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Archive for August, 2009

Total Tuesday

I was tired this morning. I got to bed late last night after absolutely tearing my apartment apart looking for my passport. I always keep it in the same drawer – yet, of course, it had disappeared.

Finally, after a near panic attack, a teary phone call to The Boy, and searching my car, I returned to the set of drawers where it should have been in the first place.

Alas, my cheap-o Ikea dresser drawer had a gap in the bottom and the passport had fallen into the drawer below. Of course I had already looked in that drawer but somehow missed it.

Crisis averted.

This morning, I had PB and jam on on of these:

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I guess I am late to the game with these but the East Liberty Giant Eagle just started stocking them. They are kind of like a soft bun, but thinner, and 100 calories each. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. I think I will definitely like these toasted or for sandwiches.

I was quite busy at work today, rushing around, finishing things up before my trip. September 15th is a big deadline for corporate tax accountants (woohoo!) so my desk is looking slightly out of control. Oh well.

Around 10AM, I had a banana bread Clif bar. I think I mainly ate this out of stress/boredom. It was tasty though and the spices made me think of fall and things pumpkin flavored. Does anyone else get abnormally excited when the pumpkin lattes roll out at Starbucks?

My lunch was kind of spread throughout the afternoon – I had another PB and jam (low on groceries), some pretzels, and a greek yogurt.

After work, I met up with The Boy at Piccolo Forno. We met his mom there for dinner. I wasn’t sure how hungry I was, so I ordered a salad and figured I would nibble some of The Boy’s pasta and a pizza we ordered as an appetizer. To be fair, the salads there are lovely and very generously sized. I had the tuna and bean salad and couldn’t finish it. Piccolo Forno is a favorite spot of mine – however, something was a little off last night – the pastas dishes seemed as if they may have been sitting a little while and The Boy’s dish had a borderline overpowering clove note to it. Hopefully, it was just an off night. Our pizza was divine and we will return.

After dinner, I finished packing.

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Can’t forget this guilty pleasure.

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I will be back next week with a lovely England recap – see you soon!

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This past weekend was a good one. The Boy and I started Friday night off right by ‘carb loading’ for our Saturday morning 5K.

(Yes, this was just an excuse to eat pasta).

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As The Boy grilled some chicken (brushed with BBQ sauce), I sauteed zucchini, onion, carrot, garlic, and lemon zest to make a light veggie based sauce for our mountain of pasta.

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We enjoyed our dinner al fresco and sipped some wine. Very nice.

Saturday morning arrived, crisp, fairly clear, and cool. I had a piece of toast with peanut butter and a half a banana as we got ready. The Boy and I navigated ourselves to the Regent Square area, picked up our race packets, managed to spend about 2 minutes enjoying a free pedi-cab ride from the packet pick up to the starting line (courtesy of the East End Co-op), tied on our shoe chips, and got ready. The race was quite crowded and I was antsy to start.

Run Around the Square 2009 started with a literal bang, and we were off. I felt we were moving pretty quick at the beginning but people were just flying past us. I am guessing some of them were actually fast runners and many were just taken by the adrenaline.

The race runs through a residential area and then the trails of Frick Park. It was more hilly and crowded than I anticipated. I struggled on the hills and stopped to walk a few times, much to The Boy’s dismay. I told him to go ahead, but he stayed with me. When we hit the two mile mark, I was feeling pretty spent. Luckily, the last part of the race was more downhill. The only part I regret walking was toward the end – I had a definite side cramp but did not realize the finish line was so close. I probably could have pushed myself harder there.

Although I do not have an offical time yet, I believe The Boy and I finished somewhere between 33 and 34 minutes. Looking back, I don’t think that time is so bad for me, especially considering the hills!

After the race, we grabbed a free Rita’s Italian Ice sample and started to head back to the car. There was a ton happening in and near the finish line area, but The Boy and I did not hang around long. We were hungry!

Next stop: Coca Cafe, Lawrenceville.

crushed it

crushed it

We enjoyed our breakfast at Coca Cafe. The omelettes were light, fluffy, and not at all greasy. I will do a full review at a later time.

We then made a quick stop in the Strip District and made our way home. I spent the whole afternoon on the couch – I guess running a timed 5K on hills is tougher than my normal 3 mile treadmill workouts!

