Blogger Past & Future

Several years ago, I started this blog as a way to connect to others around me, mostly those I knew, in order to draw them in and have a stronger friendship. Somehow, through difference choices and avenues I’ve taken, it’s become more of a way for me to connect with my surroundings – in a strange way, it’s an out pour of myself to reach out to others I may not know or will ever know. Similarly, it’s also become a way for me to keep in contact with those I love and am not able to see each week, or even each month. 


PGH Dining: Fat Heads Saloon

 After a fabulous win at a Pirates vs. Phillies game at PNC Park, we continued the celebration by heading over to Fat Heads Saloon over the river in the South Side.
Fireworks after the winning game.
 After have a few beers at the ball park, we wanted something hot and crispy. Perfect remedy - Smoked Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke dip, served with fried pita. The smokiness of the chicken hit you as soon as you took your first bite. The warm pita was crunchy, and was the perfect vehicle for the creamy dip. Great job!
 Then, based on a suggestion from the group, we had the stuffed hot peppers. These banana peppers are stuffed with hot sausage and cheese, then topped with a tomato sauce. They were a spicy kick I needed before my main dish.
A friend-of-a-sister once told us if we ever went to Fat Heads to have the wings. What else could we do? We ordered wings. I wouldn't do it again. Not a fan of these wings, with dry, oily skin, and were accompanied by tired celery and carrots. Next time, I'm going for the cheese sticks or fried pierogies!
 Moving on to our main dish - The PCI {Pretty Cool Italian} Headwich. It really was the size of my head.   Definitely a sharing sandwich.
 Salami, capicola, ham, pepperoni, hard boiled egg, and rosemary mayonnaise are just a few of the items on this insane sandwich. I love how many options there are, too, and I'm anxious to try another one!
Fat Heads was just the thing we needed to soak up some of that delicious craft beer we had at PNC Park. There are so many things I'd like to try when I go there next; However, I won't be having the wings again.

 - - - 

Fat Head's Saloon on Urbanspoon

{Guest Post} Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week

Our friend James was in town this past weekend for Pittsburgh's first Craft Beer Week.  How advantageous that our most knowledgable beer buddy would visit PGH while this craft beer celebration was going on! It must have been fate. Either way, since I don't know much about beer {other than it tastes good!}, I've asked him to write a short guest post on the subject. Without him by our side, we would have been full of questions about the beer menus.  Thanks for accompanying us, James, on a week we hope to replicate many times over!  

I was lucky enough to visit Pittsburgh on their inaugural craft beer week. While we didn't do too many of the events, we still had fun. We got a sneak peak of the Dogfish Dinner at Shiloh Grill and went to Hofbrauhaus for their party/trivia event. I also got to try a ton of new beer {he can't get in the South}, so it was a successful trip.

Here is a little Q&A from Ashley.
1. What is the difference between craft beer and regular beer? How is the process different?
Craft beer is brewed on a smaller scale with more thought and stories behind the beer. The process of brewing doesn't change materially but the ingredients and the style varies. I would compare it to the local restaurant vs the mega-chain.

2. What are some of the most 'known' craft beers? Or are there any?
Sam Adams' Boston Lager, New Belgium's Fat Tire and Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale are probably the top 3 most recognized craft beers. The more well-known craft breweries are Sam Adams, Dogfish Head, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, Rogue, Avery, and Stone among others. (Shiner for the people in Texas.)

3. What are the types of craft beer {i.e. hoppy, stout, etc.} What do they taste like?
There are way too many styles of beer. There are also people like Sam Caligione at Dogfish Head that pretty much invents a style each time he brews a new beer. You have your popular styles like Pale Ale (semi-hoppy), IPA-India Pale Ale (very hoppy), Stout (dark and thick), Lager (clear and crisp). I maintain that there is a beer/style for every palette.
4. What are some of your favorite craft beer makers?
My favorite brewery right now is Great Divide out of Denver. They make an incredible stout (Yeti) and even a good fruit beer (Wild Raspberry Ale), among other solid beers. Dogfish Head is another favorite. They brew from the tiny state of Delaware and they are known for stretching the boundaries of beer. Of note is their line of Ancient Ales, recipes researched by historians to get close to historic as possible. Also their Music line, with ales brewed for greats such as Miles Davis, Pearl Jam and Robert Johnson.
James in the background texting his Beer Buds about Hellhound.
5. What are some of your favorite local/PA/PGH craft beers?
Yuengling is a great representation of what a macro pale lager (Bud/Miller/Coors) should be. The Troegs bros also make some great brew.

