The Commoner’s lead bartender, Alex Dando, has concocted a How the Grinch Stole Christmas drink menu for the holiday season. The drink names are almost as amusing as the libations themselves — “Tea on Mount Crumpit,” anyone? But hot chocolate was a fast favorite, with Swiss Alpine liquor, the best hot cocoa of your life, and boozy marshmallows. Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer!view post
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The open flame was hot. Really hot. Like, 600 degrees of hot, rising a foot or more above the grill on an end-of-summer evening outside the Barn at Soergel Hollow in Evans City. Before the pork belly had been butterflied, roasting and sizzling, it had been marinating. For three days. Letting all the natural oils from the thyme and fennel—picked fresh—do their thing.
“Penetrate the meat,” clarifies Pines Tavern chef Tony Verdream, dousing the pork with sherry, thyme and lemon infused honey gastrique, momentarily quelling the 600 degrees of hot flame in a smoldering embrace.
When the Bradley Center decided to host its second annual Gathering of Chefs Farm-to-Fork event on September 10, they didn’t have to do much arm twisting to get the urbanites out into the suburbs. Way into the suburbs. Off the highway, down one side road and another, into sprawling countryside and wide-open spaces. Just as it was the previous year, this one was a sell-out. More than a sellout, actually, with 255 guests ready to devour, discretely or otherwise, signature dishes from a dozen or so of Pittsburgh’s finest, whipped up using locally sourced ingredients.
There was Chef Martin Thomas of the Sewickley Heights Golf Club with his Mulled Red Wine Braised Beef Brisket, Harvest Bread Pudding, and Green Tomato Conserve, sourced from the McElhaney and Dillner family farms.
Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus & Parkhurst Dining Chef Christopher Galarza fooled carnivores with his Vegan Pulled “Pork” (aka Jackfruit), Roasted Delicata Squash, Ryeberry & Carrot Salad with Sherry Maple Vinaigrette sourced from Eden Hall Farm.
And if you made it past the Crunchy Chicken of the Woods Mushroom Taco, Heirloom Tomato, Goat Rodeo More Cowbell Cheese, and Smoked Chicken Pastelitos with Fresno Honey Jalepeno Cheese from Chef Martin Lamarche at Breakneck Tavern, sourced from Forest Fresh Foods, Eichner’s Farm, Zimmerman Family Farm, and Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy, you may have had room for one of 320 slices of Caramel Apple Pie from Piebird Pastry Kitchen, stuffed with two bushels of mixed apples: Ginger Gold, Zestar, and Rambo, which is kinda like a Macintosh.
“Slab pies,” said chef Annalee DePaoli. “Baked at 375 for forty-five-ish minutes.”
Which you could top off with a scoop or two or three from Nathan Holmes’ Pittsburgh Ice Cream Company. Flavors like Landlocked Vanilla, Salted Goat Caramel and Burnt Almond Torte, churned using fresh milk he picks up weekly from local farms like Brunton’s Dairy. And not 1% or even whole. Full fat, Nathan says. “Sixteen percent butterfat. The good kind of fat.”
Good enough to draw a line that snaked its way around the corner and out of the barn. Good enough to stand in line for seconds. Or thirds.
And at the end of the evening, everything was good enough for a sunset toast to the volunteers, the linens, the chefs, the food; all of which was donated allow for the $100K in proceeds to benefit the Bradley kids directly.
New tennis shoes, trips to the zoo, birthday gifts; a year’s worth of things for the kids to look forward to.
“I’m blown away by the generosity,” said CEO Lisa Fox.
When the leaves begin to turn beautiful shades of autumn and the temperature begins to cool down to “bearable,” I know it’s time to let my #roséallday obsession rest, and happily start my search to find more substantial fall-forward wines to suit the coming season of football, feasts, and festivities.
October is Pennsylvania wine month, and I can think of no better time to enjoy and explore the beautiful landscape of Pennsylvania wine country. From anywhere in our charming state, you are less than an hour’s drive to one of the more than 200 wineries PA has to offer. We are the fifth largest grape producer in the US, proffering more than one million gallons of wine per year. We’ve hand-selected some of the best bottles for you to sip, savor, and share (or not), as well as complied a list of must-dos to keep you busy all season long.
* = Extraordinary, like really, really yummy.
*1. Pittsburgh Winery
Malbec, 2012 ($39)
Smoldering earthy wine with cocoa, cedar, espresso, and pepper notes. Dense in structure and stature, the best pair of legs I’ve seen since Carrie Underwood at the 2012 CMA’s.
Zinfandel, 2013 ($34)
Aromas of autumn, leafy, brambly, blackberry with hints of pepper and deliciously elegant and delicate.
On-site production, storage and cellar seating among aging wine barrels, or venture to the California-style tasting room for a personal experience with the winemakers.
