Food Blogger Brunch at Cocothe in Sewickley

Homemade Biscuits
Homemade biscuits from Cocothe Chocolaterie, Bakery & Cafe in Sewickley

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither Cocothe, nor its owners. I’m just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures with others! Photos were captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited in Instagram.

A few weeks ago, Tasha of The Foodtasters, Heidi of The Steel Trap, and Terri of Parmesan Princess/Between the Eats and I were all invited to a mini Food Blogger Brunch at Cocothe in Sewickley! If you missed my introductory blog post about Cocothe, please click here:Β https://friendlypittsburghfoodie.com/2015/06/21/grand-opening-party-and-first-lunch-at-cocothe/.

Picture up above was the first dish: homemade biscuits, one of the highlights of brunch! These were particularly good, when paired with the next dish:

Honey, Butter, Cheese & Compote Jam
Honey, Compound Butter, Apple Butter and Rhubarb Jam

(My favorite things were the herb creme fresh spread, picture in the upper left-hand corner, and the rhubarb jam, photographed in the upper right-hand corner. Soooooooo good!)

Berry Basil Salad
Course #2: Berry Basil Salad, with mixed berry, fresh basil from Cocotte’s herb garden & honey

This was WONDERFUL! So refreshing, light & healthy- PERFECT for summer! I could tell that the berries & basil were both very fresh, and the honey tasted MARVELOUS, drizzled on the top!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
This particular Sunday, Cocothe was SLAMMED with customers. As a thank you for your patience, the two owners made us some double chocolate chip cookies! πŸ˜€
Double Chocolate Chip Cookie
Close up of one of the SCRUMPTIOUS double chocolate chip cookies!
Chilaquiles
Terri’s brunch: Chilaquiles! As the Parmesan Princess wisely advised: “when in doubt, I go Mexican (food-wise).”
Prosciutto with Figs Sandwich
Heidi’s “Figgy Wiggy” sandwich- Prosciutto with Figs! Now THAT sounds HEAVENLY!
Blueberry Pancakes
Mom’s brunch: blueberry pancakes! Some of THE best pancakes I’ve EVER had in the ‘burgh!
Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Dish #3- two small chocolate chip pancakes! Some of THE best pancakes I’ve EVER had!

These pancakes totally transported me back to my childhood, when my Mom would take me to DeLuca’s in the Strip District, and I would get the chocolate chip pancakes. πŸ™‚

Chef's Plate
Tasha and I both ordered the same thing for our main courses: The Chef’s Plate!

Eggs any way that you like it (I chose scrambled), avocado toast (“toast is back, baby”- Stacey Vespaziani & Amy C.), berry salad, sliced cherry tomatoes, chicken apple sausage, and hollandaise sauce. WOW! My favorite things were: the scrambled eggs, the avocado toast (a taste of California), and the chicken sausage (which I also tried once at The Square Cafe in Regent Square). I HIGHLY recommend this dish! (*thumbs up*)

Chef's Plate Close-up
Close up of my LOVELY brunch!

Pittsburgh: whether you live north west of the city, or if you live in the South Hills like I do, Cocothe is TOTALLY worth the tripΒ for brunch! πŸ˜‰

Cheers for good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Cocothe’s website

Cocothe’s Facebook page

Cocothe’s Twitter page

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My First Dinner at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina

Gaucho's Logo
Gaucho’s logo

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from Gaucho Parrilla Argentina; I’m just a Pittsburgh Foodie, who enjoy sharing her foodie adventures! Photos captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited in Instagram.

Gaucho is FAMOUS, not just in Pittsburgh- nation-wide in the foodie scene! Once the eatPGH ladies christened Gaucho as a “must-eat, must-see” foodie destination, I knew I had to dine there!

FINALLY, my chance arrived in June, when Tasha (of The Food Tasters) and Mike (of Why We Live in Downtown Pittsburgh) met me for dinner, one Friday night, after work.

