Food | BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |
Monday, September 10, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 12:05 PM

In anticipation of our Fall Guide coming out this Wednesday (Sept. 12), Wigle Whiskey and Pittsburgh City Paper bring you a delicious Fall-inspired cocktail you can create at home.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 11:21 AM

Sara Bir is nosy. She peeks into backyards, deep corners of the forest, and Walmart parking lots. 

She’s a forager with an eye for forgotten fruit, abundant harvests, and nature’s strangest offerings. 

Bir is the author of The Fruit Forager’s Companion, a book filled with recipes, tips, and tricks for the everyday forager. On Sept. 1, she will team up with White Whale Bookstore in Bloomfield and a fellow fruit-lover Andrew Moore for a book signing and discussion.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 2:50 PM

Superior Motors among Food & Wine's 2018 Restaurants of the Year
CP photo by Krista Johnson
On April 10, Food & Wine released its list of 2018's top ten restaurants to have opened in the last 14 months. Braddock's own Superior Motors helmed by chef Kevin Sousa was among the honored restaurants this year.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 5:02 PM

Everyone knows the most iconic Pittsburgh foods are pierogies and sandwiches with fries stuffed inside. If people are visiting the Steel City, they need to try some church pierogies and a Primanti’s sandwich; they’re Pittsburgh rights of passage.

But Pittsburgers don’t eat these famous foods the most often compared to other popular foods. According to new data released by Google News Lab, Pittsburgh is like most Rust Belt cities in its most-frequented restaurant choices: We like pizza and we like burgers.

According to the data, which was aggregated from information taken from people who have enabled Location History, Pittsburgh is fifth in the U.S. in terms of burger-restaurant visits and seventh in the U.S. in terms of pizza-restaurant visits. Other cities with top 10 rankings in both pizza- and burger-restaurant visits were Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and Minneapolis. (Also of note, is Pittsburgh’s top 15 ranking in coffee-shop visits among a list that is dominated by West Coast cities.)

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 4:41 PM

Get ready to unbutton that top button on your pants because today begins Pittsburgh Restaurant Week. Through Jan. 21, participating restaurants will offer special packages to encourage Pittsburgh diners to explore the city's growing restaurant scene. The restaurant list includes newer, trendy establishments like or, The Whale and Superior Motors, as well as veterans of the culinary scene like Nine on Nine and The Capital Grille.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 5:06 PM

click to enlarge New Mexican restaurant in Beechview seeking crowd-sourced loan funds
Photo courtesy of Demtrio Aragon
Demetrio Aragon (right) and his family inside the La Catrina kitchen
In May 2016, City Paper reported about the economic revitalization of Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood and the role Latino residents were playing. The South Hills neighborhood had been marked by several vacancies in its business district for decades, but over the last few years, Latino entrepreneurs have been opening up restaurants and other businesses, bringing vitality back to the neighborhood.

Recently, La Catrina, a new Mexican restaurant joined the ranks, and the owners are looking for a little help so they can improve their operations and offerings. Demetrio Aragon and his family have lived in the Pittsburgh area since 2000. Aragon worked in Japanese restaurants until one day his wife convinced him that the family should open up a restaurant to serve the traditional Mexican dishes they had trouble finding in Pittsburgh.

“My wife, it was her idea,” says Aragon. “She saw the Hispanic population growing, and that there was a need for real food. We serve sopes, and tamales, but not like some I see here that are served unwrapped. We wrap ours up [in a corn husk]. That is the way it is supposed to be done.”

Aragon says the restaurant, which occupies a space across the street from the IGA/Las Palmas grocery store on Broadway Avenue, has been open for more than three months, but the place still needs a griddle, refrigerator and mixer to become fully functional. Aragon, with help from the Beechview-based Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, is trying to secure a crowd-sourced loan through As of print, La Catrina’s loan is 94 percent funded with only $550 left to reach its $10,000 goal, with only three days remaining to contribute.

“We just need some equipment,” says Aragon. “It’s just me and my wife and daughters. We don’t have investors.”

