In case you missed Part One, you can read about it here. Otherwise, I’ll start from where I left off, day 3.
The day started out, as many do – with the search for good coffee. My hotel was located within walking distances of one of my favorite places – Pittsburgh’s Strip District, so that’s where I headed. My first stop was to Allegheny Coffee & Tea Exchange, where I picked up a cherry cheesecake latte. It was good, and didn’t taste artificial. Note: $5 minimum for credit cards.
Plans to get a “traditional” breakfast were quickly thwarted by “cash only” signs, and my unwillingness to pay bank fees at the ATM. I opted instead for something far more delicious (and unhealthy) than eggs – pierogi from S&D Polish Deli. The farmer’s cheese, and cheddar pierogi are delicious…if they happen to have the spinach while you are there, get them and let me know how they are – in all my visits I haven’t managed to try them yet! Note: They have a nice clean restroom for customer’s only; $10 credit card minimum.
Next stop – Pennsylvania Macaroni Company. The Sunseri brothers, formerly of Sicily, founded their Italian Pasta shop in 1902. Following a fire in the 1940s, they rebuilt and became an Italian import shop. Their hard work has continued to pay off, and according to their website they sell over 200,000 lbs of Italian cheeses each WEEK!! As amazing as their collection of Italian meats, cheeses, and olives is, their fresh pasta selection is also incredible. The saffron, and the crushed red pepper are two of my absolute favorites. I recently found out they deliver nationwide, which I will probably be doing this winter. Penn Mac is not just a store – it is truly an experience for the senses; the sound of the creaky wooden floors, the smells of the cheese, and olives…forget the perfume, I just want to smell like Penn Mac.
Pittsburgh was built on industry, and you can read about it’s history here. For a more interactive look at Pittsburgh’s history, I highly suggest the Senator John Heinz History Center, commonly referred to (at least by me) as the “Heinz Museum.”
I’ve been visiting the museum for years, but find something new on each trip. I start at the top floor, which details the French and Indian War, and work my way down the levels to the special exhibit on the ground floor. I love the Western Pennsylvania Glass industry section, and the Special Collections gallery, which is currently housing original set pieces from “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.” The Slavery to Freedom exhibit is extremely powerful, and the interactive displays of Underground Railroad safe houses are very interesting.
Based on the name you might expect to see some ketchup bottles? You would be correct. The Heinz collection has been recently redone, and is a fun and interesting look at the company’s 145 year history. I mentioned special exhibits, and currently it is “We Can Do It! WWII” A look at how Pittsburgh affected World War II. Be sure to check out the section of dog tags – each one represents 200 Pennsylvanians who served during World War II.
After stopping in the gift shop to grab some chocolate covered pickles, and a magnet, I stopped in Crystal on Penn to grab a Greek salad. They were featured on Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives, several years ago, I had eaten there one other time, and had gotten an amazing Persian salad with cold, boiled, sliced potatoes, but when I asked about this salad, I found out they had new owners. I was there at an off-time, and for the first half of my meal, I was the only customer. My server was super friendly, and either the owner, or manager, was sitting a table away from me and we had a nice conversation. My salad was great, with huge chunks of feta cheese and tons of delicious kalamata olives.
Last stop of the day was to the Carnegie Science Center, for an after-hours, private event. This is a fun place for kids and adults; make sure you check out the Tesla Coil in the Works Theatre, and huge miniature railroad village.
I decided to walk back down to Market Square to see if there would be live music again, and hit the jackpot with a really nice farmer’s market. Remember me saying I didn’t have cash on me and didn’t want to go to an ATM? The nice thing about this market, is that you could buy tokens, using your credit card, that were accepted like cash at most of the vendors.
I saw a large line for the Family Farm Creameries booth, and decided to check it out. One great aspect of being an adult is that you can have dessert before lunch, and that’s exactly what I did. I got a cup of their Home Grown Ice Cream – Salty Goat Caramel, made with goat cheese chevre. Some of their other flavors included Spanish Gold – Olive Oil, and Strawberry Balsamic. The Salty Goat Caramel was truly exceptional and unique. Delicious.
I putted around the farmer’s market for at least an hour, and just as I was leaving, the live band started playing every native West Virginian’s favorite song, Country Roads. It was a pleasant way to end my morning.
I made a second trip to Blue Bird Kitchen to try their Cuban sandwich, and was so happy I did! I don’t like to go to the same place twice when I am travelling, but the fact that I made an exception says a lot. (Read my full review on Yelp.) My sandwich was delicious, as was my brown sugar macaron. Yes I just devoured ice cream before eating that macaron.
Feeling sluggish from all the sugar, I started on my mission to visit the downtown Macy’s before it closed. Why visit this store? Well, because it wasn’t always a Macy’s. From 1877 to 2006, the building was home to Kaufmann’s Department Store. I had to see the gorgeous art deco interior on this trip, as it was sold to a developer, and closing is imminent. Fun fact: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water was the weekend home to Edgar Kauffmann, President of Kauffmann’s.
This would not be the only dose of nostalgia for the day.Following a wonderful dinner in the strip district, at Kaya (get the heirloom tomato salad…and Thursday nights are fried chicken night; make a reservation!) We went to Klavon’s hoping to try their strip-themed flavors. While they weren’t serving those, I did get to try some Peachy Paterno. Klavon’s just switched owners, and while it had changed since I had been there before, the original charm wasn’t lost, and the famous flood line was still there.
Quick trip back to some strip district shops to pick up requested items from friends, and a stop in Canonsburg to pick up some Sarris Candies before heading “home” to West Virginia for the weekend.
I hope these posts have helped you to discover (or maybe re-discover) Pittsburgh as a vibrant city, full of arts, culture, food, and fun things to see and do. Have a suggestion for my next Pittsburgh visit? Yinz can let me know in the comments!