Thursday, December 11, 2014

Making Local More Accessible . . . With Your Help




No matter how accessible the world is as a result of digital communications there’s nothing better than finding things that are “as good as it gets” and available locally; just down the street  or across town. The Haile Village Farmers’ Market is, as anyone who has read my postings already knows, one of my favorite places to shop locally. Local produce, coffee, eggs, milk and cheese are sold alongside locally made candies, breads and pastries and ethnic entrees and sides.

Some of the vendors have expanded their cottage industries to become commercial businesses and their products are available more widely. One vendor who wants to do this is Nana Pat's Goodies who makes some fine mustard! As I have said previously, I am not a mustard guy, or I was not. But if your mustard-concepts come from visits to baseball games in the 1950s where bright yellow mustard slathered on steamed hot dogs was the standard and you haven’t progressed beyond an occasional Grey Poupon commercial or Gulden’s Spicy Brown, then it’s time to become more adventuresome and Pat would like to make it easier to do so.
Nana Pat's Savories!

I, the former, non-mustard kinda guy, would not be without one of Nana Pat’s varieties in the ‘frig. Doesn’t take much to edge a good roast beef sandwich into being a great one, especially if it’s made with flavorful, homemade bread! Adding her mustard to a roll filled with sausage and ‘kraut amplifies the savory goodness. And she even makes a bicycle related mustard using Fat Tire Beer!
Nana Pat's Fat Tire and Midnight Oil Mustards

Nana Pat’s Goodies are available every Saturday morning in The Village of Haile and her customer base is comprised of people who recognize a quality product. Pat and that guy who hangs out with her are moving toward going commercial, but would like to have some financial assistance with an initial run of their product and have chosen to take a digital route. GoFundMe is one of those online enterprises that presents ideas and seeks funds to provide financial support to turn the idea into a reality. Unlike telecom before the ’00 crash, Nana Pat’s idea is not vaporware, it’s a tangible, honest product that she’d like to make more accessible. The upside to seeking funding this way is that she doesn’t have to plunge into debt to a lending institution. The upside to everyone else is greater access to her culinary skills.

Nana Pat’s request, along with a brief video can be found on the GoFundMe site at GoFundMe.com/i288xg. I should add that she isn’t looking for tens of thousands of dollar to make a levitating mustard, just a few thou' to defray costs for a substantial initial production run of her most popular flavor, "Midnight Oil Stout Molasses Mustard". Made with Midnight Oil Stout, a dark beer produced by local brewery, Swamp Head, it's thick and rich, with coffee and oatmeal notes that come from the top quality ingredients the folks at Swamp Head Brewery use.

Like local stuff? Good place to consider doing something locally.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sometimes It About What You Get When You Get to Where You Went.


Some of the most important equipment for a regular bike rider is not bicycle specific and one of those things is something to protect the lips. Even in August riding across Coastal Georgia and South Carolina I learned the value of having something to counter dry, cracking lips. By day three I added a tube of generic, mineral oil based stuff that I found in a dollar store. It did the job and I have carried similar products in my handlebar bag since. Of the numerous ingredients in a typical lip balm one is commonly listed as an “active ingredients”; mineral oil or another petroleum product.
Don't Bee Fillthy Lip Balm
Because I like to buy locally and have been using Cross Creek Honey’s soap, which is available at the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market in Haile Village I decided to try their Don’t Bee Filthy branded Honey Kiss Lip Balm. Jennifer makes this along with the other Don’t Bee Filthy products; soap, lotion bar and bees’ wax candles. The ingredients’ list is short; Almond Oil, Honey, and Cross Creek Beeswax. I like that I’m not so going to ingest mineral oil, microcrystalline wax and copernicia cerifera. Those things might not cause me harm, but I am certain that almond oil, honey and beeswax won’t.

The only thing that really matters, I guess, is whether it works and it does; at least as well as commercial varieties. I applied commercial products about every 90 minutes of a recreational ride and Don’t Bee Filthy lasts as long if not longer. Honey Kiss Lip Balm cost $3 and is at least as valuable as a good pair of gloves.


