Archive | September, 2011

Race Review: Run! Geek! Run! 8K

18 Sep

Despite my lackadaisical running schedule these days, I pulled myself out of bed yesterday morning to go run the Run Geek Run 8k in West Potomac Park.

Speedy-looking, no?

The race started at 8 am. My personal chauffeur XFE dropped me off as close as he could get and I set off with a banana, my iPod and my camera. I was, of course, ridiculously early and there wasn’t really anything to do, so I spent about 45 minutes just milling about, taking pictures. There was a DJ playing music, which was nice. There was a row of about 12-15 porta-potties, and not too much of a line.

The finish line before the race.

 It was actually a pretty small race. I signed up for it only because it was supposed to have a tech shirt. However, when I went and picked up my race packet on Friday, no tech shirt. In it’s place was a long-sleeved t-shirt. Serious bummer. I tweeted and Facebooked the race event organizers, but did not get a response. So, I brought my shirt along on Saturday morning and tracked someone down to ask about the mix up. She said they’d had sizing issues with the tech shirts. To which I say, get your act together. It’s not the first race of the season. You are a running store, you should probably know a little something about shirt fit at this stage of the game. Whatever.

The offending t-shirt

The race started on time, no corrals or anything. A few people were dressed in their best geek gear. I set a good 10 minute pace from the start and had no real problems. It wasn’t a terribly crowded course where you’re dodging tons of people or anything like that.

I traded spots with these two girls a number of times until they just blazed me the last mile or so. They really kicked it up.

There were water stops at 2 miles and 4 miles, approximately, but I didn’t need them. True story: I saw a woman eating a Gu at around the 1/2 mile mark. Hilarious. It’s just a five mile race — probably don’t need a Gu to replace the approximately 500 calories you’ll be burning. Personally, I’ve never eaten during a run, even my half marathon. I just don’t have the coordination.

 

This was the guy in first place. He passed me when I was about 1.4 miles in, so about 15 minutes in. Crazy. The picture is blurry because I’m so fast. Actually, I didn’t stop for pictures. I’d just stick my camera out and snap.

Me around mile 4. Not very flattering, but I wanted to get a photo of me with the Washington Monument.

This was my time on the second clock, the one after the finish line. I didn’t get a good shot of the finish clock. So I finished in about 50 minutes. I went up and down on my pacing, starting a bit slower, speeding up, slowing down. The usual. I can’t pace for shit.

The post race party was pretty small: water, bagles, bananas and chocolate chip cookies, which was a nice touch. I stuck around for about 30 minutes post-race, and had a cookie while cheering on my fellow racers. Then began the long hike to the metro. The race website insists that it’s a metro-accessible location, but that’s a bit of a misnomer. The nearest metro was Foggy Bottom, which had to be at least a mile or so away. But it was fine. It gave my legs a chance to cool down and my sweat to evaporate.

All in all a good race, but I certainly wouldn’t have done it for a damn t-shirt.

This is my new boyfriend in the background. He basically crossed the finish line the same time as me. Quite humbling.

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Dooking It Out For Molly Dooker Wine: Where Everyone’s a Winner

17 Sep

Anybody out there like wine? Yeah, I thought so. Us, too. My sommelier-for-eternity XFE and I love wine and have really gotten into good wines over the last couple of years. We even invested in a wine fridge.

So when Kimpton Hotels tweeted that they would be holding a winemaker’s dinner, XFE looked into it. Turns out, the dinner was being held by an Australian winery called Molly Dooker . WHAT? We’re going to Australia! And we like Australian wines! In fact, we’re trying to plan a few days of winery tours in our Australian trip, but there are so many great wine regions, we’re still trying to decide which one makes sense for us – Barossa, Clare, Hunter, we’re just not sure.

Free pen AND free wine? (ok, not free, there was a charge.)

To top it off, Molly Dooker was holding a contest to name their next wine. AND the winner of the contest would be named at the DC wine dinner at the Hotel Palomar. The prize was awesome – a trip to Australia and a stay at the winery! Destiny had spoken.