Ashleigh Deemer, chief of staff to Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak, wrote in an email to CP that La Catrina deserves a little support, so that Beechview can continue to grow economically. "Beechview has been a hidden gem for years, but Broadway Avenue's small-business culture is really taking off, and La Catrina is a perfect destination for anyone who wants to visit and see all Beechview has to offer," she wrote.

Aragon and his family live in Dormont, but choose Beechview to cater to the neighborhood’s growing Latino population. Aragon is from the Álvaro Obregón district of Mexico City (the same district as deported immigrant-rights activist Martín Esquivel-Hernandez), and he says there is a big opportunity in Pittsburgh for ultra-authentic Mexican food because there aren’t many authentic Mexican restaurants.

La Catrina specializes in many hard-to-find Mexican recipes, all crafted by Aragon’s wife, Angelica. La Catrina offers chilaquiles (deep-fried tortillas bathed in chili sauce), lamb barbacoa (and a soup made from all the lamb’s juices), and sopes (a corn masa dumpling typically topped with slow-cooked meats, lettuce and avocado).

Aragon says that all of La Catrina's traditional Mexican recipes are made from scratch, including all of the chili sauces that covers most dishes. La Catrina offers Tex-Mex food as well, but not all of those items are scratch-made.

Aragon says that La Catrina's clientele has mostly been Latinos looking for a taste of home, but many native-born Americans have also eaten there. He hopes that La Catrina will be a restaurant welcoming to everyone.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 4:07 PM

If you are stuck in the office on what promises to be a glorious Friday in the ‘Burgh, and want to feel as if you are outside enjoying soaking up the rays in the park or on the beach, Uber has you covered.
click to enlarge Pittsburgh’s second annual Uber Ice Cream Day coming Friday

For the second year in a row, ride-booking company Uber will be delivering ice cream curbside, on Fri., July 24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

“We thought this would be a great way to get people pumped about summer,” says Uber Pittsburgh general manager Jennifer Krusius, “and what better way than ice cream.”

Cincinnati-based Graeter's Ice Cream will be supplying several flavors, including vanilla, black raspberry and double chocolate chip, in five-ounce cups. Krusius says that local vendors were considered, but Graeter’s was eventually chosen because it had the best “distribution model for the amount of ice cream we expect to deliver.”

To order the ice cream, customers need to open the Uber app during the aforementioned time frame, set the delivery location and type in a request for “Ice Cream.” Orders are $15 for five cups, and they must be ordered in increments of five.

The tasty treats will then be delivered by a local Uber driver, or by a Green Gear pedicab. The local pedicab company, best known for providing pedal-power lifts to people during sporting events, has partnered with Uber to deliver ice cream.

Delivery areas include Downtown, the Strip, Lawrenceville, North Side, South Side, Shadyside and Oakland.

“Basically, anywhere within a short drive from the Golden Triangle,” says Krusius.

Krusius says that last year Uber was “booked solid” the entire day with requests. She urges users to get their request in early.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 2:15 PM

click to enlarge Pittsburgh City Council passes urban agriculture bill
Photo by Heather Mull
Jody Noble-Choder, of Highland Park, holds one of her Indian Runner ducks. Before today's urban agriculture amendments, Noble-Choder's animals were illegally kept in her yard.
In a unanimous vote this morning, Pittsburgh City Council passed amendments to the urban-agriculture zoning code, making it a right, rather than an exception to the law, for residents to have bees, chickens, ducks and even goats.

"We’re really grateful for the city’s leadership on this," says Marisa Manheim of Grow Pittsburgh, one of four organizations that collaborated with the Department of City Planning on the amendments. Other organizations included Pittsburgh Pro-Poultry People, Burgh Bees and the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council of Penn State Center-Pittsburgh.

Council voted 8-0 (Councilor Daniel Lavelle was absent) to change the 2011 urban-agriculture zoning code, making the process easier and cheaper for residents, and expanding the zoning areas for where urban-agriculture activities can take place.

