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Tuesday
Oct222013

A Sweet Spot in the City: Manhattan's Ça Va Brasserie

Chicken meatballs with truffled honey. Heirloom tomato salad with crispy white anchovies, avocado mousse, and honey-lime vinaigrette. And braised short rib of beef with honey-glazed root veggies. Sense a theme here?

For years, I have been the human version of Pooh Bear when it comes to honey. I. Love. It. So when I found out that one of Mark's and my favorite Times Square restaurants — Todd English's Ça Va Brasserie — was offering a honey-themed menu during our visit, I was as happy as a handbag junkie during a Kate Spade flash sale. (Ça Va is located in the Intercontinental Hotel just off of Times Square, and the hotel has it's own bee hives, which is why it was offering a honey menu.)

So why is the belle writing about indulgent food, you ask? Well, I am the first to tell you that one of the reasons why I workout as hard as I do is to eat the things I enjoy. I like wine, cheese, beef, and butter. But I eat salads for much of the week so that I can also enjoy occasional, amazing meals. Heck, enjoying fine food is as much a part of my mental well being as rest and exercise. And I own that.

Now, I have to start out by saying that Ça Va did provide a few extras (such as a few wine pairings and a modified tasting menu to allow us many tastes), but Mark and I did foot most of the bill.

We visited the restaurant on a Sunday evening and were paired with the amazing Neil, who guided us through our sweet adventure. Our palates were pleased with the meatballs, the salad, the spare ribs, and scallops (pictured above) — all paired with exquisite wines selected by our wise waiter. The finishing touch was cheese complemented with a few spoonfuls of the hotel's honey (pictured below), which was delicious on its own.

Although the honey tasting menu is a seasonal offering, this nosh spot is a "fit" for me anytime of the year. Other must-tries include the roasted Mediterranean sea bass and the seared diver scallops.

For me, the mark of a good restaurant is when every dish tastes as beautiful as it is plated — and when the waiter or waitress is as excited to tell you about the food as you are to eat it. Every time I've eaten at Ça Va, this has been the case. And that's why Mark and I decided to return for dinner the second night of our trip — completely on our own dime.

Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous! Keep up with my FWABulous adventures on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Monday
Oct142013

A Rockin' Ride by Candlelight: SoulCycle

Candlelight. Thumping bass. A room filled with type-A women (self included) taking a spin class at 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. And Emma, a spirited cheerleader/dancer/coach bopping — yes, I said “bopping” — around the studio. Welcome to SoulCycle.

I have to admit that I’ve been eager to try this boutique cycling trend that can only be found in NY and Cali. So as I was finalizing plans for my recent NYC trip, I decided to reach out to the PR peeps for SoulCycle about going for a ride. (And they were kind enough to offer me a complimentary class — yay!)

So on the last day of my visit (just before my visit to the Red Door Spa), I made the 40ish minute walk from our Times Square hotel to the Soul Cycle on East 63rd

The lovely ladies at the front desk provided me with a pair of shoes (you either bring your own or rent them), and filled me in on how things worked. Once the doors to the studio opened — and the members of the class before mine emerged, sweaty and beat — I headed in and asked one of the staffers to help me set up my bike.

Aside from the dark room only lit by candles, the coolest thing about this class was the way it was taught. One woman (I wish I could remember her name!) was on a bike at the head of the room — she was our “model.”

And then there was Emma. For 45 minutes she danced around the room motivating us. (And I mean she really danced — that lady was groovin' to the music!) She was able to coach and cheer us on, in a way that can be challenging when you are actually on a bike trying to teach. I loved this approach!

We did hills, sprints, and even a little bit of upper-body work with light weights for a song (which also happens during a Flywheel class). And throughout class, Emma was always reminding the "new people" — me — in class to take things at their own pace, which I appreciated. Before I knew it, I was the one emerging from the studio drenched in sweat, feeling satisfied and ready to take on the spa.

Unfortunately, SoulCycle hasn’t made it down south yet, but if you’re every in NYC or on the West Coast, these cycling classes are absolutely “fit” to try.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s blog where you’ll get more deets about my NYC trip… Up next, a sweet meal at Todd English's Ca Va just off of Times Square. Until then, stay FWABulous!

Keep up with my FWABulous adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sunday
Oct062013

A Dream Come True on 5th Avenue: The Red Door Spa

Owning a silver Jaguar convertible and visiting the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa on Fifth Avenue in New York City — those were two things that my 18-year-old self longed to have accomplished by my late 20s.

Well, I have to say that my almost-32-year-old self is quite happy with her sporty Honda Civic (which gets excellent gas mileage). But I couldn't let go of my goal of getting behind the famed "red doors." So during a recent trip to NYC, I reached out to the spa about coming in — and I actually scored an invite for a complimentary treatment!

