Roadtrip to Vermont! (Part 2)

27 08 2012

Good morning friends! I’m experiencing my first “Hurricane Day” as Isaac drifts past us in the gulf. I haven’t been outside my apartment yet, but it seems like it just rained really hard last night and now it’s windy.

Anyhow, where did I leave off?

With day 1 of our epic road trip in the books, we were looking forward to a shorter drive on day 2. Because we had made it as far as we had, we were able to sleep in a little on Friday morning before hitting the road. Before getting a move on, Felipe led us on a short 20 minutes-ish shake out run around Trenton (but he was DETERMINED to go into Pennsylvania, which did not happen). While cleaning up from our jaunt around town, we turned on the Today Show and guess who happened to be performing??

source

Made. My. Day.

Jess, Courtney and I were immediately taken back to high school (maybe middle school for Jess;-) ) when boy bands were at their peak of popularity. We sang along and laughed hysterically as they performed cheesy dance moves with all of their songs. The dancing was so bad, it was good. What a way to start the day!

Inspired by the morning’s concert, we decided to keep the boy band theme going and play a 98 degrees Pandora station.

Felipe may have disliked our roadtrip music choice, but it was 3 against 1 🙂

98 degrees paired with a 90s pop station got us through the day for sure. Most of the drive was through New York State, along highway 87, and then through the Adirondacks.

The mountains were beautiful, but the driving was slow!

We stopped at the “Scenic Overlook” at Lake George to grab what turned out to be our only group shot of the trip. Whoops.

Finally, after FAR too many hours in the car, WE MADE IT!!!! We drove straight to the expo at the Sheraton to pick up our packets.

We checked in, but didn’t lallygag around the expo, since we were all exhausted and we still needed to drop off our bikes in transition.

Transition was right in downtown Burlington, in Waterfront Park. I was definitely getting nervous about the hills as I walked my bike from our parking spot to the transition area, but I momentarily forgot about all of that when I saw Lake Champlain.

What a BEAUTIFUL lake. We certainly don’t have views like this in Florida.

As you can tell by the picture, a rain storm was rolling in so I racked my bike in transition along with the nearly 2000 other bikes, and made sure to cover up the gears and handle bars with some plastic bags.

Bikes Everywhere!

The nice thing about this race was that everyone has a designated spot on the rack. My location was the luck of the draw, rather than my ability to get to transition when it opened. As luck would have it, my spot was actually quite good, maybe about 25 bikes or so from the end of a rack, right by the Swim In and the Bike In. Score!

After Courtney, Jess, and I set up our bikes (Felipe wasn’t racing, he still has a pro card and therefore can’t race in an amateur race), we got back in the car and drove another 40 minutes or so to Bolton Valley, the ski resort where we were staying.

I must note that the hotel was a 4.2 mile drive up the mountain, with an elevation increase of about 1200 feet. The mom-mobile handled it like a champ!

We dropped our stuff at the room, and my friend Steph from DC popped over to say hi. She was also in town for Nationals and had recommended we stay at the same place as the DC tri club. I was so glad we did, because it was GREAT to see her!

It was getting late and we still hadn’t eaten dinner, so we headed out to again. Upon a recommendation from the front desk (and also enticed because it was the closest restaurant to our hotel), we stopped at the Cider House BBQ and Pub.

Now a BBQ/Pub place doesn’t quite sound like great pre-race food, but believe me, this place hit. the. spot! This cozy restaurant screamed Vermont, as it prides itself on supporting local farms and businesses. I love that so much of what I’ve seen and experienced in VT is local, local, local. I can totally get behind that!

Our quirky waitress started us off with some of their herbed cornbread while we waited for our meals. The hungry triathletes didn’t take long to devour this!

So much of the menu looked appetizing that it was hard to make a decision! Courtney and I decided to split two of the burgers. I love that I have friends who like sharing!

I ordered the Vermonter Burger (local VT beef burger served with VT apple slices, VT cheddar on a toasted roll with our homemade apple chutney) with some sweet potato fries.

The apple chutney on this burger was out of this world!

Courtney got the Portabella Mushroom Sandwich (Large grilled portabella with your choice of cheese served on a toasted roll with our special sauce, onions and lettuce.) She got the side of the homemade Mac N’ Cheese.

That Mac N cheese definitely qualifies as one of the best Mac N Cheeses I’ve ever had. YUM!!!

With full bellies and tired eyes, we headed back up the mountain to the hotel. Tomorrow is race day!

To be continued…





Tampa Bay Burger Showdown

7 05 2012

This weekend was probably the best one I’ve had in Tampa since I’ve moved here! My weekend was full of food, friends, and fun!

Last week, one of my friends from Running Club texted to ask if I wanted to go to the Burger Showdown on Friday night at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. The name alone sounded pretty awesome, but after learning that a $35 ticket got me unlimited samples of the 12 different burgers competing, two drinks, and dessert, I was in! From the minute I purchased my ticket, I started counting down until Friday night!

I knew Courtney loves food as much as I do, so I invited her to come along too. We went for a short bike ride on Friday right after work to build up a little bit of an appetite and then headed over to the park.

