Thursday, December 31, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
So do I hate Christmas? No
I find that mostly I am not upset with Christmas or dislike it as a holiday; on the contrary I actually love the movies and the music. What disturbs me is the person who is always bragging about how many gifts they have to buy. This is the same person who feels the need to rattle off each item they have bought and who the gift is for. Please repeat this next line out loud and make sure you listen with your ears. "I don't care!" I know that may be difficult for some but believe me if you say it enough it will come to you. Now some will say that they buy the gifts so they can express their love for another person in their life. Well that may be true but I would prefer you just tell me you love me rather than say it with a twenty dollar gift card to Best Buy.
So where does this lead me? Most people upon reading this would say that I am anti-Christmas. I guess to a certain extent I am. I just see things differently. I see Christmas as a time to reflect on years past and relive memories with the ones you love the most. A time to reconcile past differences and come together even if for one day and stand shoulder to shoulder in spirit of Christmas. I guarantee you are not going to find that in an electronics store or at a toy store. You will find it in your heart. Listen to it, and maybe you can discover that love and togetherness is gift that is free but it’s the richest gift you can give.
Monday, December 7, 2009
This week we actually got to produce some salads and make some dressings. Somewhat real food....hooray! The first task of the day was to make mayonnaise. Sounds pretty simple right? I mean how hard it could be to make some mayo. Well the first attempt of getting my mayo to emulsify was not too successful. Not sure why, but it just wasn't, and I had to start over. Humbling for sure but I wasn't the only one luckily. This brought to mind a quote that my Dad used to say to me,
"You don't know what you don't know until you try."This is very important, I think, to my success in this class and going forward. I shouldn't assume that I know what I don't know until I try. Just because it sounds easy like mayonnaise I should first humble myself then proceed to follow each step as if I have never seen or heard of them at all. I guess when you finally understand what you don't know you can start learning correctly.
I hope that didn't bore you too much. Although I must say I am learning more about myself right now than I am cooking. No offense Chef Ropp, you are a true Iron Chef, and I am sure you will teach me a ton about the Culinary Arts. But right now it’s more about me discovering and learning about me.
So until next time....
"May foods make you full, but may love fill you up."
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I have to jump start my booty and get in gear.
So there you go my full proof plan.... yeah I know go ahead make your own over/under bets. I would put 20 on two weeks.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Yeah, it took a week but I have a firm grip on where I stand in the culinary pecking order. And that would be at the very bottom. After two weeks in my Cooking 1 class my head is dizzy with what I need to remember and learn. For instance, today we went to a class instructed by Chef John Kinsella, pretty much the patriarch of our culinary school, to check out some of the ovens and other cooking equipment covered in the chapter we were studying. It was an advanced cooking class and you could tell because they were cranking out food I could only dream of making one day. At first it scared me because the whole confidence complex I have with myself. But then I realized these guys and gals all started just like I did. This is a process built on a very solid foundation. This school is not the place if you want to be the next food network guru with your own catch phrases. They don't teach catch phrases here, nor will they teach you how to wear the Mr. T starter kit or how to wear your sunglasses backwards. No this place is for folks who understand that you have to respect the classic way of doing things because that is the backbone to all things culinary.
So until next time remember……”eat or be eaten”
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
So I arrived to the class 45 minutes early and to my surprise I was the third one there already. Looks like I wasn't the only one excited and extremely nervous. Speaking of nervous, I do something very annoying when I am nervous, talk a lot. For those who have known me for a long time you already know this about me. Although, Chef Ropp, the instructor didn't, and my first couple questions before class made me look like an idiot. Not sure what I was thinking but for a while I had a nice healthy case of vomiting of the mouth. Once I realized it I stopped immediately and sat as quiet as I could. Once everyone arrived, I noticed, for once, that I was not the oldest student in class...thank goodness.
By this time class has began and yes I am trying not to let my nerves show to everyone. The Chef Ropp began to go over some basic rules for the class. I could tell by the way he conducted the class that he was someone who was not going to tolerate an ounce of BS from anyone. In addition to that he seemed very organized again thank goodness. Believe it or not its hard sometimes to have an instructor who is organized. They drive me crazy.
I do not want to bore you with all the details of this six-hour class, which has no significance to you. For me, it was just another step on a journey to where...... I am not sure yet.. All I know is that it was a huge step to walk into that class and say to myself ......Yes, I commit to this and I have to succeed and ride this wave and not be afraid to get knockdown once and a while.
Good news though I did leave with all my digits intact!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Okay, I know it has been a while but I must say school is kicking my butt. Although I did finish the late fall term with a 3.5 gpa so as for now I am meeting the challenge head on with success. For those who do not know I am currently attending The Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State. It is an incredible program and I cannot wait to get my hands dirty and dive in headfirst. However, I love food, and the food loves my gut, so it is a love hate relationship.
This term has taught me more about myself than I could have imagined. Throughout my life, I have struggled with confidence. Sure, I might put on a good face but always inside I have been riddled with doubt and low self-esteem. It seemed every time I started something worthwhile I would just quit or figure out a way to talk myself out of going forward. Trust me, I am not proud of it, but it has been the hurdle that has tripped me up and left me with some nasty scares. This last term of school was a battle for me on all kinds of levels and started to hear the whispers of self doubt and it was hard at times to not just fall back on that and pack it in half way through. However, I know this is it and I will not be given a second chance and I should take full advantage of the situation I am currently presented with at this point of my life.
For me this last year has taught me more than I could imagine and I have many people to thank. First, I would say my wife, Nicole, who was instrumental in getting me back to school, and without her support, I would be lost. Next would be all my friends, even the ones who don't really talk to me anymore, with you guys and gals I wouldn't have the support I needed to keep going.
