Andy’s Wine Bar @FairmontPgh

Ah, Andy’s. It’s simply impossible for me to say anything bad about this place. I love it. I’m a sucker for fancy things, and Andy’s is fancy. Fancy drinks, fancy location but also laid back enough that I feel comfortable there in almost any attire. A business suit, a fashionable dress, heck even jeans fit in just fine here.


Celebrating my birthday at Andy’s with my pals.

Andy’s has an extensive drink menu, and I’ve found something to my satisfaction regardless of what I have a taste for that particular day.  They’ve got citrusy drinks, potent drinks, even warm cozy drinks perfect for sipping in front of the fire. 

I don’t remember what this was called, but it was full of big chunks of apple and I loved it.


Mr. Beez and I stopped by Andy’s before a show a few weeks ago.  I was feeling a little tired and a little whiny, and this Southwest cider was just what I needed.  It’s a warm apple cider spiked with tequila.  The alcohol gave it a little kick and warmed you right up.  

The upside of a bar in a hotel is that it’s pretty much always open.  Sundays? Yup. Holidays? Of course.  So who’s up for happy hour?

Andys on Urbanspoon


Dinner at .@VerdePgh Ole!

Verde generously hosted last month’s Pittsburgh TweetUp, and generously offered a 20% discount on all gift cards purchased by attendees (I can’t pass up a discount!) The following night, Mr. Beez and I had the sitter lined up so we could attend Bill Peduto’s Holiday Party, but after a week of party after party, I was partied out. Mr. Beez and I decided that a quiet dinner out was in order.

So yes, I went to Verde two nights in a row. And if you asked me to go again now, heck yes I would. I loved the Paloma cocktail– it’s fully of tangy grapefruit, and very margaritalike. I also had a different cocktail but can’t remember what it is. But here is a picture of that mystery cocktail. It was good, just not as good as the Paloma.



Tequila selection. Yes, they haz it.

They start you off with hot chips and salsa. I know that warm tortilla chips are commonplace in a Mexican restaurant, but they are GOOD. Chips taste so much better when they are warm, so that made me happy.

We started with the chorizo mac and cheese. The mac & cheese was creamy and rich, but there was very little chorizo.  Even with the chorizo deficit, the dish was great and I’d happily order it again (but I’d ask for more chorizo chorizo chorizo!)


I ordered tamales. I love tamales, and Pittsburgh is seriously lacking in them (can tamales be the new taco, please?) The masa/filling proportion was perfect, and the meat was so flavorful. On the first bite, I stopped and said “Wow, this is good!” The entree is also very big, and I was happy that I had half of it left over for lunch the next day. The rice and beans were satisfying, but did not particularly stand out. The tamales were excellent, though.


Mr. Beez ordered carne asada and also loved it. He is not big on sauces, but he loved the cilantro sauce drizzled all about. He did let me have a bite of it, but I was still fixated on how much I loved my tamales, and did not pay attention to the steak.


We finished off our meal with churros. I can’t resist churros. There need to be more churros in the world.


Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina on Urbanspoon


Try it, You’ll Like It.

Inspired by my friend Jill who, despite being a life-long Pittsburgher has never eaten stuffed cabbage (whut?)  here is a list in no particular order of things I thought were totally totally totally gross, and then I tried them and learned they were awesome:

Popcorn Balls.  Seriously, the most delicious food ever.  Rice krispie treats are good, but they’ve got nothing on popcorn balls.


Bloody Marys. They make my Sundays complete.


Candied salmon, also sometimes known as Indian Candy.  It’s basically salmon jerky. And yes, it sounds and looks totally gross. But OMG this stuff is delicious. I tried it when I was in Vancouver over the summer and now I want to eat it all day long.  And I just learned that they stock it at the Co-Op.  I’m in heaven.


And just because, here are some things that actually ARE gross:

Nutella, and anything else containing hazelnuts.  I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I ate a whole jar of Nutella when I was a child, and hazelnuts have made me gag ever since.


Salt licorice.  This stuff is nasty.  Every Scandinavian I’ve met loves the stuff, but I don’t get it. Gross.


Eyeballs.  I know that fish eyeballs are in some cultures considered a delicacy. No way. I can’t do it. I can’t even bring myself to look for a picture of it on an internet.


It’s the weekend, party party!

The theme for this weekend is “How much stuff can we fit in one weekend?” The answer: A LOT.  Actually, the theme of this weekend is “Party! Party! Party!”  Friday morning featured Nina Barbuto’s excellent talk about Making Learning a Party at the inaugural Creative Mornings Pittsburgh.  That was such a fantastic event that I plan to write about it separately.  Then I got back to my office and found out I got a great order on a matter I’ve been fretting about, so it was more Party! Party! Party!

