Friday, August 30, 2013

Hometown-Homegrown at the Heinz History Center Sept 7 (Plus Ticket Giveaway)

The second annual Hometown-Homegrown will take place at the Heinz History Center on Saturday, September 7, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The event features tastings from a number of local vendors—including some of my personal favorites (Braddock's American Brasserie, Marty's Market, S&D Polish Deli, Soergel Orchards)—as well as cooking demos and other activities throughout the day. Your ticket includes admission to the History Center and is free for History Center members.

In addition, I am going to tell you a couple of ways you can win tickets to the event! First, the History Center is running a Pittsburgh's Perfect Pierogi contest, so if you think your homemade pierogis can beat anyone's out there, submit your recipe for a chance to win two tickets to Hometown-Homegrown, as well as a $50 gift certificate to Braddock's American Brasserie, a behind-the scenes tour of the QED Cooks studio with host Chris Fennimore, and have your recipe featured on the QED Cooks website. To enter, post your recipe, the story behind it, and a photo before Wednesday September 4 to the History Center's Facebook page or email A random winner will be selected on September 4.

No pierogi recipe? No worries! I am running a ticket giveaway on this blog as well. To enter, do one or more of the following:

Method #1...Send out the following tweet to Twitter, word for word:
Food tastings, demos, & other foodie fun at #HometownHomegrown @HistoryCenter Sat Sept 7 10-3: (via @foodcollage)
Note: You must mention @foodcollage in your tweet so that I am notified of your entry. Also, if you have a private Twitter account and I'm not following you, you must email me to let me know you've tweeted or there is no way for me to know about your entry!

Method #2...Post the following link to your Facebook page and encourage your friends to check it out:
Note: You must email me to let me know you've posted this link to your Facebook page or there is no way for me to know about your entry!

Method #3...Send an email to your Pittsburgh friends with the following link and encourage them to check it out:
Note: You must include my email address in your list of recipients or there is no way for me to know about your entry!

Only one entry per method but multiple entries are allowed if you do more than one of the above. For example, if you tweet the same message twice, that counts as only one entry, but if you post to both Twitter and Facebook, you get two entries. Doing all three will get you three entries! The deadline to enter the ticket giveaway is 5:00 pm on Thursday, September 5. A random drawing will be conducted and the winner will be announced that evening.

UPDATE (9/5/2013):  A random number was generated using to select the winner. Congratulations to Twitter user @mocharaia on winning the tickets! And thanks to everyone who entered! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thin Man Sandwich Shop (Strip District)

The corner of 21st and Smallman Streets—the loft space that was once 21st Street Coffee (which is no longer on 21st Street, by the way)—is now home to the Thin Man Sandwich Shop. It is not your typical run-of-the-mill sandwich shop, however. Growing up, I was never really into sandwiches as I found them rather boring, but the flavor and ingredient combinations at Thin Man are, on the contrary, creative and mouth-watering.

Take the signature Thin Man, for example: a perfectly-crunchy baguette filled with local bacon, chicken liver mousse, frisée, and dressed in red wine vinaigrette. (And yes, I did have to look up what frisée is.) I loved this sandwich for its excellent flavors—the rich chicken liver mousse providing a savory complement to the bacon—if not for the fact that it will definitely not turn me into a thin woman. (Or a thin man...thankfully!)

The Thin Man at Thin Man Sandwich Shop
The Thin Man

In addition to the handful of standard signature sandwiches, there is a seasonal menu that changes regularly, keeping things fresh and interesting. I have tried the Roasted Pork Belly, with caramelized Brussels sprouts and ponzu-tofu sauce on a baguette, which I thought was fantastic—and this is coming from someone who doesn't care much for Brussels sprouts!

Roasted Pork Belly at Thin Man Sandwich Shop
Roasted Pork Belly

Roasted Pork Belly at Thin Man Sandwich Shop
Roasted Pork Belly

Just this past weekend I brought my former high school teacher Mr. B., who was visiting from Canada, here to Thin Man for lunch. He raved about his Thai Fish and Shrimp Cakes sandwich (with pickled cucumbers, red curry, Thai basil, and peanuts), which I will have to try next time. But as soon as he saw my Braised Beef Cheek sandwich, served with fried plantains and chimichurri, he exclaimed, "Nice cheeks!" (As a joke, of course. He is no creepo.) And yes, those cheek were indeed nice. Better than nice, in fact. Friend Jenn who was also with us enjoyed her salad, so it appears that Thin Man Sandwich Shop excels at not just sandwiches, but also its side items.

Braised Beef Cheeks at Thin Man Sandwich Shop
Braised Beef Cheek

Thin Man also serves drinks made using selzer from Pittsburgh Selzer Works. The Cucumber Basil I had was just the most perfect refreshing summery drink, but just like the sandwiches, the beverage flavors also change regularly. Based on my experience though, you can't really go wrong with anything here!

Restaurant info:
Thin Man Sandwich Shop
50 21st Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 586-7370
Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Thin Man Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Venison Roast with Spiced Blueberry Chutney

Our stash of venison included a 3-1/2 pound roast. While at the Berry Patch when they were still at the Pittsburgh Public Market earlier this year, we had sought advice on what would go well with a venison roast, and the hot blueberry jam was recommended to us.

