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Archive for ‘Greensburg’ posts
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.
Sep 5 2011
Sorry about that title, but I just couldn’t resist. It’s been a long and rainy holiday weekend and I’m getting a bit loopy.
But next weekend is going to be a good one for Pittsburgh food and beer lovers, rain or shine.
The Steel City Big Pour, to benefit Construction Junction, is sold out for next Saturday, but there still lots of things to do during Big Pour Week, which starts on Tuesday the 6th. There are really unique tastings, tours and dinners almost every night. I’ve been on a beer kick ever since tasting some cask beer at the Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown last spring and then touring Anheuser Busch in St Louis this summer. Now, instead of ordering a glass of wine with dinner, beer is often my beverage of choice. I’ve been trying to branch out past Corona with a lime, so this past Friday I had a bottle Guatamalan Mariachi at Alma (great meal, by the way) and I really enjoyed its easy drinkability on a super hot day. (Many beer critics label Mariachi as skunky, but I didn’t notice that. Not even sure if I would know skunky if I tasted it. Ha ha)
September 9 through 11 is the Fair in the Park at Mellon Park on the edge of Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Always good for getting a headstart on high quality handmade holiday gifts and for eating some “fair” foods like fried veggies and lemonade. Also the 9th through the 11th is the Pittsburgh Irish Festival. Dancing, Gaelic sports, an Irish marketplace and food like bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew are just part of what you’ll find at the Riverplex complex at Sandcastle. Then we have Mountain Craft Days in Somerset with crafters, open hearth cooking demonstrations and more and then the Highland Games in Ligonier, with Highland dancers and Scottish food (haggis, anyone?).
Also next Sunday, the Italian Festival at Rizzo’s Malabar Inn in Crabtree will showcase music, cooking demonstrations, great food, Italian wines . . . some of Rizzi’s fabulous homemade gelato and things like facepainting for the kids. The event runs from 11 to 7. It’s a short drive from Pittsburgh and the generous and kind DeFabo family always delivers when it comes to fun festivities and great food
Last, but not least, is the Sunday Community Heritage Market at the Pump House in Munhall. Ethnic crafts, food and other fun and educational activities for all of the family to enjoy are all in this historic site of the 1892 Homestead Lockout. It only runs through the end of September, so get there now. The market is open from 11 until 3.
Apr 21 2011
Today, as I left a local store with bags of plastic eggs, Easter grass, goofy baskets with bunnies and chicks on them and two different types of dye for eggs, one would think I have small children at home. Nope. At 23 and practically 21, my girls are long past hunting for eggs. But each and every year, I continue to design Easter baskets, filling them with chocolates and all sorts of other little items I come across in my travels. My girls will probably moan and groan when they see the baskets on Sunday morning, but I think they would be sad if mom didn’t produce these silly gifts from the Easter bunny. Lucky for me, Easter food doesn’t have an age limit, so I always try to track down my favorites for this time of year. Here are my choices.
For ham and smoked sausage:
Lambert’s Market in McKeesport, 1902 Grandview Ave 15132, (412) 664-7371
Bardine’s Country Smokehouse in Crabtree, 224 Bardine Rd, (724) 837-7089
Minerva Bakery in McKeesport:, 927 5th Avenue
McKeesport, PA 15132-2412
Edward Marc in Trafford, , 509 Cavitt Avenue, 877-488-1808 or 412-380-0888
Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip District, corner of Penn Avenue and 21st Street, 412-395-0222
The Chocolate Shoppe in Greensburg, 118 North Pennsylvania Avenue, (724) 216-5847
St Mary’s Ukranian Orthodox Church, I have a soft spot for St Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks, but lots of places make wonderful pierogies. 116 Ella Street, (412) 331-9288
Fish for Good Friday:
Have a favorite place for your Easter food? Let me know!
Apr 7 2011
The last few days have been filled with everything Italian. First, I stopped to say hello to Steve Salvi at Fede Pasta in North Huntingdon. He sells his fresh pasta to top restaurants in the Pittsburgh area, and now all of us can buy it directly from Steve to cook at home. He is truly a master pasta maker. And he’s a really great guy, too. See, it’s not good enough if the food product is outstanding, but the person in charge has to be nice. I’m too old to deal with cranky folks. Not happening.
Steve makes many pasta shapes that are difficult ( if not impossible) to find. When I buy from Steve, he knows exactly what type of sauce goes with each pasta shape or every type of ravioli. Check out Fede Pasta’s website for upcoming Open Houses, Classes and Dinners, too.
