Sunday, July 31, 2011

Poll: Favorite Cycling Saddles

What are your top picks for both men & women?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is Bigger Better? Nah.

NPD: Consumers want smaller portions | Nation's Restaurant News

We couldn't agree more. Nothing is more disgusting than sitting down to a sloppy mountain of food. Bigger is not always better, y'all.

We'd much rather enjoy just enough of a dish done well than take home a doggy bag of something so-so. Actually, we just had an interesting discussion with a food service owner recently about the fact that we'd be willing (and even prefer) to pay the same price for a moderate serving as we paid for a huge one. Finesse and visual appeal are so important in a dish that restraint has value.

Smaller portions please. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rowlett Area Top 5 Summer Family Fun Spots

This summer is really proving to be a scorcher and the relentless heat is enough to make us want to hide in the house all day. We've managed to persevere and have some fun with the kids in spite of the weather. Get out and play!

  1. Wet Zone  Although smaller than other water parks, Wet Zone is inexpensive and easy to access. We also love it that they allow us to bring in our snack cooler at no extra charge. Season passes make it easy to pop in anytime and stay just long enough to cool down. 
  2. Lakes of Springfield Park  This park offers a little something for everyone. Go for a walk or bicycle around the ponds, feed the ducks, bring fishing poles, enjoy the shaded woods, play ball, climb on the playground or enjoy a picnic in the pavilion. This park is complete with restroom facilities. There is plenty of shade to shelter you from the sun.
  3. Rowlett Creek Preserve   The RCP trails are great during the summer because of the extensive shade. Either hike or ride the trails and enjoy a picnic while you're there. 
  4. Rowlett Public Library  The library is the perfect combination of peace, quiet and air conditioning. They offer a variety of activities for all age groups but it's a great family trip too. Grab a new batch of books to feed your literary appetite and while you're there snag a video for family movie night at home.
  5. AMC Firewheel 18 No summer activity list would be complete without a movie theater. To get the best ticket prices, make sure to choose a showtime before noon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Frisco's Top 10 Burger Spots

Most of the burger eating at our house actually happens in Frisco. It's not something we chow down on every day, or every week for that matter, but we do like a hassle-free, no nonsense, quick burger on occasion. So here it is, our current version of the ever changing Top 10 Burger Spot List. Check out the ones you've never tried & let us know what your top 10 are.

  1. II Brothers' Grill & Bar
  2. Gazeebo Burgers
  3. Whataburger 
  4. Smashburger
  5. Scotty P's Hamburgers
  6. The Main
  7. Kenny's Burger Joint
  8. Burger Girl
  10. The torta carne asada at Mariana's Taco Shop is our honorable mention as the best sandwich that eats like a burger.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Restaurant Week Strikes Again

Much to our dismay, KRLD Restaurant Week is rapidly approaching. We know, we know, "but it's for charity!" Charity or not, eating out during that time frame is a beat down for everyone involved.

So why is it so wildly popular if it's such a pain in the ass? Well, because it's cheap, that's why. If your pocketbook can't normally fund an evening out at a four or five star restaurant, the thought of snagging a $35, three course meal at one of these hot spots sounds pretty sweet. Reservations opened up yesterday & many locals have likely already booked their whole week long tour of the swankiest food diggs in Dallas.

That means that if you plan to visit one of the participating restaurants, you are likely to be packed in and rushed through. The first time we ever decided to give it a shot for charity's sake, we ended up at one of the area's best steak houses, crammed like sardines into the bar before being seated an hour past our reservation time. The waitstaff were horribly overworked, rushing around like tornadoes & sweating like pigs. We ordered our cocktails at the table since we couldn't actually make it up to the bar through all the people and watched as the kitchen cranked out plate after plate of the same prix-fixe food. It was just so uncomfortable that we left without eating and journeyed back over to enjoy steaks in peace in our neck of the woods.

Maybe simply getting a glimpse of "the good life" is worth it to you. If that's the case, then you'd better head on over to OpenTable quickly to book your reservations before they're all taken. The Couple Next Door will be enjoying dinner at home during Restaurant Week, saving our pennies up for another day. We prefer to savor a slow meal, choosing from the whole menu, in a relaxed, unhurried environment. That's what makes dinner joyous for us.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Old Casa Linda Theater Finds New Life as Natural Grocers

On our way to Richardson Bike Mart this weekend, we noticed interesting new signs of life at the old Casa Linda movie theater location. We were a little surprised to find a Natural Grocers in the space. They've done a great job of maintaining the integrity of the movie theater facade, honoring Casa Linda Plazahistory.

We don't generally do our shopping at "natural" grocery stores unless we are looking for a specialty item but we decided to go in and tour the store's selections for future reference. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a very scaled down version of Whole Foods Market. We checked pricing on Shot Bloks since they were in the energy bar section just inside the front door and found the price to be comparable to what we would expect to pay at a cycling shop.

They had some beautiful organic produce, but the section is small compared to many stores. We found the same to be true of their organic and specialty meat sections (some is frozen and some is refrigerated). If you've got a hankering for grass-fed beef or a nice lean ostrich or buffalo cut then this is the place to go.

Mom Next Door doesn't eat a lot in the way of wheat products lately so we were interested to check out the gluten/wheat-free bread and pasta selections. Their freezer section had a great selection of these breads and also cool items like sprouted breads. If you have not purchased these specialty breads before, expect them to carry a higher price tag than your run of the mill sandwich bread at any store. We noted a great selection of gluten-free products throughout the store.

