I Am Spartan

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Okay, I am not Spartan, but I did the Reebok Spartan Race. All my friends were doing some sort of obstacle course race, so I wanted to be like the cool kids & jumped on the bandwagon. I went for the race that had less running with the shortest obstacle course possible. Yeah, I was not about to commit to a 12+ mile run with obstacle courses like some other crazy races. The race was 2 weeks before I took my engagement photos, so I didn’t want to get too many scars or break a leg with a 4+ hour course.

We opted for the Tuxedo Hill course in NY since it was the closest one to us. The drive there wasn’t too bad. There’s ample parking but each car had to pay a fee (about $10). The check-in was pretty quick. You can rent lockers ($5) there to store your stuff, or leave it in the car, but with the latter option, the walk back to the car is pretty long if you really needed something. I would recommend sharing a locker with a friend. They had port-a-potties for your bathroom needs. Yes, this is a classy kind of race.

The Preparations:
We sprayed ourselves with sunscreen at the car.

We did not bring water bottles with us because it’s just a hassle carrying anything when running, jumping over walls, or crawling in mud. It just was not ideal. Be warned, they did not have any water stations on the course, so we did get hot & thirsty, but like I said, it was better not to carry anything extra with you.

I wore long, tight running pants & an Under Armour HeatGear® Top, both of which dry pretty quickly when wet. I brought my workout gloves which helped with the rope climb & crawling on muddy rocks & under barbed wire. These items helped keep me from getting scratched up.

Bring a change of clothes with you. You will be muddy, dirty & disgusting. They have cold showers at the end but it’s out in the open. You’ll want to get out of your nasty clothes. We changed in the car since there weren’t bathrooms or any facilities to change at.

We left all our other essentials in a locker: Car keys, money, ID, water bottles, phones, cameras, change of clothes, etc.
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The Race:
It was a 3 mile uphill course in the scorching June heat. There were over 30 obstacles which took us over 2 hours to finish. Halfway through, I seriously just wanted to quit. I was tired & grumpy from the heat, but we persevered & finished the race.

We encountered about 10 walls to climb. It started really low & easy, but then it got taller & taller, so you’ll either need a buddy to help give you a boost or find a new friend on the course to help you out. If you decide to skip an obstacle, you’ll be penalized with burpees. If you’ve ever done burpees, you’ll know they’re horrible, plus doing them on muddy ground makes it that much worse.

We climbed up rope walls, crawled in tubes, did a javelin throw, climbed a rope, monkey bars, hopped from one tree stump to the next to get to the other side, did a bouldering wall, flipped tires, carried a weighted pancake uphill (this was killer), ran with a tire, dragged rocks on a rope, pulled a weight on a pulley to get to the top, crawled under barbed wire, slip & slide (a girl broke her arm so they closed this), dodged men with gladiator sticks ready to pummel you as you run by, jumped over fire, and a bunch more that I can’t remember.
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Crawling under the barbed wire was the worst thing ever. It was maybe 400m which took a bare minimum of 20 minutes to get through. The ground was not only muddy (they had hoses that kept pumping more water onto the course), but it was completely filled with rocks. So every movement hurt. If you crawled, your knees would take a beating & your back would get scratched up from the barbed wire. If you went on your butt, you had a better chance since there’s more cushioning, but you’ll be moving much slower. We saw people’s clothing get snagged on the wire & saw a few casualties with bloody cuts on various parts of their body.

The drive home was pretty miserable. Being out in the scorching sun & exerting energy for 2 hours was exhausting. I would never do this again. I did it just to experience it for myself. Once is more than enough.

Don’t let me discourage you from trying one out. They had one recently at Citifield (home of the NY Mets) where they didn’t have any mud, so that one might be better for some people. Plus the Citifield course is flat compared to the constant uphill of Tuxedo Hill.
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Oh yeah, they give you a medal, t-shirt & a ticket for 2 free beers at the finish line. Munkie wore his medal proudly.

Let me know what you think if you’ve ever done one of these Adventure Races before so we can compare notes.

