The Best Meal I Had in Paris… AND Some Final Amazing Photos From My Trip

March 23, 2018

One more post about my five nights in Paris. Can ya handle it? (I hope you say yes!)

I wrote, in my last post, about all the things I did and saw, but I left out a major component: the food.

Here’s the thing about Paris: Read the rest of this entry »


Eating and Playing in Portland: Salads, Drag Queens, and… SASQUATCH!

February 14, 2018

I spent five days in Portland, and have already shared many great experiences: being interviewed on the Bowflex Breakfast Club and on the local news, and, of course, Sunday’s 200-story stair race. But I did so much more! Get ready for photos… starting with salads.

I ate a lot of salads. I love them, and Read the rest of this entry »


Downtown Disney

August 9, 2012

It has been a busy two days. Tonight, after work, I headed downtown to see a play. After getting home, I quickly changed and headed out for a run. It wasn’t a great run, but it was something, and when I add up the time spent running with the brisk walking warm-up and cool-down, I was on the streets for 45 minutes. I was antsy to go on the run, because yesterday ended up being a rest day. I didn’t work out before going to the office (I’ve been failing all week at morning exercise), and after work, I had dinner with an old friend from high school that was in town for a convention. And by ‘in town’ I mean Anaheim, which is an hour away, so when you factor in drive time, that left no time for a workout.

Read the rest of this entry »


Gator

October 15, 2011

Happy Saturday!  How is your weekend so far?  I had a lovely evening last night with a bunch of friends, nearly all of whom I’ve mentioned or talked about on this blog at some point.  Robyn was there, as was Lisa, and so was Joe and Giana.  In fact, the only person in attendance that I haven’t ever mentioned before was my friend Blair, who I haven’t seen in a few years.  So congrats on your first blog mention, Blair!

We met at a restaurant/bar in Burbank called Michael’s.  I’ve been to Michael’s many times before, but not in a few years.  Michael’s calls itself a “Mardi Gras Steak and Seafood House.”  I opted to eat dinner beforehand so I didn’t even have to crack the menu open.

While I enjoyed a few bottles of sparkling water, my companions ordered food, and, a little while later, the food arrived.  The waiter started setting down plates, and said, “OK, who ordered the gator?”  There were some quizzical looks, because no one had ordered the gator.  “Oh, that was my mistake,” said the waiter.  “I’m sorry about that.  Would anyone like to try the gator?  It’s on the house.”  I was curious – I don’t think I’ve ever had gator before – and some others were curious, too, so the gator stayed.

According to the menu, the Fried Gator was “Gator nuggets tossed in a light breading and fried crispy.  Served with our Cajun dipping sauce.”  I wasn’t interested in the breading, which also had a buffalo-like sauce on it, so I took a few pieces of gator and peeled the breading off.  It was dark, and I didn’t have my camera, but a got a picture with my cell phone:

That’s Blair’s fork on the right, with a breaded gator nugget.   My fork is on the left, with a de-breaded gator nugget.

So how was the gator?  It wasn’t bad!  A touch on the chewy side.  As the picture shows, it kinda looks like chicken, but it’s denser than chicken.  The texture is more steak-like, and it wasn’t nearly as gamey as I thought it might be.  I don’t think I’d go out of my way to find or eat gator again, but since gator isn’t really on menus very often (at least outside of Louisiana), that probably means it will be a long time before I eat it again, if ever.  I’m glad I tried it… you know me, always willing to try something new!

Because I was curious, I just looked up some nutritional information.  Per serving, gator is higher in calories than chicken – almost twice as many calories.  But gator is also a protein powerhouse, with 46g per serving (over twice as much protein as chicken), so that explains the calorie count (46g, by the way, is almost all your protein needs for the entire day).  Gator is also very lean, with about the same amount of fat as chicken, and because it’s free of cholesterol and saturated fat, gator is considered a heart-healthy protein source.

Until you bread and fry it.  Which is why I’m glad I peeled the breading off.

Have you ever eaten gator?  Have you ever cooked it?  Do you like it?  Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Keep it up, David!


