The Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh
We’ve outlined some of the most scrumptious producers and purveyors in the region—from farms to specialty stores and everything in between.
(page 3 of 7)
You’ve probably heard that locally grown fruits and vegetables are better for the environment, the local economy and/or your health. But nobody told you that buying produce from a farmer you can meet, see and talk to is way more fun. We’ve yet to meet a farmer at a stand who’s not willing to talk for hours (days or weeks, even) about what they’re planting, why they’re planting it and how you should cook it. These folks are passionate, hard-working entrepreneurs with big ideas about what farming means in the 21st century. Here’s just a sample of what’s happening in the region.
Blackberry Meadows Farms
The find: Pittsburgh’s most community-focused CSA subscription
Blackberry Meadows takes its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program literally: “Our members are our financiers, and they have an open door to the farm,” says co-owner Greg Boulos. CSA subscribers invest in the certified-organic farm’s crop early in the season, then stop by once a week to take home a box of just-harvested produce, eggs and more. The unique CSA attracts about 80 percent of its subscribers to the farm for in-person pickups, where farmers and members get to know each other throughout the course of the season. CSA members are an integral part of farm operations, contributing hours of labor in exchange for vegetables, sending in seeds for seed-saving programs and investing in farm initiatives like a new summer kitchen. The outdoor kitchen will allow the farm to sell edible (yet imperfect) produce that would otherwise be wasted: zucchini with dents, tomatoes with bruises and greens with minor insect damage. The kitchen, which will be ready for the 2012 CSA season, includes a wood-fired community oven and a range for canning and preserving.
Blackberry Meadows sells at the Farmers@Firehouse and Phipps Conservatory Farmers Markets.
7115 Ridge Road, Natrona Heights; blackberrymeadows.com
More Local CSAs
Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance
Kretschmann Organic Farm & CSA
Triple B Farms
Specialty: Pick-your-own farm fun
Triple B Farms is a family farm with a family focus. Open to the public June through October, the farm hosts family events and fruity festivals that get kids excited about agriculture. Triple B offers pick-your-own harvesting for strawberries, apples and other fruits as they ripen during the growing season (just call ahead to confirm fruit is ready). Outside the fields, there’s a petting zoo with farm animals, a big tube slide, a farm-themed playground complete with tractor and an observation beehive. School trips and children’s birthday parties are common on the farm, helping children connect the foods they eat to the fields they come from. The store offers a wide assortment of jams and jellies— many made of Triple B’s own fruits—as well as pies, fudge, Amish dairy products and produce straight from the farm.
823 Berry Lane, Monongahela; triplebfarms.com
More Juicy Fruit
Sand Hill Berries
304 Deer Field Road, Mt. Pleasant
Soergel Orchards Family Farm Market
2573 Brandt School Road, Wexford
528 Trax Road, Finleyville
Goose Creek Gardens
Specialty: Salad greens and herbs
While many farms look at diversifying their offerings, this Oakdale farm has specialized in culinary herbs and greens. The best basil for drying? That would be cinnamon basil, and they have it. The best mint for ice cream? Chocolate mint, and they have that, too. French sorrel? Lemongrass? Trendy microgreens? All available, and all certified naturally grown (CNG). CNG is a grassroots alternative for small farms committed to organic agriculture practices but don’t have the manpower to file the rigorous paperwork required for USDA certification. Goose Creek Gardens’ focus on greens means goods are for sale early in the growing season, and the farm offers a Spring Greens CSA for those who can’t wait for fresh produce each year. The wildflower fields nurture a healthy honey business, and they grow catnip that will make your kitty’s eyes go buggy.
Goose Creek Gardens sells at several area farmers markets and the Pittsburgh
Ever heard of food miles? That’s how far your food has to travel before it reaches your plate. Locavores usually set the radius of “local food” at 100 miles. Fortunately, these specialty producers are adding treats usually associated with far-away places to Pittsburgh’s locavore menu.
Originally from: Krzesk, Poland
One of a handful of craft distilleries in the state, Pennsylvania Pure’s Glenshaw operation started production of Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka in 2008. Made from local potatoes, each bottle is hand-filled, dipped in wax, signed, then distributed in various states across the Eastern seaboard and as far away as California.
Get it: Most local PLCB Wine & Spirits stores; boydandblair.com
Food miles saved: 4,551
Originally from: Plain, Wis.
In his Lawrenceville basement, Jonathan Gaugler of Arsenal Cheese is making Cannonball Curds, squeaky-fresh Wisconsin-style cheddar curds that are turning up in poutine at Highland Park’s Park Bruges. Next up from Arsenal Cheese: Herb & Bourbon, a chèvre-flavored round mozzarella-textured cheese crusted with bourbon-soaked herbs of tarragon and thyme.
Get it: East End Food Co-Op and Whole Foods; arsenalcheese.com
Food miles saved: 650
Originally from: Abruzzo, Italy
Since 2005, Steve Salvi’s custom Fede Artisan Pastas have graced dishes at nearly 100 fine Pittsburgh restaurants like Spoon, Girasole and Osteria 2350. The pastas are available for purchase both in-store and online.
Get it: Banco Business Park, 1061 Main St., North Huntingdon; fedepasta.net
Food miles saved: 4,620
Originally from: Hereford, England
Get your “Daily Rations” at Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar, a Civil War-themed winery tucked into a Lawrenceville duplex. Find small-batch hard-apple ciders, cider-style fruit wines and mead—many made from Pennsylvania ingredients.
Get it: Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar, 300 39th St., Lawrenceville
Food miles saved: 3,602
Mileage calculations based on major brands or famous producers of these products.
Originally from: Parma, Italy
The magicians at Parma Sausage have been curing meats in the Strip District since 1954. Their own Gigi Brand prosciutto, made from heritage Berkshire hams, is aged up to 18 months before slicing.
Get it: Parma Sausage, 1734 Penn Ave., Strip District; parmasausage.com
Food miles saved: 4,357