Sunday, November 27, 2011

I've made several huge, tiny (delicious) mistakes

Mistakes were made.

A Carnitas Burrito from Chicken Latino before a staging rehearsal.
I had to run around stage like a Sri Lankan savage with burrito belly. Not only is this thing HUGE, but I also made the mistake of dousing it with what I thought was tomatillo sauce. It was Green Chili sauce. Mouth. On. Fire.

Chicken Oregano from Salonika
Also consumed before a staging rehearsal with similar results to the burrito. But this time I was running around as a Russian Immigrant (anyone coming to see Messiah?). 
A little backstory: Salonika is right near Heinz Hall. When my last boyfriend and I would go see the PSO, he would always try to take me to Salonika, which he loved, and I would refuse because it's kind of a disgusting looking hole in the wall from the outside. Several years later, I went to lunch with Cody and he suggested we go to to this place where I had Avgolemono Soup and lemony potatoes and my life changed. So there you have it. Salonika: The ONE thing my exboyfriend was ever right about.

Two of these at brunch
I don't even remember what it was. Some sort of bourbon cider with a cinnamon stick at Park Bruges with Thrill. We had to take a nap after this.

A pint of Ben and Jerry's Half Baked
I stayed home from work with a migraine and this was the only thing I ate all day. Because I'm apparently 12 years old.

A bacon mushroom burger from Winghart's in Market Square.
It was Veteran's Day and there were only 4 of us in the office. So I decided to treat myself to my favorite burger in Pittsburgh. For the rest of the day, I was covered in a bacon sheen and smelling of burger.
A little backstory: I stumbled upon this burger joint with Kenny the afternoon before we left for Dewey. We met a ridiculously bearded waiter who introduced himself to us as "Shipwreck" then kissed my hand. We ate these burgers in the sunshine together. It was literally the perfect lunch and the perfect beginning to the most perfect week of my life. So yes, I recommend you go to Winghart's in Market Square. But hands off Shipwreck. He's mine.

I have no regrets.

More and More Birthdays

We continue down Birthday Lane, with 4 stops.

1. Happy Birthday, Shaira:

My invitation to this event was an interoffice message from Shaira that said "What are you doing November 5th? We are going out for my birthday and you can't say no." This kind of directness is exactly why I love Shaira. So out we went: Me, Shaira, Ruby, Aidan, and Jessica. A delightfully odd mixture of personailties, but we always manage to have the most fun.
We went to Nicky's Thai Kitchen on the North Side, where we had some of the best Thai food and some of the worst waiters.

Crab Ragoon, Spring Rolls, and Beef Pad Phet, which I ordered at a 9 and yes, I ate the whole thing. My face was on fire.

Shaira, you are a joy in my life. I am so happy Aidan forced me upon you.

2. Happy Birthday, KB:

What do you get the man who has everything? 
Lunch at Capital Grille downtown, probably.
This was fun because I got to call KB and work and make a very important lunch meeting with him, Mr. Bickerstaff and PNC Wealth Management.
More waiter douchery, but still, we had lunch at Capital Grille. So all in all, pretty great.
Crab Cake Burger and Truffle Fries. 

KB, I do not know what I would do without you. You make me laugh, and you know how to put me in my place. I love you more every day.

3. Happy Birthday, Aidan:

Round 2 of work buddy birthdays takes us to Ichiban for sushi, hibachi, and the most racist rendition of Happy Birthday any of us has ever heard

Shrimp and scarrops..... I mean, Scallops.

OH! OH! OH! Also! As is traditional (sort of) I made a cookie cake!

Aidan, Your obsession with grapes is both endearing and unsettling. We are the best BFAW. No matter what the newsletter says. 

4. Happy Birthday, Leonardo:

I'll be honest, I never set out to celebrate Leonardo DiCaprio's birthday, but it happened. Whether I wanted it to or not.

We obviously celebrated hard. Cranberry Brie with Crostini, Cuban with Sweet Potato Fries, Don Ho Burger with Onion Rings. Chocolate Bourbon Pie, Cherry Almond Cheese Pie, and a free brownie that the waiter threw in because he knew we would tip him more if he did. Or possibly he just sensed how much we love to eat.

Leonardo, I have nothing to say to you. But I will say this: I like learning new things about K because it always takes me by surprise. For example: She knows, without being asked or reminded, when Leonardo DiCaprio's birthday is. And she loves Don Ho. Who friggin' knew.


