Back of the House

One of the great benefits of having a great food scene in Pittsburgh is that while it’s thriving and diverse, it still mirrors the city’s small-town feel. Nowhere will that be more prevalent than this Sunday at Youth Places on the North Side.

Twenty of Pittsburgh’s finest chefs will cook and serve small plates of their favorite dishes. It’s a chance for you to eat stupidly delicious offerings from the culinary minds behind places like Root 174, Meat & Potatoes, e2, Legume, Stagioni, Habitat and Spoon, just to name a few.

Table Magazine is billing it as an “all-star chef throwdown,” but that’s somewhat misleading. There aren’t any rules and the event isn’t even a competition, so don’t expect to see Leah Lizarondo dropkick Kate Romane, or Bill and Keith Fuller to try and rip each other’s beards off—that is, unless something goes terribly wrong.

Tickets are $35 if purchased in advance or $40 at the door ($12/$15 for kids 17 and under, and kids under 5 get in free), and the event benefits YouthPlaces, which among other things, helps provide high-risk youth with job training in the food service industry.

This just in: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is delicious

So maybe that’s not any kind of a big secret, but it’s taken us here at Eat/Drink awhile to get there—think of it as the food equivalent of your one friend who’s never seen The Godfather. On the recommendations of several friends, including the PGH Taco Truck’s James Rich, we swung by Gaucho in the Strip District for lunch yesterday.

It lived up to every last bit of the hype.

The front counter in the small dining area allows for a clear view of a lively, open kitchen, complete with line cooks singing along to the radio, shouting at Penn Avenue’s questionably competent drivers and periodically starting a “Let’s go Pens!” chant. Gaucho has the city’s most visibly fun kitchen.

With the rosemary braised beef gone for the day, Eat/Drink opted for a sandwich of pulled chicken, onions, potatoes and Portobello mushrooms with ajo (garlic sauce) served on ciabatta—a nice design, as lesser bread couldn’t possibly contain all the juicy, savory goodness going on here.

Following a brief moment of indecision, we decided to tack an ear of grilled corn onto that order.
“He wants the audio to go with the video,” one of the cooks said, nodding approvingly.

It was a good decision. Eat/Drink heartily recommends you do yourself the favor of eating here.

Ice cream sandwiches and beer: snack of champions

When Matt Katase was a student at CMU, he and his friends often hosted events fueled with nothing but a case of Lion’s Head pilsner and a box of Giant Eagle ice cream sandwiches.

“Those were always the most fun socials we had,” he says. “To this day, beer and ice cream sandwiches are one of my favorite pairings.”

Katase and the rest of the Brew Gentlemen Beer Company will take this pairing to its logical extreme on Saturday, October 18 when the taproom hosts a beer and ice cream sandwich tasting in partnership with Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches (which, you’ll recall, Eat/Drink is totally crazy about).

Highlighting the four-course menu will be the Gents’ new Pumpkin Tripel, paired with a sandwich of Liege waffle cookies and a Belgian spice ice cream made with the beer.

Tickets to the event are $25 and available through the event page.

And while we’re on the topic…

When Washington, D.C.-based filmmakers Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin set out to make a documentary about the boom of the American Craft beer industry, they never thought they’d wind up shooting a substantial part of it in Braddock.

While filming some subjects taking the Cicerone certification exam in Washington, Hiden and Irvin met Katase and business partner Asa Foster, and were immediately taken with the Gents’ plan.

“We were curious about why they’d chosen [Braddock], and we found out about how they were really passionate about using beer and this business to help build the community back up,” Hiden says. “There are two main storylines in the film and they’re one of them.”

Hiden and Irvin’s film, Blood, Sweat, and Beer, took them across the country, interviewing everyone from brewers at Sierra Nevada and New Belgium to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, whose Wynkoop Brewing Company helped revive Denver’s struggling Lower Downtown area in the late 1980s. The film is scheduled to hit the festival circuit next year, and the filmmakers recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to try and help fund its post-production. Hiden anticipates the film making its Pittsburgh premiere next spring.