Silver Lake Breakfast

September 24, 2011

Because I’ve been so wrapped up in preparing for my motivational speaking gig and getting my business cards made (and, oh yeah, there was the matrixectomy too), this blog has veered in recent days from two of its main focuses: eating and exercise.  So this weekend I’m going back to basics.  I’m gonna write a little about food today, and a little about exercise tomorrow.

OK.   So, food.  Hmmm….

Well, I’ll be honest:  My eating at home has been super boring this week.  I’ve done nothing that warrants a blog post: no new recipes, no RediSetGo usage, no new types of produce. I’ve been eating lots of veggies and fruit, lots of lean proteins (mostly eggs and protein shakes), some yogurt, so oatmeal, and absolutely nothing that I find at all interesting or worthy of sharing.

But I did try a new restaurant the other morning!  It was the day after my speech at Whole Foods, actually.  My friend Mat invited me to breakfast in Silver Lake, his super-trendy, hipster-filled Los Angeles neighborhood (it’s where I got my awesome new glasses).  “There’s a couple super-vegan places I’ve been wanting to try,” Mat said, coining the word ‘super-vegan’ in the process.  I’m not vegan, but I love vegan restaurants, because they tend to be creative and interesting and have fun things I’ve never heard of on the menu.  “I’m in!”  I responded, and at 9am, I was knock-knock-knocking on Mat’s door.  A few minutes after that, we took off on foot for a super-vegan breakfast.

The super-vegan breakfast establishments had other ideas, though.  One turned out to be not a restaurant at all, but a juice bar.  The other one was closed.  Apparently super-vegan hipster restaurant proprietors can’t be bothered to open for breakfast on weekdays.

We ended up at Madame Matisse, a tiny little corner cafe:

Their breakfast menu was full of delicious-sounding options, from Chocolate Stuffed French Toast to five different kinds of Eggs Benedict (five!) to a dish called Chef’s Revenge, which has a great menu description:

“A scramble of eggs, corned beef hash, rosemary garlic home fries, pork sausage, bacon, cheddar, and salsa with a side of toast.  Don’t ask for a vegetarian version because it doesn’t exist.”

I love breakfast food, and I was really tempted to order something that I normally don’t eat, like one of those Eggs Benedicts (maybe the one with brie, leeks, and black truffle oil) or their Homemade Belgian Waffle, but I was good, and made a healthy choice.  The thing with breakfast food is that when I order smartly, by the time my food comes, I stop missing what I could be eating, because all breakfast food is delicious!

I chose the Build Your Own Omelet option from the menu, and got it with egg whites only, and filled with tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, and chicken.  I had them replace the home fries with fruit, and got rye toast, no butter, on the side.  Mm-mmm!

I had never seen ratatouille on a breakfast menu before, but they offered a Ratatouille Skillet, which was ratatouille with two eggs on top, sausage and toast.  That’s what Mat ordered:

I’m pretty sure both of us renewed our memberships to the clean plate club…  I know I did.  I love a good omelet, and that was a good omelet.

We walked back to Mat’s house, and before I took off, Mat and wife Maggie let me raid their little herb garden (I raided their tomato plants earlier this summer).  They have a giant sage bush and tons of rosemary, and I helped myself to a few sprigs of each:

That’s all sage and rosemary in the background!

As I drove home, I had a light bulb moment about how I would use my herbs.  It involves picking up a few things at Whole Foods (which I’ll do today) and also using one of the items in my kitchen that came all the way from Sweden…

a brand-new recipe is in the works!  Stay tuned… I’ll be sharing it shortly!

Keep it up, David!


Downtown Detroit

September 9, 2011

A quick plug: My first public speaking gig is now less than two weeks away!  I created a “See Me at Whole Foods” link at the top of the page that has all the details.  So click on it, and RSVP.  I wanna see you there!

I have strong feelings about the city of Detroit.  While I’ve never considered myself a Detroiter, as I’ve never lived within the city limits, it’s always been there, not that far from my childhood home in one of its northwest suburbs.  It’s a major American city with a long and rich history (it’s the oldest city in the Midwest – founded over 100 years before Chicago, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee) that has given the world everything from mass-produced automobiles to Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross to the ice cream soda.  The first regular radio reports were broadcast from Detroit, and Detroit was home to the first paved road, the first tri-colored stoplight, and the first urban freeway.