The perfect Saturday morning involves two things for me: making brunch and seeing my friends. I was lucky enough to have two such Saturdays in a row.

Brunch 1: with KB and Janna
Janna, a DNY regular, came back for a Halloween weekend visit and I got to see her for an all too brief brunch. KB brought scrapple (WHAT!) which I have never eaten before despite having been raised in the wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, or as I am now going to refer to it: The Scrapple Belt. Cinnamon French Toast Sticks, Pumpkin Waffles, Sausage and Bacon also made an appearance. 

Brunch #2: with Kurishi
Taking advantage of a gorgeous fall Saturday, we walked down the *ahem* historic Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield in search of.... whatever. Three pastries, two Cafe au Laits, and one pound of sweet sausage later, we found ourselves with the makings of this:

Sweet sausage and spinach scramble. That thing on top of my mug is a lemon biscotti.
Which we consumed after a quick stop in the park to share a slice of pumpkin bread.
I really like this picture.

Let's do brunch.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I love birthdays. I love the opportunity to make a complete silly fuss over a friend for an entire day, I love to choose and give presents, I love to make or consume extravagant meals. The following is the dramatic representation of mine and K's quest to celebrate as deliciously as possible. Never underestimate our ability to consume more food than is proper or decent.

(Because my newly found narcissism has completely taken over my life, I was unable to write this post earlier because every time I went to work with the pictures, I was completely distracted by how fucking beautiful we are.)

Completely different but both alike in dignity, our birthday celebrations were lavish and memorable affairs. They were both marathon meals, masterpieces, works of art. Enjoy.

Act I: K Day
Remember September? Yeah me either. But I do remember the day in September where I got dressed up and went to NOLA with my bestie for her birthday, during which we consumed 4 animals I had never eaten before.
Both K and I have had supremely successful meals at NOLA (the crown jewel of the Market Square dining scene IMHO): My successes are a series of lunches, too many of which for me to actually keep track of; hers was a romantic date with her little latin lupe lu. It was a perfectly gorgeous day so we requested to be seated outside where we could enjoy the sunshine.

Scene 1: Appeteasers

We started with a round of drinks and progressed to the first pairing of exotic animals:
Fried alligator in some sort of spicy aioli and frog legs in lemon bacon butter.
The alligator tasted like a chicken that ate a fish before it jumped into the frying pan; the frog legs were tender and smothered in bacon, and therefore perfect.  But this was only the beginning.

Scene 2: Nobody Expects the Flatbread Inquisition

A crawfish and chorizo flatbread. And more drinks. Seriously Fabulous.
Prior to this, the closest I had ever come to crawfish was when a giant one brushed against my leg in Horse Creek at Rockmere. That was frightening. This was delicious.

Scene 3: The Main Event

When we called our overworked waiter back for the grand finale, we pulled out all the stops.

I had stuffed quail, another first for me, with wild rice and cranberry pilaf in a port wine sauce.
You can tell the disection was a little perplexing for me. Worth it.

K went for Seafood Jambalaya, a medley of chicken, chorizo, shrimp, scallops, rice, and magic.
 Look at that smile.

After which we spent an absurd amount of time taking pictures and absolutely enjoying ourselves.

 Because we are old ladies, we went home to snuggle with Bruce after the festivities.  An evening well spent.

Look at all the pretty pictures

We only had to wait one short month before


Did you know that I am Irish and that I love drawing ridiculous parallels? I am and I do. We vacillated for quite a few weeks between going out for my birthday or making something bonkers at home. Eventually we realized that the most logical option for my birthday celebration was to go to the Claddagh Pub for claddagh rings and claddagh (onion) rings. Because that shit is funny to us.
I made an offhand comment to K one day that I dislike claddagh rings because they are tacky and ugly. Just to be contrary, she became determined to prove to me that they could be tasteful and quite beautiful. Only with K is the determination to make me eat my words an endearing quality. Because she knows how much I like eating.

Scene 1: AppeTWOsers?

We conducted the ceremonious exchange of claddagh rings over the cleverly named claddagh rings, which are called onion rings every where else in the universe.

Look how pretty! Rings and Rings.
For those of you counting at home, K and I now have two matching rings. Three if you count the onion rings.

Scene 2: Happiness is a Warm Pie... or two

What do we do when we can't decide between shepherd's pie and chicken pot pie? We order small portions of each and split them. Then everybody wins.

And Magnar's Hard Cider, which we are obviously delighted by.

