Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up (8/3 - 8/6)

Friday

Paul and I have been waiting for this weekend for the longest time. We trained for two months for a weekend in Seattle / Portland. Paul and I started heading down to the states around 1PM. We were making good progress until we got stuck in traffic. We were only ten minutes away from downtown Seattle. That ten minutes turned into forty minutes and by then, I was starting to get grumpy. We took a quick stroll around downtown before meeting up with my friend Michelle for dinner.

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* Blue trees!! It reminded me much like night market *

Paul and I met Michelle at Black Bottle in Belltown for dinner. The restaurant had minimal lighting, which made it very intimate. It felt as we were in a private section of the restaurant. We were lost in our own little world; drinking, eating and chatting. The atmosphere was lively and welcoming. The menu had a handful of selections, but only some items appealed to me more than others. The service was excellent. Our server was very informative and helpful in choosing menu items. The pricing was normal for a tapas restaurant, and the portions are for sharing. We order roughly around six or seven dishes for a table of four before we were all full. We ordered the "Crispy fried chicken and collard greens", "House-smoked wild boar ribs", "Pork belly and kimchi", "Crispy squid with salt + Szechuan pepper", "Broccoli blasted", and "Prosciutto and bechamel flat bread". The "Crispy fried chicken and collard greens" was deep fried very well. There was a good crunch to it. The chicken wasn't too dry, but it lacked flavor. However, I thought the collard greens were delicious. I don’t think ever had any collard greens before. It also had bacon bits. Everything tastes better with bacon. I wasn't too much of a fan of the "House-smoked wild boar ribs". The meat was small and chewy. There wasn't much of it to enjoy. The "Pork belly and kimchi" was tasty. I wish I ordered more. There were two skewers, and each contained two chucks of pork belly *droolz*. I liked the "Crispy squid with salt + Szechuan pepper"; it had the right amount of heat and flavor. I think the "Broccoli blasted" was my favorite. I think this restaurant was known for this dish. The broccoli is baked with garlic, butter and other ingredients. The broccoli was crisp and had a light crunch to it. Soon after biting it, the broccoli sends out a hint of butter, garlic and smokiness. I couldn't eat much of this because it got very filling. The "Prosciutto and bechamel flat bread" was another masterpiece. It was simple and full of flavor. I enjoyed this restaurant and would come back again.

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* Fire to set the mood *
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* Sangria *
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* Crispy squid with salt + Szechuan pepper *
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* Crispy fried chicken and collard greens *
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* Pork belly and kimchi *
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* Broccoli blasted *
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* House-smoked wild boar ribs *
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* Prosciutto and bechamel flat bread *


Saturday

Paul and I were anticipating this day for the longest time; Run For Your Lives. We ran countless scenarios in our heads to imagine how it would be like. We woke up around 7AM to get ready and eat breakfast. We were able to arrive at the event two hours before our scheduled race, but the there was a huge line up of cars trying to park at the event. We were delayed twenty minutes, but that didn't faze us.

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* The road to victory *
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* Got you Paul!! *
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* It felt like we were twins throughout our trip *

The walk to the event was pretty far and the heat made it unbearable. The only thing that kept our minds off the walk was the signage. I started to feel anxious.

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* Signage #1 from the parking lot *
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* Signage #2 before entering the walk path to the park *
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* Signage #3 on the walk path *
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* Signage #4 on the walk path *
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* Signage #5 near the entrance *

This event was huge. There was a beer garden, food stands, Ben and Jerry Ice Cream truck and sponsored booths. There were so many people when we got there, and more people arrived as it got closer to our race time. We took a look at what we could see of the course, and we weren't too concerned about it. We had high hopes that we were going to come out alive. I thought each runner receives six flags to represent their health, but it turns out everyone only gets three. I cheated by rolling up the flag so it appeared it was shorter so that my shirt would cover it. I should have tucked it in my shorts *SMH*.

