Wednesday, December 11, 2013

TOP-ten: A Few of my Favorite Things & Giveaway

I've been silent and still for some time now - taking a hiatus from blogging until my life calms town a bit - but it's the season of giving and I believe it's about time I gave you some READING material!

This post is essentially my personal take on the perfect Pittsburgh foodie gift guide. I'm aptly naming it "Blake's Favorite Things" (brilliant, I know). Keep reading to check out the deets for our first giveaway in a while!

So here it is. A "TOP-ten" list of my very favorite things that should totally make it under your tree or in your favorite foodie's stocking this year.

#10 - Wasabi Peas from Trader Joe's (<$10)

#9 - P is for Pierogi apron from Garbella ($28)

#8 - A copy of Pittsburgh's Chef Table, written by my gal pals at EatPGH. Learn culinary secrets from your favorite local chefs! ($18)

#7 - Walnut Creek pickled red beet eggs available at McGinnis Sisters. Seriously, prepare to be addicted. (<$10)

#6 - A bottle of Wigle White Wheat Whiskey. This stuff is so incredibly smooth and light and works equally well in a mix or straight up. I order this whiskey every time I get a pecan smoke stack at Industry Public House. ($32)

#5 - A pack of City Dining Cards, because who DOESN'T love getting a discount on the food you already love? The '13-'14 edition is out now! ($20)

#4 - A gift card to Nicky's Thai Kitchen because I always, ALWAYS want a gift card to Nicky's Thai Kitchen. (choose your own value)

#3 - A gift basket of Jalepeno Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Vinegar (my two personal favorites...) from The Olive Tap available at Pittsburgh Public Market ($38)

#2 - Tickets to the Pittsburgh Brew 'N Chew on January 11 and perhaps a ride home from P.E.A.R ($35 or $15 for designated driver ticket, P.E.A.R rides vary based on destination)

#1 - Mmm speaking of beer, a growler full of of East End's Snow Melt Winter Ale, my very favorite winter beer!

So PID - take note. This is my wish list. And for the foodie on YOUR wish list, get them any of the above and they will certainly be pleased as punch.

Do you want to win a pair of tickets to #2 - the Brew 'N Chew - for yourselves? Here are the rules!

Earn 1 entry for liking GoodTaste! Pittsburgh (they're throwing the brew bash) on Facebook
Earn another (1) entry for following @GoodTastePGH on Twitter
Earn yet another (1) entry for sharing a link to the event on either social network
(Total of three entries possible)

Comment on this blog post and tell me how many entries you've made (I'll check - so be honest!) and how to contact you.  I will draw a winner on Thursday, December 19 at 9 p.m. and announce the winner on Friday morning.

Good luck and happy holiday shopping!!

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Duck and Cover

Unless you've been living under a very dense, very secluded rock, you're probably well aware that our fair town was graced with the presence of a very large bath toy this weekend.

The 40-foot rubber duck tediously made his way down the Ohio River and into our hearts on Friday afternoon. He was greeted by the thousands of eager Pittsburghers (present company included) who lined the riverbanks and bridges like pre-teens at a Beatles concert.

After posting a few photos on Facebook, I noticed a fairly sizable divide in the reception of this little, er... enormous fellow. Many are skeptical and confused at why in the world a giant rubber duck warrants such a spectacle. Sarcastic hashtags such as #whotheduckcares and #whogivesaduck abound.

At the festival, a friend of ours even overheard what I can only assume to be an incredibly religious couple angrily state "It's a disgrace, the way they're all worshiping it like a false God."

My response to those people had I been close enough to give one? Um no. There is no worshiping. We're all simply watching and scratching our heads and coming together to enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity. No candles were lit, no prayers were said at its non-existent feet. It's just plain fun.

So "Who cares?" I do. I care a lot. And not just because I happen to have an affinity to ducks.

Because this is Pittsburgh. We were the first US city to receive this ridiculously hilarious global phenomenon. We can't even get on Britney Spears' tour schedule, but we got the duck. That's a pretty big duckin' deal, I'd say. Pittsburgh is gaining some serious ground as a cool place to live, work and visit these days and I'm proud to be here to witness it unfold. We made national lists. We knit a bridge.

Heck, the Pirates are even rounding out a winning season. IT'S ALL COMING TOGETHER FOR US!

So while yes, it may be a little odd that we're all so darn excited about a giant rubber ducky floating down a river, its what the duck symbolizes that's really so exciting. We are going places. We are proud. We are Pittsburgh.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Get'cho Butt to Gaucho!

Remember that time that I used to be a blogger? HA.

People, I apologize. Wedding planning and wedding dieting are not necessarily conducive to free time to write or free calories to consume.

But FEAR THEE NOT. I have a few reviews stored and ready to go to keep your taste buds informed.

One of those is one that I've been excited to post for some time.  Sammies from Gaucho in the Strip!

Gaucho is not your typical restaurant. It's a takeout joint. You come in, you "ooh" and "ahhhh" at the enormous amount of character that's accomplished in such a tiny area (the cuteness-per-square-inch ratio is phenomenal), you order, you GTFU.

There is an adorable little patio adjacent where you can eat outside, but mostly you just want to take these sammies to a (very) private place and indulge because THIS reaction is fairly imminent:

 Animated Gif on Giphy

I ordered a Matambre (Flank Steak Sammie) and as I turned to head out and claim a seat under an umbrella, I spotted a Lazy Susan stocked with robust salsas. Four different kinds, all emitting their own unique, rustic aroma and all looking magnificently homemade. They were (in no order because i completely forget which was which...) a Chimmi Churri (traditional herbs and garlic), Pimenton (pepper and herbs), Ajo (roasted garlic) and Cebolla (carmelized onion). Obviously I had to try all four.

