Tag Archives: pitt
September 9, 2016
T.G.I. Friday and T.G.I. Football! Not only does the NFL regular season kick-off in earnest this Sunday, but Heinz Field will really be rockin’ tomorrow when Pitt squares off against PSU in a college football rivalry that’s been dormant for over fifteen years.
My wife is a Penn State grad, whereas I am a University of Pittsburgh alum, so my three-year old son’s loyalties are split down the middle. Will he root for the hometown Panthers, or curry favor with his Mama by cheering on her Nittany Lions?
My prediction is that he’ll sit through about two minutes of the game before yelling for the television channel to be switched over to Nickelodeon. In my son’s eyes, no real-life sporting event can compare with watching The Adventure Bay All-Stars take on the Foggy Bottom Boomers in the Paw Patrol episode “Pups Save a Basketball Game.” Even though he’s seen it 1,273 times, it’s always a nail-biter!!
Alright, enough football (and dog basketball) talk. Let’s get to an all-new, all-different Week in Tweets!
5 – tie) Sweatpants Cher (@House_Feminist)
a fun thing about being a parent is when people ask “where do you see yourself in 5 yrs?” you can confidently answer “folding laundry”
LIMEARITA PAPI (@arealgdtime)
Bought a shirt instead of doing laundry
I’m almost to the point of laziness where I eschew shopping AND laundering and just stop wearing clothes.
4) Lurk @ Home Mom (@LurkAtHomeMom)
Establish dominance over the other moms on Facebook by posting 2nd day of school pictures.
The amount of photos taken of kids by their parents these days is astronomically greater than back when I was a child. Personally, I’m averaging about two-thousand pics of my son a year. From birth to high school graduation, I’m going to estimate the number of polaroids taken of me by my parents to be closer to a hundred…total. Does that mean that my parents’ generation didn’t love their kids as much as we do now? Yes. Yes, it does…
3) Simon Holland (@simoncholland)
*tries to wave goodbye to the genie without spilling my 3 giant milkshakes*
If I ever encounter a magical genie who grants me three wishes, I’m definitely asking for (1) a cure for cancer, (2) world peace, and (3) the ability to eat unlimited breadsticks without ever having to set foot in an Olive Garden.
2) beth loves cake, so (@bourgeoisalien)
If I could have dinner with anybody living or dead I’d pick the dead guy. Then I’d order two dinners and eat both. Fuck that guy. He’s dead
I’m now going to amend my three wishes to include “dinner with dead Abraham Lincoln.” Sorry world peace.
1) Sean’s Ramblings (@seansramblings)
I think that my speed and amount of land covered to prevent my son’s wiffleball from going under a car would rival most MLB outfielders.
There should be a Dad Olympics where fathers can compete in such real-life tests of skill such as:
- preventing balls from rolling under cars
- navigating a packed Target while pushing a shopping cart full of cat litter and carrying a tantrum-throwing toddler who refuses to sit in the child seat
- stepping on Legos and not swearing and/or taking the Lord’s name in vain
Go Pitt! Go Penn State! Go Steelers! Go Sports! Have a wonderful weekend everybody!
February 26, 2014
My annual output of restaurant reviews precipitously dropped from nineteen in 2012 to just five last year. This can be chiefly attributed to me siring an heir in May. After his birth, my wife and I only had the chance to enjoy a nice meal sans baby twice (Tender and Il Pizzaiolo) during the rest of 2013.
I started working on the reviews for those establishments but just never got the chance to finish them. Turns out that the one-hundred percent increase in the number of butts I need to wipe every day didn’t just diminish my wining and dining opportunities; it also doesn’t leave me much time* for long-winded think pieces about mac & cheese.
Consequently to increase my productivity back to a routine level, I’m going to boil down my critiques so that only the tastiest bits remain. That means moving to a simplified list format and embracing my love of fragmented sentences. So let’s get onto it!
* Now I know why Jenelle smokes so much weed – babies are hard work!
Restaurant: Legume Bistro
Location: Oakland…near The Cricket (not that I’ve ever been there).
Atmosphere: We started our evening with drinks at the adjoining bar named The Butterjoint. The mise-en-scene was hipster vintage personified with moustaches, bowties and bourbon omnipresent. Though a bit cramped, it was definitely one of the classiest places I’ve ever pre-gamed at in Oakland.
