pedaling baker

Eat/Drink is NEXT’s weekly look at all that’s good in the local food scene.

The Pedaling Baker brings fresh bread on wheels
Neil Blazin has always loved cooking and experimenting with food. He’s also an avid cyclist. A few months ago, he was on a big pasta kick when a surplus of flour made him shift gears.

“I was making ravioli and gnocchi and all these other things, so I had all of this flour at home and thought, ‘I should really try to make bread,’” says Blazin, who cooks at Legume in Oakland under chef/owner Trevett Hooper. “We have a pastry chef here and I started picking her brain about bread. She gave me a book and I started doing sourdough first.”

Since then, Blazin’s barely had time to look back. He’s dubbed himself the Pedaling Baker — a play on his tendency to bike everywhere. His fresh-herb focaccia made its way onto Legume’s tables a few weeks ago, and baking bread for Legume has become a part of his daily routine.

“This place is just super-inspirational. To be able to just put the bug in Trevett’s ear and have him say, ‘let’s try it,’ is an incredible opportunity,” says Blazin. “Every day is a new challenge depending on the heat and humidity and everything. It’s a fun process and it’s tricky in that it’s a lot about feel, so I made a lot of really horrible bread at first.”

Despite how new he is to the process, Blazin has adapted quickly. In addition to baking for Legume, he’s also providing bread for Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance’s online farm stand and Sweet Peaches catering. This summer, he hopes to be able to sell his bread on weekends at the Pittsburgh Public Market.

“It’s growing more rapidly than I thought,” he says. “I’m hoping eventually that I’ll be able to just pedal down to the Strip on Saturdays and Sundays and see if people are into it.”

Blazin is fielding individual orders through Facebook and e-mail, and his offerings include baguettes, olive bread, brioche, whole wheat and the aforementioned sourdough and focaccia.

“I’m trying to expand my repertoire little by little as much as I can,” he says “I’m going to give croissants a shot.”

Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week kicks off Friday

In just two years on the scene, the Alliance’s Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week has become the most anticipated beer festival in a city rife with them. It will start its third go-round on Friday, April 25 and run through Sunday, May 4.

Craft Beer Week not only brings popular craft brewers and their wares in from all over the country but  it also pairs up local breweries to produce collaboration beers. Highlighting this year’s collaborations are a Belgian-New Zealand hybrid IPA from Rivertowne and Roundabout Breweries, the pithy matching of Helltown and All Saints to create a dunkel-weizen and the long-anticipated offering from The Brew Gentlemen and Sprague Farms, a spring ale with maple syrup called Non-Timber Forest Product. We’re also eager to try the chai tea saison that North Country and Voodoo have worked up. The PCBW has a complete list of collaborations.

The PCBW event calendar is headlined by the Pittsburgh Real Ale Festival at Highmark Stadium on the South Side, the Carrie Furnace Bash and Commonwealth Press “Beer Barge,” which has already sold out. Scores of other events will be taking place across the region. Check out the PCBW’s website for the closest thing you’ll find to a full calendar.

Food Truck Roundup
If there is a sign that the cold weather is behind us, it might be the sight of five of Pittsburgh’s favorite food trucks dishing out food in one lively space.

See the vision realized on Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. when Just Harvest hosts the Pittsburgh Food Truck Roundup Celebration in the parking lot next to Bar Marco. Participants include the PGH Taco Truck, Burgh Bites, The Steer and Wheel, Saucy Mamma’s and South Side BBQ Company. Bar Marco will have beer for sale.

Turkish food in the Square
A Mediterranean restaurant with a Turkish bend opened its doors in Regent Square yesterday. Istanbul Sofra occupies the space formerly held by Alma Cantina at the corner of Forbes and Braddock Avenues.

The restaurant is a joint venture and the first from Amanda and Adnan Pehlivan and Adnan’s childhood friend Edip Sensel, who also serves as chef. Pehlivan and Sensel hail from the towns of Tarsus and Mersin in south-central Turkey.

We haven’t been yet, but it’s BYOB and the menu looks mouthwateringly authentic. Istanbul Sofra is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Matthew Wein

Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all...