Dreamcatching Ice Cream on Liberty Ave

An ice cream shoppe helping fulfill dreams.
An ice cream shoppe helping fulfill dreams.

New to Liberty Avenue is an ice cream parlor with a purpose. Dream Cream offers local Pittsburgh dreamers the opportunity to raise money toward their dreams through ice cream sales.

Menu selections and charities change monthly.
Menu selections and charities change monthly.

A project of Popup Pittsburgh, Dream Cream opened its doors this past weekend to support several local dreamers.  Just recently, I stopped by and had the option to have Red Velvet supporting the American Liver Foundation, but opted for the Fool’s Gold.   My purchase of the Fool’s Gold ice cream contributed toward Yvette Shipman opening Moteasa, a community involvement inspired tea room.  Best of luck to Yvette!

The Fool’s Gold ice cream was a vanilla based ice cream with caramel and chocolate chips throughout.  My apologies for the lack of a picture of the ice cream, but after the first bite, I wasn’t about to put it down.

To view the entire list of Dreamers check out DreamCreamIceCream.com.

Dream Cream Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Search is on for Pittsburgh’s Best Wings

WPXI is searching for Pittsburgh’s Best Wings.  For the TasteBuds, when it comes to a good chicken wing, we’re looking for much more thank Frank’s Red Hot on a breaded wing.  When it comes to the Pittsburgh’s Best series of food accolades, it is great to know that it is based on a good mild wing and a specialty wing.

Think you know a restaurant or bar with a great wing?
As a former WPXI taste-tester, check out the TasteBud’s Keys to a Great Chicken Wing for our secrets to winning and then head over to WPXI.com and submit your nominations.

TasteBud’s Keys to a Great Chicken Wing

Be Meaty – A good, solid chicken wing should have a good amount of meat on it.  If it feels like it’d take dozens of wings to fill up a hungry Steelers fan.

Mild ≠ Flavorless – A mild wing should be something that does have a minor spice kick to it, but nothing that would require ranch or celery to help cool the heat.  Remember, just because a wing is mild, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have flavor.

Creativity Reaps Rewards – Be creative without being wacky.  I’d much sooner try a lime-tequila wing (even sounds yum) before I’d try a honey and parmesan (when has sweet and cheesy ever worked?).
Oh, and just because the Mild wing is the first category – don’t try to do your Hot wing as your creative one.  Perhaps try a dry rub? or a rub-infused sauce?

Not Breaded – A chicken wing is not shake ‘n bake.  It is quite okay to bake, grill or coal-fire your chicken wings, but leave the bread for the birds.  Don’t use breading as a ploy to soak up the sauce.

An added bonus but not required:
Good Cold – Ever gone out for wings and your eyes were bigger than your stomach?  A chicken wing, like pizza, should be edible cold.  If it seems like something I could eat as a left-over, then

Please note: The Pittsburgh TasteBuds are not judges for this round of WPXI’s Pittsburgh’s Best.  But if we were, these would be the things we’d look for as we judged.

Wiener Fight, Detroit vs Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh-style Hot Dog vs Detroit-style Hot Dog from Franktuary in Downtown Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh-style Hot Dog vs Detroit-style Hot Dog from Franktuary in Downtown Pittsburgh

From one end of the spectrum to the other, Pittsburgh is home to both Burgatory (sinful burgers) and Franktuary (heavenly hot dogs).  I have no idea if these two restaurants conspired to be polar opposites, but they certainly both make an impact with their take on such a simple food.

Franktuary is a hot dog shoppe in Downtown Pittsburgh located in the basement of a church off Oliver Ave.  Upon gazing across the menu during my first visit to Franktuary, I found it only fitting to put rival hockey towns of Pittsburgh and Detroit against each other in a gourmet hot dog battle.

In our first corner …
Pittsburgh-style Gourmet Hot Dog – standard frank topped with a smooshed pierogi and cole slaw ($3.90)
In the other corner …
Detroit-style Classic Hot Dog –  standard frank topped with chili, yellow mustard and chopped onion ($3.40)

Coming out of the gate, the Pittsburgh dog is very colorful thanks to the red cabbage slaw covering the frank.  On first bite, it became obvious it was going to be a very messy experience.  The slaw had a vinegary-creamy feel to it which resulted in the white moisture running down the side of my bun.  Beneath the slaw was a potato pierogi that has been cut/smashed/smooshed the length of the dog.

The Detroit-style dog  is almost your traditional chili dog.  The chili was extremely delicious and kept the hot dog warm.  The mustard added a tartness and the onion was fresh and crisp.

Franktuary on UrbanspoonLuckily for our hometown Penguins, hot dogs don’t determine the outcome of the playoffs.  Though the Pittsburgh-style Hot Dog pays homage to our hometown. I have mixed feelings about a mashed potato on my hot dog.  Detroit wins this battle (this time) as their style was both tastier and more cohesive as a flavor profile.

Mike & Tony’s offer “Pittsburgh Best Pierogies” from Pierogies Plus

Gyro from Mike n Tony's Downtown
Gyro from Mike n Tony's Downtown

When someone visits Pittsburgh for the first time, where should you go?  The most common response is Primanti Brothers for the sandwiches with fries and coleslaw.  While I agree that Primanti’s is a required stop for visitors to the steel city, I think that Pierogies are another key food symbol of Pittsburgh.

