Archive | October, 2010

NYC Marathon Countdown……

25 Oct

Photo Borrowed from the Internet

In ten short days, I will be boarding a flight to NYC with my two munchkins– and two days after that–I will be running  the NYC Marathon!

I am so excited about this race and feel that I am ready.  Ever since I found out that I was in through the lottery–I have been training.  And now I  am just ready to just run the thing.

Everytime I see a movie or show filmed in NYC, I think, “I’m going to run across that bridge”,

“or down that street”,

“or by that building”.

The race begins on Staten Island and runs through all five burroughs (although I hear that most of it is in Brooklyn).  There are three waves of runners and each wave contains 15,000 runners!  45,000 runners (not including the elites)!  I can’t even imagine…….my first marathon had 500 people and went through the back country roads of Olympia, WA.  And, although I was happy to have finished it, I have to say that I was alone and bored throughout most of it.  This will be a completely different experience.

I love New York and I think I am going to love, love, love this race.  (This is my third marathon and I have never been this excited to run one before.)  Just to be in the city before and after the race with my kids and sister and mom will be a lot of fun.  I’ve got lots of restaurants and bakeries to check out…..and after running 26.2 miles, I will deserve a piece of crack pie from Momofuku Milk Bar.  And maybe a new camera from B&H.

My kids, my mom, sister and nephew will be there to cheer me on.  My in-laws may even drive over from Vermont.  (Too bad Aaron can’t make it —but he has deadlines. And stress.) It is going to be awesome…..just got to get my iPod playlist together, organize my running clothes, and supplies and do one last weekend run to prepare.

I may not run fast but I will run the NYC Marathon!

Wish me luck!

Spinach Lentil Soup

22 Oct


My mom sends packages.  It doesn’t have to be a birthday, Christmas or Easter—she just loves to fill up boxes and send them to us. Of course, we love to receive them but sometimes we just have to laugh at what is inside.  Last time, the package contained a cute skirt for me, a couple packs of gummy candy, an assortment of hair ties, a T-shirt for the Bean and two cans of refried beans.  The previous package was a bit smaller and contained a couple of recipes clipped from various sources, more gummy candy and a tube of toothpaste.  Thanks Mom!

One of the recipes that she sent was from a magazine called, “Delicious Living” for Red Lentil Soup.  It sounded perfect for a cool fall day—so using their recipe as a base and making a bunch of modifications—I came up with this recipe for Lentil Spinach Soup.  The soup was warm, hearty and healthy—just what I needed.  (I was so excited to eat it for lunch today until I realized that I had packed the Bean’s lunch (homemade pizza) in my bag and sent him to school with my green soup…..he is not going to be happy.)

Lentil Spinach Soup
Loosely Adapted from Delicious Living magazine
Ingredients:
1 cup red lentils
2 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1 heaping teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, diced tiny (My first from my garden!)
2 cloves of garlic (I didn’t have any but I know it would only make the soup better.)
2 cups baby spinach
1 tsp salt
3T heavy cream

1) In a medium pot, combine water, broth, lentils, bay leaves and smoked paprika to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Once the lentils start to break apart remove from heat.

2) Sautee in 1 T olive oil the chopped onion and diced jalapeño. (I was out of garlic but would suggest using it here as well.)

3) Add the onion and jalapeno mixture to the lentil mixture.

4) Using an immersion blender, blend the soup together.  Not too much though—you still want it a bit chunky.  Add the spinach and 2 T of heavy cream and blend some more.  Salt to taste.

5) I tried to be fancy and put a drizzle of heavy cream on top—just a tiny bit—to give it that little bit of needed fat.

6) Serve with homemade croutons or delicious Chanterelle Shallot Flatbread.

Enjoy!

Food Success: Chantrelle Shallot Flatbread

21 Oct

As you may remember, I had some issues with my apple cheddar scones.  Everything about them was embarrassing.  But then, later that same day, I was redeemed with this Chantrelle Shallot Flatbread.  It was good.  So good.

