I’m in Pittsburgh for the the Pennsylvania State Atheist/Humanist Conference, which begins this evening. I arrived a bit early to acquaint myself with a city in which I spent much of my youth (my uncles and cousins lived here). As many know, this town, once a gritty, dirty, steel-manufacturing center, has undergone a huge renovation, and is now clean, livable, and attractive. When my father went to school here—at Pitt—in the early 1940s, he told me it was so smoggy that he had to change his shirt three times a day. Now the steel mills are mostly closed, and they’re fixing up the historic downtown, which has some lovely buildings.
Here’s one: the Art Deco Gulf Tower, built between 1930-1932. The Weather Underground bombed the 29th floor in 1974. The entrance is lovely:
Just a random shot of the skyline:
A Henri Cartier-Bresson wannabee photo: busy Pittsburghers:
Based on a reader’s suggestion, I had dinner at the Sharp Edge Bistro close to my hotel. It specializes in craft beers, particularly Belgian ones.
They had a lot of Belgian beers on draft, which was surprising. The prices were high, but I went during happy hour, so the prices were halved.
Here are the bottled Belgian beers. I see that one of my favorites, St. Bernardus (12% alcohol), is $75 for a 1.5-liter bottle. But you can buy smaller bottles in the U.S. at a much more reasonable price.
My dinner: a classic meal: moules (mussels, these cooked with chopped tomatoes, garlic, and beer), frites, and a Belgian beer. The server recommended the draft “Over the Edge,” at 9.5% alcohol, and brewed in Belgium for the bistro. It was excellent, with a strong hoppy flavor that didn’t overwhelm the classic fruitiness of a Belgian beer. The fries were served with a mayo/curry sauce.
Fortunately, there was a Ben & Jerry’s next door, and, on a whim, I stopped in for dessert: a waffle cone containing a scoop of salted caramel ice cream as well as an over-the-top triple chocolate pudding flavor (hidden in this view):
Tonight a friend and I have reservations at Josza Corner, an unprepossessing Hungarian restaurant that’s supposed to have terrific food. Report tomorrow. Roadfood, one of my favorite food sites, says this about it:
“Always call ahead!” is especially true of Jozsa Corner, because Alex Jozsa Bodnar provides dinner by appointment only. But with an appointment for space at the two long dining tables that fill the dining room, you can get a multi-course feast of whatever Hungarian country fare Alex decides to provide that day.
On one recent visit, the dinner included these dishes:
– sliced vegetables, cheese, stuffed grape leaves, and pork cracklings
– langos, a fried bread topped with herbs and cheese
– vinegary coleslaw topped with dill
– vegetable peasant soup with noodles
– haluska (buttered cabbage and noodles)
– spicy Hungarian kolbasz sausage
– braided peasant bread topped with poppy seeds, fresh from the oven
– Transylvanian goulash, made with pork and sauerkraut
– vinegary cucumber salad
– chicken paprikash with noodles and homemade dumplings (called nokedli)
– and dessert of langosh and prunes
Now if that doesn’t get your juices flowing, you have no stomach.