Next term I will be taking Cooking 1 and it will be the first time I will be getting my hands dirty and cooking. I plan to use this blog to chronicle that voyage. Along the way, I plan to throw in some restruant reviews as a part of my continuing partnership with Cincinnati Taste Casting.
Eat well and let the food do the talking
Thursday, October 1, 2009
As for this week’s TasteCasting event I have to say it was the best dining experience since I started TasteCasting. This week we visited Vito’s Café in Ft. Thomas, KY. Even before I walked through the front doors I was greeted by a very quaint outdoor dining area landscaped with pink flowers. As I walked through the front doors Vito, and his lovely wife Mary greeted me with open arms and smiling faces. It was as if I was walking into their house and we had been friends for years. We shook and then they directed me to the cozy bar area where Vito began to describe his new micro brewed beer. How about that for service, walk in, and within minutes I am drinking a beer and being told the story behind the beer.
Started by Vito’s son Matt on August 9th 2009, The Red Ear Brewing Company is Ft. Thomas first and only microbrewery. I was able to sample the Cattail Ale, which is a classic full-bodied American Ale with attitude. With its whole leaf Cascade hops it brings just the right amount of bitterness to this Autumn Ale. If you are like me, and enjoy a fresh locally brewed beer I would check Vito’s Café on Wednesday night for Pub night. You can receive a free sample of the Cattail Ale as well as complimentary appetizers.
Once everyone showed up we were led to our table which was laid out very eloquently. Although Mary did tell us they refer to it as Brothel Sheik, I think it was very beautiful and inviting. Once I sat down and noticed there was a menu with all of the night’s courses and as I read it I knew this was not going to be just a normal dining experience. Before we ate Vito came out to let us know that the items we would be sampling are not even on the menu yet and we would be their guinea pigs. For me that would be just fine.
The first item or the Primo Assaggio or first taste was a Roasted Beet with Ricotta Salata. This was served in a spoon, was very refreshing, and really awakened my taste buds. This is always nice when you are having a multi-course meal
With a Beet red tongue, I sat patiently for the next course, which according to my menu was Beef Tartar with Sriracha Aioli and Fried Caper Berries. Shortly as the server filled my glass with wine I was presented with my dish. I love Tartar and especially beef tartar. There is just something about the freshness of the meat that gets me every time. With a fresh egg presented on top of the meat it was a classic dish but with and updated flare. I hope this makes it to the menu because I would love to have it again.
With some more wine and a smiling face I scanned my menu for the next course. This was Shrimp Bisque with a Petite Shrimp Salad and Micro Parsley. Soup, just what I have been craving ever since the temperatures dropped just this past week. As the Bisque arrived, it was served in a small Espresso cup. As I began to dig in Vito came by the table to describe how the Chef prepared this creamy and velvet soup. When the soup is made the Chef cooks it with shrimp shells and all to retain the natural flavors and bring out the slight salty flavors in the shrimp. Then the Chef sifts the mixture through cheesecloth and the result is a well-executed bisque.
One of my favorite parts of Vito’s Café is the singing servers and live piano. That’s right, you heard me correctly Vito’s Café offer live entertainment by having local students sing while you enjoy your dinner. This is a great value and something you just do not see anymore in fine dining. Another huge reason for the singing is Vito himself is a singer and a very good one I might add. He even got up in the evening and sang for us and it was excellent. When you have dinner next have Vito tell you his story of being a singing bartender, it is priceless.
As the singing ended we were presented with our next course, Baby Arugula Salad with a Citrus Gastric and Shaved Parmigianino. Yet again the Chef surprised the palate with a light and a nice break between courses. The arugula was gently drizzled with the orange gastric so not to break down the peppery taste of the Arugula.
The next dish I was a dish I had been eyeballing the entire evening ever since I looked over the menu. It was the Squid Ink Fettuccine with a Lemon Sage Butter. The best part of this dish to me in the presentation. Nothing like eating something that is black. Aside from the wow factor, Vito's Cafe does makes all their pasta in-house and that translate to lovely silky fresh pasta. There is a difference and it is what puts this dish at the top of my list for the evening. I was told by the Chef that this is going to be added to the menu so I will have to get it again for sure.
So by now my expectations have been met and exceeded, but what is that? There is another course? Its a good thing I am a hefty human because this was certainly a feast. The course was "Brasato Al Barolo" Braised Beef with Porcini Mushrooms with a Parsnip Puree. This dish was very hearty and cooked to perfection. There is a tendency when braising meat to over cook it slightly which makes it tough. But not at Vito's Cafe, because their attention to detail is unmistakable. I also like that they used a hearty wine like Barolo to braise it with, good choice.
So by now I was enjoying more wine and the server asked us if we would like coffee. I said sure and at that moment I realized it was time for dessert. I truly believe all meals should start with dessert but oh I can dream right. As the table got cleared and the coffee made it the table the desserts came out. I got the Raspberry Budino. Oh my goodness it was just the smoothest dessert I have had in a long time. There was also a Carmel and Chocolate offerings which we shared which each other. It was truly a perfect end to a wonderful adventure in food we all got to take that evening.
My bucket list is still very long and I hope one day I live long enough to the see the bottom of it. Meanwhile I try to experience as much as I can to knock items off one by one. One I feel like I could scratch off is vacation in Italy. Because tonight I feel like Vito and his staff took me there and exposed me what true Italian cuisine is supposed to be.
Thanks Vito and Mary I will be back soon.
