Thursday, August 15, 2013

2013 Redskins Training Camp

Hello Everybody! I know it has been a minute since you last heard from me. I've been jetting back and forth between here and California, and I have finally gotten a chance to chill for a moment. I promise I'll update you on my California adventures soon enough, but first let me tell you about my experience at the new Redskins Training Camp at Bon Secours, Richmond VA . I was able to score two VIP passes to training camp courtesy of WOW Redskins, so I took my sister along for the ride down I-95! It has been forever since I had been to training camp.  Because this is the first year that it will be in Richmond, I thought it would be the perfect time to go!

All smiles!

Look there's Brian Orakpo! He was looking good during training camp! Still taking it a little easy though!

Fun gif time of the training camp action! Can you believe there were thousands of people that showed up to training camp each day? It was such a fun atmosphere, almost like a festival with food vendors and all.

Yup. I love gifs and here's one of RGIII and the rest of the quarterbacks taking some snaps.

Special teams practicing with a soccer ball! 

The highlight of my training camp experience was at the end when we got a chance to meet the players up close, and get some autographs. Being in the VIP section, we were corralled off and couldn't leave until all the players went inside the building. This meant that we had to stay at least an hour after training camp was over; however, it was well worth the chance to get some autographs and see some players. Unfortunately, I didn't buy any merchandise for the players to sign because I honestly didn't think I was going to get any autographs...but luckily I was wrong. :)

Here's Logan Paulsen (TE) and right next to that pic is the shot of his autograph! Right next to Paulsen's autograph is Pat White's (QB)!


Here are Josh LeRibeus' (G) and Josh Morgan's (WR) autographs.

Here are Reed Doughty's (S) and Kai Forbath's (K) autographs. Thank God we stopped by the WOW booth beforehand and got these stickers.  Without them, I wouldn't have anything for the players to sign!  

I really was running out of things for the players to sign, so I resorted to getting my credentials signed. Here is Kory Lichtensteiger's signature. Showing the linemen some love as the hubby likes to say.

On the other side of my credentials, I got Chris Chester's autograph. #morelinemenlove

After my badge was all filled up, I resorted to using Jill's badge to get some autographs. Here is rookie WR Skye Dawson's autograph.

And one year vet, Chase Minnifield's (DB), autograph.

But the showpiece of them all can be seen below.

With the help of my sister's scouting, I was I able to score both RGIII and Alfred Morris' autograph! Whee! Despite being mobbed, they were both very kind in staying and signing autographs.

To cap off our long, but fun day, Jill and I walked over to nearby Buz and Ned's Real Barbeque of Bobby Flay Throwdown fame

All in all I would say the day was a complete success! Despite the somewhat long drive (especially because we hit traffic), I got to see the Skins' new training camp facilities, and I was able to get 12 autographs! #shouldveboughtafootball But who knows? If I did buy a football, I probably wouldn't have gotten as many autographs or any at all! Isn't that how it always is? :P I am super pumped for the upcoming season! #HTTR!

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Spend a Day and a Half in San Francisco

After a fun few days in Napa, we wanted to make the most of our time on the West Coast so we opted to stay an extra night in San Francisco. After dropping Darlene off at the airport (which was thrilling since we were stuck in traffic and she came really close to missing her flight) we checked into our humble hotel in Chinatown and grabbed a bite to eat at Ramen Underground.

We started off with the rice balls which were huge! They look like mini-mountains!

Both N. and I got the tonkatsu ramen. I am by no means a ramen connoisseur, but I love all noodle soups in any which way or form (i.e.: pho, udon, ramen, etc.).

After our filling meal we decided to walk around the "varied" shops in Chinatown. I say varied jokingly because they were more or less the same store, selling the same things.

Us goofing around in Chinatown. LOL.

After we strolled through Chinatown, we headed to the top of Nob Hill (we literally had to climb some steep a$$ hills to get to this place!) to check out the famous Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel. Having drank wine for the past few days you could say I was wine'd out. I was excited to drink something different so I was happy to bring on the hard liquor, LOL. We started off with their signature mai tais. They were good, fruity and strong!

The band was pretty good! The fun thing to note is that every time the band went for break the barge the band was on would move back "in-land" and it would start to storm on the water--complete with rain and thunder sounds.



