Eat: Three new spots for frozen treats
Though the unseasonable temperatures may have tricked you a few times, this past Sunday was the official start to spring. Among the many wonderful things that the warm weather brings, the ice cream, popsicles and other frozen goodies are surely some of the best. Old standbys like Page Dairy Mart and Glen’s Custard have reopened for the season, much to the delight of legions of devoted followers. But if you’re looking for some new options this year, you’re in luck.
After gaining a devoted following at farmers markets and an ice cream CSA, Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream opened a shop of their own last week. Occupying the former home of Oh Yeah! Ice Cream & Coffee in Shadyside (no, they did not keep that weird bathroom), owners Chad & Lauren Townsend have created a bright, cheery space for savoring some seriously impressive ice cream. Options range from classics like a perfectly creamy vanilla to soon-to-be classics like ricotta with Luxardo cherries and pistachios. From homemade waffle cones to the Lactaid tablets for sale by the register, Millie’s new shop strikes a great balance between quality and whimsy. Read more about Millie’s here.
The name Stickler’s Ice Pop Company is more than a perfect popsicle pun. It also hints at the quality ingredients and care that go into each of Todd and Laura Saulle’s handmade frozen treats. Where grocery store pops are chock full of artificial flavors and colors, Stickler’s (formerly The Pop Stop) uses only fresh fruits, whole ingredients and pure cane sugar. Now the Saulles are adding a Millvale shop to their roving fleet of carts and a popsicle truck. The storefront, which previously housed an ice cream and candy store for more than 75 years, will open on Evergreen Avenue later this spring. Follow Stickler’s Facebook page for more info. on their opening date, and check out Todd and Laura’s “Best Meal I Ate Last Week” feature here.
Finally, keep an eye on Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co. Formerly stationed in the Pittsburgh Public Market, owner Nathan Holmes has been scouting new locations since the market’s closing last month. [Update: On April 11th, Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co. will open inside Downtown’s Market Street Grocery. They will serve eight flavors inside and scoop on the street for special events, such as Pirates games.] Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co. puts a laser focus on sourcing local, seasonal ingredients for their small-batch ice creams. In the warm months, look for flavors like strawberry rhubarb and whiskey peach; the cooler seasons bring ice creams made with beets and apple cider. Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co. also incorporates local cheeses into several flavors, including a savory/sweet variety made with honey, pecans and blue cheese. Get the scoop on their new location by following Pittsburgh Ice Cream Co. on Facebook.
Drink: Spring beer (whatever that means)
Each winter, beer lovers eagerly anticipate the arrival of malty winter warmers and spiced Christmas ales. Summer brings session IPAs and fruit-laced wheat beers. And autumn, of course, is dominated by the almighty pumpkin beer. But what about spring? Spring is the black sheep when it comes to seasonal brews, lacking the iconic, hyped brews of the other nine months. Nevertheless, a few styles seem perfectly suited to the lengthening days and rising mercury.
As we move away from the roasty beers of winter and drift toward the juicy, hoppy goodness of summer, red and amber ales make for perfect transitional brews. In American craft brewing, the distinction between a red ale and an amber ale is rather murky. Generally speaking, however, these are easy-drinking beers that, while perhaps featuring a dose of hop bitterness, tend to focus on a caramel maltiness. Find an excellent (and excellently named) version in Roundabout’s Rusted Route amber ale, or go in a hoppier direction with Grist House’s Camp Slap Red.
Like American ambers, bocks walk the line between malty and hoppy. Bock, a broad category of German-style lagers, is traditionally associated with springtime—Cincinnati holds their annual Bockfest on the first weekend in March. Maibocks (also called helles bocks) are especially suited for spring, with a lighter body and more hop character than a traditional bock. Fitting the name, Hofbräuhaus and Church Brew Works will both release maibocks in May. But if you’re craving one now, look for Tröegs Cultivator, a Hershey-brewed helles bock that is currently available all over Pittsburgh.
The saison style gets its name from the French word for “season.” While the intended season was once summer (saisons were originally low-alcohol ales quaffed by Belgian farmhands), many breweries now make saisons all year long. Saisons’ characteristic dryness, effervescence and fruity, spicy notes (think peppercorns and citrus) make them a perfect pairing with the first grilled dinner of the season. Though many local breweries have taken a crack at the style, few do it with as much commitment as the Brew Gentlemen. The Braddock brewery has their own House Saison Series and often dabbles in closely related styles, including a grisette and a Bière de Miel.
Of course, there’s no wrong answer to what to drink in the spring. On a long awaited warm day, a cold glass of just about anything will be very welcome.
Do: Check out Harvest Delivery
People want to eat local food. Farmers want to sell their food to local people. Connecting those two dots, however, is not always a matter of drawing a straight line. Farmers markets are fun, but they demand a lot of time from farmers and aren’t always convenient for customers. CSA programs don’t always offer the variety consumers want and also tax farmers’ limited hours. The logistics of getting local food to the people who want it are complicated at best.
Harvest Delivery aims to make that connection a whole lot easier. “We started by identifying a local problem,” explains Jacob Hince, who cofounded Harvest Delivery along with brother Adam Hince and sister-in-law Allyson Hince. “There is a lot of local food, but not a well-run direct-to-consumer company.” So, with years of experience in supply chain management and logistics, the Hinces set out to fill that void.
“We’re trying to take the experience of a farmers market and put it onto a mobile platform,” continues Hince. Using a computer or mobile device, customers can build a box of food from a network of local farms, then have it delivered directly to their door each week. Hince explains that Harvest Delivery will offer three main advantages that set it apart from farmers markets, CSAs and traditional brick-and-mortar stores: variety, year-round availability and convenience.
Harvest Delivery will offer plenty of produce, of course, but also meat, cheese, grains and many more locally made products. And unlike many farmers markets and CSAs, which often shut down for half the year, the service will operate all year long. Above all, Harvest Delivery hopes to make eating local as easy and convenient as other online shopping using a smartly designed online interface and direct-to-your-door delivery.
Last week, Harvest Delivery launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them get off the ground. Once the necessary funds are secured, the Hinces will take a month to plan and then launch the service in June. And while Harvest Delivery will initially focus on the Pittsburgh area, they have plans to expand to surrounding states—and eventually, even farther than that.