Pittsburgh's Best Resource for Food Adventures
Archive for December 2011
Dec 12 2011
Nothing’s more exciting than coming home to find a package on your doorstep. That’s why I love food of the month clubs. Every month a surprise awaits! Go local by getting the hard to buy for person on your list a Biscotti of the Month membership. My friend, Anna Jo Noviello, owner of Sunset Cafe and Aunt Anna’s Biscotti in Greensburg, makes the best biscotti around. I never really liked the dry, almond scented biscotti from my childhood, but Anna Jo’s are different. They’re a little softer and come in more contemporary flavors, although they sell the traditional almond ones, too.
Anna Jo has lots of varieties, but myfavorites are Red Velvet and Coconut Lemon Macadamia. The Biscotti of the Month Club is a gift that everyone would enjoy.
Another terrific idea for a local gift is a spirit filled growler from Arsenal Cider House. After months of trying to get there, I finally stopped on Saturday morning and I just loved it! Located in a house across from the Allegheny County Health Dept. in Lawrenceville, these folks make hard ciders from different local fruit and they also make mead. I can’t really describe this place, but I loved it and I loved their products, too. You must stop by to have a sample. I bought the Pear, apple and Cinnamon apple. I was told that concord grape would be next. Their bottles are super attractive, the vintages have fun names and the contents are excellent. I can’t think of a better hostess gift for this season. ( If you can keep from drinking it yourself.)
Any other last minute food gifts ideas? Let me know. So many great products right here in Western PA. We are so fortunate.
Dec 5 2011
Wandering is my favorite pastime. Exploring new places, meeting new people. Just looking around and absorbing the vibes. This past weekend was filled with so many exciting discoveries that I just have to share each and every one. I ended the weekend inspired.
Friday afternoon, on a quest to finish a holiday project, I stopped at the Oakmont Candle Company in, duh, Oakmont. This local company makes 100% soy candles in a multitude of really great scents. Owner, Gene Alese, told me that soy candles are required to be just 25% soy, so make sure you ask about this before you buy. Soy burns clean, without any toxic smoke, but 100% soy is the only way to go. Oakmont Candles also make an upscale line called Wyk, with super fabulous packaging. Consider buying local for things even like candles.
Then a few miles over to BoxHeart Gallery in Bloomfield led to a major gift for myself . . three framed snowflake paintings by Cella Neapolitan. A few years ago I bought one of her snowflake necklaces (okay, I bough two) and they always garner lots of oohs and aahs when I wear them.
Saturday morning started with a stop to get olive oil refills from David Lagnese at the Farmer’s Cooperative of Easty Liberty. Always a great way to get my local food fix and much less crowded than the Strip District. Next stop was the I Made It! Market at Bakery Square, where I made sure to visit Krystal Doring at the Green Bubble Gorgeous booth. I love her products, especially the Mocha Mint and Vanilla Coconut Creme Whipped Body Wash. There’s another I Made It! on December 7 on the Pitt campus, so check it out.
On to the holiday glass sale at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. I love glass because it is cold to the touch and with my current state of hotness ( the temperature kind of hotness, not the cool kind) having gorgeous handmade glass around the house is helpful. The center has a small shop and has classes (great gift idea) throughout the year. Onward to the Holiday Book Fair at the Heinz History Center where I met travel and roadside “wonder” author Brian Butko and his publisher at Stackpole Books. This actually made my day, as I have been Butko fan for years. After paying for my books (too many books), it was time to get home. The day ended with a bison burger from Burgatory for dinner. My favorite burger in the city.
Sunday began with some cookie baking ( dark chocolate cherry and Mexican wedding cookies) and then a visit to the tail end of the Lawrenceville Cookie Tour. Some terrific new finds here . . Atelier at 5204 Butler Street and Trinity Gallery on Hatfield Street. Glass artist Meeghan Triggs does amazing work (I wanted to buy everything in the shop) and, lucky me, I got to meet talented photographer Adam Milliron, who was hanging out in Meeghan’s gallery. Adam showed me some of his recent Carrie Furnace photos and also some stunning food shots. True talent, here. The lighting in his photos gave me chills. Really great work. Dan and Carol Gaser at Trinity Gallery have a gem in their place off the main drag in Lawrenceville by focusing on newer artists. The had more of Dressler’s work and some lots of other art that was so beautiful. Definitely going back to all of my new Lawrenceville finds.
One last stop at the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip for some OMG fantastic duck prosciutto from The Crested Duck, and I was finished for the day. So pumped by all of the fantastic artisans following their passion. Thanks to all for making the end of my week so fulfilling!
A food adventure might be sleuthing out the juiciest June strawberries at a farm market, learning about gone but not forgotten area food treasures, working with a chef during a hands on cooking class or touring Pennsylvania’s artisan cheesemaker’s farms (and meeting a few cows along the way) . . or any of a zillion other fun ways to explore foodie things within a day's drive of Pittsburgh.