Monday, September 5, 2011

...Savor Pittsburgh

I was never a fancy person.

I spent a good part of my teen years in jeans and sweatshirts (hoodies weren’t the norm back then, believe it or not.)  Putting on a dress was a tedious task, and my senior year of high school caused me to be in a dress more often than I liked – band concerts, senior girls’ tea, senior convocation, National Honor Society induction ceremony, graduation…all events that required me to wear a dress. 

A few years after high school began my run as a professional bridesmaid, causing me to wear dresses that cost a lot more money than they should cost to wear only once.

If you knew me then, you’d also know that I did NOT look good in any type of bridesmaid’s dress.  I’d post a picture, but it might ruin my position as an authority figure.  I don’t embarrass easily, but…those pictures should be burned.

Even as a teacher, I refused to wear a dress to school.  They weren’t comfortable, or flattering, or appropriate for my, uh, “style” of teaching (you know, dragging desks around, standing on desks…not easy to do in a dress).

However, something has changed.  I wear dresses to school much more often now – they fit better now that I’ve lost weight, which makes me feel more comfortable in them, but I owe much of that confidence to the re-emergence of a once-popular fashion trend.


Basically, pants under your dress.  Genius.  I hope they never go out of style again.

This dress-wearing phase only makes me want to attend events that require dressier clothing now.  I had heard about Savor Pittsburgh via Twitter – I follow many Pittsburgh-area food bloggers and chefs, and one actually contacted me because I had mentioned that I had a “big idea” dealing with Hispanic/Latin American restaurants in the Pittsburgh area.  His name is Daniel Aguera, a Spanish-born chef who writes for the Pittsburgh-based Table magazine and the blog “Dinner with Daniel” (  He judged Savor Pittsburgh last year, which is how I came to follow the event on Twitter, which then caused me to check out their website….

…and I wanted to attend.  Badly.

The event was scheduled for September 1st in the South Side Works – 25 restaurants from the area, competing for “Best Appetizer”, “Best Entrée”, ”Best Dessert”, “People’s Choice”, and “Dish of the Year”.   I emailed Daniel to see if he was judging this year, and unfortunately, he was not; however, we will meet for coffee soon to discuss our interest in Hispanic foods.

Only one restaurant – Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen in Regent Square – is an “approved” restaurant for the extra credit project, but I was curious as to the other restaurants, such as SAVOY, Meat and Potatoes, Habitat, and Braddock’s American Brasserie, because they were all restaurants that I had heard of, but never tried. 

I relayed my desire to attend to my brother, who listened and bought me my ticket for my birthday, which was less than a week earlier than the event.  Hooray!

What to wear?!

I decided on a dress that I had only worn once so far to a rehearsal dinner for a wedding – a long maxi dress with a floral pattern.  I love that dress – my mom encouraged me to buy it after I had tried it on, and I’m so glad that she did.  Here’s a picture of me in the dress before the rehearsal dinner back in July:

It was really, REALLY hot the night of September 1st, and there was a slight threat of rain (this is an outdoor event), but we were determined to make the best of it.  We arrived just as the event was beginning, so we decided to try to avoid the crowds that were forming in the front and start in the back.

Luckily, Alma was located in the back, and was the second dish that we tried.  Their dish was an appetizer, which on their menu is known as  “Ceviche de camarones con ají y camote” – shrimp marinated in lime juice with chili peppers and sweet potato.  There were also some dried plantains with our sample, too:

Their ceviche was delicious, but I had much, much more to try.

I went on to try many other delicious dishes, some of which were a blur – lots of seafood dishes, gelato, banana French toast with chocolate-covered bacon, ribs, and my ultimate favorite and vote for “People’s Choice” – the lobster corn dog from Steelhead Brasserie.  I went back for seconds on that one.

My brother and I definitely got more than our money’s worth – me even more so than him, since he paid for both tickets (haha).  Eating all of this food, as you can imagine, did wonders on my stomach.  I was full, nauseated, and feeling guilty about the amount of food that I ate. 

The event itself was very well organized, and the atmosphere was electric.  It was refreshing to see so many people enjoying food from local restaurants, ones that you cannot find in every city around the country.  Most of the chefs from each restaurant were passionate about their dishes, explaining the ingredients and cooking process as he or she served the sample. 

There were a few restaurants that were a little slow at getting their samples out on the table for people to try, but I can’t imagine trying to cook some of these dishes for hundreds of people – in a tent…with no air conditioning.  In addition, I would like to see more Hispanic/Latin American restaurants participate next year. 

We did not stick around to see the winners of the event, although I found out later that SAVOY won “People’s Choice”.  The other winners have not yet been posted on the site, but I am quite eager to see who won in the other categories. 

I need to start picking out my dress for next year…

Savor Pittsburgh
East Carson & 27th Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side)

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