Dinner at Apteka

*NOTE*: Apteka did not ask me to write this blog post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others. Photos captured on an iPhone 7s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

Back in February, I was lucky enough to attend a Yoga Nidra + Reiki workshop at the Yoga Hive in Garfield with one of my best guy friends! After class, we decided to venture over to Apteka in Bloomfield for dinner! Apteka started out as a pop-up in Pittsburgh, featured in several Pierogi competition (and it won several of those competitions).

Apteka is know for its Eastern European food (especially the Pierogies) and everything is Vegan! My friend and I were very eager to dine here! When you walk in, you place your order at the counter (and pay then, too). If you’re a party of less than six, hopefully fate is in your favor and a table is waiting for you (considering Apteka is VERY popular; there was even a line out the door)! Thankfully for my friend and me, fate was in our favor. 🙂

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Course #1: Zupa z dyni! Pumpkin Soup, fennel and a seed cracker. THE best Pumpkin Soup I’ve ever had in my entire LIFE! Even though there was (obviously) no cream in this soup, the soup still had this creamy and comforting quality. I LOVED dipping the seed cracker in the soup, enjoying the soft texture of the soup clash with the crunchy texture of the cracker.

 

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Course #2: Pierogi Small Plate! Also: sauerkrat, mushroom, celeriac, apple, potato and horseradish. Sooooooo good! Definitely one of THE best plates of Pierogies I’ve EVER had! Although I’m glad I ordered the Small Plate, because the three Pierogies were very filling!

 

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Dessert Course: Piernik! Dark Gingerbread and Plum Butter! I swear, if you didn’t know about the ginger and plum butter, you would’ve thought you were eating a decadent chocolate cake! I loved the Spicy-ness of the ginger, paired with the sweetness of the Plum. I was pleasantly surprised with this healthy take on cake!

 

Well there you have it, folks! Whether you’re either a Vegan, Vegetarian, or a meat-eating Carnivore, I know everyone can find a dish (or two, or three) they will enjoy at Apteka! Just make sure to arrive early, to help increase your changes of getting a table!

 

Next up: Sunday Funday at Yellow Bridge Brewing Company, featuring Swing Truck and the Steel City Chimney Cakes!

 

 

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Apteka’s website

Apteka’s Facebook page

Apteka’s Twitter page

Apteka’s Instagram page

 

My First Two Visits to Pork & Beans

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The front of Pork & Beans‘ menu.

*NOTE*: Neither Richard DeShantz, Keith Fuller, nor Pork & Beans asked me to write this post. I am just a friendly Pittsburgh foodie and yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others. Photos captured on an iPhone 7s, and edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

Pork & Beans (Richard DeShantz’s latest restaurant! This time, he has partnered up with his buddy [and former owner of Root 174] Keith Fuller) opened up in October 2016 in downtown Pittsburgh (not too far from the 6th Street/Roberto Clemente Bridge). Ever since then, I have been WAITING to dine at this restaurant! Luckily, my first opportunity presented itself in late December, when one of my best friends from high school returned home for the holidays. 🙂

First, I must say Richard and Keith created such a cool environment for Pork & Beans. Once you walk in and are seated at your table, you feel as if you have entered into THE best Southern-style picnic!

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Meal #1 at Pork & Beans (Clockwise from upper left-hand corner): Collard Greens, Vegan Pulled Pork, and Burnt End Beans (with grilled sourdough bread, picked onions, cabbage and pickles).

This was my first time I tried Collard Greens, and I absolutely LOVED them! I even brought the leftover Collard Greens home, and enjoyed them as part of my dinner the next day. 😉

The Vegan Pulled Pork was pretty darn good! It tasted very similar to regular Pulled Pork. Knowing Keith Fuller had a few Vegan dishes on the menu at Root 174, I had a hunch he added this to the menu (which this particular  night, the Vegan Pulled Pork was a special). I really enjoyed spreading the Vegan Pulled Pork on the Sourdough bread, with a few of the pickled vegetables on top.