Cupcakes in Heels Review & Deal

Cupcakes in Heels
43-19 Bell Blvd
Bayside, NY 11361
718-415-2009

Before I talk about how amazing these cupcakes are, I’m going to post the AmazonLocal deal that is currently running. In the past, these have sold out quickly, so I’d recommend for you to grab one right away. This is a great value & the best way for you to try out their amazing cupcakes without having to pay the full price. And I can guarantee you that you’ll want to go back again & again after you’ve had your first bite.
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I cannot tell you how much I love the cupcakes at this place. I have to warn you, they are on the pricey side ($3.25-$3.50), but they’re totally worth it. They provide sweet treats that you can indulge in once in a while. They have fluffy frosting that is not overly sweet, moist cake & there’s always a bit of frosting on the inside. They decorate everything so beautifully, so it’s a great treat to bring to a housewarming or for a birthday.

They also make cake pops, cakes in a jar, French macarons, gorgeous custom designed cakes, couture dessert tables & many other sweet treats. The owner is super friendly & has a great work ethic. Everything she makes turns out gorgeous.
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The cupcakes are named after some of the popular fashion designers.

My favorites include:

“the Louboutin” Red Velvet

Red velvet cupcake with their signature creamy frosting, which has a hint of almond oil in it.

“the Jimmy Choo” Pistachio
Pistachio cupcake with whipped pistachio frosting. Who doesn’t love a pistachio cake?!?

 ”the Versace” Tiramisu
Tiramisu cupcake, soaked with wine, espresso and coffee, frosted with creamy mascarpone frosting, topped with shaved chocolate. I am not a fan of alcohol or coffee, but when you put those 2 combinations in a cupcake, I’ll gobble it up in a second. This is probably my absolute favorite so far.

I’ve tried many of their other flavors as well, but those have to be my absolute favorite. You’ve never tasted cupcakes like these before. It’s definitely a must-try.

The store front is on the small side & there’s no room to sit in the store. You just order & leave. They are located next to the Golf store, right by the bus station. Make your way there, you will not regret it. Seriously, get the AmazonLocal deal now before it’s sold out. They’re so YUMMY!!!!

Purbird Review

PURBIRD
82 6th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 857-2473

Purbird, located in the North Slope area of Brooklyn, was highly recommended to me by my brother & SIL, so I had to go try it. I’ve been back twice already & I love it more every time. It’s not a fancy place. You order at the counter & they bring it to your table. It’s as simple as that.

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Their specialty is the Amish farm-raised chicken, so you must order anything with the chicken. The staff are all super friendly & helpful if you’re not sure what to order. Everything is very affordable & they make a killing with their take-out business. Their best seller is the Chicken Breast Sandwich which comes with grilled chicken breast, avocado, turkey bacon, lettuce, tomato & mayo on a toasted roll.

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I ate the Chicken Breast Sandwich both times. I couldn’t help myself. It was good & I wanted more. The chicken is moist & tender, the toasted roll adds a nice crunchy/soft bite, the avocado adds creaminess, and anything with the word (turkey) bacon in it makes everything taste better!

If you don’t mind spicy, I’d suggest a side of the Jalapeno Mashed. It’s their mashed potatoes with a jalapeno puree. The jalapeno kick is amazing. I, reluctantly, had to share with my friend. I tried my best to eat only 50% of the dish, but it was so tasty that I think I entered the 60% territory. I’m so sorry, but I just couldn’t help myself.

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They also have a sweet potato mash which is just as good. It is very creamy & smooth. I even scooped a dollop right into my sandwich. I have a bad habit of mixing my foods together to create a different taste/texture. For example, I’ve been putting chips into my sandwich since 1995, which was way before Bobby’s (Flay) Burgers came out with their Crunchified burgers. He ripped off my idea. Yep. What a jerk! I digress.

The creamed spinach was a really fresh & tasty side as well.  

I love this place. It’s good, inexpensive, fresh food, done right. I’m sure you’ll love it, too.

Taverna Kyclades Review

TavernaKycladesMenu
>TAVERNA KYCLADES

33-07 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 545-8666

Hubby & his family & I came here for dinner on the recommendation by a friend who lives nearby. We almost didn’t wait for a table because of online reviews mentioning wait times of an hour or more. SIL decided to put our names down anyway & was informed of a 30 minute wait. This place was completely packed, inside & out. The Greek restaurant across the street was empty & they were just standing around swatting flies. I felt bad for them.