The next beverage we tried was the Smuggler's Golden Punchbowl for two. We saw that the bartender added bitters to the drink which made the cocktail a little too salty after a while.

We asked him if he could add something to it to make it less salty/more sweet. He then added some guava juice which made it a little better! ;)

Yum! Definitely more palatable!

After a couple of cocktails it was off to bed because we had a long day planned for tomorrow. We had booked this Hayes Valley walking tour so we were really looking forward to that. I had never heard of the Hayes Valley neighborhood or done a walking tour so I was excited to do something super "touristy" in the city!

I started off my morning the next day with the breakfast of champions, bahn mi! On our way to Hayes Valley I looked up a well-reviewed little food/coffee shop on Yelp called Fresh Brew Coffee and their bahn mi sandwich did not disappoint!

Derby Street! Too bad I didn't find a Louie Street!

Walking to across town we also ran into a farmer's market! We got to sample some fresh fruit and cheeses! So delicious! We also stopped by the famous Blue Bottle Coffee where I tried their New Orleans iced coffee. It had the perfect amount of milk with a hint of sweetness. Yum!

Now the tour! Luckily we didn't eat to much that morning because this foodie walking tour through Gourmet Walks required a lot of eating of which we were happy to oblige!

Our first stop on the tour was the Smitten Ice Cream Shop.  

The flavor we sampled was the cinnamon shortbread which was delicious! Smitten makes their ice cream differently in that they use CO2 to make their ice cream in small batches. It was pretty neat to watch them make it.

Our next stop was the Fatted Calf for some tasty charcuterie! Here's a picture of one of the employees telling us about the shop. At every stop an employee came out and told us about the restaurant/shop we were in and what they were serving.

For some reason this was my favorite place on the tour. I think it's because I'm a sucker for gourmet/artisanal meats!

This is Katie who was our Gourmet Walks tour guide, she was great!

After that, we visited DragonEats for some (more) bahn mi. Honestly, I could never tire of bahn mi so I was fine with eating it twice in one day.

Here is a shot of the chicken bahn mi we sampled. Compared to the one I had in the morning, I like the one at the coffee shop better. Honestly, this one had a bit too much mayonnaise and it wasn't served with the usual bahn mi baguette, regardless I'm sure it is still a nice addition to the neighborhood. 

Next, we went to Hayes and Kebab for some assorted Mediterranean mezze. Below is a shot of the store sign and a sampling of the pita, babaghanoush, hummus, and falafel.

By this stop I was starting to get really full. The next stop, Nosa Ria, offered a light sample of their Spanish olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Too bad there was no vehicle to sample them with (i.e.: bread, cracker). N. and I were secretly hoping for a sample of Iberico ham, but alas, there was none. wah wah.

After, the oil and vinegar sampling I was really excited for our next stop, Miette, for some macarons! If you don't know, I am a macaron fiend! And these ones were organic and tasty! In the picture below, the pistachio macaron is the left and the raspberry macaron is on the right, but I'm sure you couldn't tell since they don't use any artificial colors or preservatives. Their subtle tones definitely weren't what I was used to but they were yummy nonetheless!

A shot of the beautiful interior of the store.

Jars full of macarons!

After satisfying my sweet tooth, we went to Arlequin Cafe for some tasty nibbles of bread and cheeses. They had a lovely back patio which looked like it would be nice for chatting with friends in the beautiful weather. Here is a shot of the spread. They also served us a sample of Chardonnay, but as I already mentioned I was wine'd out so I barely took a sip. LOL.

The last stop on our tour was Noir Lounge for some beer tastings.

I obviously didn't like the hoppy pale ale, but I did like the chocolatey stout!

After our tour we did some retail therapy at San Francisco's own Marine Layer (they're products are so soft and cozy!) and Uniqlo

Our time in San Francisco was coming to an end so we had to head back to Chinatown to grab our rental car and things and head to the airport. But before we headed out, we stopped at Bite to grab a bite for the plane ride home! Pun intended...har har har. ;P Their artisanal sandwiches were huge and smelly (in a good way!) so we probably got the stink eye while we noshed on the onion-y goodness on the plane.

Whew! That is a lot of stuff! Although we only had a day and a half, we filled our short time in San Francisco with lots of good times and good eats!