First of all: you know the restaurant is good when the line is OUT the door! I was really intrigued by the menu, too, which was exhibited on this HUGE chalkboard:

Chalkboard Menu Gaucho
First shot of the chalkboard menu at Gaucho!
Chalkboard Menu Gaucho
More Chalkboard Menu from Gaucho!
Gaucho Chalkboard
Last chalkboard shot!

I really lined waiting “on line” (as Bourdain would say) to ascend to the cash register, place my order, and then await my food, at a rustic table near the entrance window, for my food. Luckily, I was able to converse with The Food Tasters, while I waited in anticipation.

House Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Dish #1- La Casa Salad, with Grilled Shrimp from Gaucho

WOW! This house salad was SERIOUSLY one of the best salads I’ve EVER had in my entire LIFE! Once of the aspects of Gaucho that’s unique: everything is cooked on a wood-fired grill! I could really taste the AMAZING smoky-ness of the grill, when I was biting into the grilled shrimp.Β Perfecto!

Veggie Empanada
Dish #2- Veggie Empanada

I must admit, this empanada was no where as good as the ones I’ve had from Bar Marco & La Palapa. Although, I’m not going to sit here, and bash ANY restaurant. Never fear, my friends: we shall move onto the next dish!

Chorizo Blood Sausage from Gaucho
The Piece de Resistance: Chorizo BLOOD SAUSAGE

Bourdain has had blood sausage SEVERAL times on his shows: from his buddy Fergus Henderson’s LEGENDARY St. John’s Restaurant in London, to M. Wells in Queens (now in Long Island City). My philosophy as a foodie is always: if Bourdain loves this dish, I should at least taste the dish, and see if I like it. For the most part, this theory hasn’t steered me wrong.

Let me tell you: best. Sausage. EVER! I have NEVER, EVER, in my life had sausage so good! Also: you will not taste the blood! It taste like you’re eating regular sausage, but 100x better! I am so in love with this dish now. I tweeted about this dish, and Bourdain’s buddy of International Mystery, Zamir Gotta, tweeted to me: “welcome to the blood sausage club”! I am honored to be a member. πŸ˜‰

Three dishes Gaucho
Close up of my three dishes together!
Foodie Drone Shot Gaucho
I had to pay homage to my friend John of the YaJagoff! blog, and complete a “foodie drone” shot of my meal!
Gaucho Bodega
Alberto (PR/Events Manager of Gaucho’s Bodega events space) was kind enough to give me a mini tour of the “Bodega” events space!
Gaucho Bodega Event Space
Second shot of Gaucho’s “Bodega” event space!

Whether you’re looking either for a casual dinner with friends after work, a great weekend date night meal, or if you want to book the Bodega for your rehearsal dinner, corporate meeting or reunion, Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is an AMAZING choice!

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Gaucho’s website

Gaucho’s Facebook page

Gaucho’s Twitter page

Yoga & Lunch in Lawrenceville

Meditation Statue
I love this statue, that sits quietly in meditation, at the back of the studio.
*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga, Laura Gorham, nor the owners & staff of Franktuary. I’m just a Pittsburgh Yogini & Foodie, who enjoys sharing her cultural adventures! Pictures captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with both Instagram, and Adobe Photoshop Extended CS4.

Fourth of July morning, I ventured over to Lawrenceville (one of my FAVORITE parts of Pittsburgh) with my Mom for an Ashtanga Basics class at The Shala (a new yoga studio, dedicated to the practice and teaching of Ashtanga Yoga, a classical form of yoga) and lunch at Franktuary!

The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga
Here is The Shala’s BEAUTIFUL studio space!
The teacher (Lizandra) was absolutely FABULOUS! I arrived early before class (as I always do), and we conversed about yoga, Pittsburgh, and life in general.

Lizard did an EXCELLENT job teaching- from her meticulous cueing, to the hands-on-assists and modifications, I really did experience THE perfect Basic Ashtanga yoga class! The good news: I was both sweating AND smiling at the end of class!

