Birthday Dinner #2 at Spoon

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Spoon‘s Executive Chef Jamilka Borges was kind enough to come out
to the dining room to welcome me for my birthday dinner! She is one
the most genuine women I’ve  met in my entire life, and my FAVORITE
Pittsburgh Chef! She is also a James Beard Fellowship Recipient, and
actively involved with the 412 Food Rescue!

*NOTE*: Neither Spoon nor Chef Jamilka Borges asked me to write this blog post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captured with an iPhone 7s, and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Back in the beginning of November 2016, I celebrated my 30th birthday! What better way to do it then not one, but THREE 30 and FABULOUS birthday dinners! Dinner #2 was held at Spoon in East Liberty!

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Birthday Cocktail: Witch’s Brew! Maggie’s Farm Rum, Apple Spice & Pumpkin Spice!

Fall in a cocktail, and so tasty! 😉

 

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When the bread basket is THAT good, you have a picture! 😀

 

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Course #1: Kabocha Squash Soup with a Lamb Spring Roll– this as INCREDIBLE!

Definitely not your average Squash Soup (and the Lamb Spring Roll added this extra kick that made this dish stellar)! This is not on the current menu, but I would imagine it will return in the fall.

 

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Mom’s Course #1: Beef Empanada! I remember from Jamilka’s time at Bar Marco that she made INCREDIBLE Empanadas! I tried a bite of this dish, and I must say Jamilka- FABULOUS! This is also not currently on the menu, but I hope this dish makes a triumphant return!

 

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Course #2: Who Cooks For You Farm Winter Salad! The second best salad I’ve had in my entire LIFE (second only to the Who Cooks For You Farm Rocky Balboa salad, that I had at birthday dinner #1 at Morcilla)! A very similar salad is currently on the menu.

 

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Main Course: Korean Fried Chicken! Whipped Sesame Tofu, gochujang, cilantro and a fried egg! BEST chicken dish I’ve HEARD had! Nice work, Chef! This dish is on both the dinner and brunch menus, and luckily not going anywhere soon! ❤

 

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Side Dish: Who Cooks For You Farm Roasted Carrots! Cumin, pepitas, maple, and cilantro crema! THE best carrot dish I’ve EVER had!

 

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Dessert Course #1: Waffle! Butter Pecan Ice Cream, hot butter rum sauce, toasted marshmallow fluff, and pecan crumble. Pastry Chef Laura, Jamilka wasn’t lying when
she told me you were one hell of a Pastry Chef! Rock on, lady!

 

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Dessert Course #2: House-made Sorbet! “Happy Birthday to me”!

 

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, or are looking for a killer place for dinner (or brunch), I HIGLY recommend Spoon (which is now on my list of favorite restaurants)!

 

Next up on the blog: Brunch at the Whitfield (inside the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh)!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

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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

 

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Dinner at Poros

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The “dinner spread” that Mom & I enjoyed at Poros (one of the Big Y restaurants)!

*DISCLAIMER*: Neither Poros nor the Big Y Restaurant Group asked me to write this post.  I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her food and yoga adventures with others. Photos captured with an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Instagram.

Last year, I won a gift certificate from The Fearless Warrior Conference to the Big Y Restaurants! Since my Mother and I have never been to Poros, we decided to dine there before the Pittsburgh Symphony‘s Moonlight Serenade concert in September!

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Course #1 : Fingerling Potatoes! VERY tasty, and cooked to perfection! This was one of Poros’ Vegan options!

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Course #2: Roasted Cauliflower (also Vegan)! I enjoyed this course as well! Almost as good as the Cauliflower dish at Butcher & The Rye!

I forgot to take a photo, but I also had the Sokolatina Flourless Chocolate Tort (with orange yogurt sauce and candied orange) for dessert. This was one of THE best Flourless Chocolate Torts that I’ve EVER had!

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Mom’s Dessert: Bakalava Ice Cream, with walnut and filo! This was REALLY good!

 

Overall, great service and a wonderful dining ambiance! The food was good, but not great. I’m still deciding if I would ever go back, but I did enjoy my dining experience at Poros!

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Here’s another view of our dinner spread, with the Roasted Cauliflower front and center!

 

Next on the blog:  Birthday Dinner #1 at Morcilla!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

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412 Food Rescue and Brazen Kitchen’s Vegan Churchview Farm Dinner 2016

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The beautiful dinner table at Churchview Farm for the Summer and Fall 2016 Farm Dinners!

*NOTE*: Neither the Churchview Farm, Leah Lizarondo (Brazen Kitchen), nor 412 Food Rescue asked me to write this post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, whom enjoys sharing her foodie adventures with others. Photos were captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

The Day before Labor Day, my Mom and I attended Leah Lizarondo‘s (Co-Founder of 412 Food Rescue, Brazen Kitchen Food Blogger, and Editor at NEXTPittsburgh) Vegan Churchview Farm Dinner! One of the many cool things about this dinner: all of the ticket sales went to the 412 Food Rescue!