Saturday night, I somehow ended up at the American Idol concert at Mellon Arena.

'nuff said.

'nuff said.

It actually was a good time and I was with some of the fam. It was entertaining and we took it for what it was – a semi-cheesy show filled with pseudo celebrities. Some performers were better than others, but none were bad. People watching at this event was also quite entertaining :).

 

Sunday morning, The Boy and I did our usual; him = golf, her = yoga. Later in the afternoon, the skies and temp in Pittsburgh hovering around ‘gloomy’, The Boy and I decided to catch a movie. He so graciously agreed to see ‘Julie and Julia’.

I liked the movie and actually liked the Julie Powell portion more than I thought I would, particularly after reading other reviews. I have already read My Life in France, but I now want to read Julie and Julia.

Sunday night, The Boy and I finished our weekend with yet another grilled meal. We followed an actual recipe this time, making Adobo Flank Steak with Summer Corn-and-Tomato Relish, from Cooking Light.

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As always, we made way too much food. Given that we are leaving for London on Wednesday, I am hoping we are able to finish up all the leftovers. The steak had heat and the clove was a interesting spice choice. I think I still prefer our Chipotle Pork with Strawberry Avocado Salsa meal, but this was good.

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Dinner was followed up by homemade strawberry ice cream. Creamy and sweet.

What a weekend. As we move into fall, it seems there is so much to do. Travel, football season, work demands..I am not ready for it yet! Summer feels forever young and I am not ready to let it go. Sigh.

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The Boy’s mom has recently moved back to the ‘burgh. She is employed at the new Children’s Hospital, a mammoth multi-colored facility over in Lawrenceville. To celebrate her new job and move, The Boy offered up dinner at Pusadee’s Garden (5321 Butler Street), a new Lawrenceville Thai spot.

The night we dined at Pusadee’s, it was warm. We gladly took seats in the outdoor garden area. How nice! You walk through the interior of the restaurant to get to the garden. The interior is lovely. All whites, grays, and cool colors. Feels upscale yet quaint. The garden itself was large – it has to at least double the occupancy of the restaurant. On a Monday night, the garden was quite crowded. Most tables also seemed to be taking advantage of the BYOB policy ($1 per stem corking fee).

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The menu contains appetizers, salads, soups, noodles, curries, and rice dishes. The menu is primarily Thai influenced. Our table started the night by ordering the curry puffs and the pork dumplings as appetizers.

Before coming to dinner, I (of course) sought out online reviews of Pusadee’s – most commented on very slow and painful service. To be quite honest, I experienced none of this during my visit. You could tell the servers were busy but we really had no service related issues. My water glass was continually refilled, the food came out promptly, our bill was easily paid. Either we caught the place on a good night or they are working on improving the service.

The appetizers were tasty. The curry puffs were pastries filled with almost pureed squash and veggies. Warm and satisfying. The pork dumplings were light on the dumpling and heavy on the filling – very nice. The appetizer portions were not large (2 curry puffs, 4 dumplings) but were clearly freshly made.

As entrées, our table ordered chicken pad thai, a duck noodle dish, and a cabbage salad. I actually ordered the cabbage salad – it was not really entrée size (and did not claim to be) but I knew between the appetizers and sharing of the other dishes, I would be full.

The cabbage salad was crisp and well balanced – cabbage, tomato, peanuts, carrots, other veggies, a light and spicy peanut based dressing. The cabbage and veggies were finely shredded – I enjoy salads like that.

The duck noodle dish was satisfying – the duck was tender, the sauce light and fragrant, the pin-thin rice noodles tender. The Boy eagerly lapped this up.

The chicken pad thai was equally yummy. Although I thought it might contain more veggies, the flavors were lovely – sweet, with a touch of heat.

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chicken pad thai

None of the dishes were overwhelmingly spicy, although I did get some heat here and there throughout the evening. I am not sure if you can request more heat in the pad thai? I often hear/read complaints about Thai and other ethnic foods not living up to ‘authentic’ heat levels. However, The Boy mentioned that even in Bangkok, the pad thai was normally not that hot. Can anyone chime in on this?

