21st Century Womanhood, Anna Quindlen & the 92nd Street Y

Anna Quindlen

Anna Quindlen

On Monday, December 17, I will be speaking along with Shirley Goldstein, Louise Malakoff, and Christine Stone at a roundtable concerning 21st Century Womanhood, preceding Temple Sinai’s Broadcast of the 92nd Street Y talk on that same topic with Anna Quindlen and Jodi Kantor.  We will be presenting a diverse array of perspectives on a very relevant and important topic.  The discussion and broadcast will take place twice on December 17th, at 1pm and at 7:15pm. 

The 92nd Street Y broadcast series is one of my absolute favorite programs at Temple Sinai.  The speakers are always big names, and are intelligent and articulate.  The ticket price is low ($10 for Temple Sinai members, $15 for non-members, and free for University Students), and there is often a lively discussion along with the program.

Please join me!!


Sakura Teppanyaki & Sushi in Squirrel Hill

After having tried decadant, amazing sushi from Umi, my tastebuds now only recognize 3 categories when it comes to sushi. Amazing (see: Umi), good enough, and grocery store refrigerator case. There are massive distinctions between each of the 3 categories, however inside each of the 3 categories, I don’t make many differentiations. Sakura falls into the middle category– which is not a bad place to be, mind you. I’d say most of the sushi restaurants I’ve ever visited fall into this category. I’m thinking New Dumpling House, Chaya, Sushi & Roll, etc. They all have decent sushi, perfect to fill a sushi craving, but honestly if given a choice between them, I don’t have strong feelings about one over another.

After reading an enthusiastic review for Sakura online, I decided that a sushi carry out night was in order. I love that Sakura offers online ordering. This may be a strange comment coming from a lawyer since so much of our work is done through phone calls, but I hate being on the phone. It always makes me happy to see online ordering, because that’s one less phone call for me to be miserable over. The downside to online ordering is that it takes twice as long. This is not an issue unique to Sakura. I find consistently that online orders take significantly longer to fulfill (or are overlooked entirely), probably because the staff is up hopping around the restaurant and not surfing the internet. However, if I’m not about to gnaw my arm off in starvation, I’m generally happy to wait a little longer for my order just so that I don’t have to do the dreaded call in.

I ordered a basic sushi combo, containing a couple of rolls, salad, and soup.  Both the quantity and quality were good.  The meal did not stand out as uniquely memorable, but rather nestled comfortably in that middle category of “that’ll do” sushi restaurants.


Baby Beez loved the salad with ginger dressing.  Yes, she eats salad.  I did not realize this is unusual for a 2 year old until the day Baby Beez was in the hospital and the attending about hit the ceiling because she was AMAZED to see a 2 year old eating salad.  I’d like to take credit for this as some sort of superior parent influence, but we don’t eat salad all that often, and I have no idea how to “teach” a kid to like food other than to just stick it on her high chair tray and see if she’ll eat it.  Honestly I think credit for this goes more to her daycare.  They often give the kids salad with their lunches at the daycare, and I assume that’s where she acquired a taste for it.


The miso soup was also a big hit with Baby Beez.  Oh, and me too.


The final verdict on Sakura: Sure I’d get take out from there again, or go there for dinner.  I doubt I’ll find myself doubled over with a craving that only Sakura’s sushi will satisfy, but if Sakura is the dining option for the evening, sure I am game.

I am loving all the new and different Asian restaurants opening in Squirrel Hill.  A Ramen shop is opening soon on Forbes, and a Vietnamese cafe is slated to open on Murray.  Bubble Pi and Sumi’s Cakery are respectively Chinese and Korean bakeries that have each opened in Squirrel Hill in recent memory, both of which I’ve been meaning to try.  The new diversity of cuisine in this small commercial district is making me happy and hungry!  So who’s up for noodles and cakes?
Sakura Teppanyaki & Sushi on Urbanspoon


Layer Cake (2004)

Layer Cake is a more than typically clever drugs and guns flick.  It is full of guns (obviously), drugs (obviously), British accents, deception, plot twists, and several actors who are also in Harry Potter films (but no spells).  On the whole, the film was excellent, except I could have done without Sienna Miller.  I can always do without Sienna Miller.  Tom Hardy is in this film also, but his part is far too short.  I can always do with some more Tom Hardy.

I especially liked that the plot twists were neither painfully predictable, nor overwhelmingly complicated.  I tend to pay half-attention to films, and while my ears did have to perk up and I had to focus a little more to sort things out at times, by no means was I ever lost.

I am shocked that this movie is from 2004.  I had only heard of it recently, and had assumed it was a 2011 movie that I just missed.  Netflix it, kids. It’s a good show.


