Annual #PghGBE — @PenniesPintsPgh ‘s Delightful Getaway @Nemacolin

Annual #PghGBE — @PenniesPintsPgh ‘s Delightful Getaway @Nemacolin

It’s April Fool’s Day, and time for our annual Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event! Shoutout to Alex at Everybody Loves You for his mad planning skills! I’m very excited today for this guest post by Devon and Tim at Pennies.Pints.Pittsburgh. A getaway to Nemacolin is on my 40 before 40, so this guest post is perfect!!

The Finest of Dining at Nemacolin

2015 has been a year of many firsts, including our first Pittsburgh Blog Swap. And we are the lucky bloggers to guest write for the awesome blog Beezus KiddoAs I was perusing the site, I noticed that one of her 40 before 40 bucket list activities included a weekend stay at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Well, it just so happens that my husband and I loooove Nemacolin, and we’ll take any excuse to get back there.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is a luxurious mountain get-away in the beautiful Laurel Highlands. This handsome 2,000 acre resort is nestled on top of the rolling hills that join the Allegheny Mountain range. We’ve gone here for quick get-aways, bachelorette parties, and even work conferences. And we’ve always enjoyed ourselves immensely. Mainly because there’s a real sense of serenity up at Nemacolin. The air is so fresh, and the natural beauty that encapsulates the resort is truly breathtaking. And honestly, who can beat the unbelievably short commute from Pittsburgh?

So, my dear mother graciously agreed to take our boys for a night so we could enjoy ourselves with some friends for an evening in the mountains. And that meant one very important activity: dining out. Now the pressing question was; where? Our friends and we wanted all the bells and whistles of fine dining but not so much the formal attire. After discussing our options, Autumn was the exact answer we needed for a perfect night out.

Now as we strolled down the luxurious hallways adorned with one stunning crystal chandelier after another, we found ourselves at Autumn’s entrance. We were quickly seated at a large table in the front of the house. Our wonderful waitress, Becky, took our drink order while we chatted wine with Austin, Autumn’s sommelier. With drinks in hand, it was now time for some serious appetizers…

classic shrimp cocktail

We started off with the Classic Shrimp Cocktail. Admittedly, I had a real hard time sharing this with our group because a REAL good shrimp cocktail is hard to come by. But I ultimately got over it because everyone deserves a little taste of seafood heaven every now and then…

pretzel crab cakes

Next, we dove into these incredible pretzel crusted crab cakes. They were light and packed full of rich flavors. Oh, and they were accompanied by a beer mustard sauce. Yup, I was absolutely smitten with this chef already.

kale pot stickers

All of the sudden, this plate showed up. Is this food or 3-D art? I honestly didn’t want to disturb this masterpiece, it just looked so gorgeous. But I got over that rather quickly as Becky explained the contents these little beauties…

These potstickers are made with with kale, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, quinoa, and is accompanied by a sunflower seed hummus. This is not a traditional appetizer that we meat lovers would tend to go wild over.. But I kid you not- this appetizer completely won us over. All of us agreed that we’d all become vegetarians in a heartbeat as long as Chef Tyler Hutchison was cooking…

Not pictured but equally loved were the Spicy Calamari, Cauliflower Meze, Maggie’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Crab and Artichoke Dip with Truffle Parmesan Pita Chips, Parmesan Kale Chips, and Mushroom Soup.

And we hadn’t even touched the entrées portion yet…

bone in pork chop final

Chef Hutchison apparently enjoys the art of cooking with beer as much as we do. Once I spotted the Bone in Pork Chop with German potatoes and sauerkraut pierogies,  mustard greens with a maple beer glaze, I was done for. The other entrees didn’t stand a fighting chance… Picture Credit: Chef Hutchison’s Instagram

sesame tuna pic

Tim was enticed by the Sesame Tuna special with shrimp & wasabi potato butter, Asian crispy kalettes, and a sesame ash garnish. So stunning, so fresh, and oh so spring.


Our buddy ordered this handsome dish: Elysian Fields lamb with a “dirty” lamb pappardelle, pistachio gelato, and naturual lamb jus. Picture Credit: Chef Hutchison’s Instagram

Oh. My. Goodness

Entrées not pictured above yet were equally amazing; Basil Pesto Pasta with basil, avocado, spinach, tomato and shrimp. And the Swordfish with bamboo risotto, swiss chard, Chinese sausage, red pepper, and white soy emulsion. Just wow.