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Another lovely angle of the Farm Dinner table at the Churchview Farm!

The evening started with a welcome Raspberry Cocktail, and a stroll around the farm! I was pleasantly surprised to see two of my FAVORITE yoga teachers at the dinner! Thus, I introduced them both to my Mom, and spent time talking to my two teachers before the dinner began.

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First Course: Toast from Five Points Bakery, Vegan Cheese (four different kinds), and jam. This was also paired with a variety of Beers from Bierport in Lawrenceville!

The bread was INCREDIBLE, and I really loved the jam! I loved two of the cheeses, but in particular the cheddar cheese! It had this wonderful smokiness to it, and made me forget I ate Vegan Cheese. The 412 Food Rescue‘s Director of Operations did a FABULOUS job making these Vegan Cheeses!

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Second Course: Vegan Caprese, with tomatoes and basil from the farm!

I loved both the Tomatoes and Basil from the Farm, but honestly, I did not like this Vegan Caprese Cheese at all. Even so, I definitely appreciated all of the effort that Leah endured to make it, as I’m sure making your own Vegan Cheese is not an easy task!

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Third Course: Celery Root Soup, with cilantro lime chimichurri. This was also paired with beer from Spoonwood Brewing Company (which I loved)!

One of my favorite dishes! This was a light and healthy, almost creamy soup. Even Leah said it was one of her favorite dishes that she made for this dinner!

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Fourth Course: Fresh Spring Rolls (with leftover produce from Pittsburgh Juice Company)

Another one of my favorite dishes of the night! Anytime I order Spring Rolls at either the Cheesecake Factory, a Thai or Chinese restaurant, I particular liked the ones like these (with the clear wrapping filled with vegetables). Love Love LOVED this dish!

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A close up of this GORGEOUS dish!

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Fifth Course: Pasta Sampler from Onion Maiden, and charred shishito peppers from the farm! Paired with beer from Grist House Brewery, which was delicious!

Another favorite dish! Onion Maiden cooked the past to perfection (I am so excited for their restaurant to open next year), and the Churchview Farm produced THE best peppers I’ve tasted in my entire LIFE!

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Sixth Course: Vegan Bahn Mi! Paired with Beer from the East End Brewing Company!

I loved the bread, the vegetables and the creamy spread-y stuff taking the place of the Chicken Liver Mousse, but I did not like the Tempeh.

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Dessert Course: Vegan Ice Cream Sampler (with Ice Cream from Pittsburgh Ice Cream Company, and Coconut Lime Sorbet from Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream), Gluten Free Donuts (from the Gluten Free Goat Bakery), raspberries and husk cherries from the farm, and tea from Tupelo Honey!

Definitely my favorite course! I particularly loved the Coconut Ice Cream from Millie’s Homemade, the muffin from the Gluten Free Goat Bakery, and the raspberries and husk cherries from the farm! Heaven on a plate!

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A close up of this handsome dessert sampler!

Well there you go, folks! Whether you’ve never been to a Churchview Farm Dinner, or go every year, I HIGHTLY recommend that you go for at least one of next year’s dinners! I promise you, you won’t regret your decision!

 

Next blog post: dinner at Poros!

 

 

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

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My latest two dinners at Bar Marco

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Here I am, enjoying a special off-menu dessert on my “30 & Fabulous” birthday at Bar Marco!

*DISCLAIMER*: Neither Justin Steel, Kevin Cox, nor Bar Marco asked me to write this post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, whom enjoys sharing her foodie adventures with others. Photos captured with an iPhone 5s an an iPhone 7. Photos edited in Adobe Photoshop Extended CS4 and Instagram.

Towards the end of August, the Second City Comedy Troupe (who has graduated several Saturday Night Live alumni, including: John Belushi, Tina Fey, and even Jason Sudeikis) came to the Pittsburgh Public Theater! My Mom and I have wanted to see them for years. Thus, we decided to buy tickets to the 5:30pm show on Saturday. Mom has never been to Bar Marco for dinner. Thus, one fateful Saturday evening (after the theater), we went to Bar Marco for dinner!

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The Summer Dinner Menu at Bar Marco in Pittsburgh! 

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The Summer Dinner Menu, second shot.

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Close up of this looker of a menu! 😉

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While my Mom and I waited for our food, I enjoyed this light (and beautiful) Peach Fizz cocktail From Bar Marco!

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My Mom and I both ordered this Focaccia appetizer dish, made by Bar Marco’s Pastry Chef Dianne! I must say, this comes pretty close to being as good as the Focaccia bread from The Hyeholde. Nice work, Dianne! 

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Mom’s main course of choice: Orecchiette with San Marzano, saffron and shrimp! This was VERY good (yes, I took a few bites lol). XD

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My main course of choice: Gemeli! Basil Pesto, green bean and potato. LOVED this dish! I literally felt as if I was transported to Italy! Nice work on the pasta, Justin and Dianne!

