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Archive for October, 2009

Total Tuesday: 10.27.09

This Tuesday morning, I found myself super sleepy from staying up late watching Bridezillas on OnDemand. WTF is wrong with me?

I got ready quickly and made myself a nice hot bowl of oatmeal to start the day – it contained 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water, handful of frozen berries, scoop almond butter, small scoop pumpkin butter, and a few chocolate chips. No rhyme or reason to that mix really but I usually like fruit, nut butter, and something sweet in my oatmeal.

My day at work was a little different as I was a host to some college students interviewing at my firm. I showed them around the office and tried to be upbeat as possible about how fun and rewarding life is in the real world 🙂

Lunch was a catered affair at McCormick and Schmick’s (downtown location – 301 Fifth Ave). Overall, the lunch was decent. I had a side salad with pecans and gorgonzola, a small serving of garlic and olive oil pasta, a small serving of salmon, and a big scoop of green beans and squash. I also had a nice little berry tart for dessert. Generally, I really like McCormick and Schmick’s for lunch – prices are reasonable for what you get. To note, someone at the table had a gluten allergy and the staff was very knowledgeable and helpful in sorting that out.

After work, I hurried to make it to a Bikram yoga class at my gym. Lunch kept me pretty full, but I knew I needed something to make it through the 90 minute class. I quickly downed a Snickers Marathon bar (protein bar type of thing – OK, but a little overly chemically for me).

I made it to the gym just in time. Normally, my gym does not offer Bikram. They have a power yoga class where they attempt to heat the room by turning the thermostat up, but thats all (although in the summer, that room got crazy steamy actually). Apparently, there is a friend of an instructor (or something like that) in town for a week and she is teaching a few Bikram classes.

Hmmm, not exactly what I was expecting. The room was warm but I think it should have been warmer (from what I gather, it should be 105 degrees with 40% humidity – not the instructors fault – just don’t have the right facilities probably – she did have a humidifier). I knew Bikram was a very specific set of postures, but I figured they would be similar to things you would do in a power yoga class. Not so much. All the moves/postures were designed to do various good things to your body and insides and general well being. Many of them were thing I had never done before. They weren’t particularly “hard”, just different.

Not sure I would run back to Bikram class – maybe I was missing something without the room being up to temp?

After the gym, I made a quick trip to TJ’s. Then it was time to head home and make dinner: Baked Potato Soup!

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A few weeks ago, I was at my parents house having dinner and visiting. Somehow, I came home with a large box/basket of local potatoes, tuna, and BBQ sauce. Random. However, perfect opportunity to make some soup, using my mom’s recipe.

Baked Potato Soup

2-3 T butter
1 Lg Onion (finely chopped) – can use more to taste
8-10 Lg Baking Potatoes
2 cans chicken broth
1 cup milk (more if needed)
2 Chicken bullion cubes (for added flavor if needed)
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream – light is fine
Few dashes hot sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
 
Sauté onion in butter until soft.
Meanwhile – Bake potatoes (microwave is fine) – when done, scoop out middle and coarsely chop w/two knives
Add chicken broth to sautéed onion and let simmer for 5-10 minutes
Add potatoes, milk, bullion, hot sauce, sour cream, salt & pepper
Note- Add extra liquid (broth or milk) as needed*
Heat through – Do not boil
 
Serve w/chopped chives or green onion, real bacon bits, cheese and sour cream garnish.
 
*You can add some good quality instant mashed potatoes for extra thickness if you want.

I followed the recipe, although I did not use any bouillon cubes or instant mashed potatoes. Also, I sadly did not have any bacon to top it with. Regardless, it was very tasty. The garnishes on top make the soup!

I rounded out my night by cleaning up my apartment and watching Milk, the recent movie documenting the political life of Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official (set in the 1970s). This movie really sucked me in. Sean Penn is really an amazing actor and he makes this piece – he won an Academy Award for the film. Check it out.

That’s a wrap!

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Welcome to Pittsburgh!

This weekend, I made my way out to Philadelphia to spend some time with my best friends. It was a great weekend. I ate cupcakes, I drank champagne, I got a manicure, I ate self serve fro-yo, and I danced in Old City.

My weekend got off to a wonderful start when I stopped in to grab a bottle of water before boarding the plane in Pittsburgh and spotted this:

IMG00057

Wow. Only in Pittsburgh. Certainly, there is no way any visitor to the city could pass up this gem!

