Brunch at Round Corner Cantina

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Brunch dessert: the truly INCREDIBLE Churros and Ancho-Cocoa Drizzle sauce from Round Corner Cantina! These might’ve just been THE best churros I’ve EVER had!

*NOTE*: Round Corner Cantina didn’t ask me to write this post. I am just a friendly Pittsburgh foodie and yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures with others! Photos captured with an iPhone 7S; edited with Adobe Photoshop CS$ Extended and Instagram.

One fateful Sunday in February after some #MysoreMagic at The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga, my Mom and I wandered down Butler Street (in Lawrenceville) to Round Corner Cantina for brunch!

I had been to Round Corner Cantina one time before (for their New Year’s Eve Party in 2015), but I wanted to return to actually dine there (especially for brunch, which I have heard is pretty spectacular at Round Corner Cantina).

 

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Mom’s Brunch: La Gourmandine Brioche French Toast! This came with Benton’s Bacon, Ancho Maple Syrup, Chipotle Whipped Butter, and Berries! I must admit, I tried a bite, and it was one of THE best French Toasts I’ve EVER had! Plus: look how beautiful this dish was plated!

 

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My Brunch: Breakfast Tacos! Refried beans, Rice, Salsa Verde, House Made Corn Tortillas with a sprinkling of Cheese! The refried beans and salsa verde paired beautifully together, and I loved the rice! Plus, the homemade tortillas were some of THE best I’ve ever had! This dish has been added to the list of one of my favorite tacos in Pittsburgh!

 

Whether you either live in Pittsburgh year-round or are just visiting, I highly suggest visiting Round Corner Cantina (especially for brunch)!

 

Next up: dinner at Apteka!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Round Corner Cantina’s website

Round Corner Cantina’s Facebook page

Round Corner Cantina’s Twitter page

Round Corner Cantina’s Instagram page

Birthday Dinner #1 at Morcilla

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A beautiful shot of the Morcilla sign that I captured around 7:30am on a Wednesday morning (after yoga practice in Lawrenceville)!

*DISCLAIMER*: Neither Justin Severino nor the management and staff of Morcilla asked me to write this post. i am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, whom enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captured on an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

Towards the beginning of November of last year, I celebrated my “30 & fabulous” birthday! Even though I have been DYING to dine at Morcilla (located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of the city of Pittsburgh), I knew I wanted to “save” dinner at Morcilla for my 30th & fabulous bday dinner #1!

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While my Mom and I waited for the food, I enjoyed this Tonic, with: chinchilla, lavender and cardamom. Sooooo good!

Since Morcilla is a Tapas bar, my Mom and I ordered a few “small plates” and shared them throughout the night:

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Picked Cauliflower Catalan– golden raisins, capers, garlic and sherry vinegar. I am a sucker for a good cauliflower dish, and I must say this was one of THE best ones I’ve EVER had!

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Jamon Iberico De Bellota– marcona almonds, four year aged Pata Negra, Castilla Leon, Spain. PEOPLE! I had Jamon (which my hero Anthony Bourdain says is THE best ham in the WORLD). Even though I prefer the taste of Prosciutto, I must say this ham was DAMN good! I really enjoyed wrapping up each slice around one of the Marcona Almonds. Take my word for it, splurge on the $25 appetizer and share it amongst your group!

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Morcilla (blood sausage)- although it’s currently not on the menu (hopefully, Morcilla will bring back its namesake dish), I just HAD to order some Morcilla! I’ve only had blood sausage once before at an Argentinian restaurant in Pittsburgh, and I must say this Morcilla (imported from Spain) was WAY better! I’m very glad that I ordered this dish!

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Who Cooks For You Farm “Rocky Balboa” Salad– also not currently on the menu. Even so, this was my FAVORITE dish of the night! Literally THE best salad I’ve had in my enter LIFE!

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Spring Creek Oysters (Barnstable, MA) half dozen– oh. My. GOSH! Theses were so good! I’ve never tried oysters before, and since Bourdain loves them, I decided to be bold and try them! They were so fresh, I swear you could taste the ocean water!

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As Rebel Wilson would say: “crushed it”! 

Since the staff learned it was my birthday, they brought out a complimentary Crema Catalana (the Catalan version of Creme Brûlée)! I also ordered a Cafe Americano from Commonplace Coffee (love them)!