Scene 3: Mac to the Future

I feel like if we weren't so charming and adorable, our tendency to order several course meals painstakingly slowly would annoy every single waiter/waitress in greater Pittsburgh. We ended with a skillet(?) of bacon mac and cheese, and didn't leave a single bite.
 This one was completed by a platonic sleepover and Bethday cakes for breakfast the next day.

More peektures

Our birthday celebrations were  representative of us, and amalgamations of our favorite things: decadent dishes and spending time with each other.

Not to beat a dead horse or anything but, I love me some Kurishi. She is the yin to my yang. She loves me when I'm mad, or sad, or drunk, or weird, or raucous, or boring. She listens to my nonsense, and talks sense back. She is asleep in the papazan next to me right now.

Happy birthdays to us.

Birthday Presents

For my birthday, I got everything I wanted.

1. The BA B-day 10k.
This is just braggodocio, but it's my blog and I'll brag if I want to.
Like so many things in my life, this idea was inspire by KP and it was one of my (many) gifts to myself. KP ran 10 miles on the morning of her birthday in July. When she was recounting the experience at her birthday party, her exact words were "It wasn't easy and it definitely wasn't pretty, but now I look back and I know I DID THAT". 
I'm not nearly so advanced, but I figured I could do 6.2 miles, which is about a mile longer than I have ever asked myself to do before.
I went to the gym before work on my birthday and, while listening to Mahler 3, pounded through 6.25 miles in 73 minutes.
It was not easy, and it was NOT pretty. I huffed and puffed and sweated and grunted my sloppy way to the finish line. But I. DID. IT.
Of course, I then had to work a full day, but my coworkers bought me doughnuts and they all sang to me and it was completely worth it.
So here's to me and my Awesomeness. Cheers.
But enough about me.

(Warning, the next two entries are plagued with extremely poorly taken photos. The only excuse I can offer is that it was MY FREAKING BIRTHDAY SO LEAVE ME ALONE.)
2. Family Love and Flopping Ween
Who doesn't want to get serenaded by a saxophone duet and then take jello shots in a dimly lit strip club in a seedy section of town while watching a naked yawning gay man vaguely swirl his hips with a decided lack of luster?
KB and Sara both play saxophone incredibly well and they gave Kenny and I a front row seat for their first performance together. Bravo!

I'm convinced that the reason we went to a gay strip club was so that now I can't get a pass on "Never have I ever been to a gay strip club" when we play Kings. At least I've still never eaten KFC.

3. Casbah
Before this year, I had a list of the three most delicious meals I have ever eaten. Now, the list in closer to 10 and this is one of them.
Thrill and Aaron got us a reservation as Casbah, a restaurant in Shadyside that has always been surrounded in a cloud of mystery for me. I had never heard anything about the actual cuisine there but everytime I talked to someone who had eaten there, their eyes just sort of got misty and they burbled about how amazing it was. Interest Officially Piqued.
So we dressed up, had a cocktail, and gorged ourselves on no fewer than 8 different kinds of animal:

Sea Scallops with Prosciutto, Calamari and Rock Shrimp, Lamb Shank, Duck Breast, and Lobster Ravioli with Veal.

I consider myself something of a calamari connoisseur, and this was at the top of the list. The three of us passed each of our entrees back and forth until not a single bite was left. The cherry on this delicious sundae was the homemade salted caramels complete with a chocolate scripted birthday wish. Perfection.

After which we adjourned to their house for some of my favorite activities: sitting in the parlor listening to records, enjoying whiskey and
Prantl's Burnt Almond Torte.

I won't lie, I ate almond torte for breakfast for the next several days. I'm going to have to make this a tradition.

4. Birth-toven Day:
Mimosa, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Crabcake BLT at Habitat + Beethoven 3 + Cody Sweet = success

Cody got us tickets to see the PSO play Beethoven 3, and came with me despite the facts that 1) he doesn't really like Beethoven and 2) had all ready been forced to endure it twice that weekend. Having never seen Beethoven 3 live before, despite how much I love it, I greatly appreciate his selflessness. I had also never been to Habitat despite the fact that it is in a building owned by the company I work for, and is literally yards away from where I spend 5 days a week. The food was excellent and the concert was divine; I squealed quietly with delight more than once. I'm hoping for many a repeat of the symphony/Habitat combination.

