Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Since when is November so awesome?

November used to be a lame, quick month - all of my Kennywood craziness is over, Day of the Dead is over, Halloween is over...time to relax, right?  

Not so much this year.

Kennywood will be open again in December, so I have felt this urgency to enjoy November as much as possible, because December may be as insane as October was.  Luckily, blogging has kept me busy, and so has James, as he is just like me - he likes to go out and do things.

Many people have commented to me that they're afraid that this "food blogging thing" will cause me to gain my weight back; however, I have been doing what I can to make sure that that does not happen.  I still work out in some capacity every day (elliptical, kettle bell, walking, running - whatever I have time for), and not sitting around watching TV makes me less likely to sit at home and eat. 

So far, so good on weight maintenance.

Luckily, James feels the same way, so he suggested going out for a long trail walk on Sunday to burn off calories.  He took me to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the North Side near the Heinz Plant.  I had only been on part of the trail as a result of running some 5K's that started at Heinz Field and continued on only part of the trail.

This part of the trail and Washington's Landing (on Herr's Island in the middle of the Allegheny River) are gorgeous, especially in the fall...

After walking a total of about 6 miles, we were pretty famished, so James asked if I wanted to go to a restaurant on the South Side (to remain nameless, as I was shocked that he suggested this particular restaurant).  I agreed, and we started driving...

...then he changed his mind (without any prompting, mind you) and said, "You know what?  Let's just go to Kaya."

The man is brilliant.  Kaya is on my approved restaurant list.

I felt like a bum compared to the rest of the patrons inside Kaya - not that it's fancy, but I was in workout clothes and kinda sweaty.  Oh, well.  I was hungry, and I didn't care enough about my appearance not to pass on a meal there.  

We sat at the bar so that we didn't have to wait for a table (again - famished!), and immediately started browsing the menu.  It was Sunday, so they had brunch, but I hadn't even tried the regular menu yet, so we stuck with that.  

View of the bar at Kaya, from the entrance
 James wanted the Conch Chowder, which he had had before - corn, poblano pepper, and sweet potato soup.  I tried some, and was completely satisfied with it - poblanos are definitely becoming my favorite type of pepper, and the combination with corn and sweet potatoes was tasty, but not overpowering.  I definitely see why James insisted on getting some!

Conch Chowder
 To eat, we both wanted the Tropical Paella, and James swears by the Cuban Sandwich with sweet potato fries and chipotle aioli.  As you may know from previous posts, I'm a little cautious with pig products, and this sandwich came with ham and pork on it (and turkey, which isn't dangerous to me at all), but I was willing to try it out.

 Our food arrived, and I was impressed with the paella - both the appearance and the smell.  The grilled pineapple made it especially fragrant.  The taste was equally pleasant, and it was everything that I expected from a tropical seafood rice dish.  

Tropical Paella
James was not kidding about the Cuban sandwich - it was fantastic!  The bread was fresh (made down the street at Eleven, another Big Burrito restaurant) and toasted perfectly to complement the melted Swiss cheese and meat combination.  It reminded me of a better version of the token "bocadillo de jamón y queso" that I have to teach as vocabulary almost every year.

Cuban Sandwich, Chipotle Aioli, Sweet Potato Fries
 The best part of the meal, though, had to be the sweet potato fries with chipotle aioli.   The overall taste reminded me of - no joke - Lay's KC Masterpiece BBQ Flavored Potato Chips.  That's not a bad thing at all, as these are some of the most delicious (and addictive) potato chips in the world.

 After eating this meal, being sweaty and under-dressed was the last thing on my mind.  I hope that I burned off most of the calories that I consumed in this meal ahead of time, but either way, I have no regrets.  I do want to try the brunch items on my next visit, so a return trip will definitely need to be in my plans muy pronto (after another LONG walk, so that I don't feel guilty about  - nor gain any weight from - eating so much food!)...

2000 Smallman St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Kaya on Urbanspoon

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