We spent a blissful four days at on the eastern shore celebrating our anniversary. The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay has become our favorite regional retreat. Mornings started early with bottomless cups of coffee in the restaurant’s all glass sunroom. We had to work while we were there, so our days were spent poolside, laptops open on adjacent chaise lounges in the shade of a big umbrella. At night we ventured into Cambridge to eat crab pizza, then came back to the hotel to sip red wine and roast s’mores in the giant stone fireplace.
After a half marathon there are only two things that I want. Number one: Coca-Cola. Number two: potato chips. This is one of the benefits of running with Team In Training – I can almost certainly find both of these items in their tent at the finish line. I hobble over and navigate the food line quickly, scanning the spread to ensure that the trusty yellow Lay’s bag and cans of Coke are present. In my mind, this sweet and salty combo can’t be topped.
After the Herothon Half Marathon, I decided to switch things up a bit. Because, after all, we were in Texas. And when in Texas and one has just run a half marathon, one should take it upon oneself to eat as much queso as possible. Queso and a Coca Cola, I knew I was onto something here.
Guided by several recommendations and its nearby proximity to our hotel, we headed to Casa Rio. I think this restaurant may be about as tourist-y as you can get on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, but I really didn’t care. I was in it for the queso. And, if I’m going to go to a really tourist-y spot, I prefer it to be waterfront on a beautiful 75 degree afternoon in January. The stars were aligning. Well, at least until I ordered a Coke and was told by the waiter that they only served Pepsi. To say I was deflated would be an understatement. While I am willing to substitute Lay’s potato chips for tortilla chips and queso, I am most certainly not willing to substitute Pepsi for Coca Cola. A girl’s got to draw the line somewhere. Water was probably the best choice anyways, and so that’s what I had. While I felt like my post-race indulgence had been a bit undermined by soft drink availability, the queso was delicious and we sat and chatted and very much enjoyed the afternoon anyways.
Let me be honest: San Antonio has never been at the top of my list of cities I would like to visit, not even close. I’m not sure what my mind’s eye pictured this city to be, but I was fairly certain it wasn’t for me. That’s part of why I decided to come. Well, that and I had some available frequent flyer miles. And Ryan has been working so hard over the past six months to bring to life a brand new half marathon presented by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Alas, here we are.
Last week I booked a flight to come down to San Antonio for the weekend and I am so very glad that I did. Having run the Disney Half Marathon two weeks ago and still having a bit of residual foot pain, I didn’t think I would run this weekend’s half marathon, but decided to come anyways. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is putting on their first race, the inaugural Herothon Half Marathon, and I wanted to watch it go off. Ryan has poured so much into this event and I wanted to be here to cheer for him, as much as for the runners.
We had a fantastic first night in San Antonio. It was warm and we walked to Southtown to eat at The Friendly Spot. We sat outside at vintage picnic tables with peeling paint drinking IPAs and eating nachos and black bean burgers. The bartenders were friendly and provided great beer recommendations. The bar on the back of the property had only been open for four days and boasted 47 craft beers on draft. Cyclists gathered after a ride and couples chatted over pints of beer. I began to get the feeling that I had a very wrong perception of San Antonio.
We’ve spent the past few days enjoying the view from our hotel room patio and walking around the city. And, of course, within just a few hours of being here, I signed up for the half marathon. I’m really looking forward to a nice long run around this city.
When in Hawaii one should eat poke (pronunciation: “poh-keh”). Poke is Hawaiian for “slice or cut into pieces” and the dish is basically just cubed raw seafood (typically yellowfin tuna) with vegetables (typically onions), sauces (typically soy), and spices. While a form of poke was probably enjoyed by ancient Hawaiians, the dish we know today became popular in the 1970s. Today it’s typically served as an appetizer or pupu.
My favorite is tried tofu poke with sea asparagus from Tamura’s Market. Actually, any poke from Tamura’s Market will do the trick. I’ve tried the ahi and squid as well. The poke department is a deli counter at the back of the shop. Also, should you find yourself in need of a bottle of wine, you can find a nice selection at Tamura’s Market. And luckily, there are multiple locations where you can get your poke fix. Enjoy!
