A Loooong Travel Day

August 27, 2011

I finally arrived at my sister’s place in Colorado, way later than scheduled.  My 3:30 United flight out of Burbank was delayed.  Because of the heat (105 degrees), they asked for 19 volunteers to find an alternative mode of transportation – apparently when it’s really hot, planes need to be lighter in order to take off.  Nobody stepped forward and volunteered.  They started boarding the plane: first class and premiere club members, then people with connections in Denver, and then… that’s it.  Nineteen of us got bumped.  The 50-seater regional jet went up with 31 passengers.

There were no other Burbank-Denver flights that day, so United provided us bumpees $400 in vouchers, and offered those of us that were interested a shuttle to LAX to catch a 7pm direct flight.  I took them up on their offer, and squeezed into a passenger van with 7 others, our luggage, and the driver, and we headed out in Friday night Los Angeles rush hour traffic to get from one airport to the other.  Our shuttle driver got us there with a little time to spare (he knew a kickass shortcut), and I made it on the 7pm flight.

As I waited to go through security at LAX, I knew I’d have to find something to eat to bring on the plane.  I didn’t want to land in Denver starving, and I was already hungry – it had been about 6 hours since lunch.  A challenge had presented itself to me:  Get through security (which was moving slowly), get to a bathroom (which was also becoming an urgent need), find something to eat, and get on that plane!

Moving through the terminal, the first option was a McDonald’s.  NO.  Didn’t even humor the idea.  There was also a Wolfgang Puck eatery.  There’s a special place in my heart for Wolfgang Puck ever since he made me a awesome YouTube video after I blogged about dining at his Spago restaurant, but as I cruised by on my brisk walk to Gate 77, it seemed as though all the food was made-to-order, and I wasn’t certain I’d have the time.  Moving on.

I came across a La Brea Bakery, and could see they had a grab-and-go case.  This could be a potential jackpot.  They might have a healthy option or two:

And they did!  I opted for a salad that had chicken, cabbage, radicchio, olives, parsley, and a mustard dressing (that I used about 1/3 of).  I also grabbed a bottle of sparkling water:

Anyone want to guess what I paid?  I’ll give you 5 seconds to think about it…






My dinner only cost me $14.55.   How close were you?

In the grand scheme of things, an expensive meal isn’t that big of a deal on a day that could have ended up much worse (like me missing the 7pm flight, and delaying my Colorado trip by a day), and I know I’d be much more annoyed had I made poor food choices.

The salad hit the spot, too.

I’m finishing up with a link to a post I wrote at the end of last year.  It compares what it’s like to fly now to when I flew at my heaviest, and it’s proven to be one of my all-time most popular posts, and one that has really struck a chord with my readers.  So, if you haven’t read it (or haven’t read it lately), I invite you to click here and check out “How a 400-Pound Man Flies.

Keep it up, David!

A Message From Wolfgang, Chart Update, and MORE!

March 2, 2011

There are a few topics on the docket for today, and I’m gonna start by sharing something that is so unbelievably cool, it made me jump up and down.  Literally.

1) A Message From Wolfgang! A couple weekends ago, my friend Felise treated me to a wonderful lunch at Spago, in Beverly Hills.  You can read my blog about it here. If you didn’t know, Spago is the flagship restaurant of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, and if you don’t know who Wolfgang Puck is, you need to crawl out from under your rock!  He’s a huge celebrity chef, with cookbooks, tons of restaurants around the country (both fine dining and casual), and he makes frequent television appearances.  You may have seen him last weekend on TV, as he catered the Governors’ Ball after the Academy Awards.  Anyway, we had a fantastic time, and ate a delicious meal at Spago, and guess who saw my blog about it? WOLFGANG! I woke up this morning to find this video message from him, to me.  It literally took my breath away – how cool is this?