Like I mentioned before, I received a few samples of dried mushrooms from Marx Foods and made a wild mushroom risotto using four types of reconstituted mushrooms.  I didn’t use the Chantrelles however, I was saving them for something special.  And, this flatbread is that something special.

It is super easy and tasty too!

I started with my basic pizza dough recipe.  After the rising period, I rolled out one of the mini loaves and slathered it with about 2T of olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt, and a healthy dose of oregano.

I sautéed my reconstituted Chantrelles and shallots in about 1T of olive oil, and 1T of butter.  I then sprinkled these over the oiled and spiced crust and baked at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

The results were crispy, chewy and fabulous.

By the way, if you want to vote for me in the Marx Foods Mushroom Challenge, I would much appreciate it.  Go here.

 

 

Food Tragedy: Apple Cheddar Scones

19 Oct

Have you heard the research on multi-tasking?  Studies show that those who multi-task do a worse job and are less effective than those that focus on a singular task.

I always argue this with Aaron as he can only focus on one thing at a time—and while he is doing his one thing, (i.e. feeding the dogs)–I might be organizing a Halloween party, making pizza, helping the kids with their homework and dying my hair.  I can get a lot done quickly.  It is something I am proud of.

Yesterday, however, my multi-tasking didn’t work out too well.  Yesterday, I decided to cook.  I had a few recipes (chantrelle flatbread, pizza, lentil spinach soup, apple cheddar scones) dancing through my mind for awhile now and I was in the mood for food.

These Apple Cheddar Scones were posted on Smitten Kitchen and Leite’s Culinaria within the same week with rave reviews about how great they are.  I have always been curious about this apple cheese combination and thought this would be a good and easy way to try it (No, I have never tried apple pie with cheddar cheese.)   So, I got busy. While the pizza dough was rising and lentils were boiling, I followed the recipe.

I baked the apples.

I cubed the butter.

I sifted the dry.  (Can you tell which ingredient is missing?)

I mixed the butter, apples and dry ingredients together.

“Hmmmm…..why isn’t it coming together?, ” I asked myself.

Oh yeah—I forgot the egg.  At this point, I was worried as the recipe says to be very careful about overmixing.  I was getting dangerously close to that point.

Ahhh….done.  Dough on the counter top, pounding it flat thinking,   “What a nice dough this is–just some butter, flour, egg, apples and cream. Wait?  Cream?  I forgot the cream!!”

“What are scones without heavy cream?”

The dough went back to the mixer and I added the cream.   Now it was coming together.  Sort of.

The rest of the process was messy and embarrassing.  I couldn’t get it to cut in nice triangles, likely due to the odd combination of ingredients and the overmixing–so I ended up with an assortment of shapes.

The final step–the egg wash and sprinkling of sugar  reminded me that I hadn’t mixed in any sugar in the dough.   Ahhhh!  I was ready to throw the whole thing away.

And my photos—yikes!  My mind was just not there. (Speaking of minds not being there, when I told my mom I was baking scones, she said, “Scones?  What are scones?  Those things you put ice cream in?”  Maybe it had something to do with the ways the stars were aligned yesterday?)

Fortunately, the scones were edible and have the potential to be very good.  I need to try again. A time when I can focus.

In the meantime, if you are eager to try these out, I suggest heading over to Smitten Kitchen or Leite’s Culinaria for the recipe and directions.

I will only get you into trouble.

A plea to vote for me!

19 Oct

 

So, I entered another one of those little contests…..this time, I got a few samples of dried mushrooms in the mail and was directed to make something fabulous and blog about it.  So, I did.  Did you see the recipe for the wild mushroom risotto?  Take a look—  It was super tasty.

Anyway, I am asking (no, begging) for your help to win the most votes in the mushroom challenge.  You see, the winner get THREE shipments of fresh mushrooms and I really want to be that winner.  (I have stopped thinking about ever winning money– a bunch of mushrooms will suit me  just fine.)

And, if I do win–to thank you all for your support, I will share my mushroom booty with you all!  So, please click here.  And, vote for fortycakes. Tell your friends, tell your family!

