Eat: Easy vegan meals from Chip and Kale

During the holidays, any semblance of self-control or reasonable eating habits tends to fly right out the window. There is fatty, sugary or otherwise artery-destroying food on hand at all times. And when there isn’t, a busy schedule of shopping and parties leads to regular pizzas and drive-through visits. While I love glazed ham as much as the next guy, sometimes my stomach just needs a break.

Chip and Kale is a local, plant-based meal delivery service that promises healthy and complete meals that require almost no work to prepare. Their menu is diverse and changes from week to week, but all of the meals are vegan (and can be made gluten-free upon request). The dinners, which arrive frozen and require minimal cooking, range from an African Sweet Potato Stew to a Pineapple Quinoa Stir-Fry.

After ordering, five entrees are delivered to your door on Sundays, giving you a week free from worrying about dinner and a welcome respite from heavy holiday fare. Check out Chip and Kale’s website for more information on ordering.

Drink: A beer and a shot at The Goldmark

I often hear Pittsburgh transplants griping that our city is sorely lacking in quality late-night hangouts. Sure, there are bars that are open until 2, but how many truly welcome the night owl crowd? At The Goldmark, late night is when things really get going.

The Goldmark’s focus is evident from the start. “It’s named after the guy who invented the vinyl record,” explains co-owner Adam Kulik. “His name was Peter Goldmark, and that’s why we have all the vinyl on display.” Kulik is referring to his own vinyl collection, which occupies a prominent wall at The Goldmark, right behind a state-of-the-art DJ booth. Kulik is better known to many as DJ Nugget, an in-demand DJ who has gigged all over the city (and country) for more than a decade. When Cuban restaurant Salud closed earlier this year, Kulik and his fiancé Nicole Billitto snapped up the prime Butler Street real estate and set to work creating the bar and lounge of their dreams.

The Goldmark offers a little something for everyone. Their egalitarian approach is most evident in their three-tiered beer and shot menu, which ranges from a $5 duo of Iron City and Old Grand-Dad to a $12 pairing of Bell’s Two Hearted and Blanton’s. Their cocktail list offers creative takes on classics, like the Gold Fashioned and the Phony Negroni, for just eight bucks each.

The Goldmark is open Tuesday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Kulik plans to host DJs three to four of those nights. A food menu should be up and running by the spring, which Kulik says will function “like an indoor food truck.” Guests will order and pick up food directly from the kitchen via two windows in the rear.  And food, tunes and drinks will keep rolling into the night—or at least as late as the state allows.

Do: Stuff your face at the Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour

Pittsburgh loves cookies. From the quirky tradition of furnishing weddings with bountiful cookie tables to Eat’n Park’s iconic Smiley Cookie (did you see the Rick Sebak one?), the sweet treats are woven through the fabric of Pittsburgh life. And there is no better time to be a cookie lover than the annual Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour, which returns to Lawrenceville this weekend.

The festivities kick off on Thursday, December 3rd with Light Up Lawrenceville, a tree lighting ceremony at the Butler Street entrance to Allegheny Cemetery. Then spend the weekend strolling up and down Butler Street, perusing the hodgepodge of shops and (most importantly) shoveling down fistfuls of frosting and shortbread.

This year’s Cookie Tour boasts forty stops, including Lawrenceville newcomers like Von Walter & Funk and The Gilded Girl. As always, just look for the gingerbread man signs to know where to stop for your fix. And if you need a few minutes to come down from that sugar high, head to one of the designated Take-a-Break Stops, including Arriba wine bar and The Goldmark (for more on them, look about three inches above this sentence).

Head to the Joy of Cookies Facebook page for details, and consult this handy map to plan a route that would make Mrs. Fields proud. And check out our December event guide for more holiday happenings.

Drew Cranisky

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.