Tag Archives: tallahassee

Eating local in Tallahassee is easier (and tastier) than it may seem

Call it ignorance or naivety, but I always carried a stigma that Tallahassee simply wasn’t the place to indulge in a locally-minded lifestyle. Places like Chattanooga and Boulder are rampant with the local mentality, but Florida just doesn’t seem to have hopped on that train yet.

After checking out the Locavore Index 2012, a chart that ranks states based on commitment to locally-sourced foods, I was disappointed to see that Florida not only ranked poorly – we were at the very bottom of the list. Not cool, Sunshine State. So, to further my adventures in local eating, I journeyed to three different places this week that showcased some of the best locally grown and owned destinations in town. Check ‘em out:

The Cool Cow

The vacant space next to Fat Sandwich on Railroad Avenue has seen many eatery ideas, but it wasn’t until an ice creamery popped up that the void was finally filled. Walking into this joint isn’t exactly impressive – but the simplicity is part of the experience.

The Cool Cow offers six flavors daily. Chocolate and vanilla are always on the menu, but the four other varieties are swapped out every two days – a total of 200 flavors rotate through the soft serve machines. On the day of our visit, we were offered Georgia orange, kiwi frozen yogurt, berry sorbet, and mocha hazelnut.

I went for the mocha hazelnut – and it was outrageous.

Topped with rainbow sprinkles and marshmallows, my cup teeming with creamy mocha ice cream was beyond tasty, but Niko’s treat took the cake. He ordered a banana split, and got everything on it – which was a solid decision. His chocolate, vanilla, and mocha hazelnut ice cream plops were layered thick with hot fudge, caramel drizzle, waffle cone bits, fat dollops of whipped cream, and even a cherry on top. It was pure perfection.

The mocha oreo milkshake my buddy ordered also deserved an honorable mention, but the part of our cool experience that deserves the biggest ovation is the service we received. Our ice cream guru was not only a wizard with a can of whipped cream, he handled everything with the best attitude I have ever encountered in the food industry. He was kind, courteous, and complimented Niko’s choices of toppings. He’s the kind of guy you leave a 40% tip for. Kudos, Cool Cow – we’ll be back.

The Tallahassee Farmers Market

I am a huge fan of produce markets – so much so that I am dedicating a portion of the 2013 trip to exploring as many as I can. Niko and I have made a few trips out to the Thomasville Farmers Market in Georgia, but we had never taken the quick trip to the convenient one located in Market Square.

After a few weeks of failed Saturday morning attempts, we finally made it out to explore the covered pavilion loaded with local goods. Some of my favorite farms were in attendance, including Turkey Hill and Orchard Pond Organics. The pavilion wasn’t huge, but it was certainly big enough to hold every bit of produce I needed.

We strolled around the stands before making our final selections, feasting our eyes on a huge assortment of goods. There were plump peaches, thickly husked corncobs, freshly cut sunflower stalks, ripe heirloom tomatoes, and more. My bounty was a harvest of ripe blueberries, Japanese eggplant, okra, lemon and lime, and more tomatoes than I know what to do with – plus a little rosemary plant!
 Hands down, this is the best fresh produce market in town, with friendly farmers, great edible offerings, and unbelievably reasonable prices. Whoever said eating healthy and local is expensive clearly never stopped by a farmers market. Read More…

The foodie gods answer my edible prayers with Pho 7 and Latin Xpress in Tallahassee

Living in Denver introduced me to a lot of things, but the biggest culinary revolution I experienced was being exposed to the liquid paradise that is pho. A Vietnamese tradition, pho is arguably one of the best dishes of all time that combines broth and noodles. Returning to Tallahassee after indulging in the rich cultural offerings of Denver brought disdain to my tummy, until I happened upon a sign advertising for Pho 7.

I was instantly intrigued.

Niko and I vowed to try it out, but we weren’t fully committed or convinced until our foodie climbing friends Barbara and Andrew tested the waters. Their report on Pho 7? It was authentic, and it was delicious. Delighted by their positive feedback, I made a dinner date with some friends for the next day.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into Pho 7 is their walls; they’re painted my favorite shade of marigold. The casual seating is reminiscent of an adult cafeteria, and I appreciated the no-frills layout of the restaurant – plus, each table is adorned with enormous bottles of sriracha and hoisin sauce, my favorites. It took our group a few minutes to survey the menu, and then we ordered a true feast.

