QUASH - A Hunt for a Cause

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - 
Note - thank you to RN for taking photos of the event!

QUASH - the Quest to Unravel Alzheimer's Scavenger Hunt - took place a few weekends ago (June 19th to be exact!)  This event, put on by the Greater Indiana chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, is a mad dash scavenger hunt around downtown Indy.  This was my second year participating, both during the hunt as well as on the planning committee for the event, and I once again wasn't disappointed!

Alzheimer's is a disease which I became connected to as a freshman in college.  My national Sorority, Sigma Kappa, (along with the Foundation) focuses on this disease as one of their philanthropic endeavors.  I began walking in the local Memory Walks and focusing on other gerontology efforts with my Sorority sisters, and I have continued that through these past 10 years. After being in Indy for a few years, I decided to reach out to the local Alzheimer's chapter and put my talents to work on a planning committee.  Upon joining the QUASH committee, I have made some great connections and formed fantastic friendships.  But, the main objective is to help find a cure for this disease!

QUASH had a different starting/ending location this year, the fantastic Rathskeller!  This German restaurant in downtown Indy was the perfect venue with their beer garden being the central location.  This outdoor space has a stage perfect for a band (how about Great Scott?!  YES, they played!) and can seat many participants.

 All participants waited patiently as we heard from our MC, Rayne, from 100.9 radio station.  Then, we tore open our packets and started to answer questions about areas in downtown Indy.

RN hard at work to answer those questions!

Once you determine the location, you get there by foot (no vehicles or other modes of transportation is allowed!) and then find an answer to the linked question.  For example, you may be directed to Scotty's Brewhouse by clue ('find this brewery' type of question) and then once there, you must either a) answer another question that you would only know by being there (ie. how many tables have flags with this logo...) or b) participate in a QUASH spot.  QUASH spots are interactive games, either mental or physical, that you must accomplish to receive full points.

Two and half hours later, all teams are expected to be at the beer garden (or you lose points!) to check in.  While everyone waits for points to be tallied, a buffet of beer and brats were served.  It was a hot one, and many of us needed to get water in our system as well.  The band, Great Scott, as mentioned above also entertained all of us with live entertainment.

Another fun aspect - costumes!  Teams are encouraged to dress in costume and add another element of fun to the event.  Some of these costumes are crazy while others are sentimental.  The attention adds to the competitiveness of the hunt, as well as draws attention to all participants as you race around the city (people as, "What are you dressed up for?" all the time!)

A few photos of costumes:

City Llama's did a great job - thank you!!

 Hubs & I were the "QUASHables" - like Disney's 'The Incredible's" of course!

So how does a team win?  Each question that you answered was worth a points value, so whoever gets the most points is awarded the QUASH winners!  Gift certificates and other items from local vendors are the prize.  BUT, the true prize is all the funds that are raised by the teams to benefit The Association.

A BIG thank you to all my friends and family who donated to my team.  It really means a lot to have your support as I continue to be involved in this great organization.  In addition, lots of love to my friends who participated (thank you RN, JN & MB for forming a team!,) as well as those who raised funds but couldn't make it for the day (that's you prego (JK) and MM!)

It was a hot day - but we did it and had fun racing around downtown Indy!  Here is to another great year, can't wait to do it again next year!

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. R.Cornell!

Monday, June 21, 2010 - 
As I continue to catch up, I have to recap the latest wedding (number 6!) of the year!  My dear friends, the new Mr. & Mrs. RC got married!  Hubs and I made our trek to GBC for the weekend to celebrate. 

Quick explanation of my two dear friends: RC and I have been friends since freshman year high school.  We were introduced through my guy bestie, MV, back in the day.  RC is one of the most sincere and loyal guys you will ever meet.  He is also extremely funny - there is this gorilla costume...well, that's a different story.  He met JN (now, JC!) through MV too!  How funny right?  And the two have been great together ever since they accidentally fell in love - and I just adore them both.

It was a great night of fried chicken (love Wisconsin weddings - had fried chicken at the last wedding we went to,) dancing, catching up with friends and lots of laughter.  Some photos to recap the evening.

PV (MV's mom) who is like my 2nd mommy

Two of my favorite people in the whole world - the V boys!  They are like my brothers.

The bride - so beautiful!

Love this girl - my dear KC (she was part of my wedding, LOVE her!)

MV & his fiance SS - cuties!
 MV with hubs - you can only imagine!

This sums up MV through the evening!
Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs - love you both!  So thankful to be part of your day!

Shasta View Vineyard at Tastings

Friday, June 18, 2010 - 
I know, I've been gone.  Work is crazy and looking at a computer is the last thing I want to do when I'm not working.  I'm trying to catch up, so what better way with a recap of a wonderful tasting of wine and fantastic food?  Two of my favorite things, great company and fantastic presentations made for a delightful evening.