In the spirit of leveraging jet lag into as many sunrises viewings as possible, a pre-dawn hike up to the Ka’Iwa Ridge was on the agenda. The Lanikai Pillboxes hike is well known to be a fairly easy hike with fantastic views over Lanikai and the Mokulua islands (otherwise known as the Moks). Two military outlooks, World War II remnants called “Pillboxes,” are situated on the ridge line. The Pillboxes have been emptied out and hikers can go inside of them or sit on top of them and they are a great spot to take in the view.
We took a seat between the two Pillboxes and watched the sun come up over the horizon.
The view over the Moks is spectacular, but so is the view back over Kailua.
The pictures below show the view looking back towards the first Pillbox and over Kailua and looking towards the second Pillbox and over Lanikai.
Even though we arrived before 7:00am, hikers had already positioned themselves all along the ridge line. This is one of my favorite things about people that live in Hawaii: they still show up to see the beauty. It is sought out, appreciated and enjoyed even by those who experience it day after day. It continues to draw you in, to seek your acknowledgement.
Day after day the island delivers sights of unparalleled beauty. And day after day seekers are rewarded for their pursuit of its beauty.
The backdrop of this scene is the Koolau mountains. Should you find yourself hiking near sunset, this is where the sun will fall.
After the hike we headed to Moke’s Bread and Breakfast in Kailua. The lilikoi pancakes were absolutely amazing. The pancake recipe has been handed down through four generations. Moke’s sources lilikoi from the Big Island to make the decadent cream sauce poured overtop. This is an absolute must have after a morning hike.
I was fixated on one post-race treat after the half marathon: Dole Whip. This soft-serve pineapple ice cream is tart, cold and delicious and sold at only a handful of places worldwide. It’s been a bit of a tradition since we traveled to Hawaii as kids and visited the Dole plantation.
I found an article in Food & Wine magazine about good eats in Disney World and was excited to discover that the Aloha Isle food stand in Magic Kingdom carries the dessert. Post-race we rode back to our hotel, hopped in the pool, gorged ourselves on a greasy lunch and then headed into the park. The Dole Whip did not disappoint (and I was too busy enjoying it to snap any pictures).
We didn’t indulge in post-race libations until the following day when we sought out margaritas from La Cava del Tequila. This was another tip from the Food & Wine article and, again, it did not disappoint. We ventured inside the Mexico pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot and we each ordered a margarita. The bar is small and a bit cave-like, and it was packed with runners who had just finished the marathon. I went with a suggestion from the bartender and ordered a frozen avocado margarita with a hibiscus Himalayan salt rim. It was creamy and perfectly complemented by the salty, floral tasting rim. You can enjoy beverages on the terrace of the pavilion and this is just what we did. It wasn’t crowded and we leisurely sipped our drinks and people watched.
When in Epcot, be sure to make a dinner reservation at Chefs de France. I’m not sure that I’ve ever visited Disney World and not eaten dinner here.
It’s one of the more expensive restaurants in the parks, but for the price you get a fantastic French brasserie style dinner. The staff are all French, most spending a one year rotation in the U.S., and I always find it interesting to chat with them about where in France they’re from and where in the U.S. they’ve chosen to visit.
Make a dinner reservation around 7:00pm and you’ll finish up just in time to watch the Illuminations show and fireworks, which start at 9:00pm. Or, make a later dinner reservation and ask for a table by the window so that you can watch the show from your seat. The restaurant is always booked, so be sure to make a reservation (days in advance, if possible).
Here’s how Frommer’s Review (via the New York Times) describes Chefs de France:
“An eye-catching, domed-glass exterior hides an intimate Art Nouveau interior, filled with candelabras and glass-and-brass partitions. An outdoor dining area adds to the authentic brasserie atmosphere. You can credit three internationally acclaimed chefs — Paul Bocuse, Roger Verge, and Gaston LeNotre — with the menu here, which combines fresh Florida ingredients with a good dose of French imports. Light sauces (when compared to more traditional French cooking, that is) complement such tasty entrees as grilled tenderloin of beef with a black-pepper sauce, potato gratin, and green beans; or broiled salmon served with tomato Béarnaise and ratatouille. A substantial wine list complements the menu, and the desserts and pastries are among the best in the World.”