FYI, this is a bag of chocolate covered peanuts. Couldn’t we just package up some black and gold M&Ms and call it a day on the P-burgh souvenir candy front? Again, wow.

Happy Monday!

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More Tidbits

Pittsburgh, you have been all over the place these last few weeks. Freezing, windy, sunny, warm. What gives? I have been combating the ever changing weather by testing out various recipes and hitting up some different local spots. Enjoy my finds and thoughts…

  • Sushi at Plum

So two Sundays ago, I drove past the fairly new Plum Pan Asian Kitchen (4609 Centre Ave – formerly Richard Chen) and did a double take. The front entrance of the restaurant was literally demolished! What the hell? Extreme vandalism? I searched the internet when I got home, but couldn’t find any info on it. Had I imagined it?

Fast forward to last Friday. A friend and I decided to meet for dinner and I attempted to talk her in to sushi, suggesting Plum. She agreed and I then remembered the scene I *thought* I had witnessed only a few days prior. After a bit more internet research and a phone call to the restaurant, I found out that a van had crashed into the entrance of Plum in the early morning hours of Sunday, Oct. 11th.

Read (and see) more here.

Poor Plum! It seems they are trying hard to re-establish that location and now this?

The restaurant did actually re-open last Friday night. Aside from entering through a side door, the boarded up front entrance, and a note of explanation tucked in the menu, it seemed things were running smoothly. The interior (lovely and minimalistic, by the way) is almost identical to the joint’s Richard Chen days, although a sushi bar has been added. My partner and I had a few rolls and particularly enjoyed the ‘Skinny Roll” (or something like that), made up of marinated veggies. To note, one roll was sort of falling apart and difficult to eat. However, the quality of the fish was undeniable. Definitely fresh. Our bill was around $50 (with tax) for three rolls (two of them specialty rolls), edamame, and two glasses of wine.

The menu is also quite different from that of Richard Chen. It appeared that entrées ranged roughly from $10-$20. I was glad to see the place was quite crowded by about 8:30. This restaurant is gorgeous, and now, more affordable. Parking is available too! Check this place out.

  • My Own Stab at Asian

In this month’s Food and Wine, there was an article about ‘quick and easy’ Asian dishes using easily attainable ingredients. Last week, I made the spicy peanut noodles and loved them. This is a recipe I would definitely make again. I added some shredded chicken and diced red bell peppers to my dish. Seriously tasty and spicy.

Find recipe here.

  • Food Businesses and the Social Web

Lauren over at Burghilicious posted an interesting piece about food blogs, local businesses, and the mini-controversy surrounding a few particular issues. Check out the article and the comments – you might be surprised by some of the things going on around the Pittsburgh food scene.

  • Duke’s Upper Deck Cafe

A friend and I debated on meeting somewhere at the Waterfront for a drink over the weekend. Knowing most of the chain restaurants in the Waterfront would be jammed and not all that great, we instead decided on Duke’s in Homestead (122 W 8th Ave). Attentive bartenders, casual atmosphere, decent bar food, a nice crowd but not jammed – Duke’s was not bad in my book. Try it over TGIFridays or Damon’s for sure. I am also still intrigued by Blue Dust (601 Amity Street, near the tracks), another independent trying to make it in that area. Foodburgh posted a review awhile back. Seems like its worth a try.

  • Tis the Season

I am geared up and ready to sport my Kate Gosselin wig for Halloween. What will you be this year? Also, what type of treats are you handing out or making for a party? I always enjoyed Halloween because my birthday falls very near the holiday. I remember several Halloween themed slumber parties back in the day, one involving sticking your hand in a bowl of cold spaghetti and pretending it was intestines. Muhahaha!

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Snickie Rallies For a Cause

So you all remember my ‘Something to Brighten Your Day’ post, right?

In the post, I relayed the story of a family member that was deeply touched by the time he spent at Children’s Hospital as a kid, suffering from various kidney related issues.

He asked if he could use Snickie to get the word out on an upcoming event – the annual Pittsburgh National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Please see below for further information (blue portion was written by the tattooed family member) and how you can support this worthy cause.

On November 8th, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Kidney Foundation will be holding their annual Kidney Walk at the Pittsburgh Zoo. As some of your readers may know, based on the posting Snickie did on my Donald Duck tattoo (see post here), this is a cause that has a lot of meaning to me, and I decided to get involved with this year’s walk. When you sign up for a cause like this nowadays, the quickest and best way to fund-raise is through the fund-raising website that the Foundation automatically sets up for you. So I’m sending you my personal walk website to see if any of Snickie’s readers would be willing to donate to the cause. I don’t mean to be another solicitor in a world that seems to be full of them, but I would like everyone to realize that this donation page has very little to do with me, and everything to do with the cause, which is to help improve the lives of the 26 million people with kidney disease, many of them in the Pittsburgh area.