We began brainstorming names for the new wine, which is a sparkling shiraz (We’d each have 10 opportunities to enter). We began researching Molly Dooker, which we found out was Australian slang for “left handed,” since the two owners, Sparky and Sarah, are both left handed. Pretty freaking adorable, huh? Yeah, we thought so too. All in all, it seems like a very fun winery, doing some pretty fun things, but how’s the wine?

Well, we had plenty of opportunity to find out at last week’s wine dinner. It started with a little appetizers – crab cakes and satay skewers, and their white wine, the Violinist. The Violinist is a verdelho, which I have never heard of, but it was very delicious. And well, we do love crab cakes.

We moved to the main event. When we got into the room, there was TON of wine and lots of glasses waiting for the wine. Each setting had five or so glasses. So, we took a deep breath, pulled on our big girl pants and settled in to get an education on Molly Dooker wines.

Sparky (and like his name suggests, he’s a real live wire) started off explaining how the wines are made with nitrogen to protect the wine from sulphites. But nitrogen isn’t too yummy in young wines. And if you want to drink the wine instead of having to store it forever (and believe me, you do want to drink it), you need to release the nitrogen gas by shaking up the bottle and letting it settle for a few minutes. We actually tasted two wines – one shaken, one not – and let me tell you, it’s better shaken.

I'm getting low, can someone fill me up?

We tasted several reds – including (up to that point at least) my favorite, which was—surprisingly for me—a cabernet sauvignon called Gigglepot.  We then tried the Scooter (a merlot), the Boxer (a shiraz), and the Maitre D’ (a cabernet sauvignon). Building on our new expertise, we did a fun little experiment where we mixed the three to try to come up with our own blend similar to their shiraz/cabernet/merlot blend, Two Left Feet. We mixed enough to share with the entire table in our mad scientist plastic beakers. XFE was taking this quite seriously, by the way. We voted on which of the four groups at our table had the best blend. Then we drank it.

XFE challenged folks at the table to put some money in to make it interesting. A very nice couple won the $60 pot. No, not us. We did nothing but lose.

After that, we were all feeling pretty good, listening to Sparky regale us with tales of winemaking, explaining the meaning and features behind all the wine labels (check out their website for details. It’s really well done), and proud Papa stories about his (and his children’s) illustrious go-cart careers. Apparently, that’s a thing.

Me and Sparky at the end of the night. I don't know how he does these dinners every night.

Well, the tastings weren’t over yet. We then turn over our placemats and there are spots and notes for FIVE more wine tastings! Whoa. Thankfully our food came out, a (slightly) overcooked beef dish with wine sauce and some veggies, and a yummy chocolate/caramel dense mousse thing. I’m not really sure what it was, but it hit the tipsy spot.

For our second round of tastings, we tried Molly Dooker’s Enchanted Path, a shiraz/cabernet blend, Carnival of Love, a shiraz, Blue Eyed Boy, another shiraz, and the piece-de-resistance, the Velvet Glove. It’s also a shiraz, but it was unbelievable. So, so good. I can’t describe it other than to say velvety. Interesting story – a forklift recently dropped about $1 million of Velvet Glove headed to the U.S. That was about 1/3 of the year’s production, so the 2010 quantities of this $200 a bottle wine are going to be quite limited. Which is very, very sad indeed.

Be careful with that, Sparky. We wouldn't want another incident.

Despite our extremely excellent 20 name suggestions, we did not win the Label Our Lefty contest. Someone with the wholly unoriginal name of Miss Molly won. Yes, I’m bitter grapes about that. But Molly Dooker can probably make some excellent wine even out of bitter grapes.

And now our decision on which wine region to go to when we go to Australia in March has been further complicated by the fact that Molly Dooker is in McLaren Vale, which was not an area we were even considering originally. So, we’ll see. First World Problems here, people.

Some people just can't handle their wine. Amateurs.

Modern Day Snake Oil Salesman Tricks Unsuspecting Girl

16 Sep

I don’t buy a lot of specialty type drinks at convenience stores or delis. I go in, I get my coffee, I might grab a sparkling water if I’m feeling festive and I get on with my life. No Sobe-Vita-Fuze-Izze-Gloji-Steaz amped-up water, juice or tea for me.

This morning, however, I was waiting for my breakfast sandwich (egg, cheese and tomato on an English muffin, if you must know) when this shapely hydration option caught my eye. Then when I saw all the wonderful things it was promising, well, I just had to have it.