A little googling led me to this Herbal Roasted Venison with Spiced Blueberry Chutncy recipe that sounded pretty good. I made a few adjustments, incorporating the hot blueberry jam into the marinade and the chutney, using fresh instead of frozen blueberries, and skipping the juniper berries (only because I didn't have any). This is what I came up with:


1 (3-4 lb) venison roast

Herb Rub:

fresh rosemary leaves, about 6 springs
fresh thyme leaves, to taste
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons coarse salt


1-1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup hot blueberry jam

Spiced Blueberry Chutney

3 oz hot blueberry jam
6 oz fresh blueberries
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp cup sugar
1 oz raisins
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint


Using a small knife, make slits all over the roast.

Mix herb rub ingredients in a food processor and rub the mix into the roast.

Mix marinade together and pour into a 1 gallon Ziplock bag. Place roast inside the bag, zip it tightly, and swish it around to make sure the marinade covers all sides of the roast. Place in a bowl and marinade overnight in refrigerator. Turn roast around during the marinade process for even coverage.

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Place roast in a roasting pan, cover, and roast 20 minutes per pound. Uncover, increase heat to 375˚F, and roast until desired doneness. (For me, it took another 35 minutes to get to medium.)

In the meantime, mix all chutney ingredients but the mint in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until thickened, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Let cool, and stir in mint. Serve with roast.

Hot blueberry jam from The Berry Patct
Hot blueberry jam from the Berry Patch

Venison marinating in herb rub and blueberry marinade
Venison marinating in herb rub and blueberry marinade

Venison Roast with Spiced Blueberry Chutney
Venison Roast with Spiced Blueberry Chutncy

We only had one venison roast, so I suppose I won't be making this exact dish again for a while, but it was delicious and I suspect the spiced blueberry chutney would go well with steaks or other types of roasts.

Recipe adapted from:
Seattle Times (get the original recipe here)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Root 174: Take Two (Regent Square)

On the second night of Uncle Gary's visit, we took him to another one of our favorites in town: Root 174. We started with the amazing Crispy Brussels Sprouts with a bacon black pepper glaze—the only Brussels sprouts I've ever liked, by the way. The entrées were equally satisfying; Uncle Gary seemed to enjoy his Heart Sausage, served with flannel hash, duck confit, fennel carrot salad, an egg, and whole grain demi. R.'s Roasted Chicken Breast with chickpeas, Moroccan spices pistachio, and tomato both looked and tasted fabulous, while I tried the highly recommended Vegan "Meatloaf," with green lentils, mushrooms, yams, turnips, and apple soy sauce.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts at Root 174
Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Heart Sausage at Root 174
Heart Sausage

Roasted Chicken Breast at Root 174
Roasted Chicken Breast

Vegan "Meatloaf" at Root 174
Vegan "Meatloaf"

For dessert, I was not going to miss one of the specials of the evening: Curry ice cream with roasted pineapples, coconut tapioca, and Thai basil. It was definitely one of the more unique ice cream desserts I've had at a restaurant and I loved it!

Curry ice cream with roasted pineapples, coconut tapioca, and Thai basil at Root 174
Curry Ice Cream with Roasted Pineapples, Coconut Tapioca, and Thai Basil

It is safe to say that we all thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to show off some of Pittsburgh's best food to our very special out-of-town guest!

Restaurant info:
Root 174
1113 S. Braddock Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218
on the web:
on Facebook:
on twitter:

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Root 174 on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fukuda: Take Two (Bloomfield)

UPDATE: Fukuda has closed.

A few months ago our Uncle Gary came to Pittsburgh for a weekend visit and we made sure to take him to some of the best restaurants in town. First stop: my favorite Japanese restaurant in town, Fukuda!

We ordered a mix of dishes to share, some of which are pictured below. As usual, the sushi was fresh and of high quality and everything else was equally fabulous. The dessert of the day on this particular visit was a chocolate shiitake ice cream with chocolate covered shiitake mushrooms and lavender powder which was really intriguing. Fukuda never disappoints!

Nigiri at Fukuda

Nigiri at Fukuda

Temaki (handroll) at Fukuda

Duck robatayaki at Fukuda
Duck Robatayaki

Chocolate shiitake ice cream at Fukuda
Chocolate Shiitake Ice Cream

Chocolate covered shiitake with lavender powder at Fukuda
Chocolate Covered Shiitake with Lavender Powder

For photos from my previous visits to Fukuda, see my post here.

Restaurant info:
4770 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

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Fukuda on Urbanspoon

Venison Bulgogi (Take 2)

I had attempted venison bulgogi before, but when I made venison bibimbap, I discovered another bulgogi sauce recipe that served as an excellent marinate for the bibimbap so I thought I'd try it as is. I made two batches—one used to marinate the thinly sliced venison steak overnight and the other as a sauce for serving. It was tasty! I wouldn't say this was better or worse than the other recipe I tried, but this is a bit sweeter with the inclusion of pears.  It's been fun getting into Korean cooking, and the flavors work really well with our large (though slowly dwindling, finally) supply of venison!

Venison Bulgogi
Venison Bulgogi

Recipe courtesy of: (get the recipe here)