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* 1 of 3 health flags *
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* Paul showing off his flags *
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* Paul and I before *
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* Run For Your Lives, Before *

Paul and I looked for potential groups of runners that we could merge ourselves into during the run as shield. If we were successful, we could avoid losing our flags. The plan didn't work too well when the race started. There were nearly two hundred people in our wave, and when the flood gates opened, Paul and I were left fending for our own. The first five minutes weren't too bad. It was a light jog because of the people in front of us. Our first obstacle involved a house. We had to climb through a window and exit the house of the other side. The house was thick with smoke and hanging electrified wires, but no zombies. At the end of the house, we could exit through the left or right. We chose the right because we saw that no zombies lingered at that exit when we were observing the previous races. After stepping out the house, there was a steep downhill run to the bottom. I thought it would be effortless, but I quickly found how difficult this race could be. The paths we were running on wasn’t even, which made my knees and ankle very sore. The likelihood of twisting your ankle, tripping and sustaining some injury was very high. As I was running downhill, I picked up so much speed that it was hard to slow down or make sudden turns. I feared twisting my ankle or rolling down the hill.

Our second obstacle involved crawling through mud. I didn't like the idea of us crawling through mud at such an early stage. I was covered in mud from the chest down to my shoes, and it quickly dried up as we advanced further into the course.

The first third of the race didn't appear to be that bad. In between the obstacles, we encountered zombie filled paths. It was too hard to get past them. There were some uphill sprints that we weren't prepared for, and it felt us gassed out early in the race. We noticed that not every zombie was out to grab your flags. Paul had one of his flags stolen late in the first third of the race.

The second third of the race was more of the same, but the zombies were a bit more aggressive. That's where I lost two of my flags and Paul lost another. It was more or less the same as the first third of the race. We had to run through a maze, and if we took a wrong turn, there was zombies waiting for us. There was also a swamp area we had to get passed, jumping / ducking under fences /logs and jumping / climbing over walls. The uphill climbs got a bit more intense as we ran away from the forest path. On each uphill, there was almost a group of zombies waiting for your arrived. This sucked the most because we typical ran out of gas at the peak of the uphill and couldn't find the energy to blast through the zombies. We soon realized that we weren't running on a path or trail anymore but on a bmx / dirt bike track. Some of the hills were impossible to run on. We had to get on our hands and knees to pull ourselves up. Paul and I ended running straight into zombies knocking them over. I got tripped up a couple of times by other runners cutting in front of me and zombie who were trying to get in my way. I was exhausted, and Paul was near death exhausted. I had never seen Paul struggle so much before.

The last third of the race was painful. Both Paul and I had only one flag left. It was filled with uphills, downhills, and straightaways. There were zombies everywhere. Once you thought you got past a cluster of them, another waited for your arrives twenty seconds away. The glimpse of survive was very slim at this point, but Paul and I said "FUCK IT". We tried to run over the zombies, but at some point, it didn't work anymore. I lost my flag after being groped by one the zombies. There were three zombies in the middle. My last flag was hanging in front of my crouch. I didn't that at the time. I decided to run through the middle. The zombie middle sees me and grabs me by the waist. I get startled begin to trip. I placed my hand down and started to run and crawl at the same time. The zombie still has my waist and decides to yank my flag. I guess he missed because he groped my package three times before patting me on my back and saying "Good Job". I was confused, horrified and violated. I didn't know they were allowed to do that. As I was trying to regain my balance again, there was one zombie that appeared in front. I tried stepping over to the side to avoid it, but it was too late. I was too caught up in the moment of what just happened to me and lost my last and final flag. At that pointed, I stopped and waited for Paul to catch up. He also lost his flag. We didn't care anymore and walked the last ten minutes of the race.


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* Paul exhausted after the race *
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* Unsatisfied with my results *
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* Run For Your Lives; After - We died =( Braiinnss *
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* Donated our shoes after the race *

Paul and I chilled out after the race and claimed our free beer. We rested up before making the drive out to Portland. We were both pooped and couldn't wait for our shower at the hotel. The shower facility at the event was horrible. The water smelled disgusting. There were one shower station located outside the exit of the race, and it was a tube with holes poked through. The lineup was super long. The water was super cold, and it was hard to wash off everything with people shoulder to shoulder. The second shower station was further away from the exit of the race, and it was a hose that a fireman would use. Volunteers had to step in to spray people down and the water smelled like sewage.

We made a pit stop ten minutes outside of downtown Portland for The Grilled Cheese Grill. This food truck was pretty neat. It had a school bus for addition seating. The menu had a wide selection. It was very thinking of what to get. The pricing wasn't bad. Paul ordered "The Stickles" and I ordered the special of the day, "Paradise". Everything was delicious. I couldn't stop eating it. The cheese was gooey, and every bite was filled with flavor. I think this might be better than Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck, but I need to try their famous meatloaf grilled cheese sandwich before making any other judgment call. When your order is ready, they announce your order through a PA system. My sandwich sounded so seductive.


