Monday, November 26, 2012

Doing Leftovers Right


How was your Thanksgiving?! I am totally stuffed. Like, don't want to look at another yam as long as I live (or at least for a few days) stuffed. But the problem with being stuffed after Thanksgiving is that you have 12 tupperware containers full of leftovers staring you in the face for the next week.

Now I don't know about you, but I can't bare the thought of eating one more turkey breast sandwich with stuffing on the side. It's time to kick these leftovers into gear.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TOP-Ten: Places to Donate Food in Pittsburgh

Happy Turkey Day, TOPpers!

Today, as I think about all of the things I'm thankful for including my amazing family, friends, fiance and fur-balls, I can't help but also think about food.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Can I have Sonoma?

Light up night is becoming something of a tradition for PID and I. This is our third straight year of venturing into the chaotic city of steel to get a taste of the holidays and, more recently, a taste of what our local food scene has to offer.

This year, a few F.O.R.T.s decided to join us and we couldn't have been more excited. E1 suggested we dine at her all-time favorite spot in the downtown area and - since PID and I shockingly still hadn't been - we were more than happy to oblige. So, as Jingle Bell Rock bounced acoustically through the air from building to building and roller-blading Santas graciously asked us to clear their path, we made our way to Sonoma Grille.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Holy Moly, Girasole!

For years and years, PID and I have had many F.O.R.Ts who've lived (and many who still live) in Shadyside Proper. So imagine my surprise when I thought for a moment this past weekend and realized I'd NEVER been to Girasole! We decided a nice date night was long overdue and trekked back east to change that as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's Getting Chili...

On one of the first chilly days of the year, PID and I ventured North to get even chillier.

Market Districts all throughout the Pittsburgh Region hosted their second annual Chili Cookoff and we were lucky enough to be asked to judge in Township of Pine! Um...talk about a tough job.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The French Disconnection

Hey, remember Groupons? Yeah, I always forget them, too.

Not long ago, it came to my attention that a Groupon we'd purchased nearly a year ago was about to expire. So I grabbed PID and two of our favorite F.O.R.Ts and we headed to Brasserie 33 in Shadyside to get our French on. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And the winner is...

As promised, we've drawn a winner for our City Dining Cards - Pittsburgh giveaway!

Congratulations...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Crock Pot Potato Leek Soup

This week, Yukon Gold Potatoes were on sale, 2 bags for $5, at Giant Eagle Market District. So of course, I felt the need to buy two bags. Then I got to wondering what the heck I was going to do with 8 lbs of potatoes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Round Corner Cantina, Pgh Dining Cards and GIVEAWAY!

Lately we've had the unshakable feeling that the decks have been undeniably stacked in our favor. Now, we KNOW it's the case! On Tuesday, City Dining Cards officially launched their Pittsburgh deck at a party at Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville. PID and I stopped in to celebrate with a few of our very favorite Pittsburgh bloggers and the brilliant minds behind the dining deck.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TOP-News: Farm to Community Conference, Nov. 12

On Monday, November 12, Women for a Healthy Environment will host an all-day Farm to Community Conference at the Regional Learning Alliance Library in Cranberry Woods.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

TOP News - City Dining Cards Hit Pittsburgh

After a brief hiatus of, well, too much to talk about here, we're BACK with some exciting news!

Not long ago our buds over at EatPGH told us about a little deck of 52 cards that packs a HUGE  punch for the local dining scene. We've been ecstatic about this for a while, but it's finally coming to fruition! City Dining Cards is finally coming to PITTSBURGH! We're headed to a launch party (and you should be, too) next Tuesday, October 23rd at 6 p.m. at the Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville to celebrate, but in the meantime, here's all you'll ever want to know and more:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kickstarter Roundup: Pittsburgh projects YOU should know about

We've mentioned before how cool we think Kickstarter is.

We watched E2 raise enough money to transform their dungeon basement into a hip gathering space in no time. Now we're hoping to spread the word to help a few others on their way to success.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

TOP-News: Market District Chili Cook-off!

TOPpers - do you love chili? I do! More specifically, I love to EAT chili.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Savor Pittsburgh - TICKET GIVEAWAY!

