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Archive for ‘Jeanette’ posts
Jul 15 2011
I took a short drive out towards Donegal this afternoon to visit with Judy Trabbold, the owner of the Historic Log Cabin Inn. Judy has vast knowledge about herbs and edible flowers, and she is a delight. The Inn is a very old real log cabin, which Judy has painstakingly restored. This blacksmith’s house is one of the oldest homes in Somerset County – from the 1700s – and it is super charming inside. Lucky guests can stay here and walk around the path outside, where you can sit and enjoy the great outdoors. It would be a treat to stay here in any season. I wanted to crawl in one of the beds and take a nap.
After the Inn and Judy’s jasmine green tea, I took the always glorious drive on Route 711 on to Ligonier. I wanted to stp at Connections on 109 South Market Street for some lunch. The last time I was there was talented pastry wizard Sharon Detar’s grand opening a few months ago and things were crazy. This time, without the big opening day crowd (and my own tour group) I had more time to enjoy myself in the shop. I was so impressed with the calm colors and stylish table decor along with a great selection of free trade gifts. But, oh, the food! I ordered ( sorry to admit that I ate all of this, but I did) curried chicken salad, a mixed veggie salad with tomatoes, beans, onions and asparagus, and a slice of an ethereal white chocolate raspberry tart . All washed down with freshly brewed raspberry hibiscus tea. Connections also carries Old Linn Run Coffee, one of my favorites. I can’t wait to go back to both of these places. They are really special.
On the way home, on the lovely (not), traffic light strewn Route 30, I made my requisite stop at DeLallo’s, where I picked up some piquillo peppers, fresh mozzarella, fresh spinach, stuffed mushrooms and watermelon. Perfect for a lovely summer dinner.
Such a short drive from Pittsburgh and such wonderful local treasures. We are so fortunate.
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 email@example.com 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.)
Mar 3 2011
After last weekend’s Wine and Chocolate Tour in Lancaster, one might think that I’d be tired of products from the Theobroma cacao tree. Never. After I arrived back home, I quickly ordered some spectacular hand-painted chocolate gifts from a stop on the tour, the Wilbur Chocolate Company in Lititz, PA. The chocolate artists there are really busy, so they told me to order early for Easter. Can’t tell you what I ordered. It would ruin my Easter surprise.
Then the next day, I took a drive out to the small town of Trafford to Sherm Edwards Candies. I read about this company in a little book from the Carnegie library called Pennsylvania Snacks: A Guide to Food Factory Tours by Sharon Hernes Silverman. This book is my idea of a page-turner. Annoyed that a chocolate factory existed that I didn’t know about, I hopped in the car, picked up my friend Debbi and off we went to check it out. The shop sells both Sherm Edwards and Edward Marc chocolates, has a huge variety of Easter candy and outlet prices on the Edward Marc line. (I first discovered Edward Marc Chocolatier at The Milkshake Factory on the South Side.) They had chocolate airplanes, ballerinas, computers and cellphones in addition to the traditional bunnies and chicks. And all sorts of beautiful gourmet chocolates. Kimberly gave us a quick tour of the facility where they were making chocolate covered cherries. So much handiwork goes into each batch of chocolates here. I was impressed.
Next stop on my personal chocolate tour? Wilson’s Candies (408 Harrison Ave, Jeanette. 724-523-3151). I found out about Wilson’s after I stopped a candy shop in Ligonier and asked about locally made chocolates. I was shown some dark chocolate apricot creams – I love apricots – and the told me they were from Jeanette, but she didn’t want to divulge the name of the company that made these goodies. I bought some of the creams and then went home to investigate with my good friend, Ms. Google. Ha ha. I found it. Wilson’s Candies has been in business for over 60 years in the small town of Jeanette and gets rave review on the internet. All their chocolates are made in the basement, just like at Sherm Edwards/Edward Marc. They had the apricot creams that I bought in Ligonier, but also have lots of Easter candy. One of their specialties are cordials – cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Raspberry cordials? Never heard of that one. Of course, I had to give them a try. Believe me, they are luscious. You can see one of the berry cordials oozing onto the plate in the photo above. Fruit and chocolate. The best.
So much chocolate, so little time.
Oct 17 2010
Loyal readers know that the fork on my logo is stuck in the map at Jeanette, Pennsylvania, right around the location of DeLallo Italian Marketplace on Route 30. It’s where I developed my love of cheese, salami, marinated vegetables and many other traditional Italian foods. I’ve been driving through the area a lot lately, trying to pin down some stops for a spring tour, and it’s right near Jeanette where I often need a little sustenance to carry on my mission. From the days when it was just a small roadside store, to the international presence in Italian food product sales that is now DeLallo’s, just hearing the name brings back great memories. When I stopped in today, it was really crowded and even the back parking lot was filled. So I didn’t hang out for very long, but instead, rounded the aisles speedily to pick up a few of my favorites. Here’s what I bought:
1. Pepperoni Bread (made only on weekends) – Recommended to me by the former executive chef of the swanky and special Barclay Prime restaurant in Philadelphia ( try the bacon wrapped scallops and the mac and cheese), Jim LoCascio, this bread has just the right balance of sauce, cheese and pepperoni, Gourmet food? No. Delicious? Yes.
2. Olives – DeLallo’s has lots of olives, and on the day I visited, they even had raw green ones. You can buy a few scoops of whatever you like and eat them on the way home in the car.
3. San Marzano tomatoes – Who knew that the real San Marzano tomatoes have three special labels on the side. . . . . Most of the tomatoes labelled San Marzano are not the real deal. Now you know.
4. Beautiful Beans – I love beans and I also love beautiful packaging. Could I find a one pound bag of beans for 79 cents at a regular supermarket? Yes, but just look at this beautiful jar of borlotti beans.
DeLallo’s will always hold a special place in my heart. They’ve kept up with the times, but haven’t lost that old school charm.
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.