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* Everyone to the school bus!! *
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* The art of bus *
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* Paradise *
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* The Stickles *

After a quick snack, we were back on the road to Portland. It was another fifteen minute drive to the hotel. The hotel was so wack that it was not worth mentioning. Paul and I had to downsize our hotel options because it was too expensive to spend the weekend at the hotel we stayed previously. The hotel restaurant had happy hours, and I thought that the menu said $1 beers. Paul and I rushed down to the restaurant only to find out it was $1 off any beers on tap. Fail of the day! We both had a drink and ordered fish tacos while enjoying the UFC fight.

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* The fish taco tasted like tandoori *

Paul and I chilled out in our hotel for a bit before heading out for dinner. We were both exhausted from the race and needed to take a quick nap.

For dinner, we went to Mama Mia. Paul and I got sat in a private corner of the restaurant, and the main seating area was not empty. We didn’t know if they were racist or prejudice against gays. The dinner was very intimate, and it could've been perfect if we our girlfriends came along. The restaurant decor was very classic but not upscale to the nine. The service was friendly, but our seating situation threw us off. Their menu had great a section and their weekly special it made it harder to choose. The pricing was expensive than the average, but the quality speaks for itself. We ordered the "Minestrone", "Grilled Portabella Mushroom", "Lobster Mac and Cheese", and "Fettucine Bolognese". The "Miniestrone" soup was very hearty and delicious. The "Grilled Portabella Mushroom" was done up very simple and was amazing. The mushroom itself contained a lot of flavor. The "Lobster Mac and Cheese" was to die for. It was so delicious; I don't think I ever looked over or spoke to Paul. The only thing that threw me off was that they didn't use macaroni but penne. The "Fettucine Bolognese" had a great tomato base and the ground beef wasn't too overpowering to the point that it could've been spaghetti and meatballs. I’d come back for dinner with more people.


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* Paul staring hard at the bread *
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* Grilled Portabella Mushroom *
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* Minestrone *
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* Lobster Mac and Cheese *
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* Fettucine Bolognese *

After dinner, Paul and I went over to Ground Kontrol for some gaming action. Ground Kontrol is a place where people can drink, eat and play classic arcade games. We didn't need to eat or drink, so we mainly stuck with gaming. We didn't spend too much time in there because it was very uncomfortably sweaty.

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Sunday

Last year when we (Paul, Angie, Maria and I) came to Portland, we had our taste buds set on eating at The Big Egg. Unfortunately, they closed on Mondays. We learned from our mistakes and a year later we finally ate at The Big Egg. When Paul and I arrived at the food cart, there was a minimal line up, and we thought that the wait wouldn't be that bad. After ordering our food, we find out that it was going to be close to a forty minute wait. It was unbelievable. I wanted it so badly that the wait wasn’t a problem. Paul order the "Steak and Egg" while I ordered the "Breakfast Wrap". My taste buds exploded when I took a bite from both items. There was so much flavor that it so hard to tell that Paul's order was "Steak and Egg". Every bite reveals another hidden layer of ingredients. I must come back here again.

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* hehe Honey Bucket *
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* Trying to slip our order in *
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* Steak and Egg*

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* Breakfast Wrap *
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* Paul's thumb of approval *

From there on, we went to Woodburn outlets. We both didn't buy much. I loaded up on gym gear and work clothes. Nothing caught my eye. We were out of there in less than two hours. We would've been stuck for more the three hours if Maria and or Angie came along. Bullet dodged.

We unloaded at the hotel before heading out for happy hour. We needed snacks to tie us over until dinner. We asked around, and it appeared that Portland City Grill was the best choice. Portland City Grill was on the 30th floor. I wish there was something like this in Vancouver. The restaurant was very classy, and upscale but without the ego. It was very open and friendly. The service was extremely attentive. The happy hour items priced decently, especially the burger and steak. We ordered the "Warm Crab & Shrimp Bruschetta", "Seared Sesame Salmon Cakes", "Pan Seared Bay Scallop", and "Portland City Grill Kung Pao Calamari". Everything was decent except for the "Portland City Grill Kung Pao Calamari". It wasn't what we were expecting. It was like Chilli Chicken but with Calamari. Some pieces had too much batter and others were only batter. It was definitely a great place to have a snack and drink. The view was pretty neat, but it was nothing stunning. I want to try coming here for dinner to see how different it is to happy hour.

