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Buice column: Yum: Steak on a Stone, fries in a sandwich

Ever heard of eating a steak on a stone? Or how about french fries in the middle of a sandwich?

Well, on my recent excursion to Pittsburgh for some live baseball (Pirates) and hockey (Penguins), the inquisitive foodie in me came out.

While planning my quick trip, I kept seeing advertisements about North Shore Tavern, a bar/restaurant across the street from PNC Park touting it as being the home for “Steak on a Stone.”

Hey, since it was right across the street from the ballpark, I had to give it a try but had no clue what to expect.

I told my waitress that I wanted to check out their specialty, and she gave me the unique details on eating a steak that is “cooked to your idea of perfection.”

First, they heat a lava stone to 850 degrees and then sear a filet on each side for 10 seconds. It is then brought sizzling to the table where you then take control by slicing and cooking each piece to your specifications. I wondered how long the rock would stay hot and was told about 20 minutes.

I actually ordered Surf & Turf on a Stone, which included an 8-ounce filet and three Sea Scallops served with chimichurri and garlic aioli dipping sauces. House cut fries came on the side.

Yum.

I like my steak medium rare, and it took a couple of cuts for me to get in the rhythm, but it was delicious. … and quite the experience.

I’ve never give up eating the traditional hot dog at the old ball game, but this needs to be worked into the rotation.

The next day’s adventure was going to Primanti Bros. in the historic Strip District, where the restaurant that dates back to 1933 and still serves up what is called the Pitts-Burger.

Like all of what they call their “almost famous” sandwiches, the signature offering comes on fresh Italian white bread and is stacked high with meat, melted provolone, tomatoes, coleslaw and french fries.

Yes, french fries … inside the sandwich. I knew the Pitts-Burger, which is actually more like a Salisbury steak than steak or a burger, was the best seller. But I was saw it was listed as the “#2 Best Seller” on the menu.

So I had to ask what was No. 1.

“Beer” was the quick reply.

Local lore, or one of several, suggests that the beloved “Pittsburgh sandwich” came about because it was once a lunch spot for steelworkers on a quick break from the mill and done that way — with the fries inside the sandwich — so that workers could consume their lunch at once, sides and all.

There’s actually a Primanti Bros. stand inside PNC Park, but I wanted to revisit the original location — as it had been years since I tried it the first time — to get the total experience.

Oh, did I mention there were also real sports to enjoy? But I won’t bore you now with those outdated details that completed a fabulous getaway.

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Speaking of getaways, I’ve said that fall has always been my favorite time to go to the beach, but after the pandemic, any time and anywhere is a great time to head to the coast.

So an opportunity to visit N.C.’s Crystal Coast in April for a long weekend was certainly welcome after a lengthy hiatus in 2020.

There’s nothing better than a time of relaxation, walking on the sand, hanging out at the pool, catching up on reading and even getting in the hot tub. Again.

I imagine there will be plenty of others that will be flocking to all the beaches this year as restrictions are lifted. I talked with one of the local property managers of a condo complex, and he said that bookings for 2021 are the best he’s seen in 30 years on the job.

We experienced some of that on a Saturday night when we headed over to the Morehead City waterfront, which was busier than I’ve ever seen — thanks in part to a promotion where free appetizers and drinks were apparently offered at some of the local bars and restaurants.

We also enjoyed some great seafood, including the $9.99 lunch special at the Crab Shack in Salter Path where they give you the same amount of food at half the price of dinner.

I suppose you could call that a true “early-bird” special.

Anyway, I can’t wait to get back again — whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter.

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When the calendar turns to May, that usually means it time for Clemmons Community Day, an event that has grown tremendously in popularity over the years.

However, once again it’s postponed because of the pandemic. In 2019, Clemmons Community Day celebrated its 10th anniversary, but last year had to be canceled after the arrival of COVID-19 in March.

An attempt was made to make Clemmons Community Day 2.0 a reality last September with fireworks and everything, but due to the continuing restrictions, it had to be scrapped.

Maybe this summer or fall can be another option in 2021.

In the meantime, the Jerry Long Family YMCA will host the first Clemmons Farmers Market of the year this Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m.

Last year’s market was the best ever, and about 30 vendors are expected for opening day. If you’ve never been before, check it out.