The sweet side of Pittsburgh: Kelly O’s Grilled Cinnamon Roll

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Recently my husband decided to take me on a trip to cross something off my bucket list. He took me to Pittsburgh to the Andy Warhol Museum.

Our trip was amazing—Pittsburgh is such a happening, cool place. We had a great time together experiencing the city, the museum, the culture and the people.

The best thing about our little getaway, though, was the food.

Let’s put it this way—people in Pittsburgh know how to eat.

We experienced some amazing cuisine while in the city. From bone marrow served with toast and apple butter to foie gras, we tried it all, but since my blog is about the sweeter things in life, I thought I’d stick to that.

As many of you know, my favorite food is the cinnamon roll. I will eat one anytime, any day or any place. I can’t help it. They are my biggest weakness.

20150719_165351220_iOSOur last stop during our trip to Pittsburgh was for breakfast at Kelly O’s.

A well-known spot in town, Kelly O’s has been featured in many magazines and food blogs, as well as television shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network.

When we sat down, the first thing I scoured the menu for was, of course, anything in the cinnamon roll family.

And there, on the menu, in the side dishes section like it wasn’t a big deal at all was something called the grilled cinnamon roll.

Obviously, I ordered it. 20150719_162222414_iOS

This wasn’t your average, everyday cinnamon roll. This was something entirely different.

While it wasn’t what I expected at all, it didn’t disappoint. It was two huge pieces of grilled to perfection goodness.

After doing some research I found out that the cinnamon rolls originally come from Oram’s, a bakery in the nearby city of Beaver Falls.

Apparently the genius people at Kelly O’s slice the gigantic cinnamon rolls in half, dip them in loads of butter and grill them until they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Then they cover them with powder sugar galore.

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So what did it taste like? While it didn’t exactly taste like a cinnamon roll, it did taste like the freshest, most delicious donut of all time.

I loved the warm, gooey middle section filled with cinnamon, but the crispy edges were the shining star of this dish. This dish melts in your mouth and exhilarates your sweet tooth all at the same time.

If you’re heading to Pittsburgh anytime soon, do yourself a favor and stop in at famous Kelly O’s. If you’re not heading there, find an excuse to go—believe me, this cinnamon roll is worth it.

Sweet and Savory Eats of Disney World

20150202_153609936_iOSWhen going to Disney World, there are so many things to see and do. But one of the most exciting things to do in Disney World is eat the delicious food. And in a place so large, you can believe me, there are a ton of great places to eat.

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We started our Disney World journey this time around at Epcot. We were so hungry that I think we stopped to eat at the first restaurant we saw at the World Showcase—La Cantina de San Angel. I tried the nachos—which were the best nachos I’ve ever tasted! What a great meal to start our trip with!

 

 

For dinner, we had a delicious dinner at Kimonos—a sushi bar located in the Swan and Dolphin Resort. Honestly this was the best sushi I’ve ever had too. 20150201_015823251_iOSKimonos offered wonderful and beautiful drinks—like the Kimonos Dragon, which had Bacardi Dragonberry Rum, passion tea syrup, fresh strawberries, champagne and flower petals. It didn’t stop there, though, the sushi itself was absolutely phenomenal.

We were huge fans of the rolls, but my favorite was the Jalapeno Roll. It was just so unexpected and unlike any other sushi roll I have ever had. If you’re looking for great sushi, a fancy atmosphere and maybe a little karaoke, this is the place for you.

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While they don’t serve dessert at Kimonos—when you’re at Disney—you can request everything. Our waitress found us dessert and brought it to the restaurant. We had a raspberry cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake and key lime pie. The key lime pie—in my opinion—was by far the shining star.

 

Our second day on the trip we headed to Hollywood Studios. We had a quick breakfast at our hotel and went for coffee almost immediately after getting to the park. The tastiest drink I had at Disney World was found in a little Joffrey’s Coffee stand called the Shakin’ Jamaican. We all agreed that frozen drink was one of the highlights of the trip.

