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A Meal to Make a Man Out Of You @IndustryPgh

A Meal to Make a Man Out Of You @IndustryPgh

This post has been sitting in the hopper for like a month. It’s easy for me to come up with ideas for blog posts (usually the idea is: food I have eaten!) but often it is hard for me to find free time where I have enough energy and brainpower to plunk out an entry. The life of a litigator means that my days are usually spent jumping from one analysis heavy task to another (and pulling my train of thought to a screeching halt and abruptly switching gears at least several times a day), so that often means that by the time I have a minute to blog, all I want to do is stare at the wall.

I have written about Industry before. It’s a restaurant name I want to surround with hearts and stars. It’s grown-up casual (not the right vibe for Baby Beez to join us), serious about it’s food and drinks, and priced fairly for the high quality menu. When I leave Industry, I am stuffed with good food and good drink and in a darn good mood.

This time I decided to try their signature Smokestack cocktail. It involves fire and spectacle, but I was facing away from the bar when they made it, so I didn’t get a picture of that. You pick a whiskey and a flavor (I went with the bartender’s recommendation on whiskey, and I think my flavor was pecan). I was told this drink would taste like a campfire. The description was only partially right– it tastes like a MANLY CAMPFIRE.

The Smokestack at Industry

For serious, this drink will put hair on your chest. After all, about the only thing I can think of more manly than whiskey is WHISKEY AND SMOKE. This tastes like what a lumberjack would drink after a long day of axe-swinging. It was fun to drink. A novelty really. I don’t regret it at all, but I don’t think I’ll dash to order it again. And not to worry, they have a massive beer and cocktail list, so I have plenty of other things to try.

Oh Good God Glorious Candied Bacon at Industry

I was dining with my friend Christine, and we were not specifically planning on ordering appetizers, but we saw “Candied Bacon” (I think it’s boar bacon, to boot) and we could not help ourselves.  This is meat perfection. No joke the best bacon experience of my 3 decades. This candied bacon is worth traveling far and wide for. It is the absolute best.

Lamb Wrap and Truffle Fries at Industry

I was very tempted to again go with the farmhouse burger (boar bacon, bbq sauce, fried egg) but I decided to change it up a little and go with the lamb wrap.  I love the taste of lamb (during my 10 year stint as a vegetarian, it was the only meat I truly missed), and this wrap delivers generously.  The meat was tender and juicy, and the accompanying truffle fries were so rich (actually, I recommend sharing the truffle fries, they are too rich for one, I left most of my portion untouched).

It was a really great dinner, although I must admit that because I loved the farmhouse burger so much, I left with a little pang of regret that I had the opportunity to have that amazing burger again, and passed it up.  I guess I’ll just have to make my way down there again soon for another burger. Care to share some candied bacon with me?

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#NoMenuMonday with @HaitianFam1st at @BarMarcoPgh YUM

Bar Marco is better described as a community gathering place than as just a “bar” or “restaurant.”  Its proprietors are incredibly invested in not only making Pittsburgh a better place, but also in helping other Pittsburghers make the whole world a better place.  The No Menu Monday dinner series has been a raging hit over the last few months.  No Menu Monday involves a partnership between Bar Marco, organizations advancing good causes in various forms and guest chefs.  Like the name, there’s no menu.  Basically you pay them, they give you food, and part of the money goes to the organization.  This ain’t no church basement spaghetti dinner, they take their food seriously.

I’ve been meaning to make my way to these events, and with Haitian Families First as the featured organization this week, it was time to stop by for a meal, no ifs ands or buts about it.  Ali and Jamie are both in town right now, and were both there to share news of the great work they’ve been doing.  To make the event extra-special, the meals prepared for the event were from recipes they brought back from Haiti.  The idea was “everyday food,” so we got to sample a bit of the kinds of meals that are common in Haitian homes.  Like most Caribbean cuisine, this means rice, beans, plantains, meat and spices.  These are basic, hearty and flavorful ingredients and made for a tasty meal.

Citrus Cocktail from Bar MarcoNo Menu Monday means, seriously, NO MENU.  So when I asked for the bar menu, the waitress said “Nope, sorry, no menu. But if you tell us what you like, we can put something together for you!”  My instructions were: citrusy, a little sweet (but not overly so), with a vodka base.  This drink had those components, there was also absinthe involved, but only in a small quantity so that you could taste a tiny hint of it, but it didn’t overpower.  This was quite a good cocktail, whatever it is they should make it more often.

