Sunday, September 25, 2011

Waterfront Food & Wine Tasting 2011

September is Hunger Action Month.

I know, I know, I'm a bit late to the party.  It's been a hectic September for me, as evidence by the sporadic activity on my blog, but I hope that posting about this now, at the end of the month, will help remind everyone that while Hunger Action Month may be almost over, hunger is definitely not for the 1 in 6 Americans who don't have enough to eat every day.  And there is a lot anyone can do to help fight hunger, regardless of what month it is.

In an effort to support the Pittsburgh Food Bank, a neighbor and I attended the annual Waterfront Food and Wine Tasting on September 15.  Having never been to this event before, I had no idea what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised by the vibrant scene and the huge turnout.  Many businesses in the Waterfront/Homestead area offered tastings and other goods in support of the event, and I will just highlight some of my favorites stations in this post.

There were tastings from several small, independent restaurants, such as Blue Dust and Tin Front Cafe.  Here's a delicious chili from Tin Front Cafe, which was a 2010 Chili in the Works 2nd place winner:

Tin Front Cafe @ Taste of the Waterfront 2011
Tin Front Cafe's Chili

(Note to self: Add Tin Front Cafe to wishlist!)

The Waterfront is notorious for its abundance of chain restaurants.  Chain restaurants sometimes get a bad rep because, well, sometimes they are bad.  But Mitchell's Fish Market's offerings looked awesome, and seeing Mitchell's name gave me fond memories of Columbus, Ohio, where I used to love the Columbus Fish Market (same restaurant, slightly different name).  Mitchell's and Columbus Fish Market restaurants are now owned by Ruth's Chris, but used to be part of the Cameron Mitchell empire that dominated the restaurant scene in Columbus when I was there in the earlier part of the 2000's.

Anyway, I tried all three of Mitchell's tastings:  Tuna ceviche with cucumber, steak tartare, and avocado ice cream with salsa.  And all I can say is "wow!"  Chains are not all bad, after all. :)

Mitchell's @ Taste of the Waterfront 2011
Small bites from Mitchell's Fish Market

Seeing that neither of us is a beer drinker, my neighbor and I skipped the beer room and headed for the wine.  But first, some Sartori and Market District brand cheese from Giant Eagle:

Taste of the Waterfront 2011
Cheese selection from Giant Eagle

We had the Balsamic Bellavito, Bellavito Gold, and gouda.  All were good, though I found the Balsamic Bellavito to be the most interesting.  The little cheese pairing pamphlet we got stated that the Balsamic Bellavito pairs well with Weizen, which made me laugh because the Weizen is, so far, the only beer I was able to drink a full glass of (and actually liked!).

Three different wine stations greeted us in the "wine room": Greenhouse Winery, Arrowhead Wine Cellars at Trax Farms, and Pennsylvania Wine Cellar.  We spent the most time at the very long PA Wine Cellar table, where they offered no less than three dozen wines from dry to sweet.  I can't remember now all the wines I tasted (you know, after a while it tends to erase your memory), but I definitely remember the very unique, limited-edition Chocolate Covered Cherry wine, which tasted amazingly like chocolate covered cherries.

Pennsylvania Wine Cellar @ Taste of the Waterfront 2011
Pennsylvania Wine Cellar
My favorite, however, was the refreshing Winter Pear:

Pennsylvania Wine Cellar @ Taste of the Waterfront 2011
Winter Pear Wine from PA Wine Cellar.

Then, we finished off our evening of tasting with tiramisu from BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, another chain that reminded me of those happy days in Columbus.  I am a little picky when it comes to tiramisu, and Bravo's version was melt-in-your-mouth good and not too cakey, as many a tiramisu tends to be.

Bravo @ Taste of the Waterfront 2011
Tiramisu from BRAVO! Cucina Italiana

After our little food tour of the Waterfront, we stopped by the Pennsylvania Wine Cellar store just a few units down so I could get some Winter Pear wine to take home.  What a cute store with a masive selection of wine accessories, not to mention the passionate staff who work there.  They offered to let me take some pictures of the store and I will share one here:

Pennsylvania Wine Cellar
Pennsylvania Wine Cellar, the store

Needless to say, I had an absolute blast at the Waterfront Food and Wine Tasting, and it's not just the wine talking!  It was great fun for a great cause, and I'm already looking forward to going back next year.

And if you want to join the fight against hunger, visit the Pittsburgh Food Bank's website (or the website of your local food bank) and check out the many different ways you can help increase awareness and reduce hunger.  Remember, just because Hunger Action Month is almost over doesn't mean our job is done!