Friday, April 18, 2014

... Bar Cocoa dessert tasting ...

My life certainly has been crazy lately. Mostly in my head with my thoughts and my overthinking ... but to honor the effort I am doing to get back to some type of inner peace and some "me" time, I decided to partake in a delicious event with fellow bloggers.

The event was at the Ritz-Carlton's Bar Cocoa Charlotte located at 201 East Trade Street. I love this hotel's location, it's guest lounge, and the delicious JalapeƱo Mashed Potatoes served at BLT. I had visited Bar Cocoa before but mostly on the go, this time I was in for a treat.

I arrived early, (so much for being fashionably late), and was greeted by Jodi Nowak, Marketing Director (I hope her title is correct), and Jeanette Payne, Pastry Chef.


Jodi's enthusiasm was contagious and Jeanette's passion refreshing.

Jeanette proceed to tell us all of the new dessert lineup. The star of the show the Blueberry Lavender Macaron.

15 rotating flavours for the delight of all. I just loved the Dulce de Leche macaron.

The Blueberry Lavender Macaron had a perfect balance. I appreciate when chefs are able to balance delicately flavours like lavender and rose.

Red Velvet is one of their best sellers. I didn't get to experience it though ... I guess that only means I will have to stop by again soon.

After the macarons we got to taste Peach Mango and Honey Pecan Gelato. There is a display case for all gelato lovers at Bar Cocoa, alongside the beautiful display of macarons, truffles and other plated desserts.

Next were the eclairs.
The presentation of Bar Cocoa's eclairs bear no resemblance to those commonly found. They were beautiful and delicious. We tasted Caramel, Rasberry and Rose, S'mores, Pistacchio and Strawberry, which was favoured by many. My favorite: The original. (Sorry, no close up pic of the S'mores eclair.)

Then the signature Ritz-Carlton Cake was presented to us, now to be found in all Ritz-Carlton's. It's a dense dark chocolate and candied orange cake. It was rich and the candied oranges was a nice contrast to the dark chocolate.

A trio of milkshakes then made their appearance. Cookies and Creme, Banana Caramel, and a traditional double chocolate made with hazelnut gelato.

After the tasting we had time to chat with Jeanette and poke her brain on her favorite items and also the ins and out of her job. She told us about the Bar Cocoa Lab, which is a hands on class offered twice a month. 3 hour class, 8 students, 75 dollars.

Students get to eat and take home what they make, keep the apron they are given and a recipe book.

It was then time for the group pic. I actually cropped myself out. I know. Kind of vane, right.

To our surprise we were also treated to a beautiful goody bag. Dolce de Leche was included in the box of macarons ... I was happy. Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows and Norman Love truffles. I was good though and shared with my family and at work the next day.

So beautifully presented and so gracious of the hosts to do this for us.

It was a fun time and I thank Bar Cocoa at Ritz-Carlton, Jodi and Jeanette for hosting us.

Unfortunately I don't have all the blog addresses of those who attended with me ... but below I do have a few. Go check them out.

That's all for now ... a dopo ... J

Sunday, March 30, 2014

... I still love to cook ...

I noticed I haven't been posting many pics of food or my cooking. The truth is that I really haven't been making any special delights. It is not that I have not been cooking, it's that with all that has been going on, my meals have not been as varied or interesting.

I really want to get back to spending time in the kitchen. Too many things have been going on ... it hasn't been easy ... running has been keeping me sane ... and in a sense out of the kitchen.

I am mostly disappointed in a lot of people in many fronts and I am just learning to cope with that ... Unfortunately this feeling has spilled over to things that make me happy ... like ... the kitchen ...

Today I read a post in that fit perfectly today. It doesn't always have to be fabulous to post ... Life doesn't always have to be fabulous to be beautiful. I just have to embrace it and let go of things that are not allowing me to love the "unfabulosity" that my wonderful life can be.

So here it is ... my not so fabulous lunch on a beautiful windy day ... hoping the wind takes away a little of the feelings I am experiencing leaving lightness and serenity behind.


... a dopo ... J


Saturday, March 29, 2014

... Suja 1 day cleanse review ...

I decided to try out a juice cleanse ... I chose the Suja 1 day Cleanse.

I initially chose the one day partly because of the cost and also because I still a part of those that believe that the body can do it on its own. I knew I couldn't do the five day cleanse, that just seems excessive. Three seems doable. One day seemed like a good way to start.

I bought my juices at Whole Foods and just love this convenience.


For breakfast I had the Glow in the car on my way to work. It was not bad. It tasted like a green juice.

Next up was the Fuel ... I really liked this one and drank it much more happily than the Glow.

Seems like I had the Purify in the same place as the Fuel. Note to self: get up more during the work day. ;)

The mid afternoon Fiji I started during a meeting ... (Finally out of my office!) This one I did not enjoy. Mid-afternoon came and went ... And the juice was still there.

During my meeting I did feel a little hungry ... I mostly wanted to chew on something. The hunger was not unbearable, but I did feel it.

After my meeting ... I zoomed out of the office to get to my daughter's soccer game. I love watching her and this may be the last games I get to see her in. I got there with 10 minutes to go on the first half, just in time for the first goal of an important game. It was raining ... and it felt great. There is nothing like watching my daughter play. The second half was tough. The rain made precision hard and tensions began to climb. With ten seconds we started the countdown ... only to be interrupted with the cheers of a goal made with one second to go. It was EXHILIRATING! I know I probably was feeling this as I am the mom of a player, however I know moms and dads out there know what I mean.