Haitian chicken dinenr at Bar Marco

Haitian vegetable fritters at Bar Marco

I attended the event with my foodie buddie Christine.  In an ironic turn to the tables, I ordered the chicken (despite having been a vegetarian for years and years and years of our friendship) and she ordered the vegetable fritters (despite practically being a carnivore).  Both dishes came with rice, beans and a small side of slaw.  The slaw was too spicy for me on its own, but mixed with the rice and beans balanced out to a perfect kick.  I found that the best taste came together when I heaped the chicken, rice, beans and slaw onto my fork all at once and took a huge bite in one gluttonous demonstration.  The chicken was great but the fritters were even better.  I didn’t order the fritters because I assumed they’d be more fried than vegetable (think: latkes).  These were more like heaps of mashed sweet potatoes with a fried crust on the outside.  The inside was creamy and not fried through.  I could get used to fritters like these.

Rum Ice Cream and Plantains at Bar MarcoThe final course was a surefire winner– rum ice cream and fried plantains.  Rum flavored desserts are usually too overpowering with the rum flavor for my taste.  The rum in this ice cream was certainly strong, but was a good match for the plantains and did not overpower my palate.  I was happy to support HFF in their amazing work and even more happy to fill my belly with these flavorful dishes.  Although the $30 price tag is steep for me to make my attendance a weekly happening, the cause was worthwhile and the food satisfying.  I’ll be sure to swing by again to support my other favorite organizations.


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Austin, Day 2: Shopping and Snacks and getting excited for #BlogHerFood

Austin, Day 2: Shopping and Snacks and getting excited for #BlogHerFood

It’s cute how Austin calls these speedbumps “hill country.”  Pittsburgh should show ‘em how it’s done.

Flat land aside, day two of Austin was much like day one: I DO WHAT I WANT.  And what I wanted was food & shopping.

Mr. Beez and I kicked the day off with breakfast at the acclaimed South Congress Cafe. I was HUNGRY. So hungry that I didn’t even wait until Mr. Beez was ready to order, I needed to put my order in post-haste, or there would be problems.  The waitress was kind and attentive, despite my appetite induced impatience.  She even called me “Mama,” in that endearing, “sweetie” kind of way (not the “you’re so old you can be my mama” way).  Calling me nice things is a winner.

photo(1)I satiated my caveman hunger with chorizo migas of magic, with a side of smoky & creamy black beans, a cheesy potato pancake, and fresh tortillas.  Good LORD it does not get better than this.

photo(12)Mr. Beez had a roast pork dish, and with every bite he exclaimed its deliciousness.  Mr. Beez can be picky at times, but this dish was everything he loved all at once.  The pork was tender, the rice was cooked to perfect texture and full of flavor, and of course he had fresh tortillas too. There is pretty much nothing in the food universe that Mr. Beez loves more than fresh tortillas.

South Congress Cafe was in every way a perfect brunch location. Their bar is generously stacked, their menu varied, their food amazing and their service attentive. I would like to bring this cafe home with me, thank you.

South Congress Café on Urbanspoon

For obvious reasons, I needed to do a little walking after that meal.  Lucky for me, Congress Ave is full of amazing shopping opportunities.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I actually prefer shopping for clothes when I’ve just eaten a huge meal and feel enormous. If clothes feel OK on me when I’m feeling enormous (which is not an unusual occurrence, because I like me some restaurants), they’ll feel even better on me when I feel good. And I like knowing that after I’ve hit the feedbag, I still feel comfortable in my clothes.

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My opportunities to just wander and shop are so incredibly rare that this was a lovely solitary afternoon outing (Mr. Beez had returned to the conference by then, so I had plenty of time to explore the city solo). The SoCo neighborhood is full of adorable boutiques, many very reasonably priced, and thrift shops. For the first time in ages, I got my thriftin’ on, and picked up a couple cute shirts for dirt cheap. I also picked up a few cute casual outfits in the boutiques. Shopping success!

