Tag Archives: sweet and sour

Thai Cuisine


Thai Cuisine would be completely inconspicuous if it weren’t for its bright yellow exterior. Even the name, as suitable as it is, is laughably generic. In fact, it seems tailor-made for one of those “Who’s on First?” type of scenarios:

“Where are you going for dinner?”
“Thai Cuisine.”
“Oh, I love Thai food. Which restaurant are you going to?”
“Thai Cuisine.”
“I understand. Which Thai place are you going to?”
“Thai Cuisine.”

Its cheery yellow front makes it a standout on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, a strip already busting at the seams with decent places to dine. As generic as the name is, the experience dining there is anything but. In full disclosure, I’ve eaten Thai Cuisine numerous times, including dining in and ordering to-go, and I’ve never had a bad meal there. Ever.

My partner’s parents were in town and kindly took us to dinner. Now my partner has a few favorites in this town, all of which he sticks to with a fierce loyalty that echoes the devotion he has to his favorite sports teams. Knowing Thai Cuisine as well as I do, I understand completely why he’s always eager to go there. Luckily for us, his parents don’t seem to disagree.

Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Surprises of Silk Road

I have come to the decision that the best part about dining isn’t really just the exceptional food possibilities or the atmosphere of the place you are dining in or even the company you keep while dining out. The best part about dining out is how all the possible good and bad factors of eating outside your own home come into play in unexpected ways. The saying “You get what you pay for” isn’t so much a negative criticism as it is a knock against the expected: Go to the same place time and time again and get the same experience time and time again, and that is the essence of getting what you pay for. A value and experience share a definition.

Some people want, nay, crave the expected, so they only go to a handful of places (if anywhere – I know plenty of people who are in a similar habitual loop with their home cooking as people who frequent one or two eateries) and quickly establish a routine that insures an edible safety zone.

While there is nothing wrong with this in a general sense, that type of behavior is not really my thing, and I’m guessing it would be safe to assume that the dozen or so lovely readers I have are similar to me in that way. For the food enthusiast, food lover, gastronomic adventurer, taste junkie, snack addict, dining explorer, or, even, shudder, the foodie, eating is more than survival obtained by chew and swallow and digest. Eating is a chance to take a chance, to take a risk, to venture reward in the face of loss, to produce, to consume, to experience through the realm of senses. For some, eating is akin to sex (indeed, these are the basic activities of mankind that utilize all five senses and to an enormous degree), for others, eating is the best and quickest way to learn about… anything.

I don’t really mean to ramble on and on about this, but it turns out I had a lot to reflect upon after a visit to Silk Road. This Chinese restaurant bears an unassuming front among the other shops and restaurants in Caste Village, but coming through its front doors is nothing short of being transported to its very specific world. The seating area is spread about and separated by partitions, wood and stone half-walls, beams, and warmly painted walls. Each little section is its own habitat, united in general theme, but invoking a feeling slightly different from the rest. Large canvas sconces of light come up from wall and float through holes in a blocks of false ceiling. It’s eye-catching, modern, with touches of the ancient heritage implied by the restaurant’s name. What’s more, it’s comfortable and well-lit, serving as a nice environment to a group of friends dining, which is exactly what we were.

My partner and I joined our friends Maureen and Brandon at the restaurant and were quickly seated with full water glasses, hot tea, and menus in front of us. Taking advantage of the good wine list, Maureen ordered a glass of Riesling. Brandon ordered a Yuengling. Hard pressed to pass up the opportunity when it comes along (which if you eat in as many Asian establishments as I do is rather frequent), I ordered a Sapporo. James stuck with the hot tea.

Admittedly, this was not the first time at the restaurant for myself, nor Maureen and Brandon. The two had held their engagement dinner there, at which I was present. Ever since that dinner we had been singing the praises to James, especially in reference to Silk Road’s substantial vegetarian menu. I’m always a little conservative with the Asian restaurants I rave about to him – he compares every place to his favorite Philly area restaurant, Kingdom of Vegetarians, and supposedly few are matches for this place (having not been there, I can only take his word for it) – but Silk Road inspired the confidence to rave and rave about the meal we had without fear of eventual disappointment on his end. Continue reading

Good Morning, Steelers Sunday!

I grew up a misfit teenager shunning all jock trappings. Due to my commitment to the South Park High School Eagles Marching Band, I was an unwilling witness to many, many football games, none of which I paid the least bit of attention to, preferring the company of a small penlight and book. I even got homework done in the stands. Playoffs time, when we lost, I was secretly overjoyed for the end of the football season. No more Friday nights spent shivering on the metal bleachers. No more playing halftime shows that people in the stands used as an excuse for bathroom breaks. No more pretending (albeit poorly) to care.

Then something happened in college. No longer expected to care, I started keeping track of pro football (as well as a few other sports, but more on that another time),  although I stayed fast and loose with game-time commitments. Still, when the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2006, I whooped and hollered celebrated with my then-housemates. After the game, we ran out to Forbes and Murray in Squirrel Hill and celebrated with the rest of our neighborhood. I saw people running around shirtless in the snow, sliding down Forbes by holding onto moving cars and buses. I saw people knock down a dumpster and dance on top of it. The young and the old, the drunk and the sober. I saw how this city celebrates their team. And it was exhilarating. (And a little scary.)

The 2009 Super Bowl win against the Cardinals held a different kind of significance for me. I had my heart broken in the Fall of 2008 by no less than a devout Seahawks fan, who loved to claim that our city’s team had stolen their Super Bowl title due to a bad call. Months after the final conversation of our relationship, I sat in a roomful of friends, cheering out of equal parts love for our team, our city, and spite for that guy from Seattle. Mature? Not really. But we won. Again. Damn right.

Going into this most recent season, I cooled on the Steelers a bit. It was a mix of reasons, but mostly the Ben Roethlisberger stuff and a new-found enjoyment of college football, specifically the team of my partner and his family, the West Virginia Mountaineers. Still, seeing the unruly mane jutting out of the helmet of #43 Polamalu, catching the sunny/frightening smile of #86 Ward, the hulking frame of #34 Mendenhall… There’s really nothing like rooting for the home team.

That’s my abridged history with football. For the AFC Championship weekend, we cooked up something that might have to make a Super Bowl reappearance. This recipe is based on the traditional “Pittsburgh” salad, but it’s also based on a failure. I was all set to make lentil burgers, but upon their completion in the oven, they were just too crumbly to make it on the buns. My intrepid dining companion and partner came up with this terrific solution to our dinner problem. So this recipe truly belongs to him.

The Vegan Pittsburgh Salad

Ingredients
– 1 lentil burger patty, crumbled (I haven’t included my recipe, cause it’s still a work in progress, but the Veggie Table has a good one.)
Iceberg salad mix
– Sweet & Sour dressing (not the same as the sauce used in Asian cooking – we used the tangy Giant Eagle variation.)
– 1 avocado, thinly sliced
– 1 small tomato, chopped
For the potatoes:
– 5 to 6 small red potatoes, cut into even chunks
– 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
– 2 tsp turmeric
– 1 tsp cumin
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 2 tbsp olive oil

– Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss potatoes in oil and spices and cook in the oven for 25 minutes, tossing a few times as they bake.

– Once the potatoes are done, assemble the salad:

  • Iceberg salad mixture
  • Crumbled lentil patty
  • Avocado & tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Dressing

Grab a fork and enjoy! Just don’t get any on your Terrible Towel.