I would like to mention that the plating was also surprisingly minimalistic and clean. The portions were more than adequate but not overwhelming – everyone at the table finished their entrées. The experience was certainly a step above your local Thai takeout joint. Additionally, the damage came out to around $45 – the BYO certainly helped out the bill, but this was still very reasonable, considering it was dinner and apps for three.

To note, I was under the impression, particularly after reading the recent PG review, that Pusadee’s was either owned by or somehow affiliated with Typhoon (see previous review here), located in Shadyside. However, at dinner, we overheard a nearby table asking about this – the waitress replied they were not affiliated with Typhoon. (After re-reading the article, I see it does not mention anything about ownership or a business relationship- it only mentions a ‘familial’ one – fair enough).

I believe Pusadee’s is open for lunch and is open 7 days a week for dinner (the waitress happened to mention to us that they will close on Mondays after the summer season is over). I cannot find a website for Pusadee’s Garden, but the above linked PG review contains logistical information for the place – check it out!

Of the ‘new’ restaurants I have recently tried (Pusadee’s Garden, Paris 66 Bistro, and Yo Rita), I think this was the standout. This was a great dinner enjoyed in a quaint garden setting – can’t beat that 🙂

Pusadee's Garden on Urbanspoon

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Total Tuesday

(yet again, posted on a Wednesday:))
 

 

I groggily woke up this morning, remembering The Boy and I had planned a morning run. I really wanted to hit snooze. But with the Race Around the Square 5K coming up this weekend, I thought I should probably squeeze in another outdoor run.

The Boy and I cruised a somewhat calm Carson Street – worlds away from what it looks like on a Friday or Saturday night.

According to mapmyrun.com, we did just over 3 miles. Not too bad. The Boy was “kinda surprised” at how “slow” I was. This was our first time ever running together. Nice. Just because I run often does not mean I run fast!

Breakfast was a quick bowl of Special K and skim milk. I also packed some snacks that I ate through the morning: a Clif Z Bar and some PB&J almonds and peanuts from TJ’s (almonds and peanuts with little bits of dried fruit – tasty).

For lunch, I had a a turkey sandwich and baked chips, all packed up by The Boy. I like when he is home 🙂

As I ate my lunch, I caught up on all the Healthy Living Summit stuff that happened this past weekend. For any readers visiting the site for my Pittsburgh related reviews, let me fill you in – There are a TON of healthy lifestyle/fitness/food blogs out there. Many of these blogs feature young woman posting multiple times a day about everything they eat, when they work-out, their views on healthy living, etc. Over the last year, a few of the more popular/successful bloggers organized a ‘Healthy Living Summit’, a weekend conference designed to bring together this particular brand of food bloggers.  I briefly considered attending the summit – I enjoy reading quite a few of these ‘healthy lifestyle’ blogs and at one time, perhaps thought Snickie might go that direction. I ultimately decided against going but still managed to read about all the festivities via the various blogs of attendees. The summit was held in Boston.

Most bloggers gushed about the weekend and it did look fun. I enjoy meeting new people and putting myself into situations outside of my comfort zone – perhaps I would have enjoyed it. I commend the girls that put this together – after planning tons of large scale, headache inducing events as part of my college sorority, I can appreciate the work that goes into these things. The first year is always tough as well – you are making up everything as you go – no blueprints.

As I read the different recaps of the weekend, I stumbled across Betsy’s. This is actually one of the very first blogs I ever read, probably almost a year ago. The blog intrigued me because these two lived in my neighborhood! Betsy’s review of the summit was refreshingly straightforward, as is her recent “Most Honest Post I’ve Ever Written”. Check it out. It’s a well written, inspiring read.

Overall, even though I did not actually participate in the summit, reading all about it and following different blogs has enriched my life. This blog in itself has provided me a creative outlet. The whole ‘blogging’ thing still seems a little nerdy and self indulgent at times but I’m sticking to it. I’ve been inspired to do so, even if its just for me 🙂

Whew…tangent redirected…hopefully you were not too thrown off by my random musings..

The rest of the afternoon flew by. I munched on some cherries and a banana.

