So last week I had the opportunity to go and visit friends, specifically Becky ( aka @HelloHaHaNarf who I happen to call @HolaHoHoSnarf in Spanish-Thundercatese because… well… I can) in Steel City itself… Pittsburgh. Ironically I last visited there in March 2014, which also happened to be the last time I took recreational time off. I was thinking about doing a dozen or so posts about the trip, but instead I decided to do just this one post and cram all of it in at one time. So, here’s a recap…
Primanti Bros. – Robinson
Although I travelled from New York to Pittsburgh on Wednesday with Poppy, I don’t actually consider my trip beginning until I was able to finish what was left of the business in New York. Therefore my trip really began with lunch on Thursday afternoon at none other than at the Primanti Bros. Robinson location.
Ever since seeing Primanti Bros. profiled back in 2002 on a Food Network television show, I’ve had them on my bucket list to visit. Thankfully I had the opportunity in March of 2014 to visit the original location in the “Strip” District. This time around I got to visit the Robinson location which definitely has more of a sports bar type vibe and a seemingly extended menu, but the same great selection and flavors of the original are intact.
I had the Black Angus Steak Sandwhich with a side order of the Almost Famous Chicken Wings smothered in Hot-Ranch sauce. The sandwich was really good with the classic fries and cole slaw right there in between the bread (a trademark of a Primanti Bros. sandwich), but the wings were just absolutely out of this world… and I mean REALLY out of this world with the hot/ranch fused sauce. It seems like such a simple idea, I’m surprised not more wingeries have done it.
My next visit of note was to a small little eating place called Jozsa’s Corner. When first entering the location it is important to note that you are actually walking into the kitchen. Once there, you literally walk through a hole in the wall to get to the dining area where your Hungarian themed 7-course family style feast will be served…
From middle left to right: Hungarian Peasant Soup, Halushki, Transylvanian Goulash
From bottom left to right: Cucumber salad and Chicken Papagash, Nastrovia, iron-worked sign in the side window
Now honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a Hungarian feasting experience. Being of German descent I am acutely aware of germanic foods and figured that the Hungarian experience would possibly be similar. It was actually vastly different and in an absolutely good way. Dill seemed to be the herb/spice of choice, and I have zero qualms about that whatsoever. Every dish (7 in total) was tastier than the one before it and while sharing that common Dill thread, each had its own tantalizing flavor signature. My two personal favorites were the Transylvanian Goulash and Chicken Papagash.
Because Alex is in his mid-seventies, this isn’t a place where you can just show up. Your best bet is to get a party of 20-25 people together (we had 17 due to a few cancelations) and call ahead to make the reservation. Even though it’s literally a hole in the wall, it’s probably going to be some of the best homemade food you’ll ever have.
The #NOTCat Interlude
So did I mention that we were staying for this trip at Becky’s house? Her house is WAY better than a hotel. The WiFi is cheaper, the bed was more comfortable, the sheets were cooler (flannel moose sheets), AND it came with the internet famous #NOTCat…
No… seriously… it’s NOT her (neither Becky’s or Poppy’s) cat… although you wouldn’t know it from the way he saunters around the house, or how much time he actually spends there… which is ALOT.
So yeah… there’s no hotel that I know of that comes with it’s own visiting feline… so Becky’s gets a 5-Star rating for #NOTCat alone.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral Food Festival
The next day, to continue eating my way through the Burgh, we went to the Greek Food Festival being held at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. This was actually a seemingly offshoot festival (the “real” one is usually in May) being held because it was the University of Pittsburgh Homecoming Weekend, but the menu and food was still spectacular.
Needless to say I had a classic gyro that was very good, a Galaktoboureko (a pastry with custard filling) which was delightful, and of course the requisite Loukoumades puffed pastry balls glazed with butter and cinnamon. Ironically I was introduced to Loukoumades only recently from someone who was NOT Greek (even though I know a few resident Greeks) which just goes to show they try to keep the best secrets to themselves… and honestly I don’t blame them.
Next up was seeing Matt Damon in The Martian in 3D at the AMC Waterfront 22.
Now I have to be honest, this was pretty exciting to me since I haven’t been to a movie since July. I really did enjoy the film and the story. I don’t think it’s at all far-fetched of this type of thing happening, although I would like to think that NASA would have a more concrete plan for such an incident occurring when we do send manned missions to Mars. Yes, I said when, because it’s really only a matter of time. If you’re into real science being used well in fiction, then I’d definitely recommend it.
The theater going experience itself was relatively pleasant as well. I’ve become sort of a cinema snob ever since I discovered the AMC Fresh Meadows has reserved seating with the leather recliners, and I pretty much refuse to go anywhere else. Although we sat in regular stadium-style seating, it was still an enjoyable time… BUT… they also have a reserved seating section AND there’s a restaurant built into the theater. How awesome is that? Yeah… I think I’ll have to go back to experience that aspect of the theater myself….
Oh, and duct tape? Once again proves it’s worth in the world.
