Where is the time going?

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  the.berrypatch@hotmail.com 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!!!

Two Pittsburgh Food Favorites

A Heinz ketchup dinosaur in the courtyard of PPG Place.


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.

Cooking knife demo at the 2009 GoodTaste! Pittsburgh show.


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.

Brenda and Scotty from The Berry Patch. Luscious local berry products.

Food Folks near Pittsburgh

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.

Local asparagus at Farmers@Firehouse

–  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 hard-working owners of The Berry Patch

– 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.

David Lagnese and his son at the Farmers' Market Co-op of East Liberty


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.

Lovely Lucinda . . . and her out of this world goat products.


Pittsburgh Public Market

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.

Oh my, what a berry pie!!

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.

No artificial colorings here.

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.

Now THIS is bacon.

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.

Edible Gift #3 – I’ts “Berry” Good

Practically every day I’m reminded of how many wonderful people I’ve met in this past year during my new Fork and The Road adventures.  This morning, as I was checking out the tempting cookies, baklava, pierogies and more ( yes, more means marshmallows – they had ROOT BEER ones today!) at the Pittsburgh Public Market, I turned the corner and there were the folks from The Blueberry Patch in New Florence, out past Ligonier. I bought some of their Spiced Blueberry Jam this past summer at the Ligonier Country Market and figured I would have to wait until  spring when the market opens again to get another jar. It was my lucky day. The  jam, thick with berries and loaded with a cinnamony, spicy flavor, is just right for toast or a bagel on these 20 degree mornings.  So happy to see them, I wanted to buy everything in sight – I’m a bit of a food hoarder –  including their precious flaky mini-pies, which they call empanadas. But I held off.  With too many holiday parties this weekend, I thought I should  show a little restraint. I sampled (and bought) The Berry Patch’s pumpkin butter. It’s like a mouthful of pumpkin pie minus the crust and if your pie crust is anything like mine, that’s a good thing to be minus the crust.  And their new product, beer jelly is made with East End Brewing’s Snow Melt Winter Ale (try a sample or buy some actual beer across the aisle at East End’s stall at the Public Market.)  My first thought was “ick”, but it really is fantastic on cream cheese or served with an aged Cheddar.  They even sell the beer jelly in a pint beer mug. So cute, or maybe handsome is a better word  . . and such a great gift.   I can’t think of better treats for your friends and relatives.  Just drive on down to the PPM tomorrow (Sunday, December 5) and stock up for those last minute hostess gifts. (The Berry Patch won’t be there next weekend, but will be back the weekend before Christmas.)

Marshmallows have arrived at the Pittsburgh Public Market!!

Some of the marshmallows I have eaten . . these are from Make A Cake.

Confession:  I love marshmallow in any form. Mallo Cups, chocolate covered marshmallows, the retro ValoMilk cup, and good ol’ grocery store marshmallows right out of the bag.

More Marshmallow Favorites . . .Mallo Cups.

Imagine my excitement when the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory was open for business when I popped into the Pittsburgh Public Market this past Friday.  I was getting ready for a trip to Boston for the American Dietetics Association annual meeting, but I just had to buy some of these large heavenly cubes even if they had to wait until I returned so I could eat them. (Yes, I am a registered dietitian and yes, I know marshmallows are pretty much nothing but sugar. I don’t care. I love them.)

Look at these . . .

The Bananas Foster flavor was the first one I tried ( they had small samples at the market) and the flavor was amazing. Then I sampled mint chocolate (yum), vanilla ( another yum) and pistachio ( yep, another yum.)  These marshmallows are light and fluffy, lightly flavored and not gummy at all. I have payed top dollar for some artisanally made marshmallows that weren’t worth the money or calories, but these are something worth every penny.  For more info, email the marshmallow ladies at pghmarshmallowfactory@gmail.com.  I know my mallows will be waiting on the kitchen counter for me when I return and I can’t wait!

Pittsburgh Public Market

The line waiting for the opening bell at the Pittsburgh Public Market.

Yippee!  Yahoo!  The Pittsburgh Public Market is finally open for business, beginning this Friday, September 10.  It had a soft opening last weekend, with only some stands up and running, but this weekend is the grand opening.  Philadelphia has its Reading Terminal Market, Lancaster has the Central Market and now all of out in the western end of the state get our turn at strolling through aisles of local products in an terrific indoor venue. Pittsburgh’s market is located in the old produce terminal building at 17th and Smallman Street in the Strip District. I am so excited.

When I stopped by last week, I got to taste some super delicious (and whole grain-y) treats from Sustenance Rustic Bakery, with a little Big Hop IPA from the East End Brewing Company to rinse them down. I also tried some tangy barbecued pork from Rowdy BBQ and a smooth nibble of duck pate from Crested Duck Charcuterie. A nice perk is that there is a small seating area where folks can  sit and eat their goodies.  But it’s not all about food.  Other market products that caught my eye were beautiful knit wraps from Edith and Eartha Textiles and natural shea butter soaps and scrubs from Tracy’s Treats.    Some stands are as simple as card tables stacked with the vendor’s items, but others, notably the Sito’s Foods area (where you can get a fantastic and healthful salad,) are  more ornate.

The colorful background at Sito's.

On my second visit to the market, I bought some precious little fingerling sweet potatoes  from Clarion River Organics, a bag of LaPrima Espresso‘s coffee beans,  a few Mallo Cups ( frequent readers know Mallo Cups qualify as my addiction) from the Pittsburgh Candy Buffet and a few Pittsburgh “pockets” – soft and buttery pierogies – from Gosia’s pierogi booth. Oh, and I taste tested olive oils at  Cosimano e Ferrari.   This is gonna be good.

Try before you buy at Cosimano e Ferrari.