Rocking the Guac (Judging) at Painted Burro

Every now and then I take a look at my schedule and notice just how many of the awesome plans on my calendar are a result of this blog. It leads me to have what some may call a “pinch me” moment. Never when I started Cait Plus Ate did I imagine it would give me the opportunities it has, from awesome events to sneak previews of restaurants to fantastic vacations and staycations. Today I wanted to share one of those pinch-me moments with you all: the chance to be a judge in a guacamole competition!

This past Sunday was Painted Burro‘s 5th annual guacamole making contest, and I was asked to be one of the four judges. Proceeds from ticket sales benefited No Kid Hungry, and attendees were able to taste all ten guacamole recipes. We four judges determined the grand prize winner, and the audience voted on a People’s Choice winner as well. The prizes were pretty awesome: $400 to the restaurant, the winning guacamole featured on the menu for a week, and the best prize (to me)…anytime reservations for a year.

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Weekly Wins #2

I really enjoyed writing my last Weekly Wins post, so I’m back with another one, because it’s honestly an easy way to share what I’ve been up to lately…and that’s a whole lot. Without further ado, here are some wins from this past week.

Workout Win

It’s been awhile since I set a mini fitness-related goal for myself, but last week I came up with a new one when I took Reid Eichelberger‘s TRAINxCARDIO class at Everybody Fights‘ Financial District location. What a tough workout! The routine featured moves I never do without an instructor asking me to, like jump squats and lunges, rope swings, and suspension training mountain climbers. And we all know that the workouts we hate most are usually those that are best for us. So I’ve decided to strive to sign up for one TRAINxCARDIO class per week. I think adding those kind of explosive HIIT moves to my routine will only make me stronger and, more importantly, will make me feel great.

Recipe Win

Last week I made a fantastic new recipe, Skinnytaste’s Cheeseburger Casserole. Jeff called it a “next-level American Chop-Suey”. This tasted incredible, especially leftover, and was so easy to throw together! I definitely will be making this again.

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Signs of Spring

The weather is FINALLY warming up here in Boston, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Winter has gone on long enough and I’m ready for patios, sundresses, and rosé.

Last weekend was Cochon555, and I was thrilled to attend the event for the first time ever. But more notably, I was thrilled by the fact that I was able to attend this indoor/outdoor event in merely a sweater and leggings. No jacket, no problem. Plus the warm weather made the above pictured Fernet Branca Menta Cold Brew all the more refreshing.

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Latest Boston Eats & Sips

It’s been awhile since my last round-up of awesome food and drink I’ve had lately in Boston! But that doesn’t mean I’ve been short on items to share. In fact, I’ve just been short on time to do so because there has been so much to taste these days. My Restaurant To-Do List never ceases to grow, and neither does the list of spots I hit up regularly. Here are some eats and sips I’ve tried recently, at restaurants both old and new.

The Jesuit @ Ruka Restobar

Ruka Restobar, located inside the Godfrey Hotel in Downtown Crossing, is from the same folks behind Yvonne’s and Lolita. While the food hasn’t necessarily been calling my name (just not my type of cuisine), the creative drink menu is right up my alley. Upon visiting the bar area with some coworkers, I immediately noticed a beautiful drink being served in some of the coolest glassware I’d ever seen. I knew I had to try it.

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FitReserve vs ClassPass

FitReserve gave me no incentives or compensation for writing this post…I just thought others would find it interesting!

When ClassPass got rid of their unlimited class option, I knew I was going to have to make a switch. The maximum amount of classes offered per month is now ten (for $120/month), and if I wanted to go with that option, I would have had to buy another studio membership elsewhere. This was not something I was willing to do. And before you ask…no, I did not consider just getting a gym membership. My gym days are far behind me in the sense that I now recognize just how much better the workouts I get in classes are than doing weights, the StairMaster, etc, on my own. And I’m willing to pay a premium price to get those better workouts.

