Tag Archives: coffee

30 before 30: A Perfect Day

21 Nov

My husband spoils me. Spoils me.  For my last day of my 20s, he gave me the green light to spend the day doing every little thing I wanted to do.  I started the day off with an exhilarating but tough hot yoga class at Bikram Yoga. Afterward, I spent a little time relaxing with one of my favorite pasttimes: sipping coffee and reading magazines.  The coffee was from my favorite shop in Pittsburgh, of course– Commonplace Coffee.

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Afterward, followed an afternoon of shopping, tacos at Smoke BBQ Taqueria, and a hot stone massage and mani-pedi.  Oh how wonderful!

When I jokingly told Mr. Beez that I wanted Hostess treats, in fear that the impending liquidation would mean that cupcakes and ho hos are no more, he drove to FIVE different stores, and finally found me the most shameful of baked treats: powdered donettes.

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Mr. Beez especially spoiled me with a mini-vacation right here in Pittsburgh.  We got a fancy suite at the Fairmont hotel, and enjoyed the luxe life for one night!

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The gorgeous view of Market Square from our hotel room

Yes, the Fairmont is so fancy that in addition to its vegan, macrobiotic, raw food, and gluten free room service menus, they also have a room service menu just for cats and dogs.

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After checking into the hotel, we met up with a few friends for dinner at NOLA on the Square,  and enjoyed spicy food and sweet desserts!

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NOLA Bourbon Birthday Cheesecake!

And after dinner, we had a few birthday cocktails at the always fun and always tasty Andy’s Wine Bar

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And at midnight, my friend Christine got the jazz band to play “Happy Birthday” to me!

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Dancing to my Happy Birthday song (and humiliating Christine)

And we ended the evening with a few hilarious rounds of Apples to Apples.  The best! The best!

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30 is great! Happy birthday to me!

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Club Cafe Brunch

24 Aug

Friday’s not a traditional “brunch” day, but I figured by posting this on a Friday, you could keep Club Cafe in mind when you’re putting very important brunch plans together. (Brunch, my friends, is the most IMPORTANT meal of the weekend). Also, I am feeling like a sad sack because there aren’t many entries on my Love With Food giveaway.  The giveaway closes to night, so please stop on over there to share your FAVORITE THING ON THE INTERNET! (and to make me feel popular)

Club Cafe is an intimate live music venue in the Southside. Seeing a band play there feels like you’re hanging out with them in your living room. I was excited to see they’ve begun to offer Sunday brunches…oh who am I kidding, I get excited about every mention of brunch! Of course, a LivingSocial deal bumped Club Cafe up to the top of my “must try!” list.

I met up with my friend Sonia for a walk around the Southside before brunching. We walked from 18th street down and around the Southside Works and back, and worked up quite an appetite. Good thing, because Club Cafe’s brunch menu was so full of delicious sounding offerings that we had a hard time choosing.

I selected the Steak & Egg croissant. This is no Crossainwich, this thing is delightful. Club Cafe gets their croissants from Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery. They are SRS BZNESS. While the croissant was too delicate a bread to fully contain the sandwich, it complemented the steak and egg with perfect decadence. The only fitting description for this sandwich is buttery. Oh it was so good.  I want to eat this every day.

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I initially did not plan to order any cocktails, but I saw they offer a Bloody Mary flight, and I could not resist. I imagined that these would be small glasses of bloody mary, but hoo boy, are they ever generous with their servings.

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I would return to Club Cafe for brunch in a heartbeat. The food was delicious and the prices were good. The service was astounding as well. We arrived on the earlier side for brunch, but even as time passed and the seats began to fill, the servers were quick to fill our water and coffee and attend to every need.
Club Cafe on Urbanspoon

fun in NYC #blogher12

4 Aug

Well Blogher ’12 has drawn to a close. I’ll be posting a more substantive retrospective tomorrow, but the short summary is that I got some awesome tech takeaways, and met some great people.

I strolled the expo a bit more today, and got to hang out with the Got Milk milkmen.

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I also had a hot date with Zac Ephron, except I was a little turned off because he had something in his nose, and didn’t get it when I tried to indicate that to him with subtlety, but he didn’t get it, so I had to take matters into my own hands.

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Hersheys and Wal-Mart sponsored a hospitality suite that featured INDOOR SMORES. You know my feelings on smores. I went back twice.

