Friday, March 11, 2011

Pittsburgh springtime staycation

Have you ever eaten something so delicious and mind-blowing that you (almost) didn't want to finish it?  Then, when it was gone, you couldn't stop thinking about it?  And it wasn't even dessert but the main course?  That was my Thursday evening dinner experience.  But, let me tell you about the rest of the day first.

Though I'm a few years out of college, summer and spring break will always signal vacation time for me.  A friend and I originally planned a trip out of the area for a few days but prior commitments grounded us here.  Discussing how there are so many things we still haven't seen/done in this sweet little city, even after being here for years and growing up a mere 35 miles away, we opted for a Pittsburgh stay-cation -- the basic idea being to enjoy local attractions that may be overlooked in your everyday life.  So, stay and play we did!  First stop: the Strip District.

The streets of Penn Avenue and Smallman Street are known as the food mecca of Pittsburgh.  You'll find vendors peddling fresh food of every ethnic origin, square miles of cheap Steelers and Penguins (Pirates? TBD) merchandise, and restaurants ranging from total dive to upscale chic within the same block.  Being foodies, we popped into a few stores where I picked up fresh spinach fettuccine and amaretti cookies (to be enjoyed this weekend).  And we spotted oh-so-tiny chick salt and pepper shakes perfect for approaching spring.

Still trying to find a link to these on the web somewhere, but the picture will do for now.  When we'd had enough shopping for food, we headed to the famed DeLuca's for an early lunch.  A quintessential diner known for its slightly greasy yet epic breakfasts.  I had a pepperoni and cheese omelet -- the amounts of pepperoni were indeed epic -- and tucked that idea away for future breakfast ideas.

After lunch we headed to the Heinz History Center to get to know our humble city and the surrounding area even better.  If you're planning a visit to Pittsburgh or are a resident who hasn't yet been there, definitely put this museum on your list!  The space is unique and far from boring, loaded with great exhibits and real pieces of Pittsburgh's heritage -- my favorite part being the Mario Lemieux display.  What a hockey player!  At the Heinz ketchup display, we had a pickle-packing race, which I won.  Future career perhaps?

We took turns pretending to play for the Penguins and then parked ourselves in rocking chairs looking out over the soggy city for a solid hour, just chatting, rocking, and generally being the old ladies that we are.

Some quick shopping in the South Side and thus began our dinner adventure.  Our original destination was going to be Dish Osteria & Bar, a place neither of us had eaten.  What's that saying?  "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray."  Sounds about right.  Buckets of rain, no parking within four blocks, and a restaurant cleverly hidden among row homes made it tough to find.  The final nail in the coffin was that the wait for two would've been THREE HOURS!  No way!  We'll be back, Dish, but on a night when the weather is cooperating and with reservations.

We headed back over the river to the East Liberty area where we settled on Spoon as our restaurant of choice.  We snatched the first parking spot we found, which was attached to a complex of stores and restaurants.  The parking guard not-so-tactfully mentioned that it was only for customers of said complex.  Fearful of towing, we sulked into the closest restaurant, muttering things about tiny power-hungry rent-a-cops...

Euphoria, thy name is Plum.  Full name Plum Pan Asian Kitchen is a relatively recent addition to the restaurant scene in the Penn Circle/East Liberty area of Pittsburgh.  Laura had experienced the joy of this place before, but it was new to me.  Since my trip to LA last summer, I've been dying to have sushi again.  Well, my prayers were answered last night with some of the best sushi!  Melt-in-your-mouth sushi.  Lost-for-words-other-than-expletives sushi.  I also highly recommend the pan-fried vegetable dumplings, too.  All of this and my bill was under $20 including tip.  Bonus!  I will be taking everyone I know here, and you should check it out, too. 

So, the night ended with a satisfying meal and reflecting on a very fun day with the best company.  And now, after that fantastic little mid-week vacation, it's back to work.  At least it's Friday :)  Enjoy your weekend, snow, rain, or sunshine, and remember today is your last to vote for the Irish food you'd most like to see next week!  Plus, I'll have two more cooking for one meals ready to share.  TGIF!
One Year Ago: Baked zucchini chips

1 comment:

  1. 1) I have sat in those same rocking chairs - amazing! I also felt like an old lady but decided I must have a porch with those chairs in my life at some point.

    2) They are viscious about parking in that lot. The rent-a-cop has also hounded me a few times. It wasn't always like that, they seem to have only recently installed these guys!