Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Buy Fresh Buy Local Farm Tour: Pittsburgh area farm tour this Saturday!

Attention Pittsburgh!

This Saturday, pack up a car with hungry people and go exploring! On Saturday, July 24 2010 between 10 AM and 6 PM, Western Pennsylvania farmers will be opening their doors to visitors who are interested in learning more about some of the best food produced in this area. Whether you're looking for some local cheeses, want to see pastures of grass-fed beef, see how some of the world's best lamb is raised in our backyard, or just bike to an urban farm and nursey in the city, there should be something for everyone. A $10 admission per car is payable to the first farm you visit, which gives you access to every other farm on the tour. All proceeds go to support The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA).

Click here for a list and map of all participating farms.

Tam and I will be starting at Kretchmann Farm (who have been filling our CSA crates for the last three years) and taking it from there!

For more information contact PASA at (412) 697-0411.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

International Adventures in Junk Food, Vol. 1: Argentina

I would like to introduce a new series to the blog which I am calling "International Adventures in Junk Food." In these posts, I'll chronicle unique junk foods discovered and enjoyed on various travels. The featured item might be sweet, it might be salty, but it has to be full of processed crap and chemicals, and it has to be delicious.

Volume 1: Argentina
Megatube 3D's Mega Queso

We spent three weeks in Argentina before discovering Megatube 3D's. We were at Iguazu Falls, were totally drenched with rain and spray from our visit to the falls, and searching for something to tide us over before dinner. Without car and wanting to stay dry, our options were limited to the few different bags of processed fried snack foods available from the lobby of our hotel. In a moment of divine intervention, we decided on Megatube 3D's.

I'm not sure if it was the superfluous apostrophe, the specified three dimensional quality of the tubes (who wants a 2D tube? That would just be a rectangle!), or the promise of mega queso flavour, but we grabbed a large bag, and a large bottle of Quilmes beer, and took them to the covered porch outside our room to eat.

The Megatube 3D's were a revelation! I'd describe them as a cross between Bugles, and Nacho Cheese Doritos. They were shaped like and had the surface texture of Bugles, were made of a deep-fried cornlike substance, and slathered in Doritos Nacho Cheese flavour powder. Since they were packaged by PepsiCo (bonus points for the omipresence of a multinational corporation), I think that the nacho cheese flavour was an exact replica of North American Nacho Cheese Doritos. So basically, Megatube 3D's were a new vehicle for that greasy orange powder that covers our fingers after eating Doritos.

They were perfect with a cold beer, and we probably wolfed down another 5 bags in our last week in Argentina. Oh! Megatube 3D-apostrophe-s, we miss you!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Casse-Croûte Chez Tipit, Rivière-Beaudette, QC

Last year, I reviewed one of Montreal's best (and certainly its most acclaimed), poutine joint. However, one secret to traveling in Québec is that almost any rural road side diner, snack bar, or fry shack is going to serve up poutine better than what you can get in Montreal. No, Anthony Bourdain won't have eaten there, and it won't be featured in your Frommer's travel guide, but every small town has one or two dives, and I've yet to have anything but excellent poutine in any of them.

Tam and I were recently in my hometown to attend a belated wedding reception that my parents were graciously hosting for us newlyweds. After a fantastic weekend catching up with family and friends that we hadn't seen in ages, it was time to pack up the car and make the nearly 1000 km drive back to Pittsburgh.

We didn't make it far. After only an hour, we had exited Highway 20 and were looking to gas up. However, we were immediately confronted with two quintissentially Québécois institutions across the road from one another. Québécois institutions which undoubtedly draw more tourists then all others combined: a strip club, and a snack bar. While Club Frontière promised a selection of exotic danseuses to go with their (presumably) reasonably priced motel rooms, the lure of hot fries, gravy, and cheese curds from Chez Tipit proved stronger.

It was lunchtime, and so we queued up behind what felt like every local blue collar worker who were getting their steamés, toastés, poutine italiennes, and so on. We kept it simple and shared a traditional poutine between the two of us.

It didn't disappoint, easily surpassing the quality of most offerings downstream in Montreal. The fries were hot, crisp, and greasy, the cheese so fresh it squeaked (always a good sign), and the gravy was peppery and smooth.

It didn't take long for us to polish it off, with Tam, true to her British roots, dousing her half with splashes of vinegar between bites.

With enough carbs and fat to sustain us, we only needed a coffee break to get us the rest of the way back to Pittsburgh. We wondered whether the hardworking women across the way at Club Frontière similarly rely on a Chez Tipit poutine to fuel their long days?

Casse-Croûte Chez Tipit is located at 620 Rue Principale in Rivière-Beaudette, Quebec. It's just off the highway at the last/first exit in Québec when driving between Toronto and Montreal and is definitely better than the Wendy's and Timmy Ho's which line the 401 across the border in Ontario. In a rush? Call 450-269-2996 and ask for your order to go (pour aller), so you can get back on the road. Or back to the show across the street.