Cold Weather is here: What I’m wearing.

This year has not exactly been a typical Maine winter, especially after our record 70 degree Christmas Day. Today we received a small taste of winter with morning temps of 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) with a wind chill of 12 degrees.  Finally a chance to wear some winter gear without fear of over-heating.  I don’t always get this right, but today I had the perfect combination of gear that prevented me from being too cold, too hot or chafed at the end of this 15 mile jaunt through our neighborhood (lots of loops today in Evergreen Cemetery to protect from the wind).  To quote Goldilocks it was “Just Right!”

From the inside out, here was my gear for the day:

  1. ICEBREAKER Antomica Briefs: These have been a revelation for running.  Previously I had been using synthetic compression shorts from Nike and Under Armor.  They were good, but chafing was still an issue for longer runs. The Icebreaker briefs are 100% merino wool (not itchy at all); they have kept me dry down there and I have had zero chafing in those unmentionable parts!  FYI: they run small, so be sure to order 1 or 2 sizes up.

Anatomica Briefs

2. Mizuno Breath Thermo Layered Tights: I bought these last year at Fleet Feet in Portland.  They are synthetic (nowadays I’d probably get wool tights), but they have a great feel.  I have worn these in temps as low as 10 below zero (F) and my legs have never felt cold.  An added bonus is the the compression feel of these tights that seem to give my legs an added boost in those hellbacious later miles.  They require more washing than wool due to odor, but I’m sure to baby them by washing in cold water only and never put them in the dryer.  These have held up well.

Mizuno Running Men Training Apparel Bottoms Pants

3. PEP Shevlin + Running Shirt: I reviewed this shirt and company back in October.  All I can say is “AWESOME!” This is the perfect wool base layer.  Its water wicking is amazing and the shirt’s durability has been off the charts.  Also, ZERO nipple chafing!  Not sure if the ladies out there have this issue, but it can be excruciating, especially that first trip under the shower after the run.  I almost could have went with this as my only layer under my jacket, but I was feeling a bit wimpy for the first sub 20 degree run of the month.

4. Darn Tough Socks: Like the PEP shirt, Darn Tough Socks can’t be beat.  My Adidas Ultra Boosts are wonderful running shoes, but the mesh top provided virtually no warmth.  Not a problem with Darn Toughs even if I manage to trek through a puddle one mile into a double digit run.  For winter runs I prefer the crew socks with light cushion in order to avoid chilly ankles.

Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion / Charcoal/Lime / M Small

5. IBEX Stretch Merino Glove Liners: I have used these for every run in November and December in temperatures ranging from today’s 20 degrees F (windchill of 12) up to 50 degrees.  They have been terrific.  My hands have been dry and warm without another glove on top.  Today I did use the “hobo” glove top from the PEP shirt and they both held up well after the initial chilly fingers during the first mile.

Lightweight insulating stretch Merino glove liner

6. IBEX Indie Skimmer Hat: For outer layers, IBEX seems to be the winner for providing the most warmth.  This hat is like a nuclear power plant on my head.  In fact, I revert to my SMARTWOOL hat for temps above freezing because the IBEX wool is so warm.  For today’s run this was ideal though.  Never had to shed it and despite being soaked with sweat my head was warm from start to finish.

Unisex's - Indie Skimmer Hat

7. SAUCONY Run Strong Sportop: I wore another layer above my base PEP layer mainly because I wanted coverage around my neck.  Like IBEX’s wool, SAUCONY’s synthetic fabric seems to be the best.  It has a soft feel and a comfortable fit.  Last winter, this was my usual base layer, but chafing was the issue as was the case with all other synthetics I wore.  This shirt performs well by itself on warmer days (45-55) and I like the quarter zip for venting if I get overheated.

RUN STRONG SPORTOP, Tangelo, dynamic

8. ASICS Lined Winter Running Jacket: I’ll have to check on the model, but the Asics jacket I have was a wonderful purchase.  I bought it last year on clearance at Sports Authority.  The jacket features side pockets and a very handy breast pocket where I store my phone with headphones coming out.  The warmth of this pocket is great because I have been finding that my Iphone 6 will shut down at the slightest sense of low temperature (very frustrating when using Runkeeper to track the run).  It is lined with a waffled liner that dries out quickly after the run.  Additionally the extra long cut and sleeves with attached “hobo” gloves help to provide a very protective outer shell.  My jacket has weathered snow, sleet, hail, and low temps like a champ!  If I was a Mail Carrier, I’d wear this jacket.

9. Adidas Ultra Boost Shoes: I wear these no matter what the weather, but I thought I’d include them here.  Will do a more thorough review at some time, but my third pair of Ultra Boosts this year continue to impress.

