Friday, May 6, 2011

An unfiltered selection of things I surprisingly enjoy.

Y'know, when you're a kid you get preconceptions about what you are and aren't supposed to like. Take Brussels sprouts: of course we all whined about them as kids, probably to the point that our parents never bothered to make them. I blame cartoons, mostly. I think Scooby Doo had something against tiny personal cabbages. So you know...I got older, still working under the paradigm that I hated Brussels sprouts. Gave 'em a shot one day--something about a dinner special at the restaurant in which I worked. And you know what? Brussels sprouts sauteed with olive oil, shallots, dijon mustard, and pancetta are TASTY. So there's your weekend recipe.

And goat cheese: whoda thought? I was in my mid twenties before I ever remember trying goat cheese. "CHEESE?!," I remember thinking the first time I saw it. "This isn't cheese. It's all weird and crumbly and it's not even ORANGE." My palate has broadened a bit since then. I'll take goat cheese however you've got it. (Cana de cabra is a personal favorte. Let it get warm and squishy then spread it on pan-fried toast points and add some roasted tomatoes. Weekend recipe #2.)

I think the biggest surprise of my last couple of years is my bike. I'd been a mountain-bike-converted-for-urban-travel kinda guy for a few years, but I sold my Cannondale before I left Seattle (needed a new laptop, dontcha know. Laptops get sad when you step on them. Different story). Got to Philly, borrowed a friends Specialized beater for a couple of months, then decided it was time for me to buy. Looked around at a few different places and knocked a few off the list pretty instantaneously. I'm not a fixie guy, for one thing. Brakes: they're all the rage. And then there are all the varieties wholly unsuited to my personality. Cruisers? Um...I don't really do the "cruise" thing in any context. And BMX? You can't cover any distance at all with that tiny little crank. And I'm going to stand on it the whole time? No sitting? Yeah no.

So my friend's boyfriend says to me, "Come see me at my shop. We'll find you the right one." (Conspicuous shout-out to Toby and the Bicycle Therapy crew.) So I get there--on my friend's beater, naturally--and take a look around. I look at some of the mountain bikes, not totally feeling committed to anything...

Then I see my soon-to-be bike. I had no idea at the time. Pretty sure I turned up my nose when the lady helping me suggested it to me. No way, I thought. There's no way that bike is for me.

It's a road bike. A road bike! But she talks me into taking it out for a ride. "This is weird," I'm thinking. "I'm all bent over and the brake levers change my gears and holy CRAP are these brakes strong and my head feels too low to look around and the ride's a little stiff and oh I'm totally going to hit that pothole on a test ride of a bike I'm probably not going to (WHAM) OHGODMYBUTT."

Wasn't really used to a road bike saddle. You may know this already, but they're not nearly as forgiving as the saddles you find on most other bikes. I honestly had to pull over for a moment and make sure that I hadn't broken my butt. (Of course you can't break your butt. I would come to learn that my saddle isn't any more or less uncomfortable than most. It's just that my sit bones--those are real things, and if you ride much you're pretty intimately acquainted with them--weren't nearly in the shape they needed to be. I've since come to be quite happy with my saddle.)

So I'm about ten blocks from the store, and I know if nothing else I need to ride back. Get back on gingerly, start pedaling. Shift up. Shift up again. Oh wait, there's another ring I haven't used yet...let's get on to that one. Shift up again. And again. Suddenly I realize that I'm FLYING down South Street.

Thought to myself, "Um...this thing's kinda fast." Bought it.

Needless to say, my bike is one of the favorite things in my life, and I'm still totally surprised that I love a road bike. It's fast, but it stops fast, too. I never realized a bike could be responsive, but when I stomp on the pedals, I move. And I love working the transmission as though it was a car with a stick. One of my goals for the summer is to finally get out of the city and ride for some real distance.

Guh. Rambling. I've got gelato to scoop! So let's wrap it up with this:

which might be the perfect video ever. Deep funk, weird hats, kids, and muppets. Have a good weekend everyone!

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