On another day, I spent a few hours chatting and tossing back some espresso with master restaurateur (and another gem of a guy), Ernie Vallozzi. This led to a sleepless night because caffeine is a no-no after three PM for me, but it was well worth it. Ernie’s Greensburg restaurant‘s menu mixes classics with contemporary Italian and I love the food there. There’s something for everyone. Pizza, salads, pastas, seafood. And the menu doesn’t always stick to just Italian. Valozzi’s chef, Jenna, recently told me about a seafood entree she prepared with Indian spice marinated sturgeon served with Basmati rice with yams and pears in a curried cream sauce. This sounds like something I have to try. In addition to all the good food, the restaurant has a special cheese area, a refrigerated case of Norman Love truffles and the coolest Enomatic wine machine around. ( I think it’s the only wine machine like this in our area!) Even though Greensburg isn’t far from us in the ol’ Burgh, lucky for us, Mr Valozzi is opening a new place, called Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh, in the old GC Murphy building downtown in Market Square Place. I heard some of the plans for the new digs, and I can’t wait until it opens late summer/early fall 2011.
The next day, I was driving towards Pittsburgh, but still a few miles east of home when the clock struck six. Dinner time. So I stopped at The Sunset Cafe, where the place was really hopping. I ordered lemony cod with lump crabmeat served on top of beans and greens. A beans and greens addict, I had to go with this entree even though I hear their pasta and meatballs are to die for. I’ve been tempted by the roasted pork shank on the menu for some time now, and decided to bring this home for the hubby knowing that he would share a bit or two with me. Both entrees were wonderful. Anna Joe and Bobby Noviello really have a good thing going here. Anna Jo also owns Aunt Anna’s Biscotti, but that’s a story for another day.
My last Italian food of the week (that’s a lie) was at Olives and Peppers on Rt 8 in Bakerstown, where I met my accountant for lunch. The decor was calming, even though the place was super busy. It’s a family place, with a nice menu that includes pasta, salads, pizzas, panini and hoagies, but everything is carefully prepared and quite high quality. I ordered the stuffed banana peppers and a side salad. These were some of the best banana peppers I’ve ever eaten. The key: they weren’t over-loaded with that shredded mozzarella that turns the whole dish into a soupy, calorie laden mess, but topped with some shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano instead. Not too saucy, not too cheesy, perfection. Definitely going back here with the family.
My Italian fest all started with our visit to Rizzo’s Malabar Inn in Crabtree about a month ago. The DeFabo men – Jerry, Sr., Jerry, Jr., and Rizzi – do up traditional Italian in a tasty way at their always busy restaurant. Their Feast of St Joseph celebration in March got me on an Italian kick, and I can’t stop.
Tomorrow, it will be a quick visit to the Italian Market in South Philly for some fig bars and maybe a little gelato. Then maybe I’ll switch to another cuisine for a few days. Doubtful.
Mar 14 2011
A quick word about the spring 2011 tours. After many requests for a Saturday tour, we’re venturing out to the Laurel Highlands on Saturday, April 2. If you went on this fun tour last fall, our newest version is similar, with a few little tweaks from last time. A new shop or two and a mini-factory tour. But just like last October, we meet some fantastic food purveyors and chefs and eat a lot of wonderful local foods. A delicious specially prepared lunch and award winning dessert are included, too. And a local wine sampling!!
The Bedford tour on April 28 also has a few twists from the route we took last fall. I know you’ll love the changes. We sure do. If you’ve been meaning to drive out to Bedford but never get there, let us do the driving for our culinary tour to historic Bedford. Breathe in the fresh mountain air while we eat and drink our way through the town. Good stuff.
Our new tour, the one with an Italian focus, is turning out to be magnifico. It covers many traditional Italian food specialties such as pasta, biscotti and cannoli along with some contemporary Italian cuisine. We’ll be meeting many personalities in the Italian world of Greensburg and surrounding areas, too. This tour is running twice. Once on Thursday, April 14 and then again on Thursday, May 12.
A few spots remain on most tours, and people come and go off the list due to other commitments that arise, so if you are interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.576.1755.
All tours leave from McGinnis Sisters Special Food Store in Monroeville around 9 AM and return at about 5 PM. The cost is $125, which includes transportation, all samples, meals, wine tastings and admission fees ( when applicable.)
Feb 24 2011
Last year was the first that I ever heard of the Feast of Saint Joseph. I was schlepping my grocery bags around the Lancaster County Farmers Market in Wayne, PA when I spied some yummy cream puffs in the pastry case. Zeppole De San Giusseppe? Huh? Whatever. Of course, I bought a few of the light as air cream filled treats anyway and they were delicious. So that was that.
Then just last week, after consuming a gigantic bowl of polenta with broccoli rabe and sausage at Rizzo’s Malabar Inn in Crabtree, PA, I picked up flyer for their Feast of Saint Joseph. I told my friend Debbi (an Italian like me) about it and how I’d never even heard of this until last spring, but Deb knew all about the St Joseph’s celebration.
Deb can never figure out why my family doesn’t serve cannoli, never eats some something she calls an Italian seven layer cookie (“OMG, are you even Italian?” was her comment over these unknown cookies), and now. . .I wasn’t familiar with St Joseph’s Day. What sort of Italians are we, anyway? I was starting to feel like a fraud. So I did a little investigating.
