April 20, 2011 § 1 Comment
Sunday morning in Pittsburgh, I had ice cream for breakfast.
Not just any ice cream. It was peach cobbler flavored ice cream with bits and chunks of gingersnaps mixed throughout. And the ice cream tasted like as smooth as soft serve. Served in a paper cup, it looked like peach oatmeal. Breakfast is regretting giving me the green light to eat dessert first and is wearily sighing at my attempt to at least make it look like a typical breakfast item. And my inner five-year-old is in awe at my audacity, cheering, “You go giwl!”– I had an issue pronouncing my r’s correctly; I probably still do, but I just don’t care.
Wayne and I met up with Jeff and Wynee at Oh Yeah! Ice Cream and Coffee Co for waffles, ice cream, and coffee, the three things this place is known for. I knew from the door handles that I would like Oh Yeah! Ice Cream. I didn’t realize how important door handles were until I saw the large brass antique ice cream scoopers as the door handles. I was instantly excited. I had the same feeling I usually get when I read a really good first sentence. I wanted to re-read it a couple times to savor the feeling, but it’s hard to read objects that have no words, so I took pictures instead.
The interior was decorated in such an adorably kitschy way that I felt that I had stumbled into someone’s attic. Every bit of wall space was taken up with license plate or a street sign or a pieces of colorful paper advertising an upcoming local crafts fair. Apparently there is free wifi, with the password given by the staff when asked. Along the left side of the wall, where there weren’t seats, there were large wicker baskets filled with organic cookie sandwiches and teas for sale. And in there back was a community driven library with books to check out for a fee or straight book trade for free. Along the right side of the wall was a huge chalkboard listing all the different toppings that can be mixed into the ice cream. Some were conventional, such as chocolate sauce, candy bar chunks, and fruits, and some were very unconventional, like baklava, bacon, bee pollen, and hops. And then some were intangible, like love and magic. I was overwhelmed by just the sheer number of options. I couldn’t even focus to figure out which combination of base ice cream flavor and toppings to order. Oh Yeah! must understand this because next to the ordering station were a stack of blue menus with suggestions of their favorite combinations of ice cream and toppings to be mixed together.
I ended up ordering the peach cobbler ice cream because it was the only ice cream flavor that I wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere– other ice cream options were: vanilla bean, chocolate, mint chip, and birthday cake. I add the ginger snap topping because I thought it could represent the flaky crust in the peach cobbler. Nilla wafers would have been better, but I prefer ginger snaps because I feel there is more personality in the latter. The toppings options were meant to mixed with the ice cream, but Wynee asked for her toppings to be mixed into the waffle batter with a scoop of plain vanilla bean ice cream on top. Both Wayne and Jeff got the Pittsburgh latte, which was mildly sweet and a little bitter. Unfortunately, my peach cobbler with gingersnaps was so sweet that I couldn’t really taste anything when I had a sip of Wayne’s latte. My tastebuds were overwhelmed by the sweetness.
I loved this ice cream shop because it was so fun to visit, with so many decorations to look at and so many different ice cream and topping options to choose. It is easily one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh.
Oh Yeah! Ice Cream and Coffee Co.
232 S Highland Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
April 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
Saturday morning in Pittsburgh, Wayne and I ended up waking up well before any of his friends so we decided to get brunch by ourselves. After some discussion over where to eat– in a nutshell: I kept suggesting Rose Tea Cafe and then immediately taking it back because I felt foolish for making him eat there again when we’re suppose to be on vacation and therefore trying new restaurants or at least different restaurants; however, once the guilt subsided, I would suggest Rose Tea Cafe again– we decided on Pamela’s, a Pittsburgh favorite for breakfast and brunch with several locations around the city. We went to the Squirrel Hill location, and it was decorated in a way that was a tribute to the 70’s with its brightly colored chairs, a large disco ball that hung in the middle of the restaurant, and the walls were the canvases to paintings of The Village People, Diana Ross, and Saturday Night Fever.
