Eating Local: Charleston Tour

I’m definitely a creature of habit, with all the potential for an addictive personality – energy that thankfully (usually) gets focused around food and fitness.  This past week was exactly that, all set in the ever-loving and beautiful city of Charleston.  From beginning to end the trip was an exploration, and a somehow stressful break from the normal routine (such is opening a new business), but the food scene and amazing weather made it worth it.   Here’s a quick glimpse into the food tour that became my life, and the sweet local spots we experienced.

Verde:

Salads and wraps — with all the fillings — either tossed or chopped.  This concept is so simple, clean, and done exactly right with quick and convenient and the ‘create your own’ combination(s) had every option i could have wanted.  And if you live in Charleston (or vacation there), it’s all within your reach because they have two spots: mount pleasant and charleston.

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped salads

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped saladI think I ate there 5 times in a week (not kidding) and never repeated the same combination. This summer combination blended their mixed greens with kale as the base, and then added cucumbers strawberries, almonds, grapes, hard boiled egg, and avocado.

I always got the salads chopped, and then played between their chipotle lime vinaigrette and just balsamic and olive oil.  On Wednesday as I was heading out of town I stopped for my last and final visit (for the week) and switched things up with a wrap: base of arugula,  with added cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled egg.  Cilantro lime vinaigrette, chopped, and wrapped — it was AMAZING.

Between my trips to Verde, and our time at MAD with the trainers, I also squeezed in some amazing meals out in Charelston:

SALT at Station 22:

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

This spot on Sullvan’s Island is awesome – the perfect higher end and foodie friendly beach restaurant with a great seafood selection, and an incredibly diverse (and delicious) menu — because it actually changes daily.

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

The first night we went there for our MAD management dinner (yes, first night, because I had to go back) I had an awesome arugula salad with beets, goat cheese, and homemade croutons.  For dinner I had their tenderloin special with a pretty awesome sweet potato mash.

The second stop at SALT was actually on the last night and I had the absolute best roasted half chicken of my life — the Roasted Tanglewood Chicken.  The chicken itself was unbelievable, and it sitting atop of a mix of crispy sautéd onion and vegetable and jus.  It was unbelievable.  This will, without question, be a favorite for me every time I’m here.

Graze:

This spot is so close to our space in Mt. Pleasant (in the Whole Foods shopping center right by Pure Barre and Charleston Power Yoga) but to be honest, probably wouldn’t have been on my radar if it hadn’t popped up on Open Table.  As I say that, I want to immediately (and vehemently) say that I will absolutely go back – this place is awesome.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Charleston

This tenderloin entree was honestly one of my favorite meals from recent memory and the roasted cauliflower puree it was sitting on is something that I’m going to have to try and recreate, but I’m certain I will not fully be able to match.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Tenderloin

Low Country Bistro:

Another favorite spot in downtown [Charleston], and the perfect Sunday night dinner.

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

Dinner was with two of our coaches from MAD, and in addition to the great food and great company, we had GREAT wine – and lets be honest, that’s really all I’m looking for on a Sunday night.

fuel sweat grow: low country bistro

From what I’m told, the Chicken & Waffles are exceptional – it’s a sweet potato bacon corn bread waffle people –  and there ain’t nothing wrong with that….except that it’s not something that would register on my clean eating plan.   For that reason I didn’t even give it the courtesy of a menu skim when we were there but if you’re wondering how I’m feeling about it now — the answer is: slightly regretful.

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails:

Our second to last night in Chuck Town ended at Crave in the Shoppes at Seaside Farms for dinner, and I got the slight indulgence I had been waiting for.  Chicken Marsala over an amazing risotto, with broccoli and sautéd spinach on the side.  I actually took most of this back to the hotel with me and never managed to finish it, but what I did have was awesome.

fuel sweat grow: crave charleston

This place was a really unexpected treat, and from what we learned, the chef, Landen, happens to have an affinity for paleo-esque clean eating, so they’re definitely on our short list to cater the Grand Opening Party for MAD (save the date: July 19th).

All in all, from a food standpoint, this trip was an absolute success.  From a getting the doors open standpoint — well that hasn’t exactly happened on an even remotely reasonable timeline, so I’m just going to focus on the food — the delicious and saliva inspiring food.  Our last team trip in February was full of equally as impressive spots that I definitely want to go back to (Stars and The Grocery, for instance), so Charleston is quickly climbing the ranks as one of my favorite restaurant cities of all time — and I’m okay with that.

