Running out the door, running errands, and running to be a better runner.
When I think about it – I do a lot of running around. So as much as Mark and I make an effort to cook the majority of our meals at home – there are times when that is just not an option.
For me – especially after a race – there is a small window from when I cannot even stomach food to when my hunger meter goes through the roof. Trust me – if you have not had the experience, you do not want to be around a hungry runner – we can be beasts (my husband unfortunately can attest to this)
But just because I want something fast – I also want a quality meal. Sandwiches (or subs or grinders or whatever you tend to call them) are a great option and believe me I have had my fair share of them. They provide the perfect combination (if made correctly) of protein and carbs that runners crave (and need).
Always on the lookout for a good sub – I was ecstatic when I was contacted to attend a media dinner at Firehouse Subs that recently opened up in Glastonbury, Connecticut.
I had thought that I was going to be meeting and eating with Jeff Finnerty and Jen Finnerty – the franchisees (whom were also originally from Connecticut) of the Glastonbury location, so when I was introduced to Robin Sorensen – one of the founders – I knew I was in for a treat.
I mean, what better to way to learn about the Firehouse Subs brand story, The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation and obviously, the food, than from Mr. Sorensen himself.
As myself and fellow blogger Shawana Hansonsat down with our custom Coca-cola beverages – we settled in to listen to Robin tell us that Firehouse Subs was founded in 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida along with Chris Sorensen, brother and fellow firefighter. In fact, the Sorensen brothers come from a firefighting family and when the came up with the idea of Firehouse Subs they knew that they wanted a fast, casual restaurant that provided its customers with quality food, heartfelt service, but that also provided funds to First Responders – an area of public service that is near and dear to the Sorensen brothers.
Firehouse Subs delivers quality in each of it almost 1000 stores by slicing all of its meats, preparing it’s chicken salad and tuna salad as well as baking their desserts each morning. Robin rarely changes a recipe to reduce food costs and is fiercely loyal to his distributors because he knows his customers have come to expect and respect the consistency that Firehouse Subs offers.
The decor and feel of Firehouse Subs is along the lines of a deli, the kind that a younger Robin used to eat at when he and his friends would fly to New York City on the weekends. The deli’s of New York City that used large steamer ovens to keep the meat hot and moist is a concept that Firehouse Subs has modified, in that once a customer places their order – the meat is steamed to release the flavor while the bread is toasted and condiments applied. Once the meat is steamed the entire sandwich is constructed and brought out to the customer whom is already seated at one of the 40-50 seats each of Firehouse Subs locations offers.
This attention to Quality Food and Heartfelt service has helped Firehouse Subs become one of the premier fast casual restaurants today.
And if that was not enough – their passion about supporting First Responders might be second to none. From the $2 empty pickle buckets (with lids) that they sell, to prompting of customers to “roundup” cost of their meal, to the $1 and $5 tokens Firehouse Subs sells during Public Safety month in October.
To date Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has given more than $18 million to hometown heroes in 45 states and Puerto Rico. And just this past year (2015) – The Foundation approved more than $4.6 million in grants.
It was awesome to see their “brag book” showing some of the truly awesome work The Foundation has done. And even more surprisingly – although the Glastonbury location has only been open for less than a month – they recently donated about $46,000.00to the Glastonbury Volunteer Fire Department – that’s pretty damn awesome if you ask me!
Throughout the evening we sampled 4 of their Hot Specialty Subs…
First up – Hook & Ladder® – which is their best seller. At this point I had worked up an appetite, I mean being surrounds but all the sites and smells was making my stomach growl but it was worth the wait – smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, cheese, served Fully Involved® (mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a Kosher dill spear on the side) served hot on a lightly toasted bun. I am a big, big fan of turkey and ham sandwiches so this one did not stand a chance of NOT being consumed.