Here’s my morning, pre-coffee thought process at work: “First and foremost, it’s pretty. I like (but am also somewhat scared of) its milky color. What the hell would it taste like? The aqua is so soothing. I really like the cap.”

Done. Basically, ready to purchase.

But reading the front label really pulled me in. “Lightly carbonated? I like light carbonation. I hate having too much carbonation and then you get all burpy. And happiness in every bottle? Trademarked! That’s basically like a guarantee, right? Yes! I deserve some happiness. Also, I too want to ‘Drink Smart,’ and again that phrase is trademarked! Along with the promise underneath it to ‘de-stress the healthy way.’ I really cannot go wrong with this drink. And, there are no artificial colors or flavors. I should buy this!”

Yeah, there are a lot of trademark and registration symbols on this drink, now that I think about it.

A quick perusal of the back label further confirmed my excellent choice as I sidled up to the register to plunk down my cash. “neuroBLISS helps reduce stress, enhances mood, supports memory, promotes a positive outlook.” Holy hype, if anyone needs a more positive outlook, it’s this girl right here. Where can I get a case of this magic elixir immediately?

Now, I’m thinking about purchasing a case of this stuff before I’ve even taken a sip. I’m what marketing people might call, “a mark” or “a tool.” Whoever wrote this crap is a freaking genius. As a fellow writer of propaganda, I tip my hat to you, sir or madam. Please know you’re work has not been in vain.

I, of course, start scouring the ingredients list to try to ascertain which specific ingredient might be so powerful as to improve my whole outlook. Carbonated water – no. I drink that all the time and still have a negative outlook. Crystalline fructose – maybe. Probably not. Gum acacia? Well, I do like gum… L-theanine? Yeah, that’s probably it. And this Phosphatidylserine stuff. Yeah, the interwebs says that’s for memory. Good to know.

Hmm, the interwebs also says potential side effects from Pho-I’m-not-gonna-spell-that-again include gas, upset stomach, and insomnia. What the what?? I thought this stuff was supposed to help me “stay focused and feel good.” What’s so good about gas and an upset stomach?

Uh-oh, there’s also a warning on this bottle: “Not recommended for children under 12?? If you are pregnant or nursing, contact your physician prior to use?!?” What does that mean?

Then, in very small print underneath the warning it says: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

UGH. I’m so disappointed. I really believed it. And it was all a lie. But I will say, it’s pretty tasty. Kinda like a Fresca, I think. And the bottle really is pretty. I don’t know if it’s “blissfully” pretty, but it’s nice.

What about you guys? Do y’all drink any of those fancy drinks? Any recommendations? Noticeable side effects? Please, share!

Bringing New Meaning to ‘Kitchen Nightmares’

15 Sep

I actually saw this story a couple of days ago thanks to Gawker, one of my main sources for all things weird and head-scratching. It came across my Twitter feed with some irresistible teaser. I can’t remember the exact phrasing, but I do know that it included the words “dwarf,” “Gordon Ramsay,” “dead,” and “badger,” and that was enough for me. The full story in the Daily Telegraph was even more intriguing.

“Dwarf porn star Percy Foster who was also Gordon Ramsay’s double has been found dead in the most bizarre of circumstances.”

Ramsay’s “double”—that part just really stumps me. As far as I know, there isn’t a great need to a wee-Ramsay in a lot of porn movies. But then again, what the hell do I know? I just can’t imagine (nor do I want to imagine) a scenario where our esteemed chef is working in the porn industry, but then needs to step out of the frame and be “doubled” by a dwarf.

Also: there’s actually some dispute (apparently) over whether it’s proper to title the late Mr. Foster a “star.” More like, a novice, according to Gawker. Which leads me to wonder: at what point can one be labelled a “porn star?” Are there a certain number of movies or a particularly tricky move that raises one immediately to the esteemed porn heavens? Maybe I should Google that……Anyway, back to our report:

“Percy Foster’s 107 centimetre (3’6″) body was discovered partially eaten in a badger’s den in Wales.”

Hmmm, he doesn't seem that scary, sitting in his little house.

