Sunday, November 30, 2008

South Street Seaport

My mother in law was visiting over the Thanksgiving weekend and since it's been a while since she has been to NYC, we took her on the grand tour of various sights in the city. One of the stops that we made was the South Street Seaport.
The South Street Seaport is a historical site in the city. This is where Fulton Street meets the East River. It's located in Lower Manhattan, just next to the Financial District. It has the highest concentration of restored 19th century commercial architecture in the city. Apart from that, it's also the location for the South St Seaport Museum as well as the famous Fulton Fish Market (now renovated into an upscale mall).

There are also many restored ships on display at the South Street Seaport. Among them are the Peking, a four-master Braque, which was built in 1911 and the Ambrose, a 1908 lightship. We also saw the W.O. Decker tugboat that was built sometime in 1930.

The South Street Seaport is also the best place to get a panoramic view of Brooklyn as well as the three bridges that links Manhattan to Brooklyn. They are the Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburgh Bridge and the ever so popular Brooklyn Bridge.

For those who wants to catch a cruise to see the Statue of Liberty or just to see the sights along the waterways, the Circle Line Cruise ticket booth is also on Pier 16 at the South Street Seaport. Avoid the long lines at Battery Park, this is a better place to catch a cruise.

You can find a lot of talented street performers on the piers too. They can range from a one man band act to hip hop dancers to really good jazz singers.

There are a lot of seafood restaurants and trendy cafes at the South Street Seaport area. Fresh seafood, good coffee and you can even dine al fresco to enjoy the view when it's not too cold out. I also like the quaint little shops that line the piers. It can be really fun to slowly browse through all the shops on a nice summers day.

The three of us had a great time watching street performers and just walking along the piers, enjoying the day. Look out for more posts about the other places we visited and things we did that day!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Guess who had a hair cut?

I went to Jersey Garden Mall on Black Friday to check out all the crazy sales that was going on. There were really good bargains and I was shopping for 6 hours straight! I managed to grab GAP sweaters for only $10 each and got Kevin some real good deals from Old Navy. The line at the cash registers were reallly realllly REALLLY long. There were at least 50 people in front of me in line when I was in the GAP. My legs were already killing me by then and I needed a break. All the coffee places and restaurants were just packed with people. Don't even think about the Food Court. There were so many people there, you would think that they were giving out free food.
I thought about it for a while and decided to get a hair cut! I have been growing my hair long for the longest time. I didn't want to cut it short earlier because I was keeping it long for the wedding. Now that the weddings over, I figured I'll just cut it short. My hair was getting a little bit out of control, way too long.
I went to MasterCuts. It was only $14.99 for a regular cut. They had a Black Friday sale too and all their hair products were on sale. 50% off!! So I bought myself some conditioners and stuff. The hairstylist working there was very friendly and even gave me coupons for $3 off for my next few visits. I guess you must be wondering how my hair looks like now? Here it is!!

Wellllllll, what do you think? Do I look better with long or short hair?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

It was our first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner and boy, did we have fun! Kevin's mom flew in from Pittsburgh and we had two other friends visiting from DC and Connecticut. Our day started pretty early, starting with a quick run to the grocery store to pick up some things that we forgot to get the day before.
After we got back from the grocery store, we cleaned, marinated the turkey with some special secret marinade and it was in the oven by 11 in the morning. Here is a photo of Kevin putting the turkey in the oven bag. We like to cook our turkey in oven bags because it really helps to keep the turkey moist and juicy.

I started work on the side dishes around 2 in the afternoon. Yes, every good chef drinks when they are cooking. Here am I with a glass of bubbly :P

While I was preparing the sides, Kevin was busy setting up the table. He did a good job, didn't he?

We had some fresh mozzarella cheese rolled with prosciutto and a port wine cheese log with crackers while waiting for dinner to be served. I really liked the port wine cheese. Goes really well with the wine that we had.

At last, dinner is served! Here is a photo of the dinner spread. Of course the Roast Turkey is in the middle, and starting from the bottom, and moving clockwise - Mashed Sweet Potato with Maple Syrup, Glazed Carrots, Green Bean Casserole with Fried French Onions, Apple Sauce, Cranberry Sauce, Turkey Gravy, Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Melted Butter, Potato Au Gratin with Bacon, Freshly Baked Croissants and Stuffing. We also had Apple Crumble and Whipped Cream for dessert.

Overall, we had a superb Thanksgiving and we are very thankful for good friends and family. Nothing beats good food, good wine and good company. We have so much leftovers, I think we will be having turkey sandwiches for lunch everyday until the new year!! Anybody wants some turkey leftovers? :P

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a turkey-fic Thanksgiving!!
(I know, we are lame...)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Twas the day before Thanksgiving...

...and boy am I excited! This year, we will be hosting the Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time! Kevin's mom will be flying in from Pittsburgh later tonight. We have been looking forward to this for quite a while now. A few of our friends will also be joining us for dinner. I was a little bit worried since it's the first time we are doing this but it looks like we have pretty much everything under control. Our 20lbs frozen turkey is almost thawed. We started to thaw it in the refrigerator since Sunday. The general rule of thumb is that it takes about 24 hours to thaw 5lbs of frozen turkey. Hopefully it should be fully thawed by tomorrow. I am very happy with this turkey. We got it at $0.59 per lbs. Isn't that great?