Next Up – The Italian. Now I was a little wary of this sandwich because many times when you see the word “Italian” at a Sub shop what you get is mounds of meat but not with this sandwich. Again, steamed and thinly sliced Geonoa salami, pepperoni, honey ham, provolone, Italian dressing and seasonings, served Fully Involved. I loved the addition of the Italian dressing and as you can see from the photograph – the sandwich is hearty but not overpowering.
Third – The New York Steamer®. I think this sandwich harkens back to the days when Robin traveled to New York City. USDA Choice corned beef, pastrami, provolone, deli mustard, mayo Italian dressing. It does not come Fully Loaded but I am sure you could customize the sub if you asked. The saltiness of the meats (as with The Italian) paired with all the other components. I was getting full at this point so I saved half for the husband (whom had for lunch the next day and raved about how the sub did not get soggy overnight).
Last but certainly not least – The Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket™. Now this was a sandwich that I smelled before I saw and that was because of the brisket that was smoked in hickory for 16+ hours AND Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce that dressed the sub. This was a delicious and decadent sub – definately one for a special occasion. Mark got half of this sandwich too and again – did not complain about eating my left overs
Also shout out to the Kosher dill spear – I am a huge fan of pickles (some might say I have a “problem”) and loved that they are included with all of their sandwiches. My only complaint – I wanted more!
Filled up on good food and conversation I was about to depart when I was presented with one of their white chocolate chip lemon cookies. If you closed your eyes – it seriously smelled like a bowl of Trix.
I grabbed one of the menus while I let the food digest a little bit and was pleasantly surprised that in addition to their Hot Specialty Subs, Firehouse Subs also offers a Hearty & Flavorful – Under 500 Calorie Menu which includes a variety of their Hot Specialty Subs served with light mayo on a light wheat roll along with some pretty banging chopped salads options. These are delicious and filling options for those not looking to break the calorie bank.
But even if you want to have one of their Hot Specialty Subs,there are several ways that you can modify your order – not break your calorie bank and still get that delicious Firehouse Subs flavor. Their website even has a helpful Nutritional stats page to help customers customize their order.
So whether you are looking to go “Fully Loaded” or something on the lighter side – Firehouse Subs definitely has a meal to fit both sides of the spectrum.
And isn’t that what life’s about – balance.
It was a pleasure to eat at Firehouse Subs – their new Glastonbury location will be a great option for a filling and delicious meal (and one that supports First Responders) to help fuel me as I continue run around and avoid the dreaded “runger”.
Open from 10:30am to 9:00pm daily, the shop is already a neighborhood hit!
Visit them soon!
2520 Main Street Glastonbury CT 06033
Open Daily – 10:30am – 9:00pm
Disclaimer: I was asked to attend this event free of charge in exchange for writing a review on the blog. Although this post is sponsored, the opinions are completely my own, based on my experience.
With sweat dripping over every inch of my body, I was in the middle of my final circuit, boxing my heart out during “Butt & Legs” day at Body Roc Fit Lab.
No matter how much I wanted to quit (and believe me I wanted to) I couldn’t because through the darkness, a voice rose high above the pulsating music – encouraging and pushing the 20 or so people whom decided they wanted to start their day sweating and working their asses off.
“LIGHT A FIRE!” “LET’S DO THIS!” “PUSH IT!”
I admit that those are three phrases that one probably does not want to hear at 5:30AM (this coming from a morning runner) on a Tuesday but having finally signed up for a Body Roc Class – that was what I heard.
Rewind a bit to this past winter when I first had the opportunity to try a Body Roc class during Yelp’s Fit Club. I thought I would be “shown the motions” but I was oh so I was wrong. In the course of 50 heart pounding minutes, I experienced one of the sweatiest and most invigorating workouts I had ever participated in. So I did what any fitness loving junkie would do, I purchased and signed up for more classes.
My reasonable reasoning was that this “different” workout would be a perfect way for me to cross-train and develop some more strength that I will need this fall during those later marathon miles.
