Sushi, anyone?

February 1, 2012

Eating food, being “Azn” and trying new things are three of my favorites — put ‘em together, and you have a sushi-making class.

Matt making sushi!

Matt sushi!

Matt and I had a Groupon for a place called Fuji Sushi, located in Stuart. Whew! It takes a hike to get there — one hour. I didn’t realize this until after I bought the deal, but we decided to try it anyway.

Apparently Fuji offers this class all the time, but it’s usually $34 for two people. My deal was for $17. I would guess that almost any Asian restaurant can either charge you to learn the craft, or it already has a class. Either way, it’s a cute, fun date to have on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I encourage you to find one of these classes.

The restaurant is nice; nestled in a Publix parking lot next to a music store, it’s respectably clean and cute. The staff there was friendly and helpful. We were relaxed.

Pre-rolling status

Pre-rolling status

But then it was time to start making the California roll. Our instructor showed us how it was done, and it took, like, three minutes tops. Us white kids — the six people in the class — then tried a hand at it. We took a lot longer than three minutes!

With a bit of good-natured laughter and embarrassment, we all made crooked, loose sushi pieces. For the uninitiated, you start with a seaweed sheet, put it on a bamboo mat, add a layer of sticky rice and sesame seeds, flip, add ingredients (cucumber, avocado, crab), roll tight, then cut — voila! OK it’s not that easy.

Our instructor was nice, but I don’t think she could help poking fun at us newbies.

“Oh you cut it like that and it’s not ruined? That’s amazing!” She said to me. I laughed, but wished I could roll tighter sushi and cut it so it wouldn’t smush in some places and then fall apart.

In the end, it all tasted delicious anyway!

Nom nom nom!

Nom nom nom!

Bring on the Bedner’s!

January 30, 2012

My friend Val has been a champion co-jaunter lately, and she recently revealed one of the best-kept secrets of western Boynton: Bedner’s Market.

Bedner's

Bedner's!

This farmer’s market has it all: loads of fruits and veggies that are fresh, local and cheap.

When I met up with Val there for the first time, we tried vegan sandwiches from one of the gourmet food carts that visit periodically.

Then we shopped for some fresh produce, which is something of an obsession for Matt. (Me: What did you eat for lunch today? Normal response: Oh, a red bell pepper and a bag of spinach. Then I hit the gym for two hours.) Side note: What a stud!

Val!

I told him about the place, which is only about 15 minutes from where we live. He loved the idea so much we went back there the same day — and we’ve been back almost every weekend since then. Some of the things I love about the place include a small, nonplussed dog that shows a penchant for attitude, the vibrant colors, and the fact I can get a load of veg for two people for about $25.

Jupiter Craft Brewfest Part 2

January 29, 2012

There’s always something to learn from beerfest. This year was no different.

5k!

Me and Val after 3.1 miles.

This time around, Matt, Sam and I added some exercise into the day, which turned out to be a great move before drinking and eating. Though men and women are supposed to run separately in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, I learned — too late — that Matt could have ran with me in the woman’s timed run. So as a note for next year, it’s a DO! to run whenever you want at this event.

Val and I ran together, making it our second 5k. She’s a great running partner!

PDA!

Smooch whenever possible.

My time for the 5k was fine, about 30 minutes, and Matt dominated at 28 minutes. Next time I hope to do it in 25, but it’s hard to fight through the crowd and get a good pace. It’s a DO! to fight and get in the front of the crowd.

Onward! To Jenn’s house for showers and coffee. And that’s where we had to lose a teammate, as Jenn was too sick for beerfest. Sad but with chins up, we moved on to Roger Dean Stadium.

This time around, we made pretzel necklaces and carried Publix subs in hand. Remember from last year, a DO is eat beforehand and make these edible accessories. But DON’T forget string! Someone in line was nice enough to lend :)

So this is what we learned at beerfest this year:

Inappropriate

Take inappropriate pictures.

DO! Go with people you like!

DO! Run into people you want to see!

DO! Pet dogs.

DO! Get some PDA in there, whenever and wherever you can.