But I was NOT willing to pay over $200/month for fitness classes, so I decided to give FitReserve a try. The fact that the first month was 20% off gave me the extra push I needed to take the plunge, and I’m glad I did. FitReserve is currently active in Boston and NYC, and unlike ClassPass, they offer a 20 class package. It costs $185/month, but if you use all 20 classes, that comes out to less than $10/class…a steal when you think about the price of a membership at some studios. But ClassPass’ unlimited option was a steal too, so what makes FitReserve different from ClassPass? What are the pros, and cons, to making a switch?

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28th Birthday Celebrations

As usual, this year I felt like I celebrated my birthday (I turned 28 on March 22nd) for at least week. From get-togethers with friends, to a day off from work, I had a blast.

I decided to switch things up (from the usual, Highball) and do my “friend birthday party” at Capo Restaurant in Southie. I fell in love with Capo’s new downstairs Supper Club lounge during my first visit, and knew right then and there that it would be the perfect spot for a birthday gathering.

Obviously I wanted to look my best, so I enlisted the help of the ladies at Best Dressed, the dress rental shop that dressed me for New Year’s Eve. Once again, they picked something off the rack I never would have tried on my own. But I went into the Charlestown location hoping to find a jumpsuit, and find one I did. (Full disclosure: I received 50% off my rental in exchange for showing Best Dressed so much-deserved love on this blog and on social media.)

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Cooking with CourseHorse

I received a complimentary ticket to this cooking class from CourseHorse in exchange for a blog post about my experience. However all opinions are my own, and my already-established enthusiasm for Tavern Road’s classes can be read here.

I remember a couple of years ago when, because I was still having a hard time working out less than seven times a week, my therapist suggested I look into taking some fun classes that weren’t fitness-related. I wish something like CourseHorse had existed in Boston back then, because it would have made me much more likely to take her advice (instead I just bought a new coloring book).

Photo by Paul Garmon

CourseHorse is a discovery and booking tool for local classes. Their community outreach manager recently contacted me about sharing an experience at one of the classes listed in their directory. Naturally I picked a cooking class at Tavern Road because I already knew I’d love it, but there were tons of other cooking classes in Boston listed. Cooking isn’t the only activity you can find. Though still in beta here in Boston, CourseHorse already has classes listed in arts, tech, fitness, language, and more. You can search by neighborhood, price point, time of day, and even skill level. Once they officially launch, the amount of classes listed will be even more extensive.

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Weekly Wins

I started writing this post with the intention of finishing it next week, and calling it a February recap. Then I decided I wanted to come up with a more fun title, like February Wins. And then I realized that “week” and “win” both start with a “w”, so here we are, with a post called “Weekly Wins” (because alliteration) that’s getting published sooner than I anticipated. You probably didn’t need to know any of that!

Anyway…here are some “wins” I experienced in the last week. It’s been a bit frustrating because I haven’t had as much time to work out as I’d like to, but fun all the same.

Recipe Win

Oh man, we have a new favorite recipe in the house. I’ve made tons of different Mexican casseroles and “lasagnas”, but the Mexican Style Lasagna by Picky Palate is a clear winner. I think it’s the addition of Mexican-style rice (I used a box from Goya) that does it. It tastes fantastic both fresh and leftover and is an excellent pick for a meal to make at the beginning of the week and portion out for lunches.

Workout Win

I’m not a huge workout buddy person after work, but when it comes to weekends or early morning workouts, I’m all about it. ClassPass’ cancellation fee usually keeps me pretty accountable, but sometimes it feels worth paying $15 to stay in bed. That’s why I was psyched when my friend Matt agreed to join me for a Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, and Miley Cyrus ride at Turnstyle Back Bay this past Saturday morning. I knew that no matter how much I didn’t want to work out, the promise of a friend waiting for me would get me to class. Plus, how could I miss out on that theme!?

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Valentine’s Getaway in Newport

Though my stay and some food and drink were complimentary, all opinions are my own.

Jeff and I took a couple of off-season trips to Newport, RI last winter, and we were fortunate enough to be able to do so again this year on a little Valentine’s Day weekend trip thanks to the Newport Marriott. We stayed there in November 2015 and had a lovely time, so we went into this trip with high expectations that – I’m happy to report- were met thanks to a gorgeous room, above-and-beyond hospitality, and tasty food and drink.