*Note – The TasteCasting Team Members are not professional food critics. TasteCasting combines socially networked people and the social media platforms and applications they use to help establishments build awareness, announce grand openings, introduce new menu items, distribute special offers and encourage people to visit the establishment.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
So this weeks TasteCasting was at Donatos, to try the new Hand Tossed Pizza they are offering now. What is that you say?
I know its pizza.... But let me tell you story of why Donatos is not just "a pizza joint."
Donatos was founded in 1963 by college sophomore Jim Grote. The first Donatos was established in Columbus, Ohio. When Jim Grote founded Donatos, he did it with only $1,300 dollars in his pocket and a simple philosophy: “To make the best pizza and to treat others the way I would like to be treated.” Today this philosophy is still the driving force behind everything they do at Donatos—both in their restaurants and the communities they serve. As a result, their four cultural cornerstones of Live, Love, Laugh and Learn is the thread that weaves through the very fabric of what Donatos stands for.
Today, Donatos has nearly 200 restaurants in 5 states and is growing fast. And that original pizza shop on Thurman Avenue in Columbus, purchased back in 1963 is still one of Donatos busiest, most successful locations.
So as I arrived to the Beckett Road Donatos in West Chester I was greeted by one the nicest folks I have ever met in a quick serve restaurant industry. His name is Tom Santor,from Donatos Marketing deparmnet, and he was just a pleasure to have there walking us through the ins and outs of Donatos and their new hand tossed pizza. As we got seated I could smell the aroma of pizzas cooking in the kitchen, this was enough to get my stomach growling instantly. So for those who know me this makes me very anxious and chragry (cranky and angry) if my stomach doesn't see food quickly. So has I sat there with a watering mouth and noisy stomach Tom got up and began to give us a quick history of Donatos and described what went into the development of their new hand tossed pizza. You could tell that Tom really loves his job because he just lit up when he began to tell us about Donatos. This was refreshing because sometimes its easy to focus on the bottom line and not see value in being passionate about the food. Tom was passionate and it showed in everything he did. As Tom finished the pizzas started to arrive and I was a happy Ken.
While tasting the pizza I made it a point to try the traditional 100 pepperoni Donatos pizza I have loved for years. I wanted to compare it to the hand tossed pizza and see if their were any similarities and define the differences. One of the first things I noticed was how both were very fresh, something I have always come to expect from Donatos. Although that is were the similarities ended. The hand tossed pizza was was piled high with fresh toppings not normally seen in this segment of the pizza industry. With whole milk mozzarella cheese and a new sweet and savory sauce that is very tasty. When these ingredients come together it is truly a welcomed surprise. Tom also added that Donatos spent three years developing this crust for the hand tossed pizza. And you can tell because as you bite it you get a nice airy and slight crunchiness that is just great. But to really understand Donatos pizza you have to not only taste it but you have to make it yourself right?
Yeap, that's right, I got to go back to the kitchen and make my very own hand tossed pizza. Something I wanted to do ever since I walked through the door and smelled the delicious aroma from the kitchen. Besides I am culinary student, what better way to have some fun but to get my hands dirty. I mean I was getting to go to Donatos Fantasy Camp! So as we made our way back to the kitchen we got introduced to most of the staff including Chris but his name badge said Pete. He said Pete was a nickname, if I were to give him a nickname I would say he was the pizza king. Because this guy did a great job of walking us through the important steps of making the new and delicious hand tossed pizza. First we had to dawn our aprons and let me say I looked damn good in mine. I was also joined by my Tastecasting friend Jesy, she almost looked as good as me in her apron. So we went step by step in assembling our works of art. Well mine was more like abstract art. As we got done we shoved them in the oven and waited to see the finish products. I must say mine didn't come out as bad as I thought. Overall being the kitchen gave me a real feel for the attention to detail and passion shared by everyone at Donatos to make a great pizza. Also Jesy and I got a pizza master badge, I plan on sewing mine onto my culinary school backpack.
It should be noted that not only does Donatos have pizza but the make great salads, subs, and dessert pizzas. One in particular was the Apple Timpano. Its tender crust pizza filled with whole apple slices and topped with a brown sugar streusel and caramel sauce. Make sure try this you will not be disappointed. The nice part about Donatos they show the same attention to their other items as the they to to their pizza. So you can't go wrong!
Donatos is also on Facebook, become a fan of ther page and you can win your own pizza party along with other great prizes and giveaways. They also will always keep you up to date with the latest promotions and coupons being offered at Donatos. Also you can easily place your order online directly from their website.
Donatos promise is:
To serve the best pizza and make your day a little better.
Mission accomplished.... Give Donatos a call today and try the best new pizza on the block!
*Note – The TasteCasting Team Members are not professional food critics. TasteCasting combines socially networked people and the social media platforms and applications they use to help establishments build awareness, announce grand openings, introduce new menu items, distribute special offers and encourage people to visit the establishment.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Tonight I got to be a part of my first TasteCasting at Echo located in Hyde Park. Nestled within the Hyde Park Square it is more than your run of the mill restaurant, its a local landmark. Opened in 1945 by Louise Schwartz, this place was set up to cater to a predominate blue collar crowd. By offering home cooked meals it has built a great local reputation for great affordable food.
As I sat down I was immediately greeted by Angie, our server for the evening, with two great starters. One was the Party Caesar Salad and the other one was Bite size Crab Cakes. Both of these items are available on their Catering menu. If you are interested in letting Echo Cater your event. They will work with you in creating the perfect menu for your event. Just give Stephanie a call at The Echo (513-321-2816) to discuss all of the possibilities!