"I'm in support because I think it removes barriers for those participating in urban agriculture," Councilor Natalia Rudiak told City Paper last week before the vote.

Under the 2011 zoning rules, residents had to apply for a variance, costing them more than $300 and taking up to four months. The new rules require a one-time fee of $70 and reduces the paperwork to just a few forms.

"It might be a couple papers and site plan that needs to be drawn, and we'll have instructions for that," says Shelly Danko-Day, the city planning open-spaces specialist.

Danko-Day says that the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections will likely visit a resident's home to assure that any animal enclosures are properly installed.

Another big change for the city is the fact that privately owned land in some zoning districts, including highway commercial, neighborhood commercial and industrial areas, will now be allowed to have agriculture as the primary activity on the land.

"I'm excited about that," she says. "We have a lot of vacant land that's not being utilized."

 Resident still must adhere to measurement standards. For instance, people who have a 2,000-square-foot lot, including their house or other structures, can have up to two beehives with five chickens or ducks, or two beehives with two miniature goats. The rules change depending on the size of one's property, and Grow Pittsburgh has published an easy-to-understand version on its website.

"Beyond the actual produce itself, it gives people a chance to engage with their food and understand the food system," Manheim says. "We hear about avian flu in the central U.S., and it resonates so much more when people understand the needs these animals have."

Also, the legislation now opens the door for people to sell produce from on-site farmstands from their backyards.

"We’re excited about the possibilities this will open for individuals, communities and organizations here in the city," says Heather Mikulas, of Penn State Center-Pittsburgh. "It can really have a positive impact on the quality of life. It has implications of more beautiful greens spaces, potential economic activities, healthier and more active lifestyles, and could change how the face of Pittsburgh looks."

Check out this week's City Paper on the impact of the new legislation in Wednesday's print and online editions. 

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 3:25 PM

click to enlarge ICYMI: Conflict Kitchen Goes Cuban ... Again
Photo courtesy of Conflict Kitchen
Lechon asado, slow roasted pork marinated in mojo sauce
Despite recent headlines about a so-called U.S.-Cuba normalization — cultural-exchange trips, music and sports diplomacy, and the prospect of future waves of U.S. tourists — directors of Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen are repeating their Cuban iteration anyway. The take-out restaurant, run by local artists Dawn Weleski and Jon Rubin, changes its menu every three to five months to represent nations with which the U.S. is in conflict.

click to enlarge ICYMI: Conflict Kitchen Goes Cuban ... Again
Photo courtesy of Conflict Kitchen
Yuca con mojo, yuca in mojo Sauce
"It's important for us to revisit old iterations and continue that relationship with the immigrant population in Pittsburgh ... I think that this is a chance for us to expand the definition of 'conflict,'" says Weleski, Conflict Kitchen co-director. "For Cubans and Cuban Americans, there is not only an economic embargo going on, there’s also an emotional embargo going on."

Weleski stresses that while the U.S. removed Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, the economic embargo on Cuba is still in place. She adds that unpacking the inter-generational feelings among Cubans and Cuban Americans regarding the Cuban government is what Conflict Kitchen is trying to communicate ... via delicious food.

"There's a great deal of complexity within those communities that the rest of America needs to understand," Weleski says.

The new menu features several dishes, including lechon asado, a slow-roasted pork dish; ropa vieja, a Cuban-style shredded beef in tomato sauce; and emapanada de picadillo, an empanada filled with ground beef, tomatoes and olives.

"It’s not just about the Cubano sandwich," Weleski says. She and the staff hope to demonstrate that by offering rotating specials — like rabo encendido, spicy braised oxtail, and vaca frita, crispy shredded beef — as well as a vegan okra stew. 

"We’re presenting Afro-Cuban cuisine, eastern Cuban cuisine. There’s more diversity in the cuisine than most people would imagine," Weleski says.
click to enlarge ICYMI: Conflict Kitchen Goes Cuban ... Again
Photo by Heather Mull
This photo was taken the day that Conflict Kitchen re-opened after death threats closed the restaurant during its Palestinian iteration.

