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Have I Jinxed Michael Phelps?

By: Nicole

Was it only 4 years ago we were watching the Men’s 4×100 freestyle relay at the Beijing Olympics? That incredibly tense last 25 meters where American Jason Lezak stretched his way to gold for the US Men’s Swim Team? 2008 was also the year where Michael Phelps reached Olympic history by becoming the most decorated gold medalist, winning eight gold medals, breaking the record held by Mark Spitz for the most gold medals won in a single Olympic Games since 1972.

Michael Phelps’ participation in 7 races at the London Olympics has him in position to become the most decorated athlete in Olympic History. Let me repeat that… The MOST decorated athlete in Olympic history.

This is huge. How can one not be a fan of Michael Phelps? He has 17 career medals under his belt. Of those 17 medals, 14 are gold; the most held of any Olympian. He needs 2 more medals to crush the Olympic record of 18 medals held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.

Summer or Winter games– I love it all. Every 2 years I host an impromptu gathering kicking off the beginning of the games with those who share my sporty passion. This year I decided to go the extra lap. I assembled a shrine….yes a shrine, to whom else, but Michael Phelps.

Will he become the most decorated athlete in Olympics history?

Guests joining our gathering had to leave an offering at the shrine. The UK version of a KitKat bar was presented by one guest. An offering of Twinings Tea from another in hopes of giving Michael some 50 Shades of Grey power.  The Build-A-Bear paper torch was generously given by my nephew. Bless his heart. Yeah, that Frosted Flakes cereal box is from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Michael is having a rough start to the London games. As of today, he swam in 2 of 7 races. And has won one medal.

The shrine was created about 6 hours after the athletes were actually celebrating at the opening ceremony in London. Have I jinxed Michael and the US Men’s Swim Team? That shrine should have been assembled by Friday morning. Should I disassemble the shrine? Should I fold up my Phelps Speedo t-shirt and pack it away?

I cannot bring myself to do it….

I know Michael Phelps will turn around and make the 2012 London Games a spectacular chapter in Olympic history. He’s Michael Phelps and he qualified for the Men’s 200m Butterfly Final scheduled for Tuesday July 31 2:45 EDT. Perhaps when you read this he will have tied the Olympic Record of 18 medals.

One more thing, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps broke the world record and won the gold medal in the Men’s 200m Butterfly all while his goggles were filled with water preventing him from seeing thru his second of four laps.

Go Boys of Summer! Go!

Sporting a Pimm’s Cup for the London Olympics

A contemporary litre bottle of Pimms No1

A contemporary litre bottle of Pimms No1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By: Jen

It seems like the euro 2012 tournament just ended. Now we are eagerly anticipating the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics! Summer has been flying by on the baseball fields where I witness America’s youth working out strategy of the game, building personal confidence and creating the dustiest, dirtiest set of socks to launder back home. Sports are a right of passage for our children. Whether it’s sandlot or competitive travel, you see kids discover who they are, through their physical and mental effort. I think this is why we love the Olympics.

My personal effort comes from “What shall we eat and drink this evening, as we turn Nicole’s gazebo into a London pub?” We love everything English. We love everything OLYMPICS! Nicole and I have come a long way since our frugal road trip to the Atlanta Olympics back in 1996. We survived on packages of Nutterbutter cookies, taking naps in Centennial Park with the occasional visit to The Waffle House for some breakfast. We survived the heat and ridiculous Hotlanta phenomenon of multiple streets being named “Peachtree”. The ultimate reward was seeing Andre Agassi practice on a side court at Stone Mountain!

Tonight we will serve Boddingtons Pub Ale for the men and Pimm’s Cups for the ladies. There is nothing more appealing that sitting in the Napolean House in the French Quarter in New Orleans on a rainy day, sipping a Pimm’s Cup cocktail. Back in the 1840s, this cocktail was created in London by James Pimm using his signature gin named Pimm’s No. 1. You can go super simple or more complex for this drink recipe. I’ve included two options below. Have highball glasses or pilsners ready to go.  I like to use Persian cucumbers for garnishes as they are miniature, have a nice texture and look great in a glass.

Super Easy Pimm’s Cup

Fill two glasses with ice.
Add 3 oz. Pimm’s No. 1 and 6 ounces of lemonade.
Top off with 7UP.
Garnish with cucumber spear.

If you prefer no high fructose corn syrup, try organic lemonade and replace the 7Up with IZZI Apple Sparkling Natural Soda.

Complex Pimm’s Cup

Fill two glasses with ice.
Add a sprig of mint and a sprig of thyme.
Place the following in a cocktail shaker and shake for 15 seconds:
• 3/4 cup of Pimm’s No. 1
• 1 tspn of agave nectar or 1/2 tspn of bar sugar
• 3 Tbsn. of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Shake well.
Pour into glasses.
Top off with ginger beer.
Garnish with cucumber spear.

Our appetizer samplings will include:
• Bangers and garlic fries with stone ground mustard
• Gloucester cheese with freshly sliced granny smith apples
• Green garden salad with red onion topped off with raspberry dressing
• Battered and baked halibut with homemade tarter sauce
• Curry chicken tenders

Enjoy the opening ceremony! We hear the first 15 minutes will blow your socks off!

