Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday in the Strip

One of the things I actually enjoy about Pittsburgh is the Strip District, located between Bloomfield and Downtown. It's a glorious array of fresh produce, specialty herbs, spices, salts, oils, fresh baked breads, as well as fresh seafood, meats, and poultry if you're interested. I don't go often because I'm not much of a crowd person,  but every once in a while I get the urge to go down and score some fun new cooking items! Last time I got Himalayan salt and some dark cherry flavored balsamic vinegar, which I still use and love.

Gorgeous view from the strip- Pittsburgh has an amazing skyline

For breakfast I made some pancakes from my sample packs of Pamela's gluten free pancake mix (sooo good, if you have gluten sensitivities, I HIGHLY recommend ANY of Pamela's gluten free products-genius stuff).  They give you the option of using an egg or some egg replacement powder, but I am out of my Ener-G egg mix so a real egg it was. I topped my pancakes with some Earth Balance, some maple syrup and dug in! Washed down with a glass of soy milk, I felt like I was 12 years old again. Yum.

I have to be honest, I was super famished while I was making the pancakes so I had a few crackers and some Sabra hummus... quite a few... and some prunes. If you're going "ewww prunes", don't knock em if you haven't tried em! They're a tasty dried fruit!

We started our day in the Strip at the Public Market, I've always gotta stop here to get my vinegar and olive oil! This time I bought more of the dark cherry balsamic vinegar and some fantastic truffle olive oil. I also bought more salt, this time I chose the smoked alderwood salt- I really loved the smoky earthiness of it, can't wait to use it!

Delicious smokey salt

Cherry Balsamic vinegar and truffle oil

Next we headed up to Smallman St. and went to Wholey's which, as any Pittsburgher knows, is one of the best places to get fresh seafood. I didn't get any seafood, but I did find some yuca root that I have desperately been trying to get my hands on for weeks!!  I found an awesome recipe for yuca root quesadillas that I must try. I also found some vegan concentrated veggie stock and (because there is an annoying 10 dollar minimum) we grabbed two bags of flavored pretzel crisps.

Yuca root... I'll let you know how this goes...

I'm gonna rock these out with some hummus.. oh yea... 

Next we stopped by Penzey's Spices- this store is the mecca of flavor as far as I'm concerned. I couldn't stop smelling all of the herbs and spices, they also have a nice baking section with extracts and baking spices- wow. I chose Sunny Paris, the shallots and dill combination is intoxicating..

Cute lil kitchen! I love the old-fashioned fridge!

A quick stop at Mancini's for a loaf of fresh baked pesto bread was a must! After that I stopped in a local asian market for some more cellophane and udon noodles because Whole Foods is just hurting my wallet too much and it was much cheaper here! I know its probably weird but I love asian markets because I have such fun guessing what the products are since none of the labels are in english.

Here are my scores for the day:

After all that walking and shopping, Mike and I worked up an appetite, and there is absolutely no better place to be than in the Strip District when you're hungry!!

We chose my favorite restaurant of all time: Kaya.

Kaya is this wonderful Caribbean or "island" cuisine restaurant, great atmosphere, great music, great drinks, amazing food... I recommend you go right this second!! They also have some amazing vegetarian options that they really have put alot of energy and creativity in to.

I started the meal off right with a Rum Runner and some bean dip with yucatan chips (no picture, oops!) My entree was my favorite dish, jerk tofu tacos with a side salad. The tofu tacos come served on a grilled tortilla and are topped with avocado, a lime creme sauce, cilantro, and zesty coleslaw. The tofu itself has been marinated in a jerk mixture and then pan-fried so that the outside is crispy and the inside is tender and delicious. While the side salad may seem nothing special, the dressing they use on it is epic, I'm not sure what all is in it and that's probably for the best or I would be replicating it at home and drinking it. They also tossed on some crunchy peppitas for fun! Nom!

Please ignore the finger.. oopsie..

 Mike had pulled pork and banana sandwich with sweet potato fries (which I stole plenty of).

The banana-pork combination was amazing, it was like a more complexly flavored pulled pork with a hint of bananas. I really was surprised how delicious these two items went together! Mike really liked it too, I only got a bite!

Since returning home I've been cleaning up a storm, doing laundry, and doing other house-wifey things. I'm absolutely zonked now and am going to go curl up to an episode of Ghost Whisperer and an evening snack: 

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