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Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: The Porch At Schenley

21 Jan

On Saturday, we ventured out to a new-to-us spot for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week 2014, a week-long event which occurs 4 times throughout the year.  During Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (PRW), restaurants around the city offer special fixed-price menus to entice foodies and non-foodies into their establishments.  This season, PRW ran from January 13th-19th so unfortunately by the time you read this it will be too late to take advantage.  But spring is right around the corner, I promise! 🙂

Pittsburgh-Restaurant-Week-Porch-At-Schenley

We chose The Porch at Schenley, located in the heart of Oakland right on Schenley Plaza.  I remember when this restaurant was built and every time we would drive by (which is often!), I would make a mental note that I wanted to try it out.  On Saturday, things kind of fell into place because The Porch is close to home, we didn’t need a reservation even though it was a Saturday night, and they support Buy Fresh Buy Local which is near and dear to my heart.  Why would I spend money at a restaurant which isn’t invested in our region?  Why do you?!

The ambiance was…different.  Sort of an industrial/dairy vibe at times, but they also had these awesome bay doors overlooking the Plaza that open during nicer weather.  The crowd was very collegiate (obviously, Schenley Plaza is nestled between Carnegie Mellon and Pitt with Carlow, Chatham, and Duquesne just beyond), bustling with college students.  Fun fact:  You can use your university meal plan flex funds there.  Basically, we were surrounded by college students ordering delicious looking pizzas and profesh types sitting in larger groups towards the middle of the restaurant.

Since we rarely get a chance to go out anymore, we decided to take advantage of some appetizers! Perhaps my favorite part of the dinner was this sweet potato gnocchi:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ confit pork belly, apples, dates, sage, and a brown butter cream sauce

Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ confit pork belly, apples, dates, sage, and a brown butter cream sauce

Just wow.  I basically wanted to lick the plate clean.  I mean, the brown butter cream sauce was just heavenly; the whole combo just worked!

Pittsburgh-Restaurant-Week-Porch-At-Schenley-Cornbread

We also ordered this cornbread.  I cut us 2 pieces, but Christina spit hers into her napkin (this somehow doesn’t effect me at all anymore since she is such a picky eater) after the first bite.  Cornbread fail! It was not very good at all!  The server was beyond great about it and took it off of our bill without us even asking.  I don’t really know what was going on with it, but the taste and texture just weren’t for us.

So, onto the PRW-menu with this roasted butternut squash soup:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup w/ Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Creme Fraiche, & Carmelized Apples

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup w/ Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Creme Fraiche, & Carmelized Apples

You guys, I wasn’t a huge fan of this either but it was edible.  It felt a bit heavy on the nutmeg maybe?  I felt like there was flavor, but not much depth of flavor if that makes sense.  Is it wrong that I was comparing it to the one at Panera Bread?  Do I lose foodie street cred for that? Whatever, that’s ma favorite squash soup.  The caramelized apple settled to the bottom of the bowl, so I tried to get at least one with each bite because they were awesome!  At this point, I was a bit nervous about the main course because the soup was ‘meh’ and the cornbread was ‘blah.’

But, redemption!

Smoked Berkshire Pork Shank w/ Fingerling Potatoes, Heirloom Carrots, Dates, and Mustard Greens

Smoked Berkshire Pork Shank w/ Fingerling Potatoes, Heirloom Carrots, Dates, and Mustard Greens

The mustard greens were mysteriously absent, but no complaints here!  Everything was sooooooooo tasty, the smoked Berkshire  paired so well with the sauce and the dates and the veggies.  Berkshire is a breed of pig, not a style of cooking, if you were wondering.  🙂  The above picture doesn’t even do it justice because it was a HUGE chunk of meat on a HUGE bone!  We totally could’ve shared one.

I wasn’t sharing this at all:

Vanilla Bean Creme Brule w/ Marinated Figs & Mint

Vanilla Bean Creme Brule w/ Marinated Figs & Mint

I don’t really get the mint because it was just a little leaf and obviously I wasn’t going to chew on it, but this was yummy!  The figs were outrageously good!!  Yay figs!!

All-in-all, we found The Porch At Schenley to be nice but next time we will probably hit it up for lunch and order one of those pizzas that everyone was ordering.  That many people couldn’t be wrong!

Past Pittsburgh Restaurant Week posts:

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Fall 2013:  Habitat

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Grunt work ♥

12 Apr

Since Easter, it has been work, work and more work!

Things are really moving along with my cloth diapering service, Changin’ Time.  The calls/inquiries are rolling in and we are trying to check – check – and double check everything so that this process is painless.  We are pretty much awesome.

Today was a lot of grunt work though.  Part 1 Phase 1 I feel like, of a broad marketing campaign that will start small and then escalate.  But like I said, today was Part 1 Phase 1…

Lord, I feel like we drove around EVERYWHERE today.  But, it wasn’t so bad really.  Logistically, it makes the most sense for us to target our main marketing areas, so in a few days we are going to do this all over again but with different types of businesses.

It’s actually pretty effing cool to be hitting the streets talking to people about cloth diapers and getting them as excited as you are about your business.

It was so nice out today…chilly but the kind of blue skies that Pittsburgh only really sees in the spring.

I love Bloomfield and wish I could have taken more shots of it today, but we were busy zip-zapping around getting our work done.

I did capture this growing over a fence in an alley…

lovely ♥

Pretty sure she♥ had this place in mind all along, because we “happened” to strategically pass by the Harris Grill on our way towards home.  I’ll let you wonder how it went until tomorrow….

Night, dolls 😉

Hookah Hangout

11 Mar

Have you guys ever smoked hookah?  Last night was my first real hookah experience and it was pretty neat.  After a family birthday party, a few of us decided to try something different and head into Oakland to go to the Sphinx Cafe Egyptian Hookah Bar.  (Actually she♥ and I were the only first-timers there.)  The hookah bar is located in an old church, the inside just being an open room with a bunch of tapestries and cushions to sit on.

                                         (source)

Hookah is an Indian form of smoking tobacco, which uses a tall water basin that cools the smoke before you suck it through this long hose.  This isn’t like what Americans consider tobacco, though.  Because of the way it’s smoked, its not harsh at all and the tobacco comes in flavors like mango, pear, strawberry, etc.

The average hookah session lasts for about 40 minutes (so says Wikipedia), but between the five of us, we smoked two bowls of tobacco and it lasted for a few hours.  Online, there are mixed reviews about the health effects of smoking hookah vs smoking cigarettes.  Many people believe that because you smoke more tobacco in a hookah than you would if you smoked cigarettes, so hookahs are really bad for you.  However, many believe that because the process of smoking the tobacco it is so indirect – that the health effects are much less.  I will say that based on my experience of being a social cigarette smoker for years, that today my lungs do not feel like I smoked last night.  If I smoke even one cigarette, I am coughing and complaining about my lungs for days.

I’m not too worried, because its not something that I plan on doing regularly…

But it was pretty fun and relaxing.  It was also a nice (& cheaper) alternative to a bar.  We tried some kind of melon and then a peach – both very fruity and mild.  There is another hookah bar on the South Side of Pittsburgh, which I haven’t been to yet.  Her♥ cousin told us that they have couches to sit on instead of floor cushions.  By the time we left, my body was sore from sitting on the floor and the couches would have been nice!

It was also a great way to usher in her♥ birthday after midnight! 

♥♥♥Happy 26th Birthday Christina♥♥♥

 

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