This is also the place to go if you love great cultured foods and organic dairy. From yogurts to kefir to kombucha, they seem to have it all. Another very cool section in this store is the spices and seasonings aisle. We couldn't recall ever seeing coconut sugar before.

It appeared that the largest area of the store was devoted to nutritional supplements and natural body care products. That's not really something we get into on a daily basis so we did not peruse those shelves but, judging from the massive real estate it encompassed, we'd venture a guess that this store is likely to have most things you might want as far as that's concerned.

We like to become familiar with neighborhood stores like this so that we don't have to trek across the metroplex to pick up a specialty cut of meat or a unique spice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tour Becomes Crash Course

We sat down after dinner last night to watch our recording of the ninth stage of the Tour de France. It seems like we cross our fingers and hope for the best with even more frequency this year. The race has been plagued by multiple crashes, with serious injury to many top riders. The ninth stage was certainly no exception to the trend.

Alberto Contador managed to take a spill yet again in this stage. Although he didn't sustain any serious injury, the impact was to the very same knee he hit previously.

Another massive pileup sent some riders flying off the side of the road, down the hill and into the woods below. Alexandre Venokourov was among them. We watched anxiously as his teammates rushed to his side. His right leg hung helplessly at an awkward angle as he was carried out of the woods and up the hill to the street above. Initial speculation was that he might have fractured his pelvis. Team Astana reports that he is doing well after being transported to Paris via helicopter and undergoing surgery Sunday night to repair a broken femoral head. We are wishing him a speedy recovery.

Three other riders were forced out of the race in that same crash.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck left with a fractured shoulder, Frederik Willems with a fractured clavicle and David Zabriskie with a broken wrist.

As if that wasn't shocking enough, another unnecessary nightmare ensued. A television car riding along side Juan Antonio Fletcha and Johnny Hoogerland swerved to miss hitting a tree. Clearly the driver was not paying attention to the cyclists as he struck Fletcha, sending him crashing to the pavement and taking out Hoogerland as he tumbled town the tarmac. Hoogerland was vaulted, backside first, into a barbed wire fence.

After being bandaged by doctors and getting a new pair of cycling shorts, his others having been torn from his hindquarters, Hoogerland managed to complete the race. Not only did he cross the finish line, blood streaming down his legs, Hoogerland took the podium, in tears, to claim the polka dotted jersey. This King of the Mountains, and his 33 stitches, resumes the race in stage 10 after a well deserved rest day.

After a day of minding the road rash to his arm and leg and toughing out a bit of whiplash, Fletcha was also able to get back in the saddle for stage 10.

Hopefully tour organizers will take note of the tragedy and implement improved safety measures.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Feed Me Seymour!

Nothing seems to say summer like bright, sunshine-yellow squash. For the first time ever, we're growing four of these glorious plants in our garden this year. Having no previous experience with them, we had absolutely no idea what to expect.

The most surprising thing for us has been the plants' formidable size and the fact that they seem to actually have teeth. Yep, they're huge and when you pick the fruit, it feels like they're knawing your arm off if you aren't careful. Ours are all named Audrey.

Our variety is a straightneck, rather than crookneck. The plants have also been quite prolific, producing a constant supply for our family over the past few months. The really cool thing about that has been that none of us have ever really been big squash eaters. We hate to ever waste any gift from our garden though, so we've been challenged to find lots of different ways to enjoy this new staple.

Tonight for dinner, we had barbecued chicken legs accompanied by our favorite summer squash recipe. This squash is super easy-peasy to make. It's delicious enough to enjoy alone, but it is also fantastic added to tender homemade pasta or even tucked inside a fluffy frittata.

  • Remove stem and blossom end from each squash
  • Slice in half lengthwise and then slice each half into thin wedges
  • Add chopped garlic, kosher salt and red pepper flakes to taste
  • Either roast in 350 degree oven or on a grill until tender

Just like a bite of summer sunshine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Taste of Dallas

Mark your calendars, friends! The Taste of Dallas returns to Fair Park this weekend, July 8-10, for it's 25th anniversary.

Admission is $8 at the gate or $5 in advance, available at area Albertson's grocery stores. Either pay $12 to park at the fair grounds or take the DART Green Line right up to the entrance like we did last year. Proceeds benefit the American Heart Association.

Munchies are all $3 or less so go with a hungry tummy so you can sample plenty of offerings. Enjoy the best of Dallas area food, music, art, sports and more. This is a great family event!

D Magazine : Restaurant Review: Mignon

D Magazine : Restaurant Review: Mignon

We were so happy to see one of our local favorites getting some recognition. Make plans to go visit that lovely patio and, for a real treat, ask if Jaimie is available to serve you!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Le Tour de France

Get ready cycling fans, the big race is on from July 2nd through the 24th. The 3,430.5 kilometer (2,131.6 mile) race will be spread out over 21 stages, starting from Passage du Gois and ending in Paris at the Champs-Elysees.

We were excited to hear that one of our favorite restaurants is offering a signature cocktail in honor of the event. Watch the race at Mignon's bar or enjoy their fabulous waterside patio while sipping a Tour de France martini. This special martini is shaken with Dubonnet Rouge, Liqueur St. Germain, Cointreau and is topped with champagne. What else says 'France' better than that?!

We know, we know. All our mountain biking friends are rolling their eyes at this very moment. It's all good friends, enjoy a classic dirty martini, Get Dirty and get down with Le Velo. ;)