As I finished my appetizers I was able to just look around and take in the the charm and the history of the Echo. In this day of mid-size cookie cutter restaurants its nice to know the Echo is still around. The place you can go and meet the locals and have a cup of coffee and just know you belong no matter what. In a restaurant that is a good feeling to have and enjoy.
Well lets talk about the food. So we got a tasting menu and so upon looking at it we couldn't decide what to get so we just ordered one of everything. This is a dream for me. Because if I was able to do this at every place I ate I would. One of the items on the menu I just had to taste first was their Gazpacho. It was exactly what I expected cold, crisp and refreshing. It was nice to see the attention to detail given to the vegetables and how they were cut and served. This item is on their seasonal menu.
As soon as I finished about half of my soup the rest of the items we ordered starting showing up and quickly filling the tables. It was amazing seeing breakfast food along side turkey dinners and a Funky Chicken. Yeah, a Funky Chicken it was just of many items on the menu that were uniquely named. Which personally I love because I think it adds a bit more flavor to your experience. Besides with a name like that how can you go wrong right. Along with the Funky chicken we also had a Flying Pig that was pretty much a Monte Cristo sandwich, but it was super good. Anytime you can put powered sugar on a sandwich all I can say is, " you had me at hello... you had me at hello." A few other items of note would have to be some of the breakfast items. One it in particular was the Belgium waffle. It was light airy and so absolutely delicious. Now I know why the Echo is so crowded on the weekends for breakfast. Although Breakfast isn't all they serve weekly. The Echo has a great selection of dinners that can make any tummy happy.
Although as you know all good things must come to an end. As Angie cleared the table and my stomach was digesting the awesome food I just had I had to ask myself just one question. Do I have room for pie? Of course I have room for pie. So a few minutes later Angie came walking in with some of the sexiest plates of pie I have seen in a long time. They were Chocolate Moose, Cherry, and my favorite Pumpkin. After a few bites I could instantly recognize that these were homemade with a special love only found in a place like the Echo. From the moist flaky crust to the homemade whipped cream on top of each slice of pie we had, it was a great ending to a wonderful evening.
If you are looking for a home cooked meal at affordable prices with a bunch of love cooked in, please stop by the Echo. You will not be let down.
Check Echo out on the web:
Monday, September 14, 2009
Welcome to the new look of kendurbin.net. Yes I have gone green, well my blog has at least. As a new student at the Midwest Culinary Institute I have decided to take make this blog a more food centric place. I plan on blogging about the ups and downs of a culinary student. Also as a newly accepted member of the Cincinnati Tastecasters, I plan on blogging about all the tri-state menus I am going to sampling in the coming weeks.
Join me, lets learn this food thing together and let the food do the talking!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
So instead of giving you a boring play by play description of the weekend I have decided to share and reflect a little. Go beyond the details and let you inside my head. I know scary but stick with me.
To tell this story properly we have to start on mile 21. This is were I was faced with the biggest hill of the day. Actually it was the biggest hill I have seen on a bike. Immediately feelings of failure came over me. For some reason I became very scared that I wasn't going to make it up. Then as I started up I could see people getting off their bike and walking up the hill. As I kept climbing I was so tempted to just quit and and walk it up. As I shifted down to the granniest of all granny gears I refused to stop even if that meant I could pass out. When you reach that level of pain and suffering you learn a lot about yourself. I learned that I have more fight in me than I thought. Although that is not because of any hard training schedule or anything like that. No it was the countless stories I have heard of or read in the last year after committing to this ride. Stories of people who go through worst pain everyday just because of this disease we call Cancer. I also thought of the namesake of our team Mrs Marlene. Although I have never met her in person I feel like I know her enough to say she was a fighter. So as I drew near to the crest of the hill and got out of the saddle to push over I felt calm. Weird but as my legs went numb and then I knew I had made it over. She gave me the fight I needed to win that hill.
So as the ride progressed I made some friends and chatted a little. And as the finish line approached something very unexpected happen to me. I became very emotional. Yeah I cried, there I said it. Reason? Well ever since I lost my Dad 12 years ago to a heart attach I promised myself I would do something in his honor. Unfortunately I am very lazy so I never got around to it. Even though he didn't pass from Cancer I quietly dedicated this ride to him. So as I crossed the finish line it took everything I had to hold back my emotion. So Dad that was for you, thank you for being my Dad, my Father, and my friend.
So in closing one more thing I want to say so its official, yes it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Mentally and physically. So if you think you are up for the challenge let me know and we can add you to the team for 2010.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It is good to here from you. I have received several of your e-mails and wondered how you are doing. I rode in a bike ride back in 2006 out in Lake Tahoe Nevada. It was for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation. It was a wonderful experience and the lake and mountains were beautiful. How do I make a donation? Can I send it to you through the mail? Could you give me your address? We have a very special friend from churhc who is battling lung cancer and it is stage 4. Four months ago they gave him eight months to live. He will have his last chemo treatment next week. He is 66 years old and someone I look up to so much. His faith is amazing. He has not given up yet. I wish Ken luck and hope he has a wonderful experience.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Below is the post from yesterday on Fatcyclist.
Don’t Say She Lost:
Susan died tonight (August 5) at 7:25pm. It was a hard, long day, and Susan fought right to the end, for much longer than anyone would have thought she could.
My mom, my sisters Kellene and Jodi, and my Brother-in-Law Rocky were all here to support my family as Susan passed away.
I’ll have more to say soon, but consider this. Susan inspired me to expand the focus of my blog from nothing but bike-related jokes to a serious and pitched fight against cancer.
Then she inspired 500+ of you to join Team Fatty, the largest LiveStrong Challenge Team there has ever been.