Also, on the mushroom challenge website, you will find a random drawing for a bunch of fresh truffles….you could be the winner.

Voting closes Friday at midnight and only one vote per person is allowed.

Thanks for your support!

 

-kg

Wild Mushroom Risotto

12 Oct


I grew up in Washington State and every fall –my dad would get us up early, and rush out of the house in our  rainy cold weather clothes and go tramp through the woods looking for mushrooms.  Sometimes, we would come home with buckets and buckets of wild chantrelle mushrooms.  Sometimes, we would come back with a handful.  Either way, it was so fun to be outside with my dad, breathing in that earthy wet smell of the Washington forests.  (I am getting super homesick…..).

I remember going once with my best friend Leona and her dad.  We got so many chantrelles and then went to her house and sauteed them in butter.  They were so simple but so delicious!

Needless to say, fall reminds me of mushroom picking and eating and I was very excited to get a package from Marx Foods.  Marx Foods is a company based in Seattle, Washington that specialize in gourmet and hard to find foods.  They have some really interesting things on their website like, truffle honey, lavender salts and kangaroo meat.  I highly recommend checking them out-their website is here.  I have been very impressed with them based on my limited involvement with them—they are active and supportive of the food blog community—and when you send them an email, they promptly reply.

They sent me about 1/2 ounce of dried Chantrelles, Lobster Mushrooms, Black Trumpets, Porcinis and Matsutake Mushrooms–all of which were hand collected from the Pacific Northwest.  I felt they had sent me a little piece of home and I was very excited to use them.

A risotto seemed like the perfect opportunity.  A perfect recipe for fall and a delicious and healthy dinner for the family.

I have to admit—I was a little bit scared to make this as it seemed so complicated and I wasn’t sure I would like it.  Let me reassure you, it is NOT complicated, just a bit time consuming, but so worth it.  You should make it.

You will need:

1 and 1/4 cup Arborio Rice

About 6 cups of chicken stock

1 cup of mushroom stock (from your freshly reconstituted mushrooms)

About 2 cups of wild mushrooms—I used an assortment of wild porcinis, black trumpet, lobster and Mastsutake because that is what I had–but one mushroom variety would have been just as good.  (I did not use the chantrelles that were sent to me as I plan to make cream of chantrelle soup later in the week.  Stay tuned for that recipe.)

1/2 white wine (I don’t know my wine AT ALL–but thought a wine called “Cupcake” would have to be good..don’t you agree?)

1/2 onion

2 shallots

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

6 Tablespoons butter

1)  If using dried mushrooms, you will need to reconstitute them.  This is as easy as boiling some water, pouring it over the mushrooms and letting them soak for twenty minutes.  The results will be plump, ready to use mushrooms and nice beautiful mushroom broth to use in your cooking.

If you are lucky enough to live in a place (or have the knowledge) and can forage for the mushrooms–good on you.  Clean your ‘shrooms and cut them in quarters.  We are looking for small pieces of mushrooms not huge chunks.

2)  Once the mushrooms are ready, heat about 2 T butter in a cast iron pan and saute about 1/3 of your mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt.  Set aside.  Repeat with the second two batches of mushrooms.

3)  In a saucepan, combine the chicken and mushroom broth.  Heat until almost boiling.  Turn down but keep warm.

4)  In a separate saucepan, heat 1 T  of olive oil and saute the onion and shallot until translucent and smelling delicious.  Add the Arborio Rice.  Saute for about 4-5 minutes.

5)  At this point, you are going to slowly add about 3/4 cups of the broth at a time.  Pausing and stirring in between each addition for the rice to absorb the liquid.  The Amateur Gourmet has a great video on how to do this and it really made me less scared to try it.  You can watch it here. It takes a minute or two between each addition of liquid for it to absorb.  The whole process should take about 20 minutes.

6)  After the 4th addition of liquid, about ten minutes will have passed.  You will wonder if you will ever be done slaving in front of the hot stove.  You will wonder if it is really worth it. Don’t worry–it is.