After work, I dashed over to The Boy’s house, with the promise of grilled pizza on the table.  The night did not disappoint. We made a sausage pizza and a grilled veggie and goat cheese pizza. The shape actually turned out more like a flat-bread, but they were crisp and cheesy nonetheless. Yum. I enjoyed my dinner with a glass of prosecco.

blurry pic - all I could think about was getting that in my mouth - ha

blurry pic - all I could think about was getting that in my mouth - ha

The Boy and I then divided the night between the History Channel and the Food Network and I drifted off to sleep…

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Although The Boy certainly shares my adventurous appetite and general love of food, he doesn’t quite follow/care about media and news surrounding food like I do. He generally doesn’t care what’s trendy. He doesn’t really care what chef is where or what new ingredient is considered innovative. He eats what tastes good and goes to restaurants he can rely on.

I, on the other hand, am sucked into the ‘food scene’. I want to know what is happening where and what is ‘hot’. A rolling ‘to try’ restaurant list sits on my desk.

One such ‘trendy’ spot I have been dying to try is Yo Rita, the newest Kevin Sousa project. Yo Rita is located at 1120 E Carson Street, Southside. In true Pittsburgh fashion, I will tell you that Yo Rita used to be the Iguana Grill. It became Yo Rita sometime within the last few years and (to me) was an indistinguishable pseudo Tex-Mex bar joint, lost in the shuffle and nonsense of the Southside. About 3 or 4 months ago, Kevin Sousa announced on his blog that he would be helping the place re-do its menu and concept. Sousa food blocks away from The Boy and in a relaxed setting? I had to go! Of course this desire was driven by curiosity and the Sousa name. The Boy scoffed. I continued to whine. Finally, we set off for the place this past weekend.

I believe the interior has gotten somewhat of a makeover, at least from its Iguana Grill days. It was pleasant, decorated in cool whites and grays. It was actually nicer than I expected. Yo Rita is open every day (including Sundays) for dinner, starting at 4PM. They also just added a Sunday brunch which runs from (I believe) 11AM to 2:30PM.

yo rita

 

Yo Rita’s menu is small. A page of appetizers, a page of tacos, a page or two of drinks (extensive tequila selection). There are also daily specials (the menu also mentioned a soup du jour and a ceviche of the day). Additionally, a board at the restaurant listed drink specials, including a pineapple margarita and a ginger/lime margarita. I quickly ordered a ginger/lime margarita and the boy ordered a mojito. Chips and two types of salsa were brought to the table. The waitress did not really explain what the two salsas were – one was chunky and one was not, and thats all I could really decipher. I am not sure the chips were freshly fried in house but they were thick, crunchy and pleasant. My margarita arrived. Very smooth. I could not specifically detect ginger but I was getting some lime and tequila and I was happy.

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The Boy’s mojito was odd. It was in a huge glass and just seemed to be mostly club soda. While it was refreshing it just didn’t taste strongly of anything in particular.

And now, the food. Our ordering started with confusion over the specials. Sadly, our waitress did not not offer up information on the specials – yet we saw them written on the aforementioned board with the drink specials. We could see ‘menudo with arepas’ written. When we inquired as to what that was, she said “Like tripe?”. Only today, after a quick internet search, do I suspect it was a Mexican soup made with tripe over cornmeal cakes. Her description certainly did not make us curious about the dish. I still am not sure if this was the daily special or the soup of the day or what? I think the board also said something about a watermelon gazpacho, but the waitress never mentioned that either. We also inquired about the ceviche of the day and she said “I don’t think we have one today”. Hmm, OK.

We ended up ordering a jicama salad appetizer and four tacos (all to split). We ordered the black eyed pea taco, the soft shell crab taco, the braised pork taco, and the chorizo taco.

The jicama salad arrived. It was a crisp mix of jicama, sweet corn, edamame, radish, mint, melon, and goat cheese. There may have been a few other chopped up ingredients that escaped me. It was lightly dressed in a pretty hot pickled pepper vinaigrette. Whew! I sucked down a glass of ice water but kept eating. The flavors were all complimentary and I love chopped salads. (I used the menu to refresh my memory of the salad components – I swear I remember pineapple too and that wasn’t on the menu – oh well, it was good!).

Next, the tacos arrived. The Boy was impressed by the decent amount of ‘stuffing’ in each one.

OK, these were good. They all contained flavor combos that make you want to keep eating. Flavor combos that you remember days, weeks, and months later. My favorite was the braised pork taco. Paired with mole, scallion, jalapeño, and apple, this thing was spot on. My mouth was on fire from the jalapeños, but I kept eating.

