Carbo-loading, OSF, and My Favorite Meal. Ever.

A runner’s tradition, the pre-race (or pre- long training run) dinner often is thought of as the “carbo-load” meal.  Of course, recent studies have shown that spreading this out over a few days (meaning: eat more carbs and store more energy, a few days prior to your big run/race event) is actually more helpful for storing that energy.  Despite this fact, there always seems to be a pasta feed somewhere within the 24 hours before a big race.  Pasta, spaghetti, meatballs, lots of marinara, and rolls to soak up all that extra red sauce – filling, delicious, and satisfying.

Well, I can’t say that I don’t fall for the same old dinner trick and participate in some grain-carb consumption.  I mean, who wouldn’t?

My absolute favorite place to get my pasta dinner is at the OSF – The Old Spaghetti Factory.  (Now offering Gluten Free pasta options!!!)

Growing up, my Dad’s family took relatives to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner, and so it became an individual tradition for me, as well.  Since graduating from college, I can say I have celebrated more birthdays there than any other location.  We continue to go to the OSF as a big family group on Grandma’s birthday.  These days, I choose the atmosphere of the bar (dark, polished wood, and much more quiet) upstairs over the caboose my sister and I always wanted to sit in during our youth.

A few years ago, I paid a visit to the restaurant on my own – It was a rainy, miserable day, I worked late, and did not feel like cooking, so took myself out for a bite.  I always get the “complete meal” (soup or salad, comes with sourdough and delicious garlic butter, coffee/tea/milk, and a scoop of ice cream!), and when the waitress came to take my order, without looking at the menu I answered “the A la Homer”.  She looked at me, and said “you have been coming here for a while, haven’t you?”  When I glanced at the menu the next time I visited the establishment, I noticed they no longer called out my favorite meal with the Homer reference, it is simply called “Mizithra Cheese & Brown Butter”.  Yep, I’m a regular.

I know what you’re thinking – The Old Spaghetti Factory’s Butter and Cheese dish?  That’s your favorite meal?
My answer is – Yes.  I know this is not the healthiest choice, and I definitely sometimes feel like I need to eat some green vegetables, but… It feels like home.  Butter and Cheese on pasta, OSF style, is familiar, comforting, and downright tasty!

In fact, I missed this dish so much when I went to college I sent the restaurant an email asking what kind of cheese they used!  Someone was kind enough to respond, and also included the recipe of how to make pasta “A la Homer”!  I was shocked and delighted to be honored with such a gift.  (The cheese can be found at Whole Foods, New Seasons, and occasionally Fred Meyer).

I now make the dish at home as often as I visit the big, blue roofed OSF.  (But it still tastes better on location.  I just don’t have the technique!)

What is your favorite restaurant?  

Do you have a place that you visited often growing up that has become tradition?

Enjoy the pasta feed, and happy running!
~Alaina

(For those of you who enjoy indulging in Pasta and Beer – Check out one of my favorite races: Pints to Pasta 10K  It is mostly downhill, and you get a pasta feed and free beer at the finish!  The weather is usually beautiful, the race is quick, and the people are great).

Holiday Traditions

As I sit here, at my home work-space, at 12:34pm Christmas Day, life is oddly quiet.  The rush of traffic is minimal on the busy street outside my window, the radiators are silent (and the air quite cool), nearby neighbors’ apartments are silent, and I keep the peace contributing only the click-clack of my fingers on the keyboard.  A very quiet, calm, holiday.

My refrigerator starts to hum, and reminds me of my chores.  Dishes to wash, food to put away, sweeping, clean the tub, mend some clothing… all the little tasks that run daily through my mind demanding attention on this day traditionally spent with family.

This is an odd perspective for me; I don’t know if I have ever spent a Christmas morning alone.  As a child, we were always together with stockings to open and sticky-buns to munch on.  The past couple years, I was fortunate to be invited to other’s homes for the holiday.  Today, I managed to sleep in and upon waking, made coffee, eggs, sliced up an apple, and started catching up on my email (a list of over one thousand messages un-read.  I have apparently been very busy the last few months).

Traditions are a funny thing.  They have a way of getting inside, planting roots, and becoming an expected event each year.  I never thought I had any attachment to specific events on the holiday, as I come from a very extended family with different celebrations each year, but now that the day is upon me, and I am sitting alone in my studio, I realize the one tradition I miss is sitting with my family in the morning, smiling and sharing the gift of being together.

Fortunately, I have wonderful people in my life and I get to go spend an early dinner with family.  Rather than delaying my arrival to close to dinner time, I am going early because being with people whom I care about and who care about me on this day of family, food, and being grateful is of utmost importance.

Thank you to each and every one of you who has come into my life.  I do not thank you often enough for helping to encourage, support, and shape me into the person I am today.  You are always in my heart.

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Happy Holidays!

Love,
Alaina