EWWWWWWWW. Partially eaten? How much is “partially?” Is it weird that I’m wondering which part? It is. It’s weird. Right? I mean, does a badger start with the toes and work its way up? Or does it eat your face!?! Blech. I don’t want to think about this anymore. Wait, one last question on this part–is this like one of those honey badgers? Y’all already know about the honey badger right? You’ve seen the Youtube video, right? Oh come on! Everyone’s seen it. Don’t make me elaborate. Moving on:

“The report says the 35-year-old was found, deep in an underground chamber by Ministry of Agriculture experts ahead of a planned badger-gassing program’.”

What’s that you say? A ‘badger-gassing program?’ Is this a thing? Is it annual? Is it because they are so obviously keen on human flesh and therefore a danger to small people like, children?? And how on earth does the badger pull someone, even a small someone, “deep in an underground chamber?” Are these things freakishly strong? I’m actually kinda scared now. And looking at Petunia with a bit more respect, I must say.

Come into my den and I will eat your face off. I even have glowing eyes, I'm so scary.

“Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of suicide, according to the report.

Adult film producer Dexter Yamunkeh said ‘Percy was a little guy with big problems… He was doing well but was under pressure like everyone else in this god damn industry.’”

Really? Suicide? Is there not an easier way to go about killing oneself? I can think of several ways and I’m not the least bit suicidal. It’s honestly about the most obscure way I can think of. And, Dexter, can I call you Dexter? You seem really (and understandably) quite upset with this job. You might want to consider a career change.

“In a recent interview Foster, star of  X-rated movie Hi-Ho Hi-Ho, It’s Up Your Arse We Go,  spoke of his excitement about his growing career as Ramsay’s double.”

First off, awesome movie title. I feel like I already know what to expect with this title. There’s no real confusion or mystery – clear as a bell. Second, again with the whole “growing career” thing. Please, please, please enlighten me about how this is a career.

‘Porn lookalikes get more money than normal actors. Dwarf lookalikes are as rare as hen’s teeth and so can command top dollar. I’ve already ordered a new BMW and a diamond-encrusted Soda Stream,’ he said.”

Alright. I guess I have to accept his explanation. I mean, that’s not what I would look for in a porn, if I were in the market for one. Which I most vehemently am not.

Also, I’m more than a little sad that this little dude isn’t going to get a chance to enjoy his BMW (Would that be a small car or a normal-sized one, by the way? How does that work?) and “diamond-encrusted Soda Stream,” which apparently turns normal water into sparkling. OK, and by the way, does this sound like a man about to commit suicide? He was actually making plans and enjoying his money.

All told, I’m very suspicious of this whole suicide thing. I suspect, per usual since I’m a paranoid freak, foul play. I think someone took out the poor little fellow. Someone should track down those other dwarves from “Hi-Ho Hi-Ho” and see if their stories check out. Or that angry adult film producer. Might be a case of jealousy. Or, and I hate to point fingers here (actually, finger-pointing is one of my favourite hobbies), but maybe we should all be taking a look at Mr. Ramsay himself! Maybe he doesn’t want some dwarf porno star (allegedly) making money off his likeness. AND, he has a well-documented temper (hello? “Hell’s Kitchen?”) 

Or maybe he just tripped and fell in the hold and the badger was startled and attacked. Whatever the case may be, I am now adding badgers to my list of animals I am going to do my best to not piss off. Which is basically all animals.

That badger is freaking scaring me! No, really, he is! Just look at those teeth. Yikes.

Lies I’m Not Believing: Michaele Salahi Kidnapping

14 Sep

 Hold on to your fake Redskins cheerleader pom-poms. Everyone’s favorite Real Housewife of DC and one half of the White House state dinner crashing duo has left her husband, I mean, been kidnapped, according to her husband. (I love that he went to TMZ with this).

  “Real Housewives of D.C.” star Tareq Salahi believes his wife Michaele Salahi was abducted in Virginia yesterday … but he’s afraid the cops aren’t taking the situation seriously … TMZ has learned.

TMZ just spoke with Tareq … who tells us he last saw Michaele at their home around 11 AM ET yesterday … right before he left to go to their winery.  Tareq says Michaele told him she was going to get her hair done — but she never went to the appointment … and she’s been missing ever since.