DO! Pick a good designated driver. DO! find someone to take over duties if needed (thanks, Matt!!)

DO! Try the “Taco in a Bag,” which is something Dan brought. Chips, beans, cheese, sour cream, other ingredients squashed into a Tostitos bag. DO! bring other chips in case this makes you queasy.

Puppy!

Pet cute dogs and make friends with people.

DON’T! Drink too much!

DON’T! lock your keys in the car!

DON’T plan to go anywhere after beerfest — DO! sleep when you get home. You’re gonna be hungover, kid.

Fuckin’ BAHSTON, right kid?

April 18, 2011

If you’ve seen a little movie called “The Perfect Storm,” starring Markie Mark and Diane Lane, you’ve seen Matt’s hometown. The best boyfriend in these parts is from Gloucester, Mass., a small town known for its fishing and its proximity to Boston.

We visited this wonderful city in February, smack in the middle of a freezing winter — complete with snow during a time West Palm boasted a sunny 70 degrees. I’ve wanted to visit Boston since the first time I saw The Departed and the opening credits featured the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” However, the 20 degree weather put a bit of a chill on the excitement.

Me in the Sam Adams brewery!

We flew in on a Friday night to meet up with Matt’s mom, who is wonderful and has a cool little apartment in Gloucester. The next day we drove into Boston and visited the Sam Adams brewery, where we toured the small building and sampled the Chocolate Bock, Boston Lager and Noble Pils.

After that, a little tipsy, Matt and I attempted to walk through the Freedom Trail – impeded only by the FREEZING COLD.

I brought my white down jacket to Boston; the one I wore in Switzerland when I thought that was the coldest weather God could bring my way. No, Boston has the wind factor. And I’m a Floridian. Chilled and chattering, we visited Faneuil Hall, the King’s Church, Paul Revere’s statue, Mike’s Pastry in the North End and the Boston Harbor – which I wanted to tea bag (with an actual tea bag). That night we met up with Matt’s college friends at Sweetwater, a bar they used to frequent in their Emerson College days.

Boston Harbor

Rose, one of my best friends in West Palm, happened to be in Boston that weekend with her two friends. She met up with us and, well, we all ended up drinking $120 worth of pitchers… of PBR.

So do I remember most of this night? Only the awesome parts.

(SPOOOOORRRRTTTSSSS!!!!)

Matt's college buddies. Chris and Alex made me laugh so hard it was a little hard to breathe a few times (maybe that was because of the cold though).

It was one of the most fun nights in a while, meeting Matt’s college buddies and just letting loose in a great city. We ended up crashing at Chris Pond’s apartment (after waiting for a cab while my toes slowly became frozen blocks). The next day, we drove around and Matt showed me places he frequented in college along with Harvard Yard, Harvard Square and the Boston Garden.

While weathering the cold, which cut through me in gusts of wind, I thoroughly enjoyed Boston. And on Sunday night, we met up with Matt’s high school friends. It was pretty awesome to meet the people Matt’s known for half of his life. We ended up at the Cape Ann Brewing Company, which had yummy coffee pumpkin beer.


We had to leave the next day, but not before touring Gloucester, Bearskin Neck and Rockport with Matt’s mom. We drove up hills and along the water, where I could see Thatcher Island’s two lighthouses. Matt showed me where he grew up and what he used to do for fun.

And I finally got to eat a lobster roll, though not an authentic one by my count. It’s not season yet, so I tried one at the airport — right before Matt and I had to sprint to catch our plane.

Top-shelf trip along with top-shelf friends. I really enjoyed Boston — even the freezing weather.

Wine, language and museums

April 7, 2011

Winettes

Every month, 10 girls who call themselves The Winettes gather to learn about and drink wine. And recently, I got to join this elite group. I’m only half kidding – we’re connected to the Swirl Girls, a group of four women who work at The Palm Beach Post and write about wine. Because the Swirls know so much about wine, I really feel like this is a legit learning experience. We each bring a snack and a bottle, after being assigned a specific region plus some other parameters.

