Superior Motors starts pop-ups

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Events

sousa table

Kevin Sousa fans champing at the bit to sample the eats at Superior Motors, his much-anticipated Kickstarter-funded restaurant in Braddock, are in luck. 

This past Wednesday, the Pittsburgh chef announced a series of "R & D" pop-up dinners  to be offered this spring in his very own home kitchen, as a way to show folks what the food will be like. 

After so many months of planning, "it's time to get back in the kitchen," says Sousa, who recently was profiled on Eater.com.

The BYOB meals are sure to be one hot ticket: He says the first, on Feb. 2, sold out in five minutes after he tweeted a link for tickets on ShowClix. At 10:15 p.m., no less.  

SOUSA 3Mr. Sousa still can't pinpoint when, exactly, the 50-seat Braddock Avenue restaurant -- it sits opposite U.S. Steel's belching Edgar Thomson Works -- will open for business, other than to say it should be sometime in late spring. While original plans called for an early January/February opening, no one should be surprised that a project this nuanced and complicated would face delays, he notes. 

"There's inevitably going to be problems when you're moving 100 tons of old concrete."

But now that all the permits are in order and actual construction has started -- they're pouring new concrete this week, and will begin framing as soon as it's cured -- things should move fairly quickly, he says.

In holding the pop-up dinners, all of which will have just 10 seats up for grabs, Mr. Sousa hopes to get both positive and negative feedback on menu items he'll be testing. In keeping with farm-to-table philosophy, dishes will be seasonal and locally sourced when possible.sousa outside

He expects to hold at least three dinners, and maybe as many as six or seven, "if it's not a burden on my family or home," a former warehouse with a funky third floor (it's crafted from a shipping container) that used to belong to Braddock Mayor John Fetterman.

"It's the same way we played with Salt before it opened," Mr. Sousa says, referring to the Garfield restaurant he launched in Sept. 2010 and sold in Feburary 2014 to architects and co-owners Doug and Liza Cruze. 

In light of his new responsibilities with Superior Motors, he also closed Station Street Hot Dogs in East Liberty in November, and is in the process of divesting himself of Union Pig and Chicken, which he opened in 2012, with an arrangement to sell it to two employees. 

With guests seated at his own kitchen table, expect the meals to be very personal affairs -- more like an intimate dinner with friends than a night on the town. "But the vibe will mimic some aspects of Superior Motors," he says, with open, minimalistic interior spaces  and a gritty urban landscape on the outside.   

Guests will either score a seat at a six-top in front of a large window overlooking the historic Carnegie Library across the street, or at the counter facing the open kitchen (and working chef). Cost is $85, plus tax, gratuity and service charge.

The seasonal menu for February's first dinner isn't yet set, but Mr. Sousa says it will feature seven courses, including grass-fed beef and Lampost Farm chicken.   "It will be wintery, for sure."

Expect to see sous-vide action at future dinners, along with a "rustic impression" of the creative American food he's known for.

Proceeds benefit Superior Motors and Braddock Redux, a nonprofit that serves to better the community through training projects, art and green initiatives, and the creative re-use of existing projects. The restaurant is a case in point -- the site was one of the first indoor Chevrolet dealerships in the country, and the former convent next door eventually will house stagiaires and culinary and service interns.  

For info on future pop-ups, you can follow Mr. Sousa and Superior Motors on Twitter @SM15104 or on Facebook

Kevin Sousa photos


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A winter local food tasting

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Events

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American Healthcare Group, which puts on regular tasteful Farm to Table Pittsburgh events, is doing its first Winter Local Food Tasting. This "For the Love of Pittsburgh" event is to run from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 8, at the Pittsburgh Public Market, where the group says it will assemble more than 65 local food vendors.

For $25, attendees can taste their way across the market and meet and mingle with these producers. 

This "is a great time of year to slow down and savor the winter offerings of local farms, food producers, wineries, breweries, bakeries, caterers, etc.," according Farm to Table, which is selling tickets here. We've asked who some of the confirmed vendors are, and will update that here when we hear back. 
 
After this event, it won't be long until American HealthCare Group presents the 9th Annual Farm to Table Conference and Local Food Tasting on March 27 and 28 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.  This year's theme is Cooking at Home.  

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Oyster fest at Wholey's

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Events

oysters

Love oysters?

You're in luck. Wholey's in the Strip District is celebrating the briny bivalves in a big way in the days leading to Thanksgiving.

Oyster Fest kicks off Friday at the Penn Avenue fish market with sales and offers on oysters, along with recipes for everything from oyster stew and fried oysters to a New Orleans-style oyster po-boy.

There also will be samples, along with demonstrations on how to shuck the hard-shelled mollusks without slicing your fingers or stabbing yourself in the thumb or hand in the process. (Hint: It involves a kitchen towel.)oyster2

That includes an "oyster training class" at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23, with PG garden writer Doug Oster.

Varieties available for sale during the fest will include all the favorites: James River, Chesapeake, Connecticut, Delaware Bay, Blue Points and Well Fleets. 

An added bonus: For every freshly shucked oyster sold from the market's oyster bar, part of the proceeds will be donated to The Children's Institute, a rehab center in Squirrel Hill. 

