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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter Brunch

This Easter Sunday is flat-out gorgeous; complete with blue skies and warm sun.  Equally gorgeous in Spring color and bright flavors was today's Easter buffet at my place of employment, the Elms Hotel and Spa.

Chef Jordan and her hard-working crew put out some seriously killer chow; all beautifully presented and completely delicious.

F&B Director Terri added some appealing touches including unique carvings to the displays and when combined with the striking presentations of the food made for one appealing brunch.  It's a compliment to Chef Jordan and crew that it was extraordinarily difficult to choose highlights, but among the many dishes we really dug were the rosemary-orange marinated leg of lamb. the whole-grain mustard-encrusted strip loin, the pickled okra in the grilled antipasti display, the pesto salmon with fennel and lemon, the Japanese soba noodles salad with miso roasted vegetables and the cheese blintzes.

Kudos, Terri, Jordan, Ross and hard-working crew created a happy Easter brunch indeed.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


You know how some people make cryptic little comments on social media sites that beg for more details that are never disclosed? Annoying to read for certain, but I've been guilty of doing this myself.  I'm about to do it again, but not because I'm trying to be oblique, but because I want to emphasize that these past two weeks were weeks for the record books. We had impressive, wide-ranging events that I will talk a bit about in my next post and these certainly required all hands on deck. Like most operations, there is a bit of "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" thought regarding what goes on behind the scenes and there certainly should be. So, again, while the past couple of weeks were quite successful, the "behind-the-curtain" action was fairly over-the-top as well.

That said, these long days came to a brilliant finish last night when I walked into my home to discover a beautiful, decluttered dining room table actually set for dining...what a concept! A vase of bright daffodils from the backyard were the perfect centerpiece to the sunlit table and the Spring breezes wafting from the open doors and windows brought a comforting sigh from me before I could even set my briefcase down. The aromas from the kitchen and the grill on the deck were enticing, but I was instructed to sit down at the table where a chilled glass of Tank 7 was waiting for me. A Keb' Mo' song from the Sirius blues station was floating in from the next room and I could literally feel my blood pressure easing. Dinner appeared before me; a plate of tortilla-encrusted salmon, zesty pasta salad and marinated, grilled vegetables. Dinner was delicious and soon, I realized we had embarked on a completely unplugged evening. No phones, TV, tablets, nothing. It was rare and it was brilliant. The subject of work touched on work briefly but soon we found ourselves in long conversations about music and memories and life.

It was one of the best nights in recent memory.

We're going to try to plan these unplugged evenings more often and frankly, its sad that they need to be "planned" at all. That is our life in the big city, as it were. The rediscovery of the joys of unplugged were the absolute best way to close out a couple weeks of madness.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flashback Friday: Sid and Marty Krofft

My Flashback Friday actually resembles a flashback well-suited to the 70's time period it originates from: the Saturday morning programming from the magic minds of Sid and Marty Krofft called the Krofft Supershow.  I was a mega-fan of much of the Krofft's programming (as evidenced by the numerous times I've mentioned them in this blog). The Kroffts first captured my wide-eyed short attention span with the Day-Glo sets they designed for the Banana Splits. Then came the Krofft Supershow with their own bizarre baby: HR Pufnstuf, a world complete with eye-popping color, puppetry, special effects and Witchiepoo herself. 
While I didn't actually own the lunchbox pictured at the top of the page, the only lunchbox that would eventually replace my Disney school bus one was this one:
...because, of course, it represented my favorite Krofft show: Lidsville.  I'm not sure if it was the epically surreal combination of giant hats and Charles Nelson Reilly that captured me, but I was sold hook, line and Horatio HooDoo. 
The chef's hat character was an Asian chap by the name of Mr. Chow and one of the bad guys was Boris, a talking executioner's hood.  Political correctness was lost in the halcyon haze of these shows.  Speaking of lost...
Any conversation about Sid and Marty Krofft would be moot without mention of Land of the Lost, recounting a family's over-the-top tumble with dinos, Sleestaks, and of course, caveboy Chaka.  By the time Dr. Shrinker and Electra Woman and DynaGirl showed up with their giant wrist corsage/Electracoms, the Bicentennial was upon us and I was moving on. 
 What I did not realize or remember from that time is that there was an actual theme park in Atlanta dedicated to this trippy universe called The World of Sid and Marty Krofft. It was a multi-tiered amusement park with various psychedelic attractions including a giant carousel and a huge pinball-themed ride where one could sit in a giant steel pinballs and be ricocheted through hallucinogenic backdrops. I would tour this facility many moons later when I lived in Atlanta, but as something entirely different: CNN Center.
 Visitors climb inside steel balls and ride through the interior of a giant pinball machine at the World of Sid and Marty Krofft at the Omni. (Calvin Cruce / AJC staff) 1976
I miss getting lost in The Land of the Lost and dreaming my way through Lidsville.  I remember fondly the days we turned Sigmund The Sea Monster into a backyard game that we would play on lazy summer days. Trippy the programs on the Krofft Supershow may have been, but truly they make for a colorful, happy flashback. The kind I want to experience. Thank you Sid and Marty Krofft, for the terrific childhood memories.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