Thank you to Justin Severino, Hilary Prescott Severino, Nate Hobart and staff for a WONDERFUL first dinner (and birthday) experience at Morcilla! I shall return!

Next up: birthday dinner #3 at Spoon!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Morcilla’s website

Morcilla’s Facebook page

Morcilla’s Twitter page

Morcilla’s Instagram page

Brunch at The Vandal

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Mom and I enjoyed this GLORIOUS brunch spread on one fateful Sunday in August (after I experienced some #MysoreMagic at The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga)! The dish in the middle was a special side dish that is normally only on the breakfast menu: Frangipane with griddled sourdough bread and fruit preserves!

*NOTE*: Neither Joey Hilty, Csilla Thackray, nor The Vandal asked me to write this post.  I am just a friendly Pittsburgh foodie and yogini, whom enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captured on an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Instagram!

One fateful Sunday in August, I actually had “a Sunday off” (meaning I didn’t have to teach yoga). Thus, I decided to treat myself to my first EVER Beginner’s Mysore class at The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga (in Lawrenceville), and brunch at The Vandal (which is conveniently right across the street from The Shala)!

Thanks to articles in Zagat, the New York Times, and even local publications such as NextPittsburgh and the City Paper, The Vandal has certainly become a “foodie” destination in Pittsburgh! Thus, the first time we stopped by for brunch this day, there was a 30-45 minute wait. Not a problem! I had been wanting to visit the Butterwood Bake Consortium for months! Thus, my Mom and I drove down and treated ourselves to dessert first!

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I enjoyed the Vegan Chocolate Pudding with almonds! So good that if I didn’t already know this was Vegan, I wouldn’t have know the difference! I love the vibe at Butterwood- I felt like I was attending a fancy Victorian Tea (which harkens back to the days of when I loved the American Girl dolls! Samantha was my favorite)!

Once Mom and I had finished dessert, 30 minutes had passed and the co-owner Joey (Hilty) had acquired seats for us! While we waited I enjoyed DELICIOUS coffee (The Vandal gets it coffee from Parlor Coffee, based in Brooklyn) out of a quirky coffee mug! Soon afterwards, it was time for BRUNCH!

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Course #1: Csilla’s Granola! Naturi Yogurt, nuts (almonds, pecans and cashews) in honey, and rhubarb (the summer flavor). INCREDIBLE! Just like last time, the Yogurt and Granola dish at The Vandal is my FAVORITE brunch dish! Every bite was enjoyable- from the savoriness of the nuts an rhubarb, to the sweetness of the honey and yogurt. Nice job, Csilla and kitchen crew!

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Mom’s brunch course: Beignets with Blueberry Compote (the summer compote)! These were VERY good! Even though I haven’t been to Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans yet, this is what I would image the Beignets would taste like there!

There you have it, folks!

If you’re looking for locally-sourced, highly quality ingredients, good food, coffee, and conversation (I must admit, Joey does a good job being the host of The Vandal), The Vandal is your weekend brunch spot!

 

Next on the blog: Mom’s first dinner at Bar Marco!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

The Butterwood Bake Consortium’s website

The Vandal’s website

The Vandal’s Facebook page

The Vandal’s Twitter page

The Vandal’s Instagram page

Dinner at The Vandal in Lawrenceville

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The Vandal‘s FABULOUS Summer dinner menu (which was carefully crafted by Executive Chef Csilla Thackray and her team of chefs)!

*DISCLAIMER*: Neither Joey Hilty, Csilla Thackray, nor The Vandal asked me to write this blog post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie (and yogini), who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures with others. Photos captured on an iPhone 5s, and edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

The first Saturday of August, I took one of my best friends from high school to dinner at The Vandal. When I walked in, the Co-Owner and  Proprietor Joey Hilty asked me: “what brings you to The Vandal”? I told him: “my best friend (*insert her first name here*) from high school just got a new job and is moving. I wanted to celebrate by taking her to one of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh”! Celebrate we did!

Although I had been to brunch at The Vandal twice (and now three times), this would mark my first dinner experience at the restaurant.

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Another look at The Vandal’s Summer menu!

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The first course was this off-menu treat from Joey, Csilla and the kitchen staff that my friend and I shared (and both enjoyed): Lamb Grape Leaves! Sooooo good!

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Course #2: Summer Salad (confit carrot, pickled green beans, old goat cheese, vin). This was REALLY good!  I love that The Vandal sources most of its ingredients locally (and they are high QUALITY ingredients)!

