ShrubDown 2.0!
In colonial days, when winter was more likely to kill you than Ebola, ISIS or falling vending machines, farmers preserved the last bits of their harvests for the winter by turning them into shrubs—fruit-infused, drinkable vinegars.

Shrubs have found new life as popular cocktail ingredients with the recent craft cocktail movement, but they also make delicious and refreshing beverages when combined with seltzer.

“Where lemon and citrus provide a distinct sour, shrubs can provide a more savory flavor, but they can also provide a sweet flavor,” says Independent Brewing Company cocktologist Lucky Munro. “They give you a breadth of flavor that you can’t really get from any other type of ingredient.”

On Sunday, Marty’s Market will host the year’s second ShrubDown. Sarah Walsh, owner of Caffe d’Amore Catering—which runs the coffee bar at Marty’s Market and has an installation at the Pittsburgh Public Market— is organizing this follow-up to the first ShrubDown, held at Wigle Whiskey in August, and will expand the program to allow attendees the opportunity not just to try shrubs, but learn to make their own.

“People really want to know how to make shrubs, so this time, we’re having Greg Boulos of Blackberry Meadows Farm, come and teach people how to make shrub from 3 to 4 p.m.”

Tasting and cocktail competition will follow and run from 4 to 6 p.m., and in addition to Boulos, participants will include Wigle’s Wes Shonk, BRGR’s Greta Harper, 1947 Tavern’s Jen Mulero and Dobra Tea owner Nathaniel Pantalone. The winner, determined through a combination of popular vote and a panel of celebrity judges, will receive bragging rights and perhaps a bottle of some kind of booze.

“Not only is this a great way of preserving food and bringing back a colonial-era preservation method, but you can have a lot of fun with it, too,” Walsh says.

Admission is $20 in advance or $25 at the door and includes a cocktail and access to the shrub-making course.

Walsh hopes to make ShrubDown a quarterly event, and she invites anyone interested in hosting or competing in future ShrubDowns to contact her via her website, Facebook or Twitter.

Taste will take over old Quiet Storm space
Christian Frangiadis, whose restaurants made him a fixture on the Pittsburgh dining scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is back in town after an 11-year absence and is working on a 75-seat eatery in Garfield, in the former Quiet Storm space.

Taste will focus mainly on small plates, feature an open kitchen and make everything from pasta to mozzarella cheese in-house.

Frangiadis’ previous Pittsburgh restaurants included Isabella on Grandview, Southwest Bistro in Downtown, Christian’s in Turtle Creek and Bikki in Shadyside, which was the scene of a handful of fancy dates we went on while in college.

Wigle to host beer-whiskey week events
Many people don’t realize this but whiskey is really just distilled beer—the product of grains gestated to a higher gravity of existence. Wigle will celebrate this relationship from November 16 to 22 with a beer-and-whiskey festival.

Events kick off on Sunday, November 16 when the distillers host a homebrew competition at their North Side barrelhouse from 12 to 4 p.m. All local homebrewers are invited to attend, but registration, through Wigle’s event page, ends on November 7.

A fair warning to prospective competitors and attendees alike: Eat/Drink has been invited to help judge this competition and plans to do so with both ferocity and rigor.

Festivities continue on November 19 when the barrelhouse hosts a beer vs. cocktail dinner with brews from East End and food from Legume’s Trevett Hooper. Tickets are $110 and the event is limited to 60 attendees.

On November 20, Wigle will team up with the Independent Brewing Company for a dinner at the Squirrel Hill tavern featuring a four-course dinner from Independent’s Monique Ruvolo, complete with beer and whiskey pairings for each dish. And because it’s at the Independent, each beer-whiskey-food match will include a specially curated musical selection, played on vinyl, from the tavern owner Pete Kurzweg. Tickets are $65 and go on sale today on Wigle’s website.

On November 22, East End Brewing will host a barrel-aged beer festival at its brewery in conjunction with Wigle’s beer week. Participants will include local brewers Full Pint, Roundabout, Rivertowne, Penn Brewery and Arsenal Cider House, in addition to Slippery Rock’s North Country Brewing, Meadville’s Voodoo Brewery and Erie’s Lavery Brewing Company.

And on that note…
East End, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, got its brewpub license and now sells beer by the pint. Stop by, have a glass of their masterfully done Big Hop Harvest Ale and congratulate Scott Smith, the godfather of Pittsburgh’s craft beer community. The full schedule of anniversary events kicks off in December.

Openings

  • Parker’s PGH
    The space which formerly held popular hot dog shop Dormont Dogs is vacant no longer. Parker’s, a café specializing in breakfast and lunch service, has opened in the space at 2911 Glenmore Avenue in Dormont, offering up breakfast, sandwiches, salads and more. Owner Luke Parker is going to great lengths to source his ingredients locally, including bringing in meats from Butcher on Butler, buns from The Pretzel Shop on the South Side and coffee from Zeke’s.
  • Bartram House Bakery & Café
    Bartram House, the café and bakery from Timothy Warne which already has locations in Wexford and McMurray, has opened a South Side location at 2612 East Carson Street on the South Side.

Merlot Day tomorrow
Unlike anniversaries and Valentine’s Day, which we all know Hallmark invented to boost card sales, there’s a real holiday coming up. Tomorrow, we’re told, is Merlot Day.  And if you’re planning on celebrating like we are (by drinking stupid amounts of Merlot), you’ll be pleased to see a nice selection on special at the state stores, courtesy of Pennsylvania’s faceless yet benevolent Chairman. Eat/Drink is placing its faith in the Casa Lapostolle Merlot Cuvee Alexandre, 2010—a Chilean Merlot available for an eminently reasonable $12.99 a bottle. Seldom does the dear Chairman steer us wrong.