I’ve been back in Charlotte for a few days now and head back down to Charleston this Wednesday to hopefully get the doors open at MAD with our team there, and then will finally make my way back to Charlottesville.

Now, for the most important part of this post — any suggestions for awesome places to eat in Charleston?  I’m assembling my to-do list for the next year, and that food tour is definitely on on it.

 

 

Hello Charleston, Lets Get MAD

Where to begin? I think it was Alice in Wonderland that taught us all that it’s usually best to begin at the beginning, so, I will.

I spent the first half of the week in Charlotte tying up every loose end I could think of, preparing to head down to Charleston by Wednesday.  I had my mobile workstation in tow, and with the help of the coffee/smoothie bar at Whole Foods, I powered through everything on my list (I hope).

fuel sweat grow: working morning

By the time Thursday afternoon rolled around and I was officially on PTO, I was so very ready to shut down my mobile work station and take in our new home of the MADness — and the girl was there, awaiting my arrival.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston welcome entrance

We have been pretty delayed in our buildout which has (and always has) led to some anxiety and discontent in the ranks, but we started to get back on track Thursday and can hopefully set our preview week (FREE class) schedule in the next couple of days.  The bright side of the extra time is that we’ve had full availability to spend more time with our trainers to fine tune their coaching, our methods, and the operational procedures that we’ve developed over time in Charlottesville that can luckily kick off day 1 at this location.

fuel sweat grow: trainer training

The past 6 days have been constant work, development, learning, and thankfully, training for this whole group.  We don’t hire ‘trainers,’ or ‘fitness professionals,’ because we’re not just a gym with exercise classes (and because both terms are so generic and overused that they’re virtually meaningless at this point).  We’re a training facility, with a focus on training the everyday athlete.   Our target market ranges from the recreational sweater to the elite level athlete, and everyone in between. And as such, we require coaches – real, knowledgable, credible, fit and inspiring coaches – and that requires not only finding the right people, but providing perpetual training, development, and opportunities for them to better reflect and embody the product and lifestyle that we believe in.

I shot the below photo during one of our board talk/interval training segments, and just can’t get past the symbolic nature of the lighting.  This team, and this facility is still living in the shadows: of the hype, of the branding, and of all the unknown that exists outside of these four walls and these 6 coaches.

fuel sweat grow: trainers

In the next two weeks the doors are going to open, the classes will begin, and all the bodies that walk in the doors will be experiencing the product (obviously) but more importantly they will experience the community, the structure, and overall energy feed that we aim to deliver.

We’ve been so spoiled with our staff in Charlottesville that it’s unreal.  We have the best coaches we could have hoped for, and they make us better every single day.  They are the energy that our clients’ experiences and that our overall success is derived from.  The staff in Charleston is going to be amazing, and they are ready, but still don’t know what they don’t know — and that’s the most exciting part.  The next month is going to be crazy fast, and before we know it we’ll all be standing at the Grand Opening party with our brand new community, and a full month of new learnings, and a wide open road ahead.  I remember the beginning so vividly in Charlottesville that it’s completely insane to me that it’s almost been a year.

Which brings me to the much needed, never-long-enough, and just plain delightful non-work portion of this ‘vacation.’

fuel sweat grow: Charleston pool time

I’ll touch back more fully on this later, but we’re staying at the Wild Dunes Resort (I know, cry for me), just for a few days to break up the trip, and it is exactly what I needed.  Sun, beach, pool, and drinks – it was definitely not a bad way to start the weekend.

This morning was another training morning up at the space with a couple hours of coaching discussion and demoing, followed by the same interval that was being done in the other (open) locations this morning…just so no one felt left out.   While it was definitely more of a day of work than a day of rest, it was awesome to sweat with the group and detox from all of the absolutely killer food (+ wine) i’ve been consuming since I got here.  Restaurant reviews are a must, and will definitely not disappoint, since I’m pretty sure I’ve been eating better than anyone on the planet the last few days.

