I spent the holidays in the laziest way possible, relaxing and eating comfort food that I deny myself most of the year. I did some sightseeing, ran a little in warmer weather, some spinning, and ate more fried chicken and biscuits and dessert than I really should. Ah, the holidays.
First let me reminisce a little on my indulgences and what I learned from my road trip between Virginia and South Carolina.
- I brought the Canadian winter with me. Instead of warm balmy weather, I got to experience one of the coldest winters in the south. I now have a new found appreciation for double glass windows and high efficiency gas furnance.
- I am allergic to cats.
- Mac & Cheese is considered as "vegetable". It certainly is yummy though I miss my steamed seasonal produce even more.
- Fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy are good for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner.
- I miss training but not enough to rouse myself to face the cold temperature everyday especially when I had the option to curl up toasty warm under a blanket with a mug of cocoa and a cat. Exactly how do I motivate myself to train outdoor in Canada is a mystery to me.
- Training is very time consuming. I didn't realize that until I break out of my daily habit. During vacation when every hour counts, there's always something better to do.
I'm lazy just like everyone!
My road trip diet started innocently enough with a sensible boxed lunch from Sally Bell's Kitchen in Richmond, VA. Although B & I arrived at 10am on Christmas Eve, the line up was already hour-long with eager customers waiting to pick up their famed potato salad and pies for Christmas feast. I love boxed lunches. There's something so cute about multiple food items packaged neatly to fit inside a box. Mine contained Smithfield ham sandwich in house-made roll, potato salad, devil egg, cheese crisp, and an almond cupcake. It was worth the wait.
After cocooning in the house for a couple of days for Christmas celebration, a visit to historic Charleston was a welcomed change. This Canadian girl got her first taste of soul food at Jestine's Kitchen. Both B & I had fried chicken and I finally realize what KFC aspires to be all these years. Sorry Colonel, there's no comparison. I enjoyed mine daintly with knife and fork while B went with the hands-on approach. The waitress promptly asked B to show me the proper way, heh. I also discovered the goodness of banana pudding.
I had my first encounter with PRAH-line in Charleston. It was freshly made (still warm!) and handed to my greedy little hands as a sample at Market Street Sweets. Oh wow. So buttery. The sweetness reminded me of condensed milk. I still have a small stash in my kitchen. Dangerous.
I don't understand the prominence of pineapples in Charleston but they seem up show up everywhere I looked. This is a fountain by the waterfront which is a very pretty area with a nice long path. Not skateable terrain but can be a picturesque location to run. While strolling on the streets of Charleston, we noticed lots of (serious) runners.
After a few days of light activities, I craved for a nice run. It was just a short hour-long session but I felt good. I must admit though, the drivers in Columbia were not particularly friendly to pedestrians. For post-workout fueling, I enjoyed a meal of chicken fried steak with creamy grits and steamed squash. I learned that chicken fried steak is actually not chicken. It is a hamburger steak deepfried in fried chicken batter and smothered with white gravy. Delicious in a very very VERY guilty kind of way.
On our way back to Virginia, we stopped at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen in Chapel Hill, NC. It is a drive-through joint but I didn't see why I couldn't walk through, so I did. If only I had my skates on so I could do a skate-through! Their fried chicken biscuit was a revelation. Juicy chicken in a tender buttery biscuit. I literally felt my waistline expanding as I ate my sandwich and weeks of dieting effort went to waste. I would still do it all over again.
Once back in Virginia, I had an interesting dilemma. On one hand, I was in such a festive mood that I had to cook and bake. On the other hand, I only had access to a minimalist bachelor kitchen that any real cooking effort would require tremendous amount of creativity and resourcefulness. Yet somehow, I prevailed. I managed to make monkey bread (seen above), quiche, eggnog with farm fresh eggs and cream, bread pudding, and hot cocoa. What was that I hear? Oh, that's the sound of my diet going down the drain.
When I was not hugging a blanket on a couch, I ventured out for a bit of sightseeing. The official Peeps Store in National Harbour, MD was one of the places B & I visited. Of course I had to give a big hug to a big Peeps.
My holiday was not just about food. I kicked off 2010 with an American history lesson in Mount Vernon, home of George Washington. The education centre was most excellent with very interesting presentations on the life of Washington, the Revolutionary War, and the birth of the US capitol.
No trip to Washington DC is complete without a visit to the iconic Ben's Chili Bowl for a chili half smoke. Apparently B & I picked the coldest day for our walking tour of DC. With wind chill, it was something like -10C for our day of out and about. Eventually, we both grew numb of the cold and our footsteps covered Eastern Market, Barracks Row, Dupont Circle, U Street, and Georgetown. The most memorable experience was our vist to Anderson House of The Society of The Cincinnati. We literally got pulled into the building by one of their very enthusiastic volunteers. The guided tour of this very beautiful museum was informative and educational.
Vacation's over. Time to get back to serious training and serious dieting!