Legume’s décor was much less euphistic and exhibited the expected austerity of an elegant fine dining establishment. The crowd skewed towards middle age, with what looked like numerous tables occupied by campus-visiting parents and their daughters. Freshman 15 be damned!
Menu: All of the pretentious buzzwords are applicable here – local, seasonal, sustainable, organic. Combining these into one word makes “loseasusanic”, which sounds like some sort of panic disorder. The menu changes ayday so if you’re picky, this is not the place for you.
Food: Bereft of a straightforward chicken or steak option, my picky wife defaulted to the least-healthiest option on the menu – smoked beef kielbasa. It was a little greasy but the sausage meat’s balance of smoke to spice was perfect.
I went with the braised monkfish for my entrée. It had a tender texture and lobster-like flavor that was sublimely delicious. The low point of dinner was definitely the side order of fries with aioli. Don’t get me wrong, I ate every one. However, that’s more a testament to my gluttony since they were meh at best.
Service: I mentioned to our affable waiter early on in the evening that it was the first time my wife and I had left our infant son at home with a babysitter. He generously brought us complimentary flutes of champagne halfway through dinner to help celebrate. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Final Call: Though we had a pleasant time and generally appetizing food, I don’t think we’ll be heading back to Legume anytime soon. The entree prices were just a little too high (mostly $25 – $30) to pay for a menu bereft of favorite dishes. Exacerbating this was that after adding a few drinks and the cost of a babysitter to the final bill, the outing totaled nearly $150. I’m rich, but not that rich…
November 8, 2012
Man, that Pitt loss to Notre Dame last Saturday was a real kick in the balls. This Friday night, the Panthers take on a much less formidable opponent in the University of Connecticut. The Huskies pretty much stink, and the only thing I know about their football program is that it produced Donald Brown. He’s an oft-injured running back for the Indianapolis Colts and is on my personal fantasy football “bum” list. I picked him up off of the waiver wire late last season after he supplanted Joseph Addai. He sh*t the bed for me during the playoffs and caused me to finish in 4th place – out of the money circle. Thanks for nothin’!
The Pitt/UConn game is in Connecticut, but you should still head down to campus and indulge in Oakland’s Chili Contest before cheering on the Panthers at one of the many great area bars. The chili contest starts at 5:00 and the participating competitors are the Garden Grill & Bar, Hello Bistro, Milano’s Pizza, Peter’s Pub, Primanti Brothers, Pittsburgh Pretzel Sandwich Shop and the Red Oak Café. Chile samples are only a buck at each establishment. I have never had chili at any of these restaurants, but I still feel confident in saying that every selection will be much better than the Wendy’s chili I habitually ate when I matriculated at Pitt in the late nineties. Blech!
November 1, 2012
Who doesn’t love Halloween? Well, I kinda don’t right now. Don’t get me wrong, it’ not like I hate All Hallows’ Eve. It’s just that this pagan-rooted holiday doesn’t hold much importance to me as far as my current lifestyle goes. Although my attitude is one of pronounced malaise, I wasn’t always so apathetic. When I was a kid, October 31st meant trick-or-treating through the Knoxville, Beltzhoover and Mount Oliver neighborhoods* in a cheap, plastic costume** that my parents bought for me from the Rite Aid on Hays Avenue. I don’t remember ever being that enthused about my outfits since they pretty much sucked, but I was always ecstatic to end up with a pillowcase full of chocolate by the end of the night. Receiving those candy bars, popcorn balls, McDonald’s gift certificates and cans of soda was the best part of the fall season. These indulgent treats were like manna from heaven and bridged the giftless gap between my summer birthday and the Christmas holiday.
I trick-or-treat’d up until I was fifteen years old. My costume that year lazily combined a gasmask I borrowed from my friend Daniel, and my San Francisco 49ers Starter parka. He wore another gasmask*** along with his creamsicle orange Tampa Bay Buccaneers Starter parka. Between our age and lackluster outfits, I’m surprised anyone gave us anything. At least I matured enough that next year to realize that door-to-door trick-or-treating was the province of the prepubescent, and other than egging the occasional house on Devil’s Night, Halloween faded from my consciousness as a significant event.