Last (but certainly not least) THE glorious burnt end beans! Besides my Mom’s baked beans, these were THE best beans I’ve EVER had (and very hot)!

 

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A close-up of the VERY tasty Collard Greens!

In summary: the first visit to Pork & Beans was a MAJOR success! I left absolutely loving the atmosphere, customer service and food! I easily convinced my Mom to go to Pork & Beans in the beginning of May (before the Chris Botti concert).

 

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Meal #2 at Pork & Beans (left to right): Pickled Vegetables, Pulled Pork, and Broccoli Salad!

I absolutely LOVED the Pickled Vegetables (especially taking a fork-full of the Pulled Pork, and adding a few of the pickled vegetables to the bite)!

I must be honest: the Pulled Pork was okay, but I’ve had better Pulled Pork from Whole Foods.

The Broccoli salad was good, but not great (not as good as the broccoli salad my Mom used to buy from Giant Eagle).

So dinner #2 is complete, and I am feeling underwhelmed. Fear not, there’s still hope!

 

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Mom and I both ordered the new dessert: Bourbon Pecan Pie (from Piebird, and up-and-coming business that will be located in the Strip District), with a scoop of Leona‘s Vanilla Ice Cream on top!

Now THIS was really good! The Pecan Pie might just be better than my Mom’s Pecan Pie (sorry Mom), and how can you go wrong with Leona’s Ice Cream? I have enjoyed most of their Ice Cream sandwiches, and the few pint flavors I’ve tried thus far. This was the highlight of dinner!

I’m not sure if my Mom and I just caught the restaurant on an “off-night” or what, but I still have hope and confidence in Pork & Beans. As long as they keep that same quality they had during the first few months they were opened, I know Pork & Beans will be another successful Richard DeShantz restaurant.

 

Next up: Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Winter 2017 dinner at Avenue B.

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Pork & Beans’ website

Pork & Beans’ Facebook page

Pork & Beans’ Twitter page

Pork & Beans’ Instagram page

Dinner at Altius

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Course #1 at Altius: Heron Point Crab Toast! Wild caught colossal crab, grilled artichoke cream cheese, basil aioli, rustic baguette and petite herbs.

*NOTE*: Altius did not ask me to write this post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others. Photos captured on an iPhone 7s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended, and Instagram.

A few days before Christmas, my Mom and I went to see a show at the Pittsburgh Public Theater (about Rocky Bleier, who was a Pittsburgh Steelers! He was even narrating the play). Before the show, Mom and I dined at Altius for dinner on Mt. Washignton! Chef Jessica Bauer’s first Restaurant, Bistro 19 (in Mt. Lebanon) was so enjoyable (and Altius had received lots of praise), we decided to dine at Altius! Plus, the view from one of the windows at Altius is BREATH-TAKING!

 

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Another view of this very TASTY crab toast! Oh baby, oh baby! 😉

 

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Course #2: She Crab Bisque! Golden crab roe, Sherry creme fraiche, and honey roasted peanuts. I must say, this was pretty incredible! Pretty darn close to being just as good as the Sherry Bisque at The Hyeholde!

 

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A close-up of this HANDSOME dish!

 

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Main Course (which was also one of the specials that night): Red Snapper (my first one!) on top of a red of risotto, with porcini mushrooms and broccolini. Everything laid in a lobster broth! Can you say decadent? This dish totally blew me away!

 

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A close up of this beauty!

As you can probably tell, the food was truly impressive. Plus, the view of the city!!!

On the other hand: the fancy restaurants and white tablecloths do not impress me. There was a dress code–when I go to a restaurant, I just want to wear a nice top and jeans (and sometimes I dine in my yoga clothes! Ask Bar Marco or The Vandal lol!). I like a more rustic dining decor (a la any Richard DeShantz Restaurant, Bar Marco, The Vandal, and Justin Severino’s restaurants).

I especially enjoy most when the staff says more than “hello”, and “here is the explanation of this dish”. I like to get to know the wait-staff, sommeliers, barista, and owners of the restaurants. I want real conversation.

