I originally posted this on FoodNuts! a great food/wine/travel blog, where I am a contributor.
PA: From Lucinda to Pittsburgh…on FoodNuts!
Every summer my aunt and I meet in Clarion, PA for a girl’s weekend. Why Clarion? It’s our half-way point. She lives in eastern Indiana and I live in metro NYC. This year, our two dining experiences of note occurred in two completely different settings.
Friday, dinner, Lucinda, PA, population 1,200. We returned, for the eighth summer, to The Wayside Inn Restaurant and Lounge (est. 1873).
Don’t let the picture fool you. This place is charming.
The owner always greets you at the door and it feels like a family establishment. With only one vegetarian option on the menu, stuffed eggplant, I needed a vegan option. I asked the server if they could prepare a pasta dish with no dairy. They prepared two. For my aunt, linguine tossed in olive oil with yellow squash, green beans and basil.
And for me, the same veggies, in marinara sauce.
We both devoured our pasta. The food is consistently good at the Wayside and you can get a reliable glass of red wine. Three glasses of wine and two huge pasta dinners = $39.
The next day we took a day trip to Pittsburgh, population 310,000+. After a trip to the Andy Warhol museum we went to Abay for Ethiopian food.
We started with an appetizer special, cold kale and black-eyed peas with lightly fried injera.
It was pretty good, but I realized that now that I eat so much cold kale in salads, I’m less fond of cooked kale. We did, however, eat almost all of it! We also enjoyed a cup of pumpkin soup, which was delicious.
We shared (as you do at an Ethiopian restaurant) a combination platter with four vegan dishes: Kay Sir Dinich (Potatoes and fresh beets stewed and blended with garlic, ginger and onions), Shiro Wat (Finely ground split peas, lentils and chickpeas simmered in berbere and a combination of seasonings), Tikki Gomen (Lightly spiced cabbage, carrots, onions and tomatoes stewed in a mild sauce) and Ye’ Abesha Gomen (Kale, peppers, ginger, garlic and onions slow-cooked in a mild sauce).
Every single dish was perfect. We ate each bite with as much injera as we could stand. But, finally, we had to ask for forks. We wanted to taste all of the dishes but simply couldn’t stand another piece of “bread.”
From rural Lucinda, PA to Pittsburgh, we had terrific meals. Though I had more pasta and “bread” within 24 hours than I normally have in a week. I think I’ll recover.