During college, Halloween again became a big to-do since there were always great parties to found on Pitt’s campus in Oakland. I would love to say that I made up for the pathetic costumes of my youth by coming up with immensely creative disguises, but alas I did not. I had a run of simplistic and last minute costumes that consisted of crazy clown, crazy old lady and crazy, old lady clown. Only once did my get-up elicit any sort of admiration, and I really had nothing to do with it. My friend Steven had a wonderful idea that our group of friends should dress up as the Teletubbies. This was in the late-nineties, and the ‘tubbies were at the height at their popularity as groundbreaking children’s programming.
We bought coordinated ski hats, sweat pants and sweatshirts from Wal-Mart, and Steven’s sister sewed fabric squares on the front of our shirts so to replicate the Teletubbies tummy televisions (say that three times fast). Though relatively simple, the homemade outfits’ resemblance to the real thing was unmistakable. The attention our group received was also greatly helped by the fact that the controversial ‘tubbie Tinky Winky was portrayed by Steven, who just happened to be 6’8” and 220 pounds. Steve looked like something out of Jerry Falwell’s nightmares. We ended up winning a few costume contests, meeting some girls, getting wicked drunk and partying to the wee hours of the morning. That’s a lot to accomplish on a school night. Below is a pic of me taken the next morning. Yikes!
Now that I’m a thirty-something, the Dracula fangs have been replaced with a nighttime bite guard, the popcorn balls are now rice cakes, and staying up all night boozing sounds more like a punishment than fun. I imagine that Halloween will be something of an event again whenever my wife and I have children but until then, it’s just another Wednesday.
* Nowadays, I would only walk through these neighborhoods at night with body armor and Chuck Norris by my side.
** For those that don’t know, these costumes basically consisted of a plastic mask with eye and breathing holes cut out, and a wearable garbage bag that had a picture on it of what you were supposed to be. Like, if the costume was for Frankenstein, the mask would slightly resemble the storied monster, and the bib would have a straight picture of Frankenstein instead of trying to complete the outfit. It was about a half step above just wearing your regular clothes and telling people you were Frankenstein.
*** I remember thinking at the time that it was a bit strange that Daniel had a collection of replica WWII gasmasks, but now knowing him like I do, it actually isn’t strange at all.
August 3, 2012
The University of Pittsburgh did the opposite of what Joni Mitchell lamented in the song Big Yellow Taxi. They took a parking lot and transformed it into a paradisal green space that gives the Oakland co-eds a charming place to sun tan and catch frisbee. Irrespective of the positives, this bucolic transformation is a little bittersweet for me. I matriculated at Pitt as an undergrad in the late nineties back when the campus amenities were meager and the scenery far from picturesque*. But I guess I can’t get too upset since when I was a student back then, I was seventy pounds heavier and frequently wore camouflage cargo pants paired with Wu-Tang Clan t-shirts. It’s a good thing that both my alma mater and me have both gotten so much better with age or else I’d be really jealous.
My wife and I had our first up-close experience with Schenley Plaza a few weeks ago. We spent an evening lying around in the grass during WYEP’s Summer Music Festival. Between the majestic view of the Cathedral of Learning, the plethora of talented hula-hoopers, and the semi-hipster indie folk music, it was wonderful event. Along with all of that entertainment, I found that the park itself was beautiful. The grounds were litter-free and the grass is like a friggin’ golf course. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is doing one helluva job maintainin’ the sh*t out of that place.
One of the most noteworthy additions to Schenley Plaza is The Porch. It is an attempt by the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group group to enter the trendy-restaurant scene burgeoning in the Steel City. We recently made plans to meet up with a couple friends there on a beautiful Friday summer evening. The Porch does not take reservations, but there is something online that you can use to put your name in and get an idea of how long the wait is. Though I usually detest the dining inconvenience stance of “no-reservations”, the beauty of the park and the abundant bench seating made this un-accommodation acceptable. Unfortunately for us, our table was ready as soon as we arrived and we didn’t have much chance to enjoy the scenery.
