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Gettin’ real at Sichuan Gourmet

Gettin’ real at Sichuan Gourmet

Although I’m not tripping over myself to devour scorpions and fermented shark meat, I do think I qualify as an “adventurous eater.” When encountering a new-to-me cuisine (or variation of a cuisine), I’m eager to pick random things on the menu, no idea what they are, and be surprised by the outcome. This is how I ended up paying 15 Euro for a plate of hash browns in Switzerland. “Roesti” sounded like something FUN, but no, it’s just potatoes. Good potatoes, but not 15 Euro potatoes.

The buzz on the street about Sichuan Gourmet is that it features “authentic” Chinese food. I find the description somewhat troubling, as China is so massive that there is certainly more than 1 “authentic,” and also, I’ve never been to China nor do I have any other such cultural exposure to qualify me to judge what is “authentic.” I noticed when we walked in that maybe 20% of the dining room was speaking English, so I took this as an auspicious sign for a good meal.

Sichuan Gourmet

I like that they’ve got 2 menus: a Sichuan menu and an American menu. The Sichuan menu has all kinds of traditional dishes. The American menu features the typical American “Chinese” dishes, such as General Tso’s chicken, lo mein, fried rice, etc. We, of course, ordered fairly blindly off the Chinese menu. I am pleased to say it worked out very well.

Chicken hot pan
Mr. Beez ordered a chicken hot pan, which sizzles and cooks right on the table top. It looked very good, but it was full of hot peppers. I am a wimp and can’t take the heat, so I didn’t eat any. He did report that he enjoyed it thoroughly.

Basil Chicken
The Basil Chicken was sweet and strong with garlic and basil. All around excellent.

Baby bok Choy and black mushrooms
I loved this dish of baby bok choy and black mushrooms. The bok choy was steamed and the mushrooms had a sauce, but were not heavy with it. It had the saltiness I expect from Chinese food, but without so much oil and heaviness.

Steamed Whole Fish

We also went all out and got a steamed whole fish, which was just fantastic. If I’m going to order fish, I want a head on my plate. I don’t eat the head, I just want the satisfaction of staring into my opponent’s eyes. This fish was flaky and flavorfully stuffed with ginger. The sauce was not overpowering. My mom and I shared the dish, but I am a glutton and probably could have eaten the whole thing.

The meal was more expensive than our usually Chinese take out bill, but the quality was high and the service attentive. The servers are all business and not very chatty, which is just fine with me. I like that they have some huge tables and also a private room, this could be a fun place to take a book club or just go out to dinner with a big group of friends.

Sichuan Gourmet on Urbanspoon

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Home sweet (new) home!

All the furniture and boxes are moved into the new house, and some additional new furniture and the washer/dryer are being delivered today. There is lots of unpacking to do, but we’re on our way to normal. There have been a few minor but easily repaired hiccups, but in general the move has been smooth. Last night was our first sleep in the new (air conditioned!) house. Baby Beez was so excited to take a bath in her brand new bathtub, and was just so excited in general that she would.not.go.to.sleep.

There are a few things this house has that we sorely lacked in the old place. First off: closet and cabinet space! So much space to store our things! Our things are not spilling out everywhere! Hooray!

Also, there is a lot of blank wall space, which we just did not have in the old place. We own some framed pictures, but not a whole lot. There have been a few items I’ve wanted for a while, but never bought because I had no place to put them. Now I can go from window-shopping to real shopping, and get this place jazzed up a bit. The only room with a theme in this house is Baby Beez’ bathroom. I managed to convince her to accept a fishies themed bathroom instead of a princess bathroom. Everything else I’m taking the approach of just decorating with things we love. And here are some things I love:

Tugboat Printshop

Tugboat is based in Lawrenceville and makes just gorgeous prints. I’ve been eying the prints for years and have never committed to plunk down the cash. The prints are all limited editions, which means that due to my own failure to commit, I missed out on getting a print of my all time favorite of theirs: The Big Bad Wolf.

big bad wolf

I love this print SO MUCH, and actually visited the printshop when they were down to their last 2 or 3 prints, but didn’t take the plunge because it was expensive. I regret that so much now, because I realize it would have totally been worth the cost. Hopefully they will someday do a reprint.

Even though I can’t get my #1 favorite, there are some runners-up that I really like, and will likely pick one for our house.

Crystal Skull.

crystalskull_woodcut

Robin & Juniper

robinandjuniper_woodcutprint_tbps

Ruby Red Rose

rubyredrose_print_snow

I’m also planning to get a Mapsburgh Pittsburgh Fantasy Map print. I think this would be fun to hang in Baby Beez’ room because she loves Lord of the Rings. Mapsburgh also does Pgh neighborhood cutouts. Although Mt Washington isn’t on his list currently, I could commission it. That could be a fun piece for the dining room/living area.

Pittsburgh Fantasy map

I absolutely love this Pittsburgh Coffee Break print by smalltower. I have long considered buying it to hang in my office, especially because the building I work in (Oxford Centre) is featured in it. I think with its brightness and cheeriness, it would fit well in our kitchen.

Pittsburgh Coffee break

We also have some family photos and documents which have long been sitting in storage, waiting to hang. I don’t plan to go out and buy prints just for the purpose of filling the walls, but it is so nice to finally have the wall space that when a print really speaks to me, I can actually buy it and know I will be able to find a place for it.

