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Spiced From The Strip

17 Apr

Dinner was Strip District-inspired last night.

If you’re not from Pittsburgh, you are probably asking yourself what racy, scandalous inspiration that is.

The Strip District is a wonderful area which connects to downtown Pittsburgh.  It’s called “the Strip” because its just a little “strip” of property that runs parallel to the river.  It’s actually the historic location of one of Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mills, ALCOA aluminum production HQ, and Westinghouse’s first factory to product air breaks.  I just love history.  At the turn of the century, the Strip become the center of produce in Pittsburgh.  The city’s main train station runs through the area, so produce merchants were able to get fresh fruits and veggies through easily accessible channels.  Today, the Strip has changed a lot, but its heartbeat is still the same.  It’s now home to many ethnic grocery stores, a destination for fresh produce, meats, cheese, and pasta.  There are so many little niche restaurants and cafes and bakeries, that you can get lost there for hours on the weekends.

We ventured down there on Monday morning, before I reported for duty at the laundry facility, to visit a novelty toy wholesaler named Mike Feinberg’s.  We had to buy prizes to give the big kids at the Great Cloth Diaper Change on Saturday.  Changin’ Time is in charge of kids games and activities!  Just across the street is one of my favorite places: Penzeys Spices.

Penzeys

I had accrued 4 coupons for free or discounted spices, so I had to stop for a spice haul.

Next door to Penzeys is a gourmet coffee dealer called Prestogeorge Coffee Roasting Company, a company which was founded locally in the 1960s and eventually found its home in the Strip.

Prestogeorge

When you walk in the door, the smells which lured you in from the sidewalk are amazing.  The walls are lined with interesting and rare blends of coffee beans and teas, biscotti, baked goods, deli meats, and all things delicious.

Prestogeorge2

We were just stopping in for some tea, but I could have spent hours looking at all the different blends.

So – what ended up in dinner last night, you ask?

The featured spice at Penzeys this month is called Berbere, a fiery Ethiopian spice blend.  Because I subscribe to their catalog, I received a coupon this month to try it for free!  You can order it online or find it in the store for $4.39.  We love spicy food, so we had to try it out.  I used it as a rub on chicken.

Berbere

At Prestogeorge, they had been sampling something called “Caribbean dip.”  We liked the sample and are constantly looking for new spicy items,  so we bought it.  When we got home, we realized that it was a little bit too mayo-based to really use as a dip.  However, I thought it would be excellent to use as a spicy breading base for the chicken, so I brushed some on!

CaribbeanDip

Then, I lightly dusted the chicken with Panko.

ChickenBefore

And baked it for about an hour at 350F.  When it was done, I topped it with just a dab of the dip and served it.

ChickenAfter

It was seriously SOOOOO good.  And spicy!  Like, I served it with celery spicy.  A yummy entree which supported two local business. 🙂

Don’t forget to enter my Earth Week Giveaway over here.  Find out how you can get a second giveaway entry if you all ready like SOLE for the Soul on Facebook ♥

Fish Fridays: Wholey’s Fish Market

2 Mar

I know, I know…its predictable.

Give me a break, guys.

You can’t be near Wholey’s Fish Market any day of the week, much less Friday, and not want to stop for lunch.  But you better get there early people, because this line will wrap the ENTIRE way around the store.  UNLESS YOU WAY SMARTER THAN US AND KNEW YOU COULD CALL AHEAD AND PLACE AN ORDER OVER THE PHONE. 

It was so crowded I could barely snap pictures, so the photos of the building/location were taken from online.

Wholey’s has been a Pittsburgh staple since 1912 when it was founded by Robert Wholey in McKees Rocks.  It’s been a Strip District staple since the 1980s though, which means that during my lifetime – this place has been a top food destination for me.

See the outline of a fish on the outside?  At night, it looks like this…

 

Wholey’s is Pittsburgh’s biggest fishmonger – averaging 40,000 pounds of fish sold each week.  According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, this business increases 40% during the Lenten season.  So yeah, they pretty much know what they’re doing and you pretty much can’t go wrong.

First of all, its the closest thing Pittsburgh has to open-air fish market.  (Ok, only the Penn Ave. Fish Company comes closer.)

Second of all, it has a toy train that has been running longer than I’ve been alive.

Third, the food is amazing.  Actually the food being amazing would be enough for me.  While the MIL and her♥ jumped into the fish line, I jumped into Andy’s line…

He makes sushi right in front of you, made to order.  His line is ALWAYS s….l….o….w…….but worth every second of the wait.  He probably felt bad for me drooling all over his glass, so he let me sample one of his spring rolls.

You’re a smart man, Andy.  With especially good timing.

Needless to say I ordered a spring roll to go with my California roll.

Do you ever order food and know that it is the best food you’ve ever tasted and your mouth is watering and you open the lid and completely devour almost every single morsel?  And then realize that you write a blog that is doing a series of posts of Fish Fridays, so you should’ve probably taken a picture of your delicious meal?

Ooopsie:

At least one bite survived and I was able to take a breather before I started my sushi roll.

Bomb.

The MIL ordered a piece of fried cod (no bun, no frenchies) which was soooo yummy.  The breading at Wholey’s is always really thin (unlike say, Long John Silver’s), which means that you taste more of the fish.  She luckily spotted this side of lobster mac & cheese as well:

She♥ ordered the crab cakes, which seemed like they had no breadcrumb used for filler.  While this is a good thing, it did change the consistency of them, making them really chewy and mushy in the middle.  The taste was good if you could get over the texture.

I knew she♥ was a little disappointed and probably won’t get the crab cakes again.

What Fish Friday would be complete without a trip to the goodie table?  Don’t worry, the thickest, yummiest pizelles I’ve ever tasted and the gynormous lady locks definitely make up for the crab cakes…

Who says you have to eat fried fish during Lent?

Not us..

 
Wholey’s Fish Market
1711 Penn Ave.  Pittsburgh, PA
412-391-3737 to pick-up
Open most days until 5:30pm*

 

 

Just a quick bite ♥

7 Oct

It’s a pretty busy day at work today, so I’ll make this short and sweet!!  Lunch today was provided by Two Louie’s Market in the Strip…

1233 Penn Ave.

Each day, Two Louie’s offers a lunch special for $5.99 along with all of their other goodies!  I love this place because:

1.  The employees are the same day after day and they actually remember you.

2.  The market is located in an older building.  The ceiling is gorgeous and the inside walls are brick.

3.  Two Louie’s is a great example of a business run by true Yinzer’s.  They always have Steelers and Penguins banners/other merch hanging and you can bet that these ladies are decked out come game day!!

yummy!

Anyway, the special today was the cajun-chicken wrap:  lightly seasoned grilled chicken with lettuce (I opted for no tomato and no ranch!) on a flour tortilla.  You can grab a drink and bag of chips for $1, which makes this a quick and delicious lunchtime favorite!!

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