It helped that the founder and brains behind Body Roc, Shaun Chambers, a Connecticut native, has a strong love of fitness, diet and exercise. So much so that he developed Body Roc, an intense circuit-style interval workout with the atmosphere of a dance club (per their website). Body Roc has only been open since late last year but have developed quite a following. So much so – that I have had to book a week in advance, just to secure a spot.
This intense (and I mean that in a good way) circuit-style interval workout combining three components – treadmill running (that are self propelled allowing the user to control the speed), weight training, and boxing. Not only are you sweating (a lot), and having Shaun push and encourage you for 50 minutes, but each of his classses are combined with pulsating music.
I admit that the combination of music to get your heart pumping and legs moving (especially important at 5:30am or 5:30pm) and knowing that each time you come to Body Roc you are going to get a different workout – was what first drew me to these classes. However, after taking several different classes, it is Shaun’s leadership throughout the class and trying to get one more Body Roc Squat done before time expires that keeps me coming back.
I know that I am going to leave a sweaty mess, and will be sore the next day but it is a good sore, the kind that will make me keep signing up for more classes in the future.
This past Sunday, Mark and I decided to have a little Sunday Funday but before we could do that we had to do two things 1) Go to the gym and 2) Have lunch.
Having accomplished #1 we were trying to think of someplace we could have a causal meal before heading to the mall. After listing several options – I mentioned OnFire Grill, a restaurant that I had visited several weeks ago for lunch and written a subsequent review on Yelp.
Performing his due diligence – he looked at my review but also several others and was not sold. I explained to him that yes – the location of OnFire Grill had had several incarnations (with the most recent being Tunxis Grill) and yes there were some unpleasant reviews after OnFire Grill first opened BUT the owners hired a new chef in January 2016 whom has overhauled the menu.
Being my fearless foodie and willing to give it a shot – we took the 2 minute ride over and before we knew it we were seated a the bar chatting with the very lovely Jen, whom kept us company while we dined.
I had already eaten at OnFire Grill before but again was struck at how cool the bar area looked and doubly impressed with the beer selection – which included some local brews
OnFire Grill only serves dinner on Sunday which was fine with me as the menu still had the one item that I had been dying to try during my last visit – the Pulled Pork “Cubanito” sliders.
Complimenting our sliders – Mark and I each ordered one of their wonderful salads – Tuscan for me (I had it the last time I was here and was blown away) and the Baby Arugula for him. We topped both of our salads with medium rare steak – and they were nice enough to dip my steak in the “Sweet” sauce that is part of their “Sweet & Spicy” Flat Iron Steak Skewer.
Mark was enjoying his Back East Porter and I my diet Coke (I just can’t quit it) and before we knew it 3 perfect mini sliders were placed before us.
Each taking one and cutting the third in half – the Cuban pulled pork was moist and tender and was the perfect amount layered among the well portioned ham, swiss cheese, spicy mustard and pickle. Easy to handle – this morsel of goodness contained all the flavors of a good Cubano.
We were just about done with our sliders when our salads were brought to us. Now I had had the Tuscan Salad the last time I was here – I mean who does not want a salad topped with warm polenta croutons but to mix things up I added steak to my salad – something I don’t normally do.
Yes this is from my Tuscan Salad that I had the last time but I just had to show another shot of that Polenta Crouton
The angle of this picture does not do this salad justice, but the bowl was chocked full with mixed olives, grape tomatoes, red onions, kidney beans and mixed greens. I opted for no cheese and the Balsamic Dressing on the side. The dressing (homemade according to Jen)provided just the right amount of flavor to compliment my “sweet” steak.
Mark also complimented Baby Arugula Salad (with fingerlinpotato, grap tomato, toasted pine nuts and shaved grana padano) with the Balsamic dressing and a Sam Adams Grapefruit Rebel IPA on the side.