If we weren’t missing our Charlottesville group so much, we might never leave.  But, we are, and I can’t WAIT for the MADrave coming up on June 7th at our Charlottesville space in the IX building, so if you haven’t signed up already, get on it.  I’ll be there, glowing brighter than the sun.

 

Babies, Mothers, Sun and Home Cooking

There’s something to be said for weekends of constant motion — the kind that can take you so far out of the day-to-day that you actually get a break from  the routine.  That was this weekend in Charlotte, and as I sit here wrapping up the last few hours before I check in to next week I’m so aware and grateful for the last 48 hours of reprieve.

Saturday morning started with an early walk with a friend, and party preparations for baby shower brunch. In between the chaos of getting the house ready and getting myself ready (I was all kind of messy by that point) I inhaled some eggs scrambled with a left over zucchini, carrot, mushroom, and ground beef sauté.

fuel sweat grow: Saturday Breakfast

The shower was beautiful (and the company, amazing) but if you know the party hosts and their combined personalities, this would not be at all surprising.  The party favor is just a mere detail, and adorable at that — OPI nail polish aptly named ‘it’s a girl.’

fuel sweat grow: baby shower gifts

My typical Saturday morning routine involves working out and spending the greater part of the day in what seems like a spandex uniform so it was a great change of pace to be productive and dressed in real clothes before noon.  The afternoon was spent talking, eating, gifting, and generally appreciating the good company.

In a complimentary and lucky sequence of events, thanks to today being Mother’s Day, the opportunity presented to have yet another great break from reality.  With our Charleston MADabolic location opening soon and more than enough work happening on all fronts, simplicity and ease on a Sunday was exactly what was needed.

I had a few logistical to-do’s to get done in the morning, which happened even more smoothly and easily than I ever could have hoped, and by 1pm I was headed back to Casa Moertel for an afternoon of sun, aka my perfection.

fuel sweat grow: weekend leisure

Sunday dinner is kind of my thing, and this weekend proved no different so we brought forth a very clean menu to close out the weekend and get this next week started right.

There was salad with Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, and chopped almonds.  Simple, classic, and exactly what was needed.

fuel sweat grow: summer salad

The big salad bonus was a vanilla balsamic vinegar that Billy had mingling in his collection, which gave a very unique flavor to the simple ingredients.

fuel sweat grow: vanilla balsamic

To go with the salad Dar grilled everyone Ribeyes, and cauliflower was broiled with olive oil and salt until aldente.  It was perfection.

fuel sweat grow: broiled cauliflower

fuel sweat grow: sunday night dinner

All in all the weekend was a great reprieve from the every day, and the perfect prelude to what will be a week of work, travel, and an actual vacation (I hope).   It’s also a week back to working out with a long anticipated and planned new playground in Charleston, so let’s get this all started.

 

Monday Recipe: Great Food, Plentiful Wine + Good Company

I don’t know a lot of things for certain, but I know that great food, plentiful wine, and good company will always rank highest on my list of needs. All three seem to be constants in my life, which is something that I am eternally grateful for, and while there’s nothing better than time spent with old friends, it’s always exciting to welcome in some new faces.

Last night after spending some time checking in with the MAD crew in the 5:30 and 6:30 classes, an old friend of Dar’s swung by the space after his first day in his new job…IN CHARLOTTESVILLE.  Her friend Robert has long worked in the financial industry, one that we both know (too) well, and recently made the choice to pick lifestyle and community over long commutes and even longer days in his old California stomping grounds.  And to that I say, welcome Robert, to the good life.

In the spirit of slowly inducting him into our Cville crew and showing him the best that Charlottesville has to offer (which is everything, of course) we beelined to The Local.

Mondays are 1/2 price wine night (on bottles $75 or less) so it was a win even before we stepped in the door.  We all shared a bottle of the Petit Verdot from Pollak Vineyards – another local choice – and I started with the local caramont goat cheese salad that I love.

fuel sweat grow: the local goat cheese salad

Because I’m a creature of habit, and at that point I couldn’t even remember what I had for lunch, I had my typical tenderloin ‘special’ for my main meal (‘dry’, no mashed potatoes, and double veggies).  And I promise, despite the lack of butter and sauce, this steak was anything but dry.  So good, and probably the most perfect ‘medium’ steak I’ve had in recent memory.

