Driving to Pittsburgh, PA from Brainerd, MN seemed like the right choice considering we had special gifts to deliver. The Biker Chef’s daughter lives there, and she just had baby #2, and we couldn’t wait to meet him. So, The Chef packed up the Subaru with Minnesota Maple Syrup that we gathered and made last spring, home-made jams and jellies, wine, and gifts. Things we wouldn’t have been able to bring on the airplane.
The only bad stretch of driving was the Indiana east-west toll road. We were hours behind the huge pile-up on I-80, January 23, 2014, which included 40 vehicles, many semi-trucks, and, sadly, several deaths. The roads were still packed and very slow going. We were uncomfortable and bored, but not in dire need of a rest stop, and our gas gauge was above a half. I can only imagine how some of those travelers felt if they had any immediate needs or some emergency. The first service stop was packed with motorists. We decided to stop in Elkhart, IN for the night. We made it to Pittsburgh, PA by mid-afternoon the next day.
The Chef couldn’t wait to snuggle up the grandkids, meet his new grandson, and spoil their parents with his delicious food!
Saturday morning, we headed to The Strip, a market in downtown Pittsburgh. The Chef’s radar brought him straight to the restaurant supply store where he got a few goodies, including a Wustof knife for a sweet price. Then, we went grocery shopping! The Chef’s heart was palpitating as we walked into first, the Parma Sausage Company for callabrise & soppraseta, then the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, which is an old-school Italian grocery store with bins of herbs, spices, candy, meat & cheese counter, and things like kalamata in those buckets up there. He bought sliced meat: copacolla, capacolla, mortadella with and without pistachios, provolone, Jarlsburg (Norwegian Swiss), fresh mozzarella balls, and Italian & French baguettes. The Chef turned that all into bruschetta and a meat & cheese appetizer. He found the fresh veggies in other shops. To top off the evening, he pan fried halibut (what a treat!) and pan-seared oven roasted beef tenderloin with his famous sauces, and gnocci with asiago and butter as a side.
All of that was complimented by Jake’s home made wine. We all rolled away from the table and rested up for sausage making day. More on that later. We certainly made the most of our quick trip out to Pittsburgh!