One thing people talk over and over about are the Pretzels in Disney. Let me tell you—they are overrated to say the least. Last year, I had one in Germany in Epcot and I could have taken it or left it. Since then I’ve read over and over to try a Mickey Mouse shaped pretzel from the parks, so we decided to have one of those for lunch while in Hollywood Studios from Anaheim Produce.

Again, I wasn’t too impressed. The cheese cup that came with the pretzel was cold and odd tasting, and the pretzel itself was hard and unappealing. While the pretzel wasn’t very tasty, the margarita I had there was the best I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t recommend wasting your cash on a pretzel but if you’re in Hollywood Studios, you should definitely try out the frozen Margarita from Anaheim Produce.

For dinner, we hit up Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney. This is the kind of place you go for a pretty good meal and a really great environment. Everyone was happy with their meal, the service and the experience overall. It also offers a huge menu, which makes it a great spot for families who all like different things.

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For dessert we headed to Goofy’s Candy Company down the main street. They offer chocolate covered fruits, cookies, ice cream, popcorn, apples and a variety of candies. I chose a chocolate and Butterfinger covered Rice Krispie treat. Even if you don’t have any plans in Downtown Disney, you should definitely take the trip just to visit the store. You can even build your own treats. It’s such a fun spot for children and adults alike.

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Magic Kingdom isn’t just the biggest park at Disney, but it offers some of the yummiest food too. My absolute favorite thing I had to eat on this trip was the Cinnamon Roll from Gaston’s Tavern (which I am pictured with at the start of this post). This delicious treat was about the size of my head and probably contained about a billion calories or so, but it was divine. If there’s one area in this life I know a lot about it cinnamon rolls, and this one cannot be missed!

All day long, I could smell the cornmeal in the air. Sometime that afternoon one of the girls and I decided we had to hunt that smell down because it was clearly corn dogs. We walked around for the longest time finding them with no prevail. Finally, though, we got smart and Googled “corn dogs in the Magic Kingdom”. Sure enough, we found out Casey’s was the place to go—and boy, was it. They sell mini corn dogs that are both greasy and delicious. The French fries are nothing to really write home about, though.

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I’m realizing as I write this, we ate a lot of food Magic Kingdom day. I can’t skip talking about one of the most nostalgic eats in all of Disney, though—Dole Pineapple Whipp from Aloha Isle. I will be the first one to say that the Pineapple Whipp is definitely worth all of the hype. Both of the trips I took in the past year this was a must stop place. I don’t even know what Whipp is. It’s like an ice cream sorbet cross breed. I don’t even need to know the mechanics, I just know it’s good.

 

20150203_015806085_iOSIf you’re looking for a delicious ladies night out, I strongly recommend Bongos in Downtown Disney. That is where we had our last big dinner. This restaurant—owned by Gloria Estevan—serves exciting Cuban food in a pineapple-shaped restaurant.

This place is full of fun food and fun drinks in a fun atmosphere. I highly suggest trying something new and checking this place out. 20150203_021737438_iOS

The calamari and sweet plantains are out of this world, and you get so much food it’s insane. You will definitely get your money’s worth. The mixed drinks are crazy good too. I am so glad we tried something new.

At Animal Kingdom, we ate at Pizzafari. It was pretty mediocre pizza, honestly. But as my husband always says, pizza is pizza. It doesn’t matter how good or bad it is, it’s still good. I actually agree with that. I’ve heard a rumor all the pizza in Disney World is the same. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Instead of pizza, I’d recommend stopping at Yak & Yeti instead. I went here my trip last year, and I regret not doing this time around. They have a sit down restaurant, as well as a quick service feature. Here you will get the best value for your money I’ve seen in Disney with large portions one person can barely finish. Plus, the food is really good.

20150203_205305223_iOSOur very last stop on the trip was at the Banana Cabana pool bar at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We wanted to try their world famous Pina Coladas while sitting by the pool before getting on a plane and heading back to the snow. These frozen drinks were such a treat and a great way to end our awesome vacation!