6. Can you give some recommendations for those of us novices on ordering craft beers we'd like? (ex. if we like red stripe/dos equis/stouts, what should we order?)
My first piece of advice is to try a lot of beer. You will most likely find you don't like before you find the one you love, don't give up so early. If you are used to the lighter macro brews then try a lager/pilsner/golden ale from a craft brewery. If you are a Guiness Fan then go for the stouts/porters/barleywines. If you are a Shiner fan then gravitate towards the bocks/swarzbiers/ambers. If you are a Blue Moon person then try the hefeweizens and fruit beers. The only beers that I suggest new craft beer drinkers avoid are sours and IPAs. They have very strong tastes and can be quite a shock to the palette. Brooklyn Brewery and New Belgium are both great breweries for you to try as they aren't too crazy with their normal selection.
7. How many craft breweries have you been to, and where would you like to visit next time you're in town?
I've been to way too many craft breweries to count. {I see a trend here!} Next time I visit Pittsburgh I want to hit up their version of a flying saucer. I want to see a bar with a diverse selection of east coast brews.

If you aren't a beer fan then maybe craft sodas are your take? If so, then check out Maine Root or Jones (Nationally). For the Texans, hit up Dublin Bottling Works(former maker of Dublin DP) or Armadillo Ale Works.

Thanks, James! 
Readers, if you have questions about craft beer you'd like answered, leave them in the comments!


What I Wore {Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week}

As said so eloquently by some of my blogger buddies, it's difficult to hang out with the guys but still keep a hold on your femininity - Jeans and a t-shirt don't cut it for this gal! I wore this outfit on a Sunday afternoon of exploring Point State Park/Downtown and enjoying craft beer with Husband and our good friend, James. 


Seeing the Sights with Our First Guest!

This past weekend {give or take a couple days} was a blast! Husband's BFF came in town, and was our first guest to stay with us in PGH.  It was {for lack of a more grown-up word} awesome to show someone around our new turf. 
 Essentially, this photos sums it up nicely:
Dogfish Head's Ta Henket
Read about the rest of the weekend after the jump!



This weekend we have our first visitor in PGH!
Bloomfield Bridge
 I'll see y'all on Sunday!


PGH Dining: SMOKE Barbeque Taqueria

We visited SMOKE Barbeque Taqueria on a weeknight, mainly because I didn't feel like cooking. Husband wanted something comforting, so what else do folks raised in Texas do? Go to a place that serves tacos.  
 SMOKE is in Homestead, which is something of a journey from Lawrenceville. {I realize you're jumping for joy to hear we went somewhere outside of our neighborhood.} Across the river and down the street in Homestead is an unsuspecting storefront, adjacent to empty shops, where SMOKE makes it's home. If you don't slow down, you might miss it.
 Inside the small, cozy restaurant is about 15 seats, some of which are at a bar/counter. You order from a two-page menu, and pay cash. {ATMs are nearby} This paying cash business can be a nuisance to some, but it helped us not go overboard because we just had a $20 on us. It's also BYOB, so be sure to have more foresight than we did and be stuck without some nice Mexican beers. {There is a beer store around the corner, though, if you're really in need.}
 Step up to order,
 under the cute chicken wire light fixture.
 Husband ordered a Mexican Coke, and I stuck with water. 
 We ordered their macaroni and cheese, and three tacos:
 Look at that setup!
 The macaroni and cheese was delicious, and was gone within minutes. It was right up our alley, with lots of coarsely cracked black pepper bits scattered throughout. 
Beef Brisket Taco
Vegetarian Taco
Migas with Chorizo.
 Fluffy white tortillas, with hot, flavorful filling. Winners. All three tacos were good, but the veggie taco was my favorite, featuring avocado, black beans and bruised cilantro leaves. 
Glass-Based Lamp
 The atmosphere is cozy, which is a nice way to say it was tight. This is a good way to meet people, however, since you're sharing elbow room at the bar seats. There were so few seats in the house, and SMOKE is still super popular - so you can see those two factors don't make for an easy seating. If I were the owners of SMOKE, I would line both sides of the bar with stools, adding at least 4 more seats. That's just my two cents!

