Tag Archives: eating

30 Days of 30: By the Numbers

Those of you paying close attention may have noticed that the 30 days of 30 technically lasted only 29 days (Jan 5-Feb 2).  There were also a couple of unclaimed days in there, but I filled them by hanging out with my mom and a co-worker.  

BUT… the 30 days aren’t really over yet.  When this blog goes live, I’ll be in Chicago for the finale, so I’m counting my party on Saturday as the 30th day.

If my calculations are correct, here are some other interesting numbers about my 30 days:

60– Number of people I celebrated with this month.* 

36– Number of locations– 16 restaurants, 11 bars**, 1 bakery,  1 arena, 1 bowling alley, 1 movie theater, 1 out of town location (Galena), 1 shopping center, and 3 private residences.  

The most common location for 30 days activities was Bunny’s, followed closely by a tie between Crane Alley and Boltini.   This is notable because I probably haven’t been to either of these places much in the past year, but I really like them.  Houlihan’s and the Courier were the most popular non-drinking establishments. 

6– Number of places I’d never been before: Galena, Bridget’s house, La Gourmandise Bistro, The Brass Rail, The Sandwich shop (whose name I’ve yet to look for), Cakes on Walnut.

14-  Number of different activites: lunch,  dinner, drinks, dessert, Illinois game, bowling, LOST watch, movie, snowboarding, Superbowl party, live band, book club, story teller, trivia

15– Number of times I went out for lunch

13-- Number of times I went out for drinks

6– Number of times I went out for dinner***

2– Number of times I went out for dessert.  Again, notable because I rarely go out just for dessert.

2– Number of Illini games watched**** (one at the Assembly Hall, one at Bunny’s)

2– Number of things I’d never done before:  go snowboarding and listen to a professional story teller

0– Number of pounds I’ve gained.  Seriously. I definitely feel fatter/less healthy, but according to the scale, my weight is the same.

I don’t even want to think about the number of drinks or calories I consumed.  Thank goodness I didn’t have this “by the numbers” idea earlier or else I really would turn into the guy from Supersize Me. Lol.

More importantly, though, I’m amazed at the number of things I was able to cram into one month… and the number of people I convinced to “play along.”  It was really a great experiment and I’m glad I did it.  I highly doubt 31 days of 31 are in my future, though :)

In case you missed them (or just want to relive the fun), here are the weekly recaps:

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Notes on the Methodology

*Includes only people in “my party” and does not include repeats (i.e. if I had lunch with Lisa one day and happy hour another, she is only counted once).

**For this purpose a bar is defined as a place primarily for drinking whereas a restaurant is an eating establishment.  I chose to count them based on why/when I was there.  (i.e. Farren’s is a bar/restaurant, but I was only there for lunch, so it gets counted as a restaurant.)

*** This number is probably lower than it should be.  I counted an event as drinks if drinking was the primary purpose of the activity (i.e. happy hour). It’s more than likely that dinner was also consumed.

**** Again, possibly artificially deflated.  There may have been an Illini game on during a happy hour that I did not record as a “game watch”

30 days of 30: Week 4, Part 1

I know this post is a bit late, but hey– I’ve been busy.  I’m doing the final week re-cap in two parts.  Look for part 2: The Weekend soon.  And there should be a couple more 30 days posts next week.  And then I’m done… promise :)

Monday–  Officially slated as an “off” day, I’m giving this one to my co-worker Kara.  We took a much-needed Jimmy John’s break at lunch.  Plus, her day kinda got usurped later in the week, so it all works out.

Tuesday–  After dinner at The Courier, Lindsey and I braved blizzard-like conditions to attend Tuesday Night Trivia at Boltini.   Let me tell you… it was hard!!  At one point we were going for “funny points” and even those were getting rejected.  When we wrote “condoms” as the answer to a word riddle, the announcer said:

 “Just FYI– the letters don’t actually spell anything… it’s just the next letters in the sequence.”   Uh, we know.   We just didn’t know the letters.  We were trying to be funny.  D’oh.

Needless to say, we didn’t win… or even stay for the whole thing.  But it was fun and we’ll definitely do it again.  In the summer.  With a much larger group!

Wednesday–  I was triple-booked on Wednesday.  I had a lunch date with Jacelyn (my co-worker), plans with my friend Doug, and plans to watch Lost with my co-worker Kara. 