Armed with information about our drink, we chat about the wine and how it smells, tastes and looks. Recently, the Winettes’ boyfriends and husbands started their own offshoot: the “Wine Nuts.” So after our meeting, we usually gather with the Wine Nuts and continue the party until the wee hours of the morning. I’ve learned a lot about the drink since joining this group, and I hope to continue.

German class

Ich fing an einem Deutschkurs im Januar. Ich bin immer besser die Sprache zu lernen. Ich werde die mittlere Klasse bald stattfinden. Freunden Katie und Tara auch an die Klasse. Bald werde ich fließend.

(“I started a German course in January. I am getting better at learning the language. I will take the intermediate class soon. My friends Katie and Tara also attend the class. Soon I will be fluent.”)

I started learning German in Switzerland in 2009, as many of you know, and have wanted to continue the language ever since. This is a community night class available at Lantana Middle School on Monday nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s only a six-week course, but I wanted to brush up on learning the correct genders of nouns in order to know how to construct sentences. I was always very good at understanding German but not speaking it.

With brand-new notebook and “German is Fun!” textbook in hand, I strut to class each Monday and it’s like I’m a schoolgirl again.

Flagler Museum

Have $18? You can spend on an entrance fee at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach.

Don’t want to shell out that much? June 5 is Founder’s Day at the museum and entrance is free. Last year, Tom, Jamal and I rode our bikes to the museum. Huffing and puffing, we explored the piece of South Florida history, which is a house that was built in 1902 by one of the wealthiest men of the time. I suggest you check out the museum this June – it may be freaking hot in the summer, but air conditioning has been added to the house.

Built in 1902, the mansion had 75 rooms – and Jamal, Tom and I saw many of them. A few of the ones we toured included the grand ballroom, several guest rooms, the master bedroom, closets (which were rooms within themselves), library, drawing room, billiard room, the breakfast room, dining room, and place where you could see his train car (we got to walk in it). We were in awe. The mansion reminded me of the part in the Louvre where actual pieces of Versailles were transported and on display.

Just be careful – don’t touch anything on display. Tom tried to pull a lever while we waited to tour the train car.

“Excuse me!! Please don’t touch that!” a museum employee said promptly and sternly to him.

Turning red, he said “Oh, sorry.”

Just made me laugh, that’s all. Don’t touch the displays!

 

Viva la… Honduras!

April 7, 2011

One of my best friends from high school, Andy Mills, was tying the knot in her hometown of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Since the moment I met her, Andy was like family. She, Stephanie McConville and I were best friends senior year, but I didn’t see enough of Andy in college. She moved to the northeast in 2007, and I didn’t see her for a long time.

When I got the wedding invite I was ecstatic. A chance to see Andy and meet her fiance! A stamp on the passport! A chance to see Honduras!

I boarded the plane with a bit of trepidation though – Stephanie and Matt decided not to attend the wedding, leaving me with no sidekick. But the fear was pretty much unfounded – I found instant friends in the 40-plus guests who all stayed at the Marriott.

Police officers outside our hotel!

The hotel happened to be located right next to Honduras’ version of the White House. That’s why, when the local teachers staged a protest against the government, a brigade of police officers blocked off our street on the first morning we were there. Prepared with gas masks, tear gas, batons and guns, the police faced off in front of the Marriott as the protesters chanted. The hotel prepared our door with a thick chain in case trouble came our way.

But it didn’t. After about 45 minutes the protesters filed off and no one was hurt… at least not until later in the day. I couldn’t get the story straight, but I think a protester badly hurt.

Armed with this adventure, our group went through the day and waited for a barbecue that was scheduled for us. Held at a home up in the mountains, this place was amazing. A family friend of the Millses hosted it.

Christiana and Felipe's house!

After that party we ended up at a nightclub where we danced (and drank) the night away. Friday came and my roommate James and I decided to attend an outing to the top of a mountain where a cool marketplace was located. We explored dozens of tiny shops and ate burritos at a small eatery where beggars and dogs nosed around for our food.

That night we attended Andy and Kevin’s rehearsal dinner. Because we didn’t want to go out and ruin our appetites for a party the next day, most of us ended up dancing at the hotel’s sports bar named Winners. (Haha, Charlie Sheen anyone?) Zach, Natalie and I pretty much owned the dance floor that night.