A fun part of running is the gear.  One thing about winter running is that there is a lot more gear that is required, but it is fun to search out the best in that quest for the perfect run.

See you on the road!





Breakfast At Bayou Kitchen


We finally made it to the Bayou!  We managed to hit the road early enough to beat the morning rush.  After a chilly 6 miles around the West End, the blast of warm air as we entered The Bayou Kitchen was a welcome feeling.

image image

We’ve actually eating here since they opened several years ago.  One thing I love here is that you can order from either the breakfast or lunch menu no matter what time of day it is.  Be sure to check the daily
Specials on the wall before ordering.  You may find a gem that is worth trying.  I had the fortune of having Tonga Toast from the Specials list a few years ago.  It was thick pieces of hearty Italian bread with a crunchy coating.  I loved it so much that it has become a frequently requested item for our at home breakfasts during weekends or trips to Rangeley.  The Dark Chocolate & Toasted Coconut Pancakes were very tempting this day.


The regular menu has many delicious options for both breakfast and lunch (Bayou serves breakfast and lunch only) and every one I have had has been fantastic.  From prior visits I recommend trying the Veggie Homie Plate (home fries smothered with veggies and cheese), the Breakfast Sandwich (traditional style, but for a real treat, order is with the Andouille sausage), or El Rancho Verde omelet (a medley of Cajun and southwest flavor).  If you are in the mood, Bayou Kitchen’s French Toast and pancakes are large and perfectly cooked.  Another item to note is the Home Fries, quartered red potatoes with some light Cajun seasoning.  You can see it all being prepared if you sit at the bar in front of the griddle.


As great as breakfast and many lunch options (Gumbo or Jambalaya or great choices -if available, get them with crawfish!-), I have one standby order that I order almost exclusively when visiting The Bayou Kitchen:

  1. Chicken Piquant (sometimes I add crawfish): Cajun hot and sour soup with chicken simmered in olive oil and vinegar with onions, peppers, garlic, tomato and spices.  Served over rice.  TALK ABOUT A WONDERFUL MEDLEY OF FLAVOR!
  2. Jalepeno Cheddar cornbread.  Biscuits and other cornbread varieties are available, but I love crumbling a few pieces into the Chicken Piquant.  FLAVORFUL WITH GREAT TEXTURE (crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside)!  It is a special treat with some butter.
  3. Grits.  A nice treat for our Yankee city.  I add a dab of butter and maple syrup, but everyone has their own secret preference for their grits.
  4. A can of Moxie.  I don’t know why, but it is a perfect compliment to this meal.  I actually do not drink Moxie any other time.



My special order at The Bayou Kitchen


This Portland Yankee loves him some grits with breakfast!



Katie usually goes for more traditional breakfast fare at BK.  The breakfast sandwich with a side of homies.

Katie went for the breakfast sandwich and a side of homefries.  I love the home fries done on the griddle.  On the table I mix ketchup and some hot sauce which is a perfect compliment to the light spices on the potatoes.

The service and atmosphere at the Bayou Kitchen is a treat if your looking for local flavor with some Cajun taste.  The staff is very friendly, the food arrives hot and fast, and the coffee is quickly replenished.  Also, they are reasonably priced (our bill came to $22.00).

I used to think BK was a hidden gem in Woodfords Corner, but the word has been spreading.  They expanded a couple of years ago, but still continue to have a full house for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.  The wait sometimes will be up to 15-20 minutes, but they will call or text if you choose to wait nearby.  No matter what, it is worth the wait if you want a hearty breakfast with some Cajun flavor.

See you on the road!

Race Review – Portland Brewer’s Holiday Dash

Just a week ago today, we were running a fun race along the Eastern Promenade Trail.  I had harassed a bunch of my coworkers (and Mike) into joining me in running the 6th annual Portland Brewers’ Holiday Dash 5K.  We had a blast.  See?
All the runners (and walkers) were in such a great festive mood.  The costumes were great, especially this guy dressed up as Ebenezer Scrooge.


Photo Courtesy of Maine Running Photos

He was really fast, too.

It was the first time I dressed up for a race.


Photo Courtesy of Maine Running Photos

My striped tights were pretty tame compared to the ugly Christmas sweaters and Christmas tutus I saw other people wearing.  I’m going to have to step it up a notch next year.

Rira’s was the home base for the race.  The day ended up being unseasonably warm, but it was still nice to be able to go inside (and use their bathrooms) while waiting for the race to start.  It was especially nice to be able to enjoy our free beers inside Rira’s after the race.  (Not exactly free – included with the $35 race registration fee – but still delicious.)