2. Ripepi Winery & Vineyard
Cranberry Wine ($15.99)
A Dry specialty wine with enhanced bright berry flavors. Perfect for your Aunt Sally who “doesn’t like to drink much” (wink, wink).
Jonagold Oaked Apple Wine ($14.99)
Light oaking of Jonathan apples, unique in complexity of fruit flavors.
Check out their calendar for monthly happy hours
*3. Greendance, The Winery at Sand Hill
Merlot & Mourvèdre 2014 ($15)
A blend of two prized French varietals, 52% Merlot and 48% Mourvèdre, creating a rich, silky, and full-bodied wine. Deeply colored and fleshy, with hints of spicy nuttiness.
Black Currant Estate Wine ($16)
Earthy and intense, lingers smooth and sweet and finishes dry and rich with lingering cranberry essence. Black currants are rarely grown in the United States, but Sand Hill Berries is the largest breeder east of the Mississippi.
Enjoy acres of in-bloom wildflowers and live music Friday through Sunday on the outdoor patio. Visit the year-round farm stand to get yourself a sliver of their world-famous berry pie and other baked goods.
4. Mt. Nittany Winery
Tailgate Red ($14.99)
This easy-drinking semi-sweet blend of French hybrid grape varieties serves crisp strawberry and was made for fun, food, and football.
*5. EngineHouse 25
Opens with aromas of violets, rose petals, and red raspberries. Sips smooth as silk with a cherry nose and lingers with edible flowers and raw spice flavors. Fully capable of standing up to your best Sunday sauce.
The tasting room, Arriba, is a place to enjoy regional and artisanal cheese, provided by Wheel & Wedge, to pair with your bottle of choice.
6. Blue Mountain Vineyards
This award-winning Dry Riesling has crisp acidity and minerality that enhances the lively orange, lemon, and floral notes with a clean and refreshing dry finish.
Sunday afternoon Jazz all year long
7. Penn Shore Vineyards
Holiday Spice Wine ($10.95)
Red grape wine with “secret” spice blend. Perfect for serving hot and steamy to truly enjoy the deep flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange.
WineFest Party Saturday, September 24: Food trucks, music, and family entertainment
8. Clover Hill
Spice Apple Wine ($10.99)
A sweet apple wine that is spiced with cinnamon and a hint of clove. Serves well lightly chilled or warmed.
Yoga in the vineyard, the Clover Hill cooking contest, sangria Sundays, and wine and cheese weekends.
9. Presque Isle Wine Cellars
The Big Kahuna of Lake Erie whites, this medium-dry version serves aromas of lemon, infused with light hints of peach and ruby red grapefruit. The medium-dry palate leads in to a juicy mineral mouthfeel, followed by a zesty citrus finish.
Wine-of-the-month club to access members-only discounts, swag, free tastings for small groups, and a percentage off house events and facility rental.
Wines also available at finewineandgoodspirits.com
From classic wingtips to booties with baubles — embellished footwear is fall’s main ingredient to soulful style.
Taking its cue from southern food’s most popular and favorite dishes of chicken-and-waffles and black-eyed peas to collard greens and sweet potato pie, soul food is the heirloom menu of a rich history of fare with flare. Migrating from the south, the flavors are a perfect mix of spice, leafy greens, potatoes and smothered chicken (typically accompanied by toasted golden waffles).
Plated as an everyday meal, a Sunday brunch, or a large family feast, soul food is a time-honored tradition. It conjures an essence of feeling and style from farm-to-fork and head-to-toe, inspiring a touch of taste reaching beyond the table — to what is seen from underneath it. Art mimics life. Fashion mimics food.
Honey-glazed chicken-and-waffles have a buzzy tang, a nod to the jewel-encrusted honeybees staking their claim on the Cayley 2 Black Velvet Bootie ($250) by Kenneth Cole from Footloose.
Pile On the Potatoes
Whole—and from scratch—irresistible sweet potato pie is made on the wings of love. These wingtips in a sweet potato-pink-and-creamy-white color block are a slice of heaven. This classic style, called Talking Picture Oxford Flat ($49.99), is from ModCloth.
As comfort food for the soul goes, black-eyed peas vanish right in front of your eyes. Don’t let your footwear game disappear, too. Behold the Bow’n Place Leather Mary Janes ($129.99) with grey scalloped vamps, black patent leather toe and heel, black satin ribbon closure and black wood heel from ModCloth.
Kickin’ Haute Greens
Have your kale and eat it, too, with the most essential part of a soul food feast—the collard greens. Add in one of fall’s essential must-haves—this fine mesh calf boot ($80) by Liliana, with a red floral and leafy green applique stitched along the side for a little extra heat. From Ten Toes.
