chicky soup

the corner grill in bowling green is not only known for the food that kills a hangover, but also for the amazing staff. grumpy and honest by night (to fend off the angry drunks), smiling and friendly and chatty by day. most servers will get to know you, the cooks will gladly make you a pancake shaped like pac-man upon request, and some might sit with you while you eat it. most go to eat their food and talk politics, mostly locals that are angry with the new parking laws or things more or less important. old men gather in the morning around 7am and get their coffee and complain about their wives or gossip about their lives. lawyers come on their lunch break for a quick grilled cheese and slice of pie. back in my younger and wilder days, i frequented this little greasy spoon nightly (yes, nightly) for dinner. i got off of work late and didn’t have time to make dinner. plus, all of my friends worked there. this diner i loved so much had cheap fried egg sandwiches, pancakes, burgers, burnt coffee, and soups. the typical diner fare.

what was not typical diner food was a favorite soup of mine which appeared on the menu only thursday nights. this was by far the most exotic and well-tended item on the menu.”chicky” was the american way of saying “chicken avgolemono”, a greek soup consisting of shredded leftover chicken, salty and slow cooked broth, sour lemon, tempered eggs, and aborio rice. this soup is super filling and the flavors are simple and satisfying. eggs in the broth are simply a way to thicken the soup and add richness without adding cream.

we made ours without the aborio, but if you wish to use it, simply sautee the rice in a little butter before adding to the stock and cooking for recommended time. continue with the rest of the recipe after rice is completely cooked.

this recipe serves 4

chicky soup

2 roasted chicken breasts or other leftover chicken meat, shredded finely

4 cups chicken stock (i made mine, you could use pre-packaged)

juice from 1 lemon

2 eggs

pinch of salt

method: over med/high heat, get stock to a boil. here is where you would add the aborio if using, cooking until just tender. throw in chicken and let boil for 5 minutes or so with the lid off. this will steam the water out leaving a very flavorful liquid. allow to slightly thicken and liquid to absorb into chicken. if you really like a thick soup, use immersion blender to puree chicken into soup.

in separate large bowl, whisk eggs and lemon juice together.

carefully ladle hot soup one ladle at a time into egg mixture, whisking eggs very quickly. this will slowly bring the eggs up to the temp of the soup without scrambling them. continue until eggs are good and hot. add mixture back into pot and let everything cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or so.

serve with fancy bread, or a grilled cheese on wonder bread. whatever.

greek gourmet


there comes a time in every person’s life when he or she eats something that she isn’t supposed to. i haven’t had grains in months and months. but it was worth it. i went all out at the greek gourmet, and it was worth it. i ate everything i could that i’m not supposed to have. is that what defines gluttony? hey, if you’re gonna do it, do it good.

spanakopita. yes, please. mike himself makes it from scratch, using his mother’s recipe. if you have never had spanakopita, may your maiden voyage into the realm of cheese, spinach, and phyllo be bestowed upon the greek gourmet. it is not unlike lasagna, but with thin, flaky pastry (phyllo) in place of noodles. 5 cheeses melt into paper-thin layers of phyllo, and sandwiched in the middle is more cheese and spinach. i love the way the crispness of delicate pastry competes with the salty, gooey cheese. i’ve eaten a lot of spanakopita in my lifetime, a lot.., and this may be the best i’ve had. -you know i love supporting local, family owned businesses, and this is exactly why.

lamb gyro

brian and i also split the lamb gyro. i had never eaten a meat based gyro before. as an ex-vegetarian, falafel was my bff. and though i do secretly miss falafel, a lamb gyro is what dreams are made of. the meat was so tender and perfectly seasoned, and atop the whole thing was a cool and creamy cucumber sauce. to end the feast (seriously, it was almost too much food for 2 of us!!), we couldn’t resist the flaky, honey drenched baklava (one of my favorite sweets of all time). it was super cheap, too! less than $10 fed the both of us!

other goodies include fresh homemade humus, greek yogurt, cheeses, really cute and tasty sweets like baklava, and quite a few specialty grocery odds and ends, like oils, olives, etc. there are plenty of options for vegetarians, as well.

the greek gourmet is located in squirrel hill on murray avenue. it’s a small deli with 5 or so seats. what’s that you say? you live in east liberty? perfect. you can pick up humus at the east liberty farmer’s market (every saturday morning), from mike himself. if you can’t make it to that, it is also sold at whole foods. yep! it makes the whole foods cut! we always get sun-dried tomato and feta humus. second only to mustard, it’s my favorite condiment of all time. i have to hide it from myself in the refrigerator, because once i spot it, i have to eat it until it is gone. you can visit pittsburgh urban spoon for more information or ratings, if my raving review wasn’t enough.