While my companions took their taste buds on an adventure with Vietnamese subs and meaty rice platters, I stuck with what I came here for: pho. I ordered a tofu pho, cheese and crab wontons, and vegetarian spring rolls.

Everything was amazing. 

The beefy pho broth was easily the best I have ever tasted. It was richer than any other broth I’ve tried, and offered the perfect balance of spices. My soup only came with one slice of lime, but the meaty pho hardly needed any fixings anyways. Our entire table was satisfied with their meals, and we all agreed to return soon.

 

While chatting over our scrumptious Vietnamese grub, my buddy Juan mentioned the Latin Xpress eatery that sat at the opposite corner of the strip mall. I had heard good things about the joint, and my input peaked Juan’s interest – so we decided to pop in to “just check out the menu” after pigging out at Pho 7.

Fast-forward about an hour, and you’d find our little crew slouching in another cafeteria-style booth. This time, we weren’t surrounded by chopsticks and bean sprouts. Our table was littered with tiny mugs that were once filled with sweet, strong Cuban espresso shots. We drank ten total, unable to resist continually ordering more rounds.

Displeasing my already bursting belly, I was unable to shake the temptation of Latin Xpress’s surprisingly affordable menu. Cafecito shots were just 60 cents, guava and cheese pastelitos ran under $2.00 each, and a dry-erase addition to the menu hanging over the counter lured me in with mamey shakes for only $2.50.

My stomach aches just thinking about it.

Needless to say, the strip mall that I previously knew solely as the place where Planned Parenthood resides has now taken on a new identity. Within a single visit, it was reborn as my go-to destination for cheap, tasty eats with unique cultural flair.

Tallahassee, you never cease to amaze me with your hidden gems.

Official scores and results from Tallahassee Rock Gym’s ‘Save the South’ climbing competition

What began as a 36-hour rock gym transformation overhaul commanded by a sleep-deprived staff armed with an enormous shipment new holds somehow blossomed into Tallahassee Rock Gym’s most successful Save the South climbing competitionso hats off to you, climbers.

We labored over creative new routes, celebrated the spirit of our humble climbing community, feasted on delectable Momo’s pizza, and had ourselves an amazing event.

All while raising over $1500 for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition.

Those are record numbers, folks – and we couldn’t have achieved it without you. I also recently found out from the head honcho’s at the Southeastern Climbers Coalition that our event has become one of their top fundraisers. For the staff at TRG, our goal has always been to hit $1,500 in fundraising, and we owe it all to our amazing climbers and generous community. Reaching our previously unfathomable goal means only one thing – it’s time to raise the bar for next year’s event! 

I couldn’t be more proud of the participants, staff members, spectators, and everyone who had a hand in making this fundraiser a true success. We came together to share our love for this adventurous sport, and showed our support for one of our favorite climbing organizations.

And we couldn’t have done it without our sponsors. A huge ‘thank you’ and heaps of gratitude are owed to the wonderful companies who stepped in and contributed to our cause. We deeply appreciate the support from climbing businesses like ClimbOn!, PMI Rope, Pro Balm, and the always wonderful Kurt Smith. As a local facility, we also extend many ‘thank you’s to our local community sponsors, including BagelHeads, Trail & Ski, Tasty Eats, and Momo’s Pizza.

But I know what you’re really here for – the final score listings.

In similar fashion to last year’s competition, a few of our favorite climbers from Gainesville made the drive up to the panhandle to sweep our high scores and crush our hardest routes. With tireless effort and friendly determination, they once again earned some of the highest rankings during the event – and Gator boys, I better see you back again next year!

Below are the official scores for participants who turned in score sheets at the conclusion of the competition.