If you like a classic look, a dress code, and you don’t want the wait-staff to talk to you, then this restaurant is right up your alley.

It probably goes without saying that when you dine on Mt. Washington, you are “paying for the view”. That being said, I definitely view Altius as more of a special occasion restaurant (birthday, anniversary, etc).

Is the food good? YES! Is the staff professional? YES! I definitely suggest (whether you’re from Pittsburgh or are visiting) that you dine at Altius at least one. Who knows, you might just fall in love with the place. ❤

 

Next up on the blog: Dinner at Pork & Beans!

 

 

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Altius’ website

Altius’ Facebook page

Birthday Dinner #2 at Spoon

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Spoon‘s Executive Chef Jamilka Borges was kind enough to come out
to the dining room to welcome me for my birthday dinner! She is one
the most genuine women I’ve  met in my entire life, and my FAVORITE
Pittsburgh Chef! She is also a James Beard Fellowship Recipient, and
actively involved with the 412 Food Rescue!

*NOTE*: Neither Spoon nor Chef Jamilka Borges asked me to write this blog post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captured with an iPhone 7s, and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Back in the beginning of November 2016, I celebrated my 30th birthday! What better way to do it then not one, but THREE 30 and FABULOUS birthday dinners! Dinner #2 was held at Spoon in East Liberty!

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Birthday Cocktail: Witch’s Brew! Maggie’s Farm Rum, Apple Spice & Pumpkin Spice!

Fall in a cocktail, and so tasty! 😉

 

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When the bread basket is THAT good, you have a picture! 😀

 

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Course #1: Kabocha Squash Soup with a Lamb Spring Roll– this as INCREDIBLE!

Definitely not your average Squash Soup (and the Lamb Spring Roll added this extra kick that made this dish stellar)! This is not on the current menu, but I would imagine it will return in the fall.

 

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Mom’s Course #1: Beef Empanada! I remember from Jamilka’s time at Bar Marco that she made INCREDIBLE Empanadas! I tried a bite of this dish, and I must say Jamilka- FABULOUS! This is also not currently on the menu, but I hope this dish makes a triumphant return!

 

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Course #2: Who Cooks For You Farm Winter Salad! The second best salad I’ve had in my entire LIFE (second only to the Who Cooks For You Farm Rocky Balboa salad, that I had at birthday dinner #1 at Morcilla)! A very similar salad is currently on the menu.

 

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Main Course: Korean Fried Chicken! Whipped Sesame Tofu, gochujang, cilantro and a fried egg! BEST chicken dish I’ve HEARD had! Nice work, Chef! This dish is on both the dinner and brunch menus, and luckily not going anywhere soon! ❤

 

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Side Dish: Who Cooks For You Farm Roasted Carrots! Cumin, pepitas, maple, and cilantro crema! THE best carrot dish I’ve EVER had!

 

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Dessert Course #1: Waffle! Butter Pecan Ice Cream, hot butter rum sauce, toasted marshmallow fluff, and pecan crumble. Pastry Chef Laura, Jamilka wasn’t lying when
she told me you were one hell of a Pastry Chef! Rock on, lady!

 

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Dessert Course #2: House-made Sorbet! “Happy Birthday to me”!

 

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, or are looking for a killer place for dinner (or brunch), I HIGLY recommend Spoon (which is now on my list of favorite restaurants)!

 

Next up on the blog: Brunch at the Whitfield (inside the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh)!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Spoon’s website

Spoon’s Facebook page

Spoon’s Twitter page

Spoon’s Instagram page

Birthday Dinner #1 at Morcilla

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A beautiful shot of the Morcilla sign that I captured around 7:30am on a Wednesday morning (after yoga practice in Lawrenceville)!

*DISCLAIMER*: Neither Justin Severino nor the management and staff of Morcilla asked me to write this post. i am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, whom enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captured on an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

Towards the beginning of November of last year, I celebrated my “30 & fabulous” birthday! Even though I have been DYING to dine at Morcilla (located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of the city of Pittsburgh), I knew I wanted to “save” dinner at Morcilla for my 30th & fabulous bday dinner #1!