Though notoriously late, we actually beat our friends to the restaurant and headed to our table to wait. As we passed the bar area, the heavenly smell of rotisserie meat reached out of the semi-exposed kitchen and grabbed me by the nose. This beefy bouquet made for a great first impression. The décor of The Porch could best be described as contemporary country. Inherent trendy-restaurant design elements such as huge windows, blown glass light fixtures, exposed overhead ventilation ducts and an open floor plan were all present. What was atypical was the white wood paneling and agricultural watercolor paintings. These touches, along with the tabletop milk bottle water pitchers and cloth napkins, added a comforting rustic vibe which is fairly uncommon. These dichotomous details made the space ascetically pleasing to both to my inner-hipster and my inner-nature boy.
We were ultimately seated on the perimeter edge of the roofed part of the restaurant, with a nice view of the namesake porch and concomitant park. Our Don Rickles-esque waiter quickly engaged and entertained us with some corny yet amusing jokes. The soothing vista inspired me to embrace the vacation-home ambience and I ordered a Pineapple Sage Margarita. It showed up right after our friends did and was wonderfully muddled. The fresh pineapple really made the normally unpleasant tequila taste* quite palatable. My only complaint was the amount of booze in the heavily-iced drink didn’t really justify the haughty price tag. Typically, eight dollars worth of margarita fills up a glass as big as my head. I guess they don’t call this place the classier Eat’n Park for nothing.
Keeping with my recent gastronomic ostentatiousness** streak, I ordered up a Calamari appetizer and the Bianca Pizza for dinner. The calamari arrived shortly and I quickly dug in. The squid was cooked to the proper amount of chewiness, but the major highlight of the dish was the breading. Though it didn’t exactly stay adhered to the unlucky cephalopod, the crispy coating of fry batter was deliciously sweet and lacked any overt greasiness. The side of marinara dipping sauce was rendered superfluous due to the great flavor of the breaded calamari itself. This squid did not die in vain.
I was really chowing down on the calamari at a pretty quick pace, but was still unable to finish it before my main course was delivered. It’s always an inconvenience when the dinner selection quickly follows the appetizer, but it was made more egregious in this case since my pizza came served on a rather large metal baking sheet. What was intended to add authentic charm just frustrated me as I attempted to make room on the table in front of me without letting anyone take away my beloved calamari. I hurriedly finished my appetizer and moved straight onto the pizza. Well, “pizza” probably isn’t the best term to describe it. It was more like flatbread topped with fig jam, goat cheese and a heaping helping of arugula. The figs’ earthy essence dominated the flavor profile and unfortunately wasn’t quite up to the task of being featured front and center. It tasted a little milder the next night upon reheating, but it still won’t be anything I’d order again. Everyone else at my table loved their meals, which were the steak and meatball selections, so I can only blame myself for the less-than-delicious dinner. Next time I’ll skip the ostentatiousness and go with the meatballs.
Final Call: Much like Schenley Plaza itself, The Porch is a much needed and wonderfully attractive addition to the University of Pittsburgh’s Oakland campus. The menu conveys a sense of innovation without getting too far away from Pittsburgh’s comfort food favorites. The prices seem a little steep for the surrounding college student crowd, but I have a feeling that much like their tuitions, mommy and daddy are probably going to get stuck with the bill.
* I drank way too many margaritas at Mad Mex on May 5, 2010 and ended up having to take a vacation day that next morning** since I was deathly hung-over and throwing up everywhere. Me and tequila haven’t been friends since.
** Nothing conveys ostentatiousness better than using the word “ostentatiousness”. I’m not even sure if it’s a real word or not. #YOLO
*** This particular situation highlights what it means to be in your early thirties. Namely, I was still young enough to make the bad decision to get blinding drunk on a weeknight, but I was also mature enough to correctly use a vacation day and not a sick day since my pain was self-inflicted. It doesn’t get much more responsible than that.
June 1, 2012
I was introduced to Uncle Sam’s Submarines on Oakland Avenue while matriculating at the University of Pittsburgh during my sophomore year of college. I immediately fell in love. Back then, I weighed 225 pounds, smoked a pack a day, and drank malt liquor like it was going out of style (which it actually did). Uncle Sam’s calorie-laden hoagies and greasy fries were but another wonderfully unhealthy addition to my lifestyle of debauchery. After college I lost 70 pounds, stopped smoking and seriously curbed my drinking. The only habit I can’t kick from that time period is a bi-weekly trip to Uncle Sam’s for their Turkey Breast Sub.