We also took out the nice flatware and its all clean and shiny now.

Thanksgiving themed table cloths, place mats and napkins are all also ready to go!

Our wine cooler is stocked with a couple of reds and whites and a bottle of champagne.

We will also have frozen margaritas! Yes, I's not Cinco De Mayo but anytime is a good time for margaritas!

We basically got the bulk of the shopping done already. We bought the gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, potatoes au gratin, crescent rolls, apple crumble and pumpkin pie last weekend. We just need to go out later today to get the perishables from the supermarket.

I think we are all set for Thanksgiving dinner. Did I miss anything out? Better tell me before the grocery stores close tomorrow!! In the midst all this busyness in preparing for the dinner, we have not forgotten the real reason why we are doing this. Apart from spending quality time with family and friends, we are also thankful to God for all the blessings He has given us, be it big or small. We should not just be thankful about things once a year, but we must constantly remind ourselves that we should always be thankful in everything we do, in all circumstances. With that said, we would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving (in advance) and please don't overdose on the turkey! :D

1. Primanti Brothers

Here it is........the top MUST eat restaurant in Pittsburgh is Primanti Brothers!!! If you are just on a short visit to Pittsburgh and only have time for one meal, you have to go to Primanti's. You have not visited Pittsburgh if you have not tried a Primanti's sandwich.
Primanti's started off as a small wooden lunch cart down in the Strip District. It was opened from 3pm to 3am everyday, catering to the truckers and other blue collar workers who were unloading fish, meats and fresh produce. The story goes that the sandwich was invented because the workers didn't have time or utensils to have a full complete meal. Therefore, Joe Primanti just combined the sides and meat in a sandwich. This was how the Primanti Sandwich was born.

You must be thinking, all that talk about the Primanti's Sandwich, what's in the sandwich anyways? Well, it starts off with a thick slice of Italian bread. At least an inch thick, crusty on the outside and soft and warm in the inside. Then goes the layer of meat (they also have eggs, tuna and sardines too) of your choice. On top of that goes a layer of thick hot fries followed by a generous helping of slaw. I have to point out that the slaw is unlike the regular slaw that we are used to. It not does not contain any mayo, but is made with vinegar and pepper. Crispy and fresh, almost sweet with a tinge of tangy taste. Tomatoes are places on top of that and its topped with another thick piece of Italian bread.

My favorite choice of meat is the Sweet Sausage and Cheese. Kevin loves the Cheese Steak. The Cheese Steak is dubbed the #2 Best Seller on the menu. It's actually the best selling meat in Primanti's. Can anybody guess what is the #1 best seller in Primanti's then? :P

Pittsburgh pride runs deep in that town. It starts with the Steelers and ends with sandwich. So, da next time yinz are in Picksburg, yinz hafta head dahn to Primanti's. Order a Sammitch and worsh it dohn wit an Arn. If you don't speak Pittsburghese, I just said that the next time you are in Pittsburgh, go get a Primanti's sandwich and an Iron City Beer.

So here we are. At last, we have reach the #1 restaurant in the "Top 10 Eats in Pittsburgh" series! I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh it as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. When you are in Pittsburgh and some one ask "jeet jet?" and your answer is no, pick one of the top 10 places on the list to go to. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Primanti Brothers Restaurant
46 18th Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Tel: (412) 263-2142

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2. Station Square

Station Square used to be the meeting place for passengers arriving on the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. Today, it is a 52 acre riverfront complex that houses many of the city's best dining and entertainment spots. It runs for 1.2 miles along the shoreline of the Monongahela River. There is also a giant fountain in the middle of Bessemer Court which shoots up jets of water up to 40ft in the air, choreographed to different kinds of music and lights. Children can also ride the Station Square Express, a trackless train that goes around the The Freight House Shops.

The grand old dame of Station Square is the Grand Concourse Restaurant. It has it's setting in the Edwardian splendor of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Terminal that was built in 1901. Well known for it's seafood, the Grand Concourse let's you experience how it's like to be in the high society circles back in the day. Lots of brass, marble, mahogany and high stained glass cathedral ceilings, the Grand Concourse definitely retains much of it's old charm and elegance.

If you are hungry for some authentic Italian food, head over to Buca Di Beppo. Great food, meant to be shared with family and friends. A good place for family gatherings.

You should also check out Bar Louie. It's a hip restaurant, famous for it's over sized sandwiches and special martinis. If you are in the mood for jazz and martinis, this is definitely the place to go.

Joe's Crab Shack is all about fun and seafood. There is a patio space outside if you want to dine al fresco during the summer time. Good food, good music and good fun!

Red Star Tavern serves the best BBQ in Pittsburgh. Wash it all down with some cold beer and frozen drinks.
When you are in Station Square, you have to check out The Funny Bone. It's a stand up comedy club that promises to keep you laughing til your sides hurt!

