Monday, March 26, 2007

A Trip to the 'Burgh

Weatherwise, last Saturday was pretty dreary, even for Western PA. It was quite reminiscent of the weather in Northeast France & Belgium, actually - dark, gray, and rainy. Not cold, but not exactly picnic weather, either. I ran a few errands that morning, including a trip to Agway to buy some grass seed, fertilizer, and lime ... the back yard needs some work.

Dana was slated for a day of studying, as is normal right now for her. But the thought of sitting in our living room all day was not that appealing, and we were both in the mood for a change of scenery. She suggested that we drive to Pittsburgh for the day; she'd study in the car on the way down, and then we'd hit a few beer places. She'd study, I'd read, and we'd both drink some good beer. I love my wife.

So, at 12:30 we got in the old Honda and headed off to the Strip District. First stop was a late lunch at the original Primanti Brothers on 18th Street. Now, for the uninitiated, this place looks a little seedy. Outside, the streets are pretty dirty and worn, and the smells coming from all the produce and fish warehouses don't exactly fill one with wide-eyed wonder. Regardless, perhaps you've seen Primanti's featured on one of the Food Network shows - it's a Pittsburgh institution.

A Primanti Bros. sandwich is everything slammed between two thick pieces of Italian white bread. You order based on the meat selection (or cheese if you're a vegetarian). I normally get bacon, egg, and cheese. This is grilled by a grumpy old lady with tons of other orders being screamed at her by various employees - all rather terse (but not outwardly rude). The meat & cheese is put on a piece of bread, on top of which is slapped a handful of hot, fresh-cut french fries, then some sweet & sour cole slaw, and a slice of tomato. Last piece of bread, cut in half - Voila! It's even better when sprinkled liberally with some Louisiana hot sauce.

If you get a chance to go, try to get a seat at the counter in front of the grill - dinner and entertainment all in one.

After lunch, we hit a few stores to stock up on some hard-to-find items (well, hard to find in Indiana). Penzeys Spices is there now - grabbed some cooking supplies and some whole coriander seed for homebrewing. After that, the PA Macaroni Co. for some good olive medleys and some European cheeses. Picked up some Appenzeller, Comte, and a sharp Dutch cheese that's a little better (for its age) than Gouda. Stopped off for a quick coffee around the corner.

Now it was time for some beer. We headed up to East End Brewing, where I returned my empty Ugly American bottle. I tasted the Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale and the new session beer, American Wheat". The Nut Brown I'd had before but wanted a reminder. The American Wheat was good, and very hoppy for the style. But, after a taste, I decided to get a growler of the newly formulated East End Witte. It's a lot more orangy and spicy that previous batches, and it quite refreshing.

From East End, we drove over to the Sharp Edge Beer Emporium and grabbed a table. While there, Dana had a draught Hennepin, which was good; I prefer it from the bottle so you get the dregs! I tried both the Pink Clouds Porter, an East End Brewing interpretation of Kevin Kost's winning homebrew recipe, and an Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, which I have to say didn't impress me.

After an hour, we decided to head down the road to Robinson. First stop was the Bocktown Beer & Grille, a new pub near the Target store. They have a really nice beer selection, both on tap, and for bottles (for drinking or takeout). My only criticism is that the bottle prices are a bit on the pricey side, even for Pittsburgh. The food smelled and looked great, but we were just there for a drink.

Sitting at some high tables in the bar area, Dana ordered a limited release Penn Weizenbock on draught. Very yummy, and I suggest you try to get your hands on some before it disappears. I settled on a draught Great Divide Hercules Double IPA. Very good stuff, that.

For the road (well, not literally), I grabbed a 75cL Sly Fox Saison Vos, a Thirsty Dog Siberian Night Impy Stout, and a Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball.

After a quick trip to Target, we hit our final destination for the evening: Mad Mex. We were both craving Tex-Mex for dinner, and this place is great. Their beer selection is usually pretty fine, too, and I always find something new. Tonight was no exception, and I enjoyed a draught Green Flash Barley Wine. That stuff was hot, and I should buy a bottle and let it sit for a while.

Grabbed a post-dinner coffee and hit the road home. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday with my wife.


Eli said...

Sounds like an excellent time, I wonder if Kim and I could recreate that with kids in tow. Doubt it, though maybe a revised half agenda would work.

I recently picked up a Hairy Eyeball and Siberian Night, I haven't tried them yet, but I'm interested in hearing what you think.

Adam said...

Hairy Eyeball, I love that name. I remember that one as being pretty good. I thought we did a tasting over a The Brew Lounge, but, I can't seem to find it.

Eli, I know what you mean about having the kids in tow. You might want to cut it down to a quater of the places ;-)

Adam said...

...also, I thought I should comment on the post itself. I don't want to be rude. ;-)

I really enjoyed your recount. It It reminds me of when I lived there for a brief 6 months or so. It also will help prepare me for my next trip. Keep up the good work.