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Starbucks also had a hospitality suite featuring its new single-brew coffeemaker. I was very skeptical because I really do not like Keurig. I’ve tried all kinds of pods and settings and everything, and I can never get it to make anything other than gross. The new bux machine makes drip coffee, espresso, and lattes. I made a latte (with double espresso, naturally), and it was surprisingly good. I’m still not going to buy one of the machines, because I make coffee at home all of never, but I won’t turn my nose up if someone else offers me a cup.

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After I was done with a day full of awesome tech-centered seminars, Mr. Beez and I wandered down to Lindy’s famous overpriced deli for a sammich. It’s within view of Times Square, which the absurd prices reflect, however the food was surprisingly decent (despite the abysmal Yelp reviews). Mr. Beez had the worlds largest sandwich full of meat, which I had to help him eat because it was so massive.

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Mr. Beez and I also went out on the town on Friday night for dinner. The 3 Monkeys was the closest reasonably-priced eatery that had great results on Yelp. It was a comfortable bar, with quick service and a great beer selection. We had a charcuterie plate, which was good but nothing special. For my meal, I ordered the sliders sampler. You get to pick 3 sliders from beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. I went for the beef, chicken, and lamb. The beef was a classic cheddar bacon cheeseburger, which was solid and satisfying. The chicken was really surprisingly good, it was juicy and just the perfect amount of salty. The lamb, however, I am still dreaming about. IT WAS AMAZING. In a full burger size, it would have been overkill, but the slider was OMG DELICIOUS. We’ve got time to grab some brunch before catching the plane tomorrow, and I am seriously considering strong-arming Mr. Beez for a trip back there.

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Tonight we also went to the movies to see THE BATMAN. It may sound like a bit of a waste to go all the way to NYC to see a movie, but I really really did not want to see this movie surrounded by loud overstimulated Pittsburghers. Instead, we saw the movie surrounded by New Yorkers and tourists, and being the only overstimulated yinzers in the crowd, we ruined it for everyone else. I loved seeing all the footage of Pittsburgh pieced together. It actually made it MORE fun to me, to watch the chase go UP Smithfield street, then DOWN Smithfield Street, then UP Smithfield Street, then HOW DID WE GET TO OAKLAND?

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So tomorrow we head back to the ‘burgh, and I’ll get to snuggle that little baby girl that I’ve missed over the last few days (having 2 back to back weekends away is hard). We’ve been running around like crazy people this whole vacation, so I can’t say I feel rested. Still, I do feel ready to get back to work. That’s a good thing, because I’ve got a whole pile of stuff to tackle when I wander back to the office on Monday.

Delanie’s Coffee

22 Jul

A friend who lives in the Sahside and knows of my interest in trying new places, and in great coffee shops, told me all about Delanie’s Coffee.  If I had an afternoon to burn, I’d love to spend it lounging at a coffee shop, reading a book, and sipping a cafe au lait.  I was a coffee shop expert in law school, and spent MANY full days studying for the bar exam various coffee shops, sampling both the shop’s breakfast and lunch wares.  Those days are long gone, and sadly most of my coffee shop visits are of the carry out variety.

If I were back in my study-hall days, Delanie’s would be just what I’d be looking for.  There is ample seating, plenty of light, a variety of food and coffee choices, and free wireless.  Although its location in the Southside is notorious for limited parking, that’s really only a problem at night.  I’ve never had trouble finding a place to park (and often without even the need of quarters) during daylight hours.

I was sorely caffeine deprived, and ordered myself a large cafe au lait.  I also got a “naughty chocolattie” cookie, which contains a smidgen of hot pepper and BBQ sauce.  After purchasing the cookie I worried that I just bought something inedible.  However, the cookie only had a tiny smidgen of spice, and tasted mostly of chocolate. It would have been nice to be able to hang out at Delanie’s for a bit, but my Saturday was chock-full of errands, and I only had time for a quick stop on my way home from my weekly Costco run.

Both the coffee and the cookie were good but not particularly stand-out.  I might not bother to go out of my way for carry out coffee from Delanie’s, but I would definitely return for the coffee house experience.  The size and welcoming feeling of the shop would be perfect for various literary events or meetups.  The shop is fairly new and still getting it’s legs.  I hope it finds a strong footing and succeeds.