Drag Queens, Veggies and Hot Yoga

Item 1: Drag Queens. Since we are shamefully enthusiastic RuPaul’s Drag Race fans, ages ago Mr. Beez and I picked up tickets for the Naughty-or-Nice Holiday Bash with Sharon Needles at the Warhol Museum. And now the time is upon us! The party is this weekend! What on earth does a girl wear to a party with the spookiest drag queen in the country? Seriously, folks. I need some fashion guidance. I have no idea what to wear. My only ideas are black and sparkles. I don’t have much in my closet that fits the bill, so I may have to go shopping. What would you wear to this crazy event?

Item 2: Veggies. This is a Romanesco.


Mr. Beez and I went to the East End Food-Coop a couple days before my birthday, and like a spoiled child, I went around the store demanding things. Anything that caught my eye, I demanded, because it is my birthday and I want it. The Romanesco was one such thing. I loved its funny shape. It is a relative of broccoli and cauliflower, but its texture (once cooked) is a little softer. I prepared it by steaming it, and it tasted almost identical to steamed cauliflower. It is not neatly divided into florets, so cutting it up for steaming was a huge mess. It was a great novelty, but since I can get the same taste cheaper and with less mess, I’ll probably stick to cauliflower (unless I have some desire to impress dinner guests with a strange veggie).

Item 3: Hot Yoga. As part of my Birthday-Eve (aka Day of Total Spoiledness), I took a yoga class. There are tons of yoga studios all over the city, offering every kind of yoga you can imagine. I decided to attend a class at Bikram Yoga Squirrel Hill because it is near my house and because the class schedule fit my availability for the day. As an added bonus, the studio is immediately above Wafflonia (Belgian Waffle Shop) and smells like delicious waffles.

I have done Power Vinayasa Yoga before (which is also in a hot room, but a different sequence of poses), but it was a long long time ago. I knew that my first class back would be like my first class ever, and would feel miserable. Truthfully, it was not too bad, because I was prepared for the misery. For first time attendees, they offer a special of $20 for 10 days of unlimited classes, and I managed to fit in 4 classes in that introductory period. The first class I thought I’d die. The 2nd class I got dizzy a few times. By the 3rd class, I was used to the heat and focusing on the poses.

I’ ve been dealing with a persistent bout of sciatica pain recently, and after 4 classes, the pain is noticibly diminished. (This is not much of a surprise, the pain usually subsides with chiropractic treatment, and the yoga is not too far afield from that). I especially like hot yoga because I am cold all the darn time. I love the feeling of being in the 105 degree room and the heat just surrounding me. If it were summertime, I would probably not feel the same way, but right now it’s winter and I love escaping the cold in that hot hot room.

I also really liked the instruction style at Bikram Yoga Squirrel Hill. The instruction is very straightforward– poses are explained in detail, occasional encouragement given, but it is neither new-agey nor too athletic coach-y. When assisting an individual in correcting a pose, the instructors tend to do it in a very positive fashion. For a kid that quit ballet and gymnastics due to being singled out as doing it wrong, the individualized attention at Bikram Yoga Squirrel Hill suits me well as friendly and encouraging.

Near the end of my 10 day introductory session, I decided to buy a 10 session pass. I love that they have classes at 6am and 8pm. The 8pm class is really key for me. Most studios offer their latest class at like 6 or 7, and that is still too early for me to be able to make it. I don’t expect to continue going 4 times in a week, but I would be very happy if I could make a habit of showing up twice a week.


Aseoma in Squirrel Hill

Pittsburgh’s starting to finally get moving with food trucks, but our street food culture has a long way to go. Casual eats in this city aren’t nearly as creative or daring as ones offered in Los Angeles, Vancouver, or NYC. Aseoma seeks to shake up Pittsburgh’s street food scene, by offering Latin/Korean fusion type meals.


On one of many tired and hungry nights, we selected Aseoma for take out. I loved that I was able to place my order online. I really do not like talking on the phone, and I’m much happier being able to place my order on the internet.  Because we have a little one, we tend to eat early.  I stopped by to pick up our meal around 6pm.  I was disappointed to see that at that point the dining room was empty.  I didn’t know what kind of ambiance to expect from the fairly boring storefront, but it is really cool and stylish in there.  I’m not 100% on this, but I think it is BYOB.  It seemed like a nice little joint to have a fun evening out with some friends.

I ordered the Fire Beef tacos.  I have a VERY low tolerance for spicy foods, and these were just spicy enough to be flavorful.  The heat did not overwhelm the dish.  The tacos came with a few french fries on the side, which didn’t seem necessary for the meal.  My kid was happy to gobble them down, though…she loves fries!  I also had the bacon kimchi fried rice, which was a tasty twist on an old reliable favorite.


I like that Aseoma has predictable offerings like pho, and also more unpredictable/unique fare. I thought Aseoma was simply awesome, and I hope that the empty dining room when I stopped by is a function of timing. It would be a shame if Aseoma’s tasty food went unacknowledged.  We’re keeping Aseoma on the short list for our quick-inner needs!
Aseoma on Urbanspoon