When I moved south of the city to Carnegie in 2001, I frequently drove through the evil Fort Pitt tunnels and west on I-376 to Uncle Sam’s in Squirrel Hill just to step up to the counter and say “Turkey with provolone, hot, no onions, no tomato and an order of fries to-go please”. This establishment was (and still is) cash-only, and I found myself frequently running to the nearby ATM on Murray when I forgot this oh-so-important financial fact. After a few treacherous years of the dogged commute, the Hoagie Gods answered my prayers for a closer spot and an Uncle Sam’s opened in Robinson. Nevertheless, whenever my wife and I are kicking around the east end and in need of lunch, the Squirrel Hill spot still tops my list as the default area option to fill my belly.
A recent visit to the restaurant showed that not much has changed in the last ten years as far as its appearance goes. The interior is pretty outdated and the woodwork paneling can generously be described as grubby. Contrary to the clinical, ready-made environment of Subway, Uncle Sam’s has a large griddle manned by enthusiastic, un-gloved cooks skillfully grilling meat-to-order while they try and watch sports on the mounted television. Large framed photos of Pittsburgh’s past add some semblance of style to the decor, but overall the environment is not visually appealing. Our dining table was also lacking due to it wobbly lopsidedness. My wife had to stick a wad* of napkins under one of the legs just to get back to level.
These shortcomings were quickly forgotten when our order number was called and the cheerful sub-runner delivered the food. My bread roll was fresh and soft, and the sub’s stuffing of turkey, cheese and lettuce was mouthwateringly delicious. Since we dined-in, my sandwich came with a side of complimentary shoestring fries that I unrepentantly doused in more salt and quickly scarfed-up.
The Uncle Sam’s in Robinson is located deep inside the sprawling, gentrified sea of strip malls that make up The Pointe. Upon entry, the atmosphere of their inner-city locations has been retained with the signature large chalkboard and Pittsburgh memorabilia adorning the walls. However, the general feel is much fresher and modernized with the addition of neon signs and flat screen televisions. Another welcome improvement of this suburban location is the inclusion of alcohol to the drink menu. There are no taps, just a small selection of bottles. The fact that I can wash my sub down with a couple Red Stripes (Lager – 4.70% ABV) is a dream come true so you won’t ever hear me complaining about the lack of drafts. The only downside with this location is that I have recently moved and now it’s much less convenient. I guess it’s time for me to start praying to the Hoagie Gods again.
Final Call: Whether Squirrel Hill or Robinson, I’ve always gotten wonderful food from Uncle Sam’s and their turkey sub is definitely the meal I’d miss the most if I ever moved away from Pittsburgh. I’m fairly certain that their fries are solely responsible for me weighing about seven pounds more than I should, but I’m married so luckily my physique doesn’t matter anymore.
* “Wad” is another word like “moist” that just sounds dirty.
November 10, 2011
The University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team opens the regular season this Friday night at the Peterson Events Center in Oakland. Pitt comes into this year ranked as the No. 10 team in the country and it’s highly unlikely that the Albany Great Danes are going to be able to come close to defeating the Panthers. I’ll echo the universal sentiment that Jamie Dixon is one of college basketball’s best coaches and he has been able to field a highly competitive team every year since his tenure began and all signs point to this season being no different. Unfortunately he has not been able to put together a strong enough team to advance deep into the NCAA tournament and if they couldn’t do it with current NBA-er’s DeJuan Blair and Sam Young then they most likely won’t get it done this year with a line-up that’s more blue collar than blue chip. Despite heart-breaking ends to the season the past few years Pitt has still been a joy to watch because of their hard-nosed style of play which is totally in-line with Pittsburgh’s cultural identity and truly makes this team one to be proud of.
I went to Pitt for my undergraduate degree and in all of my four years I never once went to a school sporting event. My friends and I didn’t live in the dorms so I guess we were never filled with enough school spirit to head back down to Oakland in the evening or on a weekend for an activity. The sports teams of that era weren’t really all that successful either which contributed to my lack of interest in going. Since graduation I’ve gone to dozens of basketball games at the Pete however I have yet to go to Heinz Field for a Pitt football game. When it come to the major sports, collegiate football ranks last on my list and is actually lower than other less-heralded athletic events such as women’s beach volleyball* and world’s strongest man competitions**.