Weleski also says that by request from Pittsburgh's Muslim community, all chicken and beef used by the restaurant will be halal.

Conflict Kitchen made international news when it received death threats because of its previous menu, a Palestinian concept.

Educational pamphlets, featuring stories from residents of the countries represented — and which were the centerpiece of debate during the restaurant's Palestinian iteration — will be given with each take-out box of Cuban cuisine.

"We’re the starting point for conversation," Weleski says. "When people are coming to the take-out window, they can revisit their ideas or opinions [and discuss] what have they heard in the news and media or among family and friends since [our previous Cuban iteration a couple of years ago]."

The staff gathered stories during a trip to Cuba and also collected stories from Cuban Americans in Pittsburgh and Miami. Other educational components will include an open discussion the week of June 21 in Schenley Plaza with local Cuban Americans, as well as a two-week rotation of guest Instragrammers from Cuba on Conflict Kitchen's Instagram account.

click to enlarge ICYMI: Conflict Kitchen Goes Cuban ... Again
Photo courtesy of Conflict Kitchen's guest Instagrammer Kako Escalona
Conflict Kitchen will rotate guest Instagrammers from Cuba every two weeks

"What is important to us is creating a space where people are admitting their own ignorances. about things and becoming interested and passionate. They, as Americans, are also world citizens," Weleski says. "We want to engender a sense of curiosity about culture and politics in our customers."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Conflict Kitchen is a project run by Carnegie Mellon University's School of Art. According to the restaurant's co-directors, the restaurant is 95 percent supported by food sales, with CMU as its 501c3 umbrella to process any small grants received.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Ever since Conflict Kitchen unveiled a selection of Palestine-inspired dishes Oct. 6, the restaurant has faced criticism from Jewish organizations that have rebuked the Heinz Endowments for helping fund the restaurant. These critics have argued that the U.S. is not in conflict with Palestine. (The restaurant features a rotating menu inspired by cuisine form places the U.S. is currently engaged in conflict.)

Those criticisms have been included in two separate articles in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, both written by dining critic Melissa McCart. The latest story, which ran yesterday, included B’nai B’rith International's objections to Conflict Kitchen as a "deeply unsettling choice for a grant," as well as a statement from the Heinz Endowments distancing itself from Conflict Kitchen, but issuing blanket approval of artists who "perform edgy and provocative programming."

In a post that has gotten some traction online, Conflict Kitchen co-founder Jon Rubin objected to the P-G's coverage of the story, saying McCart "neglected to include any of Conflict Kitchen's answers" to interview questions — and did not include "the viewpoints of local Palestinians."

Reached by phone this afternoon, McCart says she offered Conflict Kitchen a chance to comment for the story Tuesday afternoon, roughly 24 hours before deadline. Rubin responded to questions McCart sent via email after the story had been filed late afternoon Wednesday. "It was too late," McCart says. "I appreciate that Mr. Rubin wants to be heard and that he's concerned about funds being rescinded. But I think the way he framed his voice not being heard was not honest."

On the same day the story ran, McCart posted Rubin's responses on the P-G's food blog.

"I respect Jon," McCart adds. "I wish there hadn't been such a fallout that seems pretty unnecessary."

For his part, Rubin confirmed that he preferred to be interviewed by email, and that he didn't have a chance to respond to McCart's questions until Wednesday afternoon because he was "working all day and we wanted to be very considered with what we said."

Still, Rubin says, he's concerned with the lack of attention to Palestinian voices in the controversy. "No one has asked local members of the Palestinian community how they feel about this," Rubin says. "That's an important point."

McCart declined to say why interviews with local Palestinians didn't make it into either article.

For now, Rubin says he's not concerned the controversy will jeopardize the restaurant's future. He says the $50,000 grant they received from the Heinz Endowments was largely to cover the cost of moving to Oakland and "95 percent of funding" comes from public support, including food sales.

"The public has approached us with incredible support and trust and open minds and curiosity," Rubin says. "No one has complained whatsoever at the restaurant and we're busier than we've ever been."

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