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* We found North Vancouver... Avenue *
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* Warm Crab & Shrimp Bruschetta *
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* Seared Sesame Salmon Cakes *
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* Pan Seared Bay Scallop "Poor Boy" *
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* Portland City Grill Kung Pao Calamari *

For dinner, we went to Deschutes Brewery. They are famous for their brew and it can be found in liquors across North America. The restaurant was fantastic. Even on a Sunday night near closing, Paul and I had to wait thirty minutes before we got a chance to get seated. The restaurant is very open, and people fill in all corners of the restaurant. The weirdest thing I had noticed was that no one was shouting or screaming. No one was over the top drunk. It was such an unlikely scene compared to Vancouver because usually it is me who is being a douche. Everyone was calm, and there was something special in the air. The service was a bit slow, but who can blame them, it was a packed house. The menu had your typical bar items and some, not your typical bar items. The brewery offered about twenty different brews on tap. It was so hard to choose. We decided to try out the sampler; Chain breaker, Porter, Twilight, Cyclist, Flagline, ??? * I can't remember the last one" *. We ordered the "Root Beer Braised Pork Belly", "Black Butte Porter Burger" and "Elk Burger". The "Root Beer Braised Pork Belly" was soft, and it melted in your mouth. I wished I had more. It was bacon with a smoke root beer hint to it. It was enjoyable. The two burgers were okay. It didn't taste like your ordinary burger, and it had more flavor than meat, but other than that it wasn't attention grabbing like the pork belly *droolz*. I love the atmosphere that this restaurant brings. I need to try all of their brews and more pork belly.

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* Chain breaker, Porter, Twilight, Cyclist, Flagline, ??? *
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* Root Beer Braised Pork Belly *
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* Black Butte Porter Burger with Peri Peri Fries *
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* ELK Burger *

After dinner, Paul and I took the stroll over to Voodoo Donuts. We had to grab three dozen worth of donuts *sigh*.

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* WINK WINK *
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* Three dozen.. NO LIE..  *
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* Donuts overload!! *

Monday

Ahh!!! It was our last day in Portland. We wanted to try other breakfast places, but we decided to stick with Bijou Cafe. I made a review about this place last year, so I will not be writing much about this visit. Paul ordered the BLT sandwich, and I ordered the Roast Beef Hash with a side of tomato. Their tomatoes are so red and delicious. It was all flesh, hardly any water or seed. This restaurant never disappoints.

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* BLT *
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* Roast Beef Hash *
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* TOMATO!! *

Six hours later, we were back home. We feasted like kings for the last three days, and it felt so weird not being able to eat whatever we want. It was back to our diets. FUCK IT!! We went out for dinner. We went to Dinesty for Shanghai food. This restaurant was fancier than other Chinese restaurants, but their service sucked. They kept ignoring us when we wanted to order, ask about something and to pay. The food was so-so. This restaurant was one of the cheaper Shanghai restaurants I have been to. Not bad for what it really is.

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* Soup Dumplings *
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* Fried Rice *
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* Dan Dan Mein *
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* Pan Fried Pork Dumpling *
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* Roasted Duck *

I was lucky enough to grab a pair of the Jordan 4 Fire Reds at Niketown for Maria and a pair off Therese (THANK YOU) for my pair. I also picked up a Kidrobot x Bender toy =D

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* Jordan 4 Fire Red - His and Hers *
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* Kidrobot x Futurama - Wooden Bender *


Black Bottle
2600 1st Ave, Seattle
Black Bottle on Urbanspoon

The Grilled Cheese Grill
NE 11th and Alberta, Portland
Grilled Cheese Grill (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Mama Mia
439 SW 2nd Ave, Portland
Mama Mia Trattoria on Urbanspoon

The Big Egg
4233 N Mississippi Ave, Portland
The Big Egg (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Portland City Grill
111 SW 5th Ave, Portland
Portland City Grill on Urbanspoon

Deschutes Brewery
210 Northwest 11th Ave, Portland
Deschutes Brewery & Public House on Urbanspoon

Dinesty
8111 Ackroyd Road, Richmond
Dinesty Chinese Restaurant 聚 on Urbanspoon

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