Turns out that because my Italian roots are from the Reggio Emilia region in Northern Italy, we don’t eat the same things as many families from Naples on south past the tip of the boot. The roots of cannoli ( and the roots of half of Debbi) are in Sicily, and so are the beginnings of St Joseph’s Day. Seven layer cookies? Still figuring that one out.
So, for those who don’t know the St Joseph’s story, it seems that in the Middle Ages there was a severe drought in Sicily. The people prayed to St Joseph to fix the situtation. They promised that if he came through, they would have a wonderful feast in his honor. The rains came, and giant buffets of special foods were set up and served to rich and poor. In many southern Italian communities, a three tiered alter – which represents the Holy Trinity – is set up with food, linens, flower and gifts, all to honor St Joseph. (For those who don’t know, this is THE Joseph, the carpenter who was married to Mary. Joseph, the father of Jesus.)
At Rizzo’s, the menu will include traditional meatless festive dishes like spaghetti with raisns and breadcrumbs, sweet rice, smelts, baccala, those special cream puffs and fried fritters. Better wear my stretchy pants!
The official day is March 19, but lucky for us that Rizzo’s celebration runs from Thursday, March 17 through Sunday, March 20. Make your reservations now at 1-800-794-4323, because the event sells out. Oh, and you can catch Rizzi DeFabo cooking up a preview of the St Joseph’s feast on the KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live on March 14.
“Viva la tavola di San Giuseppe!”
Feb 20 2011
Last week, I had the chance to meet Anna Jo Noviello, owner of The Sunset Cafe and Aunt Anna’s Biscotti in Greensburg. Besides terrific Italian food and to die for biscotti (she has two of my favorite flavors. . . . coconut lemon and red velvet,) Anna told us that two newly married relatives were vying to win a honeymoon courtesy of Regis And Kelly on ABC if they got the most votes in a World’s Greatest Love Story Contest. I’m not going into detail here, but go to the show’s site, and read Meredith and Blake’s story. Then vote for them. And do it by Monday the 21st at 6PM. Thank you!!!
Feb 15 2011
I’ve been super busy researching all of the fantastic stops for the Spring 2011 tours. The Fork and The Road did a culinary tour to Bedford and to parts of the Laurel Highlands last fall, and both were terrific, but there’s always room for a little tweak here and there. The number of high quality artisanal foods in these areas just keep increasing and it’s so hard to decide where the tour bus should go. So hard and so fun!
New this season is the Italian themed tour. Of course, lots of testing of all of the stops and products is in order, so as soon as there is a day without ice and snow, I head out on Route 30 to investigate all things food. I’m not giving away any big tour secrets, but I can say I’ve been sampling dark chocolate truffles, freshly made cheese, delicious pasta, crunchy biscotti and a variety of pasta sauces. Oh, and a little vino always enters the picture, too. The Italian tour is a mix of “old school” and “cutting edge” cuisine. Good stuff. We’ve already had quite a response to this tour, so we’re doing two of them instead of just one.
The small tour size (18 people max.) allows us to have a more personal experience at out stops . . talking with the chefs, store owners or vintners. So don’t delay in signing up. A few tours are close to capacity. For more info, click on the Tours tab above. For even more info or to register, email me at email@example.com or call 412.576.1755. Hope to see you on the bus!!
Jan 30 2011
No one wants to be in the kitchen next Sunday evening at 6:30 PM. At least here in Pittsburgh. But the fans will be hungry and in need of something more than black and gold tortilla chips by halftime. A one pot meal is your best bet. Put it in the oven or on the stove before the game and set the timer to go off at half time! I have some favorites, but needed some new exciting ideas. Mu usual one pot dishes include cider braised brisket, Aegean chicken or a big pot of black bean soup. But I’ve made them one too many times.
So today, my friend Cathy and I drove to The Supper Club for their first cooking class, One Pot Meals. A perfect way to spend a cold Sunday afternoon, the class gave us four new ways to heat up the kitchen. Chicken and Black Bean Chili, BBQ Brisket, Snapper Veracruz and Braised Jamison Farms Lamb Shanks with dried cherry couscous were Chef Greg Andrews’ recipes of the day. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Oh, and dessert was Maple Roasted Pears with house made vanilla bean ice cream. Each course was paired with an appropriate wine carefully selected by the lovely and knowledgeable Ashlee Andrews.
The wines were fantastic. After all the wine and the belly-warming food, I was ready to take a nap!
Next week, once the big game is over and football is finished until next fall, check out the classes at The Supper Club. The next class is February 13 and it focuses on restaurant classics such as Hollandaise and Bernaise sauce and Duck L’Orange. Another class is scheduled for March 13. Call Ashlee at The Supper Club for more information or to sign up.
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.