Small pleasures add up to a good time
Small often gets a bad rap.
Roget’s Thesaurus lists it under the heading “insignificance” and surrounds it with negative words that include negligible, inconsequential, petty, shallow, puny and meager.
But bigger is not always best.
Small also can mean delicate or subtle or denote items of a limited group as in cream of the crop, elite or top of the class.
To illustrate, here’s a day planned around small pleasures.
The star attraction of this celebration of tiny treasures is “Small But Sublime,” an exhibit that opens Friday at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Point Breeze. It features 22 paintings and drawings that capture the grandeur of the 19th-century American landscape despite their small dimensions.
Included are works by Hudson River School artists who include Jasper Cropsey and Albert Bierstadt and early American Impressionists, such as Theodore Robinson, whose “Moonrise” was painted at Claude Monet’s Giverny.
Many of the paintings were created with the understanding they would be enjoyed not in huge public galleries but in the intimate settings of patrons’ homes. The small, but elegant, galleries of the Frick should provide a sympathetic setting.
Frick Art & Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Admission is free. Details: 412-371-6000 or online .
Enjoy a late lunch at Point Brugge Cafe in Point Breeze.
Tucked away on a quiet corner of Point Breeze, this bistro is small and neighborly. Its list of Belgian beers is humongous, featuring nearly three dozen by the bottle or on tap. It also offers a representative selection of American and other European brews and an extensive wine list.
Those who love moules or mussels can deliberate which of the three versions to try — a classic white-wine sauce, the zesty tomato-and-garlic sauce or the Thai-style red curry and coconut creme ($11 each).
Other options include the Steak Au Jus sandwich with melted Gruyere and horseradish cream sauce on a baguette ($11) or Mediterranean Tuna Salad sandwich with melted provolone and lemon Dijon aoli on ciabatta ($9.50).
Whatever you choose, definitely add on an order of the house specialty — twice-cooked Brugges Frites ($5).
Point Brugge Cafe, 401 Hastings St., Point Breeze. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-441-3334 or online .
When it comes to Lilliputian perfection, few rooms are as appealing as the suite of miniature rooms on display at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Located in a walnut-paneled gallery between the Hall of Architecture and the Hall of Sculpture, the rooms are modeled after an 18th-century French-style bedroom and English-style dining room from Penguin Court, Sarah Mellon Scaife’s former country home in Ligonier, and the 18th-century English-style library in her Pittsburgh residence.
On display are 350 intricately detailed tiny chairs, tables and decorative accessories arranged in eight window displays that were designed as samples for cabinetmakers and silversmiths. Others were created as 18th-century trinkets and knick-knacks.
Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, open until 8 p.m. Thursdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $15; $12 for age 65 and older; $11 for ages 3 through 18 and students with ID; free for those younger than 3. 412-622-3131 or online .
If industry and exterior architecture are more your thing, head to the Miniature Railroad & Village at the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore.
Visiting the exhibit is a popular Christmas tradition, but the trains and buildings are on display year round. Without the crowds, you won’t feel pressured to move along and can spend as much time as you want discovering the tiny, but complexly conceived, vignettes that are tucked in and around downscaled versions of Western Pennsylvania landmarks such as LeMoyne House in Washington and Sharon Steel Mill.
See if you can find the man being chased up a tree by a bear and the woman walking a cranky baby inside one of the houses.
Carnegie Science Center, 1 Allegheny Ave., North Shore. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays to Fridays and 10 am to 7 p.m. Saturdays. Admission: $17.95; $9.95 for ages 3 through 12; free for those younger than 3. Details: 412-237-3400 or online .
End your day with a snack or a full meal at La Casa restaurant in Shadyside.
La Casa specializes in tapas — small plates of Spanish-inspired food that can be enjoyed as part of a short interlude over a plate of Serrano ham and Spanish cheese and a glass of wine or mixed and matched to create a full meal. Small plates range in price from $5 to $14 and include options such as empanadas with goat cheese, spinach and caramelized onions ($6) and baked manchego cheese with a tomato dip ($8). Entrees range in price from $17 to $27. The Paella Valenciana ($27) is big enough for two or three diners to share.
If the weather’s nice, try to get a table in the tiny backyard dining area that’s decorated with a small fish pond, ferns and bright flowers and encourages diners to linger over a glass of wine.
La Casa, 5884 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside. Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Sundays to Fridays and noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays. Details: 412-441-3090 or online .