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@TamariPgh brunch. Wow. Seriously wow.

@TamariPgh brunch. Wow. Seriously wow.

Tamari’s menu sounds kind of weird. It’s a Latin/Asian fusion restaurant. It opened back when fusion and any variation of any kind of asian food was the trend.  Now the fusion trend has largely died out, except at Tamari.  Their cocktails are an easy sell, but I’ve had trouble generating interest in checking out their brunch.  Finally I decided, forget it. I don’t need company. I’m going on my own.  Am I ever glad I went.

Tamari’s brunch is hands-down one of the best in the city. The menu descriptions are incredibly hard to visualize and, for me at least, did not sound like things I would want to eat.  But I asked the bartender for recommendations and he totally steered me right.  The key to a perfect Tamari brunch is to not think too hard. If one element in a dish stands out to you, order it. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Aperol Spritz

The price fixe brunch includes a cocktail, starter, cardamom bread and entree.  When I read “cardamom bread,” I immediately filed that under “things that do not interest me.”  When it was actually served to me, I was in love.  This bread is all the best things about cinnamon rolls, except even better.  It’s light, fluffy, sweet and a little spicy.  It was served with mango jalapeno butter which, again, sounded gross but was amazing. (Sensing a theme here?)

Cardamom Bread

I started with the ancho glazed bacon, which comes with grits and an egg. It was savory and so flavorful. It was snowing that day, and the grits were a perfect belly warmer.  For a starter, this was immense. It’s the size of a full meal. I can’t let a good dish go to waste, so of course I ate it all.

Ancho Glazed Bacon

For my entree, I had the Korean marinated tenderloin. Brilliant.  The meat was salty and rich, the kimchi brussels sprouts sour, all together, so so so so good.

Korean marinated tenderloin

I was so stuffed afterward that I literally went home and took a nap. Mr. Beez still expresses skepticism about trying Tamari, but it was amazing, and heck I’ll keep visiting solo.  It certainly helped that the staff hit that right balance of chatting with me when I expressed interest and sought recommendations, but left me in peace to read when I cracked open my book.

I have visited Tamari before for dinner and happy hour.  For nighttime dining, Tamari was good but not exceptional, and also pricy. For brunch, however, Tamari seriously delivers. Tamari is full of wonderful surprises.

Tamari on Urbanspoon

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Happy Birthday to Me and 32 Before 32 Roll Out

Happy Birthday to Me and 32 Before 32 Roll Out

Good morning all and happy birthday to me!  I was greeted with a birthday card and birthday smooch from my husband this morning.  Baby Beez kept asking about cake, but I did coax her into singing “Happy Birthday to Mommy!”  And yes, I’ll be stopping at Prantl’s to pick up a cake to share with the fam.

I’ve been getting so many warm birthday wishes this morning, it is just wonderful.  My celebrations today will be low-key.  I have work today, but it’s luckily a dull roar of chaos, instead of its usual complete deafening roar of chaos.  We celebrated yesterday with fancy brunch with friends at Eleven, and will be celebrating again next week with buffet dinner at Taj Mahal.  Food food food. Now that’s my kind of party.

In celebration of this new year, I’ve rolled out my 32 before 32 list! I was so excited to get started that I even put together a crock-pot dinner for tonight (beef stew!)  Please do share your crock pot favorites with me!

And in the spirit of Item No. 30, my Healthy Living goal this week is to TRACK ALL MY FOOD in Weight Watchers. All of it. Not just the food I eat before lunch, but all the food I eat, all day. Even if it means I blow the points out of the water.  I’ll let you know next week how it went!

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Brunchin’ with @BrunchBurgh

Brunchin’ with @BrunchBurgh

I was lucky to have the opportunity to be interviewed over brunch by the fabulous Mary of the BrunchBurgh podcast.  Mary loves brunch and loves meeting new people, and decided to bring these two things together in this fun podcast.  Mary and I know one another through various social media events (she was my Secret Santa at the Pittsburgh TweetUp’s holiday party), and this was such a fun opportunity to get to know one another better.

You can listen to the podcast through iTunes at this link.

You can also listen to it on the BrunchBurgh site at this link.

I made Mr. Beez sit through the podcast today, and he promised that I don’t sound like a total jagoff.  So that’s good. In retrospect I feel like I came off as a massive egotist, but the interview was about me after all.  I’m hoping maybe some of the thoughts and thought-processes I shared will help others who are interested in blogging, but maybe aren’t sure about how to fit a “blog life” in with the rest of their lives.

In related news, Mr. Beez and I returned to Club Cafe for brunch today. This is my third time there, which is highly unusual, given how rarely I’m a repeat visitor to places (too many new and exciting things to discover!!)  He went for the Steak, Egg & Croissant sandwich because it is the best thing in the universe.

Club Cafe Steak & Egg on Croissant. Heavenly.

I wanted to order that, but I’m *so close to hitting my 10% in weight watchers that it huuuuurts* so instead I wanted to pick something slightly lighter, and went for the omelette.  The omelette was very good, but I had massive food jealousy. I should have just gotten the steak sandwich. Nothing beats that darn steak sandwich. So jealous.