The start line was about a quarter mile away from Rira’s right where the trail first crosses the Narrow Gauge Railroad tracks.  We ran about a mile and a half out to just past the graffiti wall near the sewage treatment plant and turned around and came back.  It’s a pretty course with views of the ocean the entire time.  I even think the graffiti wall is cool.  Here’s a picture from a year or so ago.
05 Graffiti Wall on my Run
The artwork keeps changing.  And thank goodness there’s no snow yet.

Three of us set a PR which was really exciting.


Photo Courtesy of Maine Running Photos

Actually, at least five of us set a PR, since it was a first time race for a couple people.  By the time we all finished the race, Rira’s was packed, but we managed to push our way up to the bar and get our beer.  The line for the brunch (also included in the entry fee) was all the way up the stairs, so we enjoyed our beers while waiting for the line to get a little shorter.

In the meantime, we started to see people walking by with their plates full of brunch food.  It didn’t look terrible but didn’t look worth the wait either, so we decided to move on to a less crowded place.  We hit up The Porthole and ended up having their backroom (used to be The Comedy Connection) all to ourselves.  I opted to drink my breakfast and had a delicious Bloody Mary, and we all had a great time chatting and joking reveling in our race accomplishments.

Overall, here are my thoughts on the race:

Best Parts

  • Great ocean view
  • Good location, easy walk into town
  • Festive mood
  • Having a warm restaurant as home base.  It was really crowded both before and after the race, but it seemed to actually run pretty smoothly.  The race directors and Rira’s had obviously worked out the process for allocating the free beers, checking id’s, etc.
  • Great photos by Maine Running Photos
  • Being able to see my friends on the out and back course


  • The race web-site says that the race has “Automatic timing” which I took to mean chip timing.  It was timed by a timing company but was not chip timed.  It doesn’t matter a whole lot in a small-ish race (400 people in this one, so not that small), but I had told my friends who were doing their first 5K that it didn’t matter where they started because it would be chip-timed.
  • The race t-shirt was light blue.  I was hoping for something more Christmas-y (like red), since this was a holiday-themed race.
  • No age group prizes.


Race Day!


It’s been a long week without running.  We’re getting ready for today’s race. I have no idea what to expect, but I’m hoping to run pain free.  Curious to see if all this test results in a faster time or will I get winded.  Tough decision about what to wear.  Temp will be around 45 degrees with no wind or rain.  Perfect conditions for shorts and long sleeves, but no sure if I go with wool or synthetic top.  Probably going with my red Saucony synthetic 1/4 zip since it looks festive.  We’ll see how it goes.

See you on the road! (Finally) 🌲

The Rest of the Weekend – Miyake

Now that this weekend is almost half over, I’m finally getting around to finishing up blogging about last weekend.  As if a lovely First Friday Art Walk wasn’t enough, we had fun plans on Saturday, too.  One of Mike’s students gave him tickets to a matinee Nutcracker performance at Merrill.

For us, no outing into town is complete without some kind of food, so we decided to hit up Pai Men Miyake for lunch before the show.  I’d been there a few times and wanted Mike to try to pork buns which I love.  They’re a twist on the classic DimSum with the fluffy white bun but served more burger/sandwich style rather than the meat being all tucked away inside.  The serving-style isn’t the best part of the twist though.  That’s the tender, juicy, warm pork belly along side the cool mayonnaise and spicy relish.  I thought it would be totally up Mike’s alley, but it turns out he’s a traditional pork bun kind of guy.  No worries though, he managed to clean his plate, and we got plenty of other treats.
Edamame is always such a great snack, so we started with that, and it was perfectly salted.  I had thought the Brussels Sprouts there were the best I’d ever had, and they were very good but not the ones I remembered.  Now, I’m thinking those were from When Pigs Fly in Kittery.  I’m going to have to go back now to figure this out!

Of course, we also had to try the cocktails.  Mike had warm sake which was perfect for a chilly day.  I had the Smoke & Roses cocktail which is kind of like a rose flavored margarita.  You’d think that drinking rose flavor would be weird, but it’s actually very delicious.  I had to have two.  It’s my favorite cocktail I’ve had in Portland so far.
We were pretty full of appetizers but wanted to try one more thing so we ordered the Kimchi Pork Ramen.  Mike managed with the chopsticks quite well . . .
but I was pitiful and had to ask for some American utensils.  My favorite part of the ramen was the egg with the crunchy little onion strings on top of it, but that all quickly got lost in the bowl thanks to my poor initial attempts at using the chopsticks.  I didn’t love the pork itself.  Mike thought it tasted like the meat from a New England boiled dinner.  He meant that as a compliment.  I agreed that that’s what it tasted like, but to me, that’s not a compliment.  Not my favorite dinner!