Something that won’t improve your ride but is worth riding to the Haile Village Farmers’ Market to acquire is KN Candied Jalapenos. Few things do as good a job of turning mundane or boring into “damn, that was good.” Combining hot and sweet isn’t unique, but blending the two tastes so that neither overwhelms the other comes close to being an art and Al, the man behind the product, does a good job of creating a masterpiece of taste.
KN Candied Jalapenos
Al tells potential customers that his creation is “a lot like a bread and butter pickle” and it is, with the addition of jalapeno heat. Lovers of heat consume the jalapenos much like a pickle while others use them as an addition to other things. My favorite use is as a finely chopped addition to tuna, potato, chicken and egg salad. The sweet heat amplifies the overall taste of each.

The single negative about KN Candied Jalapenos is that they are not available every weekend as Al serves multiple locations. This is a minor inconvenience since I visit The Village weekly and it might mean you’d have to settle for fresh produce, coffee or some of the other locally produce products.





Sunday, November 23, 2014

4th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge; The Finale


The 4th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge is over and 7 weekends, 7 cups of coffee, 7 different places way to spend some riding time. Thanks is due Mary of Chasing Mailboxes  for making it happen and I'm guessing that anyone participating did so with a smile on his or her face. I mean, bikes and coffee? How can you not smile . . . seriously!

For me the schedule was easy at least for the first few weeks with Haile Plantation's Village a place I go every Saturday, so planning the first few destinations was much easier than my ride up the East Coast a few years back. Below are my destinations and some relevant pictures.

Cup #1; October 4, 2.5 miles, Tree City Coffee Roasters
Tree City (soon to be called Flagship) is not in Memphis, but the young lady from whom I purchased my first Challenge Cup is Memphis.
Visiting Memphis

It’s hard to match the freshness of coffee roasted by Andrew on Thursday and sold on Saturday; that is exactly the way it works when I visit the Farmers’ Market in Haile Plantation’s Village each Saturday morning.
An drew at Tree City (Flagship)
Memphis filled my cup with Tree City’s Breakfast Blend and I took along a pound of Full City Roast (medium) Natural (Nicaragua – Selva Negra) for $12. A fine way to start a weekend morning!

Cup #2; October 11, 2.5 miles, PattiCakes
PattiCakes is also located in Haile Plantation’s Village and, as the name implies, specializes in cakes of the cup variety; very suitable to accompany a cup of coffee.


PattiCakes

PattiCakes brews locally roasted Rembrandt Coffee in a neighborhood friendly environment where locals kibitz, chat and relax. Their house blend was even better when coupled with one of their cupcakes.
PattiCakes and coffee!

Cup #3; October 19, 1.65 miles, Barnie’s
Franchise coffee places are not my favorite places, but the local Barnie’s is more neighborhood then franchise and is a comfortable place to spend a few Sunday morning hours checking email and reading online news. The coffee of the moment was Mocha Java and it required a Danish to help overcome the UF Gator’s loss to Missouri’s Tigers.
Coffee at Barnie's

Cup #4; October 25, 4.5 Miles, Starbuck’s
I’d talked about bike parking along G’ville’s highly commercial Archer Road and one of the establishments with adequate through remote racks was Starbuck’s. Since then they have relocated to the other side of the street and I decided to check their bike security along with getting the Cup #4.
Starbuck's on Archer Road

Like any Starbuck’s in town it was full of young patrons, virtually all of whom were virtually connected to some virtual part of the virtual world. Like any Starbuck’s in town there was a steady din of conversation. The coffee d’jour was satisfactory and the donut I chose was above average.
Coffe and a "traditional" donut

The new location offers adequate bike racks and reasonable security, but with the drive-through passing within inches of the racks extra care is required when coming and going
.


