Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Holy Murals, Batman!

I've ridden past this before.  I just didn't pay much attention to it.  Today as we entered Schenley Plaza in search of a late lunch I realized that this is the most beautiful carousel I've ever seen.  The animals are unique and the small carousel is done in vibrant colors. I paused only long enough to take two photos because quite frankly, I was hungry at the time.  Sometime on a future ride I hope to get photos of all the other animals featured on the PNC Carousel.

The eagle is named "Freedom" and the giraffe below is "Troy Polamalu".  I had to wonder why they chose to name a giraffe after the Steelers' very talented safety?  

The lunch that was calling to me was just around the corner from the carousel at Conflict Kitchen.  We had been wanting to try this place for a long time.  They started in 2010 in East Liberty serving Iranian food.  Founded by professors from Carnegie Mellon University, this unique, take out venue chooses a country that the US is in conflict with, and promotes dialog through food.  They change the menu every six months, selecting a new country to feature and totally immerse themselves in it.  They offer not just food, but events and discussions to try to raise their customer's awareness, interest and knowledge in the focus country.  

So far they've showcased Iran, Afghanistan, Venezuela and now Cuba.  The food wrappers include dialog from citizens of the focus country and signs change to the appropriate language when the menu changes.

Conflict Kitchen relocated to Schenley Plaza this year.  This is not a place where a bored kid asks "You want fries with that?".  Their help wanted entry on their website explains that their employees:

"...need to be capable of both working in the kitchen as well as interacting with our customers on topics related to our focus country...   Employees must bring a keen interest in international politics and cultural relations".  They also say they "expect our employees to be expert conversationalists, deeply versed in the culture and politics within our focus country."

How cool is that?  So, now for the food.  I'm not what anyone would consider an adventurous eater.  After 20 questions with the guy behind the counter I decided to try the "Ropa Vieja" that comes with "Congri" and a salad.  This was a dish of Cuban-style, slow roasted pork with black beans and rice and a shredded cabbage kind of salad.  It was very tasty.  After I wolfed half of it down I realized that I'd forgotten to get a picture.  You'll have to go and try it yourself.  They started the Cuban menu in July, so you still have time.

We had started this ride a bit later than we usually do because we wanted to join an evening bike tour to see the murals in St Nicholas Croatian-Catholic Church in Millvale.

The more-or-less "organized" ride was a bit lacking the organization part, but the murals done by Maxo Vanka are extraordinary.  We arrived a little late at the church because an older woman in the group had a flat tire and the guy that was supposed to follow the group to help with those situations didn't - so we did his job.  As much as I wanted to take photos in the church, I wasn't sure if it was allowed and didn't want to be disrespectful.  For that reason I offer you this link with images that are better than what I would have taken myself.

The docent did an excellent job and we plan to return to hear the parts that we missed some other time.  I highly recommend this tour.  There's information about the tours provided at the link given above.  Check it out.

Before heading back to the trail head to call it a day we stopped by the Millvale Community Library to admire the new book-shaped door handles.  

When this library has it's grand opening this Sunday it will be the town's very first library.  They've been working on building this for several years and it looks great.  The beautiful door handles were custom made by a nearby company called Red Star Iron Works.  They also made custom, decorative brackets for the top of the support beams inside the library.

Almost 30 miles on a cooler, clear, somewhat windy day.  We really enjoyed the moderate temperatures in August.

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