Save-Mor Beer & Pop Warehouse
We made a stop to get some beverages for the University of Pittsburgh football game the next day and happened to run into…
NO not THAT Jared!!! THIS JARED!!!
Two totally different Jareds… of this, I can assure you.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – After Hours @ The Library: Neverland
Next stop was at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for and after hours event themed around Neverland. This was a fundraiser kind of thing, was really pretty fancy, had a really good time sampling the roaming platters of food and trying out all the drinks including this Italian raspberry soda that I totally want to get now… but for whatever reason I took no photos. Probably because I was too busy doing other stuff.
I did, however, catch some cool photos of the fireworks that went off just outside for the University of Pittsburgh Homecoming Celebration.
Or they were just happy to see me.
Yeah… I like that explanation better.
Heinz Field – University of Pittsburgh Homecoming Football Game
Did I happen to mention that it was the University of Pittsburgh Homecoming? Well, it was… and we had tickets!!! Not only did we get to go to the game… but we tailgated!!!
Now if you know me, you know how big a deal this is. I am SO not into organized sporting events such as this. For that matter, I’m usually the one picking up people in the parking lot at either half-time or the 6th inning who never made it inside because they tailgated way too much. On this day, I was a fan (through a borrowed hat) and a participant… and… I liked it.
I got to eat hot roast beef sandwiches that were better than Roy Rogers, I shared small talk with people who I had never met before, I was offered chicken from complete strangers, and I accumulated and interesting collection of bottle caps… and that was just in the parking lot! Once in the stadium I got to actually sit and watch something happen without listening to a radio or worrying about how long a wheelchair escort was taking. I got to casually walk around the stadium at my own pace instead of a hurried frantic one looking for someone reportedly in distress. I actually got to go to Burgatory in the Ford Fan Area who, ironically, were all sold out of burgers but I spent $8.75 for a chocolate shake with brownie chunks in it. It was… well… relaxing.
Now don’t get it all twisted… I’d probably still rather watch the DOTA 2 Championships on Twitch or old episodes of Red vs. Blue… but now I honestly get why people do it. It isn’t even so much for the sport, but more for the social comradery. Less for the organization, but rather to have commonality with others. It was like a blogger meetup… only minus all the HTML and PHP talk.
It was a damn good time.
Oh… and #PITT won. #AllHailPitt
So I’ve had Pittsburghese, Hungarian, Greek, and Footballian dishes… what cuisine could possibly be next to sample?
For dinner we headed over to Tartine, a nice little tucked away French restaurant. It is known for it’s elegant and tasty cuisine as well as the very picky and peculiar proprietor…
… Bert. Bert happens to be furry and on four legs, but that doesn’t stop him from going from table to table to ensure customer satisfaction. The meal started off with their version of a shrimp cocktail, followed by a delectable potato leeks soup, then on to an arugula salad, my entree’ was the rack of lamb, and finally a creme brulee without all the burnt sugar on top.
I’ll be honest, the rack of lamb was delicious, but next time I’m getting the pork chop… it’s a double bone chop. Yum!!!
The Nina and The Pinta
We saw them.
Oh look… a Hard Rock!!!!
AND a Duck Boat!!!
One of the places we visited last time and thoroughly enjoyed was Piper’s Pub. So of course we went there again for a spectacular Sunday brunch…
… where I had my first Scotch egg, which is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat and cooked. I know it may not look appetizing, but going down it definitely WAS appetizing. Then for the entree I had the “MacChicken Boxty”… which is basically a potato pancake that was stuffed with fried chicken and bacon mac N cheese. To top the flavor off there was a Sriracha drizzle and the blend was superb. So you can check off Scottish/Irish cuisine off the checklist for those of you keeping track.
Finally, for the finale, dinner was Pittsburgh Pizza a la Mario. Unfortunately (or, fortunately, depending on how you’re feeling at this point) there’s no pictures. I will say that the pizza was actually really really really good. The crust was kind of a hybrid between a New York slice and a Chicago deep dish. Most interestingly though was the fact that they sent ranch dressing for… wait for it… crust dipping.
Now that’s my kind of pizza place!!!
The Road Home
The road home was just that… the road home.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true trip without having something go horribly awry. That started Saturday with a toothache, continued Sunday with some throbbing, rolled into Monday where the pain was inexplicably bad and I started popping Ibuprofen like it was candy which led to being here on Tuesday…
— David Konig (@davidkonig) October 13, 2015
Yeah… so the good news is I still have the tooth. The bad news is that I only have it because of a really bad infection that caused my left cheek to swell up and abscess. The really good news is the anti-biotics have been doing a kick-ass job, and I actually feel almost normal on the left side of my face.
At some point next week I’ll go back and find out whether or not the tooth fractured due to the grinding and gnashing of my chompers in my sleep… something that happened in February and was attributed to stress and duress of the time. Not sure what the cause is this time… but whatever.
The bottom line is, toothache and all, I had an absolutely fabulous time in Pittsburgh!!! I highly recommend it as a place to visit if you ever have the chance. Thanks again to Becky for the hospitality and dragging us all around!
With that said, thanks for reading all the way through!!!