Friday, November 13, 2015

Sweat & Sip (but no Sip): YAS Yoga and Spinning

The beauty of ClassPass is that there are a ton of studio options for similar types of workouts, so while Kel and I are devoted Revocyclists, we decided to check out another spinning studio to allow for some compare and contrast.

YAS (which stands for Yoga and Spinning) is located right next to Firebrand Sports and offers- you guessed it- yoga classes, spinning classes, and yoga AND spinning classes.

Kel and I used our ClassPass membership to sign up for a 9am spin class on a Saturday morning.The spin studio has a giant garage door that looks out onto 13th Street which seems cool and urban at first, but once you get going, you realize you're facing away from the door and God knows who's staring at your butt from the street. It's a little weird for those of us who aren't into exhibitionism.

There was also a much different, less-welcoming vibe in YAS's spin studio than at Revocycle (or even at Burncycle, if we're being fair in our spin studio comparisons.) Kel and I were obviously new to the studio as evidenced by the fact that we had to walk up to the ask the instructor to how to adjust our bikes. She did not offer to come over and help us, just gave us a curt response and turned away. Kel and I know our Revocycle numbers, but YAS's bikes are fixed wheel as opposed to Revo's free wheel and adjust differently. It would have been much appreciated for our instructor to offer to help us make sure we were positioned properly.

And then the class itself. Ugh. Maybe we are too used to Revocycle's rhythmic style, but the songs we were cycling to did not match our pedaling speed and it was driving me nuts. We also did the most jumps, which are my least favorite cycling thing in the world. No thanks!

In the end, we got a workout, but my knees hurt (probably from so many jumps on a poorly-adjusted bike) and there was nothing enjoyable about the experience. At Revocycle you work hard, but it's fun and somehow calming. At YAS, I just couldn't wait for my butt to get off that bike (and off display).

So, while I'm glad we branched out and tried a new cycling studio, we will not be back.

Sweat & Sip:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Portland Restaurant: Batter Griddle and Drinkery

Where: 4425 NE Fremont St.
When: Tuesday - Sunday 8am - 11pm
Honeys Heart: $5 pint-sized mimosas 

Batter has been on my list since it opened last March. Luckily, it happens to be my Mimi's favorite new neighborhood joint, so we've hit it up on multiple occasions recently.

It's definitely a family friendly place with plenty of options to please everyone in a group. I say go for the $5 pint-sized mimosa with multiple juice options - I favor the grapefruit - as you look over the slightly overwhelming menu (if you're bad at making decisions like me). 

There is a sweet and savory side of the menu. Though I am tempted by the sweet side, I know that I won't be satisfied without my salty fix, so I go for the savory. 

I like to think that I mix it up, but I have ordered the Mu Shu Crepes (shredded pork shoulder, shitake mushroom, egg, ginger, scallion with hoisin sauce - $9) both times I've been here and I'm not convinced I will change my ways. I need to go with someone who will get something else and go splitsies with me. There's definitely others I want to try, and then there's plates like the Mac & Crepe ($10) with mac n cheese wrapped in a crepe topped with more cheese and bacon...and that seems scary, but also I'm curious. 

Mimi is one to stick to her classic favorite and every time I have gone to Batter with her she orders one waffle and a side of bacon, extra crispy. I can't really fault her... the bacon is spot on. Two mimosas and a crepe later, you've only spent $20. That's already pretty good brunch rate, plus the crepe I order is definitely enough to split or take half home so you have another meal there.

Still on my list is to try their after 4pm bar menu. There's something related to mac n cheese, deep fried bacon (eek), but also a detox salad so we should be able to find some balance.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sweat & Sip: Firebrand Sports & The Highland Stillhouse

Katie and I haven't posted a "Sweat and Sip" in quite some time, but that's not because we haven't been working out (well... maybe in my case), it's because Katie moved to North Portland. I'm not going to lie, since Katie moved and my once-a-week cycling partner was too far from Revocycle, my fitness regimen took a serious dip, but thanks to ClassPass, we've been getting back in the game!

If you have workout attention-fatigue like me and you haven't heard of ClassPass, you're missing out. With a ton of studios to choose from in different parts of town, there is probably a class to peak your interest any given day and time. ClassPass was generous enough to offer us a free month and we've been doing our best to try out at least two classes per week.

Last week, Katie and I spent our Thursday morning at Firebrand and then, to even things out, our Thursday night at the Highland Stillhouse.

What: Firebrand Sports
Where: NW Glisan and 14th
Honeys Heart: Pyrolates

I have been wanting to try Firebrand Sports, but with pyrolates classes running at about $30 to drop in, it hasn't felt fiscally responsible. Luckily, pyrolates is one of ClassPass's options.

Firebrand has a lot going on! Cycling, barre, "cardio barre", and pyrolates are all offered, of which I've tried the cardio barre and pyrolates. Katie and I really like the pyrolates class. It's challenging, fun, and requires focus moving around on that gliding platform. Plus, my inner thighs had never been that sore, and I love knowing the next day (or later that same day) that I worked hard!

