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What else- beer and bites (shoutout to @LaPalapaPgh @Gristhouse @DraaiLaag @WigleWhiskey )

What else- beer and bites (shoutout to @LaPalapaPgh @Gristhouse @DraaiLaag @WigleWhiskey )

If there is one thing I am qualified to teach it is a seminar on how to put on a lot of weight in a short period of time. Not that anyone would be interested in such nonsense. But Mr. Beez and I spent the weekend on a Pa Brew Tour and then a gathering with friends. That means lots of beer, lots of wine, lots of chips, lots of pizza. I think I might need a juice cleanse. (Not really.)

This is the third PA Brew Tour I have participated in. By this point, I have memorized most of the trivia answers. Czech Republic (the country with the highest per-capita beer consumption). Das Reinheitsgebot. (The German “purity” law limiting beer brewing to its 4 core ingredients). Malt/barley, yeast, water, hops. (The ingredients of beer). Now you can win the beer tour trivia too. Also, I’m familiar enough with the brewing process that I’m not as interested in oohing and ahhing over the tanks. But it is fun to check out the personality of each brewery, and learn about what part of brewing they really love and pride themselves on. Of course, there’s the tasting too. That’s a good part.

Our tour commenced at the East End Brewing Company outlet at the Pittsburgh Public Market.  I had one thing on my mind: lunch. The Public Market has many options, but La Palapa was right in front of me as I walked in, and I realized that I needed tamales. Post haste.

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There are entirely too few tamales in Pittsburgh. When I am motivated, I am capable of making pretty good tamales. However, making them takes more than 3 steps and 30 minutes, so that kind of cooking motivation is rare for me to come by. Whenever I see tamales on a menu, I’m like MINE ALL MINE. Because they really are delicious.

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Our first Millvale stop was at Gristhouse Brewing. As its name suggests, it’s in a renovated slaughterhouse. It opened its doors about a year ago, and has been having remarkable success. They don’t offer food here, but there are pizza places that deliver and food trucks visit frequently (or you could, like me, eat a massive platter of tamales before showing up and not have to worry about food). My favorite beer at Gristhouse was their Tripel Grist. I love Belgian style beers, and this tripel was just delightful.

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Next, we scooted over to Draai Laag, which specializes in Belgian style brewing. Hooray for me! I’ve had their beers before, but honestly didn’t realize they are local. Their name and branding are so sophisticated that I assumed they really were Belgian brewers. Nope. Right here in Millvale. I love the Goedenacht and the Geestlijke (pronounced geese-licker. Really.) Draai Laag beers are pretty heavy on the ABV, as well as on the taste. I really liked the ambiance of their tasting room. It’s dark and chill. There are chess boards on the table. I would love to take an afternoon there to curl up with a beer and a book.

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We then returned by bus to our starting point. Since it was about 5, it was of course happy hour. We couldn’t let that go by without a cocktail, so we stopped over at Wigle for a hot minute. Wigle has about 5 different kinds of cocktails you can order, as well as stock up for your bar (we were out of booze soaked maraschino cherries, so naturally, it was time to attend to that). The cocktail was a nice sweet twist to wrap up the day.

Then of course we went to a nearby sushi place for dinner. I placed my order. And they served it to me with 3 sets of chopsticks. So yeah.

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A St. Pat’s a little more my speed, with @SouffleBombay ‘s Sweet Irish Soda Bread

While I spent last Saturday shaking my fist and yelling “Get off my lawwwwwn!” from all the yinzers pouring in from Lord Knows Where to get draaaahnk in our neighborhood, I did spend last Sunday in a more pleasant mood. I’m not even remotely Irish, but Corned Beef & Cabbage (or as my dad jokingly called it “Corned Beef & Garbage”) is one of the best foods ever. I’m also in love with halushki (I’m not Polish) and Easter bread (I’m not Greek). Basically, if it’s comfort food, I’m there.

At the first Big Potluck I attended, I sampled Colleen’s soda bread topped with Kerrygold butter and OMG. Then I sampled it again and again. I think I may have eaten an entire loaf. She then told me that the recipe is available on her blog, and I was like NEED. Since I believe in giving clicks where credit is due, you gotta click this link here to head over to her site to get the recipe for yourself.

Any normal or remotely organized person would be like “oh, I will go home and bake it this week!” But I’m neither. I didn’t get around to it over the last like 2 years. Mostly because I assumed it would be hard or take all kinds of ingredients I don’t have. So, to give me the push to make it someday, I added it to my 32 before 32 list, and didn’t get around to making it in an ENTIRE YEAR. Then, mostly out of shame for failing to accomplish such a simple baking assignment, I tagged it on to this years 33 before 33.