Sleepover?!

Anddyyyyy! My little sloot...

Saturday was the day everyone was waiting for: the wedding! It was held at an old, gorgeous church next to the Basilica de la Suyapa. I’d say most of the ceremony was in Spanish, so I was grateful when the English parts came and went. The reception was a lot of fun, and most people stayed until 6am. I technically caught the bouquet, but really I didn’t mind either way. (OK what I really mean is that I shoved someone out of the way and she almost broke her leg.)

I left the reception around 3 because I had a flight to catch the next day. What a trip! I’m so glad Andy and I have stayed in touch over the years, and I want to try and see her more often. I loved meeting new people and seeing the Mills family. It’s good to know friends are still there even after a few years.

Natalie and me! :)

But I’ll have to say this: I left out most of the crazy shenanigans that went down during this trip… because I guess what happens in Tegucigalpa should stay in Tegucigalpa.

Hockey? What is that, anyway?

February 16, 2011

Matt and I had some serious plans for Sunday, and they included the greatest sport known (to Canada). Matt’s played hockey all his life, and even had a huge role in starting the Emerson College club hockey team while at school. He’s been wanting to take me to a hockey game, and Sunday we found our chance.

We headed to Sunrise, where the Panthers were up against the San Jose Sharks at the BankAtlantic Center. Matt’s dad, Judy (his stepmom), Ashley, Dru (her husband), me and Matt enjoyed my very first NHL game — complete with expensive vendor food.

Now remember, I am still struggling to properly watch a football game and know what’s going on. To understand baseball and kickball’s intricacies, to swing a golf club, to know every position on a basketball team.

So much fun!

Matt decided to toss hockey onto my load of sports to learn. It’s now top priority to know how it’s played. However, the only hockey facts I remember are those I’ve already learned from someone else — and why does it still look like a team just trying to put a puck in the net? I’m trying though — I can now at least name teams and of course I have my favorite. I asked Matt a lot of questions, and I still really love learning new things. I had a great time at the game with Matt’s family, and I hope we can go to another game soon. The Panthers, though one of the worst NHL teams, won 3-2 against the Sharks (after I predicted a 3-1 loss). I must have brought good luck, Matt’s dad says.

I still kind of feel like an idiot about hockey. But Jeff Greer, who loves to egg Matt on, also loves to say that no one in Florida knows what hockey is anyway. Probably not true (right?) but still fun to poke at the sport.

Made in Hollywood?

February 15, 2011

I called up Jenn Pfaff Saturday morning to see if I could steal her away for a movie. Instead, I was lucky enough to land an entire fun-filled day with her and some other friends.

Jenn and I decided to head to the Norton Museum – after all, it’s FREE for West Palm Beach residents every single Saturday and free for Palm Beach County residents on the first Saturday of each month. We stopped at Makeb’s first and I ordered the Tom Selleck, which is turkey, coleslaw and Russian dressing on toasted rye bread. This was a great choice.

Rawr! My fave pic.

After that, we parked at the Norton – free – and jumped in on a tour of “Made in Hollywood,” a collection of photos from the John Kobal Foundation and also a display of Kenneth Jay Lane’s “Fabulously Fake” jewelry. Jenn really likes the classic Hollywood stuff, and it was interesting to learn a few things about these celebs.

Just like Audrey Hepburn!

When the tour ended, we meandered over to the Egyptian history section, where we got to see mummified dogs and even the remains of a human mummy. I noticed there’s a China section, which I fully intend to visit on another free Saturday. Jenn made sure I saw the Chihuly ceiling, a colorfully amazing blown-glass piece that you can stare at for hours.

After gazing at the glass ceiling, Jenn and I met up with Matt and Jeff. We all eventually headed over to Yard House, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite happy hour places.

I’ve tried the truffle sweet potato fries, the mac and cheese dinner, the regular fries and several other dishes. They’re all delicious – but watch out if you’re on a mission to watch your weight. The mac and cheese should be split between two people, but the salads are generally both delicious and nutritious. All in all, it was a great Saturday with friends.

