Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Shoes and running,and clarinets and making beer...

Ive been lacking motivation to run. Summer is my favorite time to run- i love the heat, and the chance to wear as little clothes as possible. Winter = dark, icy, and cold. None of which are conditions I like to run in. I trip a lot, I dont want to injure myself on ice, and the cold makes my hands feel as if my hands have been smashed with a hammer. Sitting on my comfy stationary bike has been my workout of choice lately...
It's pathetic for me to not even break 20 running miles a week and i've only done that 2 times in the past 6+ months. But, PT and my long term vision for ending my injury cycles have been #1. Now that i'm overcoming my anxiety of running more miles, I want to have goals. I want 2015 to be the year of the PRs!

Black friday, cyber monday whatever. I bought 2 new pairs of running shoes- Nike Zoom Fly and Mizuno Wave Hitogami. Both are extremely light (because those extra ounces add up, yo!) and feel pretty good- they have different heel to toe drops, but I am always about variety.  Different shoes for different workouts and all that jazz. Gotta keep the muscles engaged and on their toes.
Saturday was on the warmish side, so I took CB for a run. He saw some Canadian geese and had a great time running 5.5 miles with me.
Post run I made beer. Not any of that extract/syrup shit, but legit all grain brewing.  We have a one gallon set up which is perfect for our apartment.The "standard" home brewer would make 5 gallon batches. I cannot fathom making that much beer. I made an extremely hoppy IPA and if all goes well, in 2-3 weeks I'll have a delicious beer to drink.

The various stages of brewing- the "mash" process where the grains are soaked in hot water to get their flavor and sugars into the water. The OMG delicious smelling hop pellets for "the boil." And our fermentation vessel.
After the mash in, I had 2.5 lbs of spent grain left over. I could have tossed it out, but there was a precious pup who insisted I make biscuits.
With the spent grain I added flour, peanut butter and eggs to make the dough. *No hops are in the spent grain. Those are poisonous to dogs.
The pup supervised me and made sure all the ingredients were perfect.
The pup was drooling while "supervising" me. CB and one of 11 dough balls.
I used my new bear cookie cutter to make 74 bear cookies for CB and his BFF Tomoe. My oven was filled with spent grain biscuits!!! And I still have half the dough left in my freezer! I even taste tested a leg of one of the bears- and it was ok. Not overly sweet or flavorful. But CB approved. Spent grain can also be used to make bread.
To back track a little, On Friday evening I restored all my clarinets. I cleaned their wood bodies, I oiled them, I waxed the outside and cleaned their corks. For the first time in almost 4 years they saw the light of day. It was oddly relaxing to do this- something I had not done since I lived in Mexico and played professionally in an orchestra. It has been a struggle for me to enjoy classical music since leaving Mexico since it brings up so many mixed emotions. A story for another day...
I did all of this because I want to play again. It's taken me 4+ years to actually want to play them again  and before I could do that, I needed to perform the necessary maintenance on them. I would hate for them to crack because I didn't oil their wood. Thankfully they were all in great condition. I've played a few times now- only the Bb clarinet and plan to play the bass, my favorite, soon.
My Clarinets: Eb, Bb, A, and my favorite: Bass Clarinet.

Sunday I went for another run outside. It was cold and windy. I had originally planned to run 8-10 miles, but after going into the freezing headwind for 3 miles, I called it at 6. I just cannot handle the cold. I did another 2.5 on the treadmill once I returned.
The waves were crashing on the sea wall which, despite the cold, was so mesmerizing to me.
I am excited to build a good base going into 2015 and start chasing the goals I had to put on hold during 2014.
I just need to figure out what those goals will be...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sao Paulo: the rest of the trip- aka I found CB's cousin & went to my 1st Brasilian BBQ!

