Piada: Italian Street Food Review

On Sunday afternoon Brandon and I went to Piada. Piada is known for being an Italian fast food restaurant and their slogan is, “Italian street food”. We had waited, nearly a year to go and try their food, simply because people we didn’t want to associate with people who worked there. I would constantly see how their employees behaved on Snapchat, and had zero interest in those people serving me food. However, they all ended up leaving or being fired and thus we decided it might be worth it.

When entering the restaurant, it had a huge hipster vibe. Everything from the paint color on the walls, to the dark granite flooring looked familiar as well. It was as if someone had said, “let’s take Chipotle’s idea, and make it ‘Italian’.” The menus are placed up front next to the trash cans for those to read before walking up to get their food made. Above the cashier their sign just read, “Try our new Mediterranean Power Bowl” with no indication as to how the flow of ordering food was supposed to work. It wasn’t until someone else came in behind us, looked at a menu and then went up to order that we even knew what to do.

Upon ordering our food, I made it clear to the chef (who was named Andy) that it was our first time at the fast food restaurant and we had no idea how everything worked. I went ahead and ordered the “Chef’s Favorite Piada” Which is described as, “a handmade piada filled with spicy diavolo sauce, romaine, mozzarella, sweet & spicy peppers, creamy parmesan.” Andy continued to tell me that I could add whatever choice of meat or other vegetables in it. He recommended the calamari, however did not introduce any other meat options to me, therefore I had it veggie style. When it came time to add more vegetables in, I had told him that I will take whatever he recommends, except for artichokes and onions. He then put cucumbers, sundried tomatoes, and chickpeas. He then proceeded to roll it like a burrito. Which ended up being a mix of flavors that was not enjoyable.

Brandon ordered a “Porchetta Sandwich” which is described as a “slow-roasted pork loin seasoned with Tuscan spices – porcini, rosemary, garlic and peppers. Layered on a rustic Italian roll with basil aioli, pickled red onion and fennel”. Rather, it ended up being a lackluster pile of dry and fatty pork cuts, and a mess of pickled fennel and red onion that came out of a Styrofoam container that was carelessly slopped on top. While the meat of the pork was decently seasoned—it was overwhelmed with the amount of tasteless and chewy fat. On top of that, the Chef had told us that Brandon’s meal came with a side item, he did not disclose that the side item would be at an additional cost. We found that out, only after being over charged for a side we didn’t even have.

IMG_2939.JPGI was originally going to back and order one of their ‘street food’ items to see if maybe it was just the dish that was the issue. Then when another customer, who ordered the “Porchetta Sandwich” complained about the fat, the Chef said he would make a new one and bring it to the table. As the unknown customer proceeded back to his table, Brandon witnessed the Chef take out the uneaten parts of the customer’s sandwich and put it back in the pork container. Seeing this cross contamination made me cringe and thus we decided that this place was not for us.

Overall, Piada is an overpriced, below mediocre fast food restaurant. We spent nearly $20 on just two entrees, that were not made well. We will not be going back to Piada and do not feel as though we should recommend it to any of our friends or family. Although it seems clean on the outside, witnessing the cross contamination shows that the staff does indeed cut corners, and the food itself was not made to our liking. In our opinion this place gets zero out of five stars. However, if you find that you want to try it out yourself, click the link.

 

-S.B

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Queen City Underground Tour: Review

IMG_2651            On December 23rd, 2017 Brandon and I went on a tour, in our local city. Cincinnati is known for baseball, a football team that cannot win, and goetta.  The city was and still is very rich and history, and for someone who has lived thirty minutes out of it, I knew hardly anything about it. Brandon has worked in the city now, for almost six month, I started working in it starting September of 2017. While, Brandon works directly in the city, I work in a little district, about 319 Acres, called Over the Rhine.

Over the Rhine in the past decade has been on an incline. However, it was like it is today. As a child, I was always told that I was not allowed to walk the streets, and that Downtown Cincinnati was not safe because of that particular district. Growing up, when crossing the river to enter the city, my family would immediately lock the car doors and roll up the windows. It was because of those childhood moments, that when I finally started to go on little adventures, Downtown Cincinnati wIMG_2662.JPGas never one of them. Brandon and I in the past year have gone to major cities, at most four hours’ worth of travel, but had not experienced what was only thirty minutes away from us. Most people today above the age of forty would still say that Over the Rhine is still highly unsafe, however, those my age (twenties) would know better. Over the Rhine has gone from a place that you could not travel at night to a booming area with lots to do.