Tastings - A Wine Experience, is located at the Conrad hotel in downtown Indianapolis (yes, to all of you who love hotels and didn't know, Indy has a Conrad.  Swanky right?  I know this.)  This bar and restaurant is casual but with a refined twist.  It is not your normal sit at the bar and order a glass of wine place (you can definitely do this, but the minute you walk in, you know there is another option.)

If you are a lover of wines, this is the place for you.

There are stations where you can receive samples of wine, all ranging in cost.    All you do is slide your Tastings card (which you added money to the minute you walked in the door) into the slot, pick your wine and press a button.  Really, it's that easy.  You have to go yourself to experience it.

As great as Tastings is, I must digress as I am here to tell you about my recent Shasta View Vineyards tasting with hubs, RN, JN and a few others. Shasta View Vineyard, located in Northern California, is owned by Roger and Gail Rogers (yes, his name is Roger Rogers.)  The two proprietors joined us for the evening, educating us through each glass of vino.  If you ever get the chance to stop by their Vineyard, I encourage you to do so.  Not only will you enjoy some great wine, but you'll meet a great couple too.

First Course
Mini Antipasti - chef Steven Unrue started us off with a pleasant antipasti.  The thinly-sliced speck had a great smokey flavor to it.  The pickled green bean was "the best pickled green bean I have ever had" accordingly to the hubs.  The watermelon was so fresh, and with a drizzle of pomegranate vinaigrette and sprinkle of feta cheese, the combination worked perfectly with the Rose wine.

Wine Selection - Shasta View Tempranillo Rose
I'm not a huge fan of rose wines, but I have now realized it is because I'm always served sweet rose wines.  This wine had a surprisingly dry finish, with complex fruit flavors.  It was absolutely lovely and sat well for a first course beverage. Plus, the bottle was just gorgeous.  Gail Rogers hand dips all of the bottles in wax, in her own crockpot in the kitchen!  That just made me appreciate the beauty of the bottle that much more.

Second Course
Shrimp & Apricot - this was my fave course of the night.  Chef Unrue can fry shrimp perfectly without it being greasy or oily.  The apricot was fantastic as well, perfect sweetness to the creamy chili-tarragon aioli that it was resting on.  I seriously could have licked that off my plate.  The spice was perfectly balanced by the creamy texture.  Plus, tarragon is always pleasant when it is kicked up a notch.

Wine Selection - Shasta View Chardonnay
I enjoy chardonnay and this one was no different.  It had a great light finish, very "fruit forward" in a delightful way.

Third Course
Eggplant Putanesca - I love polenta.  It was perfectly crisped without drying out.  And you could tell that Chef Unrue grated SO much asiago on the roasted eggplant.  Everything was perfectly seasoned with the putanesca - a great Italian bite for the wine it was paired.

Wine Selection - Shasta View Cabernet Sauvignon
The cab sauvignon was also delish, rich in color with an intense fruity aroma.  It wasn't a straight forward cab sauv, but had layers of fruit that moved throughout your mouth.

Fourth Course
Braciole - My favorite part of this dish was the white bean puree.  It was definitely rich and may have even been a bit heavy to me, but the tasting was the perfect serving size to balance that.  The beef had been rolled with Parmesan breadcrumbs and fennel (which I normally think is overwhelming - but not in this case!) and slowly braised.  It was tender, and was perfect for me to use to scoop up that white bean puree. 

Wine Selection - Shasta View Zinfandel

Seemed to be a basic zin with a spicy finish.  A deep color, and once again, more fruity than I would have thought.  There was definitely a theme with the fruit in all of the wines, leaving all of them all to be surprisingly refreshing.

Final Course
Coffee Cake with Berries - Coffee cake, actually made with coffee!  The chocolate cake was soft and the perfect sponge for the blueberry panna cotta.  I did receive an end piece which was slightly over done, but that did not stop me from sopping up the balsamic whipped cream.  Hubs wanted another piece and was eying up the tray on the counter.  Oh so good - I want this again (hint hint Steven!)

Wine Selection - Shasta View 'Armonia Rossa' Blended Red

I have to admit, I was so excited for the coffee cake, I didn't concentrate very much on the wine.  But it must have been great with the dessert, or I wouldn't have drank them together!

As the night ended, hubs and I even ended up buying a bottle for hubs and I to share of the Rose - R.Roger's signed it too.  It made the packaging that much better!

Chef Steven Unrue's presentation and culinary skills were a highlight of the evening.  I can only imagine these skills stem from his passion for food.  You could see his enthusiasm and knowledge spilling from every pore as he described what I was about to devour.  His excitement was infectious as he shared his delectable creations with the lucky guests who were licking their plates (okay, not literally, but I know I wanted to) for more.