When we were both done – we were perfectly content but not overfull or stuffed (which made going to the mall and trying on clothes a bit better easier to stomach!)
In speaking with Jen – she informed us of the great BOGO beer or wine from 6-9pm on Tuesdays and Wednesday as well as the fact that the kitchen (and bar area) remains open late on Friday and Saturday nights. Great if you are in Hartford and looking for a late night nosh on your way home
AND they have trivia every Wednesday – which for competitive people like Mark and myself is something right up our alley.
We will definitely be back in the future to try some of their more substantial menu items – I mean how can you say no to Burrata, a chef’s selection of cured meats, sausage and artisanal cheese, or one of their many flatbreads.
And with the weather (hopefully) getting warmer, OnFire’s patio will be opening soon. I know I can’t wait to sit under the (warm) moonlight, sipping a cocktail, listening to the live weekend music.
OnFire Grill 2095 Berlin Turnpike Newington, CT 06111 Tel:(860)594-8525 Fax:(860)594-8522
Hours of Operation – Monday- closed Tuesday-Wednesday 11.30am-9pm Thursday- Saturday 11:30am-10pm, Sunday 11:30am- 9:00pm Bar open until 1:00 am Thursdays and until 2:00 am Friday – Saturday **Offering late night menu at the bar from 10:00 pm until 12:00 am on Friday and Saturday
I don’t know about you but this week the weather has been all over the place. From rain on Saturday to a freak snowstorm on Monday – this month is off to a really crazy climatic start.
That being said – the only consistent thing of late – is that I know at the end of each month I will receive my monthly Stitch Fix. I admit that this month I held onto (and did not open) the box for a couple of days – waiting for the perfect time to have my little “Christmas” moment.
My stylist Tiffany (whom possibly replaced my prior stylist) provided me with a great styling card and styling options. I had added more pins to my “Fashion/Beauty” board and was curious to see if she would actually look at my “likes” and outfit ideas.
Well I am happy to report she did! My box contained the following:
– Bancroft Leighton Silver Metal Bauble Necklace – Kut From the Cloth Grey Rose Bootcut Pant – Fate Remmy Black V-Neck Top – 41Hawthron Light PinkKeziah Shirt Dress – Skies are Blue NavyCaspian Scallop Trim Cardigan
When I took the pieces out of the box I immediately loved all the pieces chosen for my Stitch Fix. I really felt that my stylist listened to me and looked at my Pinterest Board. This was a complete contrast to the past couple of months where there has been at least one or two pieces that I said “meh” before even trying them on. BUT I always did because, for me, I love the idea of trying (and liking) something I would never even consider buying myself.
So without further ado – here is the reveal of my March 2016 Stitchfix (Excuse the Pink Smartwool socks)
I loved this outfit, especially the color – until I put it on. What you can’t tell from the picture is that it had a wierd elastic around the waist which I could not figure out how to adjust to make it look flattering. The pockets were also a bit off putting but if I could have figured out how to wear the dress, the pockets would have been a non-issue. –
Verdict – RETURN
OUTFIT #2 – 41Hawthorn Keziah Shirt Dress with SKies are Blue Caspian Scallop Trim Cardigan and Bancroft Leighton Metal Bauble Necklace
I love, love, love (did I say LOVE) cardigans and surprisingly do not have one in navy (Shocker, I know!) Paired with the dress – I almost changed my mind and kept it but a look from Mark told me – if I did not love it, the dress would become one of those back of the closet pieces everyone owns. I also loved the necklace but decided to return it as well – not because I did not like it (it is totally my style) but due to budgetary reason
Verdict – KEEP (Cardigan) and RETURN (Dress)
Outfit #3 – Kut From The Kloth Grey Rose Bootcut Pan with Rate Black Remmy V-Neck Top and Bancroft Leighton Metal Bauble Necklace
Being a bit “hippy” I usually have a pretty tough time finding pants that look good, fit property and are also comfortable. As soon as I put these on I knew these pants checked off all the boxes! Paired with the black top (tucked in) turned both pieces into a great work outfit. However I had to return the top because I am not a very big fan of tucked-in shirts. I tried to wear the top (not pictured) untucked but I just did not like the way it fell at my hips. I would have totally kept it if it could have been worn untucked.