After this banquet fit for kings, we had to tap out, raise the white flag, and call it a night. As we sat back and basked in all the glory of a truly exquisite dining experience, we knew some major thank yous were in order for one very talented young chef.

Chef De Cuisine Tyler Hutchison

At the ripe age of 14, Chef Hutchison immersed himself in the culinary world. He started as a dish washer, and worked his way up to the hot line. Once he got a taste of the culinary world, he knew that he had found his life’s passion. He attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania Culinary School in Punxsutawney, PA. He was accepted as an intern at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Charleston, South Carolina. There, he refined his skills and learned the fine art of preparing fresh seafood. Once he completed his school hours, he was hired on full time and worked his way up to Chef De Partie. After 2 years, Chef Tyler decided to bring his skills back to Pennsylvania and joined forces with Nemacolin.


And I’m so glad Chef Hutchison did. His interpretation of fine cuisine is stunning, moving, and beyond inspiring. Dish after dish, he offered beautiful plating, intriguing flavor combinations, contrasting textures, palate exciting, perfected culinary masterpieces. It’s brilliant how he took such familiar foods and threw countless curve balls in their execution. This dinner is one for the ages and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for such a talented chef, his sous chef Rachel Davis, and the rest of his creative team. We excitedly await Autumn’s spring menu which launches in just a few weeks.

Thank you again for such an inspiring evening! We can’t wait to cross paths again.

Cheers N’at– Devon and Tim

Also, a heartfelt thanks to Becky- you were so attentive and you really knew the menu through and through. We had an absolute blast spending our dinner with you. And Austin- it was such a pleasure speaking with you. I wish we could have pulled up another chair and talked wine with you all night. You guys made this such an incredible night out. Cheers!

I hope you enjoyed this edition of our annual Guest Blogger Event! Check out the other participating blogs at the links below!!

The AP Collection // Lucy Quin  // Beezus Kiddo // Pittsburgh Happy Hour // Orange Chair Blog // In Pursuit of Simple // The Wheezy Runner // Pittsburgh is Beautiful // Last Minute Panic // The Almond Eater // A Body of One’s Own // Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes // Downtown Living // Emily LevensonParmesan Princess // Oh Honestly, Erin // Sole for the Soul // Crank Crank Revolution // The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog // Yum Yum PGH // Ya Jagoff // Gardening in High Heels // Sean’s Ramblings // Pittsburgh Taste Buds // The Foodtasters // My Blog n’at // The Fashionable Eye // jelly jars // Don’t Forget to Eat // Small Town Dad // Josh’s World // The Steel Trap // In Pursuit of Happiness // 101 Achievements // A Librarian’s Lists and Letters // Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh // 30-Something therapy // Red Pen Mama // Nicky D. Cooks // everybody loves you…


What else- beer and bites (shoutout to @LaPalapaPgh @Gristhouse @DraaiLaag @WigleWhiskey )

What else- beer and bites (shoutout to @LaPalapaPgh @Gristhouse @DraaiLaag @WigleWhiskey )

If there is one thing I am qualified to teach it is a seminar on how to put on a lot of weight in a short period of time. Not that anyone would be interested in such nonsense. But Mr. Beez and I spent the weekend on a Pa Brew Tour and then a gathering with friends. That means lots of beer, lots of wine, lots of chips, lots of pizza. I think I might need a juice cleanse. (Not really.)

This is the third PA Brew Tour I have participated in. By this point, I have memorized most of the trivia answers. Czech Republic (the country with the highest per-capita beer consumption). Das Reinheitsgebot. (The German “purity” law limiting beer brewing to its 4 core ingredients). Malt/barley, yeast, water, hops. (The ingredients of beer). Now you can win the beer tour trivia too. Also, I’m familiar enough with the brewing process that I’m not as interested in oohing and ahhing over the tanks. But it is fun to check out the personality of each brewery, and learn about what part of brewing they really love and pride themselves on. Of course, there’s the tasting too. That’s a good part.

Our tour commenced at the East End Brewing Company outlet at the Pittsburgh Public Market.  I had one thing on my mind: lunch. The Public Market has many options, but La Palapa was right in front of me as I walked in, and I realized that I needed tamales. Post haste.


There are entirely too few tamales in Pittsburgh. When I am motivated, I am capable of making pretty good tamales. However, making them takes more than 3 steps and 30 minutes, so that kind of cooking motivation is rare for me to come by. Whenever I see tamales on a menu, I’m like MINE ALL MINE. Because they really are delicious.


