Alive and Well…and Eating Burgers

Sorry for the long hiatus, folks. But I’m back in action! After an amazing Arizona road trip (more on that later) and a week to get reacquainted with east coast time, I think I’ve finally got back in the groove of things.

Fun fact – Today marks our one year anniversary in Pittsburgh! It’s been a great, tough, relaxing and stressful year all at the same time. To celebrate the occasion, Hubs and I played tourists for the weekend. Well, I guess it helped that my father-in-law (FIL) was in town to visit. It’s easier to ignite the fire when showcasing your new city to guests.

After arriving in town and finishing up work for the day, my boys (Hubs & FIL) and I headed to new burger joint Burgatory. I’ve heard rave reviews from co-workers and gotten surprised reactions when I’ve said I haven’t been there yet. And I also heard they had amazing veggie burgers and sinful milkshakes, so I was sold. Hubs and FIL love a good burger, and Burgatory delivered for all of us in taste tests. The boys appreciated the all natural and hormone-free beef, while I devoured a homemade veggie burger of cremini mushrooms, lentils, walnuts and cracked wheat. It’s so nice to get away from the typical soy burger. The taste was spot on, but I wished it was a bit firmer for that “meatier” bite. It was very filling though!

Phat Patti's Veggie Burger with napa slaw

To enhance the burgers, there are a plethora of topping choices. This is one of those burger joints where you get to pick each element of your meal – bun, protein, sauces, toppings, even a rub! It was a little overwhelming for me since I am Miss Indecisive when it comes to food, so I went with the menu’s already put together Phat Patti’s Veggie (smoked gouda, arugula, tomato and avocado wasabi). On the side was some O.K. napa slaw. I topped it off by sharing a spiked Espresso shake with Hubs. Is it sad when I prefer a drink without the alcohol?! I’m not much of a drinker…but I do love sugar.

This new restaurant still has some kinks to work out, like the uncomfortable hi-top chairs and disconnect of decor from their “hellish” title, but all in all it was a nice and quite indulgent dinner. Hey, we waited 45 minutes for a table on a Thursday night….it must be pretty good!

When asked what FIL wanted to see in Pittsburgh (beyond the great restaurants), Warhol sprung to his mind. So off we went to the Andy Warhol Museum, a 7-story shrine to a very interesting man. FIL grew up in the Warhol era, so he was “geeked” as he might say. I found the art, ranging from videos of football practice to naked transgender folks, to be quite unique and odd, just like the man himself, I guess. It was nice to learn about Warhol’s upbringing in the ‘Burgh and what inspired his various works (artist, producer, author, and so on), especially since I never had a reason to study him and only knew about infamous pop art stuff like the Campbell’s soup can.

Art...floating, shiny balloon pillows.

 

Crazy Andy and Hubs after several attempts for FIL to get a good (not blurry) picture of us!

Stay tuned to the blog for part 2 of our tourist travels through Pittsburgh. I promise I won’t leave you hanging for another 3 weeks!

Weeknight Out

Hubs is free (if only for a month), and it feels like we’re a normal, going-out-on-a-weeknight kind of couple! How exciting are we?

Our fantastic mid-week date consisted of the traditional dinner and a movie, but with a Julie spin, of course.

We started with a discounted dinner at Sun Penang (thanks Groupon!). This Malaysian restaurant offers an entirely separate dim sum menu which I sadly could not sample from since everything had shrimp paste in it. Really?! But fear not, veg friends, because I made a delicious dinner out of a couple of appetizers- it’s what I do best, after all.

Achat and fresh summer rolls with a heaping pile of peanut sauce

I dined on fresh and spicy summer rolls filled with lettuce, carrots, cilantro and tofu. And I could not stop dippin’ in that yummy peanut sauce. I also enjoyed a new to me dish: Achat, which are Malaysian pickled vegetables covered in a peanut sauce. Good thing I’m not allergic to nuts! This spicy and sweet dish offered exciting new flavors to my palate, and I loved the addition of pineapple, since the vegetables were quite spicy. This was the perfect cold dinner on a muggy summer night. Hubs said his Hunan Chicken was delicious, too.

After we seriously filled up our bellies, we headed to Schenley Park to enjoy an outdoor movie! One of the amazing things about Pittsburgh is that they are so many great activities going on, especially in the summer, and many of them are FREE! You know I’m in…I hate paying $10 for a cold, dark, loud movie theater. Soooo Cinema in the Park is a much better choice in my book, especially on a calm and comfortably humid summer evening.

PEOPLE! Cute dog alert: bottom right corner

The event began with relaxing blues music, and the movie kicked off a little after 9pm. Hubs and I, along with what felt like a thousand other people, really enjoyed Inception, even if I was continuously murmuring “what the f**k?” through most of the 2 and a 1/2 hours of screen time :-)

Spectacular views

 

Perfect Date Night!

Happy Friday!

It’s a shorter workday for me, the weekend is ahead and the sun in shining (for now, anyway). Happy Day! Besides all that, there are many more things putting a smile on my face:

1. Young athletic stars rising out of my new town in tennis and dance. A French Open junior boys winner and a top 20 finalist on So You Think You Can Dance in the matter of a couple weeks. Great publicity for Plum-ers (haha, Plum residents…)

2. GUACAMOLE! And MANGO SALSA! Together, of course. Oh, AND the first fresh peach of summer. Mmmmmm.

3. The great outdoors: Yesterday, our workplace held a staff picnic in a nearby park. It was supposed to rain, but it didn’t! It ended up being the perfect afternoon- delicious and plentiful food (veggie burgers & dogs!), great company, and a relaxing break from work. Some us went for a lovely 2 mile walk around beautiful Schenley Park (complete with quintessential Pittsburgh bridges), and then finished up the afternoon with a gentle yoga practice. outside. under a shady tree. with sun shining and children playing around us. YES.