Cup #5; November 1, 2.5 miles, Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill (LRNG)
A place featuring adult beverages might be excuse for the quality of its coffee, but when you call a tavern a “grill” and serve meaningful meals, the coffee should be as good as the meal. LRNG doesn’t serve mediocre coffee. Order a cup and you get some of G’ville’s best; Tree City.

I settled at the bar on an unseasonably chilly, blustery morning when the recently completed extension of Archer Braid Trail (ABT) through Haile Plantation was being officially acknowledged. Bike riders in their brightly colored kits mingled with the usual Saturday morning Farmers’ Market patrons, enjoyed some music, collected a few freebies and sampled munchables from LRNG.

Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

The ABT extension makes Haile’s Village very bicycle-accessible which fits well with the New Urbanist development’s concept. The Trail now extends nearly nine miles from the west trailhead in the small community of Archer to its current terminus at well-maintained Kanapaha Park and will eventually connect with other existing and planned trails. Ample parking at Kanapaha Park makes it an ideal place for families to enjoy the Trail and the 2.5 mile ride to The Village. Cup #5 blended all the things that’re good about riding a bike in Gainesville and the Challenge simply added another good reason to be in the saddle.

Archer Braid Trail Extension through Haile Village


Cup #6; November 8, 7.5 miles, Maude’s Classic Café (A Gourmet Coffee Shop)
With the last weeks of the Challenge at hand Cup #6 could be had in conjunction with the Fall Arts Festival in downtown G’ville. Whata deal! Maude’s was the right place to have a cup and a muffin before plunging into the crowd drawn by the Festival perfect weather; neither too hot nor too chilly.
Coffee at Maude's

A cursory study of Maude’s could cause it to be viewed as a hipster café, but it’s neither more nor less so than the other trendy coffee shops in G’ville. A cup of Sweetwater Organic Coffee, also a G’ville roasted brand, and a muffin while watching the eclectic mix of people made it a good way to prepare for the larger than usual crowd of Festival-goers.
Maude's

Maude's and the Fall Art's Festival


Cup #7; November 16, 2.8 miles, Waffle House, Archer Road
America might run on Dunkin’ but in the South there’re a lot of people who’ll have their coffee at Waffle House so I decided to make the Southern Tradition the place for my final cup.

Waffle House on Archer Road

The coffee at WH isn’t exceptional, but it comes in a heavy cup that keeps it hot and you’ll get the question, “need some more hon’?” until you pay and leave. It’s hard to beat the value and even more difficult to ignore the Southern Diner ambiance; that’s one of the reasons to go there. Another reason? Waffles, of course. And then there’s the show put on by the grill operators on a Sunday morning.
Operating the Grill at Waffle House, Archer Road

Meeting the requirements of the 4th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge was well worthwhile and helped put my disappointment from the Bicycle Challenge into proper perspective. Serious bicycle riding has little to do with kits and carbon fiber and centuries. It’s about caring about yourself and your community and enjoying the ability to get around on two wheels powered by your own effort.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fine With Me Dining at Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill


Riding a bike is not necessarily about how fast or how far. Sometimes it’s about where you end up and during the recent Coffeeneuring Challenge (4th Annual) I ended up at Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill (LRNG), a place I’d visited in a previous incarnation. The coffee was good and the atmosphere was inviting; I knew I had to return and learn whether the food was equally pleasant.

I planned my visit to fit within LRNG’s Happy Hour window which is daily from 3 to 6 pm and for a day when sitting outside would be comfortable.  So, a few days after my previous chilly morning visit I returned when it was upper 70s and sitting outside was not only possible but pretty much required.
Because my tastes are simple I ordered some things I could understand; potato skins and beer. Because it was Happy Hour I sampled two on-tap brews; Brooklyn Lager and later, Sweetwater 420 Pale Ale. The potato skins were a very satisfactory finger food with more than adequate potato and the skins were tender rather than crisp, tough or chewy. There was neither too much, nor too little cheese and enough bits of bacon to add texture.