Jen and Jeff making faces.

Me and Matt.

Trivial Pursuits

February 15, 2011

The Dubliner

I headed to this Irish-themed bar in Mizner Park in Boca Raton last fall to partake in some hardcore trivia with friends Val and Bill. Val told me recently they’re still offering trivia on Tuesday nights, and they also host music shows and other entertainment. I’ve been to trivia at other bars, and I’ve gotta say, this one was pretty tough.

Bill and Val: Nothin' but a good time!

A note for places like Dubliner: Make your trivia accessible to the audience you’re expecting (in this case, a young crowd on a Tuesday night) and try to tone down your difficulty. The trivia host was a lot of fun though, and I enjoyed this bar’s atmosphere. I did love that trivia was free for teams who arrived early. The menu wasn’t spectacular – Irish food is actually a little bland – but I ate a cheeseburger and liked it. My friends stuck to beer. I’d recommend this place, and I’d even go back to give trivia another chance.

UF basketball game

Me and Matt

I attended the University of Florida for four years. I was there for two basketball national championships and two football national championships. Gator Nation. Championship City. But. But. But. I never attended a single basketball game as a student there – despite it being free. I know this is shameful. So I made up for this in December by attending the Orange Bowl Baskbetball Classic at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise.

Let's go Gators!

Matt and I tagged along with Sharon and Andrew, my roommates at the time. I had a lot of fun at the basketball game, and we even won against Kansas State, a top-ranked team at the time. Matt, a sports reporter at The Palm Beach Post, could probably tell you a lot more about the actual game than I can. But what I remember was an interesting, fast-paced game filled with beer and a good time. It was fun to finally see the Gators play basketball in person — much easier to follow the game than football, in my opinion. Go Gators!

Down and Funemployed…

February 15, 2011

A Spot of Tea

In September, I was funemployed for 18 days — leaving me time to be lazy and to jaunt. Many of my friends kept me company: Jamal took me to Sweet Tomatoes, Tom and Katie invited me over for lunch with their awesome kids, Sean and I went to Makeb’s, etc.

Sharon Abramson and I visited the Serenity Garden Tea House — though it wasn’t our first time. In May, even before her wedding, we jaunted here and I told her time and again that I would write an entry about this trip. Time passed and finally we went again in September. The tea house is located on South Dixie Highway near the Norton Museum, and it was a lot of fun. The house is filled with antique furniture and quaint, French touches. The owner was born in Amsterdam and has a charming, British-sounding accent.

Sharon and I chose the high tea for lunch: finger sandwiches, pastries and, of course, tea. (Last time I had the honey-baked ham brie sandwich; I highly recommend it.) The tea pot comes in a little cozy to keep it warm, which was adorable. I would recommend trying this place, but it’s a bit pricey (OK, maybe when you’re funemployed anything is pricey). I suggest making it a Mother’s Day outing, having a bridal shower here, or going with a galpal.

Lions, Tigers and Bears — Oh My! (Minus the tigers and bears)

Rawr!

Alex Tiegan and I ventured to West Palm Beach’s Lion Country Safari in September while we were both “funemployed.” In west Palm Beach County, there are plenty of billboards boasting the fierce animals you can see face to face here — and it sounds exciting. As Alex and I entered the safari and drove along the gated dirt paths, it felt a bit like Jurassic Park. However, this trip wasn’t nearly as fatal, lengthy or adventurous.

For starters, it’s expensive. Alex had a coupon and we still forked over about $22 each for the privilege of seeing tranqued animals lazily munching grass. Secondly, it looks like a tourist trap — complete with mini golf, arcade and stuffed animals for sale. OK, maybe I’m just complaining. We did get to see staff feed fruit to the monkeys, and I got to see animals pretty up-close. But the lions — which numbered few and were set off from the world with wire fencing — were just… tired. I don’t know what I expected or what would have been better. Would we have been delighted to see a lion running full force at my car? Probably not. However, I know someone who went on an actual safari in Kenya, and he got to see lions, baboons and giraffes up close — no fencing required. So perhaps my expectations were a bit high — but after all, this isn’t Africa.


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