And Team Fatty has raised close to more than $500,000 — a record amount.
Susan’s part in the battle is over, but she didn’t lose. She led the charge. She showed the rest of us how to fight: with determination, focus, creativity, and outrageous endurance.
Now it’s up to the rest of us to Fight Like Susan
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Well I am sure by now you have heard me talk about my upcoming Livestrong Challenge bike ride in Philadelphia this month. I am very excited about riding but I have to be honest there is one part I am dreading. Asking for donations to support my ride. Each rider needs to raise $250.oo dollars to ride. So I have waited to ask anyone because times are very tight. I know how much it stinks to add another item to your check book that you didn't budget for the month. Now realize any money donated doesn't go to buy Lance Armstrong new houses or Ferrari's. It goes to fight cancer, a disease that claims the lives of eleven thousand people a day. I am sure if you sit and think about it I am sure you have known or know someone affected by cancer. Now I don't want to guilt you into anything here, it is not my purpose. What I will ask is if you know or known someone who has been effected by cancer that you give what you can in their name.
Click here to donate.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I am not sure if you are aware but I had a close friend lose his Mother last Wednesday and we attended her funeral yesterday. It was a very sudden end to a an incredible life. Now ever since my Dad passed 12 years ago I don't handle funerals very well at all. I can't help but think of the day I sat and looked at my Dad for the last time. That was the hardest moment of my life. Because as the years pass that image just gets a little more faded.
As I sat in the church and listened to the eulogy, and holding my tears back, one phrase he said hit me hard. He said, " Death is certain." Now it just made me realize I can't run from that aspect of my life. It will find me when its time. Now as I get older and watch my friends parents pass on it makes it more real to me. In my stupid selfish way I wonder what type of imprint will I leave? How would I be remembered if I didn't wake up tomorrow? I guess as I get older those questions haunt me. Those questions won't be answered by me but by the people with whom I met and influenced.
Now I lay here with some Iron & Wine playing in the background and damn thankful that I have such great friends. I still can't believe they have put up with me for so long and still return my calls. Kind of sad that tragedy has to make you realize that but I guess that is what it takes sometimes. Life is busy and moves way to quick but today I was brought to a dead stop. Made me come to terms with the current status of my life and how that relates to others. It is my hope that through all this it can bring us all closer. My hope we will stop trying to win the rat race of life, and just believe that maybe our purpose is to each other and not ourselves.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Its called Wal-Mart bingo. Just click the game card below and head out with someone to your local Wal-Mart. The premise is the same as your traditional Bingo. Read the boxes on the game card and when you see one of the listed boxes on your game card scratch it out. First one to cover all wins!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch Has Cancer - News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News
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Thursday, July 16, 2009
I think to really analysis these questions there are a few things you need to understand about me. First of all ever since I can remember I have been a husky guy. I love that word husky. Reminds me of school shopping as a kid and having to buy the husky size in my Catholic school required dress clothes. Next item of note would be I have never really participated in sports that require you to be a super fit to just to participate. Baseball and Football you can have a gut and still be a champ.
Now I am a huge support or of Livestrong and a fan of Lance Armstrong but why do I need to ride a bike? I can enjoy Lance and other cycling superstars without owning a bike and subject myself to embarrassing escapades on local country roads. I am sure I am a prime example to passer bys on why they would never take up cycling. My hope is they see me and think, "if that husky guy can do it, I can too." Then continue on the road considering themselves lucky that wasn't them almost in cardiac arrest and doing it willingly.
One possible answer to the above question is that I believe that just by having a bike and riding it occasionally that I will get fit. You know the whole " if I sleep with my history book then I will ace the test tomorrow" kind of mentality. Now we both know this doesn't work. To be successful in cycling it requires a lot of individual dedication and it is super hard work. Also it requires, and this is were I fail horribly, that I have to eat much much better. Unless you ride everyday and burn mass calories you can't enjoy Dairy Queen daily. Or shove pizza down your pie hole. Pie hole reminds me of Chris Farley. Another guy, like me, who really wasn't born with the ideal cycling frame.
In closing, let me say that by no way am giving up cycling. I love this hobby, even if it is not the best choice for my chubbiness. And you never know, someday I might just shed a few pounds and make it out of Huskyville.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I can't believe it has been fifteen years since I watched that speech on ESPN. It moved me then, and it still does today. I have never forgot the quote at the end:
"Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever".
The Jimmy V Foundation
Sunday, July 5, 2009
First of all Versus, the network carrying the TDF, is playing up the return of Lance so much it seems its all they want to talk about. Now I not saying they should dismiss the return of the seven time winner of the TDF. It just would be nice to not hear his name every 3 minutes.
Another reason is that I like my sport teams and figures to be low key. In a way that they go out and perform but they never really gain too much fame or celebrity. I find that I tend to like the shut your mouth and do your job athletes. Now Lance has no control on how is he covered so this is no fault of his but to the networks covering his return to cycling.
The final reason is that they are putting so much press on the fact that he could win another TDF. This is highly unlikely. Even Lance has said he is riding in support of Albeto Contador. There are a lot of great professionals in this Tour and it would be nice if they would highlight them instead of Lance. For some of these guys this is the biggest stage they have all year in their sport.
In closing I know it is only two stages in and maybe I am mouthing off too early, I tend to do that a lot. Although they are saying Lance Armstrong so much its almost time to make a drinking game out of it.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
At 9 years old, at a time before the Internet and Facebook, Michael came onto the scene and was everywhere, and doing things no one else was doing, including the Moonwalk. The Moonwalk was the coolest thing to me and my friends. I can remember always having the loafers on so I could Moonwalk up and down the hallways of my house. Sounds silly now, but it was the 80's and that is what you did.