LRNG Potato Skins

An hour spent with a couple of beers, a quartet of potato skins, attentive but not overbearing service and delightful weather was about as much as anyone could ask for from any eatery and LRNG delivered. Park your car at Kanapaha Park and ride the 2.5 miles to Haile Village and the Archer Braid Trail extension, indulge at LRNG then work some of it off on the return trip.









Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Convergence: ABT, Haile Village and the 4th Annual Coffeeneruing Challenge


After years of debate, misinformation and misbehavior the extension of Archer Braid Trail (ABT) became a reality and making Haile Plantation’s Village easily accessible from Kanapaha Park.
ABT and Haile Blvd.
ABT and Haile Blvd.

The Village is an integral and extremely under used part of New Urbanist Haile Plantation.. On Saturday I combined the extension’s Grand Opening Celebration, my fifth stop in the 4th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge and my regular visit to the weekly Farmers’ Market.

Fewer riders appeared at this event than at the Grand Opening of the first six miles in June ‘13 becasue of the unseasonable weather, but those who did were dressed for the sunny, chilly, windy November morning. Adding to the small gathering, though, were curious patrons of the Farmers’ Market drawn by the music of Weeds of Eden.
Weeds of Eden
Weeds or Eden
“We play original bio-regional music, folk and rock standards, Celtic tunes, and filthy pirate songs.”
 See facebook site

It turned into a friendly, busy get together. Of special note, though, is the courtesy of Gordy and his Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill staff who provided an assortment of finger-edibles, bottled water and congeniality.
Courtesy of Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill
Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

Months ago I wrote a brief review of eateries in Haile’s Village, but focused on bike security. Four U-racks easily visible from inside make security a nonissue, though the cobbles into which the racks are secured make footing a mite awkward.
Bike parking at Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill
Bike security at Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

When the opening event was announced I knew I’d make Limerock one of my stops on the Coffeeneuring Challenge for two additional reasons; I’d be in the Village for the regular Saturday Farmers' Market and Limerock serves Flagship Coffee (formerly known as Tree City). If the weather had been less blustery I would have settled outside to observe the goings-on, but had I done that I’d’ve missed the energetic and friendly staff and the comfortable Neighborhood Grill environment.
Limerock and Flagship Coffee
Flagship Coffee at Limerock Road

I’d visited the establishment in its previous iteration, but had no knowledge of the current state of is comestibles. As a place to hangout and enjoy some conversation it’d be hard to beat; comfortable seats at the bar, large windows with a pleasant view of Haile’s Square and a place to enjoy the Gators on a couple of large screen TVs (and Happy Hour when the Gators are on the road). Unlike many “sports bars” Limerock maintains its pub style without forgetting how to offer a family friendly, part-of-the-neighborhood enviornment.
Bright and Welcoming
Bright and Welcoming Limerock Road

The coffee was good. The service and accessibility of the serving staff was exceptional. Now it’s past time for me to see what they can do with their food. For the rest of you; leave your car at Kanapaha Park, follow the Trail, visit the Farmers' Market and go see Gordy.
Limerock's Specials
Limerock's specials



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

GCC Member? Visit The Village (or downtown) and Get A Deal



As a response to the completion of Archer Braid Trail’s extension through Haile Plantation one of the regular vendors at the Saturday morning Farmers' Market has created a product with bicycle riders (Gainesville Cycling Club members in particular) in mind and is encouraging them to visit the Village.

I have never been much of a fan of mustard, except for when I was a kid and went to Memorial Stadium in Baltimore where all hot dogs came with bright yellow mustard. As my tastes have become moderately more sophisticated I have appreciated the more robust flavors of what might be called "real mustard". I may never become a dipper and use a jar of mustard like hummus or guacamole, but I have learned that mustard . . . some mustards . . . deserve a place in my kitchen.

Nana Pat’s Goodies is one of the vendors at the Market who has embraced the idea that people on bikes is good for the Farmers’ Market.