Christian folk-rocker*** Mat Kearney will be playing a show Saturday night at the Rex Theater on the Southside. He’s had a bunch of popular songs this past year on adult contemporary radio (i.e. WYEP), and even I can’t hate on his catchy hit “Hey Mama”. I haven’t been to the Rex for a concert so I can’t vouch for the acoustics but I did see “The Last Boy Scout" there back in 1991 and loved it. The movie paired Damon Wayans and Bruce Willis in an entertaining story involving football, murder, gambling, strippers and exploding briefcases. Damon Wayans would attempt another action-comedy buddy flick a few years later with Adan Sandler in Bulletproof. This 1996 movie bombed at the box office and was pretty much responsible for derailing Damon Wayans’ movie star career. Adam Sandler survived unscathed and his new movie ” “Jack & Jill” is coming out this weekend. Though the previews have been savaged by critics I actually think it looks kind of funny. I loved and still love the movie “Billy Madison” so hopefully one of these days he’ll again deliver something as classically genius as this.
* I actually do like women’s beach volleyball, but it also certainly doesn’t hurt that the competitors are predominantly cute, in great shape and dressed in skimpy bikinis. I would much rather watch these girls jump around than watch two muscle-bound dudes covered in bad tattoos try to squeeze their legs around each other in an MMA match.
** Magnus Ver Magnusson was, is, and always will be the man. I will be extremely tempted when the day comes to name my son Alexander Ver Alexanderson.
*** I think it’s only musicians that include their faith as a prefix to their occupation titles. I’ve never met anyone who’s known as a Methodist IT Project Manager or a Catholic Firefighter.
September 1, 2011
I am still living with your…ghost
Lonely and dreamin’ of the west coast
The above lyrics start off the song Santa Monica, which was an inescapable hit for the band Everclear back in 1995. It was arguably the catchiest and most radio-friendly song of the mid-1990’s pop-punk era and you’ll have your chance to see it performed live this Saturday at the South Park Rib & Wing Challenge. Fifteen years ago my parents would frequently attend events like this to see acts such as Molly Hatchet* and Loverboy. Now it appears that the popular bands from my formative years are starting to enter into the post-meaningful part of their careers which is marked by playing rib fests and county fairs. The only reasons I still feel young are that Tim Wakefield still plays in the Major Leagues and Alyssa Milano is still hot. When either of those bellwethers start to lose their stuff, then I’ll know I’m over the hill.
Although their stadium days are over, Everclear still has a plethora of hit songs which will surely have all of the 30ish soccer moms-in-training singing right along with them at the South Park Fairgrounds. But of course there won’t just be music. Many varieties of the events’ namesakes will be everywhere. I’m not usually a huge fan of eating ribs and wings in the open public because they’re so messy, but you would stick out at this event if you didn’t have a bbq sauce ‘stache. Just remember to bring a lot of handi-wipes to make yourself somewhat presentable once you’re done eating.
Saturday also brings us the start of the Pitt Panthers football season. In most pre-season polls they’re ranked in the mid-thirties and picked to finish second behind WVU in the Big East. The Panthers will look different on the field this year because of their new coach Todd Graham and his accompanying up-tempo offense. Junior running back Ray Graham was a beast last year when given the opportunity, so hopefully this season he continues to develop into another top Pitt running back.
This game shouldn’t be a real test for Pitt since the University of Buffalo Bulls** really aren’t a high caliber opponent. Hopefully Pitt will win easily and then enjoy a few undefeated weeks until they head to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes for their first big game. My wife is a die-hard PSU football fan and I have watched Iowa beat-up her Nittany Lions the last three years. I’m also an Iowa-hater because I drafted Shonn Greene in the second round of my fantasy draft last year and he sucked nards. Go Pitt!
* Molly Hatchet is actually the musical headliner for Sunday night. I think my kids will end up seeing them at a rib fest in 2043.
** I really think they should change their name to the Buffalo Wings. It just makes more sense and would have given me a great segue for this post.
PS – Alyssa Milano doesn’t have anything to do with the upcoming weekend events in Pittsburgh but I just really wanted to post a picture of her.