Coffee and Sandwiches

26 May

Last Saturday I was in the mood for a REALLY good cup of coffee. Not the run of the mill Brueggers or Dunkin Donuts coffee, but something delicious and made with care. I took a little drive into the Squill, and stopped at Commonplace Coffeehouse. I can’t say it enough– I love Commonplace. They brew coffee by the individual cup, and ground their beans fresh for each cup. And these people know their beans. Their coffee is a little pricy, but it is SO worth it. What I love most about Commonplace is that even though they are coffee geniuses, they don’t expect you to be. They’re totally unpretentious and welcoming. Having being scolded about my insistence on adding cream to my coffee at another local serious-business coffee shop, I asked the Commonplace barista if he would scold me for asking for cream. The barista said, jokingly “Lady, you just paid $3.65 for a cup of coffee. You put anything in there you want!” I LOVE this place. I think I need to go back there again today!

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The Commonplace Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon

Last Monday, my friend Jill and I took a visit to the newly opened Bluebird Kitchen.

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I’ve been staring longingly into the construction-filled storefront for months now, and finally on May 14 they opened their doors. Bluebird is a bakery/sandwich shop, and is great for a high quality quick bite Downtown. Their prices are similar to Au Bon Pain, but the quality is much much higher. I had the Croque Monsieur sandwich, which was like a fancy grilled cheese with ham. I also had the quinoa salad, which would have tasted better if it were a little colder, but was still pretty darn good. The food there is all high quality, and the service was pretty quick. I’m surprised that this is the first independently owned bakery type lunch place that has sprung up downtown. I’d imagine that this kind of business will be a big hit with the lunch crowd. They also have a nice selection of cookies, pastries, and other baked goods, that I will have to return to sample!
Bluebird Kitchen on Urbanspoon

deep thoughts on coffee

20 Oct

I love coffee, but my palate isn’t refined enough to call me a connoisseur.  I loathe Maxwell House and instant coffee.  I have one of those all-you-can-drink coffee cards from Brueggers, so that’s where I usually get my morning coffee.  At home I usually make Dunkin Donuts coffee. Brueggers coffee (Green Mountain) and Dunkin coffee are nothing special, so I really don’t think I qualify as a coffee snob.

I do however have proper appreciation of a really good cup of coffee.  Every once in a while, I treat myself to fancy coffee at 21st street coffee. They are a few blocks from my office (I am lazy and do not want to walk), and I usually plunk down about $5 on a cup, so it’s not an every day kind of thing.

21st Street is indisputably staffed by coffee snobs.  This usually doesn’t bother me, and they’ve always been willing to give me suggestions and explain to me the various qualities of the coffees they are offering.  I ran into a friend in Motions Court recently, who shares this coffee enthusiasm, and he told me that he was done with 21st street. The snobbery of the baristas finally was too annoying for him, and he was going to find someplace new for his caffeine.  He said when he ordered an Americano, the barista said “It’s not on the menu anymore,” and refused to make one.  On the menu or not, this would be ridiculous. They’ve got espresso, they’ve got water, why not make an Americano?

I chalked it up to an inexperienced barista being on staff that day, and wasn’t going to let his story impact my love for 21st street.  Then last week I met a friend there for late afternoon coffee. I ordered a cafe au lait, which I have ordered (and been served) there at least 3 other times.  The barista informed me that they don’t serve cafe au lait.  I told her that I had ordered and been served cafe au lait there before, and she didn’t believe me.  Her reason that she couldn’t serve cafe au lait was because they don’t brew pots of drip coffee, they make coffee using the filter method in individual cups.  This is fine and well, and I actually prefer coffee made by the individual cup because you know that it’s fresh.  Her reasoning, however made no sense, because she could make me a cup of coffee, then steam milk, and put the steamed milk in the cup of coffee, and voila! Cafe au lait! She, however, insisted that the closest thing she could serve me was a latte. It being 3pm and all I wanted was a coffee, and not wanting to deal with explaining all of this to her, I said “Fine, give me a latte.”

I’m sure I’ll return to 21st street now and then, because their coffee is really good, but this kind of silliness tarnishes my devotion to them.  I have bought excellent coffee beans from (very nonpretentious) Nicholas Coffee & Tea, and will probably venture there for my next fancy cup of coffee.

I visited Commonplace Coffeehouse for the first time very recently, and was so very very impressed.  It’s close to my house, but not to my work, so I’ll have to save my visits there for the rare occasion that I can visit a coffeehouse on the weekend and read a newspaper.  Another favorite of mine is Big Dog Coffee, or the Beehive for when I’m nostalgic for my college years.  More about all of them another time.