The harbor view rooms do not disappoint.

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January Recap

I can’t believe it’s already February! I (mostly) have let blogging get away from me so far in 2017, so I decided to write a post recapping what I’ve been up to so far this year (aka in January). It’s honestly not anything different than what you might expect, but what can I say, I’m fairly predictable. Let’s go.

Cooking

I’ve continued to experiment in the kitchen with fun recipes that both Jeff and I can enjoy. I used this recipe to make some super easy meatball sliders, and made my best round of calzones yet – one buffalo chicken and one Hawaiian. I also made some of the “usual suspects”, like taco salad and tater tot trash dip (on Jeff’s birthday).

Capo’s New Lounge

I already was a fan of Capo in Southie, but last Thursday I had the chance to attend a media event for their new lounge, and I have to say it may be the coolest space I’ve ever seen in Boston!

Picture your grandpa or uncle’s old wood-paneled basement, and you’ll be able to picture Capo’s lounge. The walls are decorated with kitschy decor like taxidermy animals and light-up booze signs. Corners with couches and coffee tables make visitors feel like they are actually hanging out in someone’s home.

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

And best of all, Capo does not ruin the vibe of this lounge with a DJ. Instead they bring in live music like brass bands, which fits the atmosphere perfectly.

Photo Credit: Mike Diskin

Did I mention the cocktails are fantastic, and that eating in the restaurant upstairs gets you easier access to the lounge downstairs? I know what my game plan is for the upcoming weekends!

#VibeWithATribe

I have been visiting Recycle Studio through ClassPass for awhile now, but was still excited to attend RPR‘s #VibeWithATribe blogger event at the studio this past Saturday. A group of bloggers took a spin class taught by one of my favorite Recycle instructors, John. We followed up our good sweat with bubbles courtesy of Champy and snacks/juice from Pressed.

I received a pretty awesome Recycle gift bag, which has become my new gym bag! Inside were lots of goodies including a gift card from local Boston fitness brand Crane & Lion. I’ve already used it to order a pair of leggings and can’t wait to try them out!

The bag I received (photo courtesy of @Recycle_Studio on Instagram).

The leggings I ordered! They’re on sale right now, FYI.

ClassPass Debate

Speaking of ClassPass, I’m still not sure what I want to do fitness-wise after my next cycle with them ends. Right now I’m getting 20 classes per month for $120, which is a great deal and pretty much the amount of classes I’d want to use in a month. But I’m only getting 20 classes to “ease” me into their new structure of 10 classes per month for $120, which I definitely can’t stick with. I’d need to buy a membership elsewhere to supplement that! Right now a few options I’m looking into are FitReserve, a similar platform to ClassPass that could offer me 20 classes a month (yay!) but at an increased price of $185/month (boo…but still a good deal when you look at price per class). Or if I want to keep my monthly fitness fees the same, I could join Turnstyle for $120/month and get unlimited access to spin and bootcamp classes. The only issue with that is, I really like how platforms like ClassPass and FitReserve give me location flexibility. Turnstyle has a few locations but none of them are as convenient for me as some of the studios on ClassPass/FitReserve, like Charlestown Cycling Club. My head is spinning just as I type this…what’s a class-addicted girl to do?

Wine

I wanted to give a shout-out to a Prosecco I recently discovered. I usually don’t drink Prosecco because it’s too sweet for my palate, but my parents gave me a bottle awhile back and I found it in the fridge this week. I decided to open it when I made our calzones because it would pair well with the spicy buffalo chicken, and was pleasantly surprised by how dry it tasted! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a champagne girl through and through, but this $10 bottle of Prosecco is more in my price range.

Food, going out, fitness classes, and wine. Yup, I’m pretty sure that this is all standard stuff. Still it was a good January overall (with temps that weren’t TOO frigid – yay!) and I’m excited to see what February brings!

What was the best part of your January?

Any recommendations for what I should do after I leave ClassPass? Has anyone tried FitReserve?

Any recommendations for another cheap, dry sparkling wine?