The fest runs through Nov. 26. 

Post-Gazette (top) and Gretchen McKay photos

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Sharpen those knives

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Events

fingers cut

Sure, you can slice and dice with a dull knife. But the question is: Do you really want to?

As anyone who's ever tried to cut through an old tomato with a worn-down blade can tell you, dull knives put you at greater risk for injury -- having to press harder while you're slicing increases your chance of slipping and having the blade end up where you don't want it to.

As in your finger. Owie! 

Dull knives also make it more difficult to evenly dice veggies (which assures even cooking) and tend to smash food rather than slice it. 

There is a solution, and it doesn't involve digging deep into your pockets for a new set of Wusthofs or Henckels.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, Crate Kitchenware/Cooking School in Scott is hosting a knife-sharpening event. Cooks can get up to three knives sharpened at just 2 bucks apiece. All while donating to a good cause -- proceeds will benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a global organization funding Type 1 diabetes (T1D)  research.

And if you're in the market for a few new knives, too? There will be special deals on aforementioned Wusthof products. 

Crate is located at 1960 Greentree Road. More info: 412-341-5700. 

Wonderhowto.com photo

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At the intersection of artisan food and tableware

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Events

cup

The Society for Contemporary Craft is at it again, bringing together edibles and art.

The Strip District center announced its latest annual CRAFTED exhibit like this:

"Dining is a daily part of life, and is often treated as a routine of physical necessity rather than a culinary experience. In our modern world of microwave dinners and take out styrofoam boxes, Society for Contemporary Craft (SCC) invites people to slow down reexamine the ritual of eating, through a celebration of artisan made food and tableware."

CRAFTED pairs handcrafted food with handmade ceramics to encourage visitors to reflect on "the relationship between the food we consume and the objects that hold it."

This year's showcases mugs, cups and tumblers by artists across the country, including, the one depicted above by Greg Cochenet of New Haven, Conn., and the one below by Anderson Bailey of Chattanooga, Tenn.

From 6 to 8 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 24, SCC celebrates the opening reception with food and drink by Bar Marco, which guests are encouraged to enjoy out of the cups they purchase from the more than 150 in the exhibition. Tickets $30 (there were some $20 early-bird ones and a few $40 VIP ones, too, giving early access and a 10-percent store discount and a cup made by BJ Watson). Get tickets here.

The exhibit runs through Dec. 29.

More good stuff from the society's announcement: "Through this exhibition and event, SCC hopes to draw connections between the maker and the user. The drinking vessels exhibited are artifacts of the potter’s hand, and are enriched by usage. Each time we drink from a cup, we add to that cup’s history. The mug becomes a vessel not only for the drink it contains, but also for the memories of all of the times it has been used before."

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Society for Contemporary Craft photos

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Coming soon: The world's largest pierogi

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Events

PierogieFeature

Pittsburghers love their traditional dishes, especially when it comes to comfort food such as as pierogies.

If last year's attendance at the first-ever Pittsburgh Pierogi Fest is any indication -- more than 7,000 pierogi-lovers attended the inaugural event at South Shore Riverfront Park, completely depleting supplies -- we're absolutely crazy about the potato- and cheese-stuffed dumplings. 

How crazy? 

On Wednesday, in honor of National Pierogi Day, Rivers Casino Executive Chef Richard Marmion and his staff will attempt to establish the world record for largest pierogi. The colossal, potato-stuffed pocket of doughy goodness will go in the oven between 4 and 5 a.m. and weigh at least 110 pounds. Made with 60 pounds of potatoes, 16 eggs and 5 pounds of cheddar cheese, it will take some three hours to cook. [UPDATE: For those of you who claim a baked pierogi isn't a pierogi at all, it should be noted that after casino chefs assemble, season and roll out the dough, the dumpling will go into a giant machine to boil before being popped into the oven.]

Pierogi-raceA representative from Guinness Book of World Records will verify the record at a press conference at 10 a.m. attended by the Pirates Pierogies. Afterwards, casino guests will be able to enjoy a free tasting of Mrs. T's pierogis from noon to 1 p.m., while Rivers Casino Rush Rewards members will get the chance to win a year's supply of Mrs. T's pierogies with "hot seat" drawings from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Look for a story on the record-setting event in Wednesday's PG.

[Oct. 15 UPDATE: They set the record. Read the full story here.]

Mrs. T's, in case you're wondering, served its first pierogi in Shenandoah, Pa.,  on Oct. 8, 1952. Sixty years later, the family-owned business is still going strong to the tune of 600 million pieogies sold each year across the U.S. and beyond.

Hungry for more? pierogi web

There's still time to buy tickets ($12.50)  to the second-annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Fest on Oct. 18 at Stage AE on the North Shore. It runs from noon to 5 p.m. and will include live music, a pop-up pierogi marketplace with pieorgi-inspired wares, arts and crafts,  and pierogis from more than 12 local restaurants.  For example, Oh My Grill will be serving a pierogi grilled cheese while Franktuary will wow the crowd with its Pierogi Dog.

You can read more about the fest in Thursday's Food & Flavor.

Photos, from top: Imaginepittsburgh.com, Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Pierogi Fest

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