As a meeting & event planner, I love the Conrad for the wonderful service.  And it is always great to see impeccable service spill into the restaurants on property - specifically Tastings. Of course the Chef and vineyard proprietors were phenomenal, but so were the servers and kitchen staff who were assisting.

Successful evening?  Absolutely, can't wait to go to another event!  They are on Wednesday's, two seatings (6pm and 8pm.)  Be sure to make your reservation, you don't want to miss out.  Maybe I'll even see you there!

Indy in May Means Vroom Vroom

Monday, June 7, 2010 - 
Indianapolis in May means race central.  The city plans all of these different festivities for the city and our guests to attend.  The city is vibrant and has a fun feel to it - there is an electricity in the air as guests from afar filter in for the activities planned.  Here are some examples, just to name a few:
  • There is the Balloon Festival at the track where hot air balloons take flight in the morning for a race of their own.  At night, a balloon lighting takes place at the track (beautiful really, all those balloons lit up like candles) with free concerts.  Last year, a group of friends and I made our way to the track and enjoyed the festivities.  Ryan Cabrera and Josh Kelley were playing - I love me some JK!

 From last year - Josh & Ryan - cuties for sure

  • The 500 Festival Parade - I don't really know much about it because I have never been.  But many of the race car drivers show up and parade around downtown.  Much fun for families as they celebrate the holiday weekend. Plus, floats are fun, I like parades.

  • Various walk/runs around the city - more specifically - The Mini.  It sells out every year and is insanely big.  I know many people who train and run/walk it (mad props to all of you!)  These people always inspire me - and I even now want to run a 5K.  I know, it's no mini-marathon, but I'll take it.  Anyone want to join me for Disney's Villain 5K?!
There are many more events that take place each year - and this year - I didn't take part in many.  I was saving myself for the BIG experience.  And yes, by BIG, I mean the Indy 500.  I have lived in Indy for close to six years (come this September,) and have never been in town for it.  You see my friends, it lands on Memorial weekend, and we (hubs and I) are usually in northern Wisconsin.  But, due to both weddings that we just experienced, we decided to keep the car parked over the holiday weekend and experience one of Indy's largest events.

The first event of the weekend was actually Carb Day.  As my hubby likes to say, "Party before the race," Carb Day is just that.  I invited my friend MM to join me for the day as we took our VIP tickets (thank you Hilton!) and made our way to the track.  We expected to see many "Hoosierific" delights, but due to our suite, we saw a much more tame environment.  The bikinis with jean shorts, mullets, and drunken debacles were far from where we were.  A few photos to highlight the day:

A view of the "pole" and track during practice

Our VIP treatment included tickets to the garage - up close for sure!
Sara Fisher - "It's an Indiana tradition!"

I cheer for Team Target (Ganassi of course - right hubby?!)

We like being VIPs!

Indy 500 - the actual race - was the next big event.  I went with some near and dear friends early in the morning.  We expected a long line to park, but we lucked out.  In less than 30 minutes, we left our respective homes in Carmel and made it to our parking spot.  Insane right?  We instantly grabbed our gear and tailgated - with breakfast sandwiches and cinnamon rolls of course. 

Ready to make our way inside to the track

We then made our way into the infield after a minor walk.  Not too bad, but it was hot my friends, and only going to get hotter.  We are part of history, being that it was the hottest race ever.  Really, it wasn't the humidity, but with the sun beating down on you - hot.  Shade was a necessity, as you will see from my photo recap.


Golf Course

Yup - there is a golf course INSIDE the track.  Three holes to be exact.  Now you didn't expect that did you?

We were in the in field, but hubby's friend from work saved us a spot so we had a good view.  Wish we were in an area with a jumbo screen (we were between turn 2 and 3,) but it was a good experience. Lots of water (and other beverages) were consumed, but really, lots of water to ensure we didn't get sick from the heat.

After, we trekked back to the car (thank you SM for driving!) for some hot dogs and sausages on the grill.  As the traffic thinned, we continued to enjoy our day.  By the time we were ready, traffic was gone (this was only one hour or so) and we were on our way back to the 'burbs. (I highly encourage you to do this - that traffic just didn't look fun.)

Did I have fun?  Yes. 

Was it loud?  Yes, but not unbearable. 

What was my favorite part?  The introductions for sure, when the pace cars went around and the drivers waved. 

Will I go again?  I can now say that I've been to race.  I've had my experience with some dear friends - but I'm good - don't think I'll go back again.  BUT, I do encourage those who live in Indy (or visit) to attend the race.  It is one of those "you've got to go for the experience" type of events.  And some people I know go every year and LOVE it, which is fantastic too! 

So should YOU go?  Absolutely, at least once.