Don’t let that scare you away though.  The starters and the cocktails are excellent and the atmosphere is nice.
You can sit at the long, two-part counter, or at one of the high tables for two across from it which is what we did.  I felt like we were in our own pleasant little world.  There are also quite a few larger tables in the front of the restaurant.  One of my previous visits there was for a co-worker’s going away party, and we fit 12 or so of us quite comfortably and had a great time.

After all that eating out, we decided we’d better do some of our own cooking on Sunday.  After our Figgy’s discovery on Friday night, Mike texted me from Addie’s basketball practice to tell me he’d had a revelation.  I was expecting a career change, a move, something life-changing (and maybe it was), but the revelation was that we should have fried chicken sandwiches for “football food”.  I was totally on board thinking we’d do takeout from Figgy’s.  Apparently that wasn’t what he had in mind.  He wanted to try making our own.  Not quite as easy and not as guaranteed to be good, but I was game.

I found a biscuit recipe on-line and sent Mike a grocery list while he picked up the chicken at Pat’s.  I made the biscuits and left the rest up to him.
I had one with strawberry jam while I was waiting for the rest of the meal to come together. Not bad!

We used store-bought coleslaw and skipped the mashed potatoes and gravy, but they still came out pretty darn good.
No breakfast run this weekend.  We’re getting ready for a Festivus Party at our house later in the week, and we have a race tomorrow – which actually does include brunch.  I guess we’re technically having a breakfast run after all.

Happy weekend.  Thanks for reading.

Getting Antsy

Ugh!  This is not a pretty picture:


I’ve been on the sidelines this week trying to heal what I suspect is an IT band injury (Iliotibial Band Syndrome – ITBS).  It’s weird because it only starts hurting while running.  It first cropped up about a month ago starting around mile 9 of longer runs, but it has been starting progressively earlier.  On my my most recent run, I felt the sharp pain on my outer right knee at the end of mile one.  I’ve tried icing and some exercises, but Katie convinced me to take a week off.  That’s a hard thing to do!

My biggest fear about taking extended time off is that I will not return to regular running (this has happened before).  We are racing a 5k this upcoming weekend, so I’m hopeful that will spur me back into action.  The really scary thing is that I have a read a lot of ITBS horror stories of people being sidelined for weeks or months before fully healing.  I’m hoping 7 days off does the trick or else I’m gonna have to rethink my menu choices!

See you on the road (hopefully soon)!

First Friday Art Walk, Figgy’s, and Otto’s

As great as it was to spend some time in Rangeley recently, it sure is nice to have a weekend at home, especially one with relatively few commitments now that Oireachtas is over.  We made sure to pack this one full of eating, running, and relaxing.

I ditched work a little early on Friday to get a much needed haircut.

I think she cut off at least 8 inches, so it’s a big change for me.  Still getting used it it and trying not to think I look like a boy.

I still managed to beat everyone else home, so I had a few minutes to check out my just-arrived order from Amazon, more about that another day.

I was just starting to relax when Mike reminded me about First Friday Art Walk.  Most of the time, we forget that it’s First Friday and end up missing it.  I was feeling a bit lazy this past Friday, so I could have been convinced to skip it, but I’m so glad we went. It was the perfect time to go with town all decked out for the holidays.

We dropped our two still-at-home teenagers off at their respective places of employment and went on our merry way with our youngest, Addie, who is a veteran art walker.

We parked on the west end of Congress Street and started to make our way down toward the action.  We just happened to spot Figgy’s a few blocks from our car.
I’d heard a bit about it, so we walked over just to check it out – for another time.  We weren’t going to get anything, since we were planning to get a slice from Otto’s once we got down that way.
But the menu looked so good, we thought we’d just get a little biscuit to tide us over.
We ordered “The Ay Ay Ron” (no idea why it’s called that).
It turns out it wasn’t such a little biscuit.   Here’s some perspective with our favorite little photo bomber.
It wasn’t little, but it was amazing.  The fried chicken was just perfect.  It had been flattened which I really like, so there’s an equal amount of “fry” with the chicken.  The breading (panko, I think – but very classic) was perfectly golden and crispy.  And the rest of the sandwich . . . wow!  The biscuit was one of the best I’ve had.  You could just taste the butter.  It was one of those messy, drop biscuits that has those bumps of delicious imperfection.  The coleslaw was a great cool contrast to the warm fried chicken, and the mashed potatoes and gravy were just over the top.  We managed a few, very messy bites before we realized this was not “walking” food.