Tareq claims he got a call from Michaele late last night … from an unfamiliar Oregon cell phone number… and she told him she was going to her mother’s house, located minutes away from the Salahi home. 

Tareq says he was suspicious — so he called Michaele’s mother … who told him she hadn’t spoken with Michaele and was unaware of her plans.  That’s when Tareq — fearing Michaele had been abducted — called the Warren County Sheriff’s Dept. for help.

But Tareq claims deputies told him she had already called them — informing them she was OK and just dealing with some “family issues.”

Tareq tells TMZ … he believes Michaele had been FORCED to make the phone calls by her abductor … and believes she is in very real danger … especially because the Salahis have received death threats in the past.

Tareq says he’s considering going to other law enforcement for help because he feels the Warren County Sheriffs are not taking proper action. A rep for the WCSD tells TMZ cops are not releasing any info about the situation at this time.

Tareq has issued a statement saying, “We are reaching to the public pleaing [sic] desperately for your help.

Listen here, Tareq. You seem like a sorta nice guy (er, whatever). What I mean to say is that you seem to genuinely care about this woman. Alas, I don’t think the feelings are returned, my little polo-playing friend. It’s blatantly obvious to all of us that she’s left your broke ass. Probably for some dude from Oregon, by the looks of it. Missy, er Michaele or whatever, has decided that poor doesn’t look good on her, thanks so much, but peace out. I’m sorry. I know this must seem very harsh to you. Better to accept it and move on.  

Conversely, you can continue to deny your abandonment and cling to the kidnapping theory. If you choose this option, I’ve provided you with my top 10 reasons why Michaele Salahi might have been “kidnapped,” as you say.

1)      Judges are such meanies: stalling this Saturday’s bankruptcy auction. Hmmm, seems there’s an auction of items from the Salahi’s Oasis Vineyards scheduled for this very Saturday, including some 8,000 bottles of wine, trucks, and even corks! I’m not sure if a kidnapping will stall a bankruptcy auction. Creditors gotta get paid, yo.

2)      To get some free publicity for the Oasis Winery super-awesome comeback. Despite this very pertinent deadline and the sell-off of all their crap, the kray-kray Salahis were actually planning quite an ambitious a comeback. They were advertising the reopening of the winery on September 24 with a gala event called “A Hollywood Oasis.”

3)      To make that big bully Montel Williams totally sorry. Unfortunately, the forever-embroiled Salahis again drew fire with their planned comeback, this time from Montel Williams, of all people. Montel Williams has threatened to sue them because they used his name as one of the ‘celebrities’ who would be at the reopening of their Oasis Winery. They also listed his foundation as one of the event’s supporters.

4)      To build buzz for Michaele’s new hot dance single. Maybe Michaele was nervous about singing her new single, “Bump It” at the winery re-launch event.

 (There is just so much awesomeness in this video. If you click on no other link, just click on this one. Wait till you get to around the two minute mark where her thin voice starts to waiver.)

Sample lyrics:

“Rhythm is the bass that will make the crowd jump.

“Will someone please hurry up and dance with me. Cause I’m alone on the dance floor.”

“Like I’m so hot and you’re so not.”

And my favorite line:

“Release me from the cage, I belong on center stage. Animal.”

5)      To make FamousDC feel bad for not paying Michaele for that event she wasn’t actually invited to. Maybe they couldn’t get invited to another FamousDC event after getting kicked out of the last one.

6)      Because kidnapping is easier than learning how to dance. The Salahis were this close to finalizing a deal to appear on Dancing with the Stars AUSTRALIA . Maybe that deal fell through?

7)      Rejection from Bravo God Andy Cohen. He said hell-to-the-nah to their offer to move to Beverly Hills and appear on the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

8)      $300 seems like a lot for some crappy wine. Nevertheless, the Salahis ruined this poor girl’s graduation party last month, and stole her $300.

9)      To get back on Celebrity Rehab – wait, is Stockholm Syndrome an addiction? Maybe Michaele’s still pissed she got kicked off of Celebrity Rehab. For not having an actual addiction. “Hmmm, note to self: gotta get one of those addiction things to get on TV. Love, Michaele”

10)  For attention. No, that can’t be right.