As luck would have it, we got a table within 15 minutes for the 5 of us. Thankfully, it was inside since it was a bit chilly sitting outside. The inside is smaller than it appears but we had enough room. I read plenty of reviews online for Taverna Kyclades before we ordered, so we made our choices based on them.

We started with the large Peasant Salad which comes with 2 giant pieces of Feta cheese. This was more than enough for 5 people. We had some left over. There were chunks of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers & Kalamata olives with a nice dressing. This was a healthy starter.

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Large Peasant Salad

We also ordered a plate of the Tzatziki sauce. It doesn’t come with anything else but we used the complimentary bread that they give to each table & dipped it into the tzatziki. I need to first tell you that the bread they have is pretty amazing. They give you a whole baguette, cut in half. It comes warm & lightly drizzled in olive oil. The outside is nice & crisp, while the inside is tender soft. It is not chewy at all, which I love because chewy bread tends to make my jaw muscles tired. The tzatziki itself was delicious. I dipped everything into it. I could probably scoop the whole dish into my mouth & I’d be highly satisfied.

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Crispy & Tender Bread with Tzatziki Sauce

The absolute star of the whole entire meal would have to be the Grilled Octopus. The server brought the dish to the table, then proceeded to cut the octopus into smaller bites. The octopus was grilled perfectly. It was tender & had an amazing char-grilled flavor to it. It was seasoned with olive oil & lemon. And it came with slices of cucumbers. Everything worked with the octopus. I had to dip my bread into the lemony olive oil afterwards & it was divine. I’ve already forgotten about the tzatziki at this point. Octopus wins!

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Grilled Octopus – I wish they gave us all 8 tentacles!

Each entree comes with your choice of a side, so you don’t have to order anything extra.

Entree1: Stuffed Shrimp with Crabmeat – this came with 5 pieces (perfect for our table of 5). The shrimp was huge & it had a layer of crab on top. The crab was a little on the mushy side, but the shrimp was tasty. Hubby wasn’t that thrilled with this dish.

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Stuffed Shrimp with Crabmeat

Side1: Roasted Lemon Potatoes – this was white potatoes roasted in a lemony sauce. No one really liked this too much. The potatoes were very grainy & the lemon sauce didn’t wow our palate.

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Roasted Lemon Potatoes

Entree2: Grilled Chicken Kebob – this came with 5 pieces as well (how’d they know?!?). The chicken came in large chunks & they were moist & juicy. There were also grilled veggies (onions, tomato & peppers) that came on the plate, along with a side of tzatziki sauce. The veggies were nicely char-grilled & we were wishing there were more.

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Grilled Chicken Kebob

Side2: Beets – it was a plate of sliced beets cooked with a bit of chopped garlic. This was nothing fancy or special.

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Sliced Beets

Entree3: Branzino fish – Market Price at $28. We ordered a whole char-grilled European Sea Bass. We asked them not to de-bone the fish since MIL & FIL loves bones, heads & tails. The meat on the fish was flakey & tender. We added a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance the flavors.

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Branzino – European Sea Bass

Side3: Rice – fluffy & tasty yellow rice as a side. Again, the side wasn’t anything spectacular.

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Rice

We ordered just enough for 5 adults. Some of the portions are huge (like the salad), the rest were a decent portion. We finished off just about everything on our table. The bill came out to $135 after tax & tip. Not bad for feeding 5 very hungry adults (2 men & 3 women).

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I think we licked our plates!

This was definitely a satisfying meal. I’ll definitely come here again to try other recommendations like the scallops & clams. The food didn’t leave me in a food coma haze, which was a good sign. I was pleasantly full & feeling good since most of the food we had ordered was pretty healthy & not saturated in unknown fats & oils.

Mian Review

MIAN
18402 Horace Harding Expy
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
347-732-9365

Hubby & I worked up an appetite after attending Michael’s Grand Opening (it was a madhouse, but we scored some freebies)! Mian was nearby & we’ve been meaning to try it out, so this was the perfect opportunity on a rainy Sunday. We read some good & some bad reviews online, but it’s cheap Chinese food, what do you really expect, right?!?

The inside was reminiscent of Saint’s Alp Teahouse in Manhattan. With the tables & the uncomfortable little chairs, but I can see this as a cute little hangout if you want to get some tea or dessert with friends. Btw, they offer Eileen’s Cheesecake here, which is great if you don’t want to trek out into Manhattan for it.