You don’t hear many good things about Detroit in the news; it has a pretty bad rap.  Detroit has plenty of huge problems, and people tend to say plenty of terrible things about it.  I’m not one of them.  I like to think that Detroit will, one of these days, get out of the slump it’s been in for past 40 or so years, and rise again as a place where people will want to live and want to visit.

It’s easy for me to be positive – I live 2,000 miles away, unexposed to the crumbling infrastructure, the poverty, the rampant unemployment.  I just don’t think that being negative is very productive or helpful.  I have fond memories of Detroit from my childhood, and have heard many more wonderful stories from my father, who grew up there.  You may think me naive or unrealistic, but I think the city has a lot of potential, and I will always root for it.

My attitude towards Detroit are best reflected in this 1985 television commercial produced by the local ABC affiliate.  It’s dated and super-cheesy now, but it used to air all the time, and I remember loving it as a kid.  And since I’m sharing local commercials from the ’80s, check out this one for the Detroit Zoo, which is one of my favorite commercials of all time.

Thank you for indulging me in my little pro-Detroit rant.  It’s been on my mind because yesterday I headed downtown to meet up with a buddy for lunch.  Matt is a friend from high school who lived in Los Angeles after college, then moved back to Michigan with his wife and started a family.  He’s the author behind The Dad Scene, a funny and smart blog chronicling his experiences as a first-time father.  Matt is a tremendous writer, so you should definitely check it his blogno, really, check it out.

Matt works at Compuware, a software company that moved their world headquarters to Detroit about 8 years ago.  Their building has an impressive atrium that rises up 16 stories, and that’s where I met Matt:

We apparently just missed a doggie fashion show in the atrium that wrapped up minutes before we got there.  I hate when that happens.

Here’s the both of us:

For lunch, we headed a few blocks away to Vicente, a Cuban place that Matt likes. 

I’ve had Cuban dishes before, at restaurants that featured cuisine from across Latin America, but this might have been my first visit to a full-fledged Cuban restaurant.  Everything on the menu sounded good, but I settled on the Pan con Bistec, a pressed sandwich with skirt steak, swiss cheese, grilled onions, mustard, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes.  I considered having them hold the cheese and mayo, but decided that since I eat Cuban food so rarely, I should enjoy it as it’s intended.  My sandwich (with a side of plantain chips):

Matt’s sandwich was similar, but with chicken:

I love a pressed sandwich.  They’re dense and flavorful, and this sandwich was fantastic.  It was also huge, and both of us ended up eating only half.  We boxed up the other halves to take with us, but as we walked back to Matt’s office, we were approached by two homeless women who asked if we’d consider sharing, so we gave the food to them.

After I parted ways with Matt, I did something I haven’t done since I was a kid: I rode the People Mover.  The Detroit People Mover is a rather silly example of mass transit.  It’s a 3-mile-long monorail that encircles downtown Detroit and doesn’t really go anywhere.  No stop is more than 10 blocks from any other stop, so it’s not very efficient for commuters, but for someone like me who just wanted to see a little more of the city, it was perfect.  Here comes a train now!

I took some pictures from the monorail’s windows (it was gray and rainy, so they’re not great).  Here’s Woodward Avenue, which extends from the heart of downtown all the way out to my neck of the suburbs:

The old Wayne County Building:

The skyline, looking east from Joe Louis Arena (where the Red Wings play).  The towers on the right are the Renaissance Center, which I’ve blogged about numerous times before (most notably here and here, and it’s featured in my Skyscraper Collection):

I like that picture because you can see raindrops in it.

Time to get international!  This is a picture of a totally different country – it’s the skyline of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, which is directly across the river from Detroit.  I took this picture specifically for my trainer Craig, who grew up outside Windsor and asked that I say hello to it on this trip.  Hello, Windsor!

Finally, one of Detroit’s most famous landmarks, the 8,000-pound statue that honors Detroit resident Joe Louis, the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937-49:

OK – bedtime for me.  Gotta hit the gym in the morning!

Keep it up, David!


I Arrived! Then, I Dined At Assaggi.

