Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nøgne ø Brewery

I absolutely dropped the ball on recapping our most recent trip (and MoFo, for you vegans reading). School and work and life just caught up with me. In fact, I'm writing this in the tutoring room of the Athletic Center at PSU while I wait for sporty students to beg me for help on their writing.

To apologize, here is a little post on our visit to one of Norway's awesome breweries, Nøgne ø. To say the name, you have to make the "neuuk neuuk" sound the 3 Stooges are famous for.

Jeff and I first found beer by Nøgne ø at John's Marketplace in SW Portland. It was expensive and pretty damn good considering the tiny little bottle shipped from (almost) the Arctic Circle.
One day, while searching for cool Norway things instead of working on homework or something useful, I found Nøgne ø's website and realized that the brewery was right on the way on our drive from Kristiansand to Oslo. I also found out the brewery offered tours and tastings. How could we not visit?

So, I rearranged our rental car schedule (and saved us $150 in the process, somehow) and set up a time to tour the brewery. Good thing, too, since Norway has strict alcohol regulations (on par with those in Utah) and beer that wasn't Duff (FOR REALS) was not available outside of the liquor store (thereby making it incredibly expensive).
The sad selection at the supermarket.
First, I have to comment on how beautiful this brewery is. It overlooks a lake and is in an old power station in the middle of nowhere. I mean, Norway itself is stunning and breathtaking. This building is no different.
Our tour was a group tour, but we were the only people who weren't from Norway. The tour included 2 different sakes and 6-8(!!!) different types of beer. Because of our "refined beer palates" the guide introduced us to the brewery's more adventurous beers. Norwegians are accustomed to drinking beer akin to PBR, so the tour guide was excited to let us try the good stuff.

And, my friends, it was GOOD.

I couldn't tell you everything we tried, but I remembered some of the "special issue" types: Double Hop IPA, Single Hop Citra, Beyond the Pale, Dark Horizon (my favorite!!) and Jolly Pumpkin (not spiced whatsoever, just pure pumpkin flavor). The pours were excellent and we got sweet glasses out of it. The actual brewery had Rogue AND Bridgeport Brewing Co. flags hanging on the walls, making this trip extra special to us Portlanders.
If you ever find yourself in Norway and are a fan of beer, I would highly recommend taking a tour of this place. It's only about two hours from Oslo and most definitely worth the trip. I will say they don't sell the higher alcohol stuff in their gift shop due to the Norwegian alcohol rules, but since most of their business is importing, a good beer shop in your area (I've found it at John's Marketplace and Belmont Station in Portland) will carry the brand.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 6 - How This Vegan Fuels for Races

I wasn't really planning on writing about how I fuel for my races, but running has become such a big part of my life and is a constant work in progress that I can't ignore.

I have major anxiety stomach. What does that mean? It means the day of the race (and, depending on the length, the day BEFORE the race) I can't really eat much at all. My go-to breakfast is a single piece of toast with peanut butter and most of the time I can't finish that. I drink ONLY water up to about 2 hours before the race to avoid side-aches. This is really not the best way to fuel your body, especially if it's a longer race or one that I'm planning on going all out on.

So, I take in my calories during the race. Currently, my stomach will allow chocolate Clif energy gels (confirmed vegan on their website!) and some Gatorade (but not much). I take a Clif gel 15 minutes before the race starts, then one hour into it, then about 45 minutes after that. This method has only failed me once (during my second half) and really, it was most likely the humidity that was hurting me. During the Shamrock run last year, my longest distance to date at that point, I didn't pack that extra Clif gel and I was shaking so hard during that last mile.
So what about after? Most races are good at offering the bread + PB + banana combination. Also, beer works wonders for post race cheeriness. I also am lucky enough to run in Portland, where most of the time the food offerings after the race have vegetarian and vegan options. If not, my lovely group of friends will happily hit up a vegan friendly establishment for post race eats.