I knew I couldn’t do it all, so Kara joined Jacelyn and I for lunch at a new sandwich place in Urbana (on Race, across from the Courier… I’ll find out the name).  The food was good, but it was clear that they were just opening.  I’ll go back after they’ve had a chance to get their feet wet.

After work, my friend Doug picked me up (and helped clear my driveway–thanks, man!) and we went to 7 Saints.  As you may recall, this is one of the places I hadn’t yet been, so I was excited to go.   It didn’t disappoint.  It was actually fairly crowded for a Wednesday night and of course we ran into people we know– a mutual friend of ours and then a co-worker of mine and his friend. 

Doug is a Republican, but we managed to hang out for at least 3 hours w/o getting into any fights… a pretty successful night in my book ;)  Oh, and thanks to all the “practice” I’ve had lately,  I managed to drink him under the table.  Thank goodness he was driving!  I didn’t make it home in time to watch Lost,  but it was okay.  A perfectly lovely evening.

Thursday– Another day of multiple bookings.  First it was lunch at Dos Reales with Jennifer (aka Red).  Red is my BFF from high school and even though we’ve stayed in touch over the years, we don’t always get a chance to hang out, so it was super nice to sit and chat with her. 

Thursday night was officially Tonya’s night.  We decided to meet for drinks and were trying to decide where to go when  Cory said he was going to Bunny’s to watch the game  (The Illini game– remember that horrible loss to Minnesota?  Yep, that one!).   So, off to Bunny’s it was– for the nth time this month! 

It was super fun, though.  Bobbi came out and Cory’s friend Harper was there.   AND… the Illiniettes.  We had a great time making fun of their drama.   No, not nice, but fun nonetheless.   And I convinced Ron to come out later, after he got off work and we had already had multiple buckets.  Maybe not the best idea in retrospect, but it was a good time.  

 One more work day until the Birthday Weekend Extravaganza.

To Be Continued . . .

30 days of 30: Week 1

Yes,  Carich’s 30 days of 30 are officially underway… Yay!  

Last week was all about eating (which is awesomeconsidering it’s the first week of the new year when most people are dieting. Lol.)

Monday– Lunch w/Lindsey at Chili’s after a school photo shoot

Tuesday– Dinner w/my mom at The Courier

Wednesday–Lunch with co-workers Sharon and Kara at Milo’s

Thursday– Lunch with Lisa at Jupiter  (the original, of course)

Fri/Sat/Sun– Skiing/Snowboarding weekend in Galena.   I went with a group of people, so I’m not sure who gets credit for each day, but I’m not really a stickler for the rules anyway.

SUPER fun times, but–alas– I don’t have pictures to share.  I didn’t want to be “the dork with the camera” on the slopes, so I have no evidence of my snowboarding adventure.  Other people in the group took some party photos, so hopefully I’ll get some of those and post them later.

This post is turning out lamer than I’d hoped.  Don’t get me wrong– the lunches were good and it’s nice to be able to catch up with people, but writing about my soup/salad combo is probably not blog-worthy.

I have a couple more lunch dates this week and then some other intersesting stuff planned for the long weekend, so hopefully I’ll have more to report on next week.   Stay tuned.

My best of C-U list

Inspired by this post from Whitney Matheson (of PopCandy fame), I was thinking about all the things I’d miss about C-U if I should ever leave this town.    

So here, in no particular order, are my personal picks for the Best of C-U.  For most of these, I’ve linked to the official site. Where none were available I linked to the listing on yelp.  I love yelp, btw. You should check it out.

Best happy hour bar:  Esquire
Peanuts, beer, and homeade pineapple margaritas–what more could you ask for?  (Plus, they put me and my friends on their web site!)

Best last call bar:  Tumble Inn
The only bar on the list I’ve been going to consistently since I was 19.  (Okay, 17–but don’t tell anyone).  It’s a bit of a hole-in-the wall, but it has improved in recent years due to the smoking ban (and the smoking-ban inspired “beer” garden).   Tumble Inn… Stumble Out, always open late. (yet, curiously, they don’t have Red Bull… for that you’ll have to go to The Phoenix, nearby)

Best beer deal:  Bunny’s
You can get a bucket of 5 beers for $10.  Can’t beat it with a stick.  Speaking of sticks, Bunny’s also gets a shut out for their Bosco sticks.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Bosco stick, it’s a breadstick stuffed with cheese and then deep fried.  Horribly unhealthy, but delicious!