The picnic tables looked kind of inviting, but not on a cold December night.  We decided to walk the two blocks back to the car and stow the biscuit for later.  It wouldn’t be the same cold, but I wanted to savor it with a knife and fork at my kitchen table.
On to the art walk . . . My favorite stop was the She-Bear Gallery which had a bunch of Holly Meade wood block prints.  There was a great little Christmas banner in the window which I loved and had also happened to notice on my run that morning.  Unfortunately that was not for sale.  (I asked.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.)  We also really liked the Holly Meade “New Years Eggs” print which would be a great gift for my dad or sister who together raise egg-laying chickens.  (Sorry, Dad and Maggie, not in my price range.)

Addie’s favorite stop was Coast City Comics.  They had everything you could imagine from a full-sized Storm Trooper outfit to a tiny Adventure Time Key Chain (which Addie scored) to a Tyrion Lannister figurine to old arcade games and pinball machines in the back.

We finally made it to Otto’s which was a relief because after a few free glasses of wine at the various galleries, I really needed to use their bathroom.  We usually just get a slice and move on, but this time, we found a seat on the Enzo’s side and got to relax
and goof off in the warmth for a bit.
It was margarita and mashed potato, bacon, and scallion along with a couple glasses of wine for Mike and me, and cheese with a lemonade for Addie.
We saw this cool truck on our way out.
We continued down Congress to check out the Christmas Tree in Monument Square.


Addie took a turn with the camera.


The tree was beautiful, but I also love all the other lights they put up around town.
Addie liked the Santa hats on the Time and Temperature building.
My favorites were the ones on meca
and by The Eastland.
More weekend eating coming soon . . .

Want to run with me today?

I’m doing a 16-miler, but you can join me anywhere along the route.

Sixteen miles is about where it gets intimidating for me.  It’s where I draw the line and carry my pack with water.  I have a love-hate relationship with the damn thing.   I need it, and it enables me to carry other things, too; my phone, some Gus, my debit card (in case of emergency bakery stop), my gloves that I always end up stripping after a mile or two.  BUT, the sound of the water sloshing DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!  Does anyone else have this problem?  Is it me?  Is it my pack?  Should I just always use headphones on my long runs, so I won’t hear it?

Unlike many people, I love an out-and-back.  Well, I don’t love the out, but I do love the back.  I tell myself that I’m just going to do 8 then come home.  For some reason, that’s seems different from telling myself that I’m going to do 16.  I’m always in a much better mood after the turnaround.

So back to our run together, we had a great conversation on the way out about Christmas; shopping, traditions, etc., random running stuff, and the like.  Now we’re finally almost on the way back.

I’ve run past Fort Williams Park and Portland Headlight hundreds of times.  I don’t know why it never occurred to me to actually run into Fort Williams Park, but that’s what we’ll do today, and of course it’s gorgeous.

This is the first view we see as we come into the park.  Promising . . .

We crest a nasty hill and are treated to this view.  Not bad.Untitled

Let’s not think about running back up this steep hill we’re enjoying running down.


Finally, we’re at the lighthouse.  Let’s stop our watches and walk around for a bit.
Not sure the iPhone does justice to the most photographed lighthouse in the US, but we’ll do our best.

Better keep going.  Oh wait, here’s another good view.


Wow, there’s some other interesting photo ops and more tourists and locals walking their dogs than I would expect this early.  Let’s wait until we’re on the way back though for any more pictures.  It’s crazy to be stopping every 30 seconds.  Let’s try to get to mile 8 in the park.

Whew, finally hit mile 8.  Let’s do just a tiny bit extra, just in case, then turn around.  Here’s one of the creepy military thingies.  I’m sure it was busy and not creepy in its time.

Here’s another great view of the lighthouse on the way back.  You can see another lighthouse on the right.  In my sailing days, I probably knew what it was called.  Bird-poop Light, I think.


Time go go back up that nasty hill.  No worries, more great views at the top.
Nice excuse to stop to catch our breath for another picture.

Okay, time to get serious and quit stopping every few minutes.  We have at least a couple of miles until the next photo op.  Well wait, there are some pretty nice Christmas decorations.  Oh, and my favorite fancy house along the route.  No, stop (well don’t), let’s have some discipline.

A couple miles later, we arrive in Williard Square.  As usual Scratch is busy.
Do we want to stop there for a treat to bring home?  Or go off the route a bit for Portland Patisserie?  Or hit up our regular stop at Tandem?

Nah, let’s keep going.  Mike’s taking some time off to nurse his hurt knee, so I’m sure he’ll have the mimosas waiting for us at home.