7) Before you add in your 5th broth serving, add the sauteed mushrooms that have been patiently waiting.  They are ready.

8 ) Continue with broth additions until you are left with no broth.

9) For the final step, add the Parmesan cheese and mix together.

Hooray!  You are done!

Serve with Parmesan……and maybe some grilled WILD salmon (because, friends don’t let friends eat farmed salmon) and a fresh spinach salad.  Seeing that we live in Florida and my dad never sends us any fish–we ate the Risotto with a Spinach salad and no salmon–but I know it would be a good combination.

Disclaimer: Marx Foods provided me with samples of dried wild mushrooms to create this dish.

Mr. Snowman Goes to DisneyWorld

10 Oct

My husband is so busy.  I mean, stressed out to the absolute extreme.  So, sometimes to get out of his hair–the kids and I make little trips out of town.  The kids love to spend time alone with me and I love to not think about cleaning the house and have time to really focus on the kids.  And, he loves it because he can focus on his work with no guilt.

 

Don't worry--he's acting!

 

Two weekends ago– a lone weekend with no birthday party plans or athletic events, we decided to head over to Disneyworld.  Since we moved to Florida, we have been many, many times—so many, in fact that the kids don’t really care about the parks much anymore.

This time, we splurged on separate park tickets to “Mickey’s Not So-Scary Halloween Party.”  You might be thinking that it is too early to be thinking about Halloween–in early September–but I have been anxious for fall.

If you haven’t gone, I highly recommend it.  With the purchase of a separate ticket, you are allowed into the Magic Kingdom from 4 pm-midnight on select nights in September and October.  Everyone is given a wrist band and a candy collection bag.  Throughout the park are trick-or-treat sites and lots of candy is given out.  There is a great parade with the headless horseman riding through the streets, grave diggers dancing with shovels, and of course, Mickey and the other characters.  We missed the firework show but I’ve heard it is really good too.  Another perk–no lines!  We were able to ride over and over (without getting off) Buzz Light Year, Winnie the Pooh and Snow White–which are rides we usually avoid due to the long lines.

Making the trip even more special, we took along an old friend of mine.

Meet Mr.  Snowman:

 

Mr. Snowman jumped in the river for a quick swim

 

A long time ago, I lived in Japan.  I taught English.  I loved it–everything about it, my students, the culture, the food.  However, I had to leave and decided to move to Hawaii (there were some other steps in between that aren’t important).  While I was living in Hawaii I would get letters from one of my students, Takashi Yamaguchi (a kind of eccentric science-y type) and one day I received a package with Mr. Snowman and a short letter.  The letter said something like,

“I am Snowman and I have never seen the ocean.  I have never been to Hawaii–please take me to the beach and show me all the beauty of Hawaii.”

So, I did.

I took photos of me and Mr. Snowman hanging at the beach, sipping mai-tais, relaxing in the sun.  Snowman got to see all the sites—Sandy Beach, the Blowhole and the North Shore.  It was a lot of fun.

I never sent those pictures to Takashi.  I bet I could find them though if I looked hard enough.

 

Mr. Snowman meets a bunny!

 

ANYWAY—-My little Bean was really upset that his name was not selected to take home Pops (a puppet in his class that goes home with one lucky child on the weekend).  He, who never ever cries, came running out of the classroom in tears when he found out that Pops was not coming to Disneyworld with us.   So, I suggested we take Mr. Snowman.  He had never been to Disneyworld before and he would love it.

Please enjoy Snowman’s Adventures at Disneyworld—a photo essay:

 

Mr. Snowman in the Car on the way to Disneyworld. He got to ride in the cup-holder. Lucky!

 

We stayed at the Disney Wilderness Lodge.  Mr. Snowman felt right at home with the log buildings, the evergreen trees and the cool mountain streams.

 

He even got to say hello to an old friend from the cold country.

 

 

 

Mr. Snowman's view from his room---"Ahh the fresh mountain air!"