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Close up of this BEAUTY!

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My friend’s main course: Friend Green Tomatoes! Carmen sweet pepper gele, goat’s milk custard, and lemon shishito-oil. I tried a bite- FABULOUS!

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My main course: Vandal Cheeseburger! Cheddar, pickles, marrow, tomato mayo and fries. PERFECTION! Thrillist.com recently named The Vandal’s Cheeseburger as one of THE best burgers in Pittsburgh. Now, I can understand why. ❤ The Vandal gets their buns from Mediterra Bakehouse (my second favorite Pittsburgh bread making bakery. First one is La Gourmandine), and the meat comes from Butcher on Butler (also in Lawrenceville, whom sources its meat from Elysian Farm and Hop Brew Farm). Plus, those heavenly fries paired with the Tomato Mayo? Oh yeah, baby! You are talking my language! 😉

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A sight of beauty!

Well there you have it, folks! Whether you’re visiting Lawrenceville either for brunch, lunch or dinner, PLEASE go to The Vandal (and say hi to the owner Joey for me)!

 

Next post- Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Summer 2016 Dinner #1: Revel and Roost!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

The Vandal’s website

The Vandal’s Facebook page

The Vandal’s Twitter page

The Vandal’s Instagram page

Winter & Spring Foodie Adventures

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Elysian Pumpkin Beer, Miso Kale Salad and Vegan Chilli from Franktuary‘s new downtown Pittsburgh location!

*NOTE*: none of these restaurants asked me to do a mini-review of their food. I am just a humble Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures! Photos captured with an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Instagram.

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The Miso Kale Salad also had roasted root vegetables, pickled red onion, and crispy sage. VERY good! I’ve also had this salad at Franktuary‘s Lawrenceville location (with Falafel balls).

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Tasha of The Food Tasters and Ya Jagoff! Podcast and I were both lucky to attend G&G Noodle Bar’s New Year’s Day lunch! This was also back when the restaurant was called Grit  & Grace. Brian was testing out a few menu dishes to see if the conceptual transition at the restaurant would work. The dim sum (Starting clockwise, from the upper left hand corner): 1) kimchi, 2) sweet and sour cauliflower (my new favorite Dim Sum at G&G Noodle Bar), 3) Pork Belly, and 4) Potstickers (which premiered for this lunch)!

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I also enjoyed the Steamed Bun with chicken, kimchi and chill aioli. Very tasty!

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Tasha LOVED this Chicken Meatball Ramen dish (a special dish for New Year’s day)! I tried some of the broth and it was INCREDIBLE! Now, G&G Noodle Bar has Pork Ramen Noodles and Beef Shank Ramen Noodles.

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Fortuitea Cafe is an all-vegan (and made from scratch), quaint and friendly cafe, located in the Quail Acres Shoppes in Washington PA. During the winter time, I really loved this Almond Walnut Taco Salad (with taco meat made from almonds, walnuts, and sun-dried tomatoes), served with mixed greens, fresh salsa, sour cream, black beans and corns. I did the creamy cashew lime dressing and I chose a spinach taco shell. Sooooo good! You won’t even miss the meat in this dish, because the vegan taco meat tastes just like beef meat.

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This spring, I was pleasantly surprised by this Vegetarian Tikki Masala dish from The Commoner at Kimpton‘s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh. Yummy!

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The bourbon & rye wall at Butcher & The Rye is a beautiful sight (no matter what time of year).

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My Mom and I both enjoyed this Potato Leek Soup at Butcher & The Rye before Alton Brown‘s show at the Benedum Center.

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Towards the end of May, my friend Erica and I went to this place in Dormont called Mekong. Mekong is know for its Pho (Anthony Bourdain’s “death row” meal). Thus, I had to try the Shrimp Pho with beef broth. Words can’t describe this dish’s beauty!

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I attended Bend, Brew and Brunch III (hosted by Spoonwood Brewing Company, Pure Power Yoga and Fitt City) in the beginning of June. Of the beer samplers I enjoyed after class was White Hot Rate! This was a Belgian Wit, with hints of orange, coriander, habanero and white pepper.

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The second beer taster of the morning was the Killer Diller IPA! This craft beer was lightly sweet, moderately bitter, with citrus, floral and fruity notes.

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My favorite of the morning was the Blackmore! This is a black ale with an iced coffee taste. YES!

