The third annual Farm to Table Harvest Tasting on Nov. 16 celebrates not only locally grown food, but the opening of a new commercial kitchen at the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District.
The Market Kitchen at 2401 Penn Ave. is a food-business support program launched this year by the Pittsburgh Public Market. Erin Hart, director of health-benefit services for American HealthCare Group, sponsor of Farm to Table, says the event was moved to the Strip District to showcase the Market Kitchen and co-hosts Wigle Whiskey and the Public Market. It was at the Waterfront in Homestead last year.
Kelly James, manager of the Market Kitchen, says the VIP Experience at the Farm to Table event will give visitors an intimate look at the Kitchen, “which, at its core, is an incubator for newer food-based businesses. It’s an opportunity to support the project, get to know the users, as well as engage with local chefs and food experts and professionals.”
For an additional fee, participants will be able to mingle with new residents of the Market Kitchen and local celebrity chefs and enjoy exclusive sampling opportunities, hot mulled cider and cider cocktails and local craft brews. They also will receive a Thanksgiving-theme recipe book spotlighting more than 20 local chefs and restaurants.
Following the VIP preview, the Harvest Tasting will feature more than 50 vendors providing samples of locally produced fruits and vegetables, artisanal cheeses and breads, meats, sauces, jams, baked goods, craft beers, ciders, cocktails and wines. Products will be available to sample and purchase.
At the VIP event, Julie Powell, chef at Little It Deli, an Italian restaurant in Emlenton, Venango County, will have samples of three of her homemade soups: Butternut Squash Fall Harvest, Cheddar Beer and Stuffed Pepper.
She says the Farm to Table event is a good opportunity to introduce people to her eating establishment, located an hour-and-a-half north of Pittsburgh.
“We are a very small restaurant in a small town,” she says. “It’s hard to get our name out there.”
She is especially proud of her butternut squash soup, a rich, buttery cream soup base with butternut squash, Grand Marnier, Honeycrisp apples and crushed pecans.
Rita Resick of Laurel Vista Farms, Somerset, will bring an assortment of jams, jellies and pickled green beans for sampling.
“Our Somerset Sweet Onion and Garlic Jam is a killer dip mixed with cream cheese,” she says.
Resick also will have three varieties of home-grown pickled peppers, their spiciness ranging from Sweet & Sassy and Wild & Wicked to Fire & Brimstone.
“You can imagine how hot that one is,” she says. “It’s made with our hottest habanero peppers.”
Jeff Conover, who runs a certified organic family farm in Burgettstown, will feature hot sauce made from home-grown peppers, onion, garlic and carrots; and jams made from red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries and grapes grown on their farm. The jams are made with only two ingredients, Conover says: organic berries and organic sugar. He also will have pure raw honey from bees raised on the farm by his wife, Diana.
“We are looking forward to showcasing the products we make from the fresh, organic crops we grow here on our farm,” Jeff Conover says. “We think this event is a great opportunity to meet other people who share our passion for good, clean, GMO-free and unprocessed food.”
Hart says nearly 1,000 guests attended last year’s Harvest Tasting at the Waterfront. Even though Western Pennsylvania’s growing season is winding down, she says people can still get excited about locally sourced food.
“There is so much local food to eat during the winter,” she says. “Squash, potatoes, apples, beets, breads, onions, garlic, all kinds of meats, cheeses, eggs, dairy, jellies, jams, oatmeal, grains, beans — the list goes on.”
Representatives of winter CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs) will be available with information about buying local foods.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.