After FINDING GODOFREDO and going to the Parque Ibirapuera, and eating delicious things, and seeing friends and family, we woke up to go back to the park to run again.
Just like the previous days, there were loads of vultures.
And we took more selfies in the park.
And then, heading towards us, was a RED BORDER COLLIE! I ran over to it and started petting her. We told her human, that we had a CB at home and I got a photo with this beautiful gal- her name is Nala. She was the polar opposite of CB- really outgoing and friendly.
Then we got breakfast at the park again. Below is sugar cane which they grind up to make "caldo de cana" sugar cane juice.
Reason 1489273546  that I love this park- asides from the fresh coconut water vendors, there are a few open air restaurants in the park.
While waiting for our food and juice, I realized a bird had shit on me. Good luck, right?
Breakfast of champions: Sugarcane juice, coffee and french bread with ooey gooey cheese.
Post breakfast, we walked to the other side of the park to meet our friends who were taking turns doing laps/ letting their dog play in the "dog area."

On our way to meet them, we had another GODOFREDO sighting!!
There he is strutting his stuff in the middle of the photo.
Then we made it to the dog area and saw our friends, and their spunky dog, Logan.
Later that day was time for my 1st Brasilian BBQ!!!

In the USA, at condos or apartment buildings there is sometimes a common space, a rec room you can rent out for parties, in Brasil there are outdoor BBQ spaces to rent at the condos.
The party was a celebration of the conference that my husband and his friends organize each year. They had a lot of booze left over from the con, and decided to use it up at this party.

I am not a huge meat eater. I rarely cook meat at home, and when I go out to eat, I generally prefer vegetarian dishes. BUT, since I was in Brasil at a legit Brasilian BBQ with a chef hired to cook for us, I ate some meat. It tasted far superior to anything I have eaten in the United States- outside of the Brasilian steak houses... All you need is salt to season the meat, not a load of crappy preservative laden spices to kill the true flavor.
It was at this party, that I really solidified my Portuguese. Seeing some more friends, and their baby for the first time was amazing, even more so, was that I could speak to them in Portuguese and understand what they were saying. To be able to connect with these friends was so wonderful.
L playing with baby M melted my heart.
The cool thing I noticed about a Brasilian BBQ is the adults are getting hammered while the kids run around and play. It's the perfect mix. And so much fun! There is no specific formal time to sit down and eat, but instead the chef keeps cooking and you grab delicious food as you want.

'Grammin all of our beers and posting them on Untappd.

We had so much fun seeing everyone. I will never forget my first legit Brasilian BBQ.

And then the party was over.

Post BBQ we went back to our friend's place (the hosts of the BBQ) and I made a new friend. Shhhhhhhhsh, dont tell CB!
When we left to go home in a cab I noticed we had missed the turn for our hotel, and when the cab stopped there were a lot of Christmas lights up on the building. All i could think in my drunken stupor was "this doesn't look like the hotel."
Turns out we were at Joakin's- famous for their smiley fries. At 2am, it was a busy place. I didn't feel too good, so all I ate were a few smiley fries. After playing with some...
The next morning, and my last in Brasil, we went back to the Parque Ibirapuera. I was pretty bummed it would be my last time there for this trip.
We were short on time, and hungover so we only did one lap in the park. I tried out one of my new running skirts from Track and Field and made L take a photo of me running in it.
And we took one last selfie before heading to breakfast.
On the way to breakfast, we saw some more cool graffiti.
And then we landed at St. Etienne- where I got my favorite sandwich- "Natural no. 5" again. I miss the cheese, banana and cinnamon....
Post breakfast we got packed and went to Mae and Pai's house.

We met them, dropped off our bags and went to O Compadre, a buffet with food from the state of Minas Gerias. I had a passion fruit caipirinha. The food was plentiful and diverse- with salad, and meats, and seafood dishes. All were really good.
L's parents walking through the shopping center post lunch. :)
And full of food, we took one last selfie. We spent some time with Mae and Pai before I had to leave.

