Saturday, October 31, 2015

Annual Pumpkin Beer Tasting

Happy Halloween my ghoul and goblin friends!

I'm posted up at the olive oil shop for the day (shhh don't tell my boss that I'm blogging on the job) and am hoping to see some folks in costume at the shop to make things festive. I'm also listening to Monster Mash on repeat. Why aren't there more Halloween songs? I need more.

In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to share last night's festivities with you! This was my 3rd Annual Pumpkin Beer Tasting! It's one of my favorite traditions and I started acquiring this year's crop of pumpkin beers during the unseasonably early month of August. Insider tip: pumpkin beer selection seems to peak in mid-September. Early bird gets the seasonal booze!

To give you an idea, this was last year's pumpkin beer lineup...

My personal favorite last year was the Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. The clunker of the group was definitely the Anderson Valley Pinchy Jeek Barl (also, *what* is with that name??). I don't want to say I poured it down the sink but.... well I 100% poured it down the sink.
This year's collection had a number of local brews, which I was excited about. Dare I say it -- I think this was the strongest showing yet! 

My (biased but ultimately correct) ranking of the Pumpkin brews:
  1. Cawtawba Brewing King Don's Pumpkin Ale (the crowd favorite!)
  2. Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale
  3. Shipyard Pumpkinhead (the only beer of the group that actually tasted of *pumpkin* and not pumpkin pie spices - very vegetal - in a good way!)
  4. Williamsburg Alewerks Pumpkin Ale (Alma Mater Hail! Rhymes!)
  5. Flying Dog The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale (at 9.0% ABV there should be Fear indeed)
  6. Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
  7. Deep River Pumpkin Pie Porter (not initially very seasoned or pumpkinny but it grew on me)
  8. NoDa Brewing Gordgeous
  9. Flying Dog The Gourd Standard IPA (a fine beer, but not very *seasonal*)
  10. Troeg's Master of Pumpkin (wanted to love it because it had a cork (!!!) but sadly, that just wasn't enough)
  11. Harpoon Pumpkin UFO (my scientific and thorough notes for this beer read simply "NO")
And there you have it! I do want to give a special shout-out to the elusive Elysian Brewing Night Owl Pumpkin Ale which I tried several years ago and have very fond memories of.
FYI, pumpkin beer tastings go very well with a side of Crispy M&Ms (long live crispy M&Ms!), Sour Patch Kids and popcorn.
Any fun Halloween plans? Favorite pumpkin beer? What's your costume this year?!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Strikes My Fancy Friday #3

Hello there!

It's Friday! Unfortunately, I'm working at the olive oil shop all weekend, so I am trying to make this Friday an extra perky one to compensate for the lack of an "actual weekend." On the bright side (?) I will get a lot of school work done! Once I stop blogging and catching up on the interwebs, that is.

I hear Anatomy & Physiology calling my name so without further ado... Some of my favorite things from this week!

I should apologize in advance for the large number of vaguely blurry photos in this week's round-up. I have no good explanation, especially since I found out yesterday at my annual physical (and flu shot! GET ONE!) that I have 20/13 vision! That's outstanding, stupendous, and extraordinary vision, in case you didn't know. Please excuse me while I brush my shoulders off and continue to pound carrots (chock full of beta-Carotene for my top-notch eyes).

I will start with perhaps my favorite thing of all time --> this video (When you can't stay awake in class) sent to me by my father last week. I declare this the funniest video on the internet and guarantee it will cheer you up.

Wool socks from Mast General Store in Asheville! My feet (and just myself in general) are always cold so wool socks are my savior in the Winter. It doesn't hurt that they are such festive Christmas colors, either. Too soon?! 

This gigantic salad from Luna's Living Kitchen was much needed after my low-on-veggies/high-on-chocolate weekend. This was their Arugula Harvest salad with red cabbage, spiralized root vegetables, pear, avocado, candied pecans, pumpkin seeds, raisins, maple-mustard vinaigrette and a homemade cashew-basil cheese. I mean, how can you go wrong with that?

Ended my Fall break with beers on the patio at the new NoDa Brewing location. The weather in Charlotte has been lovely for patio-sitting and sipping lately. The Par Four Session IPA and Gordgeous beers are also lovely, in case you were wondering.

I put together this lunch on Wednesday and was way too pleased that everything was green. Avocado toast still remains my favorite weekday lunch item. PS - The Eureka Seeds the Day Organic Bread is delicious. Bonus points for the pun.
How are things in your neck of the woods? Any fun plans this weekend?


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weekend Wanderings: Asheville, NC

Hey there friends!

I'm all sorts of confused about what day of the week it is thanks to Fall break. Isn't that the best feeling?

I was lucky enough to have my mom, aunt and cousin in town last weekend for a ladies getaway to Asheville, NC! It was a speedy 2 hour drive and we spent most of the weekend walking (being around other people as obsessed with getting their steps in as yours truly is tremendous - fitbits unite!), eating and talking. Lots of talking. No, we didn't visit the Biltmore, tour any breweries, or see any museums. Whoops! 

Here are some snapshots of our anti-tourist/pro-relaxation weekend!

The Fantastic Four.

I would like four of these for my apartment. Cocoon me!

We felt the trendiest at this bar - Top of the Monk. Highly recommend! I sipped on a Brandied Pumpkin Sour. Seasonal!

With each cocktail you were given a key that gave you access to a ... wait for it... SNACK CABINET!

Each mail slot has a different snickety snack inside. Pure genius. If only this was my pantry...

After a white-knuckled drive (literally) up to the trailhead, we hiked around Craggy Gardens Bald. Amazing views but oh so chilly! 