You are in the mood for some good ol American food and also want to listen to a live band, where do you go? Hard Rock Cafe, Pittsburgh, of course! The only Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh and it's located in Station Square!

If sitting down someplace for a meal is not your cup of tea, then take a dinner cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet. Enjoy the beautiful view of Pittsburgh as you go up and down the three rivers.

When the sun goes down and you have already filled up on food, head over to The Matrix Night Club! There are four clubs/sections under one roof. The Goddess plays Top 40 music and it caters mostly to the young crowd. There is also the infamous booty bar in that room, a 4ft tall bar where girls can dance above everyone else. Liquid is the rave room, playing intense techno and trance music. Velvet is a chill out room, playing salsa and the only room which doesn't have loud music. People usually go there to relax, chillout and have a good conversation with friends. My favorite room is Exit. They play retro music all night long. Imagine 400 people dancing and singing along to their favourite 80s music. It's Mambo Night, every night!

Station Square has 19 restaurants, 20 places you can buy a cocktail and 4 dance clubs. It's an entertainment one stop shop line no other in Pittsburgh. No matter what you like or what you are in to, you will find it in Station Square!

Station Square
1 E Station Square Drive,
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Tel: (412) 261-2811

Monday, November 24, 2008

3. Andy's Sushi Bar

The Strip District in Pittsburgh offers many ethnic foods and groceries. I love how you can walk down the strip and enjoy the different sights and smells. Andy's Sushi Bar is not exactly a restaurant. It's just a small stall located inside Wholey's Fish Market.
Andy's Sushi Bar makes the best and freshest sushi and rolls in the whole of Pittsburgh. The seafood used is really fresh and good. Hey, it's located in a fish market, how much more fresher can the seafood get? The only place you probably can get seafood fresher than that is if you are on a fishing boat itself! He doesn't premake any of the sushi. Everything is freshly made upon order.
Andy is just a super funny guy. He would tell jokes to his customers and laugh at everything. He would talk about anything under the sun and would often hand out free samples (which he will make on the spot with whatever fresh fish he is cutting) while you wait for your order. Everybody loves Andy. He always has a smile on his face and never fails to brighten your day.

Yes, I know. This photo is a little bit outdated. It was taken about 5 years ago, when Kevin and I first started dating. I couldn't find any other photo of Andy's Sushi Bar except for this. The only downside about Andy's is that you might have to wait a while, especially during weekends to get your order. The line is really long (that goes to show how good his sushi is). Also, since it's not a restaurant, there are no tables and chairs for you to sit down to enjoy your sushi. You can either bring it upstairs to the Wholey's food court area or you have to take it home.

Andy's Sushi Bar is open from morning until 5pm everyday. If you are looking for some of the freshest sushi in Pittsburgh, you have to go to Andys. Not only will you get good tasting sushi, jokes and laughter is on the house. Now, that's what a call a good deal!

Andy's Sushi Bar (Inside Wholey's Fish Market)
1711 Penn Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Tel: (412) 281-8272

Sunday, November 23, 2008

4. The Church Brew Works

Before The Church Brew Works opened it's doors on the 1st of Aug 1996, the building was actually a real church. On June 1st 1902, the cornerstone of St John the Baptist Church was laid. At that time, a copper time capsule was laid with the stone. The time capsule is still there today. The building survived a big fire in 1915 and the Diocese underwent a major reorganization in 1993. On the 6th of August 1993, the church was put under an act of suppression by the Bishop of Pittsburgh. The building laid dormant until early 1996 when constructions for the brewery begin.
The Church Brew Works restored most of the original construction of the building. All the stain glasses in the building are originals and the floors are the original Douglas fir flooring. The pews were salvaged to make the sitting area of the brewery and the leftover wood was used to make the bar. The eight original lanterns were also refurbished and now it's hanging in their main area of the brewery. Bricks from the former confession stalls were used to make the pillars for the outdoor sign.

The altar area is where the steel and copper tanks of the brewery is placed. Diners can see the tanks as well as how the workers brew the different types of beer.
One of the most popular item on the menu is the beer sampler. There are six different kinds of beer in the sampler. It features four of their regular beers, ranging from light beer, dark lagers to the very dark shouts. The other two samples are their speciality beers. That changes from month to month, depending on the season. My personal favorite is the Celestial Gold. It's a golden colored light beer, very mild with a tinge of pleasant hop bitterness. I am not really a beer person but I can say that I truly enjoyed that particular beer. Kevin prefers the Blast Furnace Stout.
They have two different kinds of food menu. You can order from the pub menu or the dinner menu. The wings from the pub menu is pretty good. Another item you should try is the Pierogies. You are in Pittsburgh, you have to try the Piegories. Don't get carried away and order too much. No matter what you order, you must leave room for dessert. My all time favorite dessert is the 'Brewmisu'! It's Tiramisu with a twist. Instead of using the usual liquor, they make it with beer! It's really really good, trust me.

The Church Brew Works is a place you can go to when you are tired of the usual restaurant and pub scene. If you have never drank beer in a church before, head down to The Church Brew Works and order yourself a beer sampler!

The Church Brew Works
3525 Liberty Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Tel: (412) 688-8200