Then it was time for me to head to the airport GRU, and go home. L went with me and hung out for a while before I went through security and immigration. The airport has changed a lot since my last visit. A new international terminal was added which is beautiful and way more organized than the old terminal.
I was sad to leave L and go home. This trip was even better than the first- being able to speak/understand Portuguese definitely enriched my experience. To see all of our friends and family, to go to Rio, and enjoy all of our favorite foods and places in Sao Paulo was awesome. I am humbled by the generosity of our Brasilian friends who treated me like they have known  me forever. I miss Brasil tremendously and hope to return again soon.
The flight was long and uneventful. I was in business class for the return trip- just like the trip south. I did not sleep much because I felt very nauseous for the duration of the flight- I'll go ahead and say it- You know you've had an awesome vacation when you wake up hungover EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I'm sure all the beverage consumption, coupled with eating more dairy in one week than I have all year did not help either. I also had selected a rear facing seat which I won't do again- I felt like my center of gravity was off the entire time- probably amplified by feeling nauseous. I was bummed to not take full advantage of being in business class. All I had for breakfast was ginger ale. Womp.

I landed in Chicago at 5am and used TSA Pre to go through customs and immigration in 2 minutes. Then I found myself on the hour long EL ride home surrounded by a group of Brasilian students who were way too perky and chatty for such an early hour after such a long flight- But it made me smile because I could pick out their accents (to determine if they were from Rio or SP- they had Sao Paulo accents) and could understand what they were saying.

I got home and went to work. It was weird not seeing CB at home. When I picked him up from boarding after work, he was super happy to see me. We walked back home in the light snow and called it a night a 7pm. We were both exhausted from our adventures.
Almost 3 weeks have gone by since I was in Brasil, and there's not one day that goes by that I don't think about our family and friends, and the food, and the warm Parque Ibirapuera.

Until next time, Brasil.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sao Paulo days 3-4: I found Godofredo! And we ate the best Coxinhas, and saw so many of our amazing friends.

So in the last post we started the remainder of our trip in Sao Paulo- and ate all the delicious things,, drank craft beer and ran in my favorite place, Parque Ibirapuera.

After going to Mocoto and nearly being in a food coma, we went back to Mae and Pai's house and Mae showed me all the wonderful baby photos of L. Even at 2  years old, he had swagger.
When we went to the local Pao de Acucar (grocery store chain) for some water I saw this can of Fanta passion fruit soda. It did not disappoint.
On the way to the park we met a new friend.
On day 3, we started the morning in Parque Ibirapuera. I love the artwork on the walls in the park.
Almost 2 years ago while running in the park, I saw a Galinha D'Angola (helmeted Guinea Fowl) and I named it Godofredo.  The first 2 days in the park I noticed there were more vultures and no Godofredo... Things weren't looking good until I looked across the lake and saw.... GODOFREDO! (He is in front of the tree...) I was so happy to see this super cool bird.
Since I found Godofredo, next up on the list of impossible items to find (that I made up), was a Brasilian CB look alike. We actually saw a red border collie pass by us in Rio, but i was not quick enough to go crazy dog lady on it.

Here I am posing in front of the area Godofredo was in. We couldn't get in there to get closer. {sad face}
We had a lot of fun running laps together in the park. We also unintentionally were "twinsies" this day with our green shirts. Me in my Nike Brasil Athletics shirt, L in his RnR San Jose shirt.
And of course, for the blog- I needed another photo of me running in the park.BTW I love my run Janji shorts...