5. A Homemade Meal:

I love being taken care of and I love having a fuss made over me. When done correctly, these two things usually manifest in perfectly cooked comfort foods.
Perfectly Rare Beef Roast, Spaghetti Squash, Garlic Mash, and Roasted Brussell Sprouts
Thank you, Thrill and Aaron and Kelly and Katie.

6. Flowers:
It may be perpetuating an antifeminist stereotype but I love getting flowers. It makes me feel like a special princess.

In addition to the amazing meal pictured directly above, they got me a bouquet and a sea salt caramel dark chocolate bar, which I later consumed in its entirety in one sitting after a particularly grueling rehearsal.

Also, O sent me white roses. To my work. On my birthday. Every single woman in the office squealed when they showed up.

7. A Plethora of Popcorn:
K had a huge box of 15 different varieties of gourmet popcorn delivered to me, also at work. So freaking good.
Thanks to the ineptitude of the Popcorn Factory shipping department, I got this a week after my birthday. A giant box covered in blue marker, with a sticker on the outside that said "I don't know who remembered your birthday, but it probably wasn't Fhdwgads". Treat for me, I got to keep receiving presents at work a full week AFTER my birthday. I felt incredible special and my snack drawer overfloweth. That's not a problem any more because you better believe I have been eating popcorn like it's my job.

8. Power Lunch:
One of the the things I love about working downtown is my proximity to Kenny. Among the reasons I love Kenny is that he tells me I'm pretty and gives me kisses, which is pretty much all I've ever wanted. Also, he takes me to lunch at McCormick and Schmick's, where I get this beauty:
Ahi Tuna Nicoise.
Isn't is gorgeous? It tasted pretty awesome, too.

9. Trip to Philly:

Some highlights
~I ate a burger made of elk! @ Teresa's, the restaurant where my dreams come true.
~Leisurely breakfast made at O's house. I've never been able to pinpoint exactly why, but making breakfast at home with someone else is one of most soothing and pleasurable experiences I can imagine. The road to my heart lead directly through Breakfast.
~The Gryphon (duh). PBJ on yummy bread.
~Sour Ale! If Sour Ale were an acceptable breakfast beverage, I would be the happiest person alive.
~Lorenzo's Pizza. There is some pretty good pizza in Pittsburgh but it has been years since I've had a slice of REALLY GOOD PIZZA. and this one was the size of my head. We ate them while walking around South Street in Philly before going to the mosaic labyrinth.
~Home Brew and a delicious chicken dinner chez Buozis. Mike made a dry rub chicken, Allison made perfectly simple sweet potatoes, and we each built our own salad. We got to enjoy one of the last beautiful nights of the year on their back patio. All around delightful.
~Chocolate and Almond croissants.
~Chorizo and Avocado pizza at Christopher's
~Getting to see O.

10. My Edible Self
This one is a little ridiculous.
K is a woman of many many talents. She can quote movie lines after one viewing, she has a knack for making perfect similes, and has a beautiful alto voice. One of the stranger talents that she is developed is personifying the people in her life through recipes, or, as she has so punnily called them:

She has been doing this for a little while now, and I was simultaneously pleased and a little offended that my essence had yet to be translated into a dish. "I just cant decide what you should be" she said "I can't narrow it down." Then one day, the universe threw her a bone and handed her these beautiful babies:
These are blondies with white and dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes and hazelnut. They are a combination of a bunch of wonderful things made more wonderful by their togetherness. They are versatile and sweet and warm and just a little bit complicated. They are my edible self.
On top of all that the corresponding blog post (You're in my heart, you're in my stomach) is the most economic and touching summary of my connection to K. 
I have never been more flattered.

11. Zucchini
Shaira and her sister Ruby gave me two HUGE zucchini. Which is perfect because I love all squash and I love local produce.
I used them to make two unprecedented and somewhat unscripted recipes: Zucchini Fritters and Zucchini Muffins.
The Fritters are topped with the plum vinaigrette, an idea which I had many moons ago and just never follow through on. The fritters a little crisp on the outside, the vinaigrette was tangy and sweet, and the sour cream blended it all together.
The muffins were sort of a departure. I got the idea in my brain to replace the sugar in the recipe with molasses, and basically completely modified a normal muffin recipe to accommodate it. They were dark and moist and spicy and absolutely nothing like what I expected.

Zucchini: The gift that keeps on giving.

My friends,
I have waited my whole life for a love like yours.
You have given me so many things. You make me smile, you make me laugh, you make me feel like the queen of the freaking world.

I love each and every debauch one of you.