So Long, Marlene

Oh, Marlene....what will we do without you?  Our gal Marlene, banquet captain extraordinaire, has left us for greener pastures today. She worked hard and made us laugh harder. There are days I've worked with her that she has made me laugh so hard I had to walk away from her to collect myself. Every week, she asked me if I made her rich that week and every week I told her no, in fact, we are refusing to pay you at all. 'Cause that's how we tease.

Marlene started with the hotel in 2006 and indeed her hilarious antics and witty observations about life kept us all chuckling for many years. We celebrated her today over pizza and of course cake, and shared tales of her years with the Elms. Coworkers recounted how Marlene was so fond of wedding cake, she often volunteered to assist with cutting the cake during events and then used her wiles to figure out how to score a piece of it. We are, in fact, so used to her keeping us amused that it was particularly moving when she recounted how much the hotel meant to her and how working there helped her heal from the tragic loss of her husband several years ago.  

We wish you the best, will always be a part of the Elms family.  The title of this post is actually inspired by the Leonard Cohen song So Long, Marianne.  The following lyrics are from the song, but tailored to our gal..

Now so long, Marlene...its time that we began to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Video of the Week: Schumer Does Sorkin

This hilarious gem of a video is courtesy of Amy Schumer of Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer. Fast food as an Aaron Sorkin drama. LOVE.

(Warning: Strong Language)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Food Nerd Funnies: Humor! And Mead!

This may just continue to be this week's contributions at the rate we're going. 

funny pictures, beer quotes

Humor!  Need more humor! And mead! More mead!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Food Nerd Funny of the Day: This Meeting's A Trip

Me brain is mighty fried today, so I found and brought some funny instead. This Monday needed to lighten up something fierce.  Enjoy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Positively Praiseworthy Post-Run Pizza

Pizza has somehow become our go-to post-run meal and after yesterday's 5k, we finally got to hit up a place we had long anticipated: Waldo Pizza.  I had read killer reviews on this place and was also duly impressed by their menu online. I'm happy to report that Waldo Pizza certainly deserves its well-regarded reputation.

Walking in, Waldo Pizza looked every bit the neighborhood pizza joint I'd hoped it would be. Dark wood abounds, but so do whimsical touches like the playing cards on the ceiling and the Trivial Pursuit cards on the tables. The vintage album covers in the bathroom are a fun retro touch as well.

We were starving after the race, so we went the easiest, quickest route by opting for the affordable (7.99!) lunch buffet. This buffet served up several of their specialties and we were quite excited that the thin-crust veggie was one of the options. A well-stocked salad bar is also part of the buffet and the house garlic ranch topped it off quite well.  The veggie pizza with artichokes, black olives, sweet red peppers and onions was excellent, with a good balance of sauce and cheese and perfectly seasoned.

The buffet was more than satisfying, but I definitely want to return, well, multiple times to work through this incredibly vast menu of available toppings. A meat craving would yield a plethora of options including the usual suspects but also chorizo, Cajun sausage, BBQ burnt ends, jalapeno bacon, lamb Merguez (spicy North African sausage) and Local Pig's coffee maple sausage. The vegetable options are equally diverse and they included avocado, pine nuts, roasted garlic, red fresno peppers, capers and black beans. The only other way a wide array of options could thrill me might be the beer list and sure enough, its a beauty. Topped with the recent Boulevard seasonal releases (Grainstorm Black Rye IPA and Boss Tom's Golden Bock), the list also features Tallgrass Velvet Rooster, 4 Hands Late Harvest Saison and Avery The Maharaja Imperial IPA.  Thrillingly, this list always rotates to feature righteous brews. One more thing: the dessert list in pizza joints are quite often an afterthought but not here: there are multiple choices, but the reputed favorite sweet treats are the St. Louis-style gooey butter cake and the flourless chocolate sin cake.  Desserts also include housemade ice cream made with locally made Shatto milk, old-school butterscotch pudding and Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard.  Happiness really is a wide array of delicious options from appetizers to pizza to dessert.