Play Me, I’m Yours — Part I

Play Me, I’m Yours — Part I.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Day 3

I can’t believe we were taste testing bourbon on a Monday morning at 10am. Flash backs to college perhaps?

Day 3 of our Kentucky bourbon trail tour found us at Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg Kentucky. An oddity of sorts, the 1910 Spanish Mission architectural style of this distillery sets it apart from the Kentucky landscape. Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Four Roses one of the few distilleries allowed by the federal government to produce Bourbon for medicinal purposes during the prohibition.

Just up the road you see all of the warehouses where the bourbon is aged before you see the entrance to Wild Turkey Distilleries.  Wild Turkey will soon be a fully operational facility as they are currently constructing a bottling plant. We were lucky to have the grandson of the master distiller, Jimmy Russell, as our tour guide. Bruce was able to give us insight to the company and stories of his youth at the plant as he hopes to some day become a distiller at Wild Turkey.  Wild Turkey is known for their 101 proof bourbon and as they say, “Give em the bird”

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Before we wrapped up our tour of Kentucky bourbon country, Steve had to obtain a bourbon barrel. Lo and behold, one was waiting for him at Wild Turkey. After a great tour by Bruce and a phone call, Bruces’ father, Assistant Distiller Eddie Russell, the son of Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, joined us at the tasting room. After some terrific conversation, Eddie graciously signed Steve’s newly obtained bourbon barrel. What a fantastic afternoon! But the day was not over!

We could talk about our brief experience at Waffle House, but more importantly, 2 hours north, the city of Cincinnati was waiting for us as we were going to try to see the Cincinnati Reds Milwaukee Brewers game at the Great American Ball Park.

Did you know that the Reds were the first professional baseball enterprise and originally the named the Cincinnati Red Stockings? I didn’t.

Tickets were easy to obtain. We scored some left field seats just past 3rd base in the lower level. It was an exciting game as the Reds beat the Brewers 3-1. As a Cub fan at heart, any team who beats the Brewers is the team for me. It was also a thrilling game because Mat Latos of the Reds pitched his second complete game with a whopping career high 13 strike outs. The crowd went wild! All the strike outs also guaranteed that everyone at the game would receive a free pizza and icecream from LaRosa’s. Cant beat that!

What a weekend. Bluegrass, bourbon, BBQ and ballgame. That about sums it up.

Things I learned about Kentucky Bourbon; don’t quote me – this is what I remember & yes I was enjoying all of those bourbon tastings.

1 – Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon

2 – Bourbon must contain 51% corn, of which most distillers obtain from local farms

3 – The new oak barrels must be charred inside to obtain the caramel color and distinctive flavor and can only be used one time

4 – Used barrels are sold to Canadian and Irish whiskey companies who age their whiskeys longer than Kentucky bourbon

5 – Kentucky bourbon is unique because of the heavy influence of limestone in the geographical area. The water used in the distilling process passes through the pure limestone making the end product among the world’s best bourbons.

6 – Over time as the bourbon is aging, enough evaporates so that the result of remaining bourbon in the barrels is only about 2/3 full, hence the term Angels Share, the wonderful scent you encounter in the aging warehouses.

I hope you consider traveling to Kentucky bourbon country.  Catch up on our road trip and read about Day 1 and Day 2. The weekend was full of great memories to not be forgotten and to think this was practically in our back yard.

What was one of your favorite state side weekend trips? I would love to read in the comments below!

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Day 2

Last week I posted about our last minute weekend get-away to Kentucky Bourbon Country. Day 2 was sure to not disappoint!

After a lazy morning at the Woodford Inn and a breakfast of creamy grits, day 2 of our Kentucky bourbon tour started at Makers Mark Distillery. Also listed as a National Historical Landmark, Maker’s Mark crafts its bourbon in 19 barrel batches, a small amount compared to the larger distilleries. The tour lead us through the bourbon making process including the bottling house where they hand dip each bottle neck in their signature red wax to seal the top. We decided to try our hand at wax dipping bottle necks and found that it really required a certain knack to achieve that appealing subtile wax drip.

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On Sunday’s there are fewer tours available, the distilleries close early afternoon. We attempted to fit into our schedule a trip to Heaven Hill and Jim Beam.

Heaven Hill is the largest independent family owned producer and marketer of distilled spirits in the United States, having planted their stake in Kentucky around 1935. They have since moved from producing primarily bourbon and now focus on supplying spirits in America.

All this driving and running around had us craving for some local southern food. Bardstown, where Jim Beam and Heaven Hill are located has a really great downtown district. There are a couple dozen if not more historic buildings in this concentrated area. An early dinner found us at The Old Talbott Tavern. Known as one of the oldest western stagecoach stops in America, the Tavern opened in 1779 during the Revolutionary war and has seen its fair share of famous historical figures. Visitors included Lewis & Clark, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson & Henry Clay to name a few and several famous Generals from William Henry Harrison to George S. Patton.  The food was delicious – fried green tomatoes are a must.

Tomorrow we will visit Wild Turkey and Four Roses Distillery before heading back up north for a great long weekend finale.

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