WOMENS

Arieanne DeFazio – 2410
Rachel Putman – 2290
Cassie Newman – 2035
Chelsea Boetcker – 2025
Montana Napier – 1645
Barbara Ellis – 975
Maryanne Shaw – 880
Tessa Bullington – 755
Kristin Kozelsky – 635
Madeline Rosenfeldt – 635

MENS

Louie Talacay – 3185
Usman Bashir – 3150
Brian Huang – 3125
Mike Stanton – 3045
Bo Durham – 2995
Bryan Cox – 2980
David Valdivia – 2970
Thomas Bowers – 2805
Spottswood – 2705
Joshua Larsen – 2705
Max Kruse – 2710
Vinny Medina – 2680
Sam Raley – 2640
Colton Peters – 2585
Brandon Iglesias – 2370
Dakota Lundeen – 2365
Tom Patten – 2315
Jacob Stalder – 2475
Chase Pedersen – 2455
Charles Carbiener – 2265
Alex Woo – 2210
Dominic Delgado – 2130
Lucas Larson – 2085
Alex Griffel – 2060
Bob Rosenbaum – 1890
Smiley – 1860
Kris Long – 1855
Zach Stivers – 1855
Brian Drewke – 1825
Doug Walters – 1815
Ray Uzonyi – 1560
Isaac Bakan – 1425
Girish Ramachandran – 530

NOTE: Through the chaos of tallying score sheets, announcing top competitors, and drawing raffle winners, a small handful of men’s beginner score sheets found their way out of the stacks – but top climbers David Miller and Andrew Young certainly earned their mention, congrats fellas!

Join me for a month-long trip down to sunny Florida and the southeast – if I can figure out how to pack…

After two cross-country climbing trips, one epic seven-week solo trip, and countless excursions around the country, you’d think I’d be a seasoned expert when it comes to packing my bags and gearing up for traveling – but this upcoming trip has me stumped. I’ve grown so accustomed to road tripping that the idea of fitting everything I need in a small suitcase and backpack is befuddling. Not to mention that this will be the first time I’m traveling via airplane in over two years.

In less than 24 hours, I’ll be boarding at plane at Denver International Airport to head south like a migrating goose escaping the cold. My first stop will be a brief layover in Atlanta, then I’ll hop another flight that will leave me in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The plan from there is to scoop drinks on the bay with my dad, then make the short drive home to Miami – to do lots of this:

I’ll be spending the first ten days of my trip in my hometown of Miami, sipping cocktails while tanning by the pool, feasting on real Cuban cuisine, hiking through the Everglades, and catching up on all the sunshine I’ve been missing. After Christmas, Niko will be driving down from Tampa to spend a few nights in Miami before whisking me away to the panhandle. We’ll make a pitstop in Tampa for a night, then it’s off to Tallahassee for two weeks of hanging with hipsters – and copious amounts of time spent at Tally Rock Gym.

Somewhere in all that Floridian exploration, Niko and I hope to find time for a climbing trip somewhere in the southeast. Chattanooga, Alabama, Georgia, who knows.

Follow my travels in real time on Twitter @themorningfresh!
and stay tuned to The Morning Fresh for adventure updates, photos, and more. Read More…

On spuds in the dirt, lemons from life, and rediscovering everything you thought you knew.

Well, a lot has changed since my last update on June 17, 2011, and I feel like I owe my readers an explanation before I dive back into the world of travel, photography, and adventure. I’d offer a choice between the long story or the short story, but the long version could fill a book. Here’s the spark notes version:

The last we met, I was living in Tallahassee, freshly graduated and itching to travel with my wonderful beau, Niko. The plan was to stick around Florida until he also graduated and could join me on worldly adventures. I had two jobs (amongst a million side projects), too many options, and about 2,000 photos that needed editing. We’ll use this as the before shot:

Cue the oohs and aws – aren’t we adorable? Ready for the after shot? Both were taken during the same day on my road trip in Death Valley National Park, but I think they provide a pretty damn accurate visual contrast to assist in describing the huge changes in my life. Here’s the after:

So here I am. Suddenly standing very alone in a very big sea of nothing. After almost two years of teamwork, and the most amazing trip of my life, Niko ended our relationship with no warning and a very vague explanation. With no clue and no plan, I packed up as much junk from my Tallahassee condo as I could stuff in my little Scion, and this lady promptly sped 7 hours back home to Miami.

I left and lost everything that was real to me. I scribbled ‘I love you TRG, always’ on my locker at the rock gym, grabbed my climbing shoes and filled up a mason jar with that dirty gym rubber so I could keep it close forever. I said a few goodbyes (and still owe most of you a proper one, I’m sorry!), and now it’s time for a new plan.