After game talk with the girls. After the game I had to drive my daughter two hours to her Student Council State Meeting. Driving two hours there and two hours back after driving two hours (to and back) to work was made easy by such an amazing victory.
Driving there was not bad ... I however was having a hard time on the way back. I waited until 12 and ate a few pieces of sushi I bought my daughter for dinner. So in a sense I did do the day cleanse as it was the day after. :). I just needed a little energy to keep my tiredness away.
On my way to the race I found this ... I just could not finish yesterday. Neither the two I had pending. It was just too much liquid for my taste. It didn't help that this was my least favorite from the ones I tried.

I still have to try the Green Supreme. I didn't even buy the Vanilla Cloud, as it's just a taste I can't see myself liking. I bought this one instead.

It wasn't bad. It tasted like lemonade with a cayenne kick. My review of the a Green Supreme will have to wait until tomorrow.

Results, what I learned and final thoughts ...

  1. Although throughout the day I kept thinking I was never going to do it again ... today I actually think every so often it could be good.
  2. I know I won't ever do it for 5 days. I miss food too much. Three days ... I don't know ... maybe if I do it with someone.
  3. I lost 4 pounds. I actually don't want to weigh myself tomorrow. It probably was all water weight and I don't want to find out. I would like to think it's true weight loss.
  4. I do feel it was worth it. Just for one day though.

Today I have tried to eat healthy. It has been hard because I feel hungry and it's been a rainy, lazy day ... and unfortunately I am one of those that loves food and finds comfort in it.

For dinner I made pearl couscous with an avocado cream that I made with one avocado p, a tablespoon of non-fat Greek yogurt, cilantro and a tablespoon of white vinegar as I did not have lime.

After the fun-dog-run and a warm bath this is what we have been doing all day.

Hope you had a beautiful Saturday ... a dopo ... J


... Dante's first race and my "first" trail race ...

Today Dante and I participated in the dog jog at Sticks and Bones Trail race. I have never run a trail race and with my Half and the 10 Miler within the past two weeks I decided to sit this one out and just run with Dante.

It was a gloomy day which was too bad because the race had true potential had it been a sunny day. Weather and few spectators, I loved it all.

I was sure to arrive early as I wanted his energy to settle before the jog. I had cheese, treats and banana to help me out. He was not complaining.


Radio Disney gave him a bandana and a toy. He was thrilled. Being that I wasn't running I should have not taken my new shoes. Let say I had to put them in the wash twice.
Side note. There were three spots where the creek crossed the trail. I guess Dante thought it was a duathlon, as he proceeded to swim all three times.
I had to drag him out.

The trail run was fun ... I believe it was a mile or mile and a half. I was afraid of falling during the first part of the race, because Dante was pulling so much. I feel bad that I have not had the patience to train him. It was great having him during the uphills, as he did all the work ... on the other hand it was really scary on the downhill portions.

I enjoyed the run, but I don't think I am a trail runner. I am just too clumsy for it. I do think Dante would enjoy the trails more than the road, I just am not fully convinced it is the right terrain for me.

It started to rain shortly after we started. It felt amazing and wished the race had been a little longer, however I knew the distance was enough for Dante.

Cutie, wet, muddy face. A new runner in the house!

"My mommy made me do it !!! Why am I supposed to pose!" Dante :) Don't be fooled ... he loved every second of it.

I gave him a bath as soon as we walked in the door. He has been resting ever since ... sleeping and snoring ... tummy to the sky!



Things I learned today:

  1. Trail races are hard.
  2. Trail races are fun.
  3. Trail races are muddy and the car looks a mess and the car smells funky. (Especially if it was a rainy race!)
  4. I am still not brave enough to attempt a real race.
  5. I am falling in love with running more and more every day.

That is all for now. ... a dopo ... J


Sunday, March 23, 2014

... Charlotte 10 miler ...

I am a big believer in the power of the mind. I have been fighting this cold for a few weeks now ... I get a bad headache and wish it away ... Well, until this Friday when my body won over my desire not to get sick. I left work a little early as I just could not deal with my headache any longer, and sure enough finally a full blown cold developed. Yesterday I stayed in bed all day, did some laundry in between, but I basically just rested.

I was not thrilled that my 10 miler was today ... I was tired and stuffy ... until I got to the start line. Everything seems to get better at the start line. The atmosphere of a race is just so wonderful, that even my cold lost its power.

The temp was a little chilly while we were waiting but I knew it would be perfect running weather and it sure was.

There is always a moment prior to starting the race that I ask myself why I run races ... I guess it is nerves and a feeling that I will not be able to do it ... even though I know I will.

I wanted to run a 1:28 and ended up finishing 1:31. There was a hill at mile 9 I believe and it was tough. I was happy to see Bill Shires at the end of the hill as I needed a little encouragement and that he did.


Mile 9 was my slowest and mile 10, my fastest. I actually think it may have been my fatest mile ever in a race. I will have to check!

At every race I meet someone new ... a new friend ... and as you see them in other races they become part of this unspoken circle. I am so fortunate to have found running. It's not always easy, I may not be the fastest, but I am always so very grateful for being able to do it. That finish line is always so sweet.


I met Tai at the start line and finish line and Jess from Will Run for Cheeseburgers, which is a blog I follow. Jess like Tai are pretty fast runners ... I was thrilled to meet them both. Jess even placed in her category!

So ... in Legally Blond squeaky fashion ... "We did it!"

A dopo ... J