Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Hampshire in January

Last week, I went on my very first business trip ever. As someone who likes to travel, this trip excited me. As someone who hates winter, I was dreading it. We went to New Hampshire. In January.

In all fairness, we completely lucked out in the fact that NH has had roughly the same mild winter we've been experiencing here in KC. There was almost no snow on the ground and the temperatures were in the high 30s and low 40s. I even considered for a brief moment bringing a jacket instead of my wool coat. At the end of the day, my fear of the cold overtook my desire to pack lightly and the coat made the journey.

The first night we arrived in Manchester, my coworkers wanted seafood. I haven't learned to like seafood since last week when we ate at Le Fou Frog, but I am completely understanding of the fact that seafood in NH is far fresher and better than anything you can get in the midwest, and therefore understood their desire to eat it. Our hotel recommended a place called Hooked in downtown Manchester.

Hooked was a small restaurant and it was completely packed. We were surprised at how busy it was for a Tuesday night. Luckily a table was just leaving as we were arriving so we only had to wait a few minutes for them to clear the table. Hooked and the restaurant next door to it, Ignite, share the same owner. I was impressed by the service at Hooked, as when my manager asked if they had anything non-seafood on my behalf, the waitress immediately offered to bring over a menu from Ignite. I actually ended up ordering off the Hooked menu, but appreciated the gesture.

For my entree, I had the Fins and Feathers. This was a penne pasta with a very light wine and butter sauce. The pasta included bay scallops, sundried tomatoes, pancetta, grilled chicken and a little bit of cheese. The lack of flavor in bay scallops make them one of the seafood items I can and will eat. I ate pretty much the entire dish.

On Wednesday, we went to dinner at XO on Elm, also in downtown Manchester. I was starving by the time we arrived at dinner and was in need of food and water badly. The service was wonderful, bringing out bread with butter and dipping oil right away. The only downside to this meal was that I ate so much in such a short time that I had a glucose spike and was uncomfortably full the rest of the night.

For an appetizer, we had Stuffed Dates. The waitress assured us this was somewhat of a signature dish for them and they did not disappoint. How can you go wrong with a date, stuffed with chorizo sausage and cream cheese and wrapped in pancetta bacon?

I ordered pumpkin bisque as a second appetizer...I'm sure there's a technical name for this? Course 2. We'll call it course 2. The pumpkin bisque was very good, but just a little too sweet to eat before dinner. It would have made a nice pre-dessert course maybe? Look how pretty it was though.

My main entree was Braised Beef Ravioli. At this point in the meal, I'm ashamed to admit how much I had already eaten. The ravioli was definitely my favorite part of the meal, so tender and juicy. Unfortunately, I only made it about halfway through the plate before developing an overwhelming desire to unbutton my pants. Since this wasn't exactly an option, I had to do the next logical thing and just stop eating.

We were all too full to even consider dessert, but the waitress did bring us all a Lemoncello, compliments of the house.

I would highly recommend Hooked and XO on Elm to anyone in the Manchester area. You should probably make reservations though, because both restaurants were extremely busy during the middle of the week.

Regarding New Hampshire as a whole, I would really like to go back with C sometime. As much as I hate winter, a part of me was slightly disappointed in the lack of snow. While I didn't want it to snow while we were there, I was sort of hoping to see the place covered in white. It would have been gorgeous, I'm sure. Every road we drove on was lined with trees, which I'm sure are also beautiful in the fall. Overall it seemed like a really nice area with a lot of charming shops and small towns.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kansas City Restaurant Week

It’s Restaurant Week in Kansas City! This is one of our favorite weeks around here. We have participated in it for the past 3 years (maybe 4?) and have had great experiences. Last year we tried 3 new restaurants in one week. This year, out of respect for our budget and our waistlines, we are only doing 1 dinner and possibly a lunch.

We kicked off restaurant week on opening night with dinner at Le Fou Frog in the Rivermarket. It was awesome! Not only was the food good, but the atmosphere was great. It’s a small restaurant, overcrowded with tables, giving it a true European feel. We were lucky enough to have Jean Pierre as our waiter (yes, that’s his real name). He was a hilarious Frenchman, probably in his fifties, from Orleans. If you eat at Le Fou Frog, you should ask to sit at one of his tables. It’s worth the wait.

The down side to restaurant week is the limited menu. While there is a benefit to trying a 3 course meal at a fixed price of $30, it does limit what you can try. Le Fou Frog serves both kangaroo and ostrich. C and I had ostrich at the wedding we went to in Chablis this summer and it was very good. We are interested in trying the kangaroo, but since it’s not part of the fixed menu, we’ll have to return at a later date.

I had the potato and leek soup for my first course, C had the lobster bisque. I tried both soups. Mine was very good. C’s tasted like lobster, which apparently is a good thing for people who like seafood. That isn’t me.

For my main course, I had the pork loin. C had the salmon. My pork was okay, nothing spectacular. The sauce that came on the plate was pretty tasty though and the mashed potatoes were my favorite. C’s salmon came on a bed of risotto. Our friend with us also got the salmon and he devoured it within minutes. The guys raved about how good the salmon was. I tasted the risotto, but it tasted a little too much like the salmon it was holding up, in my opinion. Again, maybe a good thing if you like salmon.