Our first Millvale stop was at Gristhouse Brewing. As its name suggests, it’s in a renovated slaughterhouse. It opened its doors about a year ago, and has been having remarkable success. They don’t offer food here, but there are pizza places that deliver and food trucks visit frequently (or you could, like me, eat a massive platter of tamales before showing up and not have to worry about food). My favorite beer at Gristhouse was their Tripel Grist. I love Belgian style beers, and this tripel was just delightful.


Next, we scooted over to Draai Laag, which specializes in Belgian style brewing. Hooray for me! I’ve had their beers before, but honestly didn’t realize they are local. Their name and branding are so sophisticated that I assumed they really were Belgian brewers. Nope. Right here in Millvale. I love the Goedenacht and the Geestlijke (pronounced geese-licker. Really.) Draai Laag beers are pretty heavy on the ABV, as well as on the taste. I really liked the ambiance of their tasting room. It’s dark and chill. There are chess boards on the table. I would love to take an afternoon there to curl up with a beer and a book.


We then returned by bus to our starting point. Since it was about 5, it was of course happy hour. We couldn’t let that go by without a cocktail, so we stopped over at Wigle for a hot minute. Wigle has about 5 different kinds of cocktails you can order, as well as stock up for your bar (we were out of booze soaked maraschino cherries, so naturally, it was time to attend to that). The cocktail was a nice sweet twist to wrap up the day.

Then of course we went to a nearby sushi place for dinner. I placed my order. And they served it to me with 3 sets of chopsticks. So yeah.


Things I’m Doing When I’m Not Blogging with @2ndBreakfastPgh @EastEndBrewing @The_Steel_Trap @theCommonerPgh

Things I’m Doing When I’m Not Blogging with @2ndBreakfastPgh @EastEndBrewing @The_Steel_Trap @theCommonerPgh

The last two weeks have involved after-work meetings nearly every day of the week, the kid having to stay home from school for three days because she was sick, Mr. Beez going out of town for three days on a business trip, me falling and busting my face on the ice (nothing broken, just ugly bruises), and just lots and lots of stuff in general.

This means there’s been little-to-no time for running, blogging, watching tv, or maintaining sanity in general. I’m much more hopeful this week. I’ve got plenty to do, but my calendar is not nearly as cluttered, so I’m hopeful about having the time to actually get stuff DONE.

In lieu of timely updates on the wild and wonderful world of Pittsburgh in the last two weeks, I bring you this list of our first week + in March.


This is what our world looked like for most of last week. The temp was in the 40s and 50s this weekend, and the forecast CLAIMS it will continue to be mild, but I’ll believe it when I see it. As much as I whine about the weather, I can remain hopeful that we’ll get through to spring with a little patience. This past week totally broke me. WE’RE IN MARCH NOW FOR GOODNESS SAKES. There was a lot of despairing in glasses of beer because I just can’t take this weather anymore.


Contributing to the despair was my nosedive into the icy driveway on Monday (I’m fine). But the only way to make myself feel better was to buy a cartful of icy things I like.


Lately I’ve been stopping by the Pgh Public Market as often as possible after Baby Beez’ Saturday ballet class. It’s so quiet and lovely then, and the hash browns with eggs and bacon from Second Breakfast is the perfect size for Baby Beez and me to share.


I also picked up a growler of Monkey Boy from East End Brewery, and that stuff is GOOD. It hasn’t displaced VooDoo Love Child as my favorite beer, but it’s a good one, and I really look forward to more Saturday morning growler fills at the Public Market.


Mr. Beez and I joined The Steel Trap at the CLO Wine Tasting and Silent Auction on Friday. We had such a lovely time, and I may have drank all the cava in Western Pennsylvania. This was one of the nicest fundraiser events I’ve been to. I especially loved the variety of wines, and allllll the sparkling options. Kudos to the CLO for an extremely successful event!!


After the wine tasting, Mr. Beez and I stopped over at The Commoner for a snack. I had the BBQ Oysters and they were amazing and all I’ve been thinking about for the rest of the weekend. It’s not a regular menu item, but next time you are there, see if they have them. Because they are amazing.


This week was also Purim. I stopped by Allegro Hearth for some hamentaschen. I offered them to Baby Beez, but she is obnoxious and 4 and did not want any. So I had them all to myself. This was my first time trying a poppyseed hamentaschen, and it’s not really my style. Apricot or Raspberry, please.