YOU GUYS I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO IT.

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Baby Beez helped me out. She’s good at mixing and pouring things into bowls getting bored after 15 minutes and going to watch TV so I have to finish everything myself.  But that was OK this time, because the recipe was basically “mix the things together, pour them in a pan.”

Mixing

Mixing


Pour in pan

Pour in pan


It didn’t even take that many exotic ingredients from the grocery store. The only things I had to buy especially for this were buttermilk and cream. I probably should have picked up turbinado sugar to dust the top of the loaf, but I dusted it with regular sugar instead and it was fine.

When you make 1 big loaf, you have to bake the bread almost twice as long as the 45 minutes it states in the recipe. So heads up on that. But otherwise, the recipe came off without a hitch. And the bread was amazing. I basically ate the entire thing because oink.

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The corned beef & cabbage I made was also FANTASTIC, but I’m not putting pics of that up, because no food looks good when it’s been boiled.

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St Pat’s

Today is St. Patrick’s day (celebrated), and our neighborhood is overrun by drunks. I’ve done my best to avoid going anywhere in Mt. Washington, and have stayed out of the South Side and downtown entirely. I’m not anti-beer and nonsense, far from it really, but I’m definitely anti large crowds of drunk, obnoxious people. Well, anti large crowds of people at all, and then when you add alcohol into the mix, forgeeeeet about it. Instead of guzzling green beer today, I took Baby Beez to ballet class, took a nap on the couch, ran out to fill the growlers at Hough’s for some at-home beer enjoyment tonight (Hough’s was surprisingly chill at the time), and then we went out with some folks from my husband’s work for bowling. It’s been a pretty laid back day, and that’s ok.

Even before dealing with people staggering oblivious into the middle of Shiloh Street, I’ve never been much for St. Patrick’s Day. When I was a kid, I flat out loathed it. Where I grew up in CA, they had this absolutely horrid “tradition” that if you weren’t wearing green on St. Patrick’s day, you’d get pinched, but if you were wrongfully pinched, you could punch the pincher. I didn’t like people telling me what color to wear, I don’t like my personal space invaded, and even with the promise of retribution against wrongful pinches, I just wanted to be LEFT ALONE. So no, St. Pat’s was not my jam. I hear that no one in Pittsburgh has that stupid tradition, it must be some weird California thing. In any event, I’m glad for that, because it quite literally is the. worst.

I had a brief stint in college when I did love St. Pat’s day. That was entirely because St. Pat’s day was about beer, and I was in college and wooooo beer! woooo crazy! This was also the same time of my life that I had a betta fish named Midori, because everyone seems to go through a phase in their early 20s where naming a pet after alcohol seems like a brilliant idea. Fish don’t live long, so I wasn’t stuck with that mistake for all that long, but I feel reeeeeal bad for anyone who ended up acquiring a parrot named Captain Morgan during that life phase.

Now I’m back to hating St. Pats, but really because it’s amateur hour at all the local bars, and people driving all stupid. Also, I occasionally get dragged by my husband to the parade, but the weather is inevitably bad, and I go because I feel like I owe it to him after dragging him to so many events, but I hate all the standing, and the cold, and the damp, and the drunks. It was raining this year and Mr. Beez decided not to go, and omg that was a beautiful thing.

So now here we are, on the evening of St. Patrick’s day (celebrated). Mr. Beez and I are sipping some lovely beers and watching Foxcatcher. I’ve wanted to see this movie for ages, so I am very happy about it. In one little glimmer of celebratory spirit, we popped into the Grandview Bakery tonight and got ourselves some Irish potatoes.

Irish Potatoes

They look totally gross, but they are delicious. They are these cream cheese coconut candies, rolled in cinnamon. Deeeelicious. Now if St. Patrick’s day were all about these, I might be able to get into the holiday.

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Men We Reaped

Men We Reaped

Over the last 2 days I’ve had a cold. And when I have a cold, I am the most pathetic, whiny crybaby. I’ve been especially whiny and pathetic because between congestion and headache and a 4 year old who likes to climb in our bed at 3 am, I haven’t been sleeping much. Since I couldn’t sleep, I picked up a book. And in 2 nights, I breezed through Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped. Ward spoke in Pittsburgh just a couple months ago with the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series, and now I’m just kicking myself that I did not go to the lecture.

