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Place: Tamarind - Flavor of India
Date: 5/17/11
BYO'd: Robert Biale Vineyard Zinfandel
(From A's parents' collection) *see blog post "Wine Shopping!"
Corkage Fee:  $5 total for wine bottle"

BYO Buzz": Good food, decent price

Atmosphere: Homey--makes sense since it looks like a house turned into a restaurant.  We were seated in the lovely front "bay window" area.  Was light and bright, nice view of Craig street.

Service: AttentiveThey were like service spies.  I always had what I needed, but never remembered getting it.  Maybe it was magic? Or maybe I was so into the conversation. 
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Appetizer:  Naan--the OG (no spices added)

SURPRISE!!!!! Dipping sauce Whoo hooo! (Doesn't take much to impress us)
If we had to guess our take on the flavors from back to front:
1. Brown Sauce - sweet, then a little spicy... something in there reminded A of a breakfast food, not syrup, maybe cinnamon? Was voted favorite sauce by both.

2. White Sauce -  Something pureed, perhaps cauliflower? very fresh, maybe a hint of garlic?

3. Green Sauce - also very fresh tasting, pesto? A little basil? didnt matter, we ate it all.
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Entree:
Chicken Korma (A) Right--
Light tasting, not too spicy or sweet, perfect for  some Indian comfort food on a gross rainy night (wait - isnt that every night in Pittsburgh lately??)  Green beans on the side were also a nice addition - sweet but subtle (curry?) flavor to them.

Chicken Tikka Masala (L) Left-
-Green peppers with chicken in a tomato cream sauce.The sauce was so great I could have eaten just that along with my side of rice.  Chicken was just a protein plus.
(A's note: I second the sauce, i think i could have drank it! perfect blend of tomato and other flavors... need it bottled up as a soup!)
The Drink:  Robert Biale Vineyard Zinfandel
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Really nice bottle of wine.  Surprised A's parents let her take it.  Very popular among red zin drinkers.  Dry, Crisp, went nicely with the indian food, surprisingly.Believe it or not, we recorked it and sent half a bottle back with "A".  Not sure it being a "school night" was the true, honest reason for that.  Turns out screaming your lungs out all night long in your long-neck bottle microphone at "Charlie Murdoch's" has a two day recovery time.  We are not spring chickens anymore :  (  But a great birthday weekend nonetheless. 
Tamarind Flavor of India (Oakland) on Urbanspoon
 
 
Have you ever felt a little less than classy carrying the evening’s brews in your purse?
Maybe you decided not to go with the forty in the paperbag this time.
Maybe it’s more of a small bag/clutch kind of night. 
Maybe you’re worried about a purse full of beer/wine and a wet phone should you be trying to run in the rain while wearing flip flops (we've all attempted that one, 50/50 chance of a fall) while carrying your precious cargo in your bag of the day.
You never can tell.

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Fear not, as a gift from my mom (she knows me too well) solves the problem. Enter the “wine purse.” This stealth cylinder can hold 1 bottle of wine or 2 bottles of beer under the guise of a fashion accessory.

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Complete with it's own opener (we can't be left waiting for a server to stop by! Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands) and "seat belt" for your beverage
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In the lovely “snakeskin” model… may your adult beverages be safe.

My mom purchased this one from a store in Stow, OH, but a little googling led me to this site and of course, the greatest website ever for finding something - amazon.com also carries them.


-Ashley

 
 
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Place: Daphne Cafe - on Ellsworth in Shadyside
Date: 5/4/11
BYO'd: Seasonal Variety Pack from Magic Hat
(not the WHOLE case, just enough for a sampling of each :) )
Corkage Fee:  $5 total

"BYO Buzz": Great value (ie tons of food! not a lotta $)
After a slight disappointment in learning that the previous scheduled venue of Paris 66 had obtained their liquor license last October (this knowledge came once we were seated and started to pull out the evenings selections of brews - C'est la vie!) we debated our options and in the end the reusable grocery bag filled with malted barley and hops won, we Urban Spooned it up and found a location close by and one neither of us had tried.

