PREVENTING AND REMOVING GRAFFITI ON THE SOUTH SIDE
PREVENTING AND REMOVING GRAFFITI ON THE SOUTH SIDE
WHEN: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
TIME: 11:00 Registration Box Lunch – 12:30 Shotgun Start
WEBSITE: VISIT WEBSITE
Join us at Olde Stonewall for the South Side Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Golf Classic!
That gastronomic goof Munch recently reviewed a new Thai place on the South Side, but we here at The Forks would be remiss not to give at least brief mention to the new digs of an older Thai favorite in that same neighborhood.
The cheekily-named Thai Me Up (slogan: “You’re bound to like it”), which brought Southeast Asian cuisine to the neighborhood in 2002, has moved from its colorfully cute-but-cramped storefront on the 1900 block of East Carson Street to a larger space in, of all things, a longtime former auto-glass shop a few blocks southeast at 118 S. 23rd St.
It is an impressive transformation, turning what was basically a garage into an inviting spot with some interesting design flourishes.
A weathered wood paneling on the walls gives a cozy vibe, as does the warming deep pink neon sign and burnt orange wallpaper. Long benches that appear to be old church pews are used for some seating. Vintage Thai magazine ads for products such as Pepsi and Johnnie Walker are framed on the walls. An antique phone, cash register and gumball machine sit on one counter, while a bookshelf hold a number of other antique knick-knacks. Working gas lamps adorn the front of the building, and the garage doors open to 23rd Street, providing an al fresco option on nice days.
The menu is the same reliably good food that the chef and owner Noi has been serving up for more than a decade – spicy basil mung bean noodles, crab Rangoon, larb chicken salad, Thai-style five-spice beef noodles, and my favorite, at right, the Sriracha fried rice, among others.
Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Thai Me Up remains BYOB, and has added a new noon to 3 p.m. Sunday brunch.
Dan Gigler photos
Our thoughts naturally turn to burgers in the spring when we roll the grill out of the garage.
But here’s a combo you’ve probably never thought of before: a pierogi burger.
The Pittsburgh Pierogi Burger is a new item on the menu at the Hard Rock Cafe in Station Square this spring. It’s served on a potato bun and topped with sour cream, chives and white cheddar mashed potatoes.
The top seller at Hard Rock Cafe locations worldwide is burgers, according to Russell Booth, executive chef at Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando. And it’s common for Hard Rock chefs to customize burgers for the local region. Seattle’s Hard Rock has a “Seattle Java Lava Burger” with an espresso-rubbed burger patty and espresso-flavored onion straws, and Denver has a “Denver Rocky Mountain Beer Burger” topped with dark beer-caramelized onions and beer cheese sauce.
In Mr. Booth’s opinion, the weirdest regional burger is the one served at Hard Rock in Edinburg, Scotland — a haggis burger. (If you don’t know what haggis is, trust me: You don’t want to know).
Here are Chef Booth’s tips for a good home-grilled burger:
• Shop like you’re buying a steak — go with top-quality meat.
• Use the freshest possible vegetables on top, like vine-ripened tomatoes and very crispy lettuce.
• Keep your grill heated to 550 degrees.
• Don’t over-handle the patty — flip it no more than three times.
“You’ll have a great burger every time” if you follow those steps, he said.
Hard Rock also is running a “Bite it, Snap it, Post it, Win it” contest. Through May 31, take a photo of yourself with a burger at any U.S. Hard Rock location and post via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #hardrockburger or upload to hardrockburger.com, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a three-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana.
As for that pierogi burger? Well, I haven’t tasted it, but to me, potatoes don’t make a pierogi. Ya gotta have the noodle layer to make it authentic.
However, I can understand why Pittsburgh’s Hard Rock didn’t top a burger with a traditional pierogi. Can you imagine the slippery mess?
Have a fresh food find? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first ever “Fuel the Fans Food Truck Festival,” sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods Marathon and the South Side Chamber of Commerce is planned for Race Day, May 5.
Free food from Pittsburgh’s food trucks including Fukuda, BRGR, Oh My Grill and more will be provided to race fans and spectators from 8 a.m. to noon.
Fuel the Fans will take place in the parking lot of First National Bank, 1114 East Carson Street, South Side. Spectators are also welcome to stop into the South Side Welcome Center, 11th and East Carson streets, for activities and more fun.
Built in 1894, the Becks Run Pump Station in Baldwin Borough came to supply a large portion of the area’s drinking water, pulling up to 60 million gallons a day from the Monongahela River and sending it on its way to 291,000 customers in Allegheny and Washington counties.
Its long useful life having ended last year, when Pennsylvania American Water completed a new facility next door, the Becks Run Pump Station’s final act will be a disappearing one.
Starting tonight, a water company subcontractor will tear down the broad-shouldered but sagging yellow-and-brown brick behemoth that hugs East Carson Street near the city of Pittsburgh line. Its successor, slimmer and with the glow of newness, stands just to the west.
