Best place to learn that coffee, like revenge, is best served cold
Commonplace Coffee Co., 5827 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. 412-422-0404 or www.commonplacecoffee.com
Iced coffee usually begins life as hot coffee. And sure, hot coffee can still be a treat after a few hours of refrigeration. But it can also taste watered down, burnt, not what it was born to be. Commonplace Coffee avoids this gastronomic conundrum by cold-brewing their iced coffee, an electricity-free process which begins with steeping coffee in cold water for 10 to 12 hours. The resulting product is mellower, less acidic and arguably more flavorful. And while this method has gained popularity in recent years, Commonplace is in a lonely minority of coffee shops putting it into practice.
Best local use of produce, potato division
Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka. Available in most state Wine & Spirits stores. 412-486-8666 or www.boydandblair.com
Owners Prentiss Orr and Barry Young began distilling this vodka in Glenshaw in 2008, using locally sourced potatoes and a still they hauled in from Germany. The brand took off and, far from just being a local fave, B&B is now available as far away as San Francisco. Using a process in which they keep only the sweetest portion of the vodka that they distill, Orr and Young create a product that is, as they say, top-shelf.
Best local use of produce, apple division:
Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar
300 39th St., Lawrenceville. 412-260-6968 or www.arsenalciderhouse.com
Bill and Michelle Larkin are running the ultimate cottage industry -- one that dates to a time when people actually lived in cottages. The Larkins have built a rustic retreat -- down to the burnt-wood trim -- out of their home, where they offer hard cider, sour-cherry wine and other such nectars. Each is a modern update of libations that would have been familiar to Johnny Appleseed.
Best way to increase your daily consumption of calcium
Brgr's Spiked Shakes and Floats
5997 Penn Circle South, East Liberty. 412-362-2333 or www.brgrpgh.com
No room for milk in your fridge because of all the beer? Order an alcoholic milkshake at East Liberty's Brgr instead. We recommend the "Salty Caramel Spiked Shake": bourbon, sea salt, caramel sauce and vanilla-bean ice cream. It'll cost you $8, but the shakes are large and go well with one of Brgr's gourmet burgers. (Try the "Gobble-Gobble," a Thanksgiving meal stuffed between two buns.) The menu boasts that all shakes use whole milk and Dave and Andy's ice cream. While there's not enough booze in one to make you drunk, you do run the risk of suffering the city's trendiest ice-cream headache.
Best place for elk sausage and artisanal marshmallows under one roof: Pittsburgh Public Market. 1600 block of Smallman Street, Strip District. 412-281-4505 or www.pittsburghpublicmarket.org
The city's first public market in decades opened in September in the Strip's Produce Terminal. It's an indoors, year-round affair-- a nice Friday, Saturday and Sunday complement to seasonal farmers' markets and the Strip's own weekend bustle. There's too much variety for one shopping bag: fresh-ground coffee; locally brewed beer; Indian spices; take-out barbecue; pastured chicken; organic produce ... and that's just a few of the nearly 60 local vendors the group Neighbors in the Strip has booked for the 10,000-square-foot space.