Men We Reaped

Ward’s memoir is framed around the 5 tragic deaths of young men she grew up with, including her brother. I am having so much trouble describing it, because she confronts massive issues of race, racism and poverty, as well as individual struggles of grief and loneliness. Men We Reaped is tragic and gorgeous.

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Things I’m Doing When I’m Not Blogging with @2ndBreakfastPgh @EastEndBrewing @The_Steel_Trap @theCommonerPgh

Things I’m Doing When I’m Not Blogging with @2ndBreakfastPgh @EastEndBrewing @The_Steel_Trap @theCommonerPgh

The last two weeks have involved after-work meetings nearly every day of the week, the kid having to stay home from school for three days because she was sick, Mr. Beez going out of town for three days on a business trip, me falling and busting my face on the ice (nothing broken, just ugly bruises), and just lots and lots of stuff in general.

This means there’s been little-to-no time for running, blogging, watching tv, or maintaining sanity in general. I’m much more hopeful this week. I’ve got plenty to do, but my calendar is not nearly as cluttered, so I’m hopeful about having the time to actually get stuff DONE.

In lieu of timely updates on the wild and wonderful world of Pittsburgh in the last two weeks, I bring you this list of our first week + in March.

Winter

This is what our world looked like for most of last week. The temp was in the 40s and 50s this weekend, and the forecast CLAIMS it will continue to be mild, but I’ll believe it when I see it. As much as I whine about the weather, I can remain hopeful that we’ll get through to spring with a little patience. This past week totally broke me. WE’RE IN MARCH NOW FOR GOODNESS SAKES. There was a lot of despairing in glasses of beer because I just can’t take this weather anymore.

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Contributing to the despair was my nosedive into the icy driveway on Monday (I’m fine). But the only way to make myself feel better was to buy a cartful of icy things I like.

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Lately I’ve been stopping by the Pgh Public Market as often as possible after Baby Beez’ Saturday ballet class. It’s so quiet and lovely then, and the hash browns with eggs and bacon from Second Breakfast is the perfect size for Baby Beez and me to share.

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I also picked up a growler of Monkey Boy from East End Brewery, and that stuff is GOOD. It hasn’t displaced VooDoo Love Child as my favorite beer, but it’s a good one, and I really look forward to more Saturday morning growler fills at the Public Market.

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Mr. Beez and I joined The Steel Trap at the CLO Wine Tasting and Silent Auction on Friday. We had such a lovely time, and I may have drank all the cava in Western Pennsylvania. This was one of the nicest fundraiser events I’ve been to. I especially loved the variety of wines, and allllll the sparkling options. Kudos to the CLO for an extremely successful event!!

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After the wine tasting, Mr. Beez and I stopped over at The Commoner for a snack. I had the BBQ Oysters and they were amazing and all I’ve been thinking about for the rest of the weekend. It’s not a regular menu item, but next time you are there, see if they have them. Because they are amazing.

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This week was also Purim. I stopped by Allegro Hearth for some hamentaschen. I offered them to Baby Beez, but she is obnoxious and 4 and did not want any. So I had them all to myself. This was my first time trying a poppyseed hamentaschen, and it’s not really my style. Apricot or Raspberry, please.

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Our spoiled child got to go to Disney on Ice this weekend, too. I bought the tickets back in November when I was ALL EXCITED about our trip to Disney World. Then it came down to this event and I was totally burned out on Disney, but wasn’t going to disappoint Baby Beez. So we all went. She did enjoy the show, so that was really nice. And in general, the kids at the show were pretty well behaved. THE PARENTS THOUGH. This was some of the worst, pushiest, rudest parent behavior I’ve seen in recent memory. I talked to other folks who went to other showings and said that they dealt with the same thing. I don’t know what it is about Disney on Ice that brings out the worst behavior in grown ups, but I think we’ll pass the next time it comes to town.

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After Disney on Ice, we stopped by the new VooDoo Brewery shop in Homestead for more growlers. This place is my happy place. Hearts stars smiles xoxoxoxox. That is all.

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And finally, yesterday we went to a bowling fundraiser to raise money for Attorneys Against Hunger. Not many bar association events are family friendly, so it was fun to be able to get together with our families, do a little bowling, and eat a lot of nachos. I also won a sweeeet prize basket at the raffle auction, including a cute little Coach crossover purse. Win!

So that’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods. Also, I’ve been really into peanut butter & jelly waffles for breakfast. And I really need to get the kid out of bed and get us to school/work. I’m trying to cut her a break because of daylight savings buuuuut I gotta bill some hours today!