Monday, April 30, 2012

Chicago Day 1 - Rain, Baseball, and Tapas

Each year, our ortho residency class will attend an academic conference.  This year, we were scheduled to attend the Orthopaedic Trauma Association's Comprehensive Resident Fracture Course in Lombard, IL (18 miles outside Chicago).  During intern year, we rarely have the opportunity to work with each other since we're divided among many different surgical rotations.  We were all quite excited about spending 5 days together in fun-filled Chicago, and most importantly outside of the hospital that has become our home.

We arrived in the city on Wednesday and had tickets for a Cubs vs Cardinals game at Wrigley Field.  In typical Chicago fashion, the weather that greeted us was less than stellar.  Personally, I believe there's no better weather for a baseball game than 45 degrees, windy, and raining.

We arrived at the game at 1:30pm, which was actually 2:30pm Charlotte-time.  Mission number one was to find food.  I had high expectations for stadium food.  Have you ever been to an Atlanta Braves game?  Food options are endless and vegetarian options are plentiful.  Sadly, Chicago did not even begin to compare.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, popcorn, peanuts, ice cream, and beer were plentiful.  Vegetables were non-existent.  I finally spotted a menu that included a "vegetable wrap" and quickly stepped up to order.  The picture below is what I received for $9.  Yes, you see that correctly, a white bread wrap filled with lettuce and white american cheese.  I smothered it in mustard and tried to enjoy it, but eventually resorted to munching on the trail mix in my purse.

Ortho Interns 2012!  

Wrigley field was much smaller than I imagined, but attendance was reported to be 40,000.

After 3 hours in the rain and cold, the Cubs lose to the Cardinals.

We took the subway to the Magnificent Mile and set out to explore.  We came across this incredibly large statue of Marilyn Monroe and stopped to take pictures.

Time to get this party started!  On the recommendation of a concierge, we headed up to the 40th story of a nearby hotel to enjoy drinks at Roof.  Great views, good friends, and a very tasty mojito.

Phil, Nikkole, Gavin, and Matt
Dinner was at Mercadito, a modern Mexican restaurant recommended to us by Matt's sister who lives in Chicago.  It was a great pick!  We shared lots of small plates, including chips and guacamole, flautas, vegetable tacos, mahi mahi tacos, shrimp tacos, chicken tacos, and plantains.

After a fun first day in the city, we hailed a taxi and headed back to our hotel (The Westin) in the burbs.  Time for some sleep before three days of intense lecture + lab sessions start.

April Foodie Penpal

Last month I came across several posts detailing Foodie Pen Pals started by The Lean Green Bean.  Check out her website for details of the exciting program.  After browsing multiple blogs and their gift boxes filled with a variety of unique food items, I knew I wanted to participate.  At the beginning of the month I received the name of the person who I would be mailing to, while at the same time, somebody different received my name.  I had fun picking out some of my favorite Earth Fare goodies to ship to my pen pal.  Meanwhile, I anxiously awaiting my box of goodies.  Imagine my excitement when I arrived home from a long day at work to find a package at my front door from Whitney.  It seriously felt like Christmas morning opening the food-filled box.

Check out all of the great items!

  • Quaker Cherry Pistachio Oatmeal
  • Blueberry Flax Granola
  • Planters Dry Roasted Pistachios
  • Lavish Dark Chocolate Oatmeal (can't wait to try this!)
  • Freeze Dried Strawberries
  • Pomegranate Greene Tea
  • Coffee - Cinnamon Vanilla Nut and Hazelnut
  • Justin's Chocolate Peanut Butter and Honey Almond Butter
  • Ghirardelli 86% Cacao Bar (my favorite!)
After just one month, I can tell I'll certainly continue to participate in the foodie pen pal program.  Like many people, I tend to get in a routine of purchasing the same groceries each time I go to the store.  Hopefully the box I send each month will introduce someone to some of my favorites foods, and in turn, I'll learn about new items as well. Great idea Lindsay!  

In other news, I'm back from the orthopaedic fracture conference in Chicago.  A picture-filled post detailing the learning, food, and fun is coming soon.