Club Cafe Omelette and Toast

In other related news, I can’t find my darn running earbuds and it is making me INSANE. I have other earbuds I can use but they’re not as good. So if anyone has seen my earbuds, PLEASE return them to me stat. Or I will lose my mind. Or have to buy another pair at least.


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Introducing @BrunchBurgh Over Bites at @CornerstonePgh

Introducing @BrunchBurgh Over Bites at @CornerstonePgh

If there are two things I can’t resist, they are good food and good conversation. When my friend Mary announced she was starting a podcast–an appropriately named “BrunchBurgh” because it focuses on brunching with people around the ‘burgh– I couldn’t wait to participate. She has been working on recording and post-production, and just launched her first episode today!! She’s still working on getting the iTunes subscription details sorted out, but you can catch the first episode on the BrunchBurgh website, here!

Mary interviewed me over delicious brunch at Cornerstone Restaurant in Aspinwall last weekend. The Steel Trap has praised Cornerstone heartily, and it was also recently featured in a Pittsburgh Magazine piece on 15 Hot Brunch Spots in Pittsburgh. Brunch with Mary was the perfect time to check this place out.

First, I need to give a shout-out to Cornerstone’s awesome staff.  Once we settled in and got cups of coffee, Mary told our server that we were recording a brunch-themed podcast (so she would understand what the heck we were all doing with the weird looking equipment).  The server was super excited about what we were doing, and immediately offered us use of the back room.  It wasn’t quite set up for guests at the moment, but it didn’t have quite as much noise as the main room, which would spare the sound engineer a headache later on.  We were happy to accept her offer, and also were pleased to discover that Cornerstone’s back room is quite large and private, absolutely perfect for a party (I’m looking at you, folks planning holiday parties or rehearsal dinners soon!!)  Our server’s enthusiasm for the project was so encouraging and made us even more happy to have selected this spot.

Breakfast Burrito at Cornerstone Restaurant

For my meal, I selected the breakfast burrito. It’s full of pulled pork, eggs, and all kinds of other good things.  I’m going to give it to you straight– Pittsburgh is in a sad state when it comes to breakfast burritos.  Whenever I find a place with a breakfast burrito on the menu, I’m all over it.  And due to this city’s drought of breakfast burritos, I’ve lowered my standards considerably.  This breakfast burrito, however, could go head to head with any SoCal breakfast burrito.  It’s not as greasy as the breakfast burritos I grew up with, and the ingredients are obviously fresher. So it’s good-good, not bad-good. And good-good is always good.  Also, very fresh pico de gallo and guac. Yessss.

They have the usual pancakes and eggs on the menu, but they also had potato pancakes, multiple kinds of benedicts, and of course bloody mary’s.  I’m an egg person and my husband is more of a pancake person.  Most restaurants only really have a handle on one or the other.  Cornerstone has a nice variety of both, and is skilled at preparing both.  In reading the menu, I was already getting excited about returning for brunch at a future date with my family in tow.

My BrunchBurgh interview hasn’t gone live yet, but I’ll be sure to shout it from the rooftops when it does.  In the meantime, go check out the inaugural episode!  And tell me, where have you had some good brunch lately?

Cornerstone Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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Cafe Raymond in the Strip

Cafe Raymond in the Strip

When heading to the Strip District for a meal, the usual popular choices are Pamela’s or DeLuca’s. There’s another quiet little diner I just discovered, although more of the fresh sandwiches and salads variety than of greasy spoon. Cafe Raymond is nestled in nearby Mon Aimee Chocolates. I’ve passed by it a million times, but never really registered it as an intended destination. On a facebook exchange about noteworthy BYOB brunch destinations it came up, and I decided I had to make my way there.

Cafe Raymond

I visited with my friends Krista and Paul on a sunny Thursday late-morning. It was one of those highly unusual circumstances where we all happened to be out of the office for the day, and it was a delight to visit the Strip District and not have to get into a fistfight over a parking spot.

I ordered a combo that included a side salad, a sandwich, a cookie and a drink. If I had written this post in a timely fashion (i.e. not a whole month after the visit…)I would have had much clearer memories of what the sandwich filling was. I know there was prosciutto involved. It’s hard to go wrong with prosciutto, but this sandwich was especially good. The whole meal was just so fresh. And the cookie– red velvet with white chocolate chips. Yum. Paul also had a sandwich, which he was very happy with. Krista had a sandwich, and lord almighty that was an enormous salad. It wasn’t served on a plate, it was served on a slab of tree trunk.

The only downside of Cafe Raymond was that I had so greedily filled my belly with my meal that I didn’t have room to wander around the Strip and pick up other tasty selections (Reyna’s tacos, Lucy’s banh mi, mung bean pancakes and cookies from the vendors outside PennMac are my favorites). Cafe Raymond’s prices are reasonable, and I’m always a huge fan of BYOB. I am also under the impression that, although Cafe Raymond is a beloved spot, it’s not quite as jam-packed as some other destinations.

Cafe Raymond on Urbanspoon