Disclaimer: this giveaway is closed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Meet me at Meat & Potatoes

When Mama TOP came to town last weekend, PID and I were dying to take her somewhere yummy. After my last post, I had Brussels on the brain, so we headed downtown in the middle of rush hour to check out Meat & Potatoes!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Brussel Sprouts a la Blake

As I was making dinner last night, I realized I was making a side dish that I invented eons ago and now know by heart because we love it so much. I decided to share this recipe with you folks in the event you're ever looking for a unique twist on Brussel Sprouts!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: TOP does New Orleans

I am actually kinda sad to put this post together because it means my wonderful, amazing, delicious vacation is coming to a close.

Yes, PID and I spent the past week in the one-and-only N'AWLINS, bearing the heat and humidity for the sake of our appetites. We, quite literally, ATE our way through the southern city. I can't count high enough to put a number on the amount of oysters I ate, and pickled green beans are, without a doubt, my new favorite food.

So for today's "Wordless Wednesday," I'll give you a taste of what we tasted. This way, if any of you are planning to head down there to watch our Stillers kick some Superbowl butt, you'll have an idea of where to grub!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Here we go, Bluebird.

In case you couldn't hear my "SQUEE!" from where you are currently seated, I've recently acquired a new toy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eden and Ever After

Over the past few weeks, I've been ever so slightly sidetracked. Why? You might ask? Well, happily, it all started with a delicious meal.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wingharts

I work downtown. While it's a bear to drive in and a fortune to park, I consider myself blessed. Why? Because of the FOOD. I love having the opportunity to pop out for lunch and enjoy the day at Market Square. Not long ago, I finally convinced a few F.O.R.Ts to join me after work for a few juicy burgers at Wingharts.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cafe io-mazing.

Nestled in the eclectic Beverly Road shops of beautiful Mt. Lebanon lies a tiny hole in the wall with enormous character.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Hometown Homegrown

This past weekend, I took my good friend Mrs. P, author of Barefoot Veggie Eater, to the Hometown-Homegrown at the Heinz History Center. The event was thrown by the amazing folks at GoodTaste! Pittsburgh with the help of the History Center and local food vendors from all across the greater Pittsburgh region.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TOP-News: New French Restaurant to open in South Side

We received the following press release this afternoon with news about a new French restaurant coming to town.  The space adjacent to the Holiday Inn on 10th Street in the South Side has changed hands many times over the past few years, but this one sounds pretty darn good!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Turn the Page

If you've never ventured down beyond the familiar shops and bars of East Carson street, you're missing out. Less than a mile from the South Side Works lies one of Pittsburgh's most famous shacks.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Do Le Brew

PID and I have recently fallen in love with the South Side Works. After the riverwalk renovations were complete, the Works turned in to one of our favorite places to take TOP-Dawg for walks and enjoy the outdoors.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hometown-Homegrown Ticket Giveaway

Disclaimer: This giveaway has closed.

Friday, June 1, 2012

TOP-News: Kitchen Nightmares In Town!

Not long ago I shared the exciting news that celebrity chef and badass extraordinaire Gordan Ramsay would soon be gracing our fair city with his sarcasm as Kitchen Nightmares was casting HERE IN PITTSBURGH for it's upcoming season!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hometown-Homegrown and the Virtual Cookie Table

Pittsburgh has many unique culinary traditions – from sandwiches topped with French fries to “chip-chopped” ham – but none of these customs are sweeter than the cookie table. Often set out at weddings or other local celebrations, traditional cookie tables are stacked with hundreds or even thousands of homemade treats.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Whiskey Cocktail Challenge: The Irish Redhead

Not long ago we received an e-mail from our friends at Braddock's American Brasserie. Let me start off this post by telling you how much I love these guys. As a food blogger, it makes my job a heck of a lot easier when places like Braddock's not only boast a mouth watering menu, but also an enthusiastic and extremely active management team who make a point to keep me informed of all the news I need to know.

But I digress...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

TOP-News: The Pittsburgh Dumpling Experiment - You In?!

Fellow foodies!  I have great news! Next week, The Food Experiments, the nation’s leading cook-off organization, will be making the seventh stop of its 16-city 2012 tour right here in Pittsburgh! What does that mean for you? Well... it could mean an awful lot!

Monday, April 30, 2012

They see me rollin'...

During a recent trip to Giant Eagle, PID and I noticed that Pillsbury biscuit and crescent roll products were on sale at three for $5 so, of course, we snagged six. What this means is that we had quite the unnecessary excess of reduced fat crescent rolls. I half expected the Dough Boy to pop out and poke US in the belly button.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Taste-E Squared

After being thoroughly inspired by E2's kickstarter program, we realized we should probably (definitely) give their hyper-local menu a try.