When local corn is ready for harvest, I want to shout corn ideas from the rooftop, so I hope you’re listening. Fire up the grill, and give any of these combos a whirl to savor the season.
Banh Mi on the Cob
Can’t get enough of the traditional Vietnamese sandwich? Slather grilled corn with a spicy chipotle mayo, then top with pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro, anchovies, jalapeños and chopped peanuts. To get all those flavors in one bite, turn this combination into a side salad.
Sweet & Spicy
Bring out the sweetness of corn with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Feeling extra bold? Pair the honey with thin slices of fresh hot peppers.
Sweet & Smoky
Whip up a batch of maple bacon bourbon butter for your corn, then proceed to slather it on pancakes, biscuits, roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, squash … on everything!
This cob is an ode to Italy with every bite of basil pesto, fresh basil, shaved Parmesan and grated Pecorino.
Peach BBQ sauce zigs and zags between spicy bursts of fresh grated ginger and pungent bleu cheese.
Sweet Corn Sundae
Try a scoop of Millie’s Sweet Corn Ice Cream straight on the cob with a drizzle of salted caramel, or, to prevent a scoop catastrophe, ditch the cob, and scrape the grilled kernels over your ice cream, and enjoy!
So you have your ticket for Family House Polo, one of the largest polo matches in the world, now what? Here’s your guide on how to dress, eat, and drink for an ab fab experience this Saturday at Hartwood Acres.
Dress to Impress
The forecast looks sunny and crisp, so think “pressed and polished,” with sturdy footwear to stomp those divets! Top your look with a stylish chapeau to complete your Polo-ready ensemble if you dare (it’s an unspoken tradition!).
Packing a Picnic
Most Polo matches are a combination of luxe tent hopping, casual picnic-style mingling, and seriously sophisticated tailgating. Whether you gather by your ride or grab a picnic basket and park it field-side, we have you covered. Shop here first:
Von Walter & Funk
Quirky, whimsical, and vintage finds abound at this Lawrenceville gem. Adorn your picnic basket and pop-up tailgates with amazing glassware, linens, and trinkets from one of our favorite tastemakers in town.
PA Libations- Spirits Boutique
A quick trip to the Strip district will get you in the Polo spirit with Pennsylvania-produced spirits at PA Libations’ new storefront spirit boutique. Grab some BIG SPRING: Barrel-Aged Rum for some classic Dacqueries, Boyd & Blair Vodka for a field-side martini, or a beautiful bottle of wine from Conneaut Cellars. There is nothing more chic than sipping local.
Meet some of the bright minds behind PA Libations in our TABLE Tent and sample some local spirits and the specialty cocktail they are whipping up, the “Spiced Fall Vodka Tonic” with apples, pears and cinnamon. Cheers!
Penn Mac (Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.)
There is simply no better one-stop shop in town to grab some fresh bread, olives, cheese, and charcuterie for some sophisticated snacking. Pro-tip? Know what cheese you want before you step up to that famous cheese counter. We recommend a hearty chunk of the nutty and salty Parmesan and a creamy blue for some delicious variety.
Butterwood Bake Consortium
Organic cakes and pies adorned with fresh flowers and dotted with buttercream icing are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palette. The gorgeous rustic luxe touches on each and every sweet are the perfect touch to elevate your FH Polo game. These gorgeous treats may win you a few friends and fans in the process.
Arsenal Cider House
You don’t have to limit your love for bubbly to just plain champs! What could be more elegant or more Fall-forward than Pittsburgh’s most popular cider? Pick up a few growlers at Arsenal Cider House to toast the teams this Saturday. Whether selecting Archibald’s Ad Hard Apple Cider semi-sweet amber or the Picket Bone Dry Apple Cider that is light-bodied, crisp, tart and effervescent with a subtle earthiness or a delicious honey wine, you’ll be ready to welcome Fall and feeling festive for the match!
The Haute Spot
Join us at the TABLE TENT!
We were invited to create an experience for all of our friends who are attending. So whether you have your own tent or a ticket and a basket full of Champagne & yum snacks, visit our tent for the most amazing living wall photo opp of your dreams, courtesy of Hens & Chicks, and the the tastiest cocktail and spirit tasting from PA Libations.
Horsing Around & Points of Interest
In addition to watching a thrilling match between two professional teams, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, Foxlease Polo Club, and #1 Cochran Potomac Polo Club, there’s a myriad of supping, strolling, shopping, and more enjoy throughout the day.
At halftime, all guests are invited out onto the UPMC Field to “stomp the divots” and meet the famous Saxonburg Hunt Hounds. Experience a variety of entertainment and activities at your leisure throughout the day, such as the vintage car show, boutique shopping area, and the Carnegie Mellon University Sip & Shop Tent, featuring beer, wine, and spirits tastings. You can also look forward to a bountiful silent auction with highly coveted prizes. The event welcomes children of all ages to enjoy the lively children’s tent featuring pony rides, a magic show, and game.
