February 27, 2012

Foodie Weekend

This weekend was very different than any I’ve had in a long time. It started out the same – with a full schedule of workouts and meetups with friends. But it ended up with me having spent most of the weekend in bed catching up on my DVR, aside from a few dinners out. And that was exactly what I needed.

It’s no secret that work has been pretty stressful for me lately. Fortunately, I only have one more week on this project, and then it’s on to… greener pastures? Actually, I have no idea. I’m just as likely to get on an awful project as I am a great one, so we’ll see which way the wind blows. However, that’s one thing I really do love about consulting / my job – even if something is bad, it’s never bad for too long, and you’re always going to be moving on to something else pretty soon.

On Friday, I had what I thought was a busy-but-not-too-stressful day lined up: working from home in the early morning, routine doctor’s appointment at 11am, and then into the office by noon for a lunch meeting. My afternoon was full of conference calls and training sessions, but I thought I’d have time in between (okay, and perhaps during some of those calls) to catch up on my piles of email and brimming to-do list. I scheduled a Zumba class for 5:30pm, planning to bring workout clothes to the office and head there in between work and my dinner plans that night, and was that frump who wore sneakers in transit to the office instead of my usual travel-in-ballet-flats-switch-to-heels-upon-arrival. I wasn’t about to carry around three pairs of shoes in my little laptop bag!

However, when I put on my sneakers, something didn’t feel right. As I walked from my apartment to the subway, I felt like someone had stuck an extra arch support in my right sneaker – the right side of my right sole felt pressured and bruised. Oddly enough, when I got to the office and switched to my stilettos, the pain went away. Hmm. I figured it maybe had something to do with these being the same sneakers I did my marathon in last week – perhaps I was overusing them and needed to switch to a different pair? Something to consider.

When 5pm rolled around, though, I still hadn’t completed everything on my to do list. Most notably, I hadn’t yet been able to fax in my expense receipts, because my computer wouldn’t seem to communicate properly with any of the numerous printers in the office. After a lot of tries and a bit of internal cursing, I gave up – reasoning that I could always submit them next week, but I needed to get to Zumba now.

I headed outside for what I thought was a quick 1/2 mile walk uptown… and into the pouring rain. Yuck! Within minutes, my sneakers were soaked through (oh, this was going to be a fun class, with my sneakers squishing on every jump), and my right foot started hurting again. What on earth was wrong with it? Meanwhile, I was also frantically trying to reach my best friend, who had agreed to make a yay/nay decision on a potential Caribbean cruise next week… but was now nowhere to be found. To add to my misery, I realized I had totally miscalculated the distance to Zumba and was totally going to be late.

I considered just giving up and going home. More than anything, I hate being late for things. I think it it one of the rudest things you can do, and shows an utter lack of respect for those you’re meeting (in this case, a class of strangers). But with my busy schedule lately and my neglecting to build in a buffer zone for unexpected occurrences, I’ve been getting in the terrible habit of arriving 2-5 minutes late for everything lately (I really need to break that). On the plus side, it’s helped me loosen up a little bit – recognizing that the world is not going to come to an end if I’m a few minutes late to something, and that usually I’m stressing about it more than anyone else is. So, in the pouring rain, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that 50 minutes of Zumba was better than none at all, and that, in fact, the class itself might start 5 minutes late anyway. Onward!

By the time I got to the Zumba class, my mood was much improved. I signed up for the class through ZClub, which (apparently) doesn’t distinguish between levels and just lists everything as “Zumba.” However, when I got on this particular instructor’s mailing list the next day, I discovered that the Friday 5:30pm slot was actually an “advanced” class – which explained why I felt like I was in the Broadway Dance scene from Center Stage. While most people would be scared out of their mind, I was thrilled, and not at all intimidated by the close quarters (the class had about three times the number of people packed into it as usual for a studio of that size). It was really exhilarating to take a class with so many fantastic dancers, and I found that I was able to keep up fairly well – even picking up a bit of “street swagger” attitude from the way-cooler-than-me dancers around me. As a bonus, I got so caught up in the dancing that I forgot about my injured foot! I do love an adrenaline rush 🙂

After Zumba, it was on to my first foodie meal of the weekend – upscale Mexican at the brand new Empellon Cocina. With Alex Stupak (of Clio and Alinea notoriety) at the helm, my foodie book club had been eager to check this out, and we lucked out in more ways than one. The food was delicious, the drinks were unbelievable (I had a Xtabentun cocktail that paired so well with the cashew chipotle salsa that it blew my mind – and I usually hate licorice!), and the service was excellent. Call me crazy, but I’d prefer a trendy and spectacular low-key experience like that to the overhyped and underdelivered Per Se any day! Our waiter was top-notch, providing solid recommendations and having extensive knowledge of all the crazy ingredients on the menu, and despite eating until we were stuffed, the bill came to only a fifth of what we paid at Per Se. If you’re in the New York area and looking for an awesome restaurant experience, this should be your pick!

My foot had started hurting more when I headed over to the restaurant though, so after the meal, I called a cab home and immediately headed to bed. This pretty much became my theme for the rest of the weekend – cancelling any fun/workout plans in order to lie in bed, watch TV, and rest up. At first, I was a little bit dismayed that I was “wasting” my precious weekend in this way… until I thought back and couldn’t remember the last time I’ve done that. I’ve really been on the go quite a bit lately, haven’t I?? Some R&R was clearly exactly what I needed.

Saturday night, though, I was back out for another foodie experience – this time, a restaurant that had just opened 3 days prior. Brabant was an elegant brasserie that was known for their mussels and excellent beer list – and it did not disappoint. Over dinner with a diverse group of friends (all of whom arrived not knowing anyone but me – I love meals like that where everyone can get to know each other!), I discovered quite a few excellent beers that I had never tried, and feasted on some great mussels and frites. The several beers I tried also had the advantage of making my foot pain disappear (“Beer – the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems”) – a big plus for me, since I had no intention of cancelling my Athleta group run the next day. A poor choice? We’d soon find out…


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