Monday, April 23, 2012

TOP-News: National Dine Out Week w/Restaurant.com

National Dine Out Week is THIS week, April 23-29!  Every time you share the news or use a Restaurant.com certificate this week, you not only support your local community, you facilitate a donation to the American Red Cross. There are a TON of great coupons available in Pittsburgh!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Less-Words Wednesday: Chili with the Works 2012

This past Saturday, a few F.O.R.T.S and I spent our morning running the Genesis 10K. That's 6.2 miles.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Proud to be an American (Brasserie)

Months ago, PID and I celebrated Light Up Night by dining at Braddock's American Brasserie.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sinfully Good Sushi at Sinobi 2 Go

What started out as a small express eatery in Indiana, PA grew into a larger full-scale restaurant in Tarentum and shrunk back down to a tiny "To-Go" deli-style sushi shop on the less-traveled side streets of Market Square. But the size of Sinobi To Go is no indication of the enormous flavors it puts forth.

With no intention of searching for a reviewable lunch spot, I took a walk outside yesterday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful day. Suddenly I found myself on the side streets of Market Square staring at a new storefront: Sinobi Sushi To Go. It's rare that I can resist the calling of sushi, so I stopped in to check it out.


Sinobi's Market Square spot is definite designed for takeout. One small four-top, a seatless highboy and a few stools at a small counter top are all that grace the floor.  The sushi shop is manned by a very pleasant woman and one sushi chef, and each dish is made fresh to order, so expect a slight (worth it) wait during peak lunch hours.




Diners can choose from a small yet satisfying menu or order a roll of their choice.  I decided to go with the Lightning roll and Bulgogi Festival dog.

 
Bulgogi Festival $3.00

I was ever so slightly underwhelmed with the hot dog.  Being a huge fan of Franktuary's unique dog options I was excited to give this new Asian twist a try.  The dog itself was store bought and microwaved in front of me, but doused with a Kim Chi/Korean Barbecue mixture which certainly helped the cause.  While the idea of Asian Dogs is a good one, I admit I'm more looking forward to the Asian Tacos which the chef told me *might* be coming soon...

Lightning Roll $9.50


My Lightning roll, on the other hand, perfectly hit the spot I didn't know I had. Tuna and asparagus adorned with spicy crabstick and a delicious mystery sauce gave my lunch just the kick it needed on this beautiful afternoon.


Restaurant Info:
Sinobi 2 Go
Address: 435 Market Square
Phone: (412) 251-5510
Reservations: None. Very little seating.
Price: $$

Cliffs Notes:
1 Bulgogi Festival Dog @ $3.00
1 Lightning Roll @ $9.50
Tax (7% in Allegheny County): $0.87
Tip @  $2.00
Total for 1: $15.37

Overall Opinion:
I'll definitely be back (for the sushi) and would absolutely recommend a trip for native and working downtowners.


Sinobi 2 Go on Urbanspoon
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kickstart E2's Party Dungeon With Us!

Here at Taste of Pittsburgh we've decided we're too.....well, let's be honest. BORING. We absolutely love food but you know what? We love our city, too!  So it's about time we start doing more than just stuffy restaurant reviews (ok, so those are going to continue and I probably shouldn't call them stuffy...) and start sharing stuff we love. About food. About Pittsburgh. About both. About life.

What's inspired us to do this? The folks over at E2 and their ambition to "Kickstart" something they (and we) believe in.  So here is our inaugural "issue" of STUFF WE LOVE:  E2 and their mission to live local while throwing a heck of a party at the same time.

This afternoon, we finally did our part and pledged to help this project along.  Will you?


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Monday, April 9, 2012

Tonic

A few weeks ago, Mrs. P and I ventured to the Farm to Table conference. As if we didn't get enough to eat as we bounced from booth to booth, we decided to head across the street for lunch at Tonic Bar & Grill downtown.


The colorful walls were a modern contrast to the raw brick which gave the space warm, industrial feel. I'd eaten here a few years ago, but Mrs. P was a first timer.



The upstairs dining room/private party room
We decided to celebrate the occasion with a few midday cocktails. I began with a twist on a classic, Tonic's version of a Hurricane. Mrs. P opted for a Sunburn. Though together our drink names would have made an off-vacation, they certainly were a welcome addition to our day.

Sunburn: $8.50, Hurricane: $9.50
Their menu boasted a wide array of appealing options making both of our heads spin. But we bought more time by ordering the Roasted Garlic & Red Pepper Hummus served with pita wedges and fresh cucumber.

