Whew, I’m pooped. I know I said that yesterday, but I really am tired! I woke up today around 10:30AM, which is pretty late for me when I’m traveling. However, I have to say I’m rather proud of myself since that’s 7:30AM Pacific time. On a Sunday too!
As you know, I love my farmers’ markets. It’s one of my all-time favorite weekend activities. What better way to spend a chill weekend than to stroll through tents of fresh produce and homemade goodies? I had researched prior to landing in Pittsburgh, and while there were markets everyday of the week, weekend markets tend to be the bigger ones. Thus, my first stop this morning was the Squirrel Hill market (open 9AM-1PM). The website doesn’t give you an actual address, which made it a little difficult to find. I had to ask a bunch of people walking with tote bags full of groceries which way to go. The Squirrel Hill market is in the Beacon/Bartlett parking lot which is apparently located on 5737 Beacon St, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. The market is between Beacon St. and Bartlett St. on Murray Ave. It’s in a parking lot, so that address I listed above should get you in the right place.
I gotta say, I’m completely spoiled by the Bay Area’s farmers’ markets because this one just wasn’t as plentiful as I had hoped. Granted, I got lost biking around so I got there around 12PM, but I think this market just isn’t as busy as what I’m used to. That’s not to say I didn’t find some cool stuff though!
These nice people here were selling a lot of great fresh protein, but I opted not to buy any of the fish or meat. I unfortunately don’t think I’ll be able to cook too much during these next 5 weeks. However, I did grab a stick of their black pepper beef jerky for $1 to snack on later this week. Haven’t tried it yet but it looks scrumptious!
If you’ve ever met me in person, you’ll know a talk a TON. What you may not know is that I still get really shy when I’m in a new place. I’m also really shy about asking people for pictures. I’m very cautious about taking pictures of things because I know some people are super against people snapping away at their work, so I usually ask before doing it (to avoid getting yelled at). After lounging around for a little bit, I finally worked up the courage to ask about these lovely garlic scapes (and for a photo!) because I really wanted to know what I could do with them since I’ve never cooked with them before. The owner suggested pestos, sautes, and salads, then happily explained to me about all the different kind of garlic that his stand offered. Apparently there are over 40 types of garlic in the world! I assumed garlic was just…garlic, and there was only one or two kinds. Who knew!
What exactly garlic scapes? They’re these green bits that grow out of the garlic as the garlic matures and has the little bulb at the end of its stalk (as seen in the photo above). A similar item is green garlic, which is a young form of garlic–much more mild than regular fully-matured garlic. Garlic scapes are stronger in flavor than green garlic, but I believe they’re not as strong as actual garlic. I saw a bunch of recipes for grilled garlic scapes, so it looks like they can be used as a complement for your grilled dishes (while it’s in season, of course!).
I also stopped by to meet a nice couple from Cherish Creamery that was selling goat cheeses. The fresh feta that the wife made was so good! I couldn’t help but purchase a pack of their garlic and chives goat cheese. It’ll make a good spread for sandwiches or just some toast!
And that was pretty much the extent of my farmers’ market trip today. A little disappointing because I suffered through much biking to get there, but I guess it wasn’t too bad of an experience. I might try going to the other farmers’ markets during the week to see if any of those are nicer. My host suggested going to the one on Thursday since that one is more popular.
Speaking of biking! Let me share with you some stuff about traveling around Pittsburgh, in case you feel that you’d like to visit sometime. Normally, my tried and true method of getting around any city is to use their public transit system. I did notice a bunch of the Airbnb listings I looked at when I was finding a place to stay listed in the description that they offered a bike for use. Curious about this, I researched a bit about how to get around Pittsburgh. Buses are a bit pricey here in Pittsburgh–$2.50 for a single ride, but that’s only if you’re traveling in 1 zone. If you decide to travel within 2 zones, it’ll cost you $3.75 for a single ride. Tack on an extra $1.00 if you plan on making a transfer. Granted, since I’m here for a week, I could’ve purchase the 1-week pass for $25.00 to travel within 1 zone (or $37.50 for 2 zones). Because of the whole deal with zones (I really didn’t want to figure out which zones I was traveling to), I decided to try something new this time–biking!
