Farmers@Firehouse giving away food

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Deals

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The Farmers@Firehouse market in the Strip District is once again trying something new to make it easier for all kinds of people to access good local food.

This time, it’s an incentive program, designed to help customers who pay with food stamps by electronic benefits transfer, or EBT — something the market piloted last year by accepting the EBT cards in exchange for wooden tokens to