And to bring it home with a Pittsburgh connection, when you go to my team page, you’ll see that A.) it’s still in the formative stages, but B.) more importantly, my team name is Team Yellow Brick Road. This is because, for everyone who has ever walked through the main doors at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, there is (or at least was) a big bronze statue of Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. And those doors are where a lot of kid’s treatments for kidney disease and other ailments began, and hopefully one day, through the help of the National Kidney Foundation, their treatments will end in the form of a cure.

So thanks for considering a donation, and I appreciate ANYTHING that you may be able to give!

   Click here to visit my personal page.
Click here to view the team page for Team Yellow Brick Road 

 

Thanks for taking a few moments to read this. Whether or not you should choose to donate, I am simply glad to be able to pass along information on kidney disease and the amazing facilities we have in the ‘Burgh.

Additionally, the tattooed cousin, when apparently remembering this is in fact a ‘food blog’ 🙂 , sent over the following Children’s foodie factoids/memories. To note, he spent his time at the Children’s in Oakland.

 
 1. Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies in the city. Maybe in America. They’re big, they’re a little crispy on the edges, soft in the middle, and the chocolate chips are gooey every single time. Every. Single. Time. They also have slightly above average popcorn in abundance.
 
2. I believe it underwent a management change, but through some internet research and a little Google earthing, it looks like they went back to the old name, but Napoli’s Pizza in Oakland, across the street from Children’s (Oakland) and right next to the Wendy’s, is unreal. If you are like me and you like your pepperoni so crisp that it almost looks like a little brown cup sitting on top of the pie, this is the place for you. Even the reheated slices are piping hot with gooey cheese, and the toppings are all fresh and plentiful. Calzones are the size of toddlers, I believe refills are free, and the place has as Italian an atmosphere as you’ll find. Definitely a must-try.

 

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The Boy and I first heard of Café Davio (2516 E Carson) when Munch (of the PG) wrote a review in the summer. Despite The Boy living in Southside, we had never heard of the place.  It was added to our ‘to try’ list. We learned this Café Davio is connected with Davio’s in Beechview. 

Literally a few days later, while on vacation at the beach, an uncle (and sometimes commenter – hi Big D!) raved of the spot. Two recommendations for this place in a week? We had to go!

Well, fast forward a few months and The Boy and I finally find an occasion for a cozy dinner out. On Saturday afternoon, The Boy and I saw Cirque Du Soleil at the Peterson Event Center. The show was great – seriously some amazing physical stuff.  The Pete is kind of a large venue though, and some of the details (facial expressions, etc) were lost a bit. However, we had a really nice time and I enjoyed it immensely (thanks for the tickets Boy!).

We wanted to continue our ‘date’ and so earlier in the week had made a 7:30PM reservation at Café Davio. Turns out, you pretty much must make a reservation. I did not see anyone come in without a reservation and there were no empty seats. There is really no room to wait inside here but it appeared if you arrived early for a reservation or your table wasn’t ready they would direct you ‘next door’ to what I think was the OTB Bicycle Café (not totally sure here but it seems Café Davio has a little set up with them or something for waiting guests!)

Café Davio is BYOB and cash only. We arrived right on time for our res and were seated promptly. The space is tiny and not fancy – however, they have spruced it up with white tablecloths, candles, etc. It works. There is also an open kitchen. We were warmly greeted by a host/waiter (actually, I think every staff in the restaurant visited our table at some point) who was so excited by the wine we had brought that it got us excited as well! He quickly popped open our 2001 Tommasi Amarone.

we received this as a gift - lovely

we received this as a gift - lovely

Our waiter pointed us in the direction of Café Davio’s price fix menu – $25 or $35 options, all including appetizers, salad, pasta, entrée, and cookies and coffee. To note, they also have an a la carte menu. The $35 options were mostly given verbally and of course both The Boy and I decided on one of those. He chose lamb chops and I chose scallops and shrimp in lemon butter.

First, we were served an awesome spread of marinated olives, dipping oil, bread, and a hummus-like dip. I did not catch what the waiter called the hummus but it sounded like some variation of the word ‘cece’, the Italian word for chickpea. It was a little thinner and chunkier than hummus. It all tasted so good. I could have just eaten everything on the table and stopped there!

