Thursday, March 3, 2011


Wow, It has been a while. In the past three weeks, I have laughed a lot, cried more, slept too much, slept too little, had the same section of my bathroom ceiling collapse twice in two days (it looks like number 3 is on its way), felt like an amazing musician, felt like the worst musician ever, sung more high As than I ever have in my entire life, almost lost my voice, almost lost my mind, declared open war on my uterus, seen friends I have not seen in FAR too long, missed seeing friends I love dearly here, been to the ballet, been to the symphony, lost someone else's house keys, found them, talked about love and music and beer.
And it has all been SO delicious.

Let's talk about Valentine's Weekend, which was an unstoppable whirlwind of deliciousness.

I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day anymore. I used to be religious about it. But not any more.
It's not like I feel embittered by singleness or jealous of other people's love affairs. I just no longer feel that adoration should be reserved for one awkward holiday in the bitterest month of the year.
Also, it tends to slip my mind, as was the case this year.

Kate, my amazing friend, got tickets to see the Pittsburgh Symphony play the finale of the Tchaikovsky festival, the Violin Concerto and 5th symphony.
To precede what was sure to be an amazing evening, we decided to get a really epic meal. After trying several restaurants in search of a place to sit before 10:45pm, it finally dawned on us that everyone else was celebrating Valentine's Day while we were celebrating Tchaikovsky. Priorities, people. Priorities.

Have you heard of Cioppino in the Strip District? It's a seafood restaurant with a surprisingly roomy bar.

And Crabcakes with Mac and Cheese

Here's a good sign: when you ask the waitress "which would you choose: the crabcakes or the"
and she replies "CRABCAKES" before you even get the rest of the sentence out. She was absolutely right.
Some great things about this: 
  1. They were perfectly seasoned. I'm a fan of seafood but not a big fan of Old Bay seasoning. Not too much in there, just enough. 
  2. These were definitely fried crabcakes but were not at all greasy or heavy at all. Just crunchy and tasty.
  3. A side of Mac and Cheese with crabcakes? I think that's genius. It was homemade, it was cheesy but not too sloppy, and a really lovely balance. A lovely, starchy balance.
But they weren't even the best part.

This was:
Beignets with Homemade Caramel, Raspberry, and Chococlate dipping sauces.

Chocolate Praline Torte with Toffeed Hazelnuts and a Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffle

Our awesome waitress told us that the pastry chef makes everything by hand in house. It was absolutely hands down the MOST DELICIOUS DESSERT TIME I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.
The Beignets were light and sweet, the dipping sauces rich and complimentary to the fried dough I dipped in them.  
Chocolate Praline Tart was dense, the topping crunchy, the Hazelnuts fun and surprising, the Dark Chocolate Espresso indescribable. We literally could not stop talking how happy we were about these desserts. 

Now, let's talk about something that was delicious is a completely different way.

I've never been a huge fan of Tchaikovsky. I always preferred to spend my Russian composer time on Prokovief or Shostakovich. But something about this performance definitely changed that. I wept openly during a French horn solo, got chills more than once, marveled at Manfred's exuberance and passion. I'm consistently pleased with how well the Pittsburgh Symphony plays, and I highly recommend you go see them play pretty much anything. Especially something with a lot of brass in it.
I wish I had more apt words to describe how this evening of music made me feel. I walked away even more in love with music, having shared that experience and a delicious meal with a friend that I love very much.

There's More.

I feel pretty strongly about supporting the arts in Pittsburgh, even if I don't necessarily understand them very well. Which is why I bought four tickets to the Pittsburgh Ballet and took other, smarter people with me. Because I'm not great with ballet. I've been looking forward to this ballet for several months, and I will be the first to admit how surprised I was by loving this production:

K accompanied me on the second leg of my culturally stimulating weekend. The staging was visually pleasant, the music (though recorded) interesting, the dancers mostly of the wrong ethnicity, but very good! Although there were some very pink, very tight pants.  Afterwards we ventured back to familiar territory.

Chicken burger with Pesto and Guacamole at the Sharp Edge Bistro

The new Sharp Edge Bistro downtown does not disappoint. There was also some really excellent stout.

Yeah. Happy Valentine's to me.

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