August 31, 2011

Hello from the Great Lakes State!  I’m writing from Michigan, my home state.  After a wonderfully smooth flight experience (unlike my recent craptacular flight to Colorado), I landed at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.  My dad had dinner plans with a friend last night, so my mom and I were on our own for dinner.  I was already starving – I was in the air from 10:40am – 3pm (no, the flight wasn’t 4+ hours, it was 2+ hours, plus a 2-hour time zone change), so I never ate lunch.  My breakfast in Colorado consisted of a banana, a few grapes, and the leftover salad from last night, and after I landed I bought another banana and a small container of watermelon.  You can see why I was starving!

I met up with my mom as she was finishing up at her office:

Me:  “I’m really hungry.  Really hungry.  What do you want to do for dinner?”

Mom:  “Well, I never ate the salad I ordered for lunch, and it’s a big salad, so we could split that.  Or, why don’t we go out to eat?  There’s two restaurants I wanted you to try while you were in town.  One of them is pricey, so you may not want to go there with your friends, so why don’t I take you?”

I don’t think I’ve ever turned down a fine dining opportunity where I wouldn’t be responsible for the bill, and I wasn’t going to start now!

The restaurant my mom had in mind was Assaggi Bistro, a restaurant in Ferndale, a little suburb about 20 minutes away.  She had recently been there with a group of her friends, and everyone loved the food and had a great time.  The restaurant has a totally unassuming facade – you would never guess by driving by that this place was recently named one of the best restaurants in metro Detroit by The Detroit News:

Assaggi has a spacious patio out back, surrounded by lots of greenery, and we got a table back there.  My chair ended up being close to a speaker, and I noticed right off the bat the eclectic selection of music that totally had me laughing – a bizarre mix of standards like “That’s Amore” alongside cheesy wedding-band instrumental jazz versions of recent hits, like Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).”

Assaggi’s menu combines elements from countries all around the Mediterranean.  They have pizzas from a wood-fired oven, a meze plate with hummus, tabouleh, and other Middle-Eastern items, and dishes with French, Spanish, and even African influences.

I was less concerned with watching what I ate that I normally am, on account of the lack of calories I’d eaten so far that day, although I did choose to avoid anything deep-fried or swimming in oil.  For an appetizer, my mom and I split one of their specials, California golden figs wrapped in prosciutto, stuffed with Robiola cheese (a creamy soft Italian cheese), and served with a balsamic reduction.  It was the first fresh fig I’ve eaten since I bought some a few months ago, and, like me, they had come all the way from California!

The fig had so many great textures and flavors – salty, sweet, rich, crispy, creamy – a great way to start a meal.  And how awesome is that photograph?  I normally don’t boast about my camera work – in fact, I’ve apologized for it on more than one occasion – but these pictures came out fantastically!  Probably because of all the natural light.

For my entree, I ordered their Moroccan duck legs, which came with dried fruit and pistachio couscous, spinach, and a pomegranate barbeque sauce:

I don’t eat duck very often – maybe once or twice a year, and always at restaurants.  And it was goooood.  The meat fell off the bones and melted on my tongue, and the pomegranates, pistachios and dried fruit perked up every bite.

My mom ordered the rainbow trout, which came with squash and heirloom baby tomatoes, a creamy dill sauce, and the same couscous I had (minus the fruit and pistachios):

I tried a piece of the fish, and it was smooth and well-cooked, but I liked my dish better.

Oh, and our meal started off with a bread basket that I didn’t photograph – we each had a piece of what seemed like a fresh-baked, warm (steamy, in fact) pita.

The dessert menu looked appetizing – who doesn’t like chocolate lava cake or creme brulee? – but we decided to pass and call it a night.  It was a delicious meal!

A quick update on my lower back before I call it a night:  Today I didn’t experience any discomfort or pain at all.  I’m so glad I’m healing so quickly after my move-induced injury!  Today was another rest day, exercise-wise, but tomorrow I’m gonna head to the gym for some light cardio.  I’m not going to push myself – I just wanna see how it feels, and how my body responds.  If there’s any pain or discomfort, I’ll stop.  With 3 of the last 4 days being rest days, I’m getting antsy to move!  I also have a massage scheduled for Thursday – which Richard Simmons recommended I get – and I’m looking forward to that as well.

Keep it up, David!