Chilling with a cup of coffee was the next order of business. I wandered to the main part of downtown and parked myself at The Hideout Coffee House.  The Hideout is super cool because it doubles as a coffee shop and an improv theater.  The improv is only at night, so when I was there the place was full of people hanging out with their laptops, making cardboard cutouts for a street art project, and collaborating on a business startup project.  It was so very Austin.

photo(22)A local artist had her works on display there, and I bought for Baby Beez what I am convinced is the coolest thing ever: A paper cutout bug.  I’m always fascinated with the enormous bug collection at the Carnegie Museum, and I even have a mounted/framed butterfly, but this is a PAPER bug. It’s awesome, and I’m sure Baby Beez is going to LOVE it. I can’t wait until she sees it!

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What I liked best about the Hideout was its ambiance. It’s very artsy, but not obnoxiously pretentious.  The coffee was good, but has some room for improvement (I was craving a pour-over, which they tragically did not offer. Also, they had CoffeeMate at the coffee fixin’ station, which just seemed strange to me).  I had an iced coffee, and the drink was potent but refreshing.

Hideout Coffee House on Urbanspoon

I was starting to feel a little snacky, and a trip to Texas would not be complete without some chili, so my next destination was the Texas Chili Parlor.  The clientele was half regulars, half tourists, but welcoming to all.  It’s a dive with, of course, a great bowl of chili.

photo(20)I walked in and immediately thought “This is the kind of place where you have to drink beer.”  My thoughts were confirmed by the revulsion in a waiters voice, when he called out to the bartender one diner’s order of chardonnay.  (Chardonnay and chili sounds awful, anyway).

photo(19)Although I was hesitant to miss out on the “Original” red, brisket chili, I ended up selecting the white chili.  It’s a green chili with pork and white beans, and was hands down delicious.  When ordering, I cautioned the waitress that I was not starving, and she suggested the white chili as a “lighter” option.  It was awesome, but I really don’t think you can characterize any chili as “light.”  The chili had plenty of flavor and was not too spicy. The massive helping of sour cream also helped to cool things down a bit for this wimpy eater.

Texas Chili Parlor on Urbanspoon

Austin is a huge food town, but what surprises me is that the foods they are famous for are so heavy.  They’re big on meats and starches– BBQ, chili, tacos, etc.  All of these come to mind as cold weather comfort foods.  It doesn’t get that cold in Austin, even in winter, and I find it so strange that Austinites would go for such button-bursting comfort food fare in the Texas heat.

Outdoor wall mural of a horse. Because this is Texas.

Outdoor wall mural of a horse. Because this is Texas.

I don’t feel so terrible about this multi-day food fest, because boy have I been walking.  My ActiveLink (a WeightWatchers device, very similar to a pedometer) has been zooming up the Activity Points because I’ve been walking-walking-walking.  Despite the heat, Austin is very flat, has lots of sidewalks and walk signals, and is generally a very walking-friendly city.

For the final outing of the day, Mr. Beez and I went to dinner with his Co-op companions at Torchy’s Tacos.  Torchy’s had been on my list well before we even stepped on the plane.  I read in Bon Appetit about their deep-fried avocado tacos, and immediately decided I MUST GO TO THERE.

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photo(18)Torchy’s lived up to the hype. The avocado taco was beautiful.  These are the things more delicious than deep-fried avocado: __________.  But the taco wasn’t even the most delicious thing we ordered.  Mr. Beez got an order of the grilled corn. It was basically a cup of grilled corn kernels, rice and a sauce. IT WAS BRILLIANT.  It was so sweet and so tangy and so smoky and so everything.  I took a bite and fell in love, and really wanted to get my own order of it, but by this point in the day I was SO STUFFED that this was an impossibility.  At Torchy’s you’ll get great tacos, but do NOT miss the corn.

Torchy's Tacos on Urbanspoon

Following dinner, walking was again a must.  We made our way back to South Congress for some window shopping and wandering.  Finally, we wrapped up our night with some champagne cocktails at Snack Bar.

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Snack Bar is straight-up ’70s lounge decor (Megan Draper would be in love).  The cocktail list is kind of a strange one, it doesn’t have the usual types of cocktails you would expect. It did, however, offer a long list of champagne cocktails as well as sparkling wines by the glass, so I was sold.  Also, they were projecting TRON on the wall.  Love it.  We didn’t order any food because did you SEE the entirety of my day? But a champagne cocktail was a lovely way to wrap up the evening.

