Thursday, May 19, 2011

Penn Avenue Fish Company

Yesterday I met my two friends Veronica and Kat downtown for lunch at the new location of Penn Avenue Fish Company downtown on Forbes. I’ve never been to the original location on the strip, but I’m so glad we got to try this one out!! The inside is so vibrant and surprising compared to the dull afternoon and downpours we walked through to get here. There are bright greens/blues/purples everywhere. The inside is super tiny, but it never felt too cramped. Veronica and Kat waited in line while I held our table.


Their menu is pretty spectacular – not too pricey either. There was a great selection of sushi, and the rolls were very unique.


…and there’s more! SO MANY sandwiches that I just had to stop looking…I would have never been able to decide.


I finally made up my mind and went with the Chirashi Bowl…a delicious choice! Four kinds of fish (salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and…?) on a bed of sushi rice. A bundle of crab meat graced the top of the lovely mound of fish, and a seaweed salad went with it as well.


Definitely some of the best sushi I’ve ever had! Super fresh, and the added flavors of the sesame seeds/crab/roe/seaweed mingled perfectly with the fish.


Veronica chose the shrimp tempura roll which looked amazing.


Kat was brave enough to tackle the long list of sandwiches and went with the Sneaky Pete. It had grilled salmon, arugula, hearts of palm, and spicy avocado cream sauce. That’s a bad shot of the sandwich, but the inside looked delicious!


I’m so happy I can finally say I’ve been here, and now that I know how great it is, I’ll definitely be hitting up the original location the next time I’m in the strip. I can’t wait!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mother’s Day Weekend Part II!

 If you missed part one, my mom came to visit me for Mother’s Day weekend, and we had a blast! The second part of our weekend was just as great as the first. Early Saturday morning, we ventured down to the strip district. We weren’t going to get an actual sit-down breakfast, but we couldn’t resist Pamela’s. I had never been there before, and since we were so early, there were barely any people there! Usually there’s a huge line out the door, so we really lucked out.


I ordered a bagel and a fruit bowl, which had fresh strawberries and an entire sliced banana. A far cry from your typical grapes and hard melon fruit bowl from a diner!


My mom ordered crepes, eggs, and chorizo (which was burned and the waitress replaced), but we ended up splitting everything. We put the fruit on the crepes, and it was divine! There’s definitely a reason why they call their crepes “famous.”


In terms of breakfast in the strip district, Pamela’s definitely wins. Our service was so fast that it was almost unbelievable. I really like how they gave us carafes of coffee. We were never without a sip of piping hot coffee! Sorry DeLuca’s, but I’ve found a new favorite.


After wandering around, stocking up on spices, and sampling East End Beer, we made our way to D's Six Pack & Dogs in Regent Square/Swissvale. My mom has been to Roy Pitz brewery and really enjoys their beer, so we were really excited when we saw their Honest Amber Ale on tap!


Definitely a winner! This beer was very delicious, and exactly like the description says. This is definitely a crowd pleaser – not too dark, not too hoppy, and extremely tasty – I would seriously be surprised if I found a beer drinker that didn’t like this beer!




We ordered red pepper hummus, which came with these tasty pita crackers. We also got a side of their hot wing sauce. What great flavors! Their hummus is delicious.


We sat there for quite a while and eventually decided to split a hot dog. This is the veggie dog version of the Red Alert. It is dusted with habanero powder and covered in a variety of hot peppers. This will seriously make you sweat! It was SO spicy! The soft poppy seed bun offered a little bit of relief, and we of course had our beers to cool our taste buds down a bit. I love when restaurants are serious about their spiciness. When they say hot, they mean hot!


Our next beer stop was close to home, at Allegheny Six Pack and Dog House. Don’t you love their classy glassware?



For breakfast on Sunday morning, we went to the wonderful Oakmont Bakery. We both had breakfast sandwiches with egg and horseradish cheddar cheese. I had a hot pepper bagel, and my mom went with the onion bagel. Nothing better than this!


We clearly couldn’t leave without something sweet, so we got and almond and a pistachio macaron. OMG. So amazing. The almond one looks a little sad because I crushed the bottom with my thumb before I took the picture – oops! I didn’t realize how fragile they would be! I fell in love, and I’ll certainly be back to get these beauties again.


  Phew! What a weekend! We really had a lot of fun.

Thanks Mom! Love you!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother’s Day Weekend Extravaganza Part I!