Atmosphere: Cozy (seating for about 40), Casual, Inviting

Service: Attentive
It turns out that when Shia LeBouf is not acting in a Transformer movie, he waits tables at Daphne.  So if you love Mediterranean food and have a thing for Shia, this is the place for you;It is definitely "more than meets the eye". 

Appetizer:  The Mixed Appetizer Platter : Hummus (brown), Mediterranean Dip (red),
and Eggplant with Sauce (not the brown or red one)

The Hummus was just your normal tasty hummus.  The Mediterranean Dip was L's favorite, made up of roasted red pepper, feta cheese, walnuts, and EVOO.  The Eggplant with Sauce was A's Favorite, made up of cubed eggplant, green and red peppers, all in a tomato and garlic sauce.

Served with warm pita, could have been enough for a meal for two! But we had to try a couple other things...
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Entree: Salads
Gyro Salad (A) right
Very fresh tasting, TONS of Feta, tomatoes, little cucumber and nicely spiced warm strips of gyro meat.  Very large portions (especially after all the tasty dips in the appetizer)

only negative, just a few too many onions for my liking (and probably my husband's for when i come home to tell him about this place).  But easily removed!

Mediterranean Salad (L) left (should be called the Feta Lover's Salad)
I'd like to consider myself a Greek/Mediterranean salad connoisseur, having ordered one in the majority of the restaurants that offer it.  When I saw the amount of feta cheese in my salad, I think a tear of joy ran down my face.  I had enough feta to make every bite FETA-licious.  The dressing was good, not great.  Overall, it was a pretty awesome salad.

*Note how L's is still has it's nice presentation?  If it wasn't for her and reminding me, I'd have no pictures... apparently, I'm just too excited to wait!

Dessert: Baklava (Pistachio and Walnut)
Perfect mix of sweet, nutty, but not sticky or syrup-y, both the pistachios and walnuts were very finely ground, enough to make even a nut-hater (L) enjoy

(again, note the lack of waiting.....and the extra feta on the table from our salads)

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The Drinks: Magic Hat Seasonal Variety Pack
A: Single Chair & Blind Faith
L: Wacko & Blind Faith

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AND a flash back to highschool vending machine days...Magic Hat is like the Snapple of beer, there is a nice little message under each cap.
For our "older readers" the bottle caps read....
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(Clockwise from top left)
What's a Sporkener? (hence title of this blog)
Put a glide in yo' stride and a dip in yo' hip (perfect for L and her NKOTB like dance moves)
Got Cap?
In Fermentum Veritas...something in latin....?

And... for all those wondering what the heck a Sporkener is, the powers at google have an answer - Magic Hat has created a handy-all-in-one-never-need-another-utensil-again device that is a spoon, fork and bottle opener all in one!

What more could a girl want?
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Daphne Cafe on Urbanspoon
 
 
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Place: Kline's Wine Cellar/Shop
Date: 4/24/11
(Pardon the photography, taken in dimly lit basement with iphone3)

To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, my parents took their love of wine (and each other… aww) to Napa Valley, CA.  Definitely a place on my list of things to do as well – 7 years later they still talk about their trip and different wineries they visited and the food.  And of course, best part which we get to reap the benefits from – shipments of wine from their favorite wineries –Biale, Vincent Arroyo, Chapellet, Kosta Browne and Pride.  So Easter Sunday morning while all the other kiddos got to search for lame eggs,  my dad allowed me to “shop” his collection, I was a little more than thrilled.


Of course there were the “that’s my favorite, don’t take it”, “don’t even think about it” and “oh yeah, that’d be a good one for you, we have lots more ,“ but definitely came back with a nice little sampling (except Pride – they aren’t giving up those, but we do have a bottle my parents gave us for our engagement waiting for our anniversary to pop open.)
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Look for them to be featured when we BYO them soon!

(PS the Easter bunny also brought Brian a nice surprise, the “OHIO Microbrew sampler” featuring beers from Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, Buckeye Brewing , Cellar Rat, Fat Heads and more, they’ll be sure to get some face time as well)