Leaf peeping on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

It was a great (but far too quick) weekend getaway. Thanks, weather gods, for coming through with such festive fall weather! Time to whip out my wool socks. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Recipe: Not your Average Avocado, Goat Cheese & Grilled Chicken Salad

This recipe *may* sound like something you've eaten a million times before (and with good reason, it's a classic combo!) but trust me on this one, this salad really "kicks it up a notch" (copyright, Emeril. BAM!).

One of the perks of working at an olive oil shop (besides the 20% discount) is that the customers are always enthusiastically sharing their recipe ideas and insider tips with you. Some of the recipes I've heard a hundred times (responding with the nod and smile and "wow how did you ever think of that!"), and some make me want to rush to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients on my way home. This recipe fell into the latter category...

Avocado, Goat Cheese & Grilled Chicken Salad
Serves: 2 mildly hungry people


4 sizable handfuls of arugula
1/2 of a ripe avocado
3 Tbsp champagne orange rice vinegar (employment perk)
2 chicken breasts, grilled
As many hunks of goat cheese as your heart desires 
Lots o' Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (!!!)
Salt and pepper


As you may have noticed from the rather unscientific ingredient list, this recipe is hard to ruin and easily customizable. Follow your heart! 

But if you need some guidance... 

The base: Mash the avocado in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper and mix well. Toss in the arugula and stir until well coated.

The toppings: Top with a sliced grilled chicken breast (salmon or crab cakes would also be delicious), pumpkin seeds (or any nut), and crumbled goat cheese. 


I served this with the wine, pictured below. Not too shabby at all.

And may have indulged in these treats from Amelie's French Bakery for dessert... I shared! Balance, folks.

And now back to my regularly schedule programming of study, study, study. 

- 2 tests down (Community Nutrition + Anatomy & Physiology)
- 2 quizzes down (Food Comp Lab and Food Comp)
- 2 tests to go (Research Methods and Food Comp)

And then FALL BREAK! Light at the end of the tunnel!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Strikes My Fancy Saturday

Oh hey folks!

Luckily for me, Strikes My Fancy is alliterative with both Friday and Saturday so when I'm a delinquent blogger I can still ensure that the series lives on!

Next week is midterms at Winthrop/NOVA Community College and I have 4 tests and 2 quizzes between now and Thursday morning. Doesn't that sound like a riotous good time? Between school work, the incessant rain and a cold that has really made itself at home, I don't have any earth shattering news or favorites to share with you all. 

Despite my tales of woe (which I initially typed as tails of woe - that would look funny!) there have been a few things making me smile this week. Without further ado...

The pumpkin pie latte at Central Coffee in Charlotte! So seasonal, much caffeine.

Showed up to happy hour at the fanciest bar in town (Harris Teeter's bar - $2 wines. And beers! Can't be beat) sporting very similar flannels. No shame here.

I dumpster dived this mirror from outside of my apartment! It weighs approximately 100 pounds. To be clear, I didn't actually enter the dumpster head first. But this was leaning up against the dumpster. Hey, nothing some antibacterial action can't handle!

The sun came out on Tuesday on campus and it was so glorious! After 10 days of gloom, this merited a photo.

Spotted this terrifying Halloween display on my run this week. Startling, no?

I've been volunteering at a farmers market of sorts at the University Hospital on Thursday evenings. It's small but mighty! This week the "roasted nuts" man set up shop and I concocted my own trail mix that has changed my life. He roasts the nuts dry for a longer period of time (no added oils like most roasted nuts) and the only way I can describe them is that they taste remarkably like themselves. So nutty and rich. I combined cashews, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sundried pineapples, bananas and dates. Haven't stopped noshing on it since.

How has your week been? Anything been striking your fancy lately?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Half-Marathon Training Update!

Hi, I'm Emily. And I'm running another half marathon. I'm signed up for the Thunder Road Half Marathon in Charlotte on November 14th!

That makes the race approximately 6 weeks from today which means that I'm halfway through my training! I guess it's time I give you an update, eh?

This will be my 8th half-marathon and thus far my training has ranged everywhere from nonexistent (for my first half-marathon the farthest I'd ever run was 6 miles... do not recommend) to religiously following Hal Higdon's Novice Half-Marathon Training Plan. Love Hal!

For this upcoming half-marathon I wanted to spice it up a little bit and decided to add some speed work into the mix. I [mistakenly] thought that speed work would be filled with sunshine and rainbows. Ha! I bumped myself up to good old Hal's Intermediate Program and Hal isn't messing around with this one.

So without further ado... A glimpse into the first 6 weeks of training [and trying to run fast] for this half-marathon:

The first week of training! I discovered a new track for my first speed workout. Mindset: I've got this!

Third week of training: Found a pretty park near Winthrop's campus for a morning run. Mindset: this isn't too bad!

Fourth week of training: It's mid-September. Mindset: WHY IS IT STILL SO HOT OUT.

Fifth week of training: Beautiful 7 mile run to Freedom Park. Mindset: It's Fall! I love Fall running!

Sixth week of training: Oh hello, treadmill. Mindset: What is with this rain. Go away rain. This is not Fall running.

So, as you can see, the last 6 weeks have had many ups and downs with running (literally, Charlotte is quite hilly). I'm still holding out hope that the rain, rain will go away and come again another day. While I still don't look forward to tempo or interval runs, I do feel mighty accomplished when they're over. And variety is the spice of life, right? RIGHT?

Anyone else training for an upcoming race? How's it going in your neck of the woods? (Copyright: Al Roker)