Roasted Garlic & Red Pepper Hummus $8

The Hummus was unique chalked full of hearty garlic and red pepper chunks making for a delicious spread which paired excellently with the cool cucumber slices. It was a deliciously healthy start to our meal!

After begging the waitress for more time to review the menu repeatedly, we finally landed on our entrees: Mrs. P with the Samurai Burger and I with the Chicken Pad Thai.

Mrs. P raved on and on about her burger and finished it more quickly than I'd seen her finish any meal before. The wasabi mustard and crispy wonton took a classic turkey burger to a whole new level.  The sweet potato fries were the perfect blend of crispy and creamy, adding a...well, sweet twist to her meal.

Samurai Buger & Sweet Potato Fries $15.50 total

I was slightly underwhelmed with my Pad Thai.  It was too sweet for my taste (I'm a spicy Pad Thai fan, myself) and wasn't bursting with flavor as I had hoped.

Pad Thai with Chicken $14
Next time I go I'll be sure to choose from one of the many other appealing options instead.  Mrs. P was blown away by their burgers, so maybe that's the direction in which I'll head!


Restaurant Information:

Address: 971 Liberty Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone:  (412) 456-0460
Reservations: Gets busy at lunch and I'd recommend it.  An upstairs room is great for privately reserved parties.
Hours: Mon-Wed 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.
            Thurs-Sat 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. 

Cliffs Notes:

Hurricane @ $9.50
Sunburn @ $8.50
Diet Coke @ $2
Roasted Garlic & Red Pepper Hummus @ $8
Samurai Burger @ $13.50
    w/Sweet Potato Fries @ 2.00
Pad Thai @ $9
   w/Chicken @ $5

Tax:                        Food tax  @ 7% (Allegheny County only) @ $4.03
Tip:                           $13
Total for two:          $74.53


Overall Opinion:
I was neither impressed nor unimpressed.  I'll definitely never recommend the Pad Thai to anyone, but I wouldn't recommend that they avoid the restaurant altogether! The upstairs loft looked like an excellent venue for a small private party and their cocktail list was quite impressive, so Tonic may be the perfect place for your next happy hour or birthday party. Mrs. P couldn't get enough of her Samurai burger and would certainly encourage diners to give their burgers a try. 






Tonic Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon
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Monday, April 2, 2012

The Capital of Pittsburgh

As you know, we typically try to review restaurants owned and operated out of Western PA, but when Capital Grille reached out to us to let us know that they were launching their new spring menu, we couldn't resist the urge to check it out.


Located a convenient 1.5 blocks from my "day-job" on the corner of Fifth and Wood Streets downtown, Capital Grille is an account person's dream. The ideal location for client meetings or new business dinners, Capital Grille boasts a menu fit for any hungry diner looking for a tasty, upscale experience.

The dim, rustic interior emanates a boy's club mentality while the friendly wait staff and refreshing spring menu lightened the mood and aroused the feminine foodie within.





This lunch marked a very special occasion indeed, for in our many years of togetherness, PID and I have never been blessed with the opportunity of lunching together amidst the work-week. We both recently accepted new positions with new companies, allowing us to be closer together, but our lunch at Capital Grille was the first time we were able to take advantage of this proximity! And happily, it was a positive experience all around.

Capital Grille launched a seasonal tasting menu in January and saw great success, especially during the lunch hours. As manager Rick McMaster put it, "It's ideal if you only have an hour or so of time but still want to experience fine dining."

And experience we did.


Given a choice of three starters, three entrees and three sides (all for $18), we in no way felt limited in our options.


PID went with the server-recommended Shrimp & Pequillo Peppers with a Clam Chowder starter and Truffle Fries.

His soup was average. PID devoured it in moments, but PID loves Clam Chowder.  I wouldn't necessarily call it exceptional in comparison to other clam chowders, but it certainly was tasty.

Clam Chowder

The truffle fries were, quite possibly, greater than you can expect. Doused with just the right amount of truffle oil and garnished with a dusting of Parmesan, these fries were the very definition of addictive. 

Truffle Fries
The shrimp, on the other hand, was nothing short of exceptional. A generous portion for lunch, the shrimp was served with deliciously roasted red peppers and Spanish Bomba rice, a firmer grain often served with Paella.   The flavors were excellent and I caught PID scraping the bottom of his pan on more than one occasion in an attempt to enjoy every last bite.

Shrimp and Pequillo Peppers

I decided on the Lobster Roll with an Asparagus Soup starter and French Green Beans. 