UPDATE: Thanks to the fine reporters at TMZ, this post is already obsolete. (Seriously guys, you couldn’t wait?) While searching for more photos, I found out that Michaele did in fact run off with another dude. A guitarist from Journey. There’s a joke in there, somewhere, about Journey-ing far away from her husband, or really living up to that “Don’t Stop Believing” sentiment, but whatevs. End of story. I hope.

Missing Out on the Missoni Madness

13 Sep

Hey! Did you hear the super big exciting news rocking the retail world today? Target started pimping out a new line of Missoni products today!!! That’s right – the super obnoxious zigzag knit that you probably DON’T remember from the 1970s is back! And at Target!

“Starting September 13 and only through October 22 will you find the 400 piece collection filled with Missoni’s signature zigzag prints and patterns at Target stores and at Target online.

Missoni for Target brings a rich heritage of signature prints and patterns to apparel and accessories for women, men, girls and baby, as well as home furnishings.”

And women across this country lost their ever-loving minds.

No, please no.

 

People (and by people, I mean women) started lining up hours before the stores opened, according to some reports. Poor, time-constrained professional women brought the Target website down trying to buy zigzags online. Merchandise was gone in minutes.

Seemingly-normal women took to Twitter to harass Target over their downed site or to provide minute-by-minute updates on the re-stocking patterns of area Target stores. Here’s a few typical tweets from this morning:

“RT (name of idiot “fashionista” redacted): Ooo—looks like they’re unpacking a bunch of Missoni goodies at the Suitland, MD @Target:

Things are looking up in MD! Greenbelt @Target will be putting Missoni shoes, shower curtains, and plates on the floor in the next hour.

I was at the alexandria target since 5am!! I got most of my musthaves online at 5:30. I was following by minute on twitter”

According to my friends over at Cardigans and Couture, a woman at a Boston, MA Target was so excited she left her baby in the car. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. A woman, highly desirous of some zigzag knit scarf or other hideousness, forgot she even had a child. In her car. In a parking lot. A concerned citizen reported the abandoned, locked-up child to Target customer service and an Amber Alert for the errant parent went out over the stores loudspeaker. I wonder if that stupid woman dropped her scarf and went to find her child or waited until after she’d paid her $24.99.

Now listen, I love me some Tar-jay Boutique just as much as the next girl, I really do. But seriously? Y’all do know this isn’t real-straight-off-the-runway, one-month’s-rent price tag Missoni, right? I mean, you probably won’t be seeing Rachel Zoe using this stuff on photo shoots with Demi Moore and giraffes or anything (although Zoe and Moore are allegedly big Missoni fans – but, like, the real stuff. Not the Target swag).

As you may have gathered, I’m not a big fan of the Missoni knits. I remember them from the 1970s. I’m pretty sure my mom had a whole closetful of earth-toned, knock-off Missoni-wannabe sweaters, cardigans, sweater skirts, etc, etc. that she would wear layered under some suede, fringed vest. Blech. I wish I still had that crap lying around – I bet I could sell it on eBay right now, claiming it was from Target, and make a fortune.

Next up on the retro radar: Cosby sweaters. Oh wait. That's Missoni too.

Also: I mean, talk about a one trick pony. Someone at Missoni back in the day figured out how to knit a zigzag and you build a whole empire around it? On the one hand, I say “bravo to you,” Missoni, for making us all think that you did something most grandmothers who knit can do. Your jeuvos are grande.

But on the other hand, would it kill Missoni to be a bit more diverse? Maybe punch it up with say, oh, I don’t know, how about a nice, well-done solid color knit? But nooooo, you can’t do that, can you Missoni? And now, all fall and winter, we’re going to be gagging from all the Target-acquired Missoni clogging up the DC streets. Great. Thanks. 

Old people. Rocking Target Missoni. Look how happy they are with their bargain! Mo'money = mo'Fixodent.

To be fair, something I rarely strive for, there are a few cute things. I saw some thin headbands I thought were kinda fun. And there are a few houseware items I wouldn’t throw out, including some groovy vases.

Oh crap – that 70s vibe is already sinking in. Ugh. Guess I better break out the rust-colored, corduroy bell bottoms.