Best beer selection:  The Blind Pig
Hands down.  There might be isn’t a larger beer selection anywhere in C-U, and the Pig wins for atmosphere. 

Best nachos:  Guidos
I’m kinda picky about my nachos and Guidos never disappoints.

Best lunch spot:   It’s a toss up between The Courier Cafe and Farrens.

Courier– Skinny dippers, milkshakes and salad bar.  Great atmosphere.  Courier gets the award for Best Breakfast, too.
Farren’s-- Home of Farren’s Fridays, I adore their Kobe Burger, tacos, and daily specials. 

Best pizza: Jupiter’s
Thin, crispy and great sauce, Jupiter’s (downtown) is the best.  Jupiter II creeps me out.  
Honorable mention: Papa Del’s.  Jupiters wins because I prefer thin crust, but if you’re in the mood for a deep dish pizza, the Del is the best.  (Note: this is my Best of  C-U list… if you’re willing to go a few miles South, I highly recommend the original Monical’s in Tolono.)

Best ice cream– Custard Cup
 Duh.  Okay, so it’s custard, but why would you go anywhere else?  Unless, of course, it’s closed.  Then you can go to Cold Stone or whatever.  But only until Custard Cup opens back up.  Seriously. 

Best cockails:  Boltini
I highly recommend the Bellini-tini from Boltini  (say that  ten times fast!)

Best sandwich– Chicken pesto at Crane Alley

Best wine selection: Friar Tuck
I especially like how they list the wine ratings and “best value” wines.  I’ve never been disappointed.

Best wine tastings:  Sun Singer
I enjoy their little cafe and bar area.  You don’t really feel like you’re tasting in a store .

Friendliest wine staff: The Corkscrew
Although I buy most of my wine at Friar Tuck and I go to more tastings at The Sun Singer, I’ve always found the staff at The Corkscrew to be incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.  Plus, I needed to show a little Urbana love. 

Best place to see a show:  The Highdive
I know, I know, the Canopy Club is bigger, but I like the openness and set up of the High Dive better.

Most anticipated bar re-opening:  Fat City 
I spent a great deal of time at this bar in the old days.  I hear they’re re-opening on Friday.  I cannot wait!

Best place to take a date: Radio Maria

I recently had this discussion with a bunch of guy friends.  Although we couldn’t come to a consensus, Radio Maria was mentioned most often.  Other top selections include:  Cafe Luna (now apparently called just ‘Luna’), Milo’s, and Bacaro.  Kamakura is also fun for group dates.

Best chicken strips:  The Boomerang  
Honestly, I haven’t been there in years, but their chicken strips are phenomenal.  Honorable mention:  Rocks

Best sushi:  KoFusion
Is there any other choice?  It’s also fun for a swanky after-work cocktail. Or three.

Best way to spend a Saturday in the Fall:  Tailgating before an Illini football game

And so you don’t think I spend ALL my time eating and drinking:

Best place to buy gifts:  Art Mart
Go there.  There’s lots of cool stuff from stationary to jewelry to lotion to household products.

Best bookstore:  Pages for All Ages
If I’m needed something cheap, I’ll buy from Amazon.  Otherwise, it’s Pages all the way.  Support local bookstores! 

Best way to spend a Saturday morning in the summer:   The Market at the Square
Call me crunchy, but I love strolling through the various vendors, buying locally grown produce and bread.  Its close enough that I can walk… and right by my gym so I can fit in a workout afterwards

So, those are my picks.  Do you agree?  What have I missed?

San Antonio Stories, Part II: Eating and Drinking in Alamo City

One of my favorite parts of traveling for work is the opportunity to try out new restaurants in great cities across the country.  I really enjoy researching various places and trying to find somewhere interesting to go.

By far, my favorite restaurant of the trip was 20nine, a wine bar in the Quarry Market district of San Antonio.  (The Quarry Market is essentially an upscale strip mall.)  20nine is named after California Route 29, which goes through the Napa and Sonoma valleys (it also happens to be my current age, as Lisa pointed out).  Since it’s been a few years since I’ve been to wine country, I was interested to see how a California-style wine bar would translate in Texas.