Here is a Pepsi commercial Michael Jackson did back in the day:
Sunday, June 14, 2009
So moving right along we left Garmisch and headed back to Shane and Buffy's house in Lampertheim. On our way home we did get passed by a Lamborghini and yes it left us standing even though we were doing around 125mph or so. Gotta love the Autobahn. When we arrived in Lamperthteim I could feel the weekend catching up with me and Nicole felt likewise. We were happy to relax and get some much needed sleep. The next day we slept in and it felt great. Buffy suggested we go to a local mall and peruse a little. I went because I was promised some excellent pizza and excellent pizza I got. Yeah I know, at the mall, weird huh. It was from a place were you pick the slice you wanted and then they would put it in an open fire oven then serve it piping hot. I got the seafood slice which had octupus on it....super good! Funny side note is that the German mall seemed to get its cues from the American blueprint of malldom. The big difference is a lot of folks had their dogs with them, yeah you can take your dog just about anywhere in public including the mall. As we left, Buffy was wondering what we wanted for dinner. So I offered to cook something up for them, it was the least I could do for them openning their place to us for the week. Buffy talked about making a capresie salad so I decided to make some homemade Alfredo sauce over some German pasta or Spätzle with chicken. And of course some locally bought crusty bread. I must say Buffy and I worked well together in the kitchen and kicked out some tasty eats. We retired for the evening watching some TV then bed we would need the sleep because tomorrow was going to be a full day in Frankfurt.
Now before I get into the day of Frankfurt I must explain to you why today was pretty special to me. In 1963 my Dad enlisted in the Army and was assigned to Frankfurt, Germany in the 3rd Armoured Division. I can remember my Dad telling me about all the fun he had while he was stationed there for four years. I always thought it would be fun to return there for him. Well today was that day. So Buffy dropped us off at about in Frankfurt at about 9:15am. Yeah it was fairly early so we grabbed some pastries and they were super tasty. We walked around the main area called Römerberg, which is shown in the picture above. It is the central square of the old town in Frankfurt. Also in the picture is Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) which we thumbed through our book we bought to guide us around town. It had over twenty different points of interest for the town and we kind of used them to lead our adventure for the day.
One of the first things we did on our walking tour was head down to the Rhine River. They had some great bridges and walking paths along the river. After crossing the Rhine we toured a church,Dreikonigskriche and it was great because we were the only ones in there touring. To be honest during our trip to Germany I spent a lot of time touring churches. Proud to announce never got struck by lighting once. We proceeded down to the large pedestrian path along the river and walked down and enjoyed the beautiful Frankfurt skyline. The next building we were going to see was the Messeturm which is one of the tallest buildings in all Europe. Although before we could get there we decided to make a pit stop at the train station. Which we were greeted by this sign while heading to the bathroom or water closet.
Yeap that is right you have to pay to go to the bathroom. This is pretty common at all public bathrooms or bathrooms just off the Autobahn. This one at the train station was .70 euro. Pretty steep but if you have to go you tend to pay without considering the cost. As we were walking down to the bathroom we were approached by a young kid from America and he said, "You mean you have to pay to go to the bathroom?" We replied , "Yes" Were he replied, " No way I would rather hold it." Good luck to him.
It was a long walk but we did make it to the Messeturm building. It was super nice and quit tall. It is so big in fact that it is so big it has its own zip code. Unfortunately it wasn't open for tourist or anything so we just walked around the building and noticed one of the coolest sculptors we have seen yet.
As we walked into the heart of Frankfurt we headed to the next point of interest which was the Old Opera House or Alte Oper. After walking all day we decided to take a much deserved break and sat down at the fountain. It was also almost lunch time and it was fun to see all the suits waiting for their lunch dates.
Okay that was enough rest so we headed back out and headed into the main market area in Frankfurt which is know as the Zeil. It was very interesting to say the least. First of all it was pretty busy for a weekday and it was littered with some of the most high end retail in Frankfurt. By this time I was being told by Nicole that it was time for lunch. So since we knew we were going to have a big dinner we decided to just go to good old McDonalds. This is always interesting when you are in a different country. First of all it is quit expensive compared to any average sit down restaurant nearby. Also if you want more than one ketchup packet your going to pay for it buster. I know and don't even get me started on the "no ice" issue in Germany. I was told someone lost the recipe years ago.
After lunch we decided to get out of the main retail area and headed to our next point of interest which was the Eschenheimer Turm. This was pretty easy to get to considering it was pretty tall and not far from where we had lunch. I must say it was pretty cool but the traffic surrounding it was kind of crazy so it was had to actually get to it. After that we starting walking and walking and walking. Which then led to complaining which led to a mild argument on where we were exactly going. While at a light a sweet German lady on her bike asked us if she could help us. We told her we wanted to head to the river. Her response was to head "down" Down? Yes down, so she pointed us correctly and eventually we did find our way back and soon everything started to to look familiar. One in particular was one of the main focal points of Frankfurt the Imperial Cathedral Saint Bartholomeus's Cathedral (Dom Sankt Bartholomäus). This church was not much on the outside but was very nice inside. It is another structure that was rebuild after 1944 but there was still some items in the church that dated back to 1400.
After touring the Cathedral we ended back at Romer or the place we began. This was eight hours later and I was a little tuckered out. So we decided to wait for Buffy to pick us up but that wasn't for about 45 minutes or so. So I decided to get some Starbucks and was surprised to be waited on by an American barista. Nicole deiced to get a Mango ice cream cone. I should've went with a cone too, but oh well. It was a long day in Frankfurt and I have to say it was sure fun to visit a place that my Dad once was and always talked about. Overall it was a nice city filled with a lot of history and pleasant people.