Verdict – KEEP (Pants) and RETURN (Top)
So 2 of the 5 outfits were added to my wardrobe – not bad!
Even though I have been away recently for a little R&R (more on that in another post), 2 weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend an event at Cookshops Plus at 977 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford.
Before I go any further – special shout out to Mark (aka running czar and my plus one at a lot of these events). The event was on the 21st of February, which was his birthday, but he was so sweet and accompanied me. It was a good thing as he (and I) were greeted by a bountiful tray of pastries from Hartford Baking Company.
And lest we have nothing to wash it down with, he was able to order a hot chocolate AT THE STORE. I know, crazy, but Cookshop Plus has a coffee bar located in the middle of the store. Genius if you ask me – coffee and cooking – what a perfect combination.
I on the other hand opted for a perfectly made latte, made from beans sourced and roasted at Neat Coffee, a Connecticut based artisan coffee bar (in Avon). I have been to some other “local” coffee roasters but these beans (being single origin) made an exceptional latte. I enjoyed it so much that before I left I “lost” my latte and had to get another. Thanks to the baristas for taking such good care of the attendees.
Coffee and pastry in hand, I had the opportunity to meet the co-owners of Cookshop Plus, Samantha and James Hines. Super affable and welcoming, I was surprised to find out that this is the second location, the first being in Australia. I have to say after hearing this I am happy that they decided to open their second location in West Hartford.
The interior of the store is clean and airy, with a variety of American and International products for the cook, wannabe cook or baker in your life.
And what’s great (in addition to the Kitchen in the basement which they want to utilize for cooking classes in the future) was the huge demo table located behind the coffee bar. It was there that James did a quick knife demo, to highlight his knife skills (which were pretty sweet) but to also emphasize that Cookshop Plus is looking to get locals involved, whether it be through demonstrations or highlighting local artisians.
I also learned (or re-learned) that my knives should never go in the dishwasher (whoops) but that if they do – Cookshop Plus offers Global, Savannah, Messermeister and Wustof knives to replace any of my damages knives. I am in love with my Santuko knife but James reminded me that my bread knife is usually the most underutilized knife as it can be used from everything from cutting bread (duh) to carving meat. Good to know!
Pretzel Making Demonstration
And just when I thought we were done (and my shopping could begin), Scott Kluger, owner of Hartford Baking Company came demonstrate how they form their (wonderfully addictive) brioche pretzels. I had thought that Hartford Baking Company was just going to be providing the delicious cheese danishes, morning glory muffins and cranberry scones, I got to learn how he makes them.
It’s not as easy as it looks (as you can tell from the pictures below).
Long story short, I am glad that I was blessed with long arms as you have to roll the pretzels dough out 6 feet, cross the ends of the dough, twist the end one time (bringing the twist up toward the inside middle, and then press the end of the dough lightly on the sides creating the pretzel shape.
Phew – it’s hard work, so I think I will stick to purchasing them for the time being.
That is until the upcoming cooking class that Hartford Baking Company is putting on called Brioche, Brioche, Brioche which is going to take place on April 3, 2016. I know tickets just went on sale and are sure to sell quickly.
What better way to spend a Sunday morning then seeing a working, local baking facility, having breakfast and making brioche (some of which I hope we can take home).
Check out their Facebook Event page (link here) for more information and tickets
After the pretzel making demonstration (sadly we were unable to bake them at the store) we had the opportunity to browse around Cookshop Plus)
I might have bought a couple of items (both approved by my plus one), and had to hold myself back from all the fun (and useful) items that Cookshop Plus sells.
