Pittsburgh's Best Resource for Food Adventures
Archive for ‘Strip District’ posts
Sep 2 2012
After a few months of rest and rejuvenation . . . and lots of exploring new culinary treats, I am back to the website and blog. The past months have taken me to a food meeting in NYC which was beyond fabulous and an extended stay in south Jersey that totally cleared my mind and my constantly inflamed W PA sinuses. (Nothing like a beach breeze to cure all ills.) I’ve trekked to central PA for luscious produce and homemade ice cream, explored the history down to Pittsburgh’s south in Washington, PA and visited a brewery, a grain mill and a dairy up north of Butler. But now it’s time to share my finds.
The culinary tours are still on the menu, but my focus is now mainly on charter tours. Here’s how it works. A business purchases all 18 or 20 seats, and fills the seats with employees or customers as an incentive or “thank you” for work well done, great service or for stellar business patronage.The tours are also popular with book groups, garden clubs and “newcomer” clubs. They’re a great team building experience and a way to learn about the many culinary treasures in our area without being worried about getting lost on the backroads.
The Fork and The Road is also currently doing presentations on W PA culinary history to groups who are limited in time for a driving tour or who don’t care for riding on a bus . .albeit a luxury bus. These talks are lively, fun and involve tasting some local treats.
If you’re looking for something new and different for your group, give me a call. I can build a unique tour specific to your group’s interests.
Nov 15 2011
Weeks are flying by and I can’t get caught up. Yikes. Sorry for the delay with the winner of the contest.
The winner of the beautiful cutting board was Christine. Lucky girl. Congratulations and thank you to Ralph Teets at Cutting Board Art for his generous donation. His boards are lovely and make fantastic gifts, either by themselves or as part of a gift of wine, crackers, dried fruit and cheese. Artisan made gifts are so much more valuable than factory made. Thanks, Cutting Board Art!!
Another fabulous holiday gift is the sampler from The Berry Patch. You get to pick three different flavors of jams or jellies in 4 oz jars. Not only are they so tasty, but they have a multitude of uses from marinades to salad dressings and come already packaged in a beautiful box ( notice the box in the above photo.) Stop down to the Pittsburgh Public Market to select your flavors today. You can sample them before you purchase, too. Don’t forget to say hello to Scottie and Brenda, the owners of The Berry Patch. The Berry Patch folks can be reached at 724-238-4714 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to pre-order your gifts. Things can get crazy on weekends and sometimes they do sell out.
Still looking for something to do on Thanksgiving? The nice folks at the stunning TreeTops at Polymath Park near Donegal would love to have you join them for Thanksgiving dinner. The menu includes roasted butternut squash soup, in house smoked salmon and many traditional goodies such as roast turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Oh, and pumpkin pie brulee. Call them today!!!
Aug 26 2011
Pittsburgh’s largest (and most fun) food event, GoodTaste! Pittsburgh, has something new this year. A chance to be a food star! Make a video highlighting your stellar cooking skills and your entertaining personality and send it to the folks at GoodTaste! Four semi-finalists will be chosen at a cookoff on September 17 at the Carnegie Science Center’s Kitchen Theater. Two finalists will them compete for the title on stage on November 5 at the show. And the prizes are good . . . . $1000, a professional video (you know, to promote yourself to the big leagues at The Food Network or on a morning show), the opportunity to become the 2012 face of GoodTaste!Pittsburgh and other goodies, too. There are a few rules and guidelines, so make sure to read the details here before you get going. The deadline is coming up soon, so hurry and get your video sent into the nice folks at GTP. Good luck! Hope to see one of my readers on stage on November 5.
My favorite Pittsburgh food destination is the Pittsburgh Public Market. From Friday, September 2 through Sunday, September 4, they are celebrating their first birthday. You’ll find samples, live music, giveaways, and a special Public Market birthday cake. I have loved watching the market grow and grow, and I’ve met some wonderful people who sell their products there . The folks at The Berry Patch and at Glades Pike Winery are near and dear to me. And, oh, the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory is just so heavenly. Happy Birthday, Pittsburgh Public Market! It’s been a great year.
May 20 2011
Part of the fun of buying local food is meeting the interesting folks who bring it to us. This Saturday, as the sun peeps out from the clouds for once, get out there and say hello to some of our area’s best. Here are my suggestions:
- Bank 40 Mercantile (2184 East National Pike) in Scenery Hill is celebrating Pike Days by serving up lots of local cheese, meats, toffee and other goodies. It looks as if the sun might shine this Saturday, so enjoy it by taking a little drive to the south. After you eat some of her delish food, find Emerald Valley Artisans owner, Alisa Fasnacht, and say hello. Alisa’s fromage blanc is a personal favorite.