 

There you have it, folks!

 

Next post: lunch at Smallman Galley!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Franktuary’s Twitter page

G&G Noodle Bar’s Twitter page

Fortuitea Cafe’s Twitter page

The Commoner’s Twitter page

Butcher & The Rye’s Twitter page

Spoonwood Brewing Company’s Twitter page

Fitt City’s Twitter page

 

Brunch at B52 in Lawrenceville

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B52’s logo (pictured on the front of its menu)!

*Note*: Neither Omar Abuhejleh nor B52 asked me to write this blog post. I am a Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captured with an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

The first full day back from my vacation in April, I decided to take an additional day off from work to practice Ashtanga Yoga at The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga and go to brunch at B52 in Lawrenceville! I first fell in love with the food of B52 at the Back of the House event last fall (which I was lucky enough to attend, thanks to winning tickets from The Food Tasters). Leah Lizarondo (a.k.a. The Brazen Kitchen) was kind enough to introduce me to Omar and his food. B52’s dish at Back of the House (a rice and salmon dish) was THE best dish I had at the whole event! Thus, when B52 finally opened up in Lawrenceville, I made it my mission to pay a visit for brunch!

B52 is a vegan cafe that combines its love for Palestinian and American cuisine to produce house-made baked good, chocolates, a full-service expresso bar, and all meals of the day (including brunch, which was my meal of choice on this Saturday)!

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B52’s brunch menu!

Even though I didn’t take a picture of it, I REALLY enjoyed the “bottomless” coffee with almond milk!

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Brunch dish #1: Thick Cut Toast with Avocado, Preserved Lemon, Tahini sauce and black Sesame Seeds.

This Avocado Toast was one of THE highlights of brunch! Since Omar also owns Allegro Hearth Bakery in Squirrel Hill, I knew the bread was going to be good! This bread reminded me of a Texas Toast. The avocado tasted INCREDIBLE, and I loved the addition of the Tahini Sauce and Black Sesame Seeds!

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Brunch dish #2: Tofu Scramble with Latke, Shiitake Mushrooms and Greens!

I LOVED the Latke (this part of the dish very much reminded me of hash browns), and I appreciated the meaty taste of the Shiitake Mushrooms paired with the crunchiness of the greens. The only thing I didn’t love was (ironically enough) the main part of the dish: the Tofu Scramble. I’ve noticed throughout my journey of trying different types of tofu that I am be discerning towards tofu. I will say that once I brought my leftover tofu home and added some black pepper, sea salt and Sriracha sauce, the tofu tasted MUCH better! Thus, maybe that’s all that tofu needed.

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Mom’s Brunch dish (and the second highlight of brunch): Thick Cut Toast with Almond Butter and Raspberry Preserves!

As you can probably tell, Mom was nice enough offer me a few bites of her toast. oh. My. GOSH! This toast was INCREDIBLE! You already know that I am in love with the thick cut toast at this point. The almond butter was EVEN better than the typical Almond Butter that I buy from the grocery store, and the raspberry preserves were absolutely PEFECT! So in love with this dish!

After brunch, I bought some chocolates, a brownie and a chocolate chip cookie (all vegan) to take home and enjoy! My Mom’s treasure of the day was this jar of preserved lemons! She’s still figuring out how will she will use her treasure, but luckily, these preserved lemons are good for MONTHS!

Thank you B52 for an enjoyable and healthy vegan brunch, as well as all of the treats that I brought home!

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A shot of B52’s door (as well as a snapshot of my reflection in the doorway)!

 

Next post: Winter and Spring Foodie Adventures. Stay Tuned!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

B52’s website

B52’s Facebook page

B52’s Twitter page

B52’s Instagram page

 

Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event

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Today’s post comes from Lou of Pittsburgh Happy Hour, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Small Town Dad, where I review Bend, Brew & Brunch II at Spoonwood Brewing Company. I must thank Alex from Everybody Loves Alex, for coordinating this SUPERB blogger event!

In the last few months, Pittsburgh’s Justin Servino of Cure opened his second restaurant in Lawrenceville called Morcilla.

If you have not visited Cure, it is basically a rite of passage for all Pittsburgh foodies. Not only do they offer different private dining events throughout the year with a focus on butchering and food preparation, they offer some of the most high quality cuisine in all of Pittsburgh. I have enjoyed some truly memorable meals at Cure throughout the years.