The weekend proper kicked off pretty mellow. The Beez family spent Friday night at home, babysitting our friends’ infant while they had a date night at the movies. Baby Beez was charmed by the little guy, and was so excited to show him all her stuff. She kept bringing things to him, “Look baby! Elmo!” “Look baby! A Balloon!” “Look baby!…” Mr. Beez worked his baby swaddling magic, and that kid snoozed the whole evening (and apparently even all night after he went home).

Friday ended up being a great evening for babysitting, because I had to hover around my computer til 3am to deal with various federal e-filings.  E-filing is simultaneously the most convenient thing ever, and the bane of my existence. Yay/boo e-filing.

Saturday featured Party! Party! Party! of the more traditional sort.  We were running early for Mr. Beez’ work holiday party, so we sauntered on down to Speakeasy at the Omni William Penn.


This actually isn’t in Speakeasy, it’s the giant gingerbread hotel in the lobby of the Wm Penn. It’s 5 feet tall and pretty awesome.


I have all glowing things to say about Speakeasy. I was a little skeptical going in, because the bar seems to be a little late in the craft cocktails trend, and because (with the exception of Andy’s in the Fairmont) hotel bars don’t tend to be the kind of place I think of when I’m picking a place to go out with friends.  Speakeasy, however, would be a great location for happy hour.  In the lower level of the hotel, and with no windows, it’s a great hideaway for drinks during the cold winter.

My first drink was a Pimm’s cup.  Craft cocktails are small and time intensive.  My first thought was “this is really small!” Except it’s not. I’ve just become accustomed to the ever-increasing size of beverage cups in general.   The flavors were complex and the drink was made with care.


All the fancy garnishes.

The barkeep, Dawn, was cheerful and thrilled to talk with us about her craft.  She has gone through specialized training to make these particular kind of cocktails, and wasn’t annoyed in the least with all my questions.  The bar area is small, really with room for only her, but she has efficiently mastered the space.  I enjoyed watching her whir from one end of the bar to the next, quickly but with focus.



My second drink was a Moscow Mule.  It’s easy to see why this drink has been so trendy lately.  Drinks with rosemary or mint often taste soapy to me, but the ingredients in the Moscow Mule come together deliciously.

Speakeasy Social Lounge on Urbanspoon

After Speakeasy it was on to Mr. Beez’ company party, where we had a nice time with his work-friends.  Then we were off to the Jewish Federation Vodka/Latke party to party on with our fellow Jews.  This year it was held at Space Gallery, and we drank and ate and danced and spun dreidels (not really).



30 before 30: A Perfect Day

My husband spoils me. Spoils me.  For my last day of my 20s, he gave me the green light to spend the day doing every little thing I wanted to do.  I started the day off with an exhilarating but tough hot yoga class at Bikram Yoga. Afterward, I spent a little time relaxing with one of my favorite pasttimes: sipping coffee and reading magazines.  The coffee was from my favorite shop in Pittsburgh, of course– Commonplace Coffee.


Afterward, followed an afternoon of shopping, tacos at Smoke BBQ Taqueria, and a hot stone massage and mani-pedi.  Oh how wonderful!

When I jokingly told Mr. Beez that I wanted Hostess treats, in fear that the impending liquidation would mean that cupcakes and ho hos are no more, he drove to FIVE different stores, and finally found me the most shameful of baked treats: powdered donettes.


Mr. Beez especially spoiled me with a mini-vacation right here in Pittsburgh.  We got a fancy suite at the Fairmont hotel, and enjoyed the luxe life for one night!


The gorgeous view of Market Square from our hotel room

Yes, the Fairmont is so fancy that in addition to its vegan, macrobiotic, raw food, and gluten free room service menus, they also have a room service menu just for cats and dogs.


After checking into the hotel, we met up with a few friends for dinner at NOLA on the Square,  and enjoyed spicy food and sweet desserts!


NOLA Bourbon Birthday Cheesecake!

And after dinner, we had a few birthday cocktails at the always fun and always tasty Andy’s Wine Bar


And at midnight, my friend Christine got the jazz band to play “Happy Birthday” to me!


Dancing to my Happy Birthday song (and humiliating Christine)

And we ended the evening with a few hilarious rounds of Apples to Apples.  The best! The best!


30 is great! Happy birthday to me!