 Neighborhood: Homestead/Munhall
Good For: Meeting people, BYOB
Gems: Vegetarian Tacos
Drawbacks: Seating

 SMOKE barbeque taqueria on Urbanspoon


Camping Near Morraine State Park

I'm finally getting around to posting about our adventures in camping...from last weekend! We had a great time camping near Morraine State Park {not inside the park because of rules} at Rose Point Park, which is just a 10-minute dive away from the state park {And one of the few places open for camping in April*}.
Near the entrance to Rose Point is a close bridge, made of metal and concrete. We stopped to look at the architecture of it and take photos of it's gorgeous rust.
Check out more photos after the jump!


PGH Dining: Waffalonia

Being the planners that we are, Husband and I decided to squeeze in a visit to Waffalonia before seeing a 10:00AM matinee showing of a movie on a Sunday morning. Perfect, because they open at 9:00AM, and we were there on the dot.
Waffalonia, Leige Waffle Station, is a small, you'll-miss-it-if-you-blink shop in Squirrel Hill. You'll walk in to a skinny shop, with one side of waffle-making accouterment, the other for walking/ordering. P.S. - there's a wall full of peanut butter and nutella. Mmmm.

Waffle Iron in the Window.
Waffalonia's Menu: 
 They also offer ice creams:
 Next time I'm definitely trying cinnamon ice cream with Nutella on a hot waffle.
 After we ordered our waffle {Toppings below!}, we waited at the 'tables' alongside the wall. If you're bringing a group, you may want to get your waffles to go. However, it's perfect for a couple o' lovebirds sharing a waffle.
 Here she is...our sugar waffle, complete with a 1/4 c of Nutella, 3/4 of a banana and a huge dollop of whipped cream. Start the oohing and ahhing now.
We brought our own coffees!
 Behold the beauty. 

 Crunchy-sweet waffle, ripe banana slices, sandwiched between globs of Nutella and whipped cream. {Typical combination, I know, but too hard to pass up!}

Waffalonia was a sweet beginning to our morning. Check it out when you're in the neighborhood for a cozy decadent breakfast or brunch. 

Neighborhood: Squirrel Hill
Good For: Couples Breakfast/Brunch, Out-of-the-Ordinary Dessert
Gems: Ice Cream and Nutella {Expectations, of course}
Drawbacks: Seating Options

Waffallonia on Urbanspoon


PGH Dining: Jergel's Rhythm Grille

Jergel's Rhythm Grille opened just a few short weeks ago, and everyone at Husband's office park in Warrendale heard about it. We all went for an office happy hour, and were welcomed to sit in the upper deck since we had a party of 12. The place has a nice, wide patio for those that want to be outdoors, and a floor full of tables ringed by a second floor {complete with bar}. Smart setup, especially on concert nights. {Check out their upcoming bands here.}
We were told by our hostess there was a rush on the kitchen right when we got there{?}, so we were asked to wait for 45 minutes before we ordered our food. This is odd, but not uncommon for newly opened restaurants. We ordered our happy hour-priced drinks {good deals!}, and Husband and I settled on the half-priced bottle of wine. {Red Guitar Spanish Temrapanillo, $14.50.} Great wine for a good price.
The ceiling of the upper deck.
Once we were able to order {it went by fairly quickly}, the two of us ordered chicken and waffles,
 and a trio of meatball sliders.
The sliders were bland and the meatballs were far to small for the amount of bun. The chicken and waffles were great! Crispy fried chicken wings {interesting/convenient choice of meat!}, fluffy waffle and warm syrup.
  Around the table, others had rich, creamy pasta dishes:
a Buffalo Chicken salad, later to be "Pittsburghed,"
 and a scalloped potato casserole {with three cheeses}. 
 Jergel's was fun, the menu was surprising, and featured good happy hour deals. The wait for food, however, wasn't a good move. We'll have to go back in a month or so, once they've gotten the high volume down pat!

Neighborhood: Cranberry Township/Warrendale
Good For: Happy Hour, Concerts
Gems: Seating Options
Drawbacks: Food Wait

Jergel's Rythm Grille on Urbanspoon