The only part of our class that I thought was kind of odd was that the instructor didn't introduce herself at the beginning or end of the class. I'm used to really friendly and welcoming instructors at the other studios I've visited and I would have loved to feel a more personal connection to the class and studio. 

What: The Highland Stillhouse
Where: 201 S 2nd St, Oregon City
Honeys Heart: Mick and the weird, awesome collection of furniture and Scottish memorabilia

Pyrolates in the morning, followed by a full day of work, and then it was finally time for The Highland Stillhouse! Okay, you do have to make the trek out to Oregon City which for us city gals is the only downside, but otherwise everything about this place is awesome. It's unique, eclectic furniture - much of it actually shipped from Scotland - sets the stage for a warm and friendly environment.

There was live music playing while we perused the scotch and whiskey list, which has thousands of options. Well, that may be an exaggeration, but there is an extensive list organized by region and a storage space across the street from the restaurant in case you buy something obscure that isn't on their shelves. Knowing very little about scotch, we got a recommendation from our server and called it good. 

The first time I was at The Highland Stillhouse, the owner Mick sat at our table and gave us the scoop on proper tasting techniques and we tried to implement them during my second visit. You start by smelling the scotch with each nostril separately, with your mouth open. Then you sip the scotch and get a little air in your mouth, and let it sit for the same number of seconds as it is years old. So a 12-year-old scotch would sit in your mouth for 12 seconds. I know, that sounds hard, and it totally is - but it also completely changes the flavor of the scotch. Just like our pyrolates class- challenging, but worth it in the end!

Stay tuned for more Sweat & Sips courtesy of ClassPass!

Sweat & Sip:

Monday, October 26, 2015

2015 Pumpkin Beer Tasting: Seattle Cider Knocks Eylsian Out of First

Well folks, I think 2015 was finally the year that we reached Maximum Pumpkin Beer.

At this year's 4th Annual Pumpkin Beer Tasting, our group of 25 tasted 31 different pumpkin beers and ciders. That's roughly the equivalent of 13 growlers or 3/5th of a keg. In layman's terms: a shit ton

In addition to adding 7 more beers to our lineup (read about our 2014 list here), we also switched things up a bit by going with a Dia de Los Muertos theme. I really wish we had some extra time to pick up some sugar skulls to really complete the look, but the food and decor came together pretty nicely otherwise.

  • Day of the Dead clip art from Creative Market
  • Tasting cups with skull stickers from Target
  • Wooden skeleton from Cost Plus
  • Dia de Los Muertos plates and napkins from Michael's 
As for this year's pumpkin beer winners, Eylsian still managed to keep a few beers in the Top 5, but we did see two new breweries make it into the winner's circle. The trend here, with the exception of Eylsian's Night Owl, is that all our winning beers (and the cider) were something different than just your typical over-spiced, too-sweet pumpkin beer. Take note, brewers!

Top 5: 

#1 Seattle Cider Pumpkin Spice Cider (Seattle, WA)

This cider is up from 4th place last year and even though it's not technically a pumpkin beer, we're okay with it taking first place because it really is delicious. This cider is fermented with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, giving it a delicious, subtle pumpkin-pie vibe.

#2 Pfriem Pumpkin Bier (Hood River, OR) 

This pumpkin beer was new to the line-up this year and I can find almost nothing about it online except for that most people who have tried it agree that it's a Belgian and it's not your typical pumpkin ale. I think our crew liked this one so much because it tasted the most like a normal beer, aka no overwhelming spices or sweetness.

#3 Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA)

Night Owl dropped down one spot from its #2 finish last year, but as this beer has always made it into our top three, it think it's safe to say that Night Owl epitomizes what a pumpkin beer should be. It's brewed with 7.5 pounds of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

#4 New Belgium Pumpkick Spiced Seasonal Ale (Fort George, CO)

This beer was also new to our tasting this year and stands out due to the "kick" of cranberry juice and lemon juice that New Belgium adds to its traditionally spiced ale.

#5 Elysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA)

Punkuccio fell from its #1 spot last year, but still finished strong in 5th place. This ale is made with Stumptown coffee plus cinnamon and nutmeg and while it was the darkest beer we tried, it's very balanced compared to most of the other pumpkin ales.

And the rest:
#6 Elysian Great Pumpkin
#7 O'Fallon Pumpkin Beer
#8 Fort George Drunkin Pumpkin
#9 Ace Pumpkin Cider
#10 Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale
#11 Stormbreaker Pumpkin Pedaler
#12 Blue Moon         
#13 Rogue Pumpkin Patch
#14Two Beers Pumpkin Spice
#15 Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale
#16 Unita Punk'n
#17 Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Harvest Ale
#18 Southern Tier Pumking
#19 Indian Wells Spicy Pumpkin Ale
#20 Oakshire Big Black Jack
#21 Alaska  
#22 Southern Tier Warlock
#23 Anderson Valley Fall Hornin
#24 Ninkasi Pumpkin Sleigh'r
#25 Coronado Punk'In Drublic
#26 Buffalo Bills        
#27 Cisco Pumple Drumkin
#28 Banks Pumpkin Ale
#29 Anderson Valley Pinchy Jeek Barl
#30 Burnside The Dapper Skeleton
#31 Elysian Dark o the Moon