Our spoiled child got to go to Disney on Ice this weekend, too. I bought the tickets back in November when I was ALL EXCITED about our trip to Disney World. Then it came down to this event and I was totally burned out on Disney, but wasn’t going to disappoint Baby Beez. So we all went. She did enjoy the show, so that was really nice. And in general, the kids at the show were pretty well behaved. THE PARENTS THOUGH. This was some of the worst, pushiest, rudest parent behavior I’ve seen in recent memory. I talked to other folks who went to other showings and said that they dealt with the same thing. I don’t know what it is about Disney on Ice that brings out the worst behavior in grown ups, but I think we’ll pass the next time it comes to town.


After Disney on Ice, we stopped by the new VooDoo Brewery shop in Homestead for more growlers. This place is my happy place. Hearts stars smiles xoxoxoxox. That is all.


And finally, yesterday we went to a bowling fundraiser to raise money for Attorneys Against Hunger. Not many bar association events are family friendly, so it was fun to be able to get together with our families, do a little bowling, and eat a lot of nachos. I also won a sweeeet prize basket at the raffle auction, including a cute little Coach crossover purse. Win!

So that’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods. Also, I’ve been really into peanut butter & jelly waffles for breakfast. And I really need to get the kid out of bed and get us to school/work. I’m trying to cut her a break because of daylight savings buuuuut I gotta bill some hours today!


Various and Sundry

Various and Sundry

Welcome to Sunday.

Today we took Baby Beez to Sunday School, had a fab grown-ups breakfast at Habitat, and then I did laundry, did a little bit of work and cooked a bunch of food for the week. Not exciting, but much needed quiet time.

Habitat Sunday Breakfast Buffet, yes pls.

Habitat Sunday Breakfast Buffet, yes pls.

My restaurant review posts have slowed down lately. I’m still trying new places and eating way too much, but I haven’t had the review-writing bug lately. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I feel like the review bandwagon is too full and it’s not as entertaining for me right now. Maybe it’s because I spend all day thinking about things and then writing about them, that by the time I get home I’m tired of thinking about things and writing about them. Maybe it’s just because I’m enjoying spending more time doing things than writing about them (I’ve already got 6 races booked this year, in distances varying from 10-13.1 miles). This blog, in the first place, is supposed to be fun, so I’m not forcing myself to write if I’m not feeling it. I’m sure I’ll swing back into reviews eventually.

There are still plenty of other things on my mind, just enough to be the kernel of a post, but not really enough to draw out a whole post, so instead I’ll share them with you in list fashion:

1.   My daughter loves Scooby Doo. She gave us the peace of a THREE HOUR nap this afternoon and I decided to reward her by letting her watch the 2002 Scooby Doo movie. This movie is very likely the worst movie I have ever seen in my life.

2.   Orlando vacation is coming soon. I am so ready for this trip. I’ve been having almost nightly dreams about it. I’m not sure if that’s pathetic or really pathetic. Last night I dreamt (dreamed?) that it was the day we were going to Universal, but I couldn’t get folks moving to actually GO to the park. Like it was noon and I still couldn’t get my family out the door, then it was 1 and they were still not budging, and I was SO frustrated and angry. I don’t know how the dream ended because then Baby Beez climbed into our bed and woke us up.

3. Speaking of bed invasions, we got Baby Beez an OK to Wake clock, in an effort to end her habit of crawling into our bed at FOUR AM. It worked great…for two days. Well, not that bad, but it’s still not a failsafe solution. I’ve been getting up earlier because I need to get into work earlier because I need to work all the hours, and lately I’ve been getting up before she does, so the waking-me-up thing isn’t such a problem. But she’s still rolling in at 6am on a Sunday, which is less than cool.

4. I finally realized that all these training runs aren’t so much about pushing myself to make the distance, it’s more about the recovery. With a very moderate level of training, I could force myself through the 2.5 hours of a half marathon, but I’d be d-e-d at the end. Even though I’ve been getting more like 2 mid-length runs in during the week (instead of 3), I have been diligent about my long run each weekend. As a consequence, I did the 11 miles yesterday, and although I was stiff afterward and still a little stiff today, I’m feeling pretty good all around. This gives me confidence that I’m going to feel just fine after the Princess runs in two weeks.

5.  I’ve been listening to audiobooks on those long runs, which means I’m killin it with my audiobooks. In the last few weeks, some of my favorites have included: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The First Bad Man by Miranda July, In the Woods by Tana French, The Secret Place by Tana French, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. There’s something lovely about listening to a book you’re really into that helps make miles and miles and miles of running seem so much easier.