The demolition will close off East Carson from Becks Run Road to Glass Run Road from 7 p.m. today until 6 a.m. Monday. Eastbound traffic on East Carson will be permitted to turn right at Becks Run Road. The posted detour uses the Hot Metal Bridge, Second Avenue and the Glenwood Bridge to get around the closure.
The old pump station was built at a time when treated drinking water was still a relatively new amenity here and when many contracted typhoid fever from contaminated well and spring water. It supplied a new treatment plant built in the early 1900s on Agnew Street.
An anonymous forecast at the time said the facility would “improve the health of people in general … be the cause of hundreds of families wanting to locate” in its service area and “be the cause of rapid increases in the value of property lying within the territory reached,” all of which came to pass.
Until 1970, the station derived its power from coal-fired boilers that ran steam pumps, said Jay Lucas, project manager for Pennsylvania American. A still-active rail line above the station delivered the coal. After 1970, clean air regulations caused a switch to electric power.
The station provided nearly half of the water in the Penn-American service area, with the rest coming from the E.H. Aldrich Treatment Complex in Elrama, Washington County.
Three years ago, Pennsylvania American embarked on a $100-million-plus project to replace much of the transmission and treatment infrastructure from the river along the Becks Run corridor, including the intake pipes at the Mon. Demolition of the pump station is one of the final major components of the project, Mr. Lucas said.
Crews from Noralco Corp., the demolition subcontractor, will use a track hoe with 90-foot boom and an attachment that will “munch” the building, grabbing debris from the top and bringing it to the ground, he said. Removal of the structure should be completed this weekend.
The company could not renovate the building because of its condition and the difficulty of maintaining water service during construction, he said. The front wall of the station is bulging outward and some of the brick is crumbling.
The road closure was needed for safety, Mr. Lucas said. The building sits a couple steps off Carson Street.
First Published April 19, 2013 12:00 am
A soon-to-open chip shop on the South Side tests recipes for English meat pies on regulars at Piper’s Pub.
It was late at night when the heads at the packed Piper’s Pub on the South Side all turned to watch a tray of English meat pies being carried toward the front of the restaurant.
“It’s pie time!” yelled one of the regulars, as a mob formed over them.
The pies — intended to be street food, handed over to be eaten without knife or fork — were delivered by the cooks behind a soon-to-be-open, very-British-style chip shop. While such tastings for new restaurant menus are usually a behind-the-scenes experiment conducted with staff, the recipes for the Pub Chip Shop — expected to open in mid-May next door to Piper’s — are being tested weekly on a bar crowd that has been gathering at the same time each week for more than a year-and-a-half.
“The Thursday-night crowd is an incredibly loyal crowd and [the owner] wanted to reward them,” says Mindy Heisler, the chip shop’s general manager.
The goal is not to give away a free meal, but to get feedback on the recipes; the trial fillings have included: lamb, steak and ale, pierogies, chicken curry, vegan curry and chicken mushroom. Those will be narrowed, ultimately, to six or seven regular menu options, with occasional surprises offered as specials.
Critical to the structure of the pies is the unusual crust. Head baker Kenny Houser started working with an English recipe for hot lard dough about six months ago; Heisler helped tweak it. It requires pouring boiling water over lard and dry ingredients to form the dough ball.
“Philosophically, it goes against everything you’ve ever been told about pie dough,” Heisler says. “But structurally, it’s beautiful.”
The fillings have to work, too, not just in flavor but in function.
“They are … designed to be eaten by hand,” Heisler explains. “Which means we have to make sure that when you bite into that pie, you’re not taking a face full of whatever.”
Piper’s guinea pigs have few complaints.
And Rebecca Roell, 29, a South Side Slopes resident, already has a favorite.
“The curry is like lightning bolts of love,” she says.
It’s just after 8 a.m. on a chilly Saturday and the English Premier League soccer diehards are shuffling in to Piper’s Pub on the South Side in their red Man. U. jerseys and blue Chelsea scarves, ready to watch their clubs’ matches beamed across the pond. Coffee and Bloody Mary’s are the order of the morning, perking up droopy eyes.
Piper’s’ owner Drew Topping is in the storefront next door — animated and skipping through topics such as the South Side “blitz,” the local food scene, and Pittsburgh politics, but mostly sharing the plan for this site: the Pub Chip Shop, an authentic United Kingdom-style fish-and-chips shop set to open in April.
Brits have been eating fish and chips for more than 150 years. It’s an institution that has been celebrated by everyone from Dickens to Tolkein. The takeaway shops that sell it are as ubiquitous there as burgers-and-fries drive-thrus are here.
The Pub Chip Shop claims to be the first of its kind in Pittsburgh — and is perhaps overdue in a city named for an Englishman.
At Piper’s, they’ve spent 15 years perfecting their recipe of the Anglo staple — haddock — with a top-secret breading that they’ll serve in the shop.