 When my sammie was delivered to me (in a glowing halo of light with angels singing somewhere off in the distance), I could already tell it was going to be good. The ciabatta bread was the perfect PANTONE 18-0940 and the oils from the grilled veggies and meat were being soaked in to just the perfect depth.

The meat was juicy and succulent. Easy to rip into with one bite, but not remotely brittle. I took a piece out of the sammie to eat with my fingers (like a true lady) and it was like I was eating candy. Delicious, cow-meat candy. It melted in my mouth and left a nice peppery aftertaste which did nothing but make me want more.

And those veggies. MY GOD. Those veggies. They were charred to perfection, the flavor was out of this world. They were the perfect complement to the steak.

Matambre (regular size), $10

Restaurant Info:
Gaucho Parrilla Argentina
1607 Penn Ave (in the Strip, near the 16th Street Bridge)

Tues - Sat 11:00 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Nope. There are four stools inside and a few tables outside, so come WAY before or well after noon to snag a seat at lunchtime.

Overall Opinion:
What I'm saying is, you gotta go here. You just gotta. Lunch break? Saturday in the strip? A nice quick dinner before a night on the town? It's a necessity. Bring your friends, but make sure you butt in front of them in line so you can order first. It's the best steak sammie I've ever had the privilege of putting in my mouth. They've got small plates that also look amazing and I cannot wait to go back and give them a try.

GAUCHO Parrilla Argentina on Urbanspoon

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Monday, July 15, 2013

I Just Had Brunch (feat. Shiloh)

Sundays in our household have recently evolved from "that dreaded day before Monday" to "that AWESOME day we get to have BRUNCH!"

A few F.O.R.T.S and I have started something of a Brunch Club here in the 'burgh and we're making really great headway. Yesterday, we headed to the tippy top of Mt. Washington to check out the brunch buffet at Shiloh Grill.

It such was a beyond gorgeous day, I could see Blawnox from the Overlook.

But, in all honesty, I wasn't there for the views. I was there for the booze.

To me, brunch is accurately defined by its combination of breakfast and lunch options... but not without alcoholic breakfast themed beverages. My a.m. alcohol of choice comes in the form of a Bloody Mary. And they do 'em right at Shiloh.  You have your choice of the Bloody we all know and love, or the Bacon & Egg Bloody which comes with a poached egg and - you guessed it - bacon. Right there in the drink. It's a meal in itself! I took the cowardly road and went with a classic Bloody which was robust and flavorful, fairly spicy, and definitely strong.

Bloody Mary
Your first Bloody Mary or frozen Mimosa, which I've heard is quite refreshing (I wouldn't know... oranges and all), is included in the $14 brunch price. After that, all Bloodies are 1/2 off on Sundays! How morbidly phenomenal!

After we took a few sips, we went upstairs to check out the scene. A small room held a few stations of cold apps (salmon & cream cheese, fruit & veggies), bread options (bagels, muffins & croissants), hot yummies (breakfast & lunch options alike) and an omlete station. I tried to go for an array...

Waffle with raspberry compote, locks and cream cheese, sausage gravy & biscuit

Mac & Cheese, Ham BBQ Slider, bacon

I was beyond satisfied with my meal! The Mac and Cheese was by far the shining star of both plates. They use big noodles which were cooked just past al dente and a variety of cheeses (I definitely tasted white cheddar in there...). The Ham BBQ slider came with a kick from the jalepeno cole slaw. My sausage gravy was certainly unique. It tasted a bit more herb-y than I'm used to and was definitely very creamy. I loved it! And the bacon... well the bacon. Crisped to perfection, a great thickness. It didn't really taste like it came from a chaffing dish at all.

The entire Brunch buffet will cost you $14 and that includes your first Bloody or Mimosa!

Restaurant Info:
Shiloh Grill
123 Shiloh St.
(412) 431-4000 

Mon - Thurs 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 1 a.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Same day not taken. Call way ahead or just show up.

Overall Opinion:
The service was great, the brunch buffet offered a fair and delicious selection, the drinks were strong and refreshing. I left there feeling like I got what I came for! Definitely a great place to check out for al fresca dining, brunch, and great cocktails.

Brunch Buddies Rating*:

*From here on out, all brunch posts will be rated by my entire Brunch Club on a score out of 5. We'll compare them to other brunches as opposed to other restaurants in general.

Shiloh Grill on Urbanspoon

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Sunday, June 23, 2013


You guys. This month, quite possibly the best AND worst thing that has ever happened, happened. A TCBY opened less then a mile down the street from my house.


This is PHENOMENAL for my taste buds. They will be singing songs of great joy for years to come! However, this is not so great news for my diet and my wallet. Oh well. They're going to have to deal with it.


I love the set up. You walk in, you take a moment to catch your breath at the glorious site...

you choose your size, you choose from a wide array of flavors of yogurt...

then you head over to a magical place called "the toppings bar." This is where it all starts to get fuzzy for me...

So if you live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and are in the mood for a cool, refreshing treat, head to Brentwood Towne Center and snag yourself some of The Country's Best Yogurt...IMMEDIATELY.

You'll be so glad you did!

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