The remaining tacos, in order of preference, were soft shell crab, black eyed pea, and chorizo. The chorizo was in big chunks and I just wasn’t in the mood for it. (To note, The Boy had no complaints as he finished it off).

Four tacos might not sound like much, but we were pretty full. Our bill came to around $45. Hmm. Seems slightly steep for tacos. Mind you, the tacos are a la carte, no rice or beans or anything. But the ingredients are certainly high quality. And we did have drinks. (See how I am trying to validate a return trip?).

Overall, although The Boy and I both really enjoyed the food, the service was just too aloof for us. I mean the menu revamp and Kevin Sousa are the reasons new people are coming here – the servers need to be informed of all this and talk it up! If someone wandered in and didn’t know the back story, I think they would be confused by this little place.

I think I will return, if only for a well made margarita. I really really appreciate tacos/Mexican food that is taken above and beyond ground beef and shredded cheddar cheese. However, I also really appreciate a restaurant that is the full package (food and service) and Yo Rita isn’t quite there yet. Please, please, keep trying though. I loved that damn pork taco!

I hesitatingly recommend that you try the place out, as I have never had Mexican food like this in Pittsburgh before. However, don’t say I didn’t warn you about the service and a la carte menu style 🙂

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Snickie PG Shout Out

I was pleasantly surprised to find a link to ‘Snickie’ in this article in the Sunday PG.

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/09228/990864-46.stm

I did not see the article in print and I believe the links/websites only appear in the web version. Regardless, I think the article is great and gives me a tiny sense of accomplishment – someone is actually reading this!

I plan to continue blogging, with a focus on the Pittsburgh food scene. I will also continue my ‘Total Tuesday’ tradition and blog about my some of my eats and food philosophy. I have wondered if I should take the blog into more of a ‘healthy lifestyle’ format – there are many young woman who have had much of success with this. However, I think I like where I am and will just keep blogging what I please.

So please check out the article and the blogs it speaks of. Some of them I already read but others were new to me.

Welcome to any new readers 🙂

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Total Tuesday

(Better late than never! This entry references Tuesday, August 13th.)

Yet another rainy day in the ‘burgh. Upon waking up, I dreaded the thought of walking to the bus amidst the type of weather conditions we had last night. Around 7PM, driving down Centre Ave, I nearly had to pull off the road the rain was coming down so hard. Lovely.

Somehow, it ended up not actually being rainy this morning, just perpetually gray, cloudy, and miserable. Yay!

For breakfast, I had two pieces of Ezekiel toast, one with almond butter and jam and the other with almond butter and fresh fruit.

really enjoying this jam - I believe I purchased it at Giant Eagle

really enjoying this jam - I believe I purchased it at Giant Eagle

After hopping a bus into town, I tackled my messy desk. I don’t think I have previously mentioned my profession – I am a tax accountant. I know, I know, living the dream 🙂

This morning, I snacked on a chocolate chip Z-bar.

For lunch, I had the summer standard – whole wheat pita, greens, hummus, goat cheese, and avocado. On the side I had some baked tortilla chips.

As my day continued to crawl, The Boy and I exchanging emails professing how much we are looking forward to London and Wales. We are headed there at the end of August for a wedding – should be fun!

After work, I rushed home and changed into my night-time uniform; gym shorts, sports bra, tank.  I sat on the couch and contemplated my options: indoor run or outdoor run? I had half a banana with almond butter as I pondered this.

I finally got my butt moving and ran outside! There was a light drizzle happening, but nothing horrible. I did 3 miles in about 35 minutes. This included some walk breaks. Not too bad.

For dinner, I made a quesadilla. One whole wheat tortilla, low fat cheddar cheese, roasted corn from TJs (one of my favs, in the frozen section), and mango salsa. I had a few baked tortilla chips on the side.

After dinner, I watched Real Housewives of Atlanta (Comcast finally gets Bravo! Woohoo! Actually, this is probably bad for me, as it brings more trash reality TV into my life. Yet, I think I am rightfully excited that I can now watch Top Chef). I had small bowl of vanilla soy ice cream with berries and coconut.

Around 11PM, I finally crashed out. Night night Tuesday.

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