The hard question is, if you are visiting and want pierogies – where do you find good Pierogies in downtown Pittsburgh?
Answer: Mike & Tony’s Gyros

Piergois from Pierogies Plus
Piergois from Pierogies Plus available at Mike & Tony's

Mike & Tony’s Gyros not only has arguably the best gyros in downtown Pittsburgh, but also care pierogies from Pierogis Plus.  Pierogies Plus were the proud winners of the WPXI Pittsburgh’s Best Pierogies contest.
Pierogies Plus on Urbanspoon
Willing to cross the Allegheny River?  Go to the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy on Foreland Ave on the northside.  The pierogis are homemade and dressed with an infused sour cream that will make your mouth water. (James Street Gastropub opened after the Best Pierogies contest. The Pittsburgh TasteBuds predict that James Street will win next time).

Mike & Tony's Gyros on Urbanspoon

Buckeye Donuts, a college student’s budget breakfast

Breakfast Sandwich
Breakfast sandwich and tater tots - a la 3rd grade.

The Ohio State University is the heart of the northern part of the Columbus.  Instead of being tourists and checking out the swankiest breakfast joint in town, we decided to eat like the local college students at Buckeye Donuts right on N. High Street across the street from OSU Campus.

Offering more than donuts, the inside of Buckeye Donuts features a small diner-style counter with memorabilia on the walls from the 1960s when it first opened.  After ordering at simple breakfast sandwich, coffee and donuts at the register, we luckily scored seats at the counter as folks were leaving.  While the breakfast didn’t exactly make our tastebuds dance with its spunk, it did satisfy our early morning hunger and had us reminiscing the days when we were in college and wanted breakfast for under $5.  The breakfast sandwich was just okay and the tater tots were merely a child-like side.  The donut in the photo is a Crumb Cake donut which was basically a coffee cake donut.  The coffee was served scalding hot, so be careful with your first sip.

Buckeye Donuts on UrbanspoonAside from our breakfast, I found it ironically fun to watch college students come in the door and get a donut and a fountain soda for breakfast – not coffee, a fountain soda!  Oh, those college days …

According to their website, Buckeye Donuts is open 24 hours a day for the early morning risers, mid-day snackers, and even after bar crowd.  Plus, they do happen to offer several fried and grill-top cooked plates throughout the day.

PhotoBlog: James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy

Cajun Fried Oysters
Fried Oysters. Jumbo oysters, cajun spice breading, deep fried. Creamy horseradish dip.
Pipe Bombs
The - perhaps inappropriately named - "Pipe Bombs." Flank steak, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese in a crispy wonton wrapper. Creamy Guiness steak sauce
James Street Cobb Salad
James Street Cobb Salad. Grilled chicken, peppered bacon, egg, avocado, tomato, candied onion, crumbled gorgonzola, crispy pasta sheet.

James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy is a great space with many creative dishes and live music, trivia and beer tastings throughout the week. Check out their website at http://jamesstreetgastropub.com/ or read our previous review.

Hook, Line and Sinker – The Original Fish Market making a comeback

The Original Fish Market offers Outdoor Dining off the back patio
The Original Fish Market offers Outdoor Dining off the back patio

Remaking a classic isn’t always easy, but that is what the Original Fish Market is about to do in Downtown Pittsburgh.  In its hay-day, OFM used to be listed among the premier seafood restaurants in Pittsburgh.  Sadly, they have been challenged to keep up with the times and their name has slowly been left out of those rankings over recent years, but it appears that the winds are starting to change and the restaurant is vying to regain its distinction among Steel City seafood restaurants.

Updated Post or Revisit:
April 29, 2014 – Downtown Pittsburgh Sushi from the Original Fish Market

If you’ve ever been to the OFM, it is clear that they are inside of the Westin hotel, however many folks are interested to know that though they are physically inside the hotel, the are not the “hotel restaurant”.

Crab Bisque
A cup of Crab Bisque

Recently, before saying so-long to a fellow employee, I took a gaggle of co-workers out for lunch to enjoy some of the fishy lunch items on the OFM menu.  To my surprise, I was the only person in the group who had eaten at the OFM in quite some time.  After making a reservation on OpenTable, we were greeted and sat promptly.

Being in the “in-foodie-crowd,” I’d recently discovered that OFM had a new executive chef at the helm and it wasn’t difficult to see that he has already started making his mark on the menu.  The OFM menu tends to change daily with the available ingredients, but I was pleased to discover that the verbal special from my previous visit just a few weeks prior had made it onto the printed menu.  And, I wasted no time ordering it again – the Tilapia Bahn Mi Sandwich with Old Bay french fries.  The sandwich is a seafood spin on the Vietnamese staple.  Having the sandwich for the second time, I found it to be less spicy than before – frankly I missed the spice.

Tilapia Bahn Mi with old bay french fries
Tilapia Bahn Mi with old bay french fries

It was nice to go to lunch, have a great meal with pleasant service and get back to my co-workers back to work within the lunch hour.  I look forward to my next visit to OFM when they open up their back patio.  I hope that they do something fun with kabobs and drinks for a happy hour so I can nibble and sip my way into the start of a summer weekend.

Original Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Speak Easy Album Cover

Speaking Easy, June wine exchange set for northside

Pittsburgh Pirates Professional Football Club 1933This June our 16th Wine Exchange Event will be held at the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy.   James Street is an awesome place located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s North side that will delight your taste buds with not only its food but with its drinks as well.   The owners of James Street have taken an old forgotten spot and turned it back into a hit with live entertainment downstairs in the speakeasy (where we will all be) to a main dinning and bar area that brings everyone in to watch our black and gold on TV to enjoying great food and drink with family and friends.

Pittsburgh Steelworker

We are highly excited for June 5th, 2012 when we all gather together in the Speakeasy to enjoy awesome food, wine, music and fellowship. We plan on taking everyone back in time to  1930’s Pittsburgh, when trolley cars filled the streets, steel mill smoke filled the sky and Art Rooney was creating what ended up being the most popular team in town…40 years later.

Pittsburgh Trolley CarSpeakeasy Microphone