Thursday, June 30, 2011

#208, #58, #174, #169, #20, #7, #34, & #76: A Sunday in the Strip

#208: 21st Street Coffee and Tea - The Best Coffee Shop to Disappear Into
#58: Peace, Love, and Little Donuts - The Best Place to Feed Donuts to Your Inner Hippie
#174: Pittsburgh Public Market - The Best Place for Locavores to Go Cuckoo for Local Stuff
#169: In the Kitchen - The Best Place for Cooks to Feel Like a Kid in a Candy Store
#20: Penzey's Spices -The Best (Foodie) Place to Spice Up Your Life
#7: Pennsylvania Macaroni Company - The Best Italian Grocery Store
#34: Art of Steel - A Make Up for a Skipped Number!
#76: Right By Nature - The Best Place for Organic Meat in the Strip

The Strip District is located between 11th and 33rd Streets and incorporates three main roads - Smallman Street, Penn Avenue, and Liberty Avenue. Formerly home to many mills and factories along the Allegheny River, Michelle, my friend Tom, and I spent this past Sunday exploring the shops, cafes, and stores in this fun neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

We started with 21st Street Coffee and Tea where Tom ordered a cup of coffee from Nicaragua. As the barista made his order, it appeared as though each cup is individually brewed and incredibly strong. As Tom said, if he was going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, it better be the best cup of his life. And it was (according to him... neither Michelle nor I drink the icky stuff).
Our next stop was just next door - Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. Here, we put our dollars together and purchased a six pack of little donuts. Michelle and I both ordered a cinnamon and a glazed while Tom had two glazed. Branching out, obviously. Anyway, all donuts were good but I think that the most delicious was my cinnamon donut as it was still fresh out of the frier and therefore piping hot. Luckily for Michelle and I, a new Little Donuts just opened up down the street from work. Thank you!

After the donuts, we continued down Smallman Street to the Pittsburgh Public Market. Located indoors, this little market has all the free samples anyone could ask for just before payday. We tried soups, cheeses, crackers, jams and jellies, Jamaican food, Indian food... the list goes on. Michelle bought a hot raspberry jam while Tom opted for a delicious cup of lentil soup that he so kindly left in my refrigerator (thanks Tommy!). We all agreed we'd like to come check the market out on a Saturday to see if there are more vendors.

Our fourth stop was In the Kitchen, yet another kitchen store filled with overpriced supplies and bakeware. We spent about 20 minutes perusing the aisles and examining the goods. I was the only one to walk out with anything - a small plate decorated with various sights of Pittsburgh - and am looking forward to hanging it in my new apartment in two weeks.

A few shops down from In the Kitchen is Penzey's Spices. This store is a mini warehouse of spices. They have quite the selection. Michelle and I explored just a handful of the 250 different offerings with our noses - there was a mustard bratwurst spice, a lot of southwest/Mexican/Tex-Mex spices, and even more from Italy and Europe. We both felt a bit overwhelmed by the size of the selection and believe that we would first need to upgrade our cooking skills before adding to our collections of spices.

Leaving Penzey's Spices empty handed, we hopped across the street to my favorite store in the Strip - the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company. They have olives, bread, pasta, spices, mustards, sausages, seafood, fruits, veggies... and the cheese selection is HUGE! I have never been by this place without seeing a long line for their selection of cheeses from around the world. While we didn't make any purchases on this visit, I will be going back very soon. I have decided that I could do all of my weekly grocery shopping in this store. It really is that awesome.

To make up for one of the "Things to Do" that LivingSocial skipped on its list, Michelle and I decided to recommend to you all Art of Steel which is located at 2125 Penn Avenue in the Strip. This art store was filled with unique finds. We easily spent a half-hour or so wandering the two rooms filled with pieces of art. Michelle was struck by the wine bottle holders pictured to the left, while I found a few paintings I am interested in. Again, with payday looming, I decided to hold off on making any purchases but I can't wait to go back, look around, and make a couple purchases.

Our final stop for the day was supposed to be at Right By Nature, a grocery store that focuses on providing as many natural and organic products as possible along with top selling supermarket/mainstream brands. LivingSocial called Right By Nature the best place for organic meat in the Strip. However, we found this to perhaps be less true than it seems as the store has suspended services as of Saturday, April 30, 2011. The signs in the window stated they hope to re-open their doors later this year in a new location. We shall see!

Overall, I felt like the four hours we spent exploring the Strip District were some of the most fun I've spent in Pittsburgh. I look forward to returning soon, this time with a bit more money to spend.

- Emily

47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, and 54 down, 311 to go.

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