I love breakfast; it’s easily my favorite meal with its sugary goodness and colorful fruits. Breakfast is essentially giving me the green light to eat dessert first. And breakfast offers savory options so Wayne doesn’t have to suffer at the whims of my sweet tooth. Unfortunately, it was pouring and there was a line just to get into the restaurant. But we stayed! And waited in the rain! We were determined! …Never mind that we had an umbrella, and I was wearing my magenta-colored rain boots, which always make me feel sunny despite a rainy mess. I feel like this is my equivalent to cliché story of having to walk to school uphill both ways through the snow. Now, I can say with a false air of indignation, “Pshh! You youngin’s don’t know how easy you have it, getting to wait out in the sun. In my day, we had to wait for hours in the pouring rain, just for a hotcake!”
But, damn, those hotcakes were good. Seriously. I had no clue what a hotcake was until I ate here, and now I am stuck craving them. In my opinion, a hotcake is the love child of a pancake and a crepe with the cake-y texture of a pancake and the thinness of a crepe. During its formative moments, it decided to be rebellious and play a little too close to the fire, which is why its edges are crispy and caramelized. Pamela’s offers different toppings and fruits such as bananas, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, or sour cream to stuff inside the hotcakes. I decided to order one the specialty hotcakes, the strawberry hotcakes, which sounded delectable with the combination of strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar stuffed inside. The hotcakes were warm and delicious. I loved the contrast of textures between the soft, cake-y middle of the hotcake and the crispy, caramelized edges that gave me a satisfying crunch as the pieces shattered in my mouth into bits of sugar.
5813 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
April 18, 2011 § 1 Comment
I love traveling to a new city with someone who has already lived there. All the bad restaurants and stores have been filtered out. I like visiting Pittsburgh because I get to eat at all Wayne’s favorite places and become equally as obsessed with the food as he was during his time there, but without putting in the sweat equity. I have a distorted, positive view of Pittsburgh because my rose-colored glasses aren’t smudged by the fingerprints of Pittsburgh’s harsh, cold winters nor are the lenses cracked by Carnegie Melon’s grueling engineering programs that demands blood, sweat, and human sacrifices in the form of all-night studying sessions and living in computer labs. One of the places I was looking forward to eating the entire car ride up to Pittsburgh was Rose Tea Cafe, a Taiwanese restaurant in Squirrel Hill. It was the last place where I ate before leaving Pittsburgh last spring, and I remember wishing we had eaten there earlier so I could have visited the restaurant multiple times since there were so many dishes offered and everything I tasted was so delicious.
Rose Tea Cafe is crowded around the normal meal times but Wayne and I didn’t arrive in Pittsburgh until 3 PM on Friday so the restaurant was completely empty of patrons. It was a little bizarre and reminded me of the one time we ate crepes at 4 PM on a Saturday at Cafe Bonaparte during the rare moment it was devoid of patrons. I thought I should savor the moment.
I ordered the pork chop over rice with marinated egg on the side and the taro milk tea with bubbles because I wanted something comforting and well-seasoned and something creamy and chewy. I have this weird obsession with taro that pops up in concentrated spurts; I’m convinced that the artificial taro flavor tastes like cookies and cream. The size of the bubbles at Rose Tea Cafe are smaller than the average bubble, at least a quarter of the size. It was the first time I’ve ever had such tiny bubbles; my tongue thought they were adorable! The drink was frothy on top and had lots of the artificial taro flavor that reminds me of cookies and cream– perfect(!). The bubbles were soft and chewy; two characteristics I will never take for granted again after the trying to find one place out of the five places I tried in Philadelphia’s Chinatown that would serve me decent bubble tea– most of the time, the bubbles were rock hard on the inside, the milk tea was incredibly diluted with ice so that there was barely any flavor, and contained granular sugar that made for a rocky, confusing slurp before I tossed the entire thing into the nearest trashcan.