Healthy Ride Pittsburgh is a bike share system operated by Pittsburgh Bike Share. For $12.00/mo, you can have unlimited 30-min rides. If you need longer rides (60 min), it’s only $20.00/mo. Individual rides are $2.00/30 min, which is a little pricey, but there are also other options like $24.00 for an entire 24-hour period (I think). Personally, I liked this transportation option better because it forces me to exercise, and I feel like I can explore a lot more freely (like wander). The downside to this is that you’re limited to where the bike stations are available. If you’re traveling a lot downtown, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem since there are a lot of bike stations by the universities downtown. Check their bike stations map and see if this would be a good option for you. Another important thing: this monthly fee is set for a minimum of 3 months, so make sure you cancel it once you leave. They will charge you a $6 administrative fee for canceling before the 3 months are over, but I think this still makes the bike share a pretty good deal. Last thing–I was having trouble purchasing a subscription on the mobile site and the station machine, so you might want to pay for your account on a desktop computer or via the app store to avoid any issues.
Once I was done with my farmers’ market trip, I biked over to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. As a former biologist, I sometimes miss science-y things now that I’m no longer working in the science world so I get my dose of science by going to museums like this. Founded by the rich Pittsburgh steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie in 1895, this museum is part of a series of Carnegie museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Science Center, and the Andy Warhol Museum. The Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art are connected, so you might find yourself wandering from one to the other.
Maybe it was because I was loopy from my bike ride, but I didn’t think the Carnegie Museum of Natural History was as spectacular as other natural history museums I’ve been visited. Their collection of dinosaur fossils is rather impressive, but there wasn’t anything that made their museum particularly memorable. I did like the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems since the gems were presented in such a beautiful way. Aside from that, there wasn’t anything that particularly caught my interest. Pro tip: If you’re a Bank of America cardholder, admission during the first weekend of the month is free!
If you do end up at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, I would highly suggest finding those free guided tours. The docents here are incredibly knowledgable and you’ll learn a lot of cool facts from them. For instance, this particular dinosaur, Dippy, was the first dinosaur fossil that was purchased by Andrew Carnegie for the museum. Having this magnificent model help start the big dinosaur exhibit that you see today. He was also found on July 4th (surprise!) so people joke that he’s the “Star Spangled Dinosaur”. At least, that’s what the sign next to him said haha.
As I wandered through the Museum of Natural History, I ended up going through the Carnegie Museum of Art without really realizing it. There’s some pretty interesting things in there like the Ai Wei Wei zodiac animal head exhibit and the sculptures by there, but I didn’t actually go through too much of the art museum because I started to get hungry.
After checking out the museums, I had to eat so I just used Yelp to find some good eats by the area I was in. I landed on a Chinese Szechuan restaurant nearby called Sichuan Gourmet, which had pretty good food. Not as good as San Francisco, but tasty! I haven’t quite decided whether or not I enjoy the numbing sensation Szechuan food gives but I keep eating it so I’m assuming I like it.
There are two locations of this restaurant, Oakland and Squirrel Hill. I know Yelp lists this as $$, but it was pretty inexpensive to me. Maybe it’s because I’m used to San Francisco prices… Those two bowls I ordered were appetizers, priced at about $6-7 a bowl/plate. I just got two appetizers, and that was plenty. This would be a great place for a family-style meal with a bunch of friends because of the generously-portioned shareable dishes. If you’re going by yourself, I would suggest ordering just one (or two) appetizers.
And after that, I called it a day! I was under the assumption that because I went to a biking school, I would be fine. But alas, I forgot hills exist in Pittsburgh, so that was a fun discovery. So tired! Tomorrow’s the 4th of July so depending on what I can find, there may or may not be a post. Until then, have a lovely holiday and leave me your questions/comments/etc! 🙂