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hassenpfeffer's Profile

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Excellent Chinese in Pittsburgh?

Excellent Chinese in Pittsburgh is a relatively recent development, but authentic Sichuan menus have started to pop up, especially in Squirrel Hill. Chengdu Gourmet is the best of the best and really should be on any Pittsburgh food itinerary. How Lee, a neighborhood takeout staple for decades, recently expanded their Sichuan offering, and is also very good. Across Forbes Avenue, Everyday Noodles is Taiwanese; their soup dumplings are insanely good.

In the North Hills, China Star in the McIntyre Sq. Shopping Center also serves excellent Sichuan (or did — I haven't eaten there in a few years.)

Bonus: all these places are BYOB.

Aug 13, 2015
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

World’s first blue wine goes on sale

Not so quick, Spain. I saw a sparkling abomination from California called Blanc de Bleu in my neighborhood PLCB store last month.

Jul 21, 2015
hassenpfeffer in Wine

Aston Martin teams up with Dom Pérignon (and James Bond would be proud)

Isn't Bolly 007's preferred bubbly?

Jul 18, 2015
hassenpfeffer in Wine

PGH: Salt of the Earth to shutter Aug. 1

A game-changer when it opened 5 years ago, it had too short of a run.

Jun 23, 2015
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Visiting Pittsburgh: seeking bars, sandwiches, and more

Like just about everywhere else, public transit here is underfunded (though the Allegheny Co. Poured Drink Tax was supposed to fix that, haha), but safe and mostly efficient, at least in the parts of town you'll be in. The 91 bus will take you from downtown through the Strip via Liberty Ave and all the way through Lawrenceville via Butler.

Jun 18, 2015
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Visiting Pittsburgh: seeking bars, sandwiches, and more

If you expand your search radius to include just east of the Strip District, you'll get into Lawrenceville — think of it as Pittsburgh's Hampden — which has some of the city's best bars without the Carson St. dudebro mobs (yet). I recommend Allegheny Wine Mixer, Grapperia and Tender. Industry Public House has a solid tap list and passable bar food, but can get pretty crowded and loud.

For where you're staying, the Park House is a good call. I'd also consider James St. Gastropub.

Somewhat surprisingly, Pittsburgh hasn't really gotten the memo on hipster donuts yet — though the beignets at E2 in Highland Park are in the ballpark, and kind of addictive.

Jun 18, 2015
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

The 7 Habits of Highly Annoying Wine People

8. For the love of god, please stop calling sommeliers "somms," and please stop "certifying" hundreds of them — many of whom have very little service experience, and have neither tasted or traveled broadly — every year.

Under-appreciated and/or up-and-coming grape varieties?

I'm a little obsessed with Aglianico, and while I'm not sure if it's underappreciated or not, it's certainly not undervalued: top bottles of Taurasi can run you into Baroloesque price tags pretty quickly.

Lagrein and Kerner are two grapes, both mostly confined to the Alto Adige, more people should know about. Also Bobal from Spain.

I have seen a recent surge of French Malbecs from Cahors, undoubtedly because of the popularity of the grape in Argentina. I generally find Cahors far more interesting than anything coming out of Mendoza.

As for "no-respect" varietals, I think Chenin Blanc and Gamay jointly take that title pretty handily.

Jun 15, 2015
hassenpfeffer in Wine

Looking for kielbasa in Pittsburgh area

Check out Butcher on Butler in the old Foster's Meats space at 5145 Butler St in Lawrenceville. Mike is using Foster's original, decades-old kielbasa recipe, and it goes fast.

Jul 21, 2014
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

German or Scandinavian Food in Pittsburgh

Penn Brewery (not far from Max's) offers a predominantly German menu to complement their predominantly German beer roster. Even if not strictly authentic, their schnitzel sandwich gets my vote for the best sandwich in Pittsburgh.

It was family owned for many years, though I'm not sure what their status is since Tom Pastorius' death in 2012.

Scandinavian? You'll find a lot of younger chefs preaching the gospel of Rene Redzepi, but that's about as close as you'll get.

May 30, 2014
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh 'hounds advice sought

I'll second the vote for Cure and add Notion to the list of find dining places you shouldn't miss. Justin Severino (Cure) will likely still be doing Sunday farm dinners at White Oak Farms at that time of year, and one of these would be well worth your while.

I've not been to the Independent Brewing Co. — not a brewery, but a tap room with an all-local draft list — in Squirrel Hill yet, but the buzz so far has been very positive. The menu, I believe, is standard pub fare.

You'd do well to familiarize yourself with Pennsylvania's fakakta alcohol laws before your trip, and double check whether restaurants you're interested in have a liquor license or are BYOB. Some very good spots fall into the latter category (including Notion, recommended above, though they might have gotten licensure by then), which may require some preparation (read: a trip to the dreaded state store) on your part.

Mar 02, 2014
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Looking for kielbasa in Pittsburgh area

Schwartz Market closed last year.

DJ's Butcher Block in Bloomfield makes a very good kielbasa, but I imagine it's in pretty short supply this time of year.

Dec 29, 2013
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

large group (30+ people) restaurant in Pittsburgh

E2 in Highland Park has a nicely remodeled downstairs room for special events, and the food there is markedly better than anywhere else that's been mentioned. Plus, it's BYOB.

Dec 09, 2013
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Mundo Mustard: Germany vs. Poland

Went out looking for German mustard this morning, wound up with Polish instead. (Hey, it's Pittsburgh.)

Working on the assumption that there's not an enormous stylistic difference in condimentary customs here, but I'd be intrigued to hear partisans break down the nuances, if any. Danke/dzięki in advance.

