Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big Day Downtown (Part 2)

Part 2 of this downtown adventure involves me taking Gillian on a tour of what downtown means to me.

Stop 1: Cyclone Cycling

I'm usually wary of asking someone whom I don't really know that well to do something intensely physical. They may have a bad knee, or some other injury that you don't know about, or maybe they're just out of shape even thought they don't look it. So it was with some hesitance that I asked Gillian to join me for a class at the new spinning studio on Sackville Street: Cyclone Cycling (@CycloneCycling).

I have only been to a handful of spin classes before, but I'm no stranger to cycling. I'm a regular bike commuter, and my Big Day Downtown last year was all about cycling. The studio was 3 months old on Saturday when we had our class. Elana Liberman, the owner, took us on a conceptual cross-Canada ride, climbing up the Cape Breton Highlands and Rockies, and sprinting through the prairies. They also offer a combination spin/yoga class that may be compelling to some people. She definitely put us (and several other participants) through our paces as we crossed the virtual country. I invited her to try out of Julie's kettlebell classes for some payback :)

Stop 2: Two if By Sea Cafe

Our second stop was originally planned to be I <3 Bikes (@IHeartBikesHfx) on the waterfront, but the clouds were ominous and grey, and we didn't want to have to worry about getting the bikes back on time because the spin class ran a little long, and our schedule was tight as it was. We hoofed it to Historic Properties to get to Two if By Sea (@TwoIfBySeaCafe)before it closed.

I got my usual black coffee and a muffin (unfortunately we were there so late in the day all of their croissants were gone), Julie got a latte, and Gillian got a chai something or other -- much fancier than anything I typically order :) Sitting down in a cafe setting was a nice change of pace from the sweaty spin class. We sat and talked and sipped on our beverages. I maintain that TIBS has the best brewed coffee in downtown Halifax, and if you haven't had one of their bigger-than-your-head-croissants or their cake-sized cookies, then you really owe it to yourself to try one. What better way to put those calories back on?

Stop 3: Garrison Brewing

Down the boardwalk we walked all the way past the Seaport Farmers Market to Garrison Brewing. In retrospect, I wish we had made the stop at I <3 Bikes, because the rain ended up holding off and we could have saved time in the long run biking to Garrison instead of walking. Julie and I split a sampler tray, and Gillian got a Tall Ship Amber Ale. I'm partial to strong tasting beers, so I really enjoyed the Nut Brown and their various selections that are heavily hopped.

The sampler tray looks really appitizing, doesn't it?get-

The beers went down very well, and this was a perfect way to end our Big Day Downtown as Gillian had to leave. Julie and I had to walk back to our car parked outside Cyclone, so we headed up that way. It was just starting to peck down rain.

Stop 4: Mongolie Grill

Julie and I weren't planning to make a fourth stop, but Grayson was getting hungry, and she had fallen asleep on the walk to Garrison Brewing, so we didn't have the chance to feed her. We stopped in at the Mongolie Grill because it was about a block from where we had parked.

The prices for the meals at the Mongolie Grill are based off of the pre-cooked weight of all the ingredients that you pick out yourself from their buffet. Grayson was a pretty cheap date. I always enjoy eating there because you get to pick out exactly what goes into your meal, right down to the spices and sauces. I'm never disappointed. They have great service and I always get what I expect.

I hope everybody enjoyed peering into what I do downtown.

Big Day Dowtown (Part 1)

As I said in the previous post, I was paired up with Gillian Wesley (@GillianWesleyNS) of http://www.thelocaltravelerns.com/ for this year's Big Day Downtown promotion.  The idea was for each of us to take the other to some businesses in the downtown area that describes what downtown is to us.

This was the first time I have ever successfully hula-hooped.
On Thursday night, Gillian invited me to Serpentine Studios (@SerpStudios) on Barrington Street for a hula hooping lesson. I have never been been able to get a hula hoop to go around me with anything other than momentum from the initial thrust, but mere minutes into this session, I was able to do it! Monique from Serpentine explained that the size of hoop you should use (at least to learn) is proportional to your height, so after picking the "special" hoop, i.e., the biggest one in the place, I was finally able to work that thing like a pro. I had a profound sense of satisfaction at being able to transfer a Wii Fit skill into the real world. Hula hooping is definitely a great core exercise, and while we only picked up the basics, there are two different levels of classes designed for beginners and advanced 'hoopers'.

Our four drinks from the Middle Spoon
Another Barrington business was next on the agenda: cocktails at The Middle Spoon (@TheMiddleSpoon). We perused their drink menu and waited a big for the guy who was going to take us through some of the process that goes into making drinks. Now, I've been to lots of bars, and perhaps I just don't often order  cocktails, but what was to follow had me intrigued. We were shown how the staff at the Middle Spoon makes cocktails, not only what liqueurs, bitters, flavour-enhancers, atomized sprays, and garnishes are used as ingredients, bu also the process, and why things are done the way they are. Talking to someone as passionate about what they do as Jenner is about mixing drinks and coming up with custom drink recipes is fascinating  you can't help but be caught up in their enthusiasm for the subject. From how and why the glass is chilled to the reasons for adding certain ingredient in a certain order, to how to properly shake a cocktail, I was soaking it all in; and this was before even having a drink in my hand!

I had ordered "the Varclay", which is a coffee-based drink with absinthe, scotch, and vanilla liqueur. It was as good as I have led you to believe, and being a party to the creation process and not simply having it delivered to me by the kilted waiter made it that much better.

After our drinks, we parted ways, and I had to walk around a bit before I felt comfortable enough to drive home. Yeah, there was quite a bit of alcohol in that drink, but I apparently can't handle it like I used to :)

Stay tuned for part two where it's my turn to play host.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's up with me?

I feel like I should mention why I haven't blogged in over a year. The reasons are at least two-fold:

  1. I had a daughter.
  2. Twitter.

Those aren't really good excuses, because people do more with less time on their hands, but what can I say, it was easy to ignore. With my wife recovering from pregnancy and giving birth, I also took over the downtown kettlebell classes 3 times per week. That cut down on my free time too.

But, yeah, I'm still around, and I still spend lots of time in the downtown area. Which leads me into the next topic: Big Day Downtown 2012! This year, there is a bit of a catch to being given one hundred bucks and let loose to spend it in downtown Halifax. Each participant is paired up with another, and we have to go have our downtown adventures together. I got matched up with Gillian Wesley from www.thelocaltravelerns.com. I wasn't able to stay long at the launch of the event, so I haven't even met her yet.

Look forward to posts describing what we've been up to with our downtown money!