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While my Mom and I waited for the food, I enjoyed this Tonic, with: chinchilla, lavender and cardamom. Sooooo good!

Since Morcilla is a Tapas bar, my Mom and I ordered a few “small plates” and shared them throughout the night:

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Picked Cauliflower Catalan– golden raisins, capers, garlic and sherry vinegar. I am a sucker for a good cauliflower dish, and I must say this was one of THE best ones I’ve EVER had!

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Jamon Iberico De Bellota– marcona almonds, four year aged Pata Negra, Castilla Leon, Spain. PEOPLE! I had Jamon (which my hero Anthony Bourdain says is THE best ham in the WORLD). Even though I prefer the taste of Prosciutto, I must say this ham was DAMN good! I really enjoyed wrapping up each slice around one of the Marcona Almonds. Take my word for it, splurge on the $25 appetizer and share it amongst your group!

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Morcilla (blood sausage)- although it’s currently not on the menu (hopefully, Morcilla will bring back its namesake dish), I just HAD to order some Morcilla! I’ve only had blood sausage once before at an Argentinian restaurant in Pittsburgh, and I must say this Morcilla (imported from Spain) was WAY better! I’m very glad that I ordered this dish!

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Who Cooks For You Farm “Rocky Balboa” Salad– also not currently on the menu. Even so, this was my FAVORITE dish of the night! Literally THE best salad I’ve had in my enter LIFE!

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Spring Creek Oysters (Barnstable, MA) half dozen– oh. My. GOSH! Theses were so good! I’ve never tried oysters before, and since Bourdain loves them, I decided to be bold and try them! They were so fresh, I swear you could taste the ocean water!

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As Rebel Wilson would say: “crushed it”! 

Since the staff learned it was my birthday, they brought out a complimentary Crema Catalana (the Catalan version of Creme Brûlée)! I also ordered a Cafe Americano from Commonplace Coffee (love them)!

Thank you to Justin Severino, Hilary Prescott Severino, Nate Hobart and staff for a WONDERFUL first dinner (and birthday) experience at Morcilla! I shall return!

Next up: birthday dinner #3 at Spoon!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Morcilla’s website

Morcilla’s Facebook page

Morcilla’s Twitter page

Morcilla’s Instagram page

Dinner at Poros

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The “dinner spread” that Mom & I enjoyed at Poros (one of the Big Y restaurants)!

*DISCLAIMER*: Neither Poros nor the Big Y Restaurant Group asked me to write this post.  I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her food and yoga adventures with others. Photos captured with an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Instagram.

Last year, I won a gift certificate from The Fearless Warrior Conference to the Big Y Restaurants! Since my Mother and I have never been to Poros, we decided to dine there before the Pittsburgh Symphony‘s Moonlight Serenade concert in September!

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Course #1 : Fingerling Potatoes! VERY tasty, and cooked to perfection! This was one of Poros’ Vegan options!

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Course #2: Roasted Cauliflower (also Vegan)! I enjoyed this course as well! Almost as good as the Cauliflower dish at Butcher & The Rye!

I forgot to take a photo, but I also had the Sokolatina Flourless Chocolate Tort (with orange yogurt sauce and candied orange) for dessert. This was one of THE best Flourless Chocolate Torts that I’ve EVER had!

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Mom’s Dessert: Bakalava Ice Cream, with walnut and filo! This was REALLY good!

 

Overall, great service and a wonderful dining ambiance! The food was good, but not great. I’m still deciding if I would ever go back, but I did enjoy my dining experience at Poros!

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Here’s another view of our dinner spread, with the Roasted Cauliflower front and center!

 

Next on the blog:  Birthday Dinner #1 at Morcilla!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Poros’ website

Poros’ Facebook page

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Poros’ Instagram page

412 Food Rescue and Brazen Kitchen’s Vegan Churchview Farm Dinner 2016

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The beautiful dinner table at Churchview Farm for the Summer and Fall 2016 Farm Dinners!