Please note I didn't say anything about carb loading. Carbs are my favorite. I eat enough of them that carb loading for normal people is a regular meal for me. I do always have a beer the night before the race if my stomach allows it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3 - The Baked Potato Shop, Edinburgh

The first time I visited Edinburgh, it was for a total of about 5 hours and since I didn't know where to even start to find this lovely little potato shop, we wound up eating crappy pizza in a hostel bar and getting lost in the narrow streets and alleys. I vowed that someday I would come back to Edinburgh, if only to visit the Baked Potato Shop.
Come back I did. Of course, it wasn't just for potatoes. And it seems like an incredibly vegan touristy thing to do. But you know what? When you've spent the last week in one of the most expensive countries in the world, living off of Lara Bars and instant coffee smuggled from Portland in your backpack and dreaming of your own kitchen, you CHERISH these cheap, ridiculously stuffed potatoes. You become ECSTATIC over the reintroduction of vegetables into your diet, even in the form of a white starch. You decide that yes, curried chickpeas do sound delicious stuffed into a hot potato. 
 You may also come back again for lunch and, stuck between the agonizing decision of a hot or cold filling, you choose both. Couscous and veggie haggis complement each other well.
Happy bellies all around. Oh, and Edinburgh is also incredibly beautiful and fantastic and dreamy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2 - How to Be Unprepared for a Long Day

Yesterday I wrote my post at 11pm, when I got home from my semi-regular Monday working schedule: 9 hours at the clinic, 3 hours on the paper route (plus the extra drive time to change clothes after an unfortunate and smelly spill).

Getting home that late meant my dinner was oven fries and beer. Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA, to be exact. I am not complaining about this.

However, it's kicking me today. My Tuesdays and Thursdays are spent at school from 10-8:30, so I have to be prepared or at least be willing to pay for lunch. Since my bank account is currently not allowing that, I grabbed what I could from the house that didn't require cooking.

A peach from a fruit farm in Hood River and a super delicious food bar made in the Columbia Gorge. Vegan! Organic! GF! No refined sugars!
I will probably be starving when I get home.

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Time to MOFO!!


So, it's been a little while since my last missive. But I had to come back. It's time to celebrate the Vegan Month of Food! Time to squeeze a little time out of my October days to appreciate veganism and everything this lifestyle has done for me.

Last year I tried to follow a theme and it basically sucked. So, this year will be different. This year will be written in the classic fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style. You see, I am currently working full time and going to school full time (not complainin' just explainin'). I have zero time outside of the weekends. Cooking has been....half-hearted.

I just got back from a little(!!) trip to Scandinavia and the UK, which I'm dying to share bits and pieces about.

I also know I want to explore Beard on Bread, a book I hijacked from my late grandmother's extensive cookbook collection (just one small part of her massive book collection). Let's face it, bread is awesome.

So, today, I will share a photo of the most amazing food I found in Norway (Norway is amazingly gorgeous and amazing, but it's not really vegan friendly). The Norwegians LOVE hazelnut spread with their toast, but most has milk in it.

Not this private label brand I scored at a grocery store (seconds after fumbling through trying to understand a kid asking me to hand something from a too-high shelf. In Norwegian). You better believe I Google Translated those ingredients twice.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Surprise Second Half

I didn't plan on running a second half marathon a month after my first.

At least, not legally.

See, my running buddy Libby had signed up for the half and she was running it somewhat alone. I told her I would bandit the race (I KNOW I KNOW THAT'S BAD) to keep her company. I'm trying to save for a month of travel! I was maxed out on race fees for the year.

Just 2 weeks before the half, I got an email.

At first, I thought it was a mistake. And then I tried to remember if I'd signed up for the half when I was asleep. And then I realized I have some the best people for friends, ever. EVER.

They signed me up, a $70+ registration fee. They want me to be included, even if it doesn't always mean I can't afford it. I just love them and their big hearts, so so much.

I would like to say that their kindness and overwhelming generosity forced me to train like a bandit. I ran twice before the half: one 10 miler and one little group run. In 4 weeks. I was worn out and feeling like I could rock whatever came at me, including a HALF MARATHON.

Did it work?
The race started off beautifully. The race started a little late (9, I think?) so it was a little warmer than I hoped, but I felt like I was rocking it. I knew the course elevations beforehand and wasn't a bit worried about the hill in the middle.

Until, that is, I hit the hill in the middle.