4. Spending an hour at Trader Joe’s after a wonderful staff picnic. YES.

5. Hubs finishing his first year of medical school. Wooooo hoooooo!!!!

Happy Weekend to you :-)

A taste of Schenley Park

Dozen

One sunny, uncharacteristically nice Saturday in early May begged for me to be outside, perusing this new city of mine. I ended up browsing, shopping, and eating my way through Lawrenceville during their annual Blossom Tour. Many of L-ville’s local businesses offered free seed packets along the way as part of the Tour. How nice! If only I didn’t have a black thumb. Anyway, more shopping and eating stories…
I spent what felt like hours pouring over clever cards at WildCard. I walked by favorite dining spot Tamari. I peeked into art galleries galore. I sampled a Parisian delight at authentic bakery La Gourmandine (cute French-accented pregnant lady included!). And I was intrigued by the unusual selection of knick knacks at Divertido.
And then, I stumbled upon Dozen. Ok, ok, I’ve seen this place before and it’s a local Pgh cupcake chain, but I’d never been to the Lawrenceville location. Truth be told, I once had a disappointly dry and sad cupcake from Dozen before, so I second guessed my decision to eat lunch there. But I think almost every place/thing is worth a second chance, and I’m certainly glad I didn’t walk away from Dozen for good.
Who knew Dozen Bake Shop also offers brunch and lunch eats? I decided on a bbq seitan wrap for my meal.
Mmmm wrappy goodness!
And I couldn’t walk into a cupcake shop without a special treat. A vegan treat, that is!

Vegan "Mostess" cupcake

One thing I love about Dozen – vegan food offerings and daily vegan cupcakes. OK, that’s two things…sorry. I chose the right day to come in and try their vegan “mostess” cupcake. It was the perfect amount of chocolate, creamy filling, and ganache topping without being over the top. I’m a big sweets person, but I usually don’t hop on the cupcake bandwagon; however, this was totally worth it. I might have to come back on a Thursday to try their vegan coconut key lime, too. Yum!
 
Plan your week accordingly friends :-)
All together it was a perfect way to spend a solo Saturday afternoon.

Lunch, dessert, book, water, and perfect outdoor eating weather. What more does a girl need?!

Salty

Girls night out. Fantastic idea! What’s even better…girls night out at Salt of the Earth.
What’s not to love about this place? They offer a rotating seasonal menu with local fare, fantastic veg options that omnis will also love, unique cocktails, and oh yeah, AMAZING food. The worst part is probably the wait you’ll have to endure on a Friday or Saturday night. Just go on a Tuesday, like I did!
You’ll dine with other eager eaters at elegant, cafeteria style tables, while cooing over culinary combinations beyond your wildest dreams. Exhibits A, B, C and D:

Smooth. Boyd & Blair, Creme Yvette, rose, elderflower

Lettuce wraps with tofu, sheep’s yogurt, pickled ramp, lemon

Seitan baguette with mushroom pate, pickle, cilantro, jalapeno

White chocolate, lavender, honey, argan, pistachio
 
And my life is complete. SO ready to go back. Who’s taking me? :-)
 
P.S. Chef and owner, Kevin Sousa, is currently gracing the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine. Yep, he’s amazing.
P.P.S. OK, the real worst post about dining at Salt is the crick in your neck you might get from reading the giant menu board. Eh, you’ll get over it. Just pull up the menu on your smart phone (they even write the link on the board!)
:-)

Life

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but it’s been CrAzY around here! I had some major excitement when a friend from California was in my neck of the woods for work.

Wendy and moi

I had some late work nights, but also quality time spent with a far away friend for a few days. It was an exhausting week, but that’s probably because I also got some great, life changing news in the middle of it all…

I’m going back to school!

This fall, I will be enrolling in the Master of Arts in Food Studies program at Chatham University. I will be studying food culture, sustainability, agriculture, and so much more. I am nervous. excited. scared. ready. anxious. confident. I am doing it.

Maybe you'll see me here :-)

Aminals!

OK, I know the word is pronounced and spelled ‘Animals’ but sometimes it’s fun to talk like a little kid…
Anyway, Happy 2nd Birthday to our glorious cat daughter, Lucy! We love you more than cat-parents should probably love a pet :-)

our first halloween together

 

cuddling is our specialty

 

tv-watching, beer drinking lucy

And here are some weekend highlights in photos (yes, more animal pics :-))

Hungarian Folk Dancers at the Int'l Children's Festival

 

Petting Zoo at Int'l Children's Festival

 

Cheeeeese!

 

Hey friend.

 

I perused Oakland...

 

...and then I ate at the Taste of Oakland!

There is so much going on in Pittsburgh now that the weather is perking up!
This past weekend, I did a few fun things in Pgh neighborhoods:
- Started with a one hour, 20-mile spin class in my ‘hood :-)
- Visited the Monroeville Farmer’s Market for this first time this season
- Enjoyed the 25th Annual International Children’s Festival (without kids!)
- Sampled my way around Oakland at A Taste of Oakland
- Picked through oldies but goodies at the Regent Square neighborhood yard sale
- Thrifted at Thriftique
- Shopped in Shadyide
- Listened to a discussion on sustainability and farming with Anna Lappe
- Dined and grocery shopped at Whole Foods
…and that was just on Saturday!!

Whew! Hope you had a fun-filled weekend, too!

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