Apologies for the absence! It’s been a busy time for us – we were away at the Gorge for Labor Dave Weekend, and I’ve been traveling a bit for work. But, although we haven’t been posting much, we’ve been hard at work on knocking Achievements off the list, so there are many posts to come soon!
The first of those was a visit to one of my favorite new annual Pittsburgh events – Hometown Homegrown!
Hometown Homegrown is an event held yearly at the History Center that celebrates the local businesses and flavors of the ‘Burgh. My mum and I attended the inaugural event last year and had a blast, so when I found out I was off the weekend of this year’s celebration, I knew we had to go. We took quite a few pictures, so the rest of the blog will be a photoblog to share what we enjoyed.
Throughout the day, there are various events like cooking demonstrations, talks on local drinks and spirits, scavenger hunts, and this year, even a pierogie contest. And then, on the top floor, are the booths: an entire room full of local restaurants and shops handing out samples of their goodies, with products available to purchase if you like what you try (we learned our lesson last year, and my mum and I both came armed with tote bags and cash so we could stock up on the goods).
On the ground floor: complimentary cinnamon loaves from 5 Generation Bakers (you may remember them as Jenny Lee in Market Square).
While we listened to the strolling accordion player on the ground floor, we also enjoyed samples of berry, fruit, and watermelon smoothies from Mixstirs, which has a shop in the History Center.
Marty’s Market was one of the stars of the Hometown Homegrown show: we started with samples of their coffee.
Honey from BumbleBerry Farms in Somerset.
Pulled pork and BBQ pulled seitan from Double Wide Grill (LOVE what they do with seitan at Double Wide, and I got to talk a couple of nice elderly women who’d never heard of it into trying a sample).
Chocolates from Giovanni’s Chocolate Factory, who also creates custom chocolate boxes for purchase!
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar samples from The Olive Tap, which will be opening a local branch in Pittsburgh soon. (We brought home the Rosemary Olive Oil, which was incredible.)
Locally-made and preservative-free salsa from Chuck’s Salsa. They shared some recipe ideas with us, AND they even had a salsa that my mum (who has a significant number of food allergy limitations) loved and could eat! I’m a sucker for peaches in salsa, so I bought a jar of the medium salsa (you can purchase their products at Whole Foods & Soergel’s).
Chip dip from BL Sour Cream, Pittsburgh’s hometown source for sour cream, chip dip, and condiments.
Meats from Uncle Charley’s, who was sampling some of their famous hot sausage.
Hometown Homegrown was the place I fell in love with BBQ Stu’s Pennsylvania Gold BBQ sauce, so it only made sense to stock up again! BBQ Stu himself is always at the events, and he’s such a great dude. (I once tried to place an order online, and he called me and told me which local stores had it on sale that week to save me money!)
Pittsburgh’s very finest apple cider from Soergel’s Orchards! This is the first sign that autumn is here! We also learned that they’ve got their very own hybrid apple variety now, called the Soergel’s Special, which grew from a place where apple cores were discarded.
Delicious, buttery pasta from the upcoming Cenacolo Restaurant, which will be opening in North Huntington in a few weeks.
Chips and crab cakes from the Pittsburgh classic Original Oyster House in Market Square. They signed us up for their birthday club so we can get free stuff on our birthdays!
Cards and buttons from the brilliant gal behind John the Craftist. Her stuff is available at Wildcard in Lawrenceville. (Remember the Jag-o-Lantern picture floating around Facebook last October? That’s her! LOVE her stuff!)
Custom cutting boards from Cambria Chair Company in Johnstown. We bought the very last Pirates cutting board they had – you can slice up your charcuterie on the non-decorated side, then flip it over and serve from the Buccos side!
Ceramics from the Bulgarian-Macedonian National Education and Cultural Center in Homestead. They have soup Saturdays!
Fudge from Fudgie Wudgie in the Strip. The maple walnut was my favorite (Michael loved the pumpkin, of course).
New to Hometown Homegrown this year was the pierogie contest!
My favorite pierogies came from Samantha Stone Catering, some nice fellow Ukrainian broads whose pierogies rivaled our homemade ones!
The winners of the pierogie contest were S&D Polish Deli from the Strip District. They had so many varieties of delicious pierogies to choose from!
Hearty pierogies from James Street Gastropub in the North Side.
We stopped by to see our buddy, Chef Jason from Braddock’s, who makes one of the finest non-traditional pierogies around.
And then we come to the true highlight of the Hometown Homegrown festival: the pig butchering demonstration.
Featured here are Oliver from North Woods Ranch up in Cranberry, and Steve the butcher from Marty’s Market (and my mum’s celebrity crush, Chris Fennimore, from WQED).
This demonstration was absolutely fascinating. Oliver talked about the ranch, where all the animals are raised humanely and with no antibiotics or hormones (as Oliver put it, ‘the pigs get to be pigs and do pig things’). Then Steve walked us through the process of butchering a pig, going over all the different cuts of the meat and ways to prepare them.
Whole-animal butchery is the specialty of Marty’s Market. Steve explained how they will use every part of the animal, including even using the bone to make cooking stock. During the demonstration, Steve made porchetta, which is an Italian style of pork roast.
It was just fascinating to me to attend this demonstration. I know I get a little hippy about things now and again, but the fact that you can know where your meat comes from, know that the animals were raised with love and care and respect, and know that the meat is prepared with the same care and attention is just amazing to me. We are DEFINITELY loyal customers of both North Woods Ranch and Marty’s Market after this lesson!
This porchetta was mind-blowing. Juicy, succulent, fatty-but-not-chewy, with some crispy skin bits in for good measure. We’re in love. (Pro-tip: they recommend getting to Marty’s Market early on Saturdays so you can snag the meat you want, because it *will* go fast!)
Yet again, Hometown Homegrown was such a blast. I love events that showcase the amazing variety of talented shops, restaurants, and markets that we have in Pittsburgh, and this one definitely delivers. Be sure to check out some of the links we’ve posted and support your local awesome businesses!