Friday, August 13, 2010

Around the World in Pittsburgh

I slipped a little bit last month but things have been busy (which is good!) and I've got lots of stuff to share (which must be why my waist has expanded).

My guy and I decided to try to salvage the time we had together this summer before Molly came back and do something fun and romantic! He knew I'd always wanted to see the Andy Warhol Museum so he proposed a trip to Pittsburgh. I was excited to plan the trip and we ended up saving a bundle on a nice hotel via Hotwire. I've heard you can do well with airfare as well but we've yet to try that option. It felt like an adventure not knowing where we'd end up but we scored a room at the Omni William Penn and I'd been drooling over that place so I was thrilled! The room had a pitiful view but the location was great! Downtown Pittsburgh is lovely and quite clean! The people were nice and there was a vast selection of things to see. We walked to and from the museum on Saturday from our hotel which was lovely. We stopped at the Pittsburgh Popcorn Co and got a small bag of buffalo and ranch flavored goodness. We sampled a few other interesting popcorn flavors. The guy behind the counter said that the Chicago blend is very popular. It's a mixture of cheddar and caramel corn. I was skeptical but the sample was delightful! We crossed the Andy Warhol Bridge to and from the museum and then decided to hunt down some dinner. Our hotel had a great issue of a local magazine that had a cover story on cheap ethnic eats! Chris and I had a good time deciding which places to try. We went Vietnamese and Peruvian. We saw several of the other places in the article while we were exploring the city and we already can't wait to plan another trip back so we can try some tacos made with fresh shells and ingredients.

Our first evening in the city, we thought the write up on lemongrass tofu sounded too good to pass up in the magazine so we headed up to the Lawrenceville neighborhood and went to Tram's Kitchen.

Very tucked away but also quite worth the hunt! The menu had a great selection of Vietnamese fare and was so vegetarian friendly! Almost anything on the menu was fair game. Chris and I split an order of lemongrass tofu and rice (delicious!) and we each got a bowl of serious soup! I went with the satay which was full of flavor without being overrun by spice.

It's not very big but the service is excellent and the food was very satisfying. If you do decide to check it out, please note that it is a cash only establishment.

The following night took our palates across the city and across the globe to La Feria in Shadyside. This is a much more upscale neighborhood with everything from an Apple Store to Lilly Pulitzer. You can get your shop on and then relax over a comforting dinner of Peruvian rice and beans that will allow your wallet to recover. While you're waiting for your food, you can check out the lovely selection of handcrafted items that they have for sale. They have a daily special everyday that features some sort of a combination of rice, beans and grains served along with garlic rice, French bread and salad. On weekends, they have two each of vegetarian and meaty cassaroles. I went with the tacu tacu which was black beans and rice topped with some fried banana.

The combination of flavors from the casserole mixed with the banana was wicked awesome. The salad was nicely dressed but I could have done without the powdered parm. Chris really loved my dish. He said it was the best thing he had the whole time we were there. He was thrown off by the whole banana thing but they were draped over the top and could have easily been removed (and given to me!).

We really enjoyed exploring the city and expanding our world cuisine experiences. Dinner for two at both places averaged about $25. We decided to drop a little extra at La Faria for dessert...

Housemade pastry with dulce de leche. Totally awesome!

Pittsburgh was bursting with city pride and ethnic goodness. The Strip District is loaded with various markets and grocers from all over the world including the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company.

We topped off both nights that we were there with a little visit to The Church Brew Works.

It's a century old church in Lawrenceville that has been renovated on the inside and transformed into a brewery!

They have a great selection of different brews. We went with the sampler the first night we were there and for $16, we were able to taste a 3 oz. glass of every different beer they had on tap (eight in all). We had an early dinner on Saturday so by the time we arrived later at the Church, we were in the mood for a snack. We went with the traditional perogies and they were insanely good! Probably the best perogies I've ever had actually!

The next Pittsburgh blog will focus on the most important meal of the day! We started off each morning with even more local awesome!

La Feria
5527 Walnut St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Tram's Kitchen
4050 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Church Brew Works
3525 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

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