The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Hometown Edition.

Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s most primal and innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.

– Julia Child

Two weeks ago was my first day back at work after our third annual #FourthofJulancer vacation in Connecticut. There is something about this place, a little home away from home, quietly tucked away by the water. (The company sure doesn’t hurt either.) So, after seven days of adventure and relaxation, energy and exhaustion, great friends and hearty laughs (and quite a few declarations of love), I returned to Pittsburgh for what seemed like a tortuous day and a half of work. I mean, come on. Who likes going back to work after vacation? No one.

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Spoiler alert: I survived that Thursday and Friday at work (barely), and when Saturday morning rolled around, I hopped in my car and headed east to the 717. Ahhh, home. Sarah and I had plans to run a 5k through a vineyard early Sunday morning, so my stay at home was brief… but not too short that we couldn’t squeeze in a little family dinner at downtown Carlisle’s newest restaurant, Brick.

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Brick, a traditional American eatery with an adventurous twist, opened at the end of May in downtown Carlisle. Here’s the thing about the phrase “downtown Carlisle.” When I was growing up, technically there was always a downtown, but since I moved to Pittsburgh for college (and subsequently stayed for my job), Carlisle has transformed dramatically into one of those cool small towns. Beyond the history that has always been there, Carlisle now boasts its fair share of adorable boutiques and foodie-worthy eateries… including Brick. Their menu includes “Budweiser palate” options, as owner Mark Bricker says, like a classic burger, all the way to a grilled octopus appetizer for the more adventurous eaters.

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We ordered two appetizers: Roasted Beets, served over arugula with goat cheese, chopped walnuts and a balsamic dressing, and House Made Fried Mozzarella. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it one hundred more times. Beets, goat cheese and walnuts is the absolute best light and refreshing food trio to exist in the summer time, and this hit the nail right on the head. Evan and Aron, the generally more traditional eaters, tackled the Fried Mozzarella, but the few bites I managed to snatch from under Aron’s hovering fork were delicious. It oozed the feeling of a homemade comfort food because, well, that’s exactly what it was.

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For dinner, my dad and I both ordered the Fish Tacos. Let me preface this by saying that I am an avid fan of fish tacos, and I’ve had my fair share of them from restaurants all over the east coast… and these were up there. The grilled whitefish was perfectly salted, and the tacos had all the essential toppings: lettuce, tomato, cilantro, yum yum sauce and sriracha. (Disclaimer: My spice tolerance is incredibly low — like, super low — but I will admit that the sriracha brought out some great flavor. And hey, isn’t the point of a cold beer to hinder spiciness?) Not to mention, pasta salad as a side dish is always better than the go-to fries or chips, especially in the summer.

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Sarah and Aron both ordered the Salmon Club (because what 9 year old doesn’t love a good ol’ salmon sandwich), and it was delicious. Served with bacon and a creamy dill sauce, it was everything you’d imagine a Salmon Club to be, and then a little bit more. Aron polished his sandwich off in no time, much to the waitress’ surprise, and Sarah, as usual, took her sweet time. Hehe.

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As we walked away from our table, I noticed a small quote painted on the wall:

People who love to eat are always the best people.

– Julia Child

I couldn’t help but agree… and I was with the best people.

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