We checked in, getting our two drink tickets, a chip to vote for our favorite burger, and a postcard advertising Magners Cider. They told us to take it to the Magners tent and we’d get a free cider there. Score! We didn’t waste any time and quickly cashed in on our free cider.

I got the pear, and it was tasty. Really light, sweet and refreshing. A great summer drink! Drink in hand, we headed to try our first burger. First stop: Lee Roy Selmon’s.

 

We nicknamed their burger heart attack on a bun.

I think this was called Dewey’s Stacked burger and it was topped with pulled pork and bacon. LOTS OF MEAT.

I really enjoyed this burger, but I don’t know that I’d ever actually order it. I don’t want to know how many calories are in an entire burger…

Next we moved on to The Burger Joint. I was actually really surprised to see BGR on the line up. I knew there were a few in the DC area, but I didn’t realize they were in FL too. I always wanted to go when I was in DC, but never did, so I was really excited to be able to finally try their burger!

I was NOT disappointed. They were sampling their Wellington Burger: “Roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic with a touch of mustard seed and blue cheese all atop our burger. Served on a fresh, buttery-toasted brioche bun with our mojo sauce.”

It was super rich, but SOOOOOOOOO good. I don’t know how they cooked the mushrooms, but I could have just eaten them and had a huge smile on my face!

Get in my belly!

After that deliciousness, it was time for a drink refill. Mmm Shock Top. 🙂

Next up, Datz! I’ve never actually been to Datz, but it is DEFINITELY on my list of places to go in Tampa. I have driven by Datz a few times, but never thought much about it. It seemed like just a normal deli. I mean, it’s a pretty generic looking building with one of those signs with the block letters that someone needs to go up and change:

I’m not a big deli person, so I figured it was nothing special. Until I saw Meghann’s post about it a few weeks ago. OMG. Datz just shot to the top of my list of places to go for brunch. Red Velvet Pancakes?? Definitely NOT what I was expecting based on the name and looks of the building!

Back to burgers- Datz was sampling their macaroni and cheese filled burgers. Yes, I said the burger had macaroni and cheese inside! What a quircky combination!

It was good, but I didn’t like it as much as the BGR burger. I didn’t really taste much of the mac n cheese; it was overpowered by the the barbeque sauce on top.

Where to go next? We stopped by Stacked, whose signature stacked burger is a challenge to eat.

If you can eat all of that (4 patties!!!) in a certain amount of time, its free. That sounds like a stomach ache waiting to happen. Their burgers weren’t ready when we went by, so we wandered to the next table.

The Tampa Convention Center was sampling a new burger they are going to start selling at their outdoor cafe.

I believe they called this the surf and turf, and it was a burger with lobster salad on top. There was also guacamole and I think remoulade sauce too. Interestingly, it was served on an English muffin. This one was only okay. I think it was an interesting combination of flavors, but would have been better if it had been served hot off the grill. Oh well, I guess we got to the table at the wrong time!

We spotted our friend Mary and took a break from eating to chat and take a quick picture 🙂

Next up, we went over to the Ashley Street Grill. This is a restaurant in the Sheraton hotel in Tampa. They interpreted “burger” a little more loosely than the 11 other restaurants and were serving a fish sandwich.

It was kind of like a crab cake but made of fish. The slaw was really flavorful, and would have been good on its own. But I found the burger to be really mushy which really turned me off. I’m not normally a texture person, but this was just not working for me. I had a few bites and then threw the rest out 😦

At this point in the evening, we were all getting full, but we decided to switch it up and get something sweet. We headed to the dessert table, where we had the option of an apple tart or tiramisu. I got the tiramisu, and it was awesome!

So maybe not the most appetizing picture, but it was delicious!

After dessert we sat and chatted for a little before deciding to rally and go for another burger. We were planning on stopping at Burger 21, but I got sidetracked by the “Farm to Table” sign I saw at the Marriott’s tent. Locally and humanely raised beef, prosciutto, heirloom tomatoes, and arugula? YES PLEASE!

A little too much bread on my piece, but this was probably my favorite burger of the night. Even as full as I was, I still enjoyed this burger tremendously. I definitely thought that the beef in the burger had the best flavor of any of the burgers I had tried. It may have just been in my head, but I’m going to go with it. Grass-fed beef wins in my book.

Unfortunately, I surrendered after this burger. There were a few other burgers that I didn’t get to try, including one from a Danny’s All America Diner, a local joint that had been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.

I guess I’ll just have to go there myself!

A few other Tampa favorites: Burger 21, Square 1 Burgers, and the Green Iguana, didn’t make it into my belly on Friday night. These have been added to my list of restaurants to try.

As the Showdown came to a close, they announced the winners. One winner was The Green Iguana, which unfortunately I didn’t try! And then, I was quite surprised when they announced The Ashley Grill burger as one of the winners! That was my least favorite! I was pleased however, when they announced the people’s choice as BGR. It was definitely a good burger.

I had such a good time hanging out by the water with my friends and eating good food. And, for the amount of food I ate, I think it was a pretty good deal! (Only because I had bought my ticket in advance. At the door, it was $55!! No thank you!)

I could do this every weekend! Well, maybe not with burgers, I don’t think my body would like me so much…

When’s the next “showdown”??

Question of the day: Have you ever gone to a foodie event like this before? How did you pace yourself??