Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend: Biking and Fire Making

When this publishes, I'll be at my desk daydreaming about my weekend. The past few days were wonderful. The keywords for the weekend were "biking" and "fire making," but we may as well add "beer" and "whiskey" in there for good measure. On Saturday, my friend Ross and I took an epic bike ride down the GAP. The section between the South Side and the Waterfront being open is awesome. There's been more bike traffic on that side of the trail coming off the Hot Metal Bridge than ever before. We took the trail 25 miles down to Dravo's Cemetery, where I've camped before and now plan to do so on a *hopefully* monthly basis. 

Saturday night involved a lot of beer. I met up with my friend Sam, who I met at Pitt, but who also lived in Boston at the same time as me. We drank flights of beer at the Beer Market on the North Shore. This place is all right with me. I got two flights (four samples each) and a draft that mixed Guinness and cider. Total = $26. You can also bring your own food into this place, because they don't serve any! (While laughing over Boston-times, Sam reminded me of the time we were booed by the ENTIRE Garden during a Bruins-Pens game when we got on the Jumbotron and held up a Terrible Towel, basically completely blocking the cute little girl Bruins fan the cameraman was meaning to showcase. Proud moment of my life right there.) After parting ways, the night continued for me in various Bloomfield establishments. It's not often I'm closing down bars anymore. Hockey playoffs certainly kick my liver into high-gear.

Sunday (after a much-needed double egg and cheese at Primanti's in order to regain human status) was another nice day for a bike ride, which I did with my friend Ben. We took the GAP, but only to McKeesport. From the ride I went directly to Shur-Save for a bottle of Aleve. My knees are feeling it today, for sure. That night we had a fire in his backyard. Friends gathered and we roasted hot dogs, made smores, and had beer and whiskey around the fire. Nothing in the world is better than waking up smelling like a bonfire.

This morning I hosted a brunch, which was a genius way of motivating myself to a) clean my apartment and b) go to the grocery store. I love cooking breakfast for people. I suck at being an adult in most things in "domestic" life, but making breakfast is something I take pride in. (Example of sucking at being an adult: my friend Kate hooked me up with ice because I had four ice trays in the freezer and they were all empty.) The day will end by having a pizza party with my brother and watching Arrested Development. I don't think I ever want Memorial Day Weekend to end.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013: No More O Canadas.

Let's get the important business out of the way first.

I have a new playoff t-shirt.

I switched up after the overtime loss. And things are right back on track. I'm very satisfied with the results of my Kennedy t-shirt. Also very relieved that I could put the other one in the laundry basket.

I was fortunate to get to go to all three home games in the Ottawa series. This means I saw Jeff Jimerson sing O Canada three more times this season. Win!

And win and win and win at that! The first game I went to with my dad, and got to see a masterful spanking of the Senators. For the second game, I had both tickets and brought my friend Rob from DC to the game. This is where the crucial purchasing of not one - but two! - Kennedy t-shirts occurred. The second one may be explained at a later date, if all goes according to plan.

The third and fourth games were watched at Nico's. Then it was back to Consol for game five with my dad. This was a fun night. The two seats next to ours are often occupied by two guys named Mike and Ross. My dad and I have grown quite fond of them, as they are just as loud and fun and rambunctious as we are. There was a lot of hooting and hollering. There were a NUMBER of high fives. Just a great night all around.

Crosby Hat Trick

James Neal Hat Trick

The double-OT loss was a bummer. But considering I got to see not one - but two! - in-person hat tricks was pretty awesome. And now, it's time to prepare for an anxiety-ridden couple weeks...


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013: Found My Pens Playoff T-Shirt

Friends, I have found my Penguins playoffs t-shirt. It smells of Nico's, and because I've been biking around in it, it's starting to... It's not the freshest article of clothing I own right now.

But it has now seen both shut-out games, the amazing Tyler Kennedy breakaway game-winner goal, and two overtime wins. It will not be seeing the wash for hopefully a whiles longer.

This series was...frustrating. I've only really been following hockey and getting excited about it during the last six or seven years. So my hockey commentary is based on very contemporary knowledge of the team and a grip on the rules/logistics/strategies of the game that is way more than loose, but not yet strong. I'm relieved this series is over. The six games against the Islanders were prime examples of why I have come to love hockey and why it is a rollercoaster of emotions that is sometimes unnerving!

The love of it overpowers most often. Especially when I was at the game with my dad on Thursday. Seeing the Kennedy goal live and having my phone buzz out of control and having all the people we know near our seats turn to me and scream "Pig!" Watching Crosby split those dudes - kind of like the statue of Mario right outside the Consol. Giddily waiting for them to announce the stars at the end of the game, even when my dad's normal go-to move is to BOLT to the stairs as soon as the last second ticks down.

And then tonight. When they were down. Tied. Down. Tied! Down... TIED! Overtime. Gah... And then YES. Nico's exploded. We all jumped out of our seats and cheered. We chanted a few rounds of "Let's Go Pens!" Allie and I compared palm-of-hand redness from all of the clapping.