However, next was a light salad, served family style. The waiter told us it was simply dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and mint. Really good, light, fresh. I loved the mint.

By now I was beginning to wonder how I would manage to eat the remainder of my meal. Yet, I soldiered on. After the salad was cleared, we were served small bowls of pasta. I really would have been blown away had the pasta been homemade, but it was not. However, this did not take away from my experience at all. The sauce was clearly homemade and rich, the pasta lightly dressed and topped with shaved parmesan and chopped parsley. The Boy finished off the small amount of pasta I left in my dish.

Overall, our service was great. Maybe not totally polished, but really really genuine. We waited here and there between courses, but really did not care. Sometimes it helps for dinners like this to be spaced out! The atmosphere was warm, the bread basket full, the wine glasses refilled. When are entrées did arrive, they were piping hot and evidently had moved directly from the kitchen about 10 feet from us and on to our table.

The Boy tore into his generous serving of lamb. He was amazed to see seven full lamb chops on his plate. Now, I am not one that is wowed by quantity alone – therefore, I was only wowed when I sampled the tender, juicy, beautiful lamb. The entrée came with a luscious sauce and roasted red peppers (I think they may have been the vegetable side dish of the day – I also had some with my entrée).

My scallops and shrimp were sautéed in a lemony butter sauce with artichoke hearts. The scallops were the highlight of the dish. Incredible. Large, sweet, and perfectly cooked. I barely made a dent in the generous portion.

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dark. but delicious.

After my remaining scallops and shrimp were wrapped up (um, no lamb left 🙂 ), we were served hot coffee, biscotti, and another type of light cookie. The biscotti were clearly homemade and heavily anise flavored, which I love. It was the perfect light, not too sweet ending to the meal.

The meal did lean toward the pricey side (close to $100 with tax, tip, and $5 corking fee) but was well worth it. They do have a la carte options as well! However, we just loved our whole Café Davio experience – amazing food, cozy atmosphere, friendly service, the open kitchen. We both came out smiling and satisfied.  We will return – there was something a little magical about Café Davio.

(Also, don’t be deterred by the ongoing Carson Street construction outside Café Davio or any other small businesses in this stretch- park at the Southside Works complex or back a block toward the slopes on Sarah Street)

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Snickie at Pop City

Look what I found today….

http://www.popcitymedia.com/inthenews/snickiefoodie1014.aspx

Fun!

I feel my blog leaning more and more towards being Pittsburgh-centric, so I really appreciated this reference 🙂

Please check out the rest of the Pop City site – tons of great stuff.

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Total Tuesday

Back to the kind of sort of food journaling Tuesdays!

This morning, I was all about oatmeal. I had been running low on various ‘toppings’ and therefore recently avoiding the oatmeal. However, a trip to TJ’s last night allowed me to load up on goodies. Is it weird that I woke up borderline excited about using the below find in my breakfast? (Answer: Yes Julie, it is.)

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Verdict: Tasty! Sweet and not overly pumpkin pie spicy – I think I was starting to OD on the cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.

The morning at work was quick and I nibbled some TJ’s ‘Bananas – Flattened’ at some point.

For lunch, I ventured out of the office with a few coworkers to Mark’s Grille and Catering (923 Penn Ave – Downtown).  I like this place. Its older and kind of dark, has a pub like feel. The lunches are not fancy – soups, salads, sandwiches. You can get half a sandwich, a cup of soup, and homemade (I think? – they are nice and thick and crispy) chips for just over $5, with tax. Can’t beat that for a sit down lunch. Today I had a cup of chicken noodle soup and half a turkey sandwich on wheat. The sandwiches are on nice thick fluffy bread with a chewy crust. The turkey is piled high. You leave feeling satisfied but not weighed down by something greasy. If you work Downtown, try this place!

I spent the afternoon organizing seventeen binders worth of tax information for a client. Wild times. I snacked on a Clif Z bar.

I did not get home from work until 7:45. Ick. Such is the life of an accountant. Some accountants may actually consider 7:45 to be an early night. My walk home from the bus stop was cold and windy. I mentally vetoed the gym.

I then actually vetoed the gym when I got home, changed into sweatpants, and heated up some leftover lamb ragu. Yum.

Now I am off to watch Biggest Loser and hit the sack early. Ideally, some early morning OnDemand yoga will be happening in the AM. I can’t seem to kick some lingering soreness from a weekend BodyPump class.

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