Snack Bar on Urbanspoon

BlogHer Food begins this morning! I’m very glad I’ve had 2 days of vacation before starting the conference, because I’m feeling refreshed, excited and totally ready to meet new people!  Happy Friday, yinz (or should I be saying, y’all?)

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Date Night: @BarMarcoPGH @AFLPittsburgh and @HoughsPgh

Date Night: @BarMarcoPGH @AFLPittsburgh and @HoughsPgh

Our Memorial Day weekend was full of work, more work, laundry and work.  It wasn’t the most of exciting of weekends, but at least we have clean clothes now.  Mr. Beez and I did manage to sneak out for a date on Saturday Night and had a lovely time.

I’ve been crowing over Bar Marco nonstop since I first visited there last summer.  Finally we had a chance for a visit, a cocktail and a charcuterie plate.
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Mr. Beez said this was one of the best Old Fashioneds he’s had, hands down.  I had the Louisiana and a Georgia Julep and they were both light, summery and awesome (of the two, the Louisiana is my favorite).
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We ordered the delicious small charcuterie plate. We really should have gone for the large.  Amazing.

Empanadas? Yes PLEASE.

Empanadas? Yes PLEASE.

Next up we went to a Pittsburgh Power game.  Honestly, never would I ever have picked a Power game for a date nite outing.  We were invited to the game by a work contact of mine, and I thought “what the heck?”  We had a CRAZY FUN time.  Even with the help of the internets on our phone, we couldn’t really figure out what the rules of the game were, but it was fast paced and fun.  Pittsburgh was up for most of the game, then in the third quarter we fell behind, OH NO!

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But we put it all back together, and then some, in a crazy exciting fourth quarter and ended the game with a V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.  The Pittsburgh Power is an awesome family event.  It has all the usual sports excitement, but is not nearly as crowded as a Steelers or Pens game. The tickets are far less expensive to boot, and at every game they offer $1 hot dogs and $1 7-ups. I perfect, reasonably priced family outing.  We can’t wait to go again and bring Baby Beez with us!

After the game, like usual, we were in need of late night munchies.  Despite having lived in Greenfield for SIX YEARS, we had yet to make it to the local neighborhood bar, Houghs.  Houghs is laid back, friendly and neither too hipsterish nor too much of a townie bar.  They have an amazing beer selection, both on tap and by the bottle.  Their menu is classic bar food, perfectly salty, meaty and hearty to round out those brews.

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Hough's on Urbanspoon

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A Belly-Filling Brunch .@TinFrontCafe

A few weeks back, the Beez family piled into the car, rolled down the High Level Bridge, and joined friends for brunch at the Tin Front Cafe. Baby Beez is an early napper and brunch time tends to be the witching hour.    We got lucky on this particular Sunday and she behaved more like a baby than a banshee. We managed to have a charming brunch.

I kicked things off with a generously-portioned bloody mary.

Bloody Mary from tin front cafe!

Salty, tomato-y and all things wonderful.  They also offer one with horseradish infused vodka, but I was afraid that the kick was more than my delicate sinuses could handle.

The Tin Front Cafe has a varied menu of hearty stick-to-your ribs vegetarian fare, but I also love that they have a small buffet that goes along with your brunch entree.  On this particular day they offered chili with chili-toppings and cornbread, potatoes, salad, cookies and to die for banana chocolate chip mini muffins.  The mini buffet was a lifesaver for brunching with a toddler.  Toddlers, and Baby Beez is no exception, are not known for their patience when hungry. We always order for her as soon as we are seated, but it was nice to be able to give her some food immediately.

Tin front cafe

For my entree I went for the polenta with ratatouille and veggie sausage.  It was a very cold day outside, and this selection was delicious and belly filling.

Polenta, ratatouille and veggie sausage at Tin Front Cafe

Along with the typical brunch fare of french toast, pancakes etc, there was a breakfast burrito on that menu that I was dying to try (next time! next time!). As Greenfielders, Tin Front is super close in Homestead.  The on street parking is very easy on Sunday mornings.  The cafe staff were friendly and attentive.  The cafe was all around excellent.  Tin Front is a brunch gem.
The Tin Front Cafe on Urbanspoon