Now on to dinner. This dinner was something I have be anticipating since I arrived in Germany. The place is called Waldgeist and it something you would never believe to see in Europe or Germany for that matter. It is the home of super sized food. Here check out the menu. And when I say super sized I mean super sized. For instance I ordered the giant burger and here it is:
Now I am always up for a great eating challenge but this kicked my butt. Nicole and Shane split a 1/2 kilo schnitzel and they could only finish about half also. Overall I highly recommend, if you are in Germany, to check this place out it was great!
Again if you haven't seen the complete catalog of pictures you can visit them here.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The next leg of our trip was one of the more anticipated parts for Nicole and I. It was our trip to and tour of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles. We were so excited because we have seen countless pictures of the Neuschwanstein castle, but believe me once you see it you realize the pictures just don't do it justice. Since both of the castles are pretty much across from each other you can by tickets and tours to both which was nice. We toured the Hohenschwangau Castle first and it was very beautiful and filled with many gifts to King Maximilian II of Bavaria.
Once we were done at Hohenschwangau we headed down the road and began our journey to Neuschwanstein Castle. Nicole and I opted to take a bus up and it was super crowded and well I can't really go into it here but lets just say it was filled with a lot of tourist from other countries east of Europe. The bus dropped us of short of the castle so we could go out on Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge). Unfortunately it was way too crowded for me so I decided to opt out. Shane and Buffy went out and got some great pictures of the castle from bridge.
The tour of the castle was incredible, unfortunately you are prohibited to take pictures inside but it was very over the top. As a matter of fact there is a cave in the castle. That is right a cave, it was completely unexpected and very weird. Come to find out that King Ludwig died before the castle was ever finished. I encourage you to read about what led up to his disappearance and death in a Munich lake. Lets just say the lake was shallow and the King was a great swimmer. Nevertheless the Castles were amazing and the view from the mountain was just crazy awesome.
After a long day of touring and walking it was time to head to our hotel which was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Our drive to Garmisch was incredible to say the least. We got to drive pretty much through the Bavarian Alps. It was breathtaking, and something I had never imagined in a million years I would be seeing. Before we reached our hotel I was able to grab some shots of the Partnach River. Thanks for stopping off Shane.
We did finally reach our hotel, and by now my neck was pretty sore by all my rubbernecking. The hotel was called Hotel Forsthaus and it was super nice and very American friendly since it caters to a lot of vacationing military families stationed in Germany. Our room was very cozy and breakfast was included which is rare at German hotels. Now the late night German TV was another story.
The next morning we headed to one of my favorite places in all of Germany, Zugsptize. Zugspitze is the highest point in all of Germany (2,962 metres (9,718 ft). It also has an incredible view of the Bavarian Alps and the city valleys below. So as we arrived I wasn't worried much about the trip up to the summit until I was waiting for the tram to pick us up and take us up and up and up some more.
I was nervous and excited at the same time and was wondering if my shorts and short sleeve shirt would be warm enough at 9,718 ft. As we headed up I was fine until I did what I swore I wasn't going to do. Look down. Yeah I know, don't look down and you will be fine right. Well I couldn't help it and I am glad i did because it was amazing.
When we reached the top it wasn't as cold and I thought so the shorts were fine. I did notice the air is much thinner and it made my walk up the steps to the lodge a little harder than I thought. Once we got outside and were able to see the mountains it seemed like a painting you would see on a wall but never in real life. We wanted to be able to walk in the snow and hang out on the slopes so we took another short tram down to where people, in the winter months, would normally be skiing. Once down there we were greeted to about four feet of snow in spots. This was crazy to consider but we are up about 10,000 ft. As we walked around you realize how small you are compared to the mountain tops. We did have some fun while we were up there and enjoyed playing in the snow.
After wading through the snow we decided to head back up to the main building. When we got up there it gave us a very beautiful vantage of the small towns below. After buying some souvenirs we headed back down and it was certainly not as scary as going up that is for sure.
This concludes part two of our Germany trip. When you see us next we will wondering the streets of Frankfurt and eating a hamburger big enough to feed a family a ten.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
To really appreciate the first day(s) of the trip I have to let you know that on Thursday, May 21st I was awake at 7am EST. This is important to context later on. It was a hectic day of getting everything ready and making sure we didn't forget anything. Our flight was at 7:45pm so we called a cab and made it to the airport in plenty of time to just chill until we boarded. I was hopeful with having a late flight that I would be able to sleep on the plane. I was dead wrong. So I didn't sleep all night. That's right I stayed up watching in-flight movies. My favorite of the evening was "The Express" not a bad flick to be honest. With the six hour difference we arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at 10am their time or 4am our time. So already I am already close to being up 24 hours.
Frankfurt airport is huge, so it took us a little while to navigate through customs and make our way to the train station. Thanks for the flight attendant who liked my Lance shirt for her great directions to the train station. Nicole went in and got the tickets to Mannheim which only cost 45 euro for both of us. By the way, the dollar sucks so it made things more expensive.
Once we arrived in Mannheim is where I really started to realize this is not Kentucky. It seemed like we were in an episode of the Amazing Race. We didn't have a cell phone but Nicole did have her brother's (Shane) number in case we had to call him. Which we did because we were worried that we may have gone the wrong way because we waited at the train station for a while. We did call Shane, on a pay phone no less thanks T-Mobile, and he told us he had to work late so he would be up shortly. Once he arrived it was certainly a relief and eased our worries a little about being four thousand miles away from home.
