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Urban Apple Festival

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Slow Food Pittsburgh and the Urban Apple Festival go together like apple pie and windowsills, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sat., Nov. 10, at the Union Project.

What's slower than baking an apple pie? Assuming, of course, that the apples will be freshly plucked from a nearby orchard, and carefully arranged in a cardboard basket held together with giant staples. The fruit will be peeled and cored with a knife. The nutmeg will be ground by hand; the dough prepared from scratch, rolled out and cut into lattice strips. Finally, the pie will be baked and cooled.

OK, maybe baccala is slower. But you won't encounter many Dried and Aged For a Darn Long Time Cod festivals.

Though it's natural to pair the co-sponsor Slow Food Pittsburgh and the region's first Apple Festival, its setting is unique. The usual venues for apple fests are county fairs, 4-H farm shows and harvest festivals; few are held in such center-city places as the Union Project, in Highland Park.

The Urban Apple Festival will combine competition, music, merriment and education, complete with tastings, a "Great Hall of Apples and Cider," a pro-am apple pie contest and an audience with Johnny Appleseed (a.k.a. Hank Fincken). And dress to impress: There will be a Johnny Appleseed look-alike contest.

Tutorials are one of the hallmarks of the Slow Food philosophy. Learn about what you eat, they believe, and don't rush.

"It's difficult to boil down to an elevator definition," says Virginia Phillips, Slow Food Pittsburgh's co-leader. "We think food education works best in the context of eating together. We have partnered with almost everyone in town -- [including] countless restaurants -- to promote better understanding and appreciation of where food comes from globally and locally, and how your decisions about what you eat affects the health of people, animals and the planet."

A pad and pen may be required to jot down everything you ever needed to know about apples but didn't know whose brain to pick.

Or just let your apple pie speak for itself. For a $2 entry fee, anybody may submit a pie -- get it in by noon, and no Red Delicious allowed.

Winning entries in several categories will be available after the 1 p.m. contest. Slices will go for $2 each.

Admission to the festival is $3, $2 for children. The price includes a scoop of ice cream provided by Oh Yeah!, in Shadyside. Try to eat that slowly.

For more information, including contest rules, visit www.slowfoodpgh.com. The Union Project is at North Negley and Stanton avenues, in Highland Park.

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