For dessert, I had the Gateau d'Opera. C and R had the Lemon Tart, and our friend M had the Mont Blanc Chestnut. I didn’t try M’s dessert, but he enjoyed it. The Lemon Tart was pretty good, but I prefer chocolate desserts and was thrilled with mine. Look at it. Doesn’t it look heavenly?

Restaurant Week runs through next weekend so check out the website to see which restaurants are participating and go have a great meal! Plus, a portion of the proceeds benefit Harvesters, so you can justify this expense as your effort at helping those in need.

If you want to check out Le Fou Frog, do so on a Friday or Saturday night. Your dinner will also come with entertainment! We were serenaded 3 times throughout our meal by various members of the kitchen and wait staff. This might happen during the week too, but I know for sure it happens on Friday and Saturday nights.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A busy start to the New Year

When leaving work last Thursday, I was walking up a concrete staircase in the parking garage. The railing was frozen over, the steps were covered in deicer, and the whole thing had that steely gray look of winter. This is the look of despair to me. This is how I imagine District 12 in the Hunger Games.

I finished the third book at the beginning of last week. I’m quite impressed with myself that I managed to read 3 books in just over a week. If you knew what a slow reader I was, you would be impressed too. Trust me.

This year has started out quite busy. I know February and March should slow down some, but January is just packed with stuff to do. Between reading and traveling, blogging is taking a back seat this month.

It’s only Monday and I’m already looking forward to the weekend. C and I made a quick trip to St. Louis this past weekend, which meant nothing got done at our house. I’m excited for a relatively calm weekend to clean the house and finish organizing our office. I painted it over New Year’s weekend but have yet to get everything moved back in. I’m determined to not only do this in an organized fashion, but actually have less stuff in there than the room started with. Surely this can be done. My goal is for this room to be more of an office and craft room and less of a junk room.

Here’s hoping to a productive week and weekend so I can finally show you pictures of our completed office!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stop Everything and Read!

I went to bed last night at 9:00 so I could read book 2 of The Hunger Games series. Yes, 9:00 on a Friday night. I read until about 12:30 when my eyes were drifting shut.

C and I really don't have any plans this weekend, which is a good thing, because this is what our schedule consisted of today.

7:30-9:30a.m. Drift in and out of sleep, refusing to get out of bed.
9:30a.m. Give up and get out of bed
9:40a.m. Eat breakfast
9:45a.m. Read Hunger Games
1:00p.m. Eat Lunch
1:30p.m. Read Hunger Games
6:30p.m. Make Dinner

It's 9:30 now and I'm sure we'll read a little more before going to bed tonight. Notice I said we. C began reading the first book last night and finished it this evening. I finished book 2 this afternoon and am now about 50 or 60 pages into book 3. We have not showered. We have not changed out of our pajamas. C did leave the house long enough to walk to the mailbox.

We did manage to begin putting away some of our Christmas decorations while we were waiting for our dinner to cook. So I guess we weren't totally useless today. Tomorrow. Tomorrow we will be more productive. We'll grocery shop, and clean the house, and put up mini blinds that have been sitting around all week. And probably read more Hunger Games. Definitely read more Hunger Games.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Year

I just finished the first book of The Hunger Games series last night. I spent the last 3 nights reading for about 3 hours a night because it was so good. Honestly, I was considering skipping the gym last night because I wanted to get home to read my book. I didn't though. I was good. I spent about 45 minutes at the gym before going home to make dinner and read. I can't wait to start the second book. Tonight perhaps?

Sorry for the week-long hiatus. 30 days of blogging ended and I needed a break. My intentions were good. My intentions were to take a few days off. To recover from Christmas, get our house back in order, and work on a house project. But then The Hunger Games entered my life. Between The Hunger Games and Pinterest, it's amazing I get anything done at all these days.

Our Christmas decorations are all still up. The tree was just so pretty this year that Chase and I don't want to take it down. I know it seems way past due, but I promise to do it this weekend. Promises on blogs must be followed through with.

Did you make any resolutions this year? I personally don't make resolutions. I just make goals for the year. Goals are measurable. They are things that can be checked off the list.

Here are some of my goals for the year:
1. Run another half marathon (Portland Rock 'N Roll Half maybe?)

2. Read 15 books (this will be a challenge for me. If only all books were as good as The Hunger Games)

3. Register to take the CPA (this is something that's been weighing heavily on me lately. I probably won't actually start taking the exam until early 2013, but I'd like to at least get registered by the end of the year.)

4. Find a church (This was one of my goals last year, which I obviously failed on. We visited a few, but didn't find anything we loved. I'd really like C and I to visit more churches this year and find a home church to attend regularly)

In addition to those goals, I have my 26 Before 27 list I'm working on as well. And I'm still tossing around some fitness goals. Will this be the year I finally get strong enough to do a pull up? We shall see!

I hope your goals or resolutions for the year are going well. We're only 5 days into the new year so you better not have abandoned them yet. That's what February is for.