I was not disappointed.  In addition to wines by the glass and by the bottle, we had the opportunity to try various flights of wine.   The flights were grouped by varietal (Chardonnay, Merlot, etc.) or by region.  I chose a flight of spicy reds from Chile and Argentina to begin with.*  The server brought them to the table using this really cool carrier and each wine was accompanied by incredibly amusing tasting notes.

wineflight

tastingnotes1

[photos courtesy of Lisa. She likes to take pix of food.  We make fun of her, but it comes in handy when trying to spice up a food blog.  And, yes, these are white wines and I had red, but I didn’t take the photos. Beggars can’t be choosers.]

We ordered cheese plates and antipasti.  They were so delicious, I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy my dinner. 

cheeseplate

antipasti

Lord, was I wrong!!  I ordered the sea bass with a side of gnocchi.  It was phenomenal.I also had some really great homemade ice cream (unfortunately I didn’t ask Lisa to take any pix–next time!) We had some other nice dinners in San Antonio, but 20nine was definitely my favorite. 

The other highlight of the trip was Bar Rojo at the Grand Hyatt, which was next to the Convention Center and across the street from my hotel.   It was pretty fun for a hotel bar and they had the best raspberry mojitos, made with real raspberries.  I bet I had 10 of them while I was there*, and each one was slightly different.  Yum!

mojito

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*I should probably note that, although my employer pays for our meals while we’re away… drinks are on us.  I spent a pretty penny on wine and cocktails this trip.  I just didn’t want y’all to think we were pulling an Enron or something!

Freewriting from Atlanta

I shoulda gone to the gym this morning.  Instead I chose to sleep.  Last night was super duper fun.  That’s right–super duper!   We ate.  We drank.  We played cards.  I won. 

The restaurant we went to last night was called Eclipse di Luna.  Great for tapas.

I feel like these freewrites are a broken record, but as I was lying in bed this morning, I was thinking of all the things I could do to spice up my life.  Go back to school.  Become an academic.  Join the Peace Corps.  Get serious about writing (and not just blogging about writing–that’s lame).   I have these ideas/thoughts in the morning and then I get on with my day and give them up.

I need a plan.  A deadline.  I need to say that by X date I’m going to research all my options and make a decision.

On another (broken record) note… I once again realized how much cooler other people are than I am.  I wish I had known about the world of academia earlier ‘cuz I think I totally would have been good at it.  And maybe I still can.  I just don’t know what I’d want to study.

I chose my undergrad major while flipping through a college catalog in the bathroom.  Sexy, huh?  Maybe I should just get a dartboard or something and choose my PhD program that way.

I need to conquer my fears.  When people are afraid of heights they make them go skydiving or something.  My fear is failure.  In order to conquer the fear, do I need to fail first?   Hmmm….  or as L would say  “Hrmph…”

Saturday freewrite

Unfortunately, I’ve been up for over an hour already, but still haven’t managed to get anything done.  And I have TONS of shit to do. 

Last night was fun.  Work peeps.  Regular peeps.  Friends.  Friends of friends.  I didn’t do as good of a job “connecting” as I’d hoped, but-hey- I had a good time. 

Except next time I do happy hour I really need to eat.  I always tell myself this and I never do it.  After not eating, I went thru McDonald’s on the way home.  BAD idea for a couple of reasons 1) I hit the drive thru window with my car mirror and now I have to figure out how to put it back on and 2) I ate crappy food late and night and I’m now paying the price.  Ugh.

It’s really too bad that I couldn’t just walk home from the bar.  That would save me from driving AND late night eating.

Like I said, I have 100 things to do today and I just don’t feel like doing any of them.  But none are really “optional” so that sucks.  I’d kinda like to have a date with my couch and America’s Next Top Model,, but instead I’m doing yard work, picking up dry cleaning, cleaning the house, packing, and all that other fun stuff.  Yuk.

Oh, and I’m soooo perplexed by my blog stats.  I realize this isn’t interesting to anyone but me.  But everyone is going to LAST week’s Lost post and hardly anyone is going to the most recent one.  Wonder what that’s all about.  Weird.

Anyway, I’ve got lots of thoughts running through my head, but no way to put them together sensically (see what I mean… sensically??) so I’ll just stop now.  And attempt productivity.