Thursday, March 6, 2008

CLIF Chocolate Brownie Bar: It’s Tasty!

In my ongoing struggles to lose weight, I’ve started, yet again, going to the gym before work. Since “waking up early to work out” for me means tearing myself out of bed at the last possible second, I always have to change at the gym and therefore end up needing a quick, portable breakfast option. Of late, I’ve been sampling different varieties of protein bars trying to find one that’s got the right amount of calories and a decent flavor.
I’ve eaten plenty of CLIF bars in the past, and they’ve all been pretty good. Nothing amazing that I’d eat over an omelet, but they’re fine. Then the other day I bit into the Chocolate Brownie flavor. Now I was skeptical even buying a chocolate flavored protein bars. Anyone who’s ever experimented with bars knows the chalky, artificial chocolate taste often found by an adventurous sampler. I gave it a shot anyway.
I bit into my bar while reading my email and wasn’t really paying much attention. All of a sudden, I was torn away from my computer because I noticed this delicious, brownie-batter-esque flavor in my mouth. I couldn’t believe how good it tasted. There was still a bit of the bizarre protein-bar texture, but the taste was some of the most natural, creamy chocolate flavor I’ve ever sampled in a “fitness” bar.
Label-wise it has 240 calories, 5 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 44 total carbs, 5 grams dietar fiber, 22 grams sugar and 10 grams protein. A bit high on the sugar, but otherwise pretty good. Perfect for a post-workout breakfast!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Barrel Thief

Last Sunday I ventured to Short Pump to try Barrel Thief, the new wine store/cafe off Lauderdale Drive. Upon entering, I immediately liked the laid back atmosphere. The wines are simply organized: red Old World, white Old World, red New World, white New World and French. The week's featured wines are displayed at the front of the store near the large case where you can taste any that you're interested in.

We sat down at the wall of tables to sample some of the cuisine along with some Spanish wines. The wine associate/waitress was super friendly and happy to provide samples, even though we were just looking to purchase glasses. I started my meal with a glass of 2006 Onix from Priorat which was tasted fruity and full-bodied with a hint of chocolate in the finish. It was so good I wanted to buy a bottle, but apparently it's the most popular by-the-glass choice right now and they were all out of bottles! Later I tried a glass of 2005 Pazo Senorans Albarinio from Rias Biaxas which was also delightful. It was a heavier white with a tangy fruity flavor. My companion enjoyed a glass of 2006 Naia from Rueda which tasted similar to a pinot grigio but with a citrus-y, grapefruity finish. It was delicious and I could just imagine sipping it outside on a hot summer day. The bottle price was only $13 so I took one home with me.

In the way of food, we started out with a cheese trio that included a sheep's milk cheese, a smoked Gorgonzola and a creamy variety topped with quince paste. Each had a unique, tasty flavor and the choices complemented one another well. For my second course I had a panini with grilled vegetables, olive tapenade, goat cheese and prosciutto. It was a bit salty but still delicious. My companion's sandwich was the celebrity of the meal, though, with a delicious combination of turkey, apples and walnut cream cheese. It was creamy, sweet, savory and addictive.

After the generous tastes, we also took a bottle of NV = 1 + 1 = 3 Cava from Penedes. It was a fruity, crisp sparkler that we also thought was a bargain for only $16. If you've got a wine you're looking for, I've heard the store is very accommodating and will seek it out if they can get it.

All in all, I can't wait for my next opportunity to return to Barrel Thief!

Note: For more on Rueda check out the link below for a story from the New York Times: