The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Sunday Brunch at Round Corner Cantina.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Sunday Brunch at Round Corner Cantina.

The thing about moving away is that I’d much rather spend my last few days creating memories with my friends than packing. And that’s totally okay with me. (At least, it will be until the day I have to move and frantically realize that there are so many things I overlooked. I’ll just take that as it comes. #Priorities.)

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So, this weekend, I celebrated my years in Pittsburgh with some of the best people I know at a pretty weird dance party on Friday night, and then at Thrival on Saturday. Saturday’s weather was perfect. Bright and warm until the sun went down and the crisp air became the kind of weather that makes you wish you had a sweatshirt to cozy up in. But, since I was sweatshirtless (thanks anyway, Q), I warmed up with a little wine.

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And what’s the best thing in the world the morning after a night of wine? Brunch. Christina lured me out of bed with the mention of brunch at one of my favorite Lawrenceville spots: Coca Cafe. But, since it was a Sunday, the wait was way too long for someone who just really, really needed a cup of coffee and some bacon. So, we hopped across the street to Round Corner, a place that had previously offered a pretty delicious brunch (and the occasional bottomless mimosa) before closing for a few months this summer. But word on the street was that Round Corner’s brunch post-reopening was out of this world.

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And out of the world it was. Christina ordered French Toast with ancho syrup, and served with Benton’s bacon and a side of chipotle butter. It was sweet and spicy, just as the Mexicans do best.

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Being a savory breakfast eater, I went with the Brisket Hash (and Ryan did, too) and a Mexican coffee. Perfectly soft and salty potatoes were topped with melt-in-your-mouth brisket, which was then topped with a fried egg, cotija, bacon and cilantro. Perfection in every bite – truly – and just what I needed to make my last Sunday in Pittsburgh a good one.

Baked Cheddar Eggs & Potatoes.

Baked Cheddar Eggs & Potatoes.

Every morning, I eat a salad for breakfast. A bean salad, to be specific. Coffee bean salad. Okay, every morning, I drink coffee. A ton of it. I don’t actually eat breakfast.

I know, I know. It’s the most important meal of the day. But during the week, breakfast just isn’t a priority. But on the weekends? Well, that’s a different story. I love breakfast (and especially brunch) on the weekends. So, when my sista from anotha mista Brittany came into town, we decided to spend our Saturday morning in the kitchen, whipping up some breakfast grub. (I mean, what else is there to do the morning after the Pirates take down the Braves 3-2? Besides binge watch How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, of course.)

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Armed with a short grocery list and hungry stomachs, we hit the grocery store for the supplies we needed to make Baked Cheddar Eggs & Potatoes.

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons of butter / 1.5 pounds of diced red potatoes / Minced parsley / Salt + pepper / 8 eggs / Extra sharp cheddar cheese, or your preferred flavor

Directions: Preheat oven to 400˚F. / In an ovenproof skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. / Add potatoes, and cook until golden and tender. / Stir in parsley, salt and pepper to taste. / With a spoon, create four wells in the potatoes. / Break two eggs into each well. / Bake for 9-11 minutes. / Remove from oven, and sprinkle with cheese. / Bake for an additional 1-2 minutes. / Serve immediately with a mimosa. Or a manmosa. Or a bloody Mary. Or just your favorite breakfast cocktail. / Enjoy with a good friend.

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The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Father’s Day Edition.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Father’s Day Edition.

For a few years, my dad has been raving about the Federal Taphouse in Harrisburg, a restaurant most notably known for their extensive craft beer offerings. And by extensive, I mean 100 unique craft beers, each written across a larger-than-life chalkboard just inside the front door. You read that correctly. 100.

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So, this year for Father’s Day, the whole family piled into the car and headed to the Federal Taphouse for Sunday brunch. As soon as we were seated, I ordered a mimosa. In Pittsburgh, that’s the thing to do. Peas and carrots, peaches and cream, salt and pepper, black and white, brunch and mimosas. It’s just a thing. But at the Federal Taphouse, I got a few side eyes for my choice… A mimosa? Wait, you’re not ordering a beer? There are literally a hundred options. Challenge accepted.

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When it came to food, to no one’s surprise, I ordered the Breakfast Burrito. (But huge shoutout to the Shrimp & Grits and Breakfast Poutine, both of which almost swayed me from ordering my brunch “usual.”) Loaded with eggs, chorizo, pepper jack cheese and avocado, it was everything a breakfast burrito should be. Not to mention, the Binding-Brauerei Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen-Mix Grapefruit Beer I ordered… amazing. Seriously.

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My dad ordered the Breakfast Pizza, which was a sizeable pie topped with carmelized onions, breakfast sausage, farm eggs and cheddar cheese. Sarah went with the Wood Fired Mushroom Frittata, made with roasted mushrooms, carmelized onions and fontina, and if I’m being honest, this may have been the brunch winner. I typically don’t get down with mushrooms, but this? This was the epitome of happiness dancing on top of my tastebuds. Yum. Tyler leaned more towards the “unch” part of brunch with a Bleu Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burger, topped with avocado, tomato, bacon and a garlic aioli. It was fine, but brunch in my world never actually means lunch. Like, never.

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Brunch or no brunch, I felt happy to be able to spend the day with all of the most important men in my life: my dad, Tyler, Evan and Aron. Thanks for being such an amazing role model — couldn’t ask for a better dad than you.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Philadelphia Edition.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Philadelphia Edition.

From when I was young — think: middle school field trip age — I’ve always loved everything about Philadelphia, and as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that its food is like the city itself: real, hearty, grounded and unpretentious. So last weekend, when I found myself on a spontaneous road trip to the City of Brotherly Love to visit two of my dearest friends, I was excited. Excited for some good, quality time with Nate and Megan, excited to be back in Philadelphia, and excited for some new food.

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On Saturday morning, we walked from their apartment in Fairmount to the Reading Terminal Market, a historic institution that, since 1892, has been able to offer the community a blend of locally grown and exotic produce, meats, baked goods, and about a million other things. For the yinzers out there, imagine the entire Strip District in one building. That’s the Reading Terminal Market.

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We started by grabbing sandwiches from DiNic’s — Nate and I opted to try the world famous roast pork and broccoli rabe, while Megan went with the Italian-style pulled pork. The pork on each of our sandwiches was amazing: perfectly tender and wonderfully seasoned. And the freshly baked bread? Don’t even get me started. The rabe, eh, I could have done without it — Nate agreed — and Meg made the best choice by throwing peppers and onions onto her ‘wich.

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To water down the gratuitous amounts of food we ate for lunch, we headed to Old City Coffee for some freshly ground brew. And then, being the gluttons that we are, we just had to make one last pit stop at Beiler’s Doughnuts, a Pennsylvania Dutch family-owned doughnutery (I obviously made that word up) that serves myriad variations of creme-filled delicacies.

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I chose a maple bacon doughnut, while Nate had the salted caramel and Meg ordered chocolate peanut butter. It was hard not to drool over the cases of fresh sweets, and even harder to choose just one.

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This food-filled afternoon was then followed by a series of games of Settlers of Catan, lots of snow, lots of laughter, a little whiskey, some wine and a few beers. During this time period, we added in more food in the form of appetizers from Rembrandt’s, including loaded tater tots, French onion soup, cheesesteak spring rolls, crack mayo french fries and the best macs and cheese with truffle I’ve ever eaten in my whole entire life. No joke. 763,159,076 calories later, we walked home, tired, but happy (and full) as clams.

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This leads me to the next morning. There is literally nothing more wonderful about the weekend than Sunday brunch. We three musketeers walked through the brisk air to Bishop’s Collar, a local Fairmount eatery whose name is derived from an old Celtic expression for a perfectly poured pint of Guinness. Well, I didn’t have a beer with my breakfast — I stuck with a mimosa — but I did order a simple wrap, stuffed with a fried egg, sliced ham, provolone and guacamole. Seriously, brunch and guacamole?! I literally cannot.

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I left Philadelphia with a full and happy stomach, and an even fuller and happier heart. La da dee da dee.

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The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Franks Who Brunch.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Franks Who Brunch.

We love Franktuary. I’ve raved about it before. We love the creative thought process behind each of their hot dogs, we love their one-of-a-kind cocktails, and we love their unique decor. But most of all, we love their brunch.

This past Sunday, we both woke up slowly. It was one of the few days that neither of us had a pressing commitment first thing in the morning, a beeping alarm rudely yanking us out of a sweet sleep. We were quiet and still, soaking up the sunlight streaming through the window and listening to the calm chirping of the birds outside, when he sleepily croaked, “Want to go to Franktuary for brunch?” I answered with a resounding yes. (Okay, so maybe it was more like a slow nod.)

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First thing’s first: order a cocktail. I went with a little concoction called Snoop Lion, and I have to admit, I chose it based solely on its name. Luckily for me, the combination of gin, grapefruit, cucumber and champagne was on point. It was sour and tangy and subtly sweet – a familiar taste of every grapefruit I’ve ever eaten – but it was cooled down by the bubbly brut and crisp cucumber. Delish.

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Then, our pre-brunch appetizer. Each Sunday, Franktuary serves up a signature donut. This time, the zebra donut holes came in two flavors: a vanilla donut, coated lightly with a mocha glaze, and a chocolate donut, accompanied by a rum glaze. As someone who much prefers salty to sweet, these bite-size donuts perfectly satisfied my early morning sweet tooth.

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Then, our main dishes arrived. He had ordered their waffle sandwich, a pile of sausage, fried egg, greens and cheddar cheese surrounded by a garlic waffle, and accompanied by maple aioli and herb roasted potatoes. Here’s the thing about this dish. It’s pretty much a rule that you dip each bite of your sandwich into the aioli (or get wild and douse the sandwich in the aioli – whichever suits you), so that the sweet and creamy sauce can complement the salty, meaty, herb-filled taste of the sandwich. It’s the best of both worlds, and as soon as he dug into his food, there were nothing but happy grunts of satisfaction coming from his side of the table.

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I ordered my Franktuary brunch usual: poutine. Poutine is a classic Canadian dish, traditionally consisting of a giant pile of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. This has always been one of my favorite dishes, but when you transport it from a Canadian dinner table to a Yinzer brunch table, it gets even better. (Disclaimer: I know it looks like a pile of dog food. Just trust me.) A base of salty, herb roasted potatoes hold a pile of fried egg, crispy bacon, and creamy cheese curds, all soaked in a house made brown gravy. Each bite is like a little taste of heaven: it’s all of the most wonderful things that exist in the culinary world. It’s indulgent and gluttonous, and every bite is better than the last.

Spontaneity has always been my thing. I’m exhilarated by the unexpected, even if it’s just something small, like brunch at a joint down the road. Sometimes it’s the smallest moments, like a quick smile as our mouths are stuffed with food, that remind me of some of the best things in life: loved ones, unforeseen moments and incredible food.