*NOTE*: Neither the Churchview Farm, Leah Lizarondo (Brazen Kitchen), nor 412 Food Rescue asked me to write this post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, whom enjoys sharing her foodie adventures with others. Photos were captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

The Day before Labor Day, my Mom and I attended Leah Lizarondo‘s (Co-Founder of 412 Food Rescue, Brazen Kitchen Food Blogger, and Editor at NEXTPittsburgh) Vegan Churchview Farm Dinner! One of the many cool things about this dinner: all of the ticket sales went to the 412 Food Rescue!

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Another lovely angle of the Farm Dinner table at the Churchview Farm!

The evening started with a welcome Raspberry Cocktail, and a stroll around the farm! I was pleasantly surprised to see two of my FAVORITE yoga teachers at the dinner! Thus, I introduced them both to my Mom, and spent time talking to my two teachers before the dinner began.

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First Course: Toast from Five Points Bakery, Vegan Cheese (four different kinds), and jam. This was also paired with a variety of Beers from Bierport in Lawrenceville!

The bread was INCREDIBLE, and I really loved the jam! I loved two of the cheeses, but in particular the cheddar cheese! It had this wonderful smokiness to it, and made me forget I ate Vegan Cheese. The 412 Food Rescue‘s Director of Operations did a FABULOUS job making these Vegan Cheeses!

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Second Course: Vegan Caprese, with tomatoes and basil from the farm!

I loved both the Tomatoes and Basil from the Farm, but honestly, I did not like this Vegan Caprese Cheese at all. Even so, I definitely appreciated all of the effort that Leah endured to make it, as I’m sure making your own Vegan Cheese is not an easy task!

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Third Course: Celery Root Soup, with cilantro lime chimichurri. This was also paired with beer from Spoonwood Brewing Company (which I loved)!

One of my favorite dishes! This was a light and healthy, almost creamy soup. Even Leah said it was one of her favorite dishes that she made for this dinner!

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Fourth Course: Fresh Spring Rolls (with leftover produce from Pittsburgh Juice Company)

Another one of my favorite dishes of the night! Anytime I order Spring Rolls at either the Cheesecake Factory, a Thai or Chinese restaurant, I particular liked the ones like these (with the clear wrapping filled with vegetables). Love Love LOVED this dish!

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A close up of this GORGEOUS dish!

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Fifth Course: Pasta Sampler from Onion Maiden, and charred shishito peppers from the farm! Paired with beer from Grist House Brewery, which was delicious!

Another favorite dish! Onion Maiden cooked the past to perfection (I am so excited for their restaurant to open next year), and the Churchview Farm produced THE best peppers I’ve tasted in my entire LIFE!

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Sixth Course: Vegan Bahn Mi! Paired with Beer from the East End Brewing Company!

I loved the bread, the vegetables and the creamy spread-y stuff taking the place of the Chicken Liver Mousse, but I did not like the Tempeh.

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Dessert Course: Vegan Ice Cream Sampler (with Ice Cream from Pittsburgh Ice Cream Company, and Coconut Lime Sorbet from Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream), Gluten Free Donuts (from the Gluten Free Goat Bakery), raspberries and husk cherries from the farm, and tea from Tupelo Honey!

Definitely my favorite course! I particularly loved the Coconut Ice Cream from Millie’s Homemade, the muffin from the Gluten Free Goat Bakery, and the raspberries and husk cherries from the farm! Heaven on a plate!

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A close up of this handsome dessert sampler!

Well there you go, folks! Whether you’ve never been to a Churchview Farm Dinner, or go every year, I HIGHTLY recommend that you go for at least one of next year’s dinners! I promise you, you won’t regret your decision!

 

Next blog post: dinner at Poros!

 

 

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Churchview Farm’s website

Churchview Farm’s Facebook page

Churchview Farm’s Twitter page

Churchview Farm’s Instagram page

412 Food Rescue’s website

412 Food Rescue’s Facebook page

412 Food Rescue’s Twitter page

412 Food Rescue’s Instagram page