Oh, and t-minus 13 days until I will be sailing away into the Caribbean sun.  Not that I'm counting or anything . . . 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Me from A to Z

Before I delve into some random facts about me, I have a special announcement.  


It's a bummer that I can't spend the day with you, but I hope you had a great celebration!

And now, some fun facts from A to Z.

A is for age: 27

B is for breakfast today: Kashi Go-Lean Crunch and fresh fruit (melon, strawberries, grapes)

C is for currently craving: Dinner at Canoe in Atlanta (Dad’s birthday dinner is there tonight and I came really close to making the drive down and back just for that amazing meal.)

D is for dinner tonight: Earth Fare salad bar – Chinese noodles, roasted brussel sprouts, kale and black eyed pea salad, and spicy tofu nuggets.

E is for favorite type of exercise: It all depends on my mood and the weather outside.  Nothing beats a long run on a sunny spring day or early fall as the temperatures are just beginning to cool.  On a rainy day, an hour or two of riding on the bike trainer in the pain cave gets the work done.  And although I dread 5am swims, I’m always ready to tackle the world when it’s only 6:30am and a solid workout is done.

F is for an irrational fear: Spending my twenties in what seems to be a never-ending path to becoming an orthopaedic surgeon. 

 G is for gross food: Olives, definitely.

H is for hometown: Palm Bay and Melbourne, Florida as a kid.  Now, though, Atlanta definitely feels most like home.

I is for something important: Time with family, good food, time for myself, and a positive attitude.

J is for current favorite jam: Raspberry – smeared on a piece of Great Harvest Dakota bread with almond butter.

K is for kids: Currently, that’s a negative.  I need to find a man first.

L is for current location: Charlotte

M is for the most recent way you spent money: Grocery shopping at Earth Fare yesterday.

N is for something you need: Sleep and a day off work.

O is for occupation: Orthopaedic surgery resident.

P is for pet peeve: Slackers, bad attitudes, sloppiness.

Q is for a quote: Excellence can be obtained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, expect more than others think is possible. (Vince Lombardi)

R is for random fact about you: Prior to getting serious about triathlons, I played flute and piccolo in the wind ensemble and orchestra in college.

S is for favorite healthy snack: Greek yogurt, and apple, or veggies and hummus.

T is for favorite treat: Ice cream, vegan brownies from Earth Fare, dark chocolate.

U is for Undergraduate Degree:  Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology from Agnes Scott College.

V is for favorite vegetable: Carrots and spinach.

W is for today’s workout: 3000 meters in the pool.

X is for X-rays you’ve had: Quite a few – foot, knee, hip, wrist.  I suppose it comes with the territory of being an athlete.

Y is for yesterday’s highlight: Worked all night, came home and slept, went for a miserable 5 mile run, picked up some groceries (refrigerator has been bare for days), and worked another night.  Nothing too exciting.

Z is for your time zone: Eastern Standard

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

24 Days

The countdown clock is officially ticking.  Exactly 24 days from now I'll be boarding a plane back to Atlanta in preparation for a week-long Western Caribbean cruise.  This month has been nothing short of exhausting, and I'm more than ready to spend a week relaxing, soaking up the sun, and spending time with family.  The next 24 days are going to be rough.  

Not much exciting is happening in my life right now - pretty much either working, swimming/biking/running, or sleeping.  Meals have been scattered and unexciting since I've been switching back and forth between days and night at work.  It's interesting how my appetite is completely zapped on this crazy schedule.  The pictures I've captured are minimal, but I do have a few "meals" to share.

Panko dusted organic chicken bites, steamed asparagus and bean sprouts, and white sweet potato wedges.

Peanut Butter and Banana topped Whole Wheat Pancakes.
I think pancakes pop up on the blog at least once a week.  I think I'm obsessed!

My favorite thing about working nights is enjoying an hour of sunlight on the deck  in the late afternoon before going back to work.  I LOVE my new lounge chairs!