We’re at about mile 11 now, should we have that other Gu?  Let’s wait and see if there’s a gazillion ducks at mile 12 then decide.  The ducks were there on the way out but only 4 stragglers on the way back.  Not worth taking the phone out.  We’ve stopped enough already.  Let’s totally forget about the Gu and admire the view back into Portland.

Alright, fine, we can do without the Gu. Only a little over 3 miles left, and we’re climbing back up to the bridge. Let’s stop and take another picture of Portland.

One more little climb, and we’re on the bridge.

Once we’re halfway across, we can look at the Time and Temperature building to see how hard core we are for running in the cold and estimate when we’ll get home. Wow, it’s already 45 degrees. We were hard core for starting at 27 degrees though. Due home around 10.

Woo hoo. Finally back in Portland.

Ugh. Coming back up State is harder than usual. Should have had that Gu.

Aaah. Finally at the top. My dang phone is too sweaty to take a picture, so we spend at least a minute fidgeting with that. Don’t know about you, but I’m not minding the break at this point.

Finally get the phone working and take a picture of Longfellow himself all decked out for Christmas.  Last chance for Tandem.

Now we just have 2 miles left and great downhill stretch down State St.

Aaah, Home Sweet Home.

Come on in for a mimosa. (My favorite recipe is Contadino Sparking Pinot Grigio from Trader Joe’s with a splash of grapefruit juice.)

Thanks for joining me! You in for next week?  It will be a much shorter run at Portland Brewer’s Holiday Dash 5K, and you can join me for real. There are still openings.  There will be brunch and lots of beer.  You can’t go wrong!

An Improvised Breakfast Run – Dutch’s

We hadn’t really discussed doing a breakfast run this weekend.  I was too full from Thanksgiving to really even think about going out.  Saturday morning, it was pouring rain, and I was lazy, so I skipped my run altogether.  It stopped raining fairly early, so Mike ended up rallying and heading out.  I could have, too, but my mind was made up.  I felt guilty, as I always do, but not too bad, since I did run every mile that I had planned to run in Rangeley in spite of the grueling hills.

We didn’t plan to run together on Sunday.  It’s usually a long run day for both of us (but it never seems to be the same distance), and I feel like it’s best to focus on that and not make it a more casual breakfast run.  Just the same, we were missing our breakfast runs, so we came up with a plan to just meet up for coffee at Black Cat.  Sounded great Saturday night before we went to bed.

Then, apparently, we woke up hungry because we started thinking about a more substantial breakfast from Bayou Kitchen.  We’ve been there what seems like hundreds of times in our ten years in this neighborhood but still haven’t written a review.  In addition to waking up hungry, I woke up unmotivated.  I had planned to run 18, and I knew Mike was going to run 13, so I figured it would just simplify everything if I also did 13.  So the new plan was set for BK.

We set out on one of my favorite routes which goes over the bridge into SoPo, along the Eastern Trail for a while, past Scratch Baking Company (another great breakfast option), and to Portland Headlight.  6.5 miles gets us to the gate of Fort Williams.  (It takes you past a Hannaford at about 3.5 miles in case you need a bathroom break.)  Mike was setting a nice pace, a little faster than I would have liked, but I was looking forward to pouring over the stats when we got home.   He always seems to want to sprint up the hills.  What is UP with that?!

At about mile 10, his knee really started to bother him, and I could feel him slowing down.  I didn’t slow down much though because, usually when I do, he speeds up again which drives me nuts.  Finally, after about a mile of that, I decided we needed a new plan and suggested we stop for breakfast in town (we were just coming back across the bridge) rather than try to go all the way to Bayou, so he could rest the knee for a bit.  Ohno Cafe seemed like it would be the closest and the most likely to be open – it was still pretty early – so we headed that way.  Unfortunately, they were closed for vacation.  We’ve been wanting to try Caiola’s, so we (well I) swung by there next.  At this point, Mike was really slowing down, so I ran up ahead to check the hours, no luck.  Next we headed to Longfellow Square figuring something there must be open.  LFK, nope.  Local 188, nope.  Then the lightbulb moment, Hot Suppa, of course!  I knew they opened early.  They were open, and it was nice and warm in their vestibule, but after spending a few minutes consulting our  phones for other options, we decided we didn’t want to wait (they were estimating 30 minutes).  Finally, we figured out we could go to Dutch’s!  While still in the warmth of Hot Suppa, I consulted my phone to make sure they’d be open.

Aaah, finally getting to sit down.
I know I’m making it sound like this was our last choice, but Dutch’s is by no means a last choice breakfast destination.  We’d just been looking for the closest place to sit down.