 

 

Mr. Snowman and friends were not that impressed with the interior of the rooms--pretty basic.

 

 

Why do hotels use those horrible bed coverings? They feel awful and look dumpy.

 

 

Mr. Snowman did think the bed was nice and comfy!

 

 

Mr. Snowman, the Bean and the Waiter pose for a shot. What a fun lunch!

 

 

Mr. Snowman loved the Dumbo ride! Look at his smile--he is having the time of his life.

 

 

"This is so fun! Let's go again and again." said Mr. Snowman

 

 

"I am feeling kind of queasy....", said Mr. Snowman

 

 

"Maybe a nice soak in the hot tub would sooth your stomach", we suggested. Mr. Snowman really liked that.

 

 

We decided to tour the sights of the hotel. We saw the geyser.......

 

 

and the waterfall...

 

 

and relaxed by the huge fireplace in the lobby.

 

 

After a day of exploring and playing on the water slides, Mr. Snowman and friends were hungry!

 

 

Mr. Snowman chose a giant cupcake for his lunch. In his world, cupcakes are a healthy choice for lunch.

 

 

He loved it and ate it all by himself...(well, maybe we helped a little). He had a great time!

 

 

Mr. Snowman loved the Wilderness Lodge and can't wait to go back....

 

 

his friends loved the lodge too. However, now they want to take Mr. Snowman to see the real Pacific Northwest.

 

 

Stay tuned for more adventures with Mr. Snowman and friends!

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

8 Oct

I’ve been wanting it to be feel like fall for awhile now so that I could have an excuse to begin baking with pumpkin.   Back in July, I started to plan a Halloween party for the kids and in August began talking about Thanksgiving plans.  I wanted to carve a Jack O’ lantern a month ago although I learned my lesson on that last year.  ( It ended up rotting before Halloween. We then used it as a science experiment to see if it would rot away completely by Christmas.  It did not.)

Anyway, I was home sick from work this week and finally made the pumpkin bread that I had been craving.  It was good.  It was the only thing I ate for two days.  Don’t judge me.  I was sick and when you are sick you get to eat whatever you want.

I am embarrassed to say that I did not use the $6.00 organic pumpkin  I had purchased solely for baked goods.  I made a special trip to the store to get grapefruit juice and allspice and then gave in and bought their last can of Pumpkin Puree.  Which, if you look on the bright side, means I have more pumpkin just for baking.

I made two loaves–one with bittersweet chocolate chips and one without.  Of course, the chocolate chip loaf was gone first.

 

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

 

The non-chocolate loaf was in the refrigerator for a couple of days and tastes absolutely perfect cold.  It cuts easily, is moist, and so super good.  You will never buy the seasonal pumpkin bread from that coffee shop again.

 

 

Pumpkin Bread with no chocolate chips

 

Here is recipe….it is super easy and takes only about 15 minutes to mix up and about 70 minutes to bake.  Your house will be filled with most loveliest of smells!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Bread Ingredients:
¾ cups Butter, Softened
¾ cups Granulated Sugar
¾ cups Dark Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
4 whole Eggs
1 can of Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
3 cups All-purpose Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
¾ tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1-½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Allspice
¼ tsp Grated Nutmeg
¼  tsp grated cloves
½ cups milk
1 tsp vinegar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Topping Ingredients:
¼ stick of butter (softened)
½ brown sugar
1/3 cup oatmeal
¼ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
3 Tablespoons pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) (These are good for you so use more if you want!)

Step-by-Step

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two loaf pans.

2) Make the crunchy topping:  In a small bowl, add the butter, sugar, flour, oats and spices.  Using a fork or your fingers, mix together until well combined—it should be a crumbly texture.  Toss the pepitas to cover them with the crumbles.

3) Cream together the butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir in the pumpkin puree.

4) In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Gently stir them together.

5) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter/pumpkin mixture.  Mix until they are combined.

6) Add 1 tsp of vinegar to the milk.

7) Add the milk/vinegar to the bread.

8) Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.