Thanks, Wolfgang, for the amazing video – it made my day!  I can’t wait to go to another one of your restaurants… I have my eye on WP24, which is Wolfgang’s newest restaurant (I think) in Los Angeles – it’s on the 24th floor of a skyscraper downtown, and I love a restaurant with a view!  (Check out this blog as proof!)

2) Weigh-In and Chart Update. It’s been two weeks since I’ve last had a weigh-in, and two weeks since I’ve updated my chart.  I opted to skip my weigh-in last week, because I’ve been on a plateau since the beginning of February, and I didn’t want to start obsessing because I was seeing the same number over and over again.  The past two weeks I’ve been eating well, and working out, so I was hopeful that this plateau might be over.

I was wrong.  I got on the scale, and there’s that same number again:

Ugh, my scale is kinda dirty, isn’t it!  I really should do something about that.  Maybe tomorrow.

I won’t lie and say my initial reaction was something other than disappointment, because it was.  I’ve been working hard for the past month.  In February, I worked out 23 out of 28 days, including 5 classes at Slimmons and 3 boot camp classes with Craig.  My eating has been good, too.  Plateaus are frustrating!

You know what changed my mood about the whole thing, though?  A couple hours later, I was running around the house, gathering things so I could go run some errands and then hit the pool, and I caught, out of my periphery, a glimpse of myself in my bedroom mirror.  And it stopped me in my tracks.  For a split second I thought there was someone else in the room, and then I realized that it was me.  I had seen myself from an angle that I wasn’t used to seeing, and holy crap, I looked good!  That’s what ended up setting the tone for the rest of the day.

Before moving on, here’s the updated chart:

Which brings me to…

3) Pool. My workout at the pool was kick-ass!  Here’s what I did:

  • 1,000 yards warm-up (2oo free, 200 IM, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 IM).
  • 1 x 500 freestyle – I used to swim the 500 free competitively in high school, but don’t think I’ve tried to swim 500 yards without stopping since my interest in swimming resurfaced a few months ago, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
  • 2 x 100 free at 80% exertion, followed by 1 x 50 free all-out sprint.  That’s 250 yards, and I did it 4 times, so 1,000 yards total.  Wrong! On one of the sprints, I caught myself not sprinting, so I made myself re-do it.  So 1,050 yards total.
  • 200 cool down (mix of free and breaststroke)
  • GRAND TOTAL: 2,750 yards, in 1 hour and 5 minutes!  That’s 110 lengths of the pool, and just over a mile and a half.  My best swim workout to date!

4) Rainbow Carrots. The last time I was at Whole Foods, I picked up a vegetable I’ve never seen before.  I don’t think I ever mentioned it on the blog, but I’m mentioning it now…  Rainbow Carrots!

They’re carrots, in other colors besides orange.  I didn’t know carrots came in other colors besides orange.  They don’t come in tons of other colors (or maybe they do and Whole Foods’ selection is lacking), but I bought some purple ones and some yellow ones.  Here they are, next to one of their common orange cousin:

They’re a little smaller than the orange ones, but who cares.  They’re also almost twice the price of the orange ones ($2.49 a lb for rainbow, versus $1.29 a lb for orange), but I just noticed on my receipt that I was changed $1.29 for all of them!  Score!

Most of the time, I just eat carrots raw.  I love them, and they’re easy to cut up and store, and it’s super easy for me to grab a handful as a snack as I’m heading out the door, which I do often.   I also don’t bother peeling carrots.  Do you?  I find it time-consuming, and have found that with a good cleaning, they’re fine.   So I chopped off both ends of each carrot and cut them into sticks.  Here’s some of all three colors:

I love how the outsides don’t necessarily reflect the insides.  Right in the center, you can see a carrot that’s purple on the outside, but yellow on the inside, and the two yellow carrots I cut up have different colored insides altogether.  Call me a nerd, but I think that’s kinda fun!  Who knew vegetables could be so mysterious?

As for the taste, they taste like carrots.  Perhaps a touch less sweet, but basically the same.  If I were blindfolded, I wouldn’t know the difference, I’m sure.