And now we're off to face the Senators. I'm nervous. But - also kind of excited to hear one more of Jeff Jimerson's "O Canada" renditions before the year's out.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Market Square Favorites

Since I've been back in Pittsburgh (approaching the three-year anniversary mark!), I've been with the same small law firm whose offices have gone from the stately Henry W. Oliver Building to the glass castle called PPG One. Transitioning over toward PPG Place has made me a frequenter of Market Square - before work, during lunch, and after work. Here are some of my favorite options for fueling and feeding myself throughout the workweek:

Bluebird Kitchen
I enjoy Bluebird for many reasons. 1) Delicious coffee. 2) Different and always tasty pastries. 3) Actual FRESH-SQUEEZED OJ (one of my favorite things in life). 4) My neighbor Alex works there! I need to make a mental note to get to work early enough one day to sit down and have an actual breakfast there, cause I'm on a big eggs and toast kick right now. I can only believe that would make a great start to my morning.

Nicholas Coffee Co.
Lovely lattes, especially when a "pick-me-up" is needed on a rainy, gray Pittsburgh afternoon. (Having an entire wall of your office be a window with an awesome view can get a little depressing in a stretch of rainy days.) They've also got a great selection of teas, and this is a normal go-to for me when I'm out of coffee or espresso beans at home.

If you've been paying even the smallest bit of attention to EvBetPGH, you probably already know my love for this place. But I'm a fan of beating people over the head with information. So here we go again: Best burger you'll ever have. Ever. I never stray away from my usual order (FYI: empty with extra cheddar medium, which I then dip in what even I consider an obscene amount of ketchup), but anyone I have ever taken to this place (there have been lots and lots) agrees that whatever burger they had was MIGHTY good. I love this place for lunch, and I especially love it for after work. When I worked in the Oliver Building, my dad and I would meet at the Smithfield Cafe before Pens games or whatever event we were taking in that night). Now we meet at Winghart's. A definite improvement in many ways.

Las Velas
Let me be nostalgic for a moment: Back when I was at Pitt, back when I was under-21, I ate many a meal at La Fiesta. The restaurant wasn't much - chairs and tables set up in the front two rooms of a mostly-shitty (but livable) South Oakland building - but the food was cheap, the queso (THE CHEESE!) was amazing stuff, and no one asked for my ID when I brought in a six pack. The queso was so amazing that on return trips to Pittsburgh from Boston, I would asked to be taked directly to La Fiesta from the airport. Las Velas, whose quality of establishment is about a billion times less shady than La Fiesta, has THE CHEESE. They also have the tacos and all the other delicious Mexican fare. Though it's not BYOB, I'm now able to consume alcohol legally. And I have consumed many margaritas from Las Velas and I can attest to their wonderfulness (as well as their strongness).

For whenever my sweet tooth is aching for a treat. Love their cookies, although I have to stray away from the ones with too too much icing. I think I may have entered into a sugar coma-shock after devouring one of those once.

Admission: I did not have my first Primanti's sammich until the Steelers Super Bowl against the Seahawks. I was a bad Pittsburgher back then. Now, I'll hit up Primanti's on the regular for lunch. There's a way a double egg & cheese hits the spot like no other lunch option can.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Alcohol Boat: Commonwealth Press's Beer Barge

This was one of the best events I have ever been to.

There was no other way to start this post. It simply was awesome. The ingredients for the perfect Friday night in April? A Gateway Clipper boat + dozens of craft breweries lining the first and second decks + local bands + a top deck that offered some pretty stellar views of the city + the brilliance and hard work of Commonwealth Press.

The crowd was great. The event had actually sold out twice due to a server crash, so instead of telling 300 people they didn't actually have tickets, Commonwealth Press chartered a second trip on the same boat. So as soon as our cruise returned around 9:30, the dock was filled with another crowd ready to set sail on the alcohol boat.

The night was perfect. Better weather could not have been asked for. It's been so long since I've been on the river (I've been in it, a few times!), and I had forgotten the skyline's majesty as you approach the Point on a boat.

I hope (and expect) this will become a yearly event. My only wish is that it would be seasonally instead of yearly. But I'll take what I can get, and I'll be sure to be ready with my credit card the moment next year's tickets go on sale.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

National Bike Challenge Starts Today!

You know, I don't miss winter biking. Shocking, right? Avoiding patches of ice. Layering up every morning. Losing feeling in my fingers. And the mornings when the streets were covered in snow, which meant scrounging up $2.50 for a bus ride.

Now that we're officially into amazing biking weather, we're also officially into the National Bike Challenge. For the most and best information about the challenge, which starts today and runs through the end of September, visit BikePGH's site.

Two of more important things to know:
- Riding your bike and logging your miles earns you FREE BEERS at Over the Bar on the South Side.
- Cleveland has called us out. They actually think they can become the "Rust Belt Champion" this year. Help Pittsburgh kick butt and shut Cleveland up.

Because we're talking Cleveland, it's impossible for me NOT to share one of my favorite tourism videos:

Biking weather, hockey playoffs, more and more sunshine everyday... This is the life.