Archive for May, 2010

Long Overdue Post!

An unexpectedly busy week at work kept me away from Snickie. But I am back! I want to thank everyone for the great comments on the Sonoma Grille Giveaway post. I have summarized all the questions and suggestions below. Please continue the conversation in the comments if you would like!

Great Tips – Places I want to try…

Embury – This place is located within or near the Firehouse Lounge in the Strip. There was a great write-up of the place in the Post Gazette awhile back (you can find the link on their site), outlining the old school cocktails and quality ingredients the joint was using. I need to try this place!

Dragonfly Diner – I had never heard of this place until a reader commented on it. It is located in the Strip District. I found a menu here. Looks good and reasonably priced. Has anyone been? There are tons of places I still need to try in the Strip District! Chicken Latino is also on my list.

Nine on Nine – This downtown fine dining establishment has been on my radar for awhile but I have yet to find an occasion to get there. After a pretty decent PG review this week, I want to try it even more!

 Questions – Answered!…

A reader asked about the Pittsburgh sushi scene. I must admit that I have very little sushi knowledge! I have probably dined at just about every popular sushi place in the ‘burgh and tend to favor Chaya (note: location has changed since my review – check the website) or Plum. If something is fresh, I will probably eat and enjoy it, even if it is not 100% authentic. I think it would be awesome to someday eat at a sushi restaurant that is truly the real deal. From what I gather, Umi might be the spot. I did dine here previously – however, it is more expensive and I think this prevented me from being fully comfortable there. Anyone with more experience have any thoughts on Umi?

Another reader asked about getting hand crafted cocktails in the burgh. As was discussed, maybe try Embury?

Reader Jen asked about Indian restaurants in Pittsburgh. I am ashamed to admit I have never dined at an Indian restaurant in Pittsburgh! Can you believe it? Thanks for motivating me to get to one Jen!

Lindsay asked about good Pittsburgh happy hours. I recently went to happy hour at Eleven (downtown) and thought it was really nice. The bar area opens up to the outside and there is a menu of $6 martinis and glasses of wine.

Although this is a bit late, two readers asked about recipes for Memorial Day picnics. Here are some things I have book-marked recently!

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips

Pina Colada Sorbet

Mocha Cookies

Wheatberry Salad

Additionally, here are some items I have made in the past that I would definitely repeat for a potluck or party.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip

Greek Layer Dip – if anything is my ‘signature’, this might be it! My friends request it!

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Sonoma Grille Winner!

Picked by a random number generator, commenter Lindsay is the winner of the Sonoma Grille gift card!

Watch your email girl – I will be sending you some info.  I hope you enjoy the gift card!

Thanks everyone for commenting and giving me some great feedback! I will be addressing many of the comments in a forthcoming post.

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I spent the weekend eating pierogies, telling my grandparents stories of my underage drinking escapades in college, and shopping in the Strip District. I hope your weekend was just as fab 🙂

Keep the great comments coming on the Sonoma Grille post! I plan to touch on all the questions asked in a future post.

You still have until midnight tomorrow, Tuesday May 18th, to enter to win the gift certificate. Just comment on the previous post.

Happy (rainy) Monday!

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Sonoma Grille

On occasion, someone actually stumbles across this little blog and finds it worthwhile to contact me. Sometimes I get press releases about things happening in Pittsburgh and sometimes I get invites to small events. I feel like a bit of an imposter reading through these items. I am by no means an authoritative voice on anything food related. However, if someone offers me food, I am probably going to show up 🙂

A few weeks ago, I was invited to come into the downtown Pittsburgh restaurant, The Sonoma Grille (947 Penn Ave) for a tasting. Of course I was overly excited by this and quickly grabbed up two of my best friends to accompany me.

Sonoma Grille bills itself as a ‘West Coast kitchen and wine bar’. The décor is fairly classic – not stuffy, not too modern. The night I dined at Sonoma Grille coincided with a Gallery Crawl happening throughout the Cultural District. I am not sure if this caused Sonoma Grille to be more crowded than usual. Regardless, the place was quite full when we arrived.