6. Enough with the Sriracha already.


Thoughts on a Full Month of @EastEndCoOp Shopping

Thoughts on a Full Month of @EastEndCoOp Shopping

My New Years Resolution for 2015 was to do all of our grocery shopping at the East End Food Co-op. We’ve made it through January, and to my husband’s shock and joy, I did indeed stick to this resolution. There are times where there is an item or two that we need that the Co-op simply doesn’t have, so we’ve been picking things up from other local vendors such as the Butcher on Butler and the vendors at the Pittsburgh Public Market.
I’ve had to make some adjustments in how I shop in order to make my Co-op shopping a success, but honestly, it’s been far easier and less disruptive in my routine than I expected. I’ve learned:

1. Co-op food goes bad fast. I don’t know if it’s because the fruit isn’t waxed or treated or whatever, the shelf life on co-op produce is short. There’s been a bit of a learning curve, with me throwing out more produce than I’d like, but I’m getting into the swing of things. This means that when I get home, all the produce gets out of the produce bags immediately and into bowls on the counter. This also means that I have a specific plan for the produce I buy. Either it’s going in a recipe or going to be snacks/in packed lunches. I can’t just buy produce with the intent of figuring out what to do with it, because by the time I get around to thinking about it, it will have gone bad. But I’ve developed that habit now, and have gotten myself to buy one week’s worth of produce, which we do eat within that week (my habit at standard grocery stores was to buy TONS of produce, which would sometimes last as long as 2-3 weeks…that doesn’t work with co-op produce).

2. Because of #1, I definitely need to go grocery shopping every single week. I used to stretch out shopping to every 10-14 days, and I’d buy a lot more, but it could last a while longer. Now, I definitely have to make it there once a week, so that we have enough and fresh food.

Co-op snacking

3. BUT ON THE UPSIDE Shopping at the co-op is a lot faster. I can do a full-out shopping trip in about 45 minutes. Yes, the selection is far smaller than at a standard grocery store, but to be honest, by the time I get around to grocery shopping (which is usually a weeknight, when I’m tired already), I have decision fatigue. I don’t want to have to compare four different products. I just want to be like “I need frozen ravioli, oh look, here is the frozen ravioli” and put it in my cart. Also, I really like that the products at the co-op are focused on health and the business practices of the companies whose products they stock. I don’t have to sift through political issues and concerns about all kinds of preservatives and food additives that I don’t understand. Those kinds of products aren’t even stocked at the co-op, so I don’t have to worry about weeding them out.

4. I’ll be honest, the co-op is expensive (I’d say comparable to Whole Foods in price). The bulk dry products (rice, beans etc.) are actually very inexpensive, just much more time consuming to prepare. The rest of the stuff can be pretty pricey. I am planning on getting a farmshare again in the spring to bring our produce costs down. I do make far fewer impulse buys…although the impulse buys I do make tend to be a lot more expensive ($10 pint of Jeni’s ice cream and $10 block of gourmet cheese, please).

5.  I’ve gotten into a pattern with our meals and shopping. It’s not full-on meal planning, but I do need to put a little thought into the shopping list ahead of time. each week I pick 2 or 3 recipes to make, and we have those for dinner throughout the week. For example, this week I made the Post Punk Kitchen’s Tamale Shepherd’s Pie, and it was fantastic. Even though we eat meat, I often use vegetarian or vegan recipes (sometimes adding in meat, dairy, eggs etc.), because their kinds of ingredients are always available at the co-op. Also, I was a vegetarian for a long time, am comfortable with veggie cooking, and do like preparing meals that are heavy on veggies, beans, etc. rather than the meat & potatoes approach.

We pack lunch for work, which is usually sandwiches or soup with fruit & veggies, so all of that is also easily purchased at the co-op. I also keep a couple boxes of frozen pizzas, frozen ravioli, and frozen vegetarian chicken nuggets on hand for the inevitable “got home way too late need to make something FAST” nights.

6. I do enjoy grocery shopping nights because I pick up something from the hot bar or prepared salads, which is healthy, tasty, and relieves me of having to cook on a night I’m already getting home late anyway. Their hot bar is pretty rockin. I got sweet potato gnocchi this week that were fan-tastic. Can’t wait til those are on the menu again!

I’ve liked this first month and feel like the goal I picked for 2015 is both manageable and worthwhile. I don’t even feel like it’s been much of a challenge so far. Although they don’t have the processed foods I would often buy at standard stores, I’m familiar with the kinds of products they do stock, and don’t have any sort of learning curve in terms of learning to cook with them. Also, the Jeni’s ice cream and gourmet cheese. I can never be sad with Jeni’s in my cart.