fuel sweat grow: tenderloin special Just as anticipated, and in line with the food and wine exceeding expectations, the company was excellent and before we knew it hours had passed and the wine was getting low.  That’s the truest sign of a quality night, and the beginning of a very exciting chapter with this new member of our cast.  MAD crew get ready, he’ll be a part of your ranks very soon.

fuel sweat grow: Pollak vineyards wine

 

This week, so far, has been very good to me, and for that I’m so thankful.  The weather has turned, spring is here, and things are aligning even better than I could have planned.  It’s such a rare thing in life to have all things pointing positively forward with days unfolding with relative ease so I’m making a point to pause and enjoy it.  These days will pass, the calm will ebb and flow, and the march will always be up hill, I’m just choosing to be optimistic that the incline may be evening out ever so slightly.

Springing into Summer: A May Weekend in Cville

fuel sweat grow: Charlottesville Paramount TheaterWe’re only 4 days into the month and I’m already missing May in Charlottesville.  After starting off the week with three straight days of miserable rain, high 70’s and sweet spring air has been more than welcomed around here.  It’s usually tough for me to pick an absolute favorite time in Cville (it usually spans from spring through late fall) but the extended winter has me so grateful for each day that my body welcomes in vitamin D, and I’m loving hard on this late spring.

This weekend definitely included a long list of to-do’s, prepping ourselves and MADville for our long departure from the day to day, but there was no shortage of the spring weekend things that make this place so magical.

Friday’s After Five was of course the end of the week highlight for the group, which included a core contingent of our MADville members, several of which had used the 12:15 class as the start to their weekend, working their way through the downtown bars until 5pm became an official reality.

fuel sweat grow: charlottesville Fridays after Five

I’ve recently switched over to white wine as I’ve eased my way back into the warm weather, but I haven’t drawn a hard line in the sand.  I think white will just continue to be my outside drink and I’ll relish the indoor moments that red and I continue to have.

fuel sweat grow: Fridays things

One of the least obvious things that I absolutely love about Friday’s is the kettle corn.  I’m obsessed with it.  It’s the end of the week treat and pre-dinner snack that I work towards, and the fact that they’re making it hot and fresh right there just makes it all the better.  I didn’t realize (because I live under a rock?) that you can actually buy this stuff in stores all around Charlottesville – but to be honest, for me, it’s the experience of the in-the-moment purchase that makes the experience so special.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Kettle Corn

Saturday brought an early morning of MADness, but for the first time in what seems like forever, it was just for operational support.  Saturday is actually my favorite day in MADville and you’ll rarely see me sitting out, but after the previous four intervals I did this week I needed a break – body and mind.  I’m always on the later end of the City Market, so I made a point to get there before 8am yesterday, scooting right over to see Erin McDermott for a little jewelry shopping before the masses.  And of course, I got it all packaged up in sweet little bags, just because she’s always adorable like that.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermott

I made my way back to MAD in plenty of time to check out both morning classes, and watched two packed classes experience what we by far the most grueling interval of the week.  Sorry guys, you’re better for it.  Brunch happened at The Southern (again) for a little business meeting with our friends who are launching Swim s’cool this summer in Charlottesville, and then it was back to the gym for a private class with the Sigma Kappa sorority chapter from UVa.

After everything at MAD was wrapped up, errands happened, including a late lunch at Zoe’s Kitchen (Greek Salad, no potatoes, add grilled chicken), and finally wrapped up in enough time to take the dogs for a walk.

Fuel Sweat Grow: zoe's kitchen

The rest of the night was spent celebrating a very special 2nd birthday.

fuel sweat grow: happy birthday charlotte

 

fuel sweat grow: sharing is caring

Sweet Charlotte turned two, and despite having her own personal smash cake, she preferred to delicately and intentionally share pinches of her cake with her best friend Eloise.  The cake was of course done by Maliha Creations, and was the best cake I’ve had since the last cake she made, and that’s a pretty high standard to hit.

All in all it was another great weekend in Charlottesville, and the last May weekend I’m going to spend here this year so I tried to soak in every last second.  I head back to Charlotte mid-week this week, and down to Charleston next week to finally get MADabolic Charleston opened and rolling with preview classes and the much anticipated grand opening.   At this point I think it’s safe to say we’ve essentially missed spring, so let’s do this summer, I’m ready for you.