I’m heading back to Whole Foods tomorrow or Friday… I wonder what new produce item I’ll pick up this time!

Keep it up, David!

Lunch at Spago

February 21, 2011

Man, did I have a great meal the other day.  Delicious food, wonderful company – it was a really special time.

Way back last fall, I was able to do something really nice for my friend Felise, who I’ve met and become friends with because she’s also a regular at Slimmons, and ever since then she’s wanted to return the favor by taking me out to lunch.  Well, months and months went by, and no lunch, but we finally were both free a few days ago on Saturday, after one of Richard Simmons’ classes.  So Felise took me to Spago.  Spago, in Beverly Hills, is the flagship restaurant in the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group.  It won a James Beard award a few years back, and was one of three restaurants in Los Angeles to get 2 stars in the Michelin Guide in 2008.  It appears Felise doesn’t mess around when she wants to take someone to lunch!

Here’s me and Felise at our table.  It was a great table, tucked away in the corner, so we could see most of the main dining room:

Felise, who is also trying to eat healthily, had called ahead, and asked if they had reasonably healthy menu options, and the host told her that we could basically order any food that was on the menu, but have it cooked any way that we liked.  So we started looking over the menu, but had barely started when our server returned, removed the menus from our hands (politely) and said, “you’ll have time to look at these in a few minutes – we’re going to bring some things out from the kitchen.”

A few minutes later, the amuse-bouches started arriving.  An amuse-bouche is a one-bite appetizer, which literally means, in French, ‘mouth amuser’ – that much I knew from watching umpteen seasons of Top Chef.  The definition also includes (and I just read this online) that in fine dining situations, amuse-bouches are never ordered from menus, but instead sent out as a present from the chef to his patrons.  In total, they brought us 4 amuse-bouches, and, true to tradition, they were comped on our bill at the end of the meal.

First up, a tuna tartare in some sort of sesame cracker that was formed into a cone.  If you’ve never had tartare before, it’s raw meat (usually steak or fish) that’s blended with herbs and maybe a light sauce:

It was fantastic.  Then they brought out 2 more, in rapid succession:

On the left is smoked salmon, with a little salmon roe in the center, served on a blini (a little savory pancake) with creme fraiche.  On the right is ceviche, which is a cold soup made from raw fish or seafood that is cooked only in acid (typically, lime juice).  I forgot what kind of fish was in this ceviche, but it also had a little blood orange segment in it, too.

I can tell now that I’m going to run out of ways of saying how delicious everything was at Spago, so maybe I’ll just stop trying, and tell you now, and for the last time – it’s amazing.  Wonderfully attentive service, exquisite food – if you have the chance to go to Spago, don’t pass it up!

The last amuse-bouche was bacon confit with a bechemel sauce, wrapped in pastry:

Confit is a cooking technique (and a preservation technique) where meats are slowly cooked in salted fat, and bechemel is a white sauce.

Some of the items in these dishes were certainly things that I wouldn’t eat on a regular basis, but since everything was literally one bite, I didn’t worry about calories or fat.  Not at this meal!

We were finally picking up our menus and looking again, when Felise asked our server what she recommended that was lower in fat and calories, but still flavorful, and without skipping a beat, the server responded: “We have a fantastic red snapper with asian vegetables, and we can steam the fish, steam the vegetables, serve the miso/ginger/soy glaze on the side, and bring you some steamed brown rice.”  Sounds delicious to me!  We both ordered it.  And here it is (I forgot to photograph the rice, but you know what that looks like):

The vegetables included bok choy and lotus root, which I don’t think I’ve ever tried before, and I’m telling you, I could eat this every single day with no problems at all!  The fish was delicate and flaky, the vegetables tender.

Although our server suggested ordering a fresh berry plate for dessert, we were both full and decided to pass.

Thank you again, Felise, for a terrific lunch!

Keep it up, David!