While I didn’t get a chance to go this time around, for breakfast, you should stop in at the Kona Café in the Polynesian. This thick toast is covered in cinnamon, stuffed with bananas and drizzled with strawberry sauce. How could that not be good?

2014-02-03 21.12.48If you’re looking for more fine dining options, I’m a huge fan of a couple of places from my previous trips that deserve to be highlighted too. Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney. Not only do they have wonderful fish dishes, but they have a seafood tower that is life changing filled with crab legs, lobster, shrimp and oysters.

While I’m not an oyster fan, everything else was to die for. Another great option for fancy seafood is Nacroossee’s at The Grand Floridian. Not only is the food perfect, but you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the restaurant. Both of them have great atmospheres that are perfect for a romantic night out. For steak, Shula’s at Dolphin & Swan is a must. While all these are great options, they are very expensive.

Places I would recommend staying away from are Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Beast’s castle and Sci-Fi Dine-In. These places jack up the prices for the experience you get in the restaurant. The Sci-Fi food was okay, but I’ve had better burgers at Five Guys and only paid a fraction of the price. The food at Be Our Guest, though, was pretty gross for the amount of money we spent. Yes, the Beast’s castle is quite pretty, but it isn’t worth having a less than mediocre meal.

In Disney World there are endless options on things to see and do. From the parks, to the spas, to the pools Disney is filled with countless options. When it comes to the food, there’s endless options there too. These are just my suggestions on places to go, but I promise if you do end up at one of these spots, you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a full belly.

 

*Photo Credit and a big thanks to Lindsay Duran who took many of the food photos

A Gatlinburg Treat

Recently I went on a little vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While I was on my trip, I threw out all my inhibitions, and I ate whatever I wanted to. I didn’t think about calories once, and the idea of carbs never even crossed my mind. After dieting for quite a while, I can promise you, this week was quite liberating.

I say that because you need to know upfront, that I ate my fair share of sweets.

From the chocolate chip pancakes with peanut butter syrup I had at the world famous Pancake Pantry to the many samples of fudge and taffy we had along Parkway, I definitely got a taste of what Gatlinburg had to offer.

Because this blog is called Sweet & Exceptionally Read, though, I thought I should let my readers know about the best morsel of sweetness I had on this retreat to the Smokies—a cinnamon roll from Davy Crocket’s Breakfast Camp.

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Davy Crocket’s Breakfast camp was certainly a hidden gem. In all my research of Gatlinburg, I never once read an article about Crocket’s, nor did anyone suggest it to me. However, while driving down the street looking for a breakfast spot, we ran into this little restaurant and believe it or not, we judged the book by the cover. The outside was cute, so I immediately wanted to go there.

The menu had dozens of delicious looking options, but my eyes zeroed in on the cinnamon roll immediately. I would venture to say that my favorite sweet in the entire world is a cinnamon roll. I honestly could eat them every day and have—on multiple occasions—eaten a Cinnabon as my dinner.

When I ordered the roll, I wasn’t expecting something the size of my head to come out of the kitchen, but when it did I accepted the challenge silently.

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The pastry portion was perfection. It was warm, sweet and perfect consistency, while the cinnamon filling was an exceptional mix of sugar and spice. The icing on the top was some of the best icing I’ve ever tasted—not just on a cinnamon roll. My experience was divine and by far the best thing I had while on vacation in Gatlinburg.

Not only do they make cinnamon rolls, but they make cinnamon roll French toast. My husband ordered this, and it is not your ordinary French toast with a little icing and cinnamon mixed in to make it taste like a cinnamon roll. Instead they literally take a cinnamon roll, dip it in eggs, vanilla and milk and then fry it up like French toast. The result is one of the most decadent dishes you can find on the Gatlinburg strip.

While there are many things I can recommend along the streets of Gatlinburg, one stood out above the rest. Next time you’re in Gatlinburg make note of the cute little restaurant with a giant skillet for a sign, and do yourself a favor by ordering the giant cinnamon roll.

Not only will you thank me after, but you will eat every last bite—just like I did.

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