Archive for Eat Local

Lunch at Casbah on a sunny day…

On Tuesday, I had a little conference with the owner of Vanilla (my fav pastry shop) about the prospects of me working there (and I’m so excited I could wet my pants – but in a professional, mature way) and then the boyfriend and I wandered up the road to Casbah for lunch. We’ve lived in the neighborhood, more or less, for months and have always wanted to go but never did. Until Tuesday.

The highlight of the meal, for me, was probably the bread. Oh man. OH MAN. I forgot to ask them who supplied their breads, but whoever it is…please allow me to bow at your feet. Wowza. Like I said, it was good. Really, really good.

The lunch menu is, presumably, smaller and cheaper than the dinner menu but there were still lots of choices and we both found ourselves saying, “oh, I want this one…no, this one…no, that…no, maybe this…” and then making a gut decision when the waitress stopped by. I had the BLT and he had the crab sandwich.

I forgot to take pictures until we were almost done - oops!

My BLT was pretty good – awesome bread, thick bacon, just the right amount of mayo (“aioli” is what they called it, but let’s be real…it’s mayo). The fries were pretty good, too.

A mini-annoyance: On the menu it said that they used “local tomatoes,” which struck me as weird considering I don’t think anyone local is growing tomatoes yet, but…whatever. Also, everything on that sandwich could/should be local, but if the tomatoes is all they’re willing to do that’s OK. Baby steps, Casbah.

He toughed it out and ate most of the sandwich, mayo and all.

Joe was pretty disappointed with his sandwich. It was too fishy-tasting to me (blech, seafood), but what really got him was all the mayo. He assumed (incorrectly) that it would be sort of like a crabcake sandwich and not a crab salad sandwich and his hatred of mayo is just about in proportion with my love of it, so…you can imagine. Still: really good bread, and that bites that didn’t have a ton of mayo in them he seemed to like.

We skipped dessert and went across the street to Oh Yeah! for ice cream, but it was a nice lunch for under $20 and overall a good first experience. We’ll definitely be back – who knows when, since it took us six months to get there the first time, but…eventually. Baby steps!


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Birthday Dinner – and Cake!

Yesterday was my 25th birthday (thanks) and to celebrate, the boyfriend took me to a little bitty restaurant called CC’s Cafe. From the outside, the place looks like a dive bar, but inside…it’s only half dive bar. The other half is a 10-table Italian restaurant where they make their own pasta and play sappy saxophone renditions of old favorites (even Christmas favorites…).

To start, I had the sausage-stuffed mushrooms and he had crab lumps – not cakes, exactly, but little pyramids of light, delicate crab meat and a honey mustard-ish sauce. I don’t even like seafood and I thought they were pretty yummy. My mushrooms were good, not too wet or dry, bubbly cheese on top. After I’d eaten a few, though, they began to taste more and more salty.

We also got bread and dipping oil. Mmmmmm. Bread.

For dinner, I had the roasted garlic chicken pasta with red pepper fettucine, which was very good. The pasta didn’t have much of a red pepper taste to it, but it was delicious anyway. The chicken was tender, the garlic melted in my mouth. It was supposed to have red peppers in it and I was a little sad at how few there were (just two little slices!) and it needed salt and pepper, but otherwise a good dish.

He had one of the dinner specials, some kind of Hawaiian white fish with a nut crust and a citrus-pomegranate sauce. The sauce was pretty tart, a little weird for me, but the fish seemed good (like I said, I don’t generally eat it at all). He also got wild mushroom risotto with it – and that was GOOD, but not a good pairing for the light fish and fruity-sourness of the sauce.

A table of older ladies was next to us and they chatted the whole time we were there about their lives and their news. It was pretty hilarious. You can have a good dinner without some good eavesdropping, right? (Old ladies like to talk about sex. And they smoke pot. Who knew?)

All told, a delicious dinner, more extravagant than our usual fare (as is only appropriate, given it was to celebrate my 25th year of living). CC’s Cafe wasn’t perfect, but it’s no Olive Garden, for sure. You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to get me back there!

We opted to skip dessert (only 1 chocolate offering? yeah, right) and headed to Gullifty’s across town. I got a sinful triple chocolate mountain and Joe had key lime pie. Both good, as expected.

Dinner? Cake? Made by someone else? No dishes to do? I guess you could say 25 is off to a pretty nice beginning. 🙂

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How To Make Cupcakes

…in five easy steps!

Step One: Go to Vanilla Pastry Studio.

Step Two: Buy a bunch of cupcakes. (Half a dozen will do, I suppose.)

Step Three: Marvel at the beauty of your chosen cup o’ cake.

(I chose chocolate peppermint – it was a GOOD CHOICE.)

Step Four: You’re not done yet! I said MARVEL!

Step Five: Jam that sucker in your mouth. Or eat it in a bowl with a spoon, if you’re classy.

Vanilla is easily the gold standard for cupcakes in the city of Pittsburgh.* The “sugar fairy” gimmick I could see as getting a little obnoxious over time, but as long as they keep creating such moist, delicious little cakes topped with such fluffy, delicate mounds of heaven icing, they can call themselves whatever they want.

Like “genius.” Or “goddess.” Or, okay, “sugar fairy.”

*They don’t even pay me to say stuff like this! But, hey, Vanilla…if you’re listening…WILL WORK FOR CUPCAKES!

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