Nana Pat's Mustard

Nana Pat makes both sweet and savory things, but it is her mustard that matters here. Her newest addition to the line of savories is Fat Tire Special, which uses, can you guess, New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale as its base. That, alone, would be reason enough to visit Haile Village on Saturday or Union Street on Wednesday, BUT . . . are you ready? . . . GCC members get a discount. A check of Nana Pat’s website blog says it all; she doesn’t commonly offer deals. What’s the deal? Fifty cents off the usual $7 large jar or two small jars (usually $4 each) for the price of a large one, should you want to share the joy. The blog posting also says that this is a limited time product, but I bet demand would win out.

Fat Tire Special and Midnight Oil

Anyone wanting a seriously good taste treat and wanting to buy locally should try Nana Pat’s stuff. For those of you who like to favor things on facebook and encourage others to treat themselves to something worthwhile, you can do it there, too.

Even if none of the regular merchants in The Village see the marketing value of encouraging the use of ABT, at least one Saturday morning vendor does.


Friday, September 19, 2014

National Bike Challenge and Coffeeneuring


The National Bike Challenge and Falling Over
This year’s National Bike Challenge gave me the same kick in the saddle as last year’s. My goal was an average of twenty miles a day and I was doing pretty well until I fell over kinda like Arte Johnson and his tricycle on “Laugh-In”; a 3 mph moment of carelessness. Landed on my hip, the same one that’d been repaired with titanium rods to hold the ball on the neck of my femur. Wasn’t nearly as much pain as there was blood from elbow, knee and finger, so I finished the remaining 16 miles. Later there was plenty of pain and I didn’t (probably couldn’t) ride the next day or Saturday, managed a cautious few miles thereafter, returning to the scene of the fall a week later.

During the Challenge, Archer Braid Trail through Haile Plantation progressed from construction site to completion. When I was able to resume riding it was very nice to cruise cautiously on the very smooth asphalt and over the numerous transition points. I missed my Saturday morning visit to the Farmers’ Market, but will enjoy it even more now, despite the missing piece of asphalt at Kimball Wiles Elementary School.

What About After the National Bike Challenge
So, how will I fill the hole left by no longer being able to compete for a year’s supply of toilet paper (yes, one of the monthly prizes)? Along comes Mary G. and her blog; chasing mailboxes. Commencing on October 4 is the Fourth Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge; 7 Cups (of coffee) in 7 Weeks (Saturdays and Sundays only). Say what?

The basics are this; visit one place where you drink coffee, document it, do that each of the seven weekends and submit your completed “challenge” at the end. Prizes? Yeah, some, I guess.
  • Difficult? Not really? Potentially a good way to discover your own back yard, so to speak.
  • Rules? Yeah and you can read ‘em here.
  • I’ve already planned my first several weekends; Tree City at the Haile Village Farmers’ Market, Limerock Road and patticakes (not open Sundays) also in Haile Village, Barnie’s on lower Tower Road and undoubtedly the Starbucks at Butler.
Look at chasing mailboxes and enjoy Mary’s whimsical perspective, except when she’s serious. Maybe Gainesville and GCC will turn in another stellar performance.








Sunday, September 7, 2014

Some questions about ABT through Haile Plantation?

Raise your hand if you know the answer . . . 

1.Is ABT through Haile Plantation finished?
 Paving has been completed and all transitions within Haile have been excavated and concrete has been poured. All that remains is installation of bricks to form the necessary detectable warnings. Transitions along Tower Road have been surveyed.

2. When will the section of sidewalk be removed and asphalt applied in front of Kimbell Wiles Elementary School?

 The sidewalk will not be replaced. 

3. Why not?
 The county school system would not permit it. 

4. So, that's it?
 Yep. 

The newly paved trail adds about 2.8 miles (less the .2 miles of sidewalk in front of Kimball Wiles) to the already well used 6.2 miles of Archer Braid Trail. It makes Haile Village readily accessible by bike or on foot from Kanapaha Park (about 3 miles) and provides a relatively easy 18 mile trip from the Park to Archer and back.