9) Pour batter into the loaf pans

10) Sprinkle with the crunchy topping—making sure to evenly coat each loaf.  This is the best part of the bread so you really want to get a lot on each loaf.

Bake at 350 degrees for 70-80 minutes or until your house smells delicious and a knife comes out clean.  Let cool slightly and then dig in!

Hotel Review Series: Omni William Penn, Pittsburgh, PA

3 Oct

Photo Taken from the Omni William Penn website

I am copying one of my blogging inspirations.  You know, Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman?  Well, if you don’t know of her—-you should.  She has some amazing recipes and beautiful photography–and an odd sense of humor.  She  will make you laugh.  She will make you hungry.  She might make you gain ten pounds.  Actually, right now I am making her cinnamon roll recipe and I can’t wait until they are finished.

Anyway, Ree does a series on the fancy hotel rooms that she visits while out promoting her books.

I thought I might add a similar feature to my little blog.  I spend a lot of time researching the hotels that I stay in to get the best deal or just to make sure I am staying in a place that I will like.  And, it seems that I am often in a hotel in some location or another. So, I thought I would pass this information on to you all—-to give you some advice for when you plan your travel.

Bear in mind, I don’t usually get to stay in fancy hotels.  Usually, I am with the kids and trying to make sure that they are happy and occupied (and not in close proximity to anything breakable).  But sometimes, I am out on business and I try to find the best hotel for my money and really enjoy that little luxury.

A few weeks ago, I was in Pittsburgh for a conference  at the Convention Center.  I knew I wanted to stay fairly close to the Convention Center but the Westin (which is attached) was full–which was fine by me.  I didn’t want to stay in a Convention hotel anyway–they seem so stuffy and sterile.  The historic Omni William Penn was available and right down the street–I was very pleased –it was so pretty.

If you want more information about the hotel, read the following interview, in which I interview myself about my stay.

Was the lobby beautiful?

Photo taken from the Omni William Penn Website

The hotel lobby really is beautiful.  You feel like an old-time movie star when you walk through–I only wished I had a beautiful 1960’s cocktail gown to wear down to the lobby bar..  If you stay here, you must sit on the round couch in the lobby—can you see it in the picture?    You feel so special and fancy!

It is weird—I instantly felt better everytime I walked through the lobby–even if I was wearing my old running clothes.

I also highly suggest drinking a Cosmopolitan in the lobby bar.  It just feels right—and you won’t even question the $12 price tag.

Can you describe the rooms for me?

The rooms are small.  I guess that is what you expect from a historic hotel and they were perfect for me, traveling alone.  And they would be perfect for a couple that likes each other very much and has lots to do on the town.  However, if you are planning on traveling with more than two—it will feel very cramped.   The rooms are decorated very nicely…..a historic feel to it.  Classy antique.  And the linens are very nice.  A pretty white comforter.  A nice comfy bed with lots of pillows.  I love hotel beds!

Doesn't everyone throw all their possesions out on the hotel bed and then take photos?

Originally, they gave me a room with a view.  A view into another room.  The way the building was built makes it seem like a good portion of their rooms face other rooms.  A bit of a big city feel but I wanted more.  I asked at the front desk if I could be moved to a room with a better view and they obliged.  The second room was even a bit smaller but had one window that faced the city.  Much better.

And the bathroom?


Really, nothing special there.  The regular old bathroom stuff.  One of these days, I am going to stay in a hotel with a spectacular bathroom……I hope.

Did you order room service?

Why yes, yes I did.  I always like to order room service on one night that I am alone in a hotel.  I don’t know why–it think it feels like I am spoiling myself.  I ordered a chicken sandwich with french fries and a glass of red wine.  Extravagant–I know.  This is what they delivered:

Do you see the size of this thing?  It was as big (or maybe bigger) than my head.  Way too large for any normal person to eat alone.  The size of it alone kind of grossed me out…….(See my other post on Primanti’s for more on portion size in Pittsburgh)

My wine, however, could have been larger and I wouldn’t have complained—you gotta have priorities.

What about the area near the hotel?