We’ve actually been to Dutch’s quite a few times now.  The first time I had been lured in by a Yelp Reviewer who poetically said something to the effect of their home fries being like hash browns and tater tots getting married and having beautiful square children.  That’s no lie.  The home fries, hash browns, whatever you call them are amazing; crispy, crunchy on the outside and soft and potato-y in the middle.  The first time I went I had the breakfast burrito which is stuffed with those, eggs, cheese, and a bunch of other good stuff.  It was my first time having chimmichurri sauce which I thought was heavenly (not for you cilanto haters though).

Our youngest daughter was with us when we went, and she really wanted pancakes.  They didn’t exactly have pancakes, but they recommended the griddle cakes they use for the MacDutch breakfast sandwich.  OMG, those were so good, much more substantial then a pancake (as you might imagine if you’re going to use it for a sandwich) with just a bit of greasy crispness (what’s a nicer, GOOD, word for greasy?  because it was greasy in a good way – buttery maybe?) and these little crunchy surprises of sweetness on the top.  Turns out those were little maple sugar candy kind of things.  She didn’t eat all of her griddle cakes, so we took the rest home, and I took a delicious bit every time I walked by until they were gone.

I ended up liking the hash brown thingies that were in my burrito so much that I wanted to just get those the next time I went back, but I also wanted to have those griddle cakes again.  What to do?  There were four of us there that time, so I convinced the crowd that we should have a breakfast appetizer of the loaded hash browns – kind of like nachos with hash browns instead of chips.  This was the only thing I didn’t love at Dutch’s.  The cheese sauce was a white version of the stuff you’d get on your nachos at the movie theater.  I’m definitely not above that and have eaten my fair share of it, but on the hash brown beauties at Dutch’s, I wanted real, sharp, cheddar cheese.  We all found ourselves eating around the cheese sauce.

For my “main course”, I did end up getting the MacDutch.  I wanted those griddle cakes again, and they were every bit as good as I remembered.  The inside of the sandwich was good, too, but definitely not as memorable as the bread.

This, most recent time, the croissant sandwich on the specials board caught my eye, but as I stepped up to the counter to order, this gorgeous creation caught my eye.
I just had to have it – a brioche cinnamon bun – and it was so worth it.  The pastry to cream-cheesy frosting ratio was just right.  The middle – always the best part, right? – was perfectly ooey and gooey and frosting-y.

Mike remembered my delicious burrito from our first visit and didn’t even seem to consider the rest of the menu before ordering that.

They have a nice website whose pictures will make you drool.  If you’re like me and need some time to digest the menu (ha ha pardon the pun), I suggest you check out their menu on-line before you go.  (You order at the counter vs. having a server come to the table.)  Then you can focus on the specials board (every time I’ve been they’ve had 5 or 6 specials) and weigh your options.

I was a little surprised the first time I walked in.  The interior is quite spacious and spartan.
It’s not what you would call a cozy restaurant, but I’m thinking they must do a strong take out business during the work week so probably need the space for a long line.  They have a cool old-style, postcard-like mural on one of the walls, and the bathroom is wallpapered with old Maine Gazetteer maps.  The decor is very down-to-earth, similar to Bayou Kitchen and Sinful Kitchen.

It’s not in the best part of town, but it’s across the street from Slab, so it’s in good company.  There’s a countertop at the window facing Preble Street where you can sit and watch the world go by.  You may have some of Portland’s less fortunate stop and stare in the window not realizing you’re sitting there.
Back on the running side of things, I started to think even my cut back mileage was at risk when Mike started hinting at taking the bus or a cab (or uber if we were cooler, younger) home.  I usually bring a second set of clothes to change into when we go on a breakfast run – or at least a shirt – so I don’t freeze to death as my sweat starts to get cold.  This time I didn’t.  I was freezing, so I was anxious to finish up breakfast and get home.  The idea of a warm cab was very tempting (waiting for the bus in the cold, not so much).  I decided I’d eaten all the cinnamon bun brioche I possibly could and would warm up a lot faster if I just started running again – probably in the time it would take for a cab to arrive.  Besides, I really didn’t think I could stomach wimping out on a breakfast run like that.  (No offense, Mike.)  Seemed like a slippery slope to start down.

Mike and I agreed that he would get a coffee and have a long, leisurely breakfast while I ran home to get the car.  I managed to get 14 miles in, and he managed to limp out of the restaurant to the car (and has run a few times since), and we can still say we’ve never not gotten ourselves home after a breakfast run.

Thanks for reading.  Happy eating and running.