Mr. Topping was inspired by a 2009 trip to Scotland, where he saw long lines at the “chippy” shops for late grub in a bustling pub area. When the Victorian building next to his pub became available, he pounced. The historical home of W.C. Kessler’s flower shop, its stained-glass windows still advertise violets, roses and valley orchids.
But years passed and the fish was becoming a white whale. A longstanding joke at Piper’s has been that the shop will open on Tuesday. Mr. Topping simply never specified which Tuesday.
About 18 months ago, things started to coalesce. He acquired a massive, like-new fryer at a bargain from an Ohio school district. Other U.K. delicacies such as meat pies, pasties and baps were added to the menu, so special equipment including a pie press was purchased from England. Baked goods from Threefiftyº bakers also will be available.
The fried fish will be served with chips in a cone fashioned from butcher paper. They won’t be available by the end of this Lent, but Mr. Topping isn’t worried.
“Thank goodness for Pittsburgh because that culture of Friday fish, it never changes,” he said. “I love the town for that reason,” he added. “It’s what we do.”
I was certain Paul Gertner had put one orange sponge ball into my hand. He told me to hold it firmly. My fist hovered over a scarlet pad on the counter at the Cuckoo’s Nest, the 37-year-old go-to place for magic supplies in Pittsburgh.
It was purposefully a go-to place Sunday, when 58 professional and amateur magicians converged as a “cash mob.” Rick Maue, a mentalist, orchestrated the crowd of patrons to encourage support of the store and promote the idea that others can do the same for any type of ma-and-pa shop.
“Getting people together to spend a little money never hurts,” he said. “With technology, [bricks-and-mortar] stores are having a hard time.”
Tom Peiritsh, co-owner with his wife, Linda, said the Cuckoo’s Nest, at 2304 1/2 E. Carson St., “is doing OK” and has seen a jump in Internet orders. But older magicians say there’s nothing like being able to touch, fold, deal, squeeze and otherwise test the stuff of illusion before they buy.
With my fist tight around the sponge ball, I watched Mr. Gertner, a magician who travels the world professionally, hover his fist over mine until our fist shadows combined on the counter. When I opened my hand, I had both balls; his palm was empty.
If you’re old enough to know there’s no magic on earth, illusion may be the next best thing until it dawns on you that illusion depends entirely on your mental lapses.
“Your eyes saw A, B, C, D, E and F,” Mr. Gertner said, explaining my own lapse, “but your brain saw A, B, C, D and F. The shadow had nothing to do with it.”
I was somewhat gratified that the magician who fooled me is world renowned. That’s not the quality of deception most fools deserve, after all. I asked him how the second ball got into my hand.
“There was a moment,” he said.
“But I didn’t open my hand,” I protested.
He smiled, punched the air with a forefinger and said, “In your mind you didn’t.”
As someone who can’t bear unanswerables — and I knew I hadn’t opened my hand — I mulled it over. Those sponge balls are more compliant than the human brain. They’re like dough. Maybe a magician could furtively roll one into another before jamming what looks like one ball into your fist. When you open your hand, the two balls pop apart.
Who knows, except the magician?
“There’s a technical name for what I’m doing,” said Mr. Gertner, slowly dealing a deck of cards as a crowd gathered around him. “It’s called cheating” — dealing cards off the bottom. “If I had done it at normal speed, you wouldn’t have been able to catch it.”
He fanned the deck in front of his face and asked me to pick out a card with my mind. I silently lit on the seven of spades. He cut the cards, turned one over and there it was. Before long, he was folding a $1 bill ever smaller until it turned into a $50. If it would stay a $50, magic stores wouldn’t need cash mobs.
The event was such a success, Ms. Peiritsh said, “that I never moved from the front till everyone was gone. I didn’t want to do it. I was afraid people would think we suggested it. We didn’t even ‘like’ it on Facebook. But it was fun. We’re tired but thrilled.”
Don Moody came from Alliance, Ohio, to be part of the throng. He returns each month for meetings of the Mystic Magicians of Beaver Valley. Among several area magic clubs, his club has a “teach-and-learn” session every month.
He has spent 40 years doing stage illusions, “levitating people, cutting them into pieces” as a part-time job, he said. When he worked for National Cash Register, a magic shop in New Jersey was one of his clients.
“I was checking the cash register, and a little kid showed me how to disappear a silk handkerchief,” he said. “I was hooked.”
The Cuckoo’s Nest sells 5,000 items, including books about Houdini, vanishing wands, multiplying golf balls, Crazy Man’s handcuffs, the Hundred Dollar Bill Switch, large puppets, hand buzzers and Groucho glasses.
“The backbone of our [in-store] business comes from demonstrations,” Mr. Peiritsh said. “There’s usually someone here every day” to show patrons magic tricks.
Mr. Gertner made it obvious that great magicians are as intuitive as political operatives and marketing moguls in understanding how to deceive us by playing on our lapses, knowing we will miss seeing the “E” with our brains.
“In the political world, it’s called spin,” he said. “The magician deceives you with exaggerations, creating false patterns and taking advantage of your inclination to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.”