The Omni William Penn was very close to the convention center, Macy’s (the oldest and possibly oddest Macy’s I’ve ever been to), and the close enough to Market Square, the river and sports stadiums, and the Strip District.  I was able to walk to all of them—but bear in mind, I like to walk–especially given a new city to explore.

Oh, also very close was a very old church.  Everything seemed so old in Pittsburgh–which is nice.  I walked around the church and snapped some unexciting photos of the cemetery (with tombstones dated to 1828) and the Gothic architecture.  I even went inside to see the amazing stained glass–but my little iphone camera did not do it justice.  (I really need another camera.)

What about the food and drink?  Anything besides the $12 Cosmopolitan worth mentioning?

Yes,  the coffee in the hotel room was very bad and the coffee at my conference was even worse.   So, I was very thankful for the Starbucks located in the Omni William Penn.  Also, there is a Brueggers Bagels located on the backside of the hotel which was  good for a quick breakfast—-I love bagels!

I had also been told that any visitors to Pittsburgh must eat at Primanti’s which was located very close to the hotel.  I’ve done a separate review on Primanti’s and you can read that here.

Should you stay at the Omni William Penn?

If you are travelling alone or with one other person, love the historic charm of old hotels and want to feel special as you walk through the lobby–the Omni William Penn is the place for you.  If you have more than two travellers, I would look elsewhere, like the nearby Doubletree Hotel-which boasts the largest rooms in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh and Primanti’s

2 Oct

I was in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.  A place that I had never, ever been and hadn’t really given much thought to.  But, ever since we have moved to a medium size city in Southwest Florida–I crave any chance to get out to a real city and some elevation change. Not to mention a chance to get out of the humidity.

I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was home to enthusiastic sports fans— almost everyone on the flight was wearing a Steelers jersey.  The pilot even gave out games scores over the intercom and when it was announced that Pittsburgh beat Atlanta–there was cheering.  ( We just so happened to be flying from Atlanta to Pittsburgh).

My friend Nicole, is from Pittsburgh–and she  going to be at the same meeting.  And she was bringing her new baby along (who was already 2 years old!)  That alone was worth the trip.

And,  one of my favorite bloggers, Michelle, from the Brown Eyed Baker, is also from Pittsburgh and always posts about how much she loves her city –so I thought it must be an okay place.

Everyone I talked to about my trip (which was really only a couple of people) said that while in Pittsburgh, I must eat at Primanti’s.

According to their website: ” Back in the 1930’s, Joe Primanti opened a cart in the Strip District selling sandwiches to truckers on the go. It was decided that he should expand to a small restaurant on 18th Street. The hours were 3am to 3pm to accommodate truckers and the like.  “One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of ’em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen.I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches.” And the rest is history. The Primanti Sandwich: a true taste of Pittsburgh.”

Yes, Primanti’s is a sandwich place.  A sandwich place that serves  meat (of your choice), coleslaw and french fries sandwiched between two thick slices of white bread.

I ordered a turkey sandwich with cheese and the works (coleslaw and french fries).  And a Diet Coke.

I would say that if you are in Pittsburgh—-you should try the sandwiches.  They were good—-  I  liked the combination of the coleslaw, fries,  grilled turkey and I liked their bread.     But, it was HUGE!  (Lately, I have been kind of disturbed by giant portions.  No one needs that much food in one sitting–unless maybe they are a Olympic swimmer in peak training.)

I also really liked the feel of the location I went to.  It wasn’t touristy at all—more like a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop that you just ‘discover’ on a quiet street.

Primanit’s has recently been on shows like, “Man v. Food” and even on  National Geographic.  The restaurant chain was named an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation.  People love this place.  I have a feeling that it can get quite busy but I was there at about 3:00 pm on a weekday.  It was empty.

I agree with the recommendations— If you are in Pittsburgh make sure to check out Primanti’s. It is part of the history and culture of the city.  You will get a sandwich that you enjoy. You will leave full.

My only advice:  Go for a nice long walk along the river afterward—all about balance.