Looking back, I went too fast in the first half of the race and tired myself out. When I hit the hill, I ended up walking almost all of it. Some guy passed me, muttering "it's all for the beer, right?!" to which I nodded.
After the steep hill, we finally hit the downhill. I was spent. The humidity was really affecting me and no matter how much Gatorade I sucked at the water stops and how much Clif Gel I shoved down my throat, I felt awful. At one point, I accidentally spritzed the air mister Libby gave me into my mouth, causing my throat to swell up and freak me out (the first ingredient is nitrogen). I started having to walk more and more and the last three miles were a constant battle with my legs to get them to run for more than 30 seconds at a time and a battle with my throat to keep open. I kept looking for Libby, expecting her to catch up at any moment.

I kicked myself in the ass and ran for the last quarter of a mile. I was disappointed in myself when I saw my time was 11 minutes slower than the first half.
Turns out Libby was having issues of her own. Her IT band started bothering her after the Rock n Roll Half (thanks to the uneven streets of the PDX Eastside) and it was killing her halfway through and forcing her to walk the remainder of the race.

In the end, we got to cross together. There were tears.
And beers.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How I Survived My First Half Marathon

I know this is a little late, but hey, life gets in the way. You know?

I ran my very first half marathon on May 20th. The experience was terrifying, emotional, draining, hard, and fantastic all at once.
I did not run it alone. You see, I have crazy fantastic friends that run/walk too. One crazy fantastic friend grabbed an entry just a week or two before the race!
I'm on the far right and the lady next to me is my running-buddy-4-life Libby. Without her to push and support me, I never would have continued on this path to running a half marathon (or 2!).
 The required pre-race shoe shot

Libby is a ten (eleven?) year cancer survivor and always includes others hit with cancer in her races. The list is, sadly, pretty large, but it's such a beautiful tribute. Unfortunately, she had to include a good friend of mine who passed away just 10 days before the half. I would be lying if I didn't admit that seeing her name was a wrench in my side.
The race itself went (mostly) beautifully. It rained almost the entire time, like a Portland race should. Within the first 3 miles, I saw these things:
 Beautiful downtown Portland.
Carpet on the Hawthorne Bridge (my favorite bridge!)
Honey Badger!

There was a steady incline from mile 3-6 and then the course promised to go downhill. YEAH RIGHT. There were block long steep climbs. Because the route took us through SE Portland (a first for any Portland race) the streets were older and unkempt, slanting and riddled with potholes. The slanted road didn't bother me too much, but it irritated Libby's IT band to the point where it still hurts her. There was a surprising amount of people out cheering us on, given the weather!
I didn't have a goal set other than to finish around 3:00 hours. Yes, I am a slow runner. But I am still out there doing it. 13.1 miles is no joke! I finished at 2:52 (Garmin time, chip time didn't include 2 stoplights I had to wait for) which I was more than happy with.

Space blankets rock!!
We followed the race with pedicures (the best thing EVER after a hard run) and a towed car.  I did not know I would be running my second half just a month later.

To be continued....

New Blog Name!

Hello there!

I'm messing around with my blog and making it a bit more enticing for me to actually want to post to it. First thing I changed? The URL and blog name. I'm HOPING that this little space on the internet now shows up as The Roaming Vegan Gnome!

When I first started this blog, I was just writing to write. I don't feel the name fits me as much anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still love dark chocolate. But, I love veganism and travelling and my little gnome companion even more. And I feel the new title fits me much more than the previous one.

Here is the URL, if you need to update your Google reader:

I hope this works! I have no idea what I'm doing!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My First Half Marathon.

It's on Sunday.
Somehow, I went from someone who could barely run a minute straight to someone who signs up for a freaking half marathon.
(my first real race!)

I am terrified of the distance, but I was also terrified of the Shamrock Run 15k, my farthest distance at that point, and I rocked that.
 (our very awesome and well earned bottle opener medals)

My training runs suck so hard, but in races? The excitement and adrenaline keep me going, sometimes much faster than I expected.
(Bridge to Brews 2012, where I took a decent race photo and ran a 12:25 average pace, a PR for me!)

Those ladies who keep popping up in the photos with me? They are MJ and Libby, my good friends and inspiration and fellow Team Slow Poke'rs. They are doing the half with me (along with a couple other awesome ladies) and I just know we'll rock it. And hey, Little Beirut will be playing in front of the Baghdad Theater as I run by! 

Wish me luck, internet. I've been nervous all week. And Portland? Keep up this slightly warm but still sunny weather, mmmmmkay?

pssssst! Check out Team Slow Poke HERE!