My mom drove to Pittsburgh this weekend for Mother’s Day, and we had a REALLY fun weekend! To start off the weekend, we went to Ichiban in the Waterworks for sushi. It was excellent, as always. Their sushi is great, plus the atmosphere is warm and relaxing. It’s also the closest sushi place to me, so it all just works out :)


They brought us our miso soup and salad almost instantly after ordering, which was great. We were both starving.


Up next were our amazing drinks…same thing we order every time. I got the Sake-tini (gin, sake, and cucumber strips), and mom got the Chard-tini (chardonnay, vodka, peach schnapps). They’re both fabulous and dangerously delicious.


We ordered Age Tofu as an appetizer – silken tofu coated in what seemed like rice crumbs…not exactly sure, but they were SO good. Definitely ordering these again.


Then our giant plate of sushi showed up…awesome! Each piece was buttery, fresh, and perfect. It must have taken us an hour to eat everything, because we spent so long mmmmmming and omgthisissoooogooding. This is the “sushi for two” but can definitely be sushi for three! We were so stuffed by the end.




After a couple gin and tonics at Oakmont Tavern, we came back to my apartment for dessert made by my wonderful friend Brie. She makes beautiful and delicious cakes, and I ordered one for my mom for Mother’s Day – so pretty!


It was a lemon cake with strawberry filling. Soooo freakin tasty!!! Thanks Brie! :)


More on our weekend later!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


 Andy and I made fajitas a few days ago…nothing to crazy or original, but man they were delicious. When Andy comes over, we try to make quick, easy dinners (and in theory fajitas are quick and easy), but somehow they always take us forever. We haven’t exactly figured out why yet. We can’t blame alcohol, because these are nights when I have to go to work in a couple hours. No idea.


With two banana peppers, one serrano, and two habaneros, these fajitas were bound to be spicy…yum!!


What a beautiful sight!! Mostly peppers and onions, plus a bunch of itty bitty button mushrooms. They were so cute! Everything got sautéed together for a few minutes.


I made a mango salsa to balance the heat a bit, and it had mango, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. So easy, yet so delicious. This got way better over a couple of days too.


My favorite part of the fajitas were these AMAZING tortillas! Made by La Tortilla Factory, these corn/wheat blend tortillas were phenomenal. Seriously. I have never been so impressed by a simple tortilla. They were moist, thick, chewy…almost like naan! I’m so in love with these.


The tortillas were topped with fat-free refried beans, the veggies, shredded cheddar, and the salsa. We also dabbed some chipotle hot sauce here and there for some extra deliciousness. That’s it! I obviously put way to many toppings on my tortilla, but the difficulty of eating it was worth it. So many flavors…so wonderful!


My mom is going to be here TOMORROW!!! :) Lots to get done before then! I’ll be sure to fill these pages with the crazy amounts of sushi that we’re going to eat.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Glamour Salmon – Return of the Trader Joe’s Cookbook

 Last night I got to make another recipe from my awesome Trader Joe’s cookbook from Lisa. I haven’t really been cooking for myself lately…just eating crackers and hummus for dinner, etc., so this was a nice change to have a real meal. Well…it was a real meal until it was getting late and I didn’t cook any sides with it. But still, I actually used the oven!

I’ve had these salmon fillets in my freezer for quite a while. I like them because they seem to be frozen when they’re very fresh, and the skin is still on them. Cheap too!


I used this very simple recipe that the author found in a Glamour magazine years ago. (If it’s illegal to have this picture up, someone please let me know and I’ll take it down – I’m not really sure if that’s a copyright infringement or anything).


I definitely didn’t plan this ahead, so I had to use the trusty running cold water to thaw method. It works!


While the salmon thawed, I made the super easy and delicious sauce. I added honey to a bowl…


then soy sauce…


a few drops of sesame oil…


the juice of a half of a lemon, and red pepper flakes.


The sauce was really great at this point, but I also added garlic powder and fresh ginger.


I let the sauce soak in the salmon for a few minutes before baking it at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. The thin end of the fillet was done way before the middle, so I cut it off (then ate it), and cut the rest into three pieces so the middle could get done a little bit more. It’s so hard to find that balance between undercooked and overcooked – especially with fish that varies in thickness.


Very very good!! I poured the rest of the sauce on the salmon, which was great for dipping too. The fish was done perfectly, which rarely happens to me. It was flakey, moist, and amazing with the sauce! I can see this classic sauce being great with tofu, chicken, or other veggies and meats. Yay for success!