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Archive for July, 2011

Hi Snickie readers! The blog has been quiet as I have been out and about doing actual summer type things. I have managed to try a few new restaurants in recent weeks, including Spoon and Smoke. I hope to have some short write-ups of those coming soon.

In other foodie news,  I took advantage of an about to expire Groupon and signed myself and Ben up for a Moroccan cooking class at Gaynor’s School of Cooking on East Carson Street in the Southside.

The class started at 6PM on a Thursday and according to the website and various reviews, would run about four hours. That sounded super long but we strapped on our aprons and prepared to be schooled on Moroccan cuisine.

Overall, the class was fun and all the participants were very social (although Ben was the only dude, just an FYI). Randomly, an old sorority sister and her mom and (real) sister were in the class and this added to the fun as well. The instructor introduced a long menu of recipes and we then split into groups to complete various portions of the meal. Dishes included a lamb tagine, pan fried monkfish, eggplant salad, bulgur salad, couscous, Morrocan bread, and cheese filled borek (cheese in puff pastry – yum).

To be honest, there was not a ton of instruction happening during the class. We used a pressure cooker for the tagine (due to the time limits of a 4 hour class) and that was demonstrated, but not much else. The instructor was always available for questions and frequently checked in on both groups. I can’t say I acquired a ton of new skills from this class. Nonetheless, it was super fun to try new recipes and think about different flavors and styles of cooking aside from what you use in the everyday.

After everything was prepared, the whole class sat down to dinner together. It was going on 9:30PM at this point and I piled my plate high and ate way too much. There was wine too. This was a great way to end the class and left me with a good Gaynor vibes. Not 100% sure I would return but it was a really enjoyable evening.

Sadly, both Ben and I left our recipe booklets at the Gaynor kitchen. Hopefully an email will get us copies of the recipes used. Our favorites from the night were the borek, the bulgur salad, and the fish. I searched a bit and the below recipes seem similar to those used that night.

Cheese Filled Borek (ours had no herbs and a mix of feta and cheddar)

Bulgar Salad

Moroccan Marinade for Fish (Chermoula) (We used monkfish – instructor noted heartier, white fish are traditionally used)

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Celebrating a Birthday

Kobe meatloaf at Avenue B

 

Pirate Game

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As promised, write-ups of two more spots I visited recently:

Chica Loca Taco – Copeland, Shadyside

My boyfriend Ben and I made our way to Chica Loca Taco late one recent Friday night. Chica Loca Taco is located in the old Mercurio’s gelato space (Mercurio’s moved to 5523 Walnut Street). The Chica Loca space (733 Copeland) is actually somewhat unchanged, which is kind of weird. You order at the same counter and they still have gelato. However, the taco operation is now housed in the back of the space and you can see the staff and cooking equipment back there as you order.

We had a chicken taco, a fish taco, and two carne asada tacos. We also had quacamole and chips. The quac and chips were stellar – thick crunchy chips paired with  guacamole that was literally all avocado. Our tacos, however, were only so so. While I really enjoyed the fish taco, the others fell way short of my expectations. They were really dry and had little taste. To be fair, we declined an offer of salsa, not sure if we had to pay for it or what the deal was. Perhaps the salsa could have rescued these things. I am not sure I will be back. Maybe if I am craving a fish taco and some guacamole, I would consider. Otherwise, Ben and I plan on hitting up Smoke, a Homestead taqueria I also mentioned in this post. Lindsay of Human Vacuum visited and loved it! Must get there!

Tin Front Cafe – 8th Ave, Homestead

On yet another late Friday night, my boyfriend and I were actually trying to make our way to Smoke but ended up at the Tin Front Cafe (Smoke is currently only open until 7PMish) on 8th Ave in Homestead. I had been intrigued by the Tin Front Cafe since it’s opening a year or so ago. My parents had gone for breakfast and given it a pretty good review. The cafe has an all vegetarian menu.

I was pleasantly surprised by the space. It was cozy and had an art deco-like vibe and felt very laid back. The cafe is also attached to the Annex Cookery store. The cafe also has a small patio with outdoor seating. We sat inside with a few other couples as the sky was looking a little threatening.

The menu was small but filled with options like macaroni and cheese, ratatouille, risotto, braised greens, vegetarian lasagnas, salads, etc. There is also a full bar within the space. I ordered the butternut squash lasagna and Ben ordered the ratatouille over polenta. Both meals came with better than average salads – mixed greens, dried cranberries, parmesan cheese.

In the end, the meals weren’t  particulary exceptional – but they were hearty and enjoyable and didn’t leave me feeling overly weighed down or overindulged. Also, the service was kind and caring and made me want to root for this little place. Additionally, the prices were pretty reasonable – I don’t think any entree exceeded $13 or so. Also if you are vegetarian or veggie-leaning (such as myself), I think this would be a super spot! I want to go back here.

Chica Loca Taco on Urbanspoon

The Tin Front Cafe on Urbanspoon

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The 4th

I spent my fourth of July weekend at Canadohta Lake with family. This lake is located in Crawford County. You take the Meadville exit on 79N and keep driving, hoping google maps plus all those times you were in the backseat as a kid lead you to take the correct turns. 
 
My cousin brought her teeny tiny little girl for the weekend and we concluded that seven generations of family have made their way to this lake. Pretty crazy.

We boated, we boozed, we fire-worked, we slept in a tent. It was a fun weekend. This place never changes. It is precisely the same as when I used to take my childhood friend there and we would be on a steady rotation of the following activities:

 1) feed the fish

 2) ride bikes

 3) eat rice crispy treats

 4) swim in the lake

 5) walk to Lincan’s and buy candy cigarettes

Now I do things like drink sweet tea vodka and take lots of artistic pictures of my boyfriend kayaking. I still really like rice crispies treats though and would gladly nibble a candy cigarette if I could find one, so that keeps things in perspective.

Hope you had a happy happy fourth!

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