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Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Best Sandwich in the World!!!

That's right, the best in the world. I should know, because I've eaten not just hundreds, but thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of sandwiches. Heck, I eat one everyday. Due to this vast experience, I feel justified in referring to myself as a sandwich expert.

Now that I've detailed my qualifications, it's time to reveal the sandwich: The delicious Banh Mi. A Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich on a fresh crusty baguette. The first time I had one of these was in San Francisco at a small Vietnamese take out joint near Fisherman's Wharf. I loved that sandwich but didn't think I'd be able to get one in Pittsburgh. I was wrong! Right in the middle of the Strip District in front of the My Nyoc restaurant is where a woman named Lucy prepares the Best Sandwich in the World. The sandwich consists of grilled chicken that she removes from a skewer and chops into bite size chunks. She then stuffs them into the fresh baguette. Next comes julienned slices of cucumber, carrot, and red onion. Jalapenos sliced length wise and fresh cilantro go on next and then she finishes it off with a drizzle of a spicy and sweet sauce. I'm guessing it may be a mixture of fish sauce and a little honey. The flavors perfectly complement each other. The spicy peppers and slightly sweet sauce, the crispy cucumbers, the crunch of the onions and carrots combined with the fish sauce make the perfect combination.

It's my understanding that Lucy sells sidewalk sandwiches all summer and then returns to Vietnam during winter. You might want to make a trip to the Strip this summer and sample one of Lucy's creations. The Banh Mi really is the Best Sandwich in the World! I should know, I've eaten lots of sandwiches!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sauce, a great new place in Bridgeville

Sauce is a fairly new restaurant and bar in Bridgeville. I've been there a couple of times and really enjoy it. As you walk in a long bar is on the left with some booths on the right. The building use to be a diner so it's kind of a long and narrow room, but they did a really nice job in renovating it. It's one of those places that I feel comfortable as soon as I walk in.

The food is tremendous! I heard that the owner also owns Andora in the North Hills. This is not up-scale dining like Andora, but it's much better than your average bar menu. I had a burger that is served on a skillet, with a balsamic glaze, crispy onions and buffalo mozzarella. My partner had Garlic Asiago wings that were really good too, served crispy with a great flavor. I hate mushy wings! I also had a side of Mac and cheese. Can't go wrong with that!!!

Beer's were $3 a bottle for domestics and they had a nice selection of imports for $4.25 and $5.25. The bar has nice HD tv's and our bartender was friendly and kept our glasses full.
As someone that appreciates good food it's nice to find a good bar where I really do like the food too!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

London Broil

One of my favorite things to prepare is London Broil. My nickname for this wonderful dish is "Horsemeat". Don't let that fool you! I've found that the less tender cuts of meat tend to be the most flavorful. Fillet Mignon that you can cut with a fork is nice, but frankly not very tasty. I'll take a slice of Horsemeat anytime. The key to turning out a gourmet quality meal comes down to the preparation.

London Broil is not a cut of meat, although some supermarkets label it that way, but the preparation. The traditional cut used is flank steak or top round and needs to be cooked quickly, to rare or medium rare or it becomes very tough. Try to find a fairly thick cut of meat, about 1 1/2" thick. A cut this thick makes it easier to avoid over cooking and ending up with shoe leather.

Use a gallon size Ziploc bag to marinade the meat. Add 1 tablespoon yellow prepared mustard, 2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce. Close the bag and mix these well. Put the flank steak in the bag and remove as much air as possible. Refrigerate overnight. It's very important to do this in order to tenderize the meat. Don't skip the lemon juice or wine because the acidity of these helps the tenderization process.

To cook, remove the steak and wipe off the excess marinade. Heat your ovens broiler on high. Broil 1 to 2 inches from the heat for 6 minutes and turn, and broil for another 6 minutes. DO NOT OVER COOK!!!

Remove and let rest for 3 or 4 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Cut in very thin slices across the grain of the meat and serve. Delicious!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Redfin Blues

Saturday night my daughter Kim, played the lead part of Cosette in Gateway High School's presentation of Les Miserables. I can't tell you how impressed and proud I am of her!!! Anyway, the terrific show led to a night of celebration ending in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Our previous plans of going downtown the next morning to partake in the Pittsburgh Marathon festivities were thwarted by lack of sleep.

We may have missed the Marathon, but I wasn't going to miss lunch! After a stroll through the Strip District we decided to cross the 31st street bridge and go to Redfin Blues. This is a place on Washington's Landing, just under the bridge. At one time it was a bar called Trolls. From what I remember Trolls was kind of a crummy place, but I always enjoyed the beautiful view of the Allegheny river from their deck. The owner(s) of Redfin Blues have done a great job in taking advantage of the river view. They have a large deck for dining and a bar in the restaurant that also has a portion with our door seating. The dining room is small and not that attractive to me, but I go here for the outdoor seating anyway.

The menu is not large but offers a nice variety of sandwich's, salads (including a wedge!) and entrees. My sister Jaye and myself ordered a fish sandwich and Stacy's choice was the Ahi Tuna sandwich. Stacy's was perfectly done, seared rare with a tasty wasabi sauce. The serving was large, about an inch thick and served on a sesame kaiser roll and came with a choice of a side. She said it was very tasty! Our fish sandwich was nicely prepared and both Jaye and I agreed it was very good. My only complaint was the size. It was not what we usually expect as a fish sandwich in Pittsburgh. Please understand that this was not a small sandwich. No one from out of town would ever complain about the portion size. Oh well, I'm not going to apologize...I like big food!!!

I would recommend Redfin Blues to anyone for a great relaxing place to enjoy on a sunny day. It's also a good stop to take guests from out of town to enjoy the river life along with views of the city.