Pittsburgh is a city with a very relaxed feel and friendly people. We are going back for a quick visit, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t looking forward to some good food, like pierogies, and seeing some people that we met previously. The weather might not be nice enough to walk around too much so we’ll have to make the most of our free time. These photos are from our last trip, but we are looking forward to making new memories.
Located outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Valley Forge National Historical Park preserves an important part of the history of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, the site served as the campsite of the Continental Army commanded by General George Washington. Although it would end up being a source of national pride, it was almost the disastrous end to the budding country. With limited supplies and a harsh winter, although not as harsh as made to believe by popular myth, between 1,500 and 2,000 soldiers died from disease and malnutrition. Fortunately, they overcame the hardships and were able to gain independence for the country.
It was during their time at Valley Forge that the fledgling army trained to become an actual military force. Because of that, Valley Forge is often referred to as the birthplace of the American Army. Today, it is a wonderful park with reproductions of the huts where you can find actors portraying life as it would have been in 1777 when the soldiers trained at the camp. You can also visit Washington’s headquarters, which was certainly more comfortable than the log cabins that the average soldier lived in.
In addition to preserving an important piece of history, the park is also just that, a park with plenty of walking trails and open grass areas where you will find plenty of people jogging, picnicking, or simply enjoying a day in the sun. We lived in the area shortly after we were married and spent many weekends enjoying the park. We even celebrated our first wedding anniversary by riding horses in the park, which is a wonderful memory of ours.
When visiting the Philadelphia area, you should definitely make time to go to Valley Forge. With over 3,500 acres to explore, it is a great place to learn about the history of the early army as well as to enjoy a nice day in the park. Be sure to check the park’s calendar of events as there are a variety of things to see or participate in throughout the summer months.
Pittsburgh is a melting pot of a city, which means that it has a variety of food styles that have been combined to create the cuisine that represents the city. The food in Pittsburgh is as relaxed and unpretentious as the city itself. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find upscale restaurants with fine food, there are definitely options for that, but the majority of restaurants offer downhome cooking. They are the types of places where you expect to find that the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. We were able to try a variety of simple meals that had a lot of flavor and taste.
There are a couple of things that you have to eat when visiting Pittsburgh. First of all, you will find pierogis on the menus of many restaurants in the downtown area, so you have to try them at least once. We actually had a few varieties while we were there from the traditional potato and cheese filled pierogi to a Reuben pierogi that we found at a restaurant that specialized in pierogis called The Pierogi Bar. Of course, we had to try them with a local beer. Pierogis are served either boiled, pan fried, or deep fried. Another item that you will find at various burger and sandwich restaurants is the Pittsburgher, which is a burger topped with coleslaw and French fries. We heard that Primanti Bros, which is a diner style restaurant, was the best place to get a Pittsburgher. It is certainly an acquired taste and the burger tasted a little bit more like a meatloaf rather than a plain old hamburger.
Another must have item when in Pittsburgh would be fresh baked pretzels. They can be found all throughout Pennsylvania and the ones in Pittsburgh were as good as any that we have had. Whether you like your pretzels with a beer-cheese sauce or yellow mustard, you will find plenty of places that offer them as a snack or appetizer. One interesting place that we found was called The Yard, an American Gastropub, which specialized in a variety of toasted cheese sandwiches. The toasted buffalo mac and cheese sandwich was extremely decadent, but equally delicious.
For an upscale Italian meal, Lydia’s is ideal. We shared the lasagna, which was certainly large enough for two people. We also had an interesting Cajun shrimp pasta that was served with garlic cheese bread at the August Henry Burger Bar. It was also the place where we had the traditional pierogis that are served with sautéed onions and sour cream. We had our pierogis pan fried, which is our preferred way to enjoy these delicious potato cakes.
If you like good, simple, food that tastes good and fills your stomach, then Pittsburgh has plenty of options for you. You can also find a nice variety of local craft beer that goes great with the humble meals that are found throughout the city. As always, we asked the locals where to go and received a lot of recommendations that helped us find places to grab a bite to eat. One place that we visited several times, mostly because of the friendly owner and staff, was Crystal, which is more of a neighborhood bar that serves Mediterranean food.