So here I am. The boxes and bags that cluttered my room in Miami were overwhelming, so I ditched my hometown to spend 4th of July weekend in Key West with my two closest lady friends. With a little help from tequila, fresh salty air, and Marisa’s no-nonsense attitude, I put on my big girl panties and am ready for a new plan.

So here it is: I put in my two weeks notice at my Tallahassee job, decided to purge myself of everything I left up in my condo (anyone need some furniture?), and I started dreaming of my next big adventure. I left my comfortable recluse shell, and have begun exploring everything and everyone in Miami. I’m mapping out an autumn trip to North Carolina, New York, and the rest of the eastern coast up to Maine.

I’m still trying to find peace without Niko, but eventually I’ll have to come to terms with the fact that we’re all just spuds in the dirt. I’m learning how to roll with the punches, and am enjoying suddenly not having a plan. I’m just going, and it’s been working out so far. I even had the pleasure of being approached by a fan during an open mic event – Lori, you really have no idea how much it meant to me for you to introduce yourself that night, you may have saved the fate of this blog.

Enough rambling. Ha, that was the short version too. Told ya the long one could fill a book. Folks, I am back. No more pity parties, no more sulking in bed – life is calling. I only have my job with LivingSocial now, and my unedited photo count is pushing past 5,000 images. I’m back on my grind, and vow to pleasure your eyes with plenty of photos and daily updates.

And while we’re at it: ADD ME ON TWITTER! @themorningfresh – I’m twitter-tarded, but why not? Keep calm, and carry on my friends.

Photo Preview: Tally Rock Gym’s Potluck & Climbing Party

Last Monday, May 2, Rich graciously allowed me to coordinate a little summertime celebration for the members of Tallahassee Rock Gym. The concept was simple – the rock gym is always closed on Mondays, so to give climbers something to do on this lame day, we opened up the gym for members under one condition: you had to contribute something to the potluck.

Not too shabby, eh? There was also a crowded refrigerator full of bratwursts, hummus, veggie patties and more. We did a bit of grilling, a bit of climbing, some slack-lining, and a whole lot of sitting around in front of the gym. Our faithful members brought more to the table than any group of humans could possibly consume in one sitting, which resulted in us attempting to stuff our face with as much as we could. Things got messy, and I quickly got lazy.

Have I mentioned lately how wonderful it is to have a chef as a friend? Raul cooks some of the meanest dishes I have ever tasted, he’s a true culinary artist. His risotto is to die for, mmm. For the potluck, he cooked up a batch of chicken wings doused in sour orange marinade and Adobo seasoning – my kind of man! Speaking of men I love, check out this great shot I got of Nick Seale arriving at the festivities.

We ended the day with juggling lessons from AJ on the slackline, and a surprise cameo by Anthea, who proved herself to be the world’s best dog for playing catch.

Great day overall, and a big thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate a day of climbing, food, sunshine and Tally Rock Gym love. I’m going to miss the gym so much during my trip, even though I’ll be out in some of the best crags in America – nothing compares to home!

Oh, hey – I’M GRADUATING IN FOUR HOURS! Photos and live video galore.

Wow, how did that happen? Fast-forward through four years of Florida State University, and suddenly I have a cap and gown sitting in my room, waiting for my 7:30 graduation ceremony. I spent the morning as usual, munched on bacon and avocado sammies for lunch, and now just four hours away from graduating, I’m totally losing my mind.

My parents are opening up a bottle of prosecco, and while I celebrate, I’ll share a few of my favorite graduation photos that I have taken over the past week. For all my fans (haha) that couldn’t make it to the ceremony, you can watch the Florida State University Commencement Ceremony online! Anyways, enjoy.

Thank you for all the kind words, letters, comments and love. The biggest thank you as I graduate belongs to my parents, the most amazing people on this planet. Without them, I would be no where. I am so blessed. Next time you see me, I’ll have a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing, baby!

Congratulations to all my fellow graduates, and to the class of 2011. After four years of all-nighters at All Saints, chugging watery beer at The Strip, and having to be on time to class even after the FSU Alert commands you to stay inside – WE DID IT!

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