There’s a lot I want to share from this trip so I’m breaking this post in half. If you want to read about Day 1 first, see this post. Otherwise here we go!
Day two of our first coupley vacation began with me checking out the hotel gym. Generally, I get gyms all to myself that early in the morning, which I prefer. In addition to the gym, the hotel did offer complimentary yoga mats in every room, which I thought was an excellent touch of hospitality.
We got off to a late start, in large part because my poor, weak tummy was suffering a bit from our lunch the day before. Even simple vegan foods still cause some issue for me as I wind my way through recovery, but we didn’t let that stop us! We went straight for lunch at Conflict Kitchen, an open street-food type place set apart from the Carnegie Mellon campus.
Conflict Kitchen overlooks Schenley Plaza and features one of the most unique menus I’ve ever seen and not in small part because they serve cuisine “from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus region. The restaurant rotates identities in relation to current geopolitical events.”
Andrew and I were lucky enough to get to try their Haudenosaunee menu, with inspiration taken from the Iroquois Confederacy. I mean, it’s incredible to think that the people native to this country have such nonexistent representation culturally in our society that it is impossible to find any place that serves their cuisine, anywhere. But, I mean, check this out! Delicious, no?
So we were really, really looking forward to taste-testing the Iroquois menu. And Oh My Sweet God In Heaven. I swear I died and found ultimate truth in that food; I was almost in tears it was so good. So simple, but so incredible. In fact, was so impressed I emailed the Kitchen after we got back, fan-mailing my praise and half-begging for the recipe for this astounding mix.
And now I can proudly say I am the owner of the oshowe whitecorn mash and root vegetable hash recipe which I intend to make every day for the rest of forever. We even bought some of the Iroquois white corn sold to support the project by the same name. I will definitely make another blog post later on with the recipe and to show how it turned out when I make it.
Walking off our lunch of root veg and wild greens with blueberry vinaigrette, white corn bread with heirloom kidney beans, and blueberry-ginger juice was simple with the 42 floors of the Cathedral of Learning right across the street to explore.
The next activity we’d planned for Day 2 was visiting the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden, and after Dobra/Conflict this was the best and most impressive part of our trip. Cleveland has its own lovely botanical garden, but I must admit we have nothing on this steel-and-glass Victorian greenhouse, a perfect oaisis in the center of the city. We caught the new spring flower installation so the entire space smelled of pink and purple hyacinths. Each room is beautifully crafted to showcase specific plant varieties, but in addition to that the conservatory takes a very modern and active approach to Green Design. Meaning, they have built and are in the process of expanding one of the greenest buildings in the world – the Center for Sustainable Landscapes – generating all its own energy and treats all storm and sanitary water captured on site. The only disappointment? Their extensive bonsai collection was not yet set out for the season, I think we missed the trained Japanese trees by only a week.
To top off a long day of walking we decided to……..walk some more! We drove to Frick Park to spend an hour or so roaming a small portion of the 9+ miles of dirt trails. It always refreshes us to step back into nature, away from all the chaos and noise.
Our last stop was the one we had been looking forward to the most, I think. We’d revisited Chaya’s online menu about 60 times leading up to this event, planning out all the authentic Japanese appetizers we wanted to try. As often as Andrew and I have gotten sushi, and in as many places as we’ve had Japanese food, very few serve very traditional extras, like natto or even tsukemono, and even fewer offer kaiseki or omakase menus. It was high time these Japanophiles tried some! We ordered 4 appetizers to share [ thankfully the Japanese are known for their small portions! ] and 3 rolls of sushi each. Yikes!! We were stuffed by the time we left hours later [ there was a line out the door from the minute we arrived, still going strong when we left ] but I think I can say we were both very pleased. I’d have the Japanese cucumbers with the soy bean paste dipping sauce, but I think I’ll pass on the natto next time.
Our final day involved a quick ride up and down the Duquesne Incline followed by our IKEA pit stop for some new bed covers, pillows, and incidentals. Keeping it minimal.