Apr 14, 2013
hassenpfeffer in General Topics

Good or great Italian food in Pittsburgh

It's not my favorite by a longshot, but if you're looking for an old-school, red-sauce Italian joint with a veal chop as thick as the phone book, J Tambellini in Highland Park is the place for you.

For my money, E2, just a couple blocks down Bryant St., is better by several orders of magnitude. Stagioni, in the old Le Pommier space on Carson St., is very good too.

Apr 12, 2013
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Visiting small-batch mezcal distillers in/around Oaxaca

I'll be in Oaxaca for about 10 days around New Years and would very much like to make a day of visiting some artisanal mezcal distilleries in the area. Can anyone recommend a tour group that covers this turf, or better yet a private driver (preferably with at least some English skills)? Thanks in advance.

Dec 01, 2012
hassenpfeffer in Mexico

PIT: wholesale cheese recs?

Can anyone direct me to wholesale food services that specialize in artisan cheeses for retail/restaurants in the Pittsburgh area? Thanks in advance.

Sep 23, 2011
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

PIT: Grandview Ave restos

Yes, I know they're all grossly overpriced and, at best, mediocre, but later this month I'm taking a family member out for a landmark birthday dinner where the view and the formality — the "total package," as it were — will trump the QPR. Le Mond? Tin Angel? What's the best bet on Mt. Washington?

The Tin Angel
1200 Grandview Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Nov 04, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Pho Minh or Tram's Kitchen?

Pho Minh

Pho Minh
4917 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Jul 02, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Pgh Restaurant Closings/Changes

Addiegirl, I'm in Highland Park as well, and actually saw workers in the building over the weekend — doing work, not packing out. Fingers crossed. Still far too much work left to do to have it open this summer, IMO.

Jun 29, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Pastitsio - Greek Deli in Pittsburgh

I probably should've mentioned this place in my response to an earlier thread that queried Greek options in Pittsburgh.

My wife and I grabbed lunch at Pastitsio on Saturday. It's in a pleasant little spot adjacent to the Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville, offering a textbook spread of Greek specialties (its namesake pastitsio, moussaka, souvlaki, salads, desserts. etc.) generally well-done. The dolmades we took home had a great, toothsome bite, though were a little heavier on the dill than I would've liked.

The guys running the place were incredibly friendly and I hope they succeed. But I must say this, as someone decidedly *not* prone to sticker-shock at restaurant bills: $22+ for 2 souvakli specials + lemonades struck me as remarkably steep.

Jun 28, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh recommendations needed AGAIN by Cleveland Hound

Pittsburgh has plenty of options to satisfy a gyro/souvlaki jones, but there is a serious dearth of fine Greek taverna fare such as you might find in Chicago or Detroit, or for that matter, Cleveland. The closest we come is Christos on 6th Ave in downtown's cultural district. The owner claims to have been Aristotle Onassis's personal chef, but in my experience the food there is just average and the menu fairly limited.

What we do have is a terrific Greek grocer, Stamoolis Bros, in the Strip, next door to (and overshadowed by) the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company. Definitely worth a visit.

Jun 28, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Neutralizing odors in a wine fridge

I recently bought an EWave wine fridge at a yard sale. (My ultimate intention is to use it to home-cure meats, but that's beside the point right now.) I gave it a thorough visual going-over before purchasing, but didn't actually stick my nose inside it. Big mistake.

It would appear that the previous owner either a) used a heavy-duty, high-scent cleaner to prepare it for sale; or b) used it to store a lifetime supply of Glade Plug-ins. It's just permeated with this sickly sweet, chemical-floral odor that I suppose we're supposed to associate with "sanitary conditions." At any rate, I wouldn't store a bottle of Night Train in it at the moment, let alone try to cure my own guanciale.

So far, I've given it a thorough airing, cleaned it with a vinegar-hydrogen peroxide solution and have left a vinegar-soaked sponge in it for the past several days, but I'm just not putting a dent in this scent. Any suggestions, or did I stumble upon the reason the previous owner was willing to part with it for pennies on the dollar?

Jun 19, 2010
hassenpfeffer in General Topics

Pgh Restaurant Closings/Changes

Heard a rumor this weekend that work on Park Brugge, the much-anticipated Highland Park offshoot of Point Brugge, has stopped and likely won't resume due to a dispute with the landlord over tax credits. Anyone know anything more about it?

It goes without saying that, if true, this is a huge bummer.

Point Brugge Cafe
401 Hastings St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Jun 15, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Pgh Restaurant Closings/Changes

June 7th, according to the piece of direct mail I received from them yesterday.

Jun 03, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

No more Lucy (Strip Disttric, Pgh)

I had the beef tongue taco on Sunday, and it was one of the most delicious things I've eaten in the 5 years I've lived in Pittsburgh.

Jun 03, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania

Good eats in Chania — Western Crete?

I'll be spending a week in western Crete in mid-April, centered in Chania but also spending some time on the south coast (Paleochora, Sougia, etc.). Looking for non-touristy, honest, country-style Cretan fare & seafood. Location is no issue — will travel to remote villages for the good stuff. Thank you in advance for your recs.

Feb 06, 2010
hassenpfeffer in Europe

Fresh boudin noir/morcilla/blood sausage in PGH?

Long-delayed followup: found kishka (variant spelling, kiski) at Parma Sausage in the Strip this past weekend.

May 26, 2009
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania


Thanks for this report. My wife and I are planning a return trip to Portugal for 2010 — our first in 10 years, this time armed with infinitely more food and wine knowledge and a bigger budget. I've already cribbed your report and tucked it inside my Rough Guide to Portugal.

May 08, 2009
hassenpfeffer in Spain/Portugal

Pgh Restaurant Closings/Changes

This is truly awful news for the burgeoning restaurant row in East Liberty, and the Pittsburgh restaurant scene in general.

May 05, 2009
hassenpfeffer in Pennsylvania