Hipp Construction did a fine job with ABT through Haile. By week's end all construction should be completed and clean-up and final touches well underway. If you haven't ridden or walked the new section of ABT you ought to.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Finding your FNBS, Part 2


It has taken a while but I visited two of the three remaining bike shops in G’ville; Pleasant Cyclery and Super Cool Bike Shop. For anyone who wasn’t here for the first installment it can be found by using this convenient link; http://whatssomeoneyourage.blogspot.com/2014/07/seeking-your-fnbs.html.

At both shops I wanted to learn how they might handle the questions of an older person who wants to begin or return to riding a bicycle. At each of the previous shops after some discussion I felt confident that such a person would be asked the important questions that would help both the shop and the prospective customer to decide which “next step” to take. The questions:

1.    How well do you ride?
2.    What do you want to accomplish?
3.    What kind of riding do you think you want to do?
4.    What’s your budget?

Pleasant Cyclery
Pleasant Cyclery
235 NW 8th Avenue, GainesvilleFL 32601
352-378-2100
Of all the shops I visited Pleasant Cyclery was the least responsive. There is no longer a coffee shop here, which is disappointing, but it probably didn’t make good economic sense. The gentleman I spoke with was the only employee present and he was engrossed in repair work. He was courteous when I how he’d respond to an elderly person wanting to return to riding a bike after many years, but he was less interested in talking about the process he might use.

Two variables may have affected this encounter; I was not feeling jocular and he was younger than people I’d spoken with at other shops. Among the bikes on display was a step though model, but I had to ask about it. Pleasant Cyclery carries a wide variety of bikes and surely among the lines are bikes that would be suitable. I’d be unlikely to suggest it as a first stop for a Senior’s return to cycling bike.
http://www.pleasantcyclery.com/

After I sent a first draft of my observations about Pleasant Cyclery the co-owner offered that I had not gotten a true impression of the shop because he was on vacation thus putting greater responsibility on his partner. He invited me to return. I have not, but eventually will. I emailed an offer for him to address my four questions, but did not receive a reply. The shop also has a new internet address which is listed above.

Super Cool Bike Shope
Super Cool Bike Shop
3460 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32607
(352) 371-2453
The Super Cool Bike Shop has my least favorite name, but that’s probably related to my basic lack of coolness in bicycle circles. The young man I spoke to at Super Cool asked all the right questions and that was . . . well . . . cool. His suggestions for possible new bikes were reasonable. I was given some options they were all at the upper end of my proposed “about $500” budget. Used bikes were not an option but the possibility was discussed of upgrading if a rider decided he or she wanted to become more involved in riding and wanted another model sold there. Super Cool was a congenial place and maybe I was friendlier, too.
http://supercoolbikeshop.com/



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Weeks


The end is nigh; paving of the portions of ABT along SW 41st Place (Kanapaha Park) and Tower Road will begin next week along with the remaining section at Haile’s Equestrian facility. Predicted time for completion of the entire project is three weeks. This will include excavation and paving of the short section at Kimball Wiles Elementary School where ABT crosses Tower Road. Transition points at all intersections are marked and final work on drainage and landscaping has begun.

Is a Grand Opening being planned for this section of ABT? Linking ABT through Haile with activities in Haile Village seems obvious irrespective of the resistance by many Haile residents. Rather than being an unwanted eyesore, Hipp Construction has done a fine job of mating ABT to Haile Boulevard as it enters the Plantation and 91st Streets more aggressive and direct approach.

Getting to the Saturday Farmers’ Market from Kanapaha Park will be a pleasant ride and one that can be made safely by families. Several vendors at the Market who make delectable consumables are working on bicycle related items and might be encouraged to offer discounts or deals to people arriving by bike!

41st Place at Tower Road; Kanapaha Park
41st Place and Tower Road; Entrance to Kanapaha Park

41st Place; Kanapaha Park
41st Place at Kanapaha Park

Tower Road ready for paving
Tower Road ready to be paved