Morcilla has a different vibe than Cure. Although the restaurant is new, the menu does not seem as neither carefully crafted nor well balanced. There are so many different dishes to try, that it is nearly impossible to sample everything. That didn’t stop me from giving it hell! I have listed each dish I tried for you, as well as my thoughts and an approximate calorie count below.

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Mojama: dried tuna, chilli oil and pine nuts.

~300 calories. This was probably one of my least favorite dishes from Morcilla. Due to being a leaner meat, dried tuna is not always a crowd pleaser. We also wish the slices were thicker, so that we could have experienced more of the tuna flavor.

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Surryano ham: (Edwards of Surry, VA) pecans and pecan oil. 

~370 calories. It is worth noting that this is the cheaper ham on Morcilla’s menu. (We still loved it.) For only $18 more you can try the Iberico ham – supposedly the finest in the world!

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Cecina: cured dried beef, radicchio, cara cara orange and tarragon.

 ~270 calories. The dried beef was quite good, the other items were a little bitter through.

Chorizo: dates, Cabrales cheese, vanilla. ~450 calories. This dish was quite tasty, and we fought over it. It was odd to see vanilla paired with chorizo, but it worked very well.

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Crab butter and Tarragon Churro: la fondue de idiazabal.

 ~600 calories. This was among our favorite dishes from the evening. Perhaps it was the novelty of a savory churro, or the warm embrace of crab flavored butter – but this is a must try.

Sobrasada: smoked spreadable salami, dehydrated apple, hazelnut. ~280 calories. I’ve heard of sopressata, but never sobrasada. It is a raw cured sausage made with pork, and it was fantastic.

Foie Gras:  membrillo and black pepper. ~400 calories. This was the only dish we had to order twice- it was a knockout. The mebrillo added a nice texture, and did a great job of balancing the wonderful flavor of the foie gras. This dish must be ordered at Morcilla at all costs, including offending any potential friends who may think foie gras is a faux pas.

Ox tail:  caramelized onion and Mahón cheese. ~250 calories. This dish was recommended by our good friend Sean from Allegheny Wine Mixer. Surprisingly, it was served warm, unlike many of the other small plates we tried. Also a must try.

Queso de Cabra: smoked goat cheese croquettes and spiced membrillo~300 calories. One of the more pedestrian dishes of the evening. I believe this one could be skipped. It just didn’t provide much in the way of excitement.

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Sopa Blanca: leek and potato soup, smoked chorizo and fried egg.~650 calories. Also not to be missed, easily one of our favorite dishes of the night. Served in a flavorful broth and perfectly balanced by the fresh ingredients.

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Pulpo Escabecheoctopus, new potato, potato espuma, pimenton, extra virgin olive oil. ~600 calories. My dinner guest said that on his previous visit this dish was probably about twice as big. It was still quite flavorful and delicious and should be ordered by all octopus fans.

Total calorie count:  approximately 4470 / 2 = 2235. Add in adjustments for wine consumed, my total calorie count for the evening came to about 2,585 calories. According to the My Fitness Pal calculator, I only need to walk about 35 miles in order to burn off my dinner! I have no regrets.

 

Pittsburgh Happy Hour’s website

Pittsburgh Fine Drinking Society’s Facebook page

Pittsburgh Happy Hour’s Twitter page

 

I encourage you to check out the other bloggers involved in the Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event, listed here:

Harvest + Bloom // Yes, Wear That! // jelly jars // Glam and Graffiti // To The Streets // In Pursuit // Pittsburgh & Pearls // Beezus Kiddo // Goodness Madness // Last Minute Panic // Steel City Intrigue // Crank Crank Revolution // Amanda Narcisi // Pittsburgh is Beautiful // From Cats to Cooking // Yum Yum PGH // Breelicious Bites // Parmesan Princess // Coffee & A Blonde // The Steel Trap // Wavy Alabaster // everybody loves you… // Eat with Emily // Don’t Forget to Eat // Sloping in the Sky // From Farm to Turntable // Secrets in the Wall // Red Pen Mama // Feedback Soup // The AP Collection // Blog Or Die PGH // Pittsburgh Happy Hour // Friendly Fitness Foodie // Small Town Dad // Josh’s World // Geeky Sweetie // Sean’s Ramblings // Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes // Try it and You May! // lil Burghers // Orange Chair Blog // Ya Jagoff // Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents // Melissa Firman