Practice, and all is coming
This quotation, spoken by both Kino MacGregor’s and Tim Miller’s teacher (affectionately named “Guruji“) REALLY resonated with me!
Ganesh statue
(Buddhist God); he is recommended if you need “grounding”, which I so desperately needed!
Tim Miller, with student Laura Gorham
(Timji)! He was the first American EVER to be certified to teach Ashtanga!
The studio owner (Laura Gorham) is to the right of the legendary Ashtanga Yoga teacher, Tim Miller. In April, I attended an Intro to Ashtanga Yoga workshop with Laura at her studio. She is an INCREDIBLE teacher- Pittsburgh is so lucky to have her, and her studio!

Thanks to Laura, I learned half-lotus pose! I will never forget that, and always will be grateful. It’s thanks to Laura, and that workshop, that has started my love affair with Ashtanga Yoga. πŸ˜‰

After yoga, I needed to re-fuel with lunch. Thus, I decided to head over to Franktuary, also in Lawrenceville. I was a HUGE fan of the original downtown location (in the back of the Trinity church. In the next few months, Franktuary will be returning to downtown Pittsburgh, and is planning on taking over the space at the former Fat Tommy’s, in Market Square!), but I had only visited the Lawrenceville Franktuary once, for brunch. Thus, I was long overdue for a visit! X)

Citrus Scrub & Soda Drink
Citrus Scrub & Soda from Franktuary, in Lawrenceville!
My beverage du joir: a Citrus Scrub & Soda drink! Even since I tried a Scrub & Soda drink at Cure, back in November, I have been HOOKED!  Any place that offers them, I order them! I must say, Franktuary came VERY close to being as good as Cure’s scrub & soda! This was INCREDIBLE! The drink was light & refreshing; perfect for the hot summer day!

Citrus Scrub & Soda Drink
“Yes, I think I would like that”, as Bourdain would say! πŸ˜‰

Spring Greens Salad
Mom’s Main Course: a small Spring Field: salad! This was VERY tasty!
Poutine Quebec Style
My Mom and I both shared a plate of Poutine (Quebec style)! Franktuary was the first, and has been the only restaurant where I have tried Poutine. It’s always a highlight for me, and an essential at Franktuary!
 

Kale Salad with Falafel Balls
My main course- Kale Salad with root vegetables and two fried falafel balls! The Kale Salad was SCRUMPTIOUS- just what I needed after yoga. Also, the falafel was THE best falafel I’ve ever had in my entire LIFE! πŸ˜€
Whether you either live in Pittsburgh, or will be visiting soon, I HIGHLY recommend a yoga class at The Shala, and either brunch, lunch or dinner at Franktuary! Trust me on this! πŸ˜‰

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art, and cultural events!

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga’s website

The Shala of Pittsburgh’s Facebook page

The Shala of Pittsburgh’s Twitter page

The Shala of Pittsburgh’s Instagram page

Franktuary’s website

Franktuary’s Facebook page

Franktuary’s Twitter page

Franktuary’s Instagram page

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Visits to Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

BBQ Shrimp Tacos from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar
BBQ Shrimp Tacos- one of my FAVORITE tacos from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

*DISCLAIMER*: I do no see monetary benefits from neither the owner of Sirena Taco Joint & Bar, nor the chefs, wait-staff or restaurant. I am just a humble Pittsburgh Foodie, who enjoys sharing her Pittsburgh adventure. Photos captured with an iPhone 5s; photos were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

If you haven’t read my first review of Sirena Taco Joint & Bar, please do: First Review. The first review contains one of my FAVORITE tacos from Sirena: the Pork Carnitas tacos! Plus, you will learn about the owner of Sirena (the former owner of Dozen, a LEGENDARY cupcake & bakeshop in Pittsburgh) and the Executive Chef (Former Executive Chef of Nine on Nine).

I visited Sirena Taco Joint & Bar for the third time in February 2015, with one of my college buddies. Since the weather was cold and snowy, we were one of the few customers in attendance, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the kindness of our waiter, the fun, vibrant atmosphere of the restaurant, and the wonderful food of the chefs!