Have you ever heard of Ugli fruit?  I spotted these at Earth Fare last week and decided to give them a try. 
They are a Jamaican fruit that is a cross between tangerine and grapefruit.
They were super juicy and sweet, and will definitely find themselves in my grocery cart again.
A common breakfast/lunch while working nights.  It seems odd to eat breakfast foods when I wake up at 3-4pm, so I typically fix a combination of breakfast-y items paired with veggies.

Toasted Dakota bread, hummus, summer snap peas, spinach, and shaved carrots.
Time for another night in the STICU.  Ugh, I'm tired.  Must . . . find . . . coffee!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Taste of the Nation 2012

Wednesday night I had the incredible fortune to attend Charlotte's Taste of the Nation.  I've mentioned the event in the past, but briefly, it's a culinary event featuring nearly 30 of the Queen City's best restaurants.  Food and beverages are endless, a live band provides the entertainment, and a live auction raises thousands of dollars.  In addition to the money raised by the live and silent auctions, 100% of the ticket sales go directly to Share Our Strength and funds their mission to end childhood hunger in America.
The event was held at the Wells Fargo Center Atrium.  I had just enough time after work to run home, change, pick up my "plus one" (one of my fellow ortho residents) for the evening, and head Uptown to the big event.  

As soon as you entered the atrium, you were inundated with smells of the prepared dishes.  Before digging in to the food though, we started with a drink.  The bartender suggested I model the pink sunglasses that matched my dress as well as the pink-colored liquor in the drink I had selected (a vodka-infused pink lemonade).

I also tried one of these, which was pretty good.  While there seemed to be enough liquor to make drunks out of the whole city of Charlotte, I sipped on water for the rest of the night.  I knew 5am would come all too early the next morning and while I did plan to be in a food coma, a hangover was not in my plans.

You'll see lots of photos with meat and seafood.  While it's rare that venture outside my vegetarian diet, I had decided to fully enjoy the event and try every item that peaked my interest.
Rocky River Grill's Roasted Pork with Caramelized Onion Jam

A Giant Wheel of Parmesan Reggiano

One of my favorite dishes of the night.  The lobster chunks were huge!

The shrimp were perfectly cooked and wrapped in a salty country ham.

Shredded Beef Taco and Watermelon-Feta Salad

I was more than a little excited when I discovered a display of sushi.  I could have planted myself there and eaten all night long.  Yum!
Enso Asian Bistro
Wagyu Beef Tacos and an Assortment of Sushi

Sushi chefs hard at work.

Hot Sauce provided entertainment while we gorged ourselves on food.  Notice they are dressed as chefs.

I didn't try the pork panini in the foreground of the photo, but  the dessert in the back was excellent.
Lemon Souffle Cake with Raspberry Coulis

Whole Food's Zucchini and Squash Salad with Mozzarella and Balsamic Reduction

As the evening continued, the crowds grew larger.  Surprisingly, there were never any lines for food.

Johnson and Wales University provided hand-crafed pastries and chocolates.

Another Johnson and Wales creation
Pork Belly and Crab Spring Roll
(I passed on the pork belly, but enjoyed the spring roll)

This was another of my favorites.
The freshness of the sashimi paired with the  tangy fruits was an excellent combination.

Chilled GA Peanut and NC Ramp Gazpacho with She-Crab Salad
Halcyon Flavors from the Earth

Fern is a locally inspired vegetarian restaurant that has recently opened in Charlotte .  I've really wanted to dine there, but haven't had the opportunity quite yet.  After this unique dish, I'm even more excited to dine there.  Unfortunately, I was enjoying their creation so much, that it went unphotographed.

Amelie's French Bakery brought a variety of sugary treats that were all equally delicious.
I might have even snuck a salted caramel brownie into my purse to enjoy later!

An impressive chocolate sculpture.
What an incredible evening!  While the pictures may seem to display plate after plate of food, more than half of the restaurant's creations went unphotographed.  As those of you who know me well would attest too, this girl loves to eat!  Snapping pictures, while fun, does hamper the speed at which I can get food to my mouth.

If Taste of the Nation comes to a city near you, I would highly encourage you to attend.  Where else do you have the opportunity to enjoy high quality beverages and plate after plate of fine dining dishes, all while supporting a notable cause?  I'll certainly be back next year!