the idea of an all woman race and Nike is a great company. But the best part of the event? I got to attend as media, complete with a media pass. Seriously, I felt so VIP.

I quickly found Amanda, her sister Sarah, Lea, and Kaitlin! Events are always better with friends.

Amanda and I also mugged with our media passes.

On our way into the party we were able to take pictures on the pink carpet. They were so profesh!

Inside the event there were sections set up by sponsors including Bliss Spa, Pop Chips, Paul Mitchell (I use his product on my hair, in case you were wondering -> I know that was keeping you up at night), Zico, Coke, and Luna.

The party was really crowded!

I have an, umm talent, for pushing through crowds. That’s what 4 years in Boston will do to a girl. I was able to get to the front of the Bliss stand and get a perfume sample and a body butter sample but it was so crowded we didn’t really get to try any of the other stands. I understand that there was some hair styling over at the Paul Mitchell station and there were dancing games on another level.

I wanted a zico so badly after my hot run but I wasn’t able to get one because it was too crowded and they ran out. I grabbed a coke instead.

Add it to the tally 😉

We also found Kelley and proceeded to look at Nike products like shoes…

WANT.

And running watches…

I am currently a zen runner, meaning I don’t run with a watch. I feel like it would lead to obsession over times etc and running is really my mellow time to unwind. But with the marathon coming up I feel like there would probably be a benefit in running with a watch. It’s cool to know that there are options outside of a Garmin and Nike Plus (Nike Plus isn’t compatible with my ipod).

After staring lustfully at the products we made our way into the theater. The show was We Are Heroes, the all women dance team from America’s Best Dance Crew and Mike Posner.

I still love the graphic.

Sadly, we realized after getting into the theater that there was still over an hour before the show even started. We were really tired and hungry because there was no food at the event so we made an executive decision to leave early.

We took more photos on the way out… but this time with Kelley!

And one more!

We love the Pink Carpet!

The group headed over the Yard House for dinner and some drinks. The drink choice was easy, there was a Red Rocket similar to one Amanda and Kaitlin loved at the CoLAboration beer garden.

I trust these girls with the beer recs. They know what they’re talking about. It tasted so good and was so refreshing. Just what I needed!

For dinner I ordered two “snack” size items (a size smaller than appetizer). My choice as to what to order was easy.

Ahi Tuna with avocado. I love me some ahi tuna!

The dip had bacon in it. Can you blame me? Literally I opened the menu and I immediately locked eyes on the sweet potato fries. Amanda actually said, “Oh, did you see the sweet potato fries?” Um yes. Duh.

Overall, it was great to hang out with some awesome people and I enjoyed the event. I wish it was easier to get to the vendors. We also got to take home goody bags. The bags had Luna Bars, and Pop Chips! I love pop chips and they were consumed the next day, obviously. I also loved the goody bag! It was super colorful reusable grocery bag. I actually got compliments on it at Trader Joes this weekend. A great time was had by all!