Hotel Crashing: The W Austin

12 Sep

Aaaannnnd, I’m back! Did you miss me? I would say I missed blogging, but that’s kind of a lie. OK, let’s just say I did miss blogging (there was plenty of brag-worthy stuff to share), but I drowned my sorrows in copious amounts of barbecue, queso, and chicken fried steak.

That's right. There are men chopping brisket behind me.

But, my absolute favorite pain-numbing agent while I was torn away from my blog was actually a hotel.

See, unlike my little friends who just travelled on North Korea’s first cruise ship, XFE and I were ensconced in luxury at the W Hotel in Austin. And man, was it swanky. Total rock star treatment for three great nights. 

The W Austin is located in the new and trendy 2nd Street district, which meant plenty of shops and eating within walking distance. We ate at two nearby places including the newly-opened and very good pizza and wine place, Coal Vines (I had an amazingly awesome pizza with ricotta and tomatoes when I arrived in Austin late Thursday night, well after regular dinner time) and the newest outpost of hipster hangout Jo’s coffeeshop (I can only vouch for the chorizo breakfast tacos – decent, not great).

XFE also ate at Lambert’s (without me that Thursday night), but was disappointed. He’s become quite the brisket snob, and thought that while the crust on Lambert’s brisket was good, there wasn’t enough smoke on the meat. In case you were curious.

But back to the W. Thanks to XFE and his platinum Starwood status, we got upgraded to a “cool corner” suite, which has three rooms – a living room, a bedroom and a bathroom with large Jacuzzi tub, separate shower stall and enclosed toilet.

Design wise, everything had a very cool Western-bohemian aesthetic, with a few nice Austin music touches throughout. There were lots of tufted leather ottomans with oversized hammered silver trays on top of them, tastefully embroidered curtains, and colorful accent pillows on the large gray velvet sectional in the living room. The artwork on the wall reflected the fact that Austin City Limits has a new studio on the property, with pictures of musicians on the walls. The 52-inch TV in the living room was ridiculous.

But perhaps the best part of the corner room was the views. Our corner suite looked out over the rapidly changing downtown landscape and nearby Town Lake. Oh, and that view? It was also available from the Jacuzzi tub.

The toiletries, as with all the W’s we’ve stayed at were Bliss products. Nice extra amenities I hadn’t seen before included individually-wrapped loofah sponges and eye-makeup remover. The bathroom vanity had a mirror with a cool white design etched along the edges that I would totally have stolen if it wasn’t so large. Also, the silvery textured wallpaper was super glamorous. My only quibble with the bathroom was that they just had a regular old shower head in the glass shower. I was expecting one of those rain shower thingies. It just seemed odd to go standard when everything else had been bumped up.

We did use the gym one day – it was huge and very nice. Everything you could possibly need and then some. I did wish the treadmills had fans on them, though. The large windows let in a lot of sunlight and I got pretty sweaty, but that’s par for the course with me.

Since we’ve both been to Austin a few times now (and are returning again in October), we spent most of our down time at the pool, instead of running around town. The pool was unbelievable. Just gorgeous. We had it pretty much all to ourselves on Friday, but it was definitely crowded on Saturday. Lots of beautiful people the likes of which I never encountered in my seven years of living in Austin. The pool area also had great waitresses like Dawn who were willing to bring you nice tall mojitoes that went down pretty smooth in the 100-degree heat (but it’s a dry heat!). The security guy checking the list at the pool entrance is probably pretty necessary (I bet a lot of interlopers try to get in there), but the neon green wristbands seemed a bit much. Like we were going to the club or something.

Speaking of clubs, the downstairs bar areas were jammed packed while we were there. Again, with the types of people I’ve never seen in Austin. It looked like a “Most Eligible Dallas” in that place. We stopped by the one of the three bar-type areas that made up “The Living Room” each night, but only for one drink. It was pretty dark and crowded and service was (understandably) hit or miss.

With so many great restaurants in Austin, we did not eat at the W’s restaurant, Trace, but a quick look at the menu definitely has my curiosity piqued.

Overall, the entire staff from valets to check-in managers was great, and efficient. I look forward to our next stay at the W for the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. I have a feeling that after all the eating we’ll be doing, we’ll need that extra large oversized bathtub.

 

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