This was my first Asparagus Soup and I have to say I may have found my new favorite.  PID thought it tasted a bit too salty, but you know me and salt. I have a salt-tooth for sure. I gobbled it down in only a few spoonfuls.

Asparagus Soup
Sadly, my green beans were much too al dente, borderline undercooked. But well seasoned, I must say that.

French Green Beans, pictured with Assorted Mixed Vegetables

My Lobster Roll was out of this world.  I tend to gravitate towards Lobster Rolls when I see them on menus, but this one stood out from the crowd with a strong hint of tarragon to give it a unique kick and real, enormous chunks of lobster to greatly improve the overall taste.

LobsterRoll


Restaurant Information:
Address: 301 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222
Phone:  412-802-9120
Reservations: Recommended for larger lunch parties and strongly suggested for dinner. Make reservations on their website or on OpenTable.com
Hours:
 Lunch
Monday – Friday
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Dinner
Sunday
5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Monday – Thursday
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Friday – Saturday
5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Cliffs Notes:
Clam Chowder, Truffle Fries and Shrimp & Pequillo Peppers @ $18
Asparagus Soup, Lobster Roll and French Green Beans @18

Tax:                        Food tax  @ 7% (Allegheny County only) @ $2.52

Tip:                           $10
Total for two:          $47.52
Overall Opinion:
I'm an account person and I have to say, I'll absolutely be taking my clients here at some point. The waitstaff was incredibly friendly, our food came in an extremely timely manner, and we were beyond pleased with everything aside from the green beans. I absolutely deem this place worthy of your downtown dinner options. And give their affordable, convenient spring menu a try.  It's so much more than a pre-fixe. It's thoughtful and delicious menu planning.




*Capital Grille supplied PID and I with a Spring Menu lunch free of charge in order to facilitate this post, however all opinions expressed within this review are honest and my own.


Capital Grille on Urbanspoon
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Farm to Table Pittsburgh Conference

Keep it real, keep it local. That's the motto that Farm to Table Pittsburgh puts forth.  While we unfortunately had to miss the Friday evening tastings at this year's conference, we still got to head to the Expo on Saturday and take in the sights, smells and tastes of farm-produced foods from all across Pennsylvania.  We're excited to share a few shots of our favorites from the day!  Enjoy!

Bumbleberry Farms Organic Honey

BumbleBerry Farms Honey Spreads, Available at Whole Foods



Homemade vinegars and dipping sauces, Pleasant Valley Farm 

Marmelades and mustards, Pleasant Valley Farm

Hand pulled egg noodles, Pleasant Valley Farm

Pirouette Cinnamon Pecan Bars by Barre

Pecan and Black Swan Chocolate Berry bars by Barre

This cow says Cabot Cheese is the real deal...

Cabot Cheese Horseradish Cheddar, available at Whole Foods and Giant Eagle

Adorable hand-painted glasses from Walnut Hill Winery

Walnut Hill Winery
Fresh greens with Sito's Mediterranean Dressing and liffits -- Find these at local markets and Khalil's

Vinegar-free, all-natural dressing 

Natalie's Natural Hemp Seed Jam
TONS of benefits to using and consuming hemp

Marshmallow Pretzels from Pretzel Crazy made in-house by one woman on a delicious mission!




Extremely cute idea for a wedding -- she does all kinds of wedding treats!

Sweet, delicious beets from Lucky Acres Farm

I want need one of these shirts. Buy a shirt, make a statement, make a difference. weaddup.com 

teehee.

Soups and sauces from Mike's Kitchen in Carnegie

Sweet and spicy cranberry mustard from Tait Farm 

That's some sharp cheddar...

Delicious cheeses galore cultivated in Scenery Hill, PA



Stu's BBQ! Some old friends from GoodTaste! Pittsburgh

KVASS Raw Probiotic Cultured Veggie Drink from Zu-Kay


We walked out of the conference with a few delightful goodies:

  • Tait Farms Cranberry Mustard
  • Pleasant Valley Farms Thai How & Sour Dipping Sauce
  • Grammy's Lard all-natural stain stick (SO COOL!)
  • Summer Mist sparkling wine from Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalk Hill, PA
  • Sito's Mediterranean Dressing
  • Bumbleberry Farms organic honey
  • Pleasant Valley Farms mustard



So keep it real and keep it local, all!  And we hope you'll join us in the Farm to Table revolution and buy local as often as possible!



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