I have to say, that this store is a great addition to West Hartford Center. If you have not had a chance, check it out, they have something for everyone.
I had the wonderful opportunity to attend my first (insert squeal) blogger event sponsored by A Little Bird Told Me.
Attempt at a pre-lunch selfie
My first stop was a lovely lunch hosted by the wonderful folks at Vinted. I have dined there in the past and love eating from their Contemporary American tapas style menu surrounded by what I like to call the “wall of wine”.
It’s rare to find a restaurant in central Connecticut where you can dine and also have the opportunity to try a variety of wines that you might not typically be able to try “by the glass”. I am a gal that likes to sample many things, so I love the opportunity of having a glass of wine without having to commit to a bottle off the bat.
Recently Vinted has expanded their menu and about 8 weeks ago, they have now added a lunch menu, which can best be described as more “New American” and less tapas style, as their dinner menu is.
I was greeted with a wonderful glass of organic (fancy I know) white wineby our wonderful host Gary and chatted for a bit with the others in attendance. It was nice to meet and chat some of the more established bloggers from the area, many of whom I follow on various forms of social media.
We were treated to a variety of their menu items.
Roasted Shrimp Kale Salad – Apple / Buttermilk / Spiced Walnuts / Radish / “Puffs”
Roasted Beet Salad (Flanked by the “Wall of Wine”) –
“Famous” Federal Risotto Balls – Truffle Butter / Parmesan
HONEY BBQ CHICKEN THIGH Fried Green Tomato / Aged Cheddar / Pickled Jalapeno / “Ranch” Aioli/Hartford Baking Company Chiabatini roll
Paired with a “Fall in a Glass – Apples & Oranges – apple brandy/vermont maple syrup/cider/oj/nutmeg
Honestly – each dish was great – but my personal favorite was the Honey BBQ Chicken Thigh – sweet and tender with a bit of a kick from the surprise pickled Jalapeno I got with my last bite.
I also had the opportunity to meet the lovely ladies from Nelson Salon and Spa – located near Max Burger on Ellsworth Road. Dominica and her staff are working hard to bring a full service, customizable, one stop salon to West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square. They very excited, under new management to work with client’s to provide their client’s with a great experience and the best result possible. They were providing mini make over’s but I was so into the food I did not have time – it is definitely something for me to check out in the future.
During lunch I also had a chance to sit near and speak with Elyse Ryan of Elyse Ryan Jewelry who crafts not only eye catching jewlery but donates a portion of the proceeds to Vasculities Research and the Easter Seals. She was so pleasant and very passionate about giving back that I was totally taken aback and touched when she gifted each diner with one of her Easter Seals Bracelets.
Shopping at #Oohlala and #West Elm
I had just enough to wet my pallet which was a good thing as we then headed to Oohlala for some shopping. This store is a wonderfully curated women’s clothing store with unique pieces at pretty affordable prices for Blue Back Square. They only buy a small number of each pieces and once they are sold out they do not restock the item – so there is a constantly rotating selection of clothing to choose from. This can be a good or bad thing for your inner fashionista.
Once my inner fashionista was quenched – I headed over to the fairly new West Elm location to take some mental design notes. They also had some mini NoRa Cupcakes (whom has just opened a second location in Blue Back Square) to sample. They are known for the funky and unique flavor combinations but sometimes their simplest creations are the best – can you guess which one I choose??
I’m a 44year redheaded runner- living and working in Central Connecticut with my long time loving husband (and sometimes running czar) Mark and our dog Harley.
I have always enjoyed sports but it wasn't until 11 years ago that I decided to "take up" running. Since then, running has allowed me to have some awesome adventures as well as meet some pretty cool people.
Along with running, I am also passionate about food and drink, considering myself a bit of an amateur food geek.
So I decided to start my blog to combine both of these passions by documenting my journey to balance the two - one step at a time.
So thanks for stopping by and as always - Keep Calm. Eat Well. Run Strong.