Some of my first impressions of Germany at this point was I was startled by the number of people who were riding their bikes. Even in the train station and airport there where people on bikes. Although I noticed that a lot those people where also smoking so I guess it balanced itself out. I was also impressed with the variety of different colors of people's hair. Nothing to scary but certainly interesting. At this point I realized I was going to stand out a little. Started to get the, "Fat Guy In A Little Coat" feeling. Yeah Germans for the most part are pretty fit folks. Although I think my Lance shirt got me the most dirty looks oh well I guess they are not really fond of him. Sorry Jan Ullrich.
Back to the trip. For the record by the time we arrived to Shane and Buffy's apartment in Lampertiem at a about 1pm. So I had officially be up for 24 hours plus and to be honest I wasn't feeling it much. Nicole was able to sleep a little on the plane so she was doing fine also. So before we headed to Munich we stopped by to have Doner for lunch. What is Doner you ask? Click here to learn more. It was a great little bite and really not too bad considering all we had up to that point was crummy airline food.
To tell the story of our Munich trip I must start of by saying Nicole's brother Shane just recently bought a BMW 135i convertible and I was soon to find out that it wasn't a bad little vehicle on the Autobahn. The Autobahn is a great way to get around in Germany for one reason, no speed limit. Now it is not all like that but most of it was and well lets just say Shane was afraid to open her up every once in a while. Once I think I noticed him at about 150+ mph or 241 kph. We did stay around 120mph the whole way down. Although their were people passing us like we were standing still. I was loving it and nervous at the same time.
Once we arrived in Munich I was starting to feel the effects of being up for a day and a half. So when we got to our hotel I did lay down for a quick little 45 minute nap. Although not a minute longer because there was important business to be had that night. What business? How about dinner at the Hofbrauhaus to enjoy some German food and great beer. When we got there it was huge and there was plenty of beer drinking going on. We had to go the third floor just to get a table to eat.
Once we sat down we were greeted by a waiter that thankfully spoke English and guided us through the menu and the variety of beer choices. Lets just say I had two liters of delicious beer. I was in heaven and have to admit never thought I would be having a beer in Munich at the Hofbrauhaus. So once we left there I was feeling pretty good but not drunk. Although I think everyone was taking side bets on whether I was going to fall down the steps on our way out of there. I will let you know I didn't fall. So as we were walking back to the hotel Shane got a call from the couple who was meeting us in Munich, Matt and Kim. They are friends of Shane and Buffy and they called to let us know they where at a bar a block up from the hotel. Once we arrived it was very crowded but a nice little bar. The name of it was Macchiato and they loved American music because they played it all night. As a matter fact the bartender bought us shots of Jagermeister also. Which did not help the fact that I was slowly getting drunk. As we stumbled back to our hotel room we where so wanting some greasy Denny's but no luck. Finally at about 2am I finally got to sleep. You do the math, it was the longest I think I had stayed up since I was a kid.
The second day in Munich we woke up at and immediately headed to Starbucks. I know how predictable but I needed some coffee and well go with what you know I always say. Although the effects of the prior evening where definitely taking its toll on some of the folks. As for Nicole and I we where doing just fine. As we headed out into the sunny streets of Munich I immediately began to take pictures of everything I saw. It was certainly one of the more richer areas of Germany as well as the most touristy areas we visited. Almost all of the old city was pedestrian and bike only. Which made getting around very easy. One of the first things we did was check out the was Frauenkirche. We tried to just walk in and as you can see by Shane's expression below. We didn't have much luck at first.
As we walked towards the front of the church we saw the entrance and a line to buy tickets. Tickets to walk to the top of one of the onion doomed towers. Didn't look that high no sweat, I mean just take the elevator up right? Wrong, yeah no elevator it was a spiral stairwell all the way up. This wouldn't be bad if you where the only one walking up and down. But that is not the case so as you walk up there are people walking down and well lets say at this point I was wishing everyone would had used a little deodorant. We did make it to the top and the view was great.
As we made it through most of the city we came across of the highlights of the day for me. It was Viktualienmarkt. This was the best outdoor market I have ever seen in my life. Some of the most unique and fresh food from local merchants. For a foodie like me I was in heaven and ready to load up a basket and cook all night! They had everything including some of the best looking meats and cheeses I have ever seen.
The next spot we checked out was the Residenz Palace. Which is broken down into two museums. I was actually excited about touring this place considering I saw it on a travel show I watched prior to coming to Germany. It was certainly very beautiful.
A little to pretty for a building that was built in 1385. As we walked through the museum we had handheld audio wands to guide us. And a reoccurring theme as they talked about what was in each room was that it was not original and that most of the building was lost in the the great fire of 1944. The great fire? LOL... Come to find out that almost all the items and rooms were replicas of the original. I just found it funny how they described the war as the great fire. About half way through Shane came up to me and reminded me of a great family guy episode which addressed this:
As the day grew long we decided to start looking for somewhere to have dinner. Matt and Kim wanted to head to a steakhouse. We looked and to avail so we headed towards the Hofbrahaus and noticed a Hard Rock Cafe right next to it. Since the four of them are pretty tired of the German food they jumped at the chance at some American fair.
Once we finished dinner and bought some Hard Rock souvenirs, including a pin for Nicole's mom who collects them, we headed across the street to night two of the Hofbrahaus. This time we lucked out and was able to get an outdoor table. I of course ordered a beer but Nicole opted for some dessert. She got the Apple Strudel and it was super delicious. As the night came to a close on our last night in Munich I must say I was very pleased with the trip so far.
This ends part one of a multiple part series of our Germany trip. Whats next? Stay tuned and find out.