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Mom & I shared this dessert: All Chocolate Everything! Did I already mention how much I love Dianne the Pastry Chef? 😀

When my best friend asked me what I wanted to do on my birthday this year, I said: “attend the Farm-to-Table Harvest Tasting, and then go to Bar Marco for dinner (especially since she has never been there to dinner before)”. So to the Harvest Tasting and dinner we went!

I was lucky enough to meet Bar Marco’s Event Coordinator, Andrew Heffner, at the Farm-to-Table Harvest Tasting! He and I worked for over a month-and-a-half on my “Yoga + Cocktails” event at Bar Marco’s Union Hall, which raised funds for the Food Revolution Pittsburgh Cooking Club (which Bar Marco founded). Thus, it was very nice to meet this person whom I had been e-mailing for months!

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Course #1 for my Birthday dinner: Caesar Salad! I must say, this was THE best Caesar Salad I’ve EVER had! A lot of other Caesar Salads I’ve had just have the anchovies within the dressing, but I LOVED that this Salad had anchovies on top of it (and the anchovies were WONDERFUL)! 

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Course #2: Butternut Gnudi! Brown Butter, Walnut, Cheese (I forget what kind. This dish has been slightly altered on the newest version of the menu), and a fettucinni sauce! As I told both Dom (Bar Marco’s Sommelier, whom I met on this night) and Justin Steel (Co-Owner and Executive Chef- I also met him that night), these were like “little clouds of heaven”!

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I bought some Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream from the Farm-to-table Harvest dinner. By the time my friend and I made it to Bar Marco, it had melted. X) The Bar Marco crew was nice enough to keep it in its freezer, until before we left. Before I had learned the ice cream had melted, I had asked if Justin could scoop out some ice cream and put it in two bowls for my friend and me. 

He happened to have some of the Chad’s Vanilla (one of my FAVORITE flavors) on hand, and Justin was nice enough to scoop some into two bowls, and add some peanuts and a peanut moose, as a special “off-menu” birthday treat! He even visited my friend and I at our table and explain this dish in depth. I was touched (also, what a great way to finally meet him)!

I forgot to mention: the moment I walked in, Dom offered my friend and I a sampling of he Prosecco they had on hand (which, I am a Prosecco fan, so that was great)! Dom spoke to us all night, and explained each dinner dish. Top that with meeting Justin and having a custom dessert for my birthday, I would say this was a VERY good night!

Well there you have it, folks! Two incredible dinners at Bar Marco! If you get a chance to visit this revolutionary restaurant (my favorite restaurant), please do! You will NOT regret it!

 

Next post: Leah Lizarondo and 412 Food Rescue’s Churchview Farm Dinner 2016!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

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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

 

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Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Dinner #2: G&G Noodle Bar

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The front of G&G Noodle Bar’s menu!

*NOTE*: Neither G&G Noodle Bar nor S+P Restaurant Group asked me to write this post. I am just a friendly Pittsburgh Foodie an Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captures with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Instagram.

Tasha (The Food Tasters) and I were lucky enough to get a preview of the G&G Noodle Bar concept at the New Year’s day lunch at Grit & Grace! I knew I had to return to experience the menu in its glory! Thus, what better way to do so then the Summer 2016 Pittsburgh Restaurant Week?

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I LOVE the Dim Sum at G&G Noodle Bar! I wanted to try the Edamame dim sum! I have tried it before in Lean Cuisine dinners (lol), but I wanted the REALY experience!

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Dim Sum #2: General Tso’s Cauliflower! Originally, my favorite dim sum was the Pork Belly Bites, and then the Chicken Confit Wings. Thanks to the New Year’s day lunch, this is my new favorite dim sum! My date really enjoyed this dim sum as well!

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Course #1: Crispy Wonton Salad! Iceberg, orange, cucumber, sesame, and a ginger miso vinaigrette! This salad was nice and light! The perfect first course to hold me over until the next dishes arrived!

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Course #2: Vegetable Ramen! Daikon, Crispy Tofu, bok choy,  hot & sour mushroom broth, udon noodles. PERFECTION! The broth was MARVELOUS, and the crispy tofu balls were cooked PERFECTLY! I love all of the vegetables as well!

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My date’s Course #3: Green Tea Creme Brulee! Also including ginger pears and mint! This was surprisingly good and refreshing!

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My Course #3: Five Spice Sticky Buns with Coconut cream cheese! So good I felt like I was floating on a cloud! 😀

Well there you have it, folks! Whether you want to visit G&G Noodle bar either after a theater show for dinner, during the work week for a Power Hour lunch, or for a Sunday, I definitely suggest dining here!

 

Next post: Brunch at The Vandal (and a special-shout out to the Butterwood Bake Consortium)!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

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