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Inside of Mian

They have a small menu, which in my opinion, is good. It makes deciding easier, plus we’re hoping they excel in those few items they serve.

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A quick background, Mian means Noodles in Chinese. So we’re expecting them to at least make good noodles. Hubby ordered #9 –  Mian Soup Noodle.

You pick a Noodle (Broad Rice Flat Noodles, Egg Noodles, Udon, Rice Noodles).
Then, you pick a Topping (Roast Pork, Roast Duck, Shredded Chicken, Beef Brisket Stew, Homemade Wontons).

Hubby went with Egg Noodles & Homemade Wontons.

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#9 – Mian Soup Noodle – egg noodle & wonton

I decided to order one of my all-time favorites, #26 – Pork Chop – Deep Fried Pork Chop Served with Pork Sauce Over Rice.

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#26 – Pork Chop

The verdict: The hubby thought the noodles were cooked well, the broth wasn’t too salty & the wontons tasted fresh. And the price point of $6 was on par with other cheap eats Chinese restaurants, so he had no complaints. If you like spicy, don’t forget to ask for the Chili sauce. That was the star of the whole meal. It looks to have been made fresh & with the right amount of spiciness.

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You see the chili sauce on the right side. That was the star!

As for my pork chop over rice, I was pleasantly surprised when I moved the pork chops. I didn’t realize they had minced pork sauce covering the rice. Yeah, yeah, I know the description said “pork sauce” but I honestly didn’t even know what that meant! Oh, I slathered that pork sauce all over my white rice & enjoyed every bite. Hubby liked it too, but the pork chop over rice at 66 Lu’s Seafood still reigns supreme. At $6, it was decent & it will do on a rainy day & if you don’t want to trek into the heart of traffic-filled, human-filled Flushing, NY.

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Look at the brown pork sauce! Mumm…

We thought the place wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t make a special trip out here just to try this place, but if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s a decent place for decent food.

Mizumi All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Review

MIZUMI
231-10 Northern Blvd  Douglaston, NY 11362
(718) 229-8686

Price:
Lunch
Mon-Fri $17.95
Sat-Sun $21.95

Dinner
Mon-Fri $28.95
Fri-Sun $31.95

This is probably the best All-You-Can-Eat sushi places I’ve ever been to. I’m not a big fan of buffets to begin with so this is saying a lot. The place is clean & spacious. They are usually packed come Friday night & for the rest of the weekend. They will not seat you unless your whole party is present. The best thing to do is to make a reservation or go early (5-6pm). Also, there’s a time limit of 90 minutes, but that’s more than enough time to get your buffet on.

Quail Egg Over Rice
Quail Egg Over Rice

As for the food, they have a decently sized sushi & shashimi selection. They are fresh & made well. They even have Uni for you to try, which is rare for buffets. They also have 3 rows of cooked foods, and a row dedicated to desserts. The most popular being the frozen yogurt station. They had mango & vanilla the last time I visited.

Sushi & Shashimi

Sushi & Shashimi

I’ve been here 3 times & I have developed a game plan. The very first thing you must eat is the Ramen. The station is located in the back. You will ask the attendant (yes, a ramen attendant) to make you ramen. Don’t get fancy by asking for udon or some other noodle/broth. Just ask for ramen with the works (minus scallions, I don’t like scallions). It’s a small bowl, but the broth is some of the tastiest broth I’ve ever had. It’s like crack. You’ll want another bowl afterwards, but you must restrain yourself.

Delicious Ramen

Delicious Ramen

Now you are free to roam the aisles however you please. Please do not grab one of each item. Carefully scope out the selction first, then pick & choose a few things. Find what you like, then eat more of that.  When you are almost at your limit, go grab the churros & some fro-yo from the dessert section. Yes, I said churros. I don’t know why, but I love the churros there & must have some before I leave. And when you feel like you’re about to bust out of your pants, you might go for one more bowl of ramen. You might as well start & end with your favorite dish, right?!? Anyone with me on this? No? You think I’m weird? Well, I don’t care what you think, I love the ramen & I’d want the last thing that I taste to be something I love. It’s the most satisfying feeling ever.

Now go stuff your face with some Ramen!