Working in Over the Rhine, my manager knew that I did not know much about the area. When people would ask me where to go, or eat, I would have to refer them to someone else. I could answer questions about Northern Kentucky, but when it came to Cincinnati, I truly did not have a clue. I’ve never spent a day just walking around Vine Street or even going to Washington Park, which is less than a block away from my work. Honestly, I was lucky that I knew that the Music Hall was directly across the street from me. My manager, for Christmas, got Brandon and I two tickets to the “Queen City Underground Tour”.

IMG_2654.JPG        This tour was phenomenal. I went from a woman who didn’t have a clue to a person who is now able to give an in-depth history of the location.  On top of that, we were able to see local restaurants, and places that have made a name for themselves in the city. Our tour guides, where so theatrical, and polite. You could tell that they really enjoyed what they did and were able to answer any questions you had about Over the Rhine. Which really was a booming city, before Prohibition and the Great Depression. It was only after those eras that the area started to struggle.        The Underground Tour is $25.00 a person, and about 2 hours long. The tour takes you up and down Vine Street, which is the Hub of Over the Rhine. The tour guides tell stories of the first theatres, and pubs that ran the city. You also get to view the first underground crypt, as well as the most prominent underground tunnel; which was called the Coffman Brewery. This tour is about half and half when it comes to being outside, however we got to experience this in twenty-degree weather and I have zero complaints. The tour guides kept us moving and on our toes, so we weren’t cold very long.

If you are ever in the Cincinnati area, and want to experience a historical tour like no other. I would highly suggest this one. We loved this tour so much, that we are super excited to be going back for another tour, Queen City is Haunted. We will be able to enjoy that one however in May of 2018.

Recipe: Buttery Pecan Cookies

1 Cup of softened butter

1 teaspoon of maple syrup

3/4 cup of sugar

2 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

an egg

1 small bag of pecans.

 

1.) In a mixing bowl, add the butter (softened) and sugar together. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy.

2.) Add in the (1) egg and maple syrup.

3.) In the same mixing bowl, continue mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.

The mixture at this point should seem like dough.

4.) kneed the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap. Then place dough into the fridge for 1 hour.

One hour later….

5.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

6.) Roll it thin with a rolling pin, into shapes.

7.) Cookies go in until bottoms are a tad golden brown.

 

  • S.B

 

 

My Christmas Traditions.

One thing I have been thankful for is that my family was rich with tradition. Growing up, during December, we had a special thing going on (almost) weekly. Christmas was my mother’s and my grandmother’s favorite time of the year. My grandmother would start putting up her Christmas village in November. Her Christmas village, as a child and even as an adult, was the most fascinating time of the year. This year, to my dismay, she is only putting up one table (her village typically is over five tables). Below I have listed my holiday traditions, that I have been doing since I was seven years old.

25 days of Christmas – Starting the first of December, I would receive a candy box, that would have chocolate hidden behind the numbers. Every day after dinner, I would search for the correct number (day in the month) and I would pop open the door and a small piece of chocolate would be there.

Kathy Treats – Last year I made a blog post all about Kathy Treats and how to make them. Everyone knew it was Christmas season when my aunt would bring home, salted pretzels, M & M’s and Hershey Kisses. This year, I did not shop early enough for the Hershey Kisses, they go into stores starting in November, and they stop selling the last week of November. They are impossible to find in December. Instead this year, I will probably find white chocolate melts, and do it that way.

St. Nick’s Day and Ornament giving – On St. Nick’s Morning, we would receive an ornament to place on the tree. This ornament would be specific to the year you had. The year I learned to play guitar, I got a guitar ornament and the year I learned how to drive, I got a steering wheel. The ornament would have my name on it and the year that it happened.

Christmas Eve – On Christmas Eve, we would get to open one gift. Which was always fresh new Pajamas to wear on Christmas Day.

Santa’s Hat – on Christmas day the person to hand out the gifts would be the person wearing Santa’s Hat. It was always really important to me, because I came from a huge family, and I was considered one of the youngest.

Tis the season to be merry.