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Out on the Farm with @BrooklynBrewery @JustinSeverino @BklynHouseChef

Summer has come, the air is warm, the wind blowing sweetly through the grass. It’s time for farm dinners. We kicked off farm dinner season at the Brooklyn Brewery Mash event at Blackberry Meadows Farm in Natrona Heights. The Brooklyn Brewery Mash is a traveling celebration of food, drink, arts and the cities they visit. The air was light with a celebratory spirit.

photo 1 (3)

Brooklyn Brewery provided the libations, Cure/Justin Severino and Wild Purveyors and Andrew Gerson supplied the eats. Union Rye charmed us with tunes, including a particularly sweet cover of Wagon Wheel that I’ve been humming all week.

Brooklyn Brewery Mash


Brooklyn Brewery Mash

Brooklyn Brewery Mash

We toured the greenhouse, pet the pigs, and clucked at the chickens. Baby Beez had a moment of trauma and betrayal when her beloved cow (whom she named “Buttercup” even though that wasn’t her real name) twitched and headbutted Baby Beez. She quickly forgave her bovine friend, and foreheads and hearts were mended.

Blackberry Meadows Farm

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Blackberry Meadows Farm


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The June Weekends, They Fly with @PghKids @BeerSince1933 @CLP_Tweets and @PghPassionFB

With a house all packed up and a 3 year old ready to GO GO GO, we’ve been out of the house a lot. She’d probably watch TV all day long if we’d let her, but no. Last Saturday and Sunday we filled the mornings and evenings with activity, with a nice big fat nap in the middle. Those naps. So glorious. This weekend looks to be shaping up similarly. Mr. Beez is out of town this weekend, so it will be adventures for us girls. We’ll be spending Sunday at my in-laws, as is appropriate for this Fathers Day weekend. We may also see them on Saturday, and of course a cake may be involved, since it is both of their birthdays.

Last Saturday kicked off with lots of playtime at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Due to the many events going on over the weekend, the museum was unusually quiet. This was absolutely perfect for us, as Mr. Beez and I are not tolerant of crowds. There were enough other people there that Baby Beez was able to chatter and play with other kids, but it was far from the chaos of a usual busy day at the museum.

Pgh Kids Water Room

This was our first visit since the new Water Play room opened, and we were really impressed. There are lots of different activities for the kids to do, such as water-painting on a special wall, playing with water whirlpools, putting boats and toys in a downhill stream, and my favorite: play in a crushed ice station.

Pgh Kids Water Room


Pgh Kids Water Room

This was the first visit in which we made any significant visit outside of the “Nursery” floor. I love the kids museum because it has activities for all ages of kids. We started taking Baby Beez there when she was a tiny infant, and she was able to lay and roll on the padded nursery area floor and reach for toys. As she’s gotten bigger, we’ve expanded to new rooms and new activities. This time she actually got to practice cutting and taping in the Maker Studio. We also spent some time in the fresh air, when she went in the museum’s backyard and played in the giant sandbox and even spitting mud pits!

Pgh Kids Maker Room

It’s hardly surprising that after all that fun, Baby Beez crashed hard in the car on the way home. Mr. Beez and I decided to swing over to Vecenie Distributing in Millvale to pick up a case of (be still my heart) VooDoo Love Child beer, which is, no exaggeration, the nectar of the gods.

VooDoo Brewery

Oh how I love thee

This adventure of course was followed up by a NICE BIG NAP. We needed to rest up, because Baby Beez and I had a busy evening planned with Sandy and Elena. I’ve been eager to provide Baby Beez with positive role models, especially of women in sports. A Pittsburgh Passion football game fit right into this priority, and promised to be a ton of fun, too.

Pgh Passion

Pgh Passion

Pgh Passion

Sandy and I love it, but the girls admittedly do not have the patience or self-control to sit through a full football game, even one so fast-moving and exciting as the Passion. Seriously, those women are skilled and tough. We were playing Philly that night, and we destroyed them. Just like they deserve. The small people were restless so we ended up leaving at halftime, but even then the score was 31-0. Sandy and I will be returning next season for sure, but probably leaving the small squirmy people at home (or possibly bringing along their male minders, a/k/a the husbands).

Sunday brought the much-awaited Carnegie Library Summer Reading Extravaganza! We went last year, and even though Baby Beez was too young to do a whole lot then, we still had fun. This year, she was able to enjoy almost everything, and we had an even better time. The CLPGH does such an amazing job with this event.

CLP Summer Reading

We started things off by watching a puppet show and eating healthy snacks. We also saw the performance by the kids of the Pittsburgh Musical Theater, and Baby Beez got crazy into it. She was singing along, bustin moves up and down the aisles. It’s hardly a surprise that we’ve got a performer on our hands here.

Trolley

Neighborhood Trolley, ding ding!


According to the report she gave her teachers at school the next day, Baby Beez’ favorite part of the day was getting to go for a ride on the trolley. She was so excited when the trolley driver said “Hi!” to her, and for the whole ride, she kept exclaiming “We’re riding the trolley! We’re riding the trolley!”

CLP Summer Reading

She also got to try her hand at icing her own Eat & Park Cookie!

Although we don’t have much firmly planned for this weekend, we’ll probably fill it up with all the many things going on around town. I’d list them all for you, but Play Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Mommy Blog are already killin it on that front!