Spring Fling - April 2012 Wine Exchange

Spring Fling wine exchange announced

Spring Fling - April 2012 Wine ExchangeThe Pittsburgh TasteBuds are pleased to announce the April 2012 wine exchange. As recommended by several folks from the group, we will be going to Piccolo Forno on Monday April 23, 2012 at 7:30p.m.. The theme of the event will be a Spring Fling, so guests are invited to dress for the warm weather and enjoy some Italian fare and great wines with friends.

The menu for the event is planned to feature some of Piccolo Forno’s finest dishes including an array of three antipasti (appetizers), a primi (pasta) course, secondi (entree) course with two meats served with two contorni (sides).

ANTIPASTI (Appetizers)
A spread of Bruchetta, Stuffed mushrooms and Pizzettes

PRIMI (Pasta)
Vegetable Lasagna Toscana

SECONDI (Entrees)
Pork Spare Rib Cacciatore Style with Soft Polenta
Second entree coming soon

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

We welcome friends and family to join us to celebrate a wonderful spring atmosphere and partake in our signature wine exchange. The meal is in-total $30, paid as a $5 RSVP ticket and a $25 restaurant bill. Tickets are available for purchase at http://www.showclix.com/event/207008.

Liquid lunch on St. Patrick’s Day, Sewickley Soup Crawl

Sewickley Soup Crawl 2012
Sewickley Soup Crawl on March 17, 2012

Wondering what to do on St. Patrick’s Day? While many partake in the art of all-day green-beer hillarity, our friends up in Sewickley are holding a different type of liquid meal approach.

The Sewickley Soup Crawl is this weekend on St. Patrick’s Day.  For just $10 and a small donation to the Sewickley Community Center, you can crawl between cool little shops across the business streets of one Pittsburgh’s northern neighbors and sample soup from local cafes, bakeries and restaurants.

For more information, visit www.exploresewickley.com

A food court alternative, Cafe Nordstrom

Nordstrom's Marketplace Café on Urbanspoon

Every mall in America has a food court, but with the addition of Nordstroms in Ross Park Mall, shoppers have an alternative to fast-food fare called Cafe Nordstrom.
While doing some spring shopping, we decided to have a sit down at the cafe. I got the Roma Tomato Basil Soup and Horseradish Roast Beef Sandwich.  TasteBudA got the Soup du Jour of Chicken and Peppers with the Turkey Club Panini.
The menu doesn’t provide enough detail or indicate what dishes come with, so we were flying blind as we ordered.  My soup was creamy and delicious.  To my surprise, it was served with a crisp, cheesy toast that was great to dip in the tomato soup.  The flavors of the soup were well developed, and a cup was just the right size for lunch.

Horseradish Roast Beef Sandwich with side salad and dark cherry balsamic dressing

My sandwich was served on an onion roll which was soft and hearty – almost too much.  The meat was freshly sliced and was complimented with the horseradish spread.  The sandwich was certainly satisfying and I would recommend it.  To acccompany my sandwich, I chose to get a side salad.  The salad looked amazing and the unique black cherry balsamic dressing was to die for.  I could have had just the salad and been happy with my experience.
TasteBudA enjoyed his selections but felt that he could have had the same meal and experience at Panera Bread.  The food was quality and the atmosphere was warm.  When I tasted his soup, I thought the soup could have had more flavor, but was good.
Overall, the lunch was nice and a preferred option to the food court.  I wouldn’t visit the mall just to try the cafe, but its location is conducive to the shopping crowd.


Braised Short Rib Pierogies - Photo by Andrew Russell, Tribune Review

Short Rib Pierogi Debate – gourmet creativity or disgrace to tradition

The city of Pittsburgh is rich in Polish heritage.  So much, that pierogies are viewed as a city icon.  The Pittsburgh Pirates even have four pierogi mascots that run around PNC Park as in-game entertainment.  Though the Pirates have fun with their pierogies, some serious locals scoff when restaurants have fun with them on their menu.

Braised Short Rib Pierogies - Photo by Andrew Russell, Tribune Review
Braised Short Rib Pierogies - Photo by Andrew Russell, Tribune Review

A recent tweet from Braddock’s American Brasserie, which we’ve reviewedbefore, offers a braised short rib pierogi.  But when you stuffed it with a braised short rib, is  it really a pierogi, or is it more of a ravioli?

My answer is yes, it is a pierogi.  Here’s why.

After some of my own personal research, here are some key differences between pierogies (of Polish decent) and raviolis (of Italian decent).


Pierogies are filled pasta circles that are folded and pinched closed into half moon shapes. Ravioli are square pillows that are sealed the entire perimeter of the square.
The Inside “Stuffing”
Pierogies are traditionally filled with potatoes, onion or cheese, sometimes in combination. Ravioli are traditionally filled with meats and cheeses.
The Outside “Dough”
Pierogi dough is just flour and water. Raviolis are made using an egg pasta.
Pierogies are boiled and/or pan fried in butter and onions.  Served pan to plate without a sauce. Ravioli are only boiled and served in a sauce.
I admire a chef that likes to be creative and make creative leaps with their food as long as the integrity of the dish remains in tact.  Though most traditional yinzers (term for a local Pittsburgh native) may say that putting short ribs in a piegori is a sin, I think it is creative genius.
So now you have to decide, is it the shape, stuffing, dough or preparation that would cause you to sway one way or the other?

French Goodness in Sewickley

Cafe Des Amis on UrbanspoonTastebud B and I wanted to get out of the city for a bit and venture north of Pittsburgh to a little place called Sewickley.  Sewickley has a small town feel and look with mom and pop businesses, churches, schools a couple of stop lights but most importantly a French cafe called Cafe Des Amis.

Cafe des Amis Counter

Cafe Des Amis is a cool little place that is inviting as soon as you enter.  As you approach the counter to place your order you will see a case full of quiche, bread pudding, sliced fresh fruit, and even coconut macaroons.

With so many options I finally decided on the Tomato and Basil Quiche with a side of fresh fruit and coffee.  Being that it is March I was shocked how fresh and delicious the fruit was.  The quiche was good and satisfying.

Tomato and Basil Quiche with fresh fruit

TastebudB ordered chicken salad on a croissant with the tomato lentil soup.  The chicken salad was extemely creamy and fresh.  The flavors melded well and the greens on the sandwich with bright.  Unlike most of the dry, croissant sandwiches he’s had in the past, the croissant was delectably fluffly and fresh (not dry at all) which made the chicken salad the focus of the sandwich.  The soup however was warm, but the flavors simply had not developed.

Chicken Salad Croissant with Tomato Lentil Soup

After we finished our lunch we decided that we just had to try the Bread Pudding we saw in the case that looked absolutely amazing.  It tasted even better!  The Bread Pudding was the true highlight of our visit.  Tastebud B took some top quality pics of it!

Bread pudding, warmed and sliced with a dollop of whipped cream

After our visit, we highly recommend that everyone gives Cafe Des Amis a visit sometime in the near future.  Don’t forget that they are also BYOB and even have crepes on the menu!  And, when you are done with lunch don’t forget to take a stroll around beautiful Sewickley and everything else it has to offer.