Pictured above was my meal of the day: BBQ shrimp tacos; these were INCREDIBLE! I’m not usually one for fish tacos, but between the shrimp, BBQ sauce and the crunch fritos, I was in taco HEAVEN! My second favorite taco from Sirena Taco Joint!

Chocolate Lava Cake
Chocolate Lava Cake from Sirena Taco Joint- a chocoholic’s DREAM!

Of course, I HAD to get dessert! Thus, I chose the Chocolate Lava Cake, with a academia nut crumble, strawberries, whipped cream and Nutella ice cream! πŸ˜€

Nutella Ice Cream
Two scoops of Nutella ice cream! As Bourdain would say: “BEAUTIFUL”!

I was in dessert HEAVEN! The Lava cake honestly tasted like you were eating fudge, and the Nutella ice cream really DID taste like you were eating Nutella! Soooooooooooo good; after this dinner, I was “head over heels” for this dessert!

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar's Menu, Part One
Sirena recently changed the menu to individual taco orders. I love that idea!

The individual taco menu (plus starters, combos, sides and desserts), part one!

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar's Menu, Part Two
Sirena’s Menu, Part Two!
House Margarita
House Margarita from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar = YUM!

When I arrived for my third visit, I FINALLY decided to order a house margarita from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar! I must say, this was one of the best margaritas I’ve EVER had!

Chips and Salsa
Chips and Salsa from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

My friend and I decided to order chips and salsa as a starter. The chips were some of the best chips I’ve ever had (La Palapa still makes the best chips), and the salsa had a WONDERFUL heat to it!

Guacamole and Chips
For both the third and fourth visits, I ordered the guacamole & chips. It was okay during the third visit, but OUTSTANDING during the fourth!
Jerk Chicken & Roasted Lamb Chili Verde tacos
Third visit tacos: Jerk Chicken (left) and Roasted Lamb Chili Verde (right).

Third Visit tacos: Jerk Chicken (left) and Roasted Lamb Chili Verde (right). Even though the Jerk Chicken taco was good, the Roasted Lamb taco TOTALLY rocked my world, and is now one of my top three favorite tacos at Sirena Taco Joint! I could tell that the lamb was grilled and roasted very well. Plus, I LOVE chili Verde!

Jerk Chicken Taco
Close-up of the Jerk Chicken Taco, with rice & beans, from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar
Roasted Lamb Chili Verde Taco
“You rock my world, you know you did”! πŸ˜‰
Tacos
Another angle of my third visit tacos from Sirena!
Lava Cake & Nutella Ice Cream
The Chocolate Lava Cake & Nutella Ice Cream was so good the first time, I had to order it again! πŸ˜‰

I was luckily enough to have a “Girls’ Night Out” for my fourth visit, with Tasha of The Food Tasters, Terri of Parmesan Princess, and Amy of Running Om Green. A girls’ night out would not be complete without some Cosmopolitan (a little nod to one of my favorite T.V. shows, Sex & The City):

Sirena Cosmopolitan
Sirena’s Cosmopolitan! My first Cosmopolitan ever; this was soooo good (and only $8)! πŸ˜€
Sirena Cosmopolitan
Second angle of the Sirena Cosmopolitan! πŸ˜‰
Tex-Mex Meal
Amy of Running Om Green’s Meal: Chipotle Sweet Potato soup, a Citrus Mahi taco and rice & beans!

Amy’s meal looked sooooooooooo good! Next time I visit Sirena, I will have to order a Citrus Mahi Taco! Also, the Chipotle Sweet Potato sound smelled AMAZING!

Citrus Mahi Taco from Sirena
Close-up of the Citrus Mahi taco!
Sweet Potato Soup
Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar!
Paella
Terri’s Meal: Sirena Paella!

I’m not sure how I missed Tasha’s meal, but there’s what she ordered: empanada, BBQ short rib taco (which looked REALLY good! I will also have to order this next time) and a citrus mahi taco!

Tacos
My dinner: a Pork Bulgogi taco (left), a Carne Asasa taco (right) and rice & beans!