The lake was also very calm and provided a superb reflection of the Obelisk.
We finished the run by having breakfast at a french bakery names Santa Etienne  we found near our hotel. This is where I found my favorite sandwich ever. Wheat bread, cheese from Minas Gerias (another state in Brasil), grilled banana and cinnamon. It was actually very similar to the dessert I had at Mocoto the day before. I love salty-sweet flavors, and when I saw this on the menu, I HAD to order it. After being in the USA for 2+weeks now, there honestly hasn't been a day where I have't thought of this breakfast sandwich. Unfortunately I have not found any quiejo Minas in the USA otherwise I would make this everyday. 
Post breakfast we went to arguably the best Coxinha restaurant in all of Sao Paulo, Frango. Coxinhas are shredded chicken, with catipury cheese, and deep fried. There is NO bar food better than a coxinha, especially with a cold beer.
We went to Frango on our last trip as well, but had to return to eat the heavenly fried coxinhas.
COXINHAS. These things are little flavor bombs. The shredded chicken is perfectly seasoned, and the catipury cheese is very creamy- kind of like cream cheese, but without the nasty aftertaste.
Next up was fried polenta cubes with Parmesan.
Then we had the passirinho- fried chicken with lime and garlic. Absolutely freaking delicious with cold beer.
For this delicious lunch we had amazing company of one of L's good friends. I cannot say enough how welcoming all of L's friends were to me. It makes everything better, the food, the vacation, to be surrounded by the love of these folks.
After Frango, we went to Bar do Luiz. Which happened to be across the street from where L went to school.
Another day, another Chopp.
Bar do Luiz has outdoor seating, and indoor seating- it has a vibrant atmosphere and relaxed vibe.
We enjoyed many more delicious fried things, cold beer, and got to spend more quality time with some of our friends who we got to spend time with during Lollapalloza this year. Post Lolla Chicago, we found out we had made it onto the Brasilian Lollapalloza website. Total Craziness.
We took the subway back to the hotel from Bar do Luiz. The subway cars are almost 2x the size of the ones in Chicago and much much cleaner. These suckers get packed during rush hour.
Day 4 we went back to the Parque Ibirapuera. I seriously love this place.
We took a photo in front of this cool log bench. Ibirapuera in Tupi Indian language means "rotten wood."
The Monumento as Bandieras was on our way back to the hotel, and I noticed the cross walk signs were made to look like the famous monument.
Post run, we had to go back to St. Etienne for breakfast, you know what I ordered...
Once we got cleaned up post run, we went to Mae and Pai's house and took the subway. 
The subway was so clean, and not full of homeless people like in Chicago.
On the way to Mae and Pai's house, there is some beautiful graffiti under the subway.
Mae made us feijoada for lunch. It's a black bean based meat stew- we had sausage in it. Traditonally it is served with shredded kale or collard greens, rice, and farofa (bread crumb type stuff) Absolutely delicious!
Another selfie with my Brasilian family.
Post hearty lunch, we went to a local mall to walk off all the delicious food. Our first stop was an Ovalmatine milkshake from Bob's. The lady got our order wrong and gave us 2 instead of one to share, and I enjoyed every sip of this dessert, but then felt so ridiculously overstuffed.
We went to the Track and Field store and this is where I had my first experience solely speaking in Portuguese. Previously, L would translate for me, I would rely on him, he was my crutch. This was different. He went to look at the men's section and the sales associate came to ask me questions. I had to speak. I had to use my words. And I did successfully. She would show me different items and I was able to effectively communicate if I liked the pieces or not. I ended up buying 2 skirts, (my future marathon skirt!), a sports bra, a really cool pair of tights and a tank top. I wasn't planning on buying touristy shit in Brasil, and had planned on buying a few solid pieces at this high end athletic wear company.

For dinner we went to the Delirium Cafe, Sao Paulo.
It had a completely different vibe than the cafe in Rio- which was cozy.  This one had 2 separate large rooms, and was open air.
We had PASTEL! Filled with cheese and some filled with meat.
I tried some straight up cacacha between the Brasilian craft beers. The proper way is to sip good cacacha, not shoot it.
One of the interesting things about Brasil is the use of cards to track your spending at the restaurants. Even at the small bakery we went to, we had individual cards. This makes things so much easier when going out in large groups because everyone's individual tab is on their own card! 
We met another set of fabulous friends who just celebrated their 10th anniversary.
Good times were spent and we finished off a celebratory bottle of Deus- a champagne like beer.
Another wonderful end to a perfect day.