Grapperia, Kombucha and other restaurant news

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

JoereichenbacherredstarHere's a late-afternoon round-up of openings, shout-outs and upcoming events. 

Grapperia opened in Lawrenceville on Saturday. It's the charming grappa-slash-cocktail bar from Domenic Branduzzi and the team at Piccolo Forno around the corner. Check out the menu here.

Red Star Kombucha opened in the Pittsburgh Public Market two weeks ago, the third and, with hope, permanent location. Joe Reichenbacher and Naomi Auth serve a selection of kombucha, including "adult kombucha," which is "legally, a beer," he said. 

Also at the Pittsburgh Public Market, Homegrown Ice Cream from Family Farms Creamery has taken over the Clarion River Organics space, which has moved to a different section of the market. Nathan Holmes has been serving flavors such as banana with hickory nuts, avocado-lime, honey-blue cheese with candied pecans, and pomegranate kombucha sorbet, with the elixir from Red Star Kombucha. 

Brunch started this Sunday at Grit & Grace, Downtown. With dishes such as prawn and congee with bok choy, tomato broth and a one-hour egg, it's an interesting menu with a vast selection of drinks. Sundays only, from 10:30 to 2 p.m.. Check out the menu here

Should you see Keith Fuller of Root 174 in Regent Square this week, wish him belated congratulations for having been named among "the best chefs in America you've never heard of" in The Braiser. He joins chefs from Denver to Fargo, N.D., to Barnard, Vt. to Washington, D.C. "Keith Fuller makes diamonds from Pittsburgh coal," it starts. Read the rest here. 

To celebrate Washington County Restaurant week from March 9-15, the county tourism bureau has invited Walter Scheib, White House chef under the Clinton and Bush ddministrations from 1994 to 2005. The author of "American Chef" will headline the event from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, at Washington County's Meadows Casino in the Triple Crown Banquet and Conference Room, where he will give a talk and guests can sample dishes from area restaurants. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at washingtoncountyrestaurantweek.com

Joe Reichenbacher of Red Star Kombucha/Post-Gazette photo








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Take a wine walk in Grove City

Written by Rebecca Sodergren on . Wine

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The formerly dry town of Grove City (wet since 2007) is preparing for its sixth annual Winter Wine Walk, one of the more popular events meant to increase traffic through the shops and businesses of "Olde Town Grove City."

More than 20 merchants around town will host wineries and food vendors inside their stores. Wine walkers can stroll the stores, enjoying samples at each.

The Wine Walk happens from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, and features 11 Pennsylvania wineries. Check-in with wristband distribution is at Steigerwald’s
Kitchens & Baths, 120 S. Broad Street. Tickets are $20 and are available here.

Merchants and corresponding wineries are:

Nonni’s Corner Trattoria: Starr Hill Winery

Grove City Realty: Wilhelm Winery

Grove City ArtWorks: Fractured Grape Wine Cellars

Shannon’s Kandy Kitchen: Volant Mill Winery

Sweet Jeanie’s: Presque Isle Wine Cellars

ASA Fashions: Conneaut Wine Cellars

Static Styling Salon: Mazza Vineyards

Nancy’s Hair Loft: Flickerwood Wine Cellars

Natural Options: Deer Creek Winery

Burdick’s Men’s Clothing (pictured above): Courtyard Wineries

beans on broad: Foxburg Wine Cellars

Food and special attractions will also be available at b’gifted, Steigerwald’s, D’Licious Bouquets, Bobo Rice Bowl, Crimson Connection, Gel Nail and Spa, Jordan’s, Kritter Kreations and Marilyn’s Antiques.

Green "Olde Town" banners will be posted to help walkers identify participating merchants.

If you're interested in wine events, don't miss another local one -- the American Wine Society's Pittsburgh Wine Conference on March 15 in Ross. Read all about that here.

Old Town Grove City photo


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Snacks for the Pittsburgh sports fan

Written by Gretchen McKay on . FreshFind

PLB chips

Like showing support for your favorite local athlete by donning his jersey or hitting the links with his limited-edition irons?

Now you can show the love (while supporting a good cause) by stuffing a tasty snack food into your mouth. 

This Friday, Feb. 27, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo will unveil his team's new "Pittsburgh Penguins Power Play Potato Chips" at the Shaler Giant Eagle, located at 1671 Butler Plank Road (along Route 8). Licensed by the NFL, they're being marketed by Pittsburgh-based PLB Sports, which specializes in limited-edition food products featuring star athletes.

The chips will come in two sizes and flavors -- a Sweet 'N' Spicy kettle-style chip packaged in a 8 1/2-ounce bag, and a traditional wavy-style chip in a slightly larger 10 1/2-ounce package. robert bortzutto

Available exclusively at Giant Eagle, the chips will cost two for $6, with a portion of the proceeds from sales benefiting the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. But don't eat too many lest you end up with greasy fingers --  Bortuzzo also will be on hand for an hour-long public autograph session starting at 3:30 p.m., and you want to be able to hold on to your pen.