  • S.B

Speak Love: Donation Post

In the next coming months, I will be able to make a greater impact in my community, specifically with my college. As many people know I am part of the movement called, Speak Love. Which is an all-inclusive group that focuses on love and accepting one another no matter what our walk of life is. Nick Jackson, who started Speak Love, is also my friend and mentor who has helped me through this journey with setting up the Gateway Branch. Although, we primarily focus on suicide prevention speeches at high schools and colleges, we would be taking a new route with Gateway.

Not only will we be focusing on suicide prevention, we would also be focusing on poverty within education. Many of the volunteers for Speak Love understand what it’s like to only have a few bucks in our pockets, trying to make ends meet. Hopefully, through donations we would be able to donate the little things that mean a big thing. These times would include socks, diapers, pencils, notebooks, ext. However, we cannot make this part possible if we do not have people willing to donate the items.

Which is why I am now asking those who read this blog to donate to this cause. Every penny counts and I know that Speak Love and Gateway would be grateful knowing that there are people out there willing to donate. Below is the link if you can do so.

 

With much love and respect,

 

  • B

 

https://www.gofundme.com/gatewayspeaklove

 

Quaker Steak and Lube: Review

Earlier this month we decided to try out Quaker Steak and Lube. When pulling up I found that it was cool that it was next to the motorcycle shop. On top of that it looked like a real workshop. Brandon, unlike me had prior knowledge to why Quaker Steak and Lube looked the way that it did. When we went inside, I had learned that the location we were visiting was the first Quaker Steak and Lube location in Kentucky; on top of that I learned that the restaurant was designed that way, so that people could eat while their vehicle got worked on.

All around the inside they prided themselves with the best wings with over 15 different flavors in Kentucky. They even had a wing challenge, that ended with your name on the “Hall of Flame” wall if you completed it. Neither of us took part in the challenge, mainly because my mouth can’t withstand hotter than hot wings. The inside also included life sized race cars and other racing vehicles. I didn’t get a chance to ask whether the vehicles hanging from the wall had raced prior to being hung up, but the ecstatic was memorizing.img_2094.jpg

The menu was really cool in the sense that at the bottom of each page it included a timeline of the journey of Quaker Steak and Lube. Our waitress, who went by the name of Princess, could tell us all the specials and ‘known for” items. Although she recommended the loaded manga fries for a started, we ended up going classic with the Pick-Up Pickles, which she reassured us was another great pick.

The Pick-Up Pickles, came out steaming hot and they put their own twist on fried pickles with a spicy Jalapeno ranch sauce, which was just as delicious as the pickles. Although, it turned out to be extra we also ordered a side of regular ranch. Which, would have been nice to know it costed fifty cents extra, but at the end of the day fifty cents isn’t that big of a deal. The pickles were also spears not chips which I thought added flavor, since most restaurants have fried pickled spears.

Brandon ended up trying something different, that he typically wouldn’t have ordered anywhere else. He ordered the Crispy Pork Belly Tacos, which he upgraded to three and had the black beans and rice as a side. Brandon, who has admitted multiple times, doesn’t like pork belly, ended up enjoying the tacos very much. He said that the black beans and rice, was a nice touch and left him wanting more.IMG_2093.jpg

I ordered the “pick Up Cheese” Burger, which I got with Pepper-Jack cheese, and extra pickle. Now, everyone knows how I am with extra pickle. If it’s not my kind of extra, I’ll probably complain. Not only was the burger the size of my face, the kitchen had made sure that there was extra pickle on my burger as well as on the side- I was highly satisfied. The burger, was so filling that I couldn’t even finish the final few bites. I upgraded my order of fries to the Loaded French Fries, which were also just as filling as the burger.IMG_2092

 

Neither of us saved room for dessert, but we still ended up with a fun side dessert, when our server gave us Twizzlers to go. Overall I believe that our meal was around $30 / $35. I don’t entirely remember because this happened a few weeks ago. However, for once I will say, that price does not matter when it comes to this place. Everyone should be able to experience a fun environment like Quaker Steak and Lube.

 

-S.B

Speak Love – TIE

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Click the photo to see what exactly went on at Gateway today!

If you haven’t already make sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel to receive more updates on Speak Love and it’s journey to Gateway!

 

  • S.B