After being briefed on the menu by our very knowledgeable waiter, we started the meal by trying both the beet salad and a mache salad. We were poured a De Sante Savignon Blanc (Napa) to enjoy with the course. Looking back, the salads may have been my favorite part of the meal. They were well executed, lightly dressed, and fresh. Our server was sure to point out the locality of some of the vegetables and greens used. We loved the play between the beets and feta cheese in the beet salad and and the hericot vert and lightly fried potato chip garnish on the mache salad.

beet salad

We next moved onto a Violeta Cabernet Franc and a plate of prosciutto wrapped scallops nestled on a bed of squash puree and cilantro pesto. Although I am not sure the prosciutto added much to the dish, the scallops were perfectly cooked and everyone happily gobbled up the tender shellfish.

At this point, I began to realize my night was going to be a bit hazy. Every wine we tasted was better than the last and paired nicely with our food. To note, everything we tasted was available by the glass. Sonoma Grille has quite a wine list and I was excited to see a flyer advertising half off certain bottles on Monday nights. That sounds like a deal to me!

We next got to sample 3 different ‘signature dishes’ from the menu. Forgive me for not mentioning the wine pairing – as I said, things were getting hazy :). The Sonoma Grille menu is set up mostly in a tapas (small plates) style with a few ‘large entrees’ also available. The ‘signature dishes’ still fall under the tapas section of the menu. I think this set up is slightly confusing – however, our server did a good job of explaining the concept. We sampled the ‘Study of Duck’, ‘New Potato Gnocchi’, and ‘Moroccan Braised Lamb Ravioli’. Of this trio, the duck was king. Salty, sweet, fatty, and delicious. The ‘Study of Duck’ included;

Smoked breast, grilled wild harvested ramps, candied pecans, local arugula, IPA duck jus

Duck confit and asparagus tart, puff pastry, fines-herb buerre blanc

Homemade duck pastrami, frisee and pea tendril salad, crispy shallot, local wildflower honey and thyme vinaigrette

study of duck

The night then ended with a peanut butter semifreddo, a frangelico tart, and a lovely tawney port. A tawney port (as opposed to a ruby port) is released ready to drink and is minimally aged as compared to the ruby ports. The tawney port we tasted was buttery and almond-y (yes, almond-y). It was the perfect ending to the meal. The port sent me into the perfect post-meal daze in which I then wondered through the exhibits of the Cultural District Gallery Crawl. Was I really in Pittsburgh?

Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Sonoma Grille and certainly think it is worth checking out, particularly for a happy hour or casual pre-theater dinner. Care is being taken with the food and the wine list is more extensive and affordable than I imagined.

And guess what? I have a $50 Sonoma Grille Gift Card to give away to one lucky reader! Sonoma Grille has really been reaching out to the blogging community and generously offered up this gift.

To enter, please leave a comment and valid e-mail address. I will leave commenting open until midnight on Tuesday, May 18th.

If you don’t mind, I would love for you to leave a Snickie related comment. I am always seeking to spark more reader interaction!

Ask me a question, tell me how you found me, tell me somewhere you would like me to eat or something you would like me to make :).

I will pick the winner from the comments based on a random number generator after Tuesday, May 18th. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from more of my readers!

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Ninja Monday


I love this thing. I got it for Christmas and was inititally skeptical of its usefulness. I already had a blender, a mini food processor, and a big daddy food processor. What else could I need?

Apparently, I really needed a Ninja. The Ninja is very ‘magic bullet’ like (you plug the top part in, attach to the container, and pulse) and came with large and small chopping vessels. The small one is shown above.

I find myself using this thing all the time. Anyone else have one? Anyone else have a random kitchen appliance you did not even know you needed until you got it?

The Ninja also makes a pretty good smoothie. I need to experiment with some frozen cocktails for summer 🙂

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