While the Cat’s Away . . .

Mike just wrote a great post about Oireachtas weekend which, for us, has always been the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I took our daughter down for the first seven or eight years, so Mike has taken over for me for the last few years.  There’s always a lot of stress leading up to it; rehearsals every spare minute, costume prep, and bleeding money for fees, wigs, tights, socks – you name it, but there’s nothing more stressful than actually being there with thousands of stressed out girls and their often more stressed out mothers.  Not having to go is priceless.

After spending the last few weekends engrossed in Irish dance, I was so excited to have a free weekend ahead of me.  Because I really know how to party, I went crazy in the kitchen preparing for Thanksgiving from morning until night.  The only other thing I did was run.  I ignored my poor son who was quite content to play video games in his room, have a break from the girls, and visit me occasionally for a snack.

Friday night, I made my favorite granola which I only finally remembered to start eating yesterday.
Good thing it lasts a long time.

I also made this really yummy farro and roasted grape salad – not for Thanksgiving – but just because I wanted to.
I’d been intrigued by the idea of roasting grapes since reading this Smitten Kitchen post a while ago (still haven’t tried that recipe).
I think it was one of my favorite things I made the whole weekend.

Saturday, I decided to stay in bed as long as I wanted, since I didn’t really have to be anywhere.  I was on the road for a run by 6:15.  Isn’t that always the way?  When you can sleep late, you don’t?  Anyway, I was excited to get back to the kitchen and continue my baking spree.  I made bagels (including these healthy ones for after the holidays),

bialys (isn’t that weird how the onion filling turned pink?  I wonder if that’s normal or if it’s the pink Himalayan salt I used.  I can’t remember if that happened last time I made them),
pizza dough,
and these rosemary olive oil rolls.
I was disappointed in them at first, but I think that’s because I ate one right out of the oven, and it probably had a bit more cooking to do.  They were perfect on Thanksgiving.  I stuck everything in the freezer, so it would seem nice and fresh when we got to Rangeley.

Sunday, pretty much the same routine except I must have been getting kind of burnt out.  I didn’t take nearly as many pictures.  This time, I made bacon and chopped up some scallions for our favorite mashed potato and bacon pizza.  It was really mostly for our first night at Rangeley, but Frank and I each had a sample pie.  I made salted caramel sauce for a delicious looking carmelita recipe which was to be my substitute for pecan pie.  Later, I actually made the carmelitas.  I almost wasn’t even going to make them, but they were so good (and easy) that I made another batch when we go home.  I also made a couscous salad which originally started out from this bulgur salad recipe.  (I know that would be healthier but I love the way those little pearls of couscous feel in your mouth.)

Finally, I worked up my nerve to make an apple pie.  I’m not sure I’ve ever really make a pie before.  I’ve made quite a few galettes (or maybe quite a lot – without looking, I can tell you the recipe I use is on page 702 of The New Basics cookbook) and a few chicken pot pies but never anything where the crust was really going to be the main focus.  I really wanted it to be good.  I didn’t have any shortening, so I googled “all butter pie crust recipes” and was happy to see that Smitten Kitchen was one of the first sites to come up on my search.  I love the way she writes.  She seems so practical and down to earth but her recipes have an element of fun to them – some kind of nice twist – that makes them interesting.  I followed her recipe and her tutorial for rolling out the dough, and I’m happy to say it was a success.  (No twists there, just a perfect, traditional pie crust which is exactly what I wanted.)

At home, I didn’t bake it but stuck it in the freezer for an hour or two then pulled it out and put it in plastic wrap and back in the freezer.  Even though Mike was under strict instructions to bake it before he put in the turkey (while I was picking up our oldest son in Vermont), he completely forgot, and we didn’t put it in until after we’d eaten.  It had been thawing in the fridge all day, so it worked out just fine.  It didn’t need any additional baking time after having been frozen.

It was really great having all that food prepared, so I didn’t really have to do anything on the actual day.  Mike makes all the stars of the table anyway; the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the gravy.  I thought it would be nice to have at least one green thing, so I made an adaptation of this salad.  The pomegranate that I had brought with us turned out to be really gross on the inside, so I want to try it again when I actually have all the ingredients.

The only thing I didn’t make that I want to try is this cranberry salsa.

Thank you all you great food bloggers for the great recipes!

Whew, I do love to bake, but after that, I’m not quite ready for any Christmas cooking baking marathons.

Are you going to the Woodford Food & Beverage Neighborhood Mixer tonight?  We were thinking of it but waited too late to get tickets.  Arggh!  If you go, let us know what you think.  So excited to have another restaurant coming to our part of town.