On a Tuesday around noon, I headed to the famed Fifth Avenue location for a 50-minute Stress Melter Body Treatment. And when I stepped out of the elevator, I was greeted with the spa’s signature red and white décor, which was bathed in natural light flowing into the space. I felt as excited as Carrie Bradshaw during a shoe sale at Saks.

After slipping into my fuzzy robe, I headed to the relaxation room, which was dimly lit and a nice respite from the chaos of the city. Kimberly, my technician, came to get me right on time and escorted me to one of the upstairs treatment rooms via the elevator. (I was amazed at the size of this place!)

Please note that the treatment I received on this day is only available during the bi-annual spa weeks at the spa — one of which is coming up Oct. 14-20. And the best part? Did I mention that they offer the spa week menu treatments (pedis to facials) for $50 each?

For the next 50 minutes, I enjoyed an almost-full-body exfoliation, an aromatherapy body wrap, and a scalp massage. Kimberly was friendly and professional and explained everything that we were doing along the way. So I knew what was about to be scrubbed or slathered with moisturizer. After a morning Soul Cycle class and a chaotic few days in the city, this was just what I needed before catching my flight home that evening.

Not only was this spa a FWABulous “fit” for me — visiting was really (and yes, I know I sound like a complete cheese ball, but I’m owning it) a dream come true.

So my New York peeps, get thee to the spa during spa week. You won’t regret it. And everyone else, if you have a chance to visit one of the Red Door Spa locations across the country (from AZ to VA) , make it a to-do.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s blog where you’ll get more deets about my NYC trip… Up next, finding some soul at Soul Cycle. Stay FWABulous!

Keep up with my FWABulous adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Monday
Sep302013

Massaging Away the Sunday Blues at the InterContinental Buckhead

Saying “goodbye” to a wonderful weekend is like taking the last sips of a fabulous glass of champagne — you’d much rather savor both forever. That’s why I’ve decided that the best remedy for the Sunday blues is a good old daycation, spa style.

Recently, I headed to the spa at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta to rid myself of a case of the Sundays. (Disclaimer, kids, my treatment was comped, as I was writing about the visit for an upcoming Urban Lux Magazine article that will be out in mid October.)

Like most hotel spas in Atlanta, valet parking is free, as long as you get your ticket validated by the spa folks. My original plan was to head over to the hotel around noon to enjoy a little poolside people watching (access to the pool is included with a treatment), but unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.

I did get in a good workout in the fitness center, which anyone popping in for a spa treatment has access to. You know how I like my treadmills with a view, and this cardio equipment didn’t disappoint, with windows providing bird’s eye view of Peachtree.

After my sweat sesh, I donned the traditional spa uniform of robe and slippers and headed to the relaxation room. There I was met by my therapist, Teeko, who was going to give me an hour-long Signature Relaxation Massage. All I can say about Teeko is “AMAZING.”

A lot of the massages I’ve received in hotel spas have been relaxing — but not really effective. Simply put, these massages don’t do much to resolve any of my muscle aches and pains. But today, I decided to extend a challenge to Teeko, which she accepted.

I was having some issues with the ball of my foot, and I asked Teeko if she could focus in on my ankle and calf area to try and provide some relief. For the majority of the hour, she did just that. Now, I won’t lie. The pressure wasn’t always pleasant, but I walked out of this session feeling relief. Thank you, Teeko.

After the massage, I wandered back to the relaxation room and enjoyed a few pieces of dried fruit, some nuts, and a delicious cup of hot tea (it’s black coconut tea from the company Just Add Honey — and if you’re a teaholic like myself, I’d highly recommend).

I’d say that this spa was a pretty good fit — and I’d absolutely go back to visit Teeko (and enjoy some of that tea!). The only miss is that there wasn’t a sauna or a steam room. And I was so distracted by my pain relief that didn’t matter too much.

Keep up with my FWABulous adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Saturday
Sep212013

bkr Specializes in Water Bottle Chic

A water bottle in Fit and Well Atlanta Belle teal — how could I resist?

That’s how I got sucked into trying the latest water bottle trend. I first came across the trendy little bkr bottle in an email from one of my favorite Atlanta workout wear/accessory trendsetters Atlanta Activewear.

I was intrigued by the fact that this sturdy, 500 mL, glass bottle has a silicone sleeve, which comes in practically every shade of the rainbow. (Click here for more about the specs of this environmentally friendly bottle. ) Oh, and did I mention that the likes of Natalie Portman and Reese Witherspoon have been spotted with their own bkrs?

So I decided to spend the $28 and see what the hype was all about. After a few weeks of using my bkr, here’s what I’ve concluded — it's not a great fit for me. Although I love the teal color (which BTW, doesn’t seem to be available on the website at the moment), the price is a bit steep. Also, it’s a little heavy, given the weight of the glass plus the water.

So, adorbs — but I think I’m just as happy with a cheap one-liter SmartWater bottle.

Keep up with my FWABulous adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.