Riverlife’s Party at the Pier is already the most anticipated fashion event of the summer: Something about the cool waterside party inspires the city’s most posh event-goers to chic out in the most covet-worthy clothes. (And, squad goals? Can we get into those Instagrams, please?)
However, this year’s “War of the Rosés” theme has the culinary team at the River’s Casino turning it up and turning it out. Get ready. The Party at the Pier just became a must-go fête for foodies.
Chefs Michael Shimek and Seungmee (MeeMee) Choi are focusing on three things: medieval cooking and methods, rose flowers and scents, and rosé wine.
Shimek is excited to show off, using some old-time techniques: “Smoking with hay was something we were interested in trying for this event as it is rooted in medieval cooking,” he says. “We used trial and error to get it just right.”
The banquet chef knows that guests will want seconds of the Medieval Custard Pie and the savory Roasted Beet Salad — both of which romantically feature rose fragrance and flavor.
However, his personal favorite are the Rose Wine Gummy Jewels. “I had never attempted to make gummy candy before, let alone one that contains wine,” Shimek says. “It was a very interesting and fun experience.”
We’re most anticipating his Deconstructed Sparkling Rosé: the grapes themselves contain carbonation and are centered on a jus that has the base flavors of a rose.
The desserts are slated to be equally show-stopping.
“One of the desserts, Pear Poached in Red Wine, uses the recipe taken from The Forme of Curye, an extensive collection of medieval English recipes from the 14th century,” Choi says. “The original recipe calls for making the syrup with Greek or Vernaccia wine. In this dessert, we used a Merlot and substituted mixed berries for the mulberries.”
The celebrated pastry chef is also working on a Chocolate Hazelnut Tart, finished with fragments of real, crystalized Damask roses.
But she’s most looking forward to serving her Rose Wine Parfait. “The white color of ginger panna cotta and red color of strawberry gelée represent the conflict between the House of Lancaster (Red Rose) and the House of York (White Rose). Rosé wine gelée represents the House of Tudor (Pink Rose), and signifies the end of war.”
Michael Shimek, Banquet Chef
Michael Shimek, a Grove City, Pa. native, is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh. After graduation, Michael worked for the Waldorf Astoria’s Boca Raton Resort and Club in multiple culinary positions. He helped launch the exclusive Beach Club where he created culinary masterpieces for parties ranging from small intimate gatherings to large celebrations with up to 1,500 guests. In 2011, Michael moved back to Pennsylvania and joined the culinary team at Rivers Casino as the banquet chef.
Michael enjoys the challenge of mastering a wide variety of preparation techniques from around the world. He applies these skills at Rivers Casino to create unique wedding receptions that allow guests to celebrate their cultural heritage. Michael also uses his expertise to create one of a kind corporate functions and banquets that guests are sure to remember.
Seungmee Choi, Executive Pastry Chef
Seungmee (MeeMee) Choi was the valedictorian and the recipient of the Academic Brillat-Savarin from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute School of Pastry Arts in 2003. Following her graduation, she worked at the Duquesne Club for three years. In May 2005, Seungmee joined Parkhurst Event Catering at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh as a pastry cook. She has also worked as a pastry chef at the Hyeholde Restaurant, which was selected in 2008 by Gourmet Magazine as one of the most “legendary restaurants” in the United States. Seungmee returned to Parkhurst Event Catering as the executive pastry chef in 2012. In 2017, Seungmee Choi joined Rivers Casino’s culinary team.
Seungmee loves to create wedding cakes and plated desserts for celebratory events. She is especially talented at creating new cake flavors and textures and decorating freehand. She has participated in a number of local events, such as “Flavors of Pittsburgh”, which was hosted in 2013 by the American Liver Foundation. She also contributed to the “Seven Chef’s Dinner” hosted in 2012 by the Hyeholde Restaurant to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Seungmee Choi has participated in “Chefs Celebrating Chefs: A Tradition of Excellence” with thirteen other Duquesne Club alumni chefs.
In addition to her degree in pastry arts, Seungmee holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in childhood education from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. From 1988 to 1991, she worked as a researcher at the Korean Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences (KIRBS). She also taught at Chung-Joo National College as a part-time faculty member until she moved to the United States in 1996.
We’re blushing over what to wear to Riverlife’s Party at the Pier: War of the Rosés on Friday, August 25. The vibe is very punk rock-meets-pink, so we’re all about selecting a flamingo-friendly frock and sipping coral-colored wines until our faces are flush. Here are a few fashion-forward ideas:view post