The portions are large, and I should have just stopped ordering after asking for the porkchop over rice and the taro bubble tea. But I was craving Chinese water spinach since it is so hard to find a place in Northern Virginia that even offers it and it is my favorite vegetable, so I had to order a plate. It was actually one of the main reasons I was so looking forward to eating at Rose Tea Cafe. I love that the large leaves and the hollow stems are not even the slightest bit bitter when cooked and that they soak up the flavors of the broth when cooking. The Chinese water spinach are cooked just until the leaves are tender and the stems still have a little bite to them.
I loved the porkchop! It was well-seasoned and so full of flavor. The edges were so crispy and just a little bit crunchy. Best part? I got TWO porkchops! So I could hog my own pork chop and share the other one with Wayne. It wasn’t until I had been eating for a while that I realized that the “mmm…MMmmmm…mmmMMMmmm” sound wasn’t part of the song playing in the background, especially since the songs switched, and it was actually coming from me. I was pretty much imitating this kitty without knowing it:
Rose Tea Cafe
5880 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
April 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
Another student group took inspiration from Arrested Development and re-created the Frozen Banana Stand from the television show. And they actually sold frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and covered in rainbow sprinkles!
Crazy Mocha is a small coffeeshop chain in Pittsburgh that supposedly has the best tiramisu in the city, so I had to taste it myself. I had to call five Crazy Mocha’s before I found one that still had tiramisu available.
To celebrate the end of another Carnival and booth-building–and winning “Best Booth in the Independent Category” (!) — all the current members and returning alumni of TSA went to eat at a sushi buffet (followed by a crazy night of drinking, of course).
April 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
I am a huge lover of consignment stores and vintage shops and pretty much anything that will sell me something gorgeous and used-to-be-well-loved for a drastic discount. It combines my two loves of bargain shopping and the idea of treasure hunting, and I don’t even have to get dirty with mud and be at risk of malaria or flying poisoned arrows. But I still feel a little bit like Indiana Jones.
Wayne and I spent our Saturday morning eating at Pamela’s for brunch and shopping around Squirrel Hill. Wayne and I wandered (okay, let’s be honest, there was no wandering; in actuality, there was a drive by followed by a mental record player scratching noise when I saw there was a consignment store and a lot jumping up and down on my part, yelling, “I want to go to there! I want to go to there!”) into Avalon Exchange, an used clothing store that offers on-the-spot 30% cash or 45% store credit for used clothes, shoes, and accessories. There are stringent policies that the items be current for the season, laundered and undamaged, and not have “low-end” labels, which I guess is Old Navy, Forever 21, and H&M? On display behind the cashier was a large whiteboard with two lists: items the store is particularly interested in buying and items the store can no longer take for the season. The store was pretty large, relative to other independent consignment stores, and it seemed well-organized with racks and racks of clothes for men on the left side and women on the right side. While Wayne wandered off into the men’s section and slowly made his way to the shoe section in the back, I stayed up front and browsed through the costume jewelry, especially the rings, trying on several large statement rings on all my fingers. I loved the selection of clothing and accessories offered and walked around with several items as I kept searching for more.
I walked out with a mustard yellow, leather Lauren Merkin clutch that I found buried in a pile of clutches. My eyes lit up when I saw the signature pleated details. This clutch was love the moment I saw it because I adore mustard yellow, and the leather is soft and beautifully textured with the wear that comes from having had many great adventures but not too many, yet. The clutch felt like hidden treasure at $20.
I dragged Wayne back into the store, a second time, on our way back to the car just because I wanted to get some shots of the store. But I ended up buying a lovely white, cotton sheath dress with a boat neckline and an A-line skirt. I bought it because I loved the repeating print of these drawings of Parisian ladies enjoying their day around the Eiffel Tower. And I found a braided leather bracelet for Wayne that he loved–finally, an accessory he’s willing to wear for more than a couple hours!
I don’t think I have been this lucky when shopping at a consignment store before. Have I mentioned that I love Pittsburgh?
5858 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217