Choice can't be mentioned without mentioning another integral part of the Waldo Pizza menu: a truly impressive list of vegan and gluten-free options. They offer a gluten-free crust (made with tapioca, eggs, soy milk and rice flour) made locally at Olivia's Oven. For the vegan options, they include Daiya or Follow Your Heart vegan cheeses for the pizza.  You gotta love a neighborhood pizza joint with an all-inclusive menu like this one.  If I lived closer, I'd hang there much mote often.

So go, and check out Waldo Pizza.  It was the perfect post-run grub for us.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Just Keep Running

One look at the selfie K took of he and I in the early a.m. quite honestly betrays the thoughts going through my head at the time:

It's been a hell week...what possessed me to want to skip the Saturday sleep-in to schlep to Ward Parkway just to participate in the Rock The Parkway Run? I do not feel mentally or physically ready for this 5k run.

The gloom and fog soon lifted from my brain and then run we did. And it felt great. The day was spectacular; I could feel the warming sun on my skin; the people-watching was in full bloom. Live music and cheers kept us all going strong. I kept telling myself..

Just keep running.

 The run, astoundingly, got better as we got further into it.  We blasted through our last mile and crossed the finish line.  We were spent and done, but felt energized and elated at the same time. We grabbed waters, bananas and these awesome mini-bowls of pasta and cheese that Noodles and Co. gave out.  Not only was that little treat a surprise, but they offered up Sriracha sauce to kick it up with ...a nicely upgraded version of the boxed mac and cheese my college pal Lee taught me to douse with tabasco long ago.

 We sat and chilled and let the soreness in the muscles ease a bit before moving on.  On our way out, we picked up our stats and I have to say...I was a bit dismayed.

The run indeed felt terrific. but the stats weren't all that encouraging. My placement was worse than I thought. That said, our time was our best yet.  I weighed these in my mind as we walked back to our parking spot. Once there, we realized we had blocked ourselves in and had a long wait to be able to depart, so we chose to hang out on the curb and watch the good folks running the half-marathon.  We were alternately amused and awestruck by the participants and watched intently for some time. Some of the runners bounded through like gazelles; graceful and lithe, others ran like wild people; all flailing arms and legs and tongues. Running outfits ranged from sedate to over-the-top.  Self-dialogue was prevalent, both recrimination and praise were heard. Some laughed and joked their way through; others ran for clearly more deeper and determined reasons. I realized that I was truly starting to relish this running scene, but for reasons I hadn't previously uncovered.  Everyone running today ran for their own reasons. Some reasons might be to become healthier or to assist a comrade in becoming healthier. The reasons could be personal challenges, or in honor of a lost or suffering loved one, or to overcome adversity, either physical or something not so easily seen or grasped.

Whatever the reason, it was clear many were running for individual reasons and how great is it that they all gather together like one enormous family and run through whatever they're going through together?  And that the money spent to do so generally goes to a worthy cause to boot?  We continued to watch the half-marathon runners with growing fascination.  I bore witness to the physically impaired runners grimacing with every painful step and I found myself clapping and cheering them on.  I watched with tears in my eyes the elderly couple quietly encouraging each other through every stride.  I watched the young child on the side of the road hold out flowers for his Mom as she approached and she scooped him up, flowers and all to share in the dash to the finish line. We applauded the 78-year-old runner who was holding his fist up to the sky, defiant to the stereotype of what aging is supposed to look like. Another man and his young son ran together, each sporting T-shirts depicting a photo of a bald woman and I surmised that might be the missing wife and mother in this picture. We watched as a participating couple walked in front of us after the race, hand in hand, and each with a missing leg (photo below). What an enlightening experience these running events have become.

When we finally left, we went to Waldo Pizza for the post-run nosh (more on this in the next post). I sat and reflected back on the morning.  I realized that, yes, everyone was running for something, but the reason I started today's run and what I left with were two decidedly different things. We started running to get healthier and to reach specific athletic goals. These goals remain, but what we have gained from these running events have given us so much more. The perspective and inspiration that we have gained has become the most gratifying gift of all.

Of course, what more pristine inspiration can there be than the Boston Marathon bombing victims that are preparing to return to the race in 9 days, on April 21st?  Buzzfeed featured an incredibly moving pictorial of these champions and by all means, check it out here.  The photo below of some of the returning runners is one of these and the message says it all:

Just keep running.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sweet, Sweet Friday, I've Missed You So

Oh yes, Thank God Its Sweet, Sweet Friday.  We do have an absolutely fabulous 5k in the morning to prep for...

But first there must be the Friday evening repast...

Until tomorrow, my beautiful peeps.....