north east kingdom

nature is inside and outside

nature is inside the restaurant

yes. yes. yes. after our afternoon of traveling on what i call “waffle house stomach”, we needed some real food. we needed a dinner that would make us feel good. real veg, healthy meat, and brian needed some beer pretty badly. we went to a little joint that we practically watched being built years ago. back then, we didn’t have high hopes for it because of it’s location. it is buried deep in the crevice of brooklyn, overshadowed by abandon warehouses covered in filthy, non-family friendly graffiti. what a surprise. everything about this restaurant was great. it even looked beautiful from the outside: a diamond in the rough. rustic yet classy, it was like eating in an expensive mountain resort. simple decor of wall mirrors, hardwood floors, high ceilings, and lots of natural lighting.

all of the meat was sustainably and ethically raised, free range, and local. the beef was grass fed. this isn’t something you would expect to find in the ghetto. the menu included mostly meat, and all dishes looked so promising. after deliberating over the straightforward menu, brian and i decided on the beer braised short ribs with seasonal veg. this was the most tender, well seasoned beef i could have hoped for. the beef was braised in apricot beer, and rubbed with herbs de provence. the veg was cooked in the broth, and done perfectly. so sweet and bright!

beer braised short ribs with beautiful fresh local veg.

beer braised short ribs with beautiful fresh local veg.

for dessert, we chose another special that was chalked on the wall: milk chocolate hazelnut torte. yeah. i’m not sure what i can say about this thing, but i’m going to start making them soon. the crust was chocolaty and salty. the filling was so creamy, light and sweet.

what dreams are made of..

what dreams are made of..

this could be a new favorite restaurant for me.. close between it and chez panisse. please, if you are in the brooklyn area, do yourself a favor and go there, if you haven’t already been. i’ve bumped into a lot of  articles raving about little brooklyn and williamsburg hole-in-the-wall places like this. venture out and find them, before they become too hip!

gross yet great

on the way to brooklyn, what does one eat when faced with the choice between roy rogers fried chicken sandwiches vs. gas station slim-jims vs. waffle house???? well, if you are brian and i, you make the best out of an odd (to us) situation… you choose waffle house. yes, the best of the worst.

always open...

always open...

with a little of my coaxing, brian got a chocolate chip waffle. look at that! it looks pretty good, in a really strange way.

mr. hares selection... dripping...

mr. hare's selection... dripping...

and i got a mushroom, onion, and tomato omelet. it came with something that i never indulge in, home fries. guess what?! it wasn’t too bad. for road food, this stuff got the job. to brian and i, it was like eating junk food. some people eat stuff like this every day. i honestly haven’t eaten like this in years. it was super fun.

endlessly tempting choices... kinda..

endlessly tempting choices... kinda..

we listened to waylon jennings and hank williams jr. on the jukebox. i love road trips!

we ate and drank….

drink at farm table

drink at farm table

brian and i had our sights set on eating and drinking coffee weeks before we left for san francisco. we had all of the restaurants and coffee shops picked out and mapped out. -and when i say mapped out, i mean that in the most literal sense. we had a map with all of our hot spots marked on it, and it worked out amazingly. usually, i recommend being careful not to over prepare for a vacation. usually, over-planning just ends up in time crunches, rushes, and then disappointment. not this time. we did a great job of making time to do and see the things that we had planned so much to do. we made priorities.

our hotel was just a 10 minute walk to one of the places that we planned on stopping in on, farm table. brian was pretty excited to visit this coffee shop because they serve verve, which is a small roaster based out of santa cruz. the coffee shop that brian works at serves verve also. like i said, we had only planned on stopping in on farm table to try a cup or two.

food at farm table

food at farm table

it ended up being our every morning spot. after chatting with them for a few short minutes, shannon and kate, behind the counter, were so friendly and helpful, i knew right away we would end up there every morning. i’ll just say that the coffee there was consistently wonderful, and served under close care of shannon. this is the type of place that will change you from a starbucks regular to a real coffee snob. besides probably illegal amounts of caffeine doses, brian ate breakfast there a few times, and it was beautiful. under farm table’s true form, kate made a sweet and nourishing breakfast of local goods: cherries and mascarpone on sourdough drizzled in syrup… simple and genius. i highly recommend stopping in at farm table if you’re ever in the area. and if you need any pointers on places to go or see, please talk with shannon and kate, by far the friendliest strangers in san francisco.