For those who like to endulge with something sweet, you'll be happy to know that golf great Jack Nicklaus, who grew up two hours west in Columbus and attended Ohio State, has decided to get into the frozen-desserts biz.

nicklausicecreamThe "Golden Bear" has paired with Minnesota-based Schwan Food Co. to create Jack Nicklaus premium ice cream. Seven flavors in all, including Coffee and Donuts, Warm Spiced Butter Pecan, Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl, Salted Caramel Toffee and Strawberry Lemon in addition to traditional vanilla and chocolate. They'll come in pint-size containers and be available in select markets. No word yet on price or when they'll arrive at your local grocery store.

Both Nicklaus and Schwan will donate a percentage of proceeds to the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, created in 2004 to provide families with access to world-class pediatric health care. 

PLB Sports, Post-Gazette and Schwan Food Co. photos

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It was soupy weather on the South Side

Written by Dan Gigler on . The Forks blog

soup snow
Soup trumped snow and slush this past Saturday afternoon on the South Side as roughly 1,030 hungry participants trudged through a blast of wintry-mix nastiness to sample the stews, broths, bisques, chilis and consommes of the 12th annual Mid-Winter South Side Soup Contest.

The contest pairs restaurants with retail merchants to promote both while raising $53,000 for the non-profit Brashear Associationsoup paul

Stagioni’s Chef Stephen Felder completed a veritable sweep winning the Best Overall Soup and Best Vegan Soup, making a sweet potato soup with toasted pecans. 

Chef Christopher “Locke” Cook of the Smiling Moose had a sweep as well, taking second place in both of those categories with his roasted cauliflower and potato soup with tarragon oil and asiago.

Chef Paul Krawiec, left, of Café Du Jour, left won most creative soup with a Mexican and zombie-inspired “Oaxacan Dead Soup” – pronounced wa-hock-en and a play on the "walking dead" – that included pig brains and chicken hearts along with shredded chicken breasts and thighs, rice and vegetables. (He noted on his chalkboard that the soup was dairy- and gluten-free, but "NOT BRAIN FREE!")
 
Best hosts went to S&S Candy, which teamed up with La Palapa, with Five Star Dentistry and Carmella’s Pints & Plates as the runners-up. 

Zos Xavius Photography photos, including of Cara Del Signore, co-owner of Stagioni, below, ladling contest winning sweet potato soup.  

soup cara

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What's dishing on the blogs: Sandwiches and booze

Written by Dana Cizmas on . Shared Plates

salmon-sliders-I-howsweeteats.com-6

This week, we have sloppy sandwiches and fancy booze. Here's what's dishing on the blogs we follow:

Haute Pepper Bites tempted us with a massive Blackened Chicken Po' Boy, while How Sweet It Is lured us with dreamy Tortilla Crusted Chipotle Salmon Sliders. Linda from Dinner Plan-it prepared divine Eggs in Purgatory with Sweet Italian Sausage, whereas Chef Chuck from Cooks and Eats and Yum Yum preferred easy and tasty side dishes: Mango Salsa with Strawberries and Pineapple, and Cauliflower Snowflakes respectively.

For a proper end to a good meal, have a gulp of Culinary Cory's Old Fashioned, Yum Yum's Snap & Ice Tea Cocktail or the Blood Orange Bourbon Smash with Spicy Vanilla Sugar from How Sweet It Is. For a sweet treat, try Brown Eyed Baker's Cap'n Crunch Milkshake or Sugar Pixie's Sour Cream Old-Fashioned Doughnuts.

On the restaurant spectrum, the girls from eatPGH advised us not to miss the dive bar pop-up restaurant on March 14; Good Food Pittsburgh introduced the new menus at Lidia's Italy; and Pittsburgh Magazine explored Hungary's bar scene.

See you back here soon!

How Sweet It Is photo

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Pittsburgh distillers bring home gold

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

maggies

This past weekend, two local distillers picked up some nice bling and nicely repped Pittsburgh in the process. 

This was Sunday night at the American Craft Spirits Association's Second Annual Craft Spirits Competition at the group's convention and trade show in Austin, Texas. 

Getting one of the hand-imprinted "Barrelheads" for winning best of class as well as a gold medal was Allegheny Distilling, better known here as Maggie's Farm Rum, for Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Double Barrel. 

The Strip District distillery also won: 

Silver medal: Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Aged 

Silver medal: Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Unaged

Bronze medal: Maggie's Farm White Rum 

As Maggie's Farm tweeted that night, "Not [beep] bad for a Pittsburgh rum distillery." 

Our other Strip District distillery, Wigle Whiskey, meanwhile, also won several medals:

Gold medal: Deep Cut Rye Whiskey

Silver medal: Malted Rye

Bronze medal: Organic Wheat Whiskey

Bronze medal: Organic Wheat Whiskey Finished with White Ash Wood

Bronze medal: Wigle's Giniver

As Wigle tweeted that night, the two distilleries really put Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania on the craft-spirit map. 

More than 200 craft distilleries entered 328 spirits in six main categories: Brandy, Rum, Gin, Liqueurs, Distilled Spirits Specialty and Vodka. Almost half (155) were whiskeys.

Said ACSA VP Ted Huber in a news release, "We're seeing more whiskies than ever. They are literally and figuratively 'coming out of the woodwork,' as these spirits have now been aging for up to four years and are ready to be appreciated. It's a clear sign of the maturing of our craft industry."

You can read the full list of winners here

Now, if there were only a natural way to celebrate the wins ... 

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