- The farm markets are up and running and some of the best are open on Saturdays. The Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip ( stop at The Berry Patch and meet the super nice Brenda and Scotty.)
- The Farmers’ Market Cooperative of East Liberty, although open year round, is really hopping in the spring. Give a shout out to David Lagnese at the California Olive Oil Connection’s table as you buy great oil, local cheese and Jamaican coffee.
- Farmers@Firehouse is open on Saturday mornings at 2216 Penn Avenue . Owner of Paradise Gardens and Farm, Lucinda not only makes the freshest, cleanest goat cheese products I’ve ever taste, but she is a huge supporter of women in agriculture. Go there on Saturday and meet Lucinda, as well as the other farmers and artisan food producers.
May 8 2011
Yesterday was my idea of a perfect day. It kinda started the night before at a wine tasting at Palate Partners/ Dreadnought Wines, where Eric Miller from Chaddsford Winery was signing his new book, and Debbie at Dreadnought was sampling six different wines. Too fun. Too much fun, maybe? Look at the photo below.
The joy spilled over into Saturday, when I met so many great people, got to wander around, tasted some new foods and saw an amazing pre-Mother’s Day event. Saturday started with a visit to the Farmers’ Market Cooperative of East Liberty for some PA cheese and a few baked goods. A quick drive to the Strip for the season opening on Farmers@Firehouse was next, where I bought some asparagus, tender beet greens and chard, and got to meet Lucinda from Paradise Gardens and Farm. I’ve enjoyed her super fresh goat’s milk products for a while now and love putting a face to the name behind the goodies.
Then on to Salem’s (2923 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15201-1518, 412- 235-7828) for some Middle Eastern goodies and Greek treats at Salonika, both in the Strip. I love these stores because the selection is great, the parking is easy and they’re a little bit away from the Saturday craziness of Penn Ave on a Saturday. And look at the happy exterior of Salem’s.
Next stop? A quick drive ( it’s on the way home) to Lawrenceville to find the perfect last minute M-Day gift. The Gallery on 43rd proved to be the right choice – not only did I find the perfect mosaic for mom, but I also had energizing conversations with Jennie from Bee Happy Honey, Zo Re of ZoBaby and Mona of The Artful Tart. Wonderful women. By then, I was way behind schedule, and I needed to check the route for part of my upcoming Italian tour. Mapquest wasn’t working for the backroads out near Latrobe, so I had to test the route myself. It was one of those afternoons with sun, rain, dark clouds and blue skies, all within minutes of each other. Fabulous.
With tour route nailed down, I decided to pop into Bardine’s Smokehouse in Crabtree to introduce myself, as I had written about them in the May issue of Frommer’s Budget Travel, and although I shop there frequently, I thought I should probably let them put a face to the name on the story. Gary Bardine, the owner, was there and we had a long chat about sausagemaking and his passion for quality. Thank goodness for people like Gary.
On the way back to Route 22, through gorgeous spring farmland, I noticed a cow standing in the field, looking kind of odd. I stopped to stare and right then and there she gave birth to a calf. Oh, my. I pulled over and watched for a bit, then took some photos as the little one tried to stand for the first time. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
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!
Mar 27 2011
Yesterday, I stopped at the Pittsburgh Public Market to pick up some goodies from The Berry Patch (724.238.7214) for my upcoming Laurel Highlands culinary tour. Brenda and Scotty’s stuff is always great – the jams, butters, jellies, pies, empanadas. Irresistable.
And their line of products keeps growing. Yesterday, they had adorable jars of homemade blueberry lemonade with a hint of mint for sale. It was just out of this world. I found out this morning that they sold out of the lemonade. I wasn’t surprised.
So, the market was really jumping. And that made me so happy, because Pittsburgher’s can sometimes be difficult when it comes to accepting new things ( I grew up here, so don’t get in a tizzy over that comment) and I did worry at first that us Burghers wouldn’t “get” this market. I was wrong. It was a lively scene, with lots of people and best of all, lots of people buying things.
I also stopped by to chat with the folks from Clarion River Organics. This organic farm cooperative has produce, meat, milk, cheese . . all sorts of local products, every one of them raised or grown in a conscientious way. I bought some of their Berkshire bacon and a few pork chops. The bacon was thick sliced and super lean (for bacon.) And for the pork chops, they told me that the pigs eat organic watermelons and squash rather then regular corn-based hog feed. I’ll see if I can taste the difference.
