Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Summer is My Off-Season: Changing Goals

While many marathon runners are gearing up for their last long runs before tapering for their Fall marathons, I'm resting after my "long" run of eight miles last weekend. 8 miles? Long run? I know, I know, that's not a long run for a marathoner. But (as evidenced by my lack of posts) I have not been doing a whole lot of running lately. My new job has kept me plenty busy and the few times I got out to run, it was too hot for me to even think about going long. Props to the Chicagoans who get their long runs in every week no matter how high the mercury rises. I was one of those runners once. But no more. I have now completely, whole-heartedly become a cold-weather runner, a Spring Marathon kind of gal.

After coming off of 3 great races in early 2011- Maui, Rockford, and Madison- I was eager to work on a sub-4 hour marathon this fall. I optimistically signed up for the Fox Valley Marathon in September and- of course, how could I not- Chicago in October. Since my longest run since July 4th has been a measly 8 miles, the September marathon is out of the question. I'm still going to try to pull it together for Chicago on 10/9 with a super abbreviated training plan (long runs of 8, 10, 15, 17, 20, then taper) but I'm not going to beat myself up if that doesn't happen either. But as soon as the cool weather rolls around, you better believe I'll be out there all bundled up, prepping for my sub-4 come Spring 2012:)

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Yea! Hurrah! Success!! Can you tell I'm excited about this place? I'm going to cut to the chase and say this is the 3rd best restaurant I have EVER eaten at in Chicago, behind Moto (#1) and L20 (#2, w/ old chef, I can't vouch for the new one ). The fact that it was an unexpected find made it a very special night, indeed!

Naha is a New American restaurant that focuses on seasonal ingredients, local whenever possible. It won a Michelin star and it is well deserved! I've mentioned before that what makes a restaurant stand out is, of course, amazing food, but also the service, the ambiance, and the attention to detail. Naha excels at all of the above.

First of all, we showed up at 7pm on a Friday night w/o a reservation and the maitre'd said "no problem, we have a high table in our lounge area where we can provide the same menu as the restaurant." We didn't get a dirty look, we didn't get a "oh, let me see what I can do" that too many Chicago restaurants have as their trademark snottiness before bringing you to your table. Just a great 'can do' attitude;) (And the place was full w/in a matter of minutes.)

Sitting in the lounge was actually great. We had a full view of the restaurant, w/ all it's simple, modern ambiance. The glassware and plates were very pretty- all different shapes, some w/ the trademark Naha design. The table bussing was perfectly timed. The waitstaff was pleasant and gave us plenty of time to relax b/t courses.

The menu at Naha changes so frequently that the one on-line does not include our meals! But here's some of what we had:

scallops with rhubarb, granny smith apples, bacon

copper river salmon w/ gulf pink shrimp green city market asparagus

farm plate of squab wrapped if La Quercia prosciutto, Kurobuta Berkshire pork belly and sweet breads with a "hash" of "deep purple" potatoes, charred scallions, onion jam and savory

creme fraiche cake, strawberry hibiscus sorbet, rhubarb 

This was the kind of restaurant where you eat every single bit of garnish because each is DELICIOUS and they all fit together like the details of a rich, well written novel. Yum! 

This restaurant experience convinced me I need to focus on food photography. I eat out a lot and I blog about it a lot, so I really should take my own excellent pictures. So from now on, no shame, I will bring my GOOD camera (not my point and click) and do it right! I'm sorry I didn't do that at Naha, their food looked as good as it tasted!

After dinner, Adam and I enjoyed a nice leisurely walk home. Some sights along the way:

The Wrigley Building

Smith & Wollensky, a Chicago staple steak house

All in all, a great summer night in Chicago!