The carne asada taco was great, but I particularly LOVED the pork bulgogi taco! I am a HUGE pork fan- add in apple fennel, cheese and mixed greens, and we have a winner! πŸ˜‰

Lemon Mascarpone Cake
Terri’s dessert: Lemon Mascarpone cake!

Of course, all of the food bloggers had to order dessert! πŸ˜‰ Terri chose a lemon mascarpone cake! This was so good! Very lemon-y, and you could really taste the mascarpone (which I LOVE)!

Reese's Pie
Tasha’s dessert: Reese’s Pie!

Tasha ordered the Reese’s Pie! Terri, Amy and I all tried a bite- MAN, was this good! So much better than the first time I had this dessert in December!

Lava Cake & Nutella Ice Cream
The return of the Chocolate Lava Cake & Nutella Ice Cream

I think I’m in love….here’s the dessert that Amy & I shared! ❀

Whether you live either in the South Hills, the East Side, or a different state, Sirena Taco Joint & Bar is DEFINITELY worth the trip!

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s website

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s Facebook page

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s Twitter page

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s Instagram page

The Food Tasters’ Twitter page

Parmesan Princess’ Twitter page

Running Om Green’s Twitter page

My First Dinner at The Commoner in Hotel Monaco (a Kimpton Hotel)

Negroni Cocktail
The “Pennsylvania Negroni” from The Commoner! Bourdain would be proud! πŸ˜‰

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither The Commoner nor Hotel Monaco nor Kimpton. I am just a Pittsburgh foodie, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventure with others. Photos captured with my iPhone 5s; edited in Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended. Β 

FINALLY, after the restaurant opened in December 2014 (and the eatPGH ladies RAVED about it in a blog post review that they wrote), I had dinner at The Commoner (nestled away in downtown Pittsburgh’s business district,Β insideΒ Hotel Monaco) with one of my best friends from college!

Pictured above is my beverage du nuit: The “Pennsylvania” Negroni! Ever since Bourdain ordered a Negroni on the Rome Layover episode, I’ve been wanted to try one of these bad boys. Let me tell you: I am so glad that I did! This is one tasty (but strong) cocktail! Yum YUM YUM!

Crispy Brussel Sprouts
Crispy Brussel Sprouts from The Commoner = PERFECTION!

Course #1: Crispy Brussel Sprouts! These were one of the highlights of dinner! Move over regular Brussel Sprouts- the crispy ones win! You almost forget that you are eating a vegetable. These were absolutely DIVINE, and almost as good as the crispy brussels sprout dim sum at Grit & Grace!

Crispy Brussels Sprouts!
Close-up of the Crispy Brussels Sprouts!

As Bourdain would say: “BEAUTIFUL”!

Broccoli Flatbread
Broccoli Wood-Fired Flatbread from The Commoner!

Main Course: Broccoli Wood-Fired Flatbread! best. Flatbread. EVER! Soooooooo tasty and healthy! My friend took a bite or two, but I easily (and happily) demolished this monster flatbread all by myself. πŸ˜€

Close-up of the Broccoli Flatbread
“The colors, Duke; the colors!”

I loved all of the vibrant colors of the vegetables on the flatbread! This made me REALLY want to dive in, and consume the flatbread!

Sticky Toffee Pudding
The best Sticky Toffee Pudding I’ve ever had in my entire LIFE

The piece de resistance: Sticky Toffee Pudding! I’ve had sticky toffee pudding from Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill,Β and Habitat (both highly-regarded restaurants), but THIS sticky toffee pudding surpassed them all! You MUST (MUST, I say) order this (whether you’re going for brunch or dinner) at The Commoner. You will not regret it (trust me); make sure to bring a dinner companion to help you polish off this beauty. πŸ˜‰

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Is it wrong to be in love with a pastry (and ice cream)? ❀

Well, there you have it, folks! The Commoner has moved up high on the list of Pittsburgh restaurants I would recommend! Whether you’re either a yinzer, or a tourist from out of town, you MUST dine at The Commoner at the Hotel Monaco!

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

The Commoner’s website

The Commoner’s Facebook page

The Commoner’s Twitter page