Archive | January, 2013

Running America’s Sweetest Race

22 Jan

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This past week, myself and a few other friends ran the 5K Hot Chocolate Run. I should’ve ran the 15K, but haven’t been properly training for it, so I chose the next best thing to ensure I hot my chocolate fix. After the race, we received the finisher’s mug with a cup of hot chocolate, a banana, rice krispy treat, pretzels and a marshmallow to dip in the chocolate fondue. (Is your mouth watering yet?)

Check out our treats!

Check out our treats!

Let’s back up to Saturday, aka race number pick-up day. The real reason I signed up for this race to begin with was not the hot chocolate, but the goodie bag which is a technical hooded sweatshirt. The best goodie bag ever! And to top things off, they even came in a cute colored drawstring bags plus they gave away free hot chocolate, chocolate squares and biscoff spread.

Square chocolate

Square chocolate

More hot chocolate (and calories)

More hot chocolate (and calories)

Although parking at the Georgia World Congress Center was no walk in the park, they were friendly volunteers in bright orange shirts to guide the way along with local and national running vendors from the Big Peach Running Company to Jeff Galloway and 110%. After looking though the sale bins of brooks running shorts, Thorlo Experia running socks (buy 3, get 1 free), 110% overdrive compression + ice kits (which my boyfriend really wanted to buy), we walked away with waffle energy snacks, energy blocks and a water resistant iFitness Ultimate II Neoprene running pouch.

After a Saturday evening practice run with my boyfriend, he broke out from a food allergy and we ended our night early. ūüė¶ Early birds that we are, we got to the Turner Field orange lot just before 6 a.m. and we (by “we” I mean my bf) took a quick nap then headed to the blue lot for the fitness/zumba warm-up. Although there was a gear-check available, passed on this leaving valuables in the car and using our newly purchased running pouch to avoid the long lines.

Quick nap before the race

Quick nap before the race

Based on your seed time, all runners were placed in a coral. We were in coral D, but finished the race with lots of coral B and C and runners, so we took this as a sign that we’ll need to run in a higher coral next year. *wink The course was fairly easy with a big downward hill near the finish line that is very encouraging. It was definitely worth the run. I had such a great time, I might have to try the 15K next year!

Sporting the male & female tech hoodies and Hot Choco Run hats!

Sporting the male & female tech hoodies and Hot Choco Run hats!

In case you’re wondering about our “cool” running hats, I actually found a code when registering that got us the neat hats. So as a friendly tip, it’s worth searching for codes and discounts when registering for ANY race. Happy (cold weather) running!

An excited and accomplished girl (excuse the messy hair- Just took off the hat)

An excited and accomplished girl (excuse the messy hair- Just took off the hat)

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Not your standard Chinese food

3 Jan

Chef Liu is definitely one of the rare gems found in the crowded and diverse neighborhood of Buford Highway. Yes. Another Chinese restaurant but one to add to your list of places to visit. You may feel a bit crowded with the lunch crowd, families with young children and constant movement, but waiting for a table is worth it.

Far from a P.F. Chang’s, Chef Liu has a great deal¬†more authentic choices to offer. The people flocked in for a casual dining experience and great Chinese food. I thought this¬†place was going to be just like¬†any other Chinese restaurant but, found myself pleasantly surprised to be surrounded with a mix of diners from different backgrounds and that usually a good sign that the food is top notch.
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As soon as we sat down to check out the menu, we were given a fresh pot of green tea. We ordered a bamboo shoot and chicken soup, but what really kicked off the dining experience was the Leek Pie. Never had I tasted such a wonderful mix a chopped leeks, green onions, rice noodles, and bits of pork inside a lightly browned pastry. The taste was clean and had a hint of salt and oil. Eating it was like chewing warm vegetable confetti that really spurred my appetite.
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Next was something new to me: Shanghai Juicy Steam Pork Buns. Never make the mistake of trying to bite one of these in half. You will end up wearing it. Think about a pillowy, tiny balloon loaded with bold soup flavor. The bun itself is thin and chewy but disappears as the burst of soup fills your mouth. The minced pork was soft and a added a mild meatiness to not overpower the comepleteness of the bun.
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Another common favorite¬†was the Pork¬†Pan Fried Dumplings.¬†These dumplings are by¬†far the best fried dumplings I’ve ever had.¬†Completely handmade and totally different from what you would¬†see at a Chinese buffet or other upscale restaurant‚ÄĒthe¬†dough is a bit thicker than most and lightly browned on the bottom.¬†I hate flimsy, easily broken dumplings, but the dough vaguely reminded me a delicious pastry. The pork inside¬†was¬†rolled and mixed with green onion¬†and¬†was velvety filling the complete inside of the dumpling. Ten aren’t enough. How could I have missed this for so long?
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For me, the highlight of the experience of Chef Liu was the Chicken Fried Rice. I know what you’re thinking. How could this be? It’s just rice. This fried rice was regular Chinese fried rice flavored with more than the “normal” amount of soy sauce, slices of soft white chicken meat, scrambled egg,¬†and green onions. I’m so used to the regular fried rice we have (in Columbus, GA) being light soy sauced tossed nonchalantly with frozen carrots and peas along with bits of chicken and too much egg. This was seriously just a delightful interplay of flavors done entirely well. The focus was the rice and accompanied by the other ingredients. Not just another order of fried rice quickly to be served to the consumer.

My experience overall was great. I like being around food places that are cheap, loaded with people, and food for all. Not forgetting to mention simple. Simple is always key. And Chef Liu has done that. Simple dishes done the right way. However, Chef Liu has done more than that. This place has brought me back to a time where gathering with my once together family huddled in a small, humble, unfranchized Chinese restaurant to get more than our fill of delicious yet simple food at extremely affordable prices.

This post is brought to you by a dear friend of mine who goes by the name ‚ÄúCookies.‚ÄĚ During Cookies‚Äô most recent visit, we checked out Chef Liu on Buford Highway followed by dessert at Sweet Hut.

Chef Liu
5283 Buford Highway Northeast
Doraville, GA 30340