Oh, and I bought a bag of tiny winter greens. They are going to make a perfect salad, paired with some shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, toasted walnuts, sliced pears and a Christina Maser Gingered Pear Vinaigrette dressing I purchased in Lancaster.
From the beginning, I thought the Pittsburgh Public Market was a great addition to the Strip District weekend scene. So glad to see that others agree.
Feb 6 2011
Yesterday, we bypassed the Steeler frenzy on Penn Avenue in the Strip District and snuck into La Prima Espresso on Smallman Street for a coffee tour. Held on the first Saturday of every month at 10 AM, the behind the scenes roasting tour was a nice break from the craziness outside for the six who signed up. There are usually a lot more people, but hey, it was the day before the Super Bowl and most folks were thinking black and gold, not Arabica and Robusta.
In my house, the better half is the coffee connoisseur. I’m not sure if I can tell the difference between a gas station grind and a fresh roasted, high quality blend. Since the hubby has (in my opinion) some odd coffee buying habits, and my coffee palate could sure use some refining, I thought the class would be good for both of us.
David and Johnny were our teachers for the morning, and they shared great information about coffee prices, organic and fair trade growers, and types of coffee beans. We sampled two different blends and ate a few biscotti while we listened and learned. Then we watched Johnny roast a 25 pound batch of beans. Who knew that there were just a few seconds between the perfect roast and burnt? Not me. The whole coffee blending and roasting process involves lots of skill and experience. I was impressed.
This was a great way to spend a few hours. I always make a stop at La Prima on 21st Street, sometimes for a coffee, but more often for their Bitter Combo, the Miller females’ favorite citrus-y pick-me-up. Now that I know what goes on just to get their terrific coffee into my hubby’s cup, I might now opt for a cuppa Joe.
To sign up for La Prima’s next tour on March 5, call 412.565.7070 or register online at http://www.laprima.com/roaster-tour.html.
Dec 22 2010
So, my last post was Foodie Gift #7. I still have to do 8, 9 and 10 and there are just a few days left until Christmas. I’m not sure where the time went, but the last few weeks just disappeared. Because of this, I’m putting 8, 9 and 10 all into one post.
#8. Go to Jean Marc Chatellier’s Bakery in Millvale and buy a few chocolate croissants for your family on Christmas morning. Get there early on Christmas Eve, because the goodies will sell out. I place my order a few weeks ago for croissants, macarons, mini croissants and a Buche de Noel. Your family will love you for this.
#9. Take a trip down to the Strip District, armed with a little patience and a lot of holiday cheer. The Strip will be crazy during the next few days, but if you go with the right attitude, it will be a blast. Pick up a few of my favorites for last minute gifts – fresh salsa and locally made tortilla chips from Reyna Foods (2023 Penn Avenue – (412) 261-2606), the BEST marshmallows from The Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory at the Pittsburgh Public Market, or a prosciutto end (the end pieces are really inexpensive but still the same sweet meat) from Pennsylvania Macaroni.
#10. I love local, even when it comes to alcoholic beverages. My choices? A bottle of wine from Glades Pike Winery
Even if you’ve checked everything off your list, definitely pick up a few of these items just for yourself.
Dec 6 2010
Yesterday, I went to a Seven Fishes cooking class at Merante Gifts in Bloomfield. My family has never prepared this Christmas Eve extravaganza, but I am determind to give it a shot this year. Even if half the family doesn’t like fish. They need to get over it.
A cooking class or food tour is the perfect gift for someone who has everything. The classes at Merante are small and it’s just like hanging out at Nonna’s house. The food is abundant and the casual atmosphere ensures a perfect afternoon. Of course, the Seven Fishes class won’t be offered until next fall, but others are on the schedule for winter and spring. How about buying two “tickets” to a class? One for you and one for a friend or family member. It fits my idea of giving – one for me, one for you.
A gift certificate to Burgh Bits and Bites is another winner for just about anyone on your holiday list. Owned by the lovely Sylvia Emmenegger McCoy, Burgh Bits and Bites tours take you on an edible history through areas like Bloomfield, Lawrenceville and the Strip District. They last a few hours and are suitable for young and old and good even for folks that think they know Pittsburgh inside and out.
And of course, The Fork and The Road gift certificates would be a wonderful choice for anyone special in your life. ( It really would.) We have some terrific trips planned for spring, including a new tour to the Italian neighborhoods out near Latrobe and Greensburg.) Debbi and I have been having a lot of fun “testing” everything to make sure that tour-goers will love each stop. Click on the Tours tab or email for more information.
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.