Tag Archives: Pasta

FoodFest2010: The Strip District and Grandma’s Birthday


So here’s your history lesson for today. Pittsburgh’s Strip District dates back to the early 19th century when it was home to mills and factories. The area has weathered the Great Depression and eventually the area shifted focus from steel to wholesale produce and now to “urbanization” with clubs, restaurants, and specialty shops crammed in amongst the local royalty. That is the end of the history lesson.

Monday morning we left my grandmother’s bright and early to visit The Strip. Two parents, one brother, two uncles, two aunts, one cousin, and me; nine people in two cars once everyone was settled for the drive (My grandma was supposed to go as well but wasn’t feeling well and wanted to rest before her big celebration dinner). The drive from my grandmother’s to downtown P-burgh is b-e-a-utiful, especially in the fall. It’s through the mountains and over several rivers, you have to cross both the Ohio River and the Beaver River as well as a few smaller rivers I can never remember the names of. The water is usually slate gray in the fall, almost the same color as the sky only darker. This backdrop makes the trees and leaves more vivid. Despite the constant rain and no sun it really is a beautiful time of year to visit Pennsylvania. And I now I’m boring myself with all the talk about the leaves. So…

Getting to the food and the shopping. We started out at Mon Amiee, actually that’s not true… our first stop was at a street vendor selling Steelers/Pens gear. Mom got a t-shirt and a couple people got sweatshirts, because it was a lot colder out than they thought it would be. Then we dashed into De Luca’s to use their bathroom (this is a big no-no, but it was a long car ride). We’ve been to De Luca’s before; it’s very inviting on a cold day. Filled with bright colors, fantastic food, and friendly staff; it’s one of the institutions on the Strip. We hit another Pittsburgh merchandise store (Yinzerville) where Mom bought Steelers drink umbrellas and a really cute gift for one of the cutest munchkins on earth (but I can’t give it away cause I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a Christmas gift). Then we went to Mon Amiee.

Previously they’ve stocked these crazy good salted caramels, but they did not have them. I got a chocolate bar, with bacon. I didn’t buy anything else because the cashier/manager was kind of snippy and rude. I haven’t tried the chocolate bar yet, it’s still in my purse, but I’m totally looking forward to it.

Next up was Enrico Biscotti. OMG. Can I just tell you these people have the best biscotti on the place of effing planet. I buy  a dozen and freeze them and then pull them out one at a time to enjoy as a special treat. The bakery is warm and inviting and it smells absolutely amazing. It’s totally the kind of place you’d want to linger with a cookie and a cup of coffee, if the whole store wasn’t the size of my kitchen. Whatever, doesn’t matter, they still produce some of the best cookies I’ve eaten. They also have biscotti baking classes, for those of you who live anywhere near the store. And they ship! So yay for that.

Our group tumbled back out onto the street and made our way to the Pennsylvania Macaroni company. I have been to this store before, but it never ceases to amaze me. It’s part grocery store, part specialty market. The closest thing we have in Tampa is Whole Foods, but even that is anywhere near the same as experiencing this store. Let’s just go with the pictures…

As soon as you walk in the door they have barrels of dry goods and bins of spices. It smells fantastic; like every Italian kitchen I’ve ever been in times about 100.
They had a whole wall of extracts and flavored oils.
And racks and racks of olive oil.
OMG! So this just amazed me. They had canisters of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and people were just coming in and filling bottles, wither ones they bought at the store or refilling the ones they brought in from home.
There st least two containers of both Italian and Spanish olive oil.
They also have an entire room of fresh cheese, meats, olives, and prepared food.
This was my other favorite part. They were selling freshly made pasta in the produce section. The had everything from traditional spaghetti to cilantro & lime linguine.

We stopped for lunch at Primanti Brother’s. That’s another post though. After lunch we made our way down the rest of the strip. Wholey’s Grocery, Fudgie Wudgie’s a totally fab candy store that always has really creative chocolate dipped creations, more Steelers’ stores and I finally got a t-shirt, and an interesting kitchen supply store. There are tons of other stores in the area that I’m sure we missed, but it was time to pack it in and head back to Grandma’s.
It was a good afternoon, there were more Snyder’s Chips. Have I mentioned that my family loves those? We always seem to congregate around the dining room table and we spent the afternoon talking and helping some of my younger cousins with homework. By the time everything was wrapped up it was almost time to go to dinner.
We had dinner at Pagley’s Pasta & More in New Castle, Pennsylvania. All said and done with aunts, uncles, grandkids, great-grandkids, and extended family there were almost thirty people jammed around two tables. It’s always good when we all have dinner together like this, but it is difficult to talk to everyone. The food was pretty good. My Dad definitely hit the jackpot with angel hair with garlic oil, hot sausage, and hot peppers. It was tasty, but I don’t think I could’ve eaten the whole bowl. It was really spicy. I had veal piccata; it was good.

The veal was crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. The sauce was creamy and tangy and full of lemon flavor. It was very good. It came with pasta which was not as good as the veal.

I for got until I was uploading pictures: I also had pasta e fagioli, it was very good. The soup was rich, creamy, tomatoy, and cheesy. I also forgot to take a picture of it until I was done. My Bad.

Then we sang Happy Birthday and had cake. Everybody wish Grandma a belated Happy Birthday.

After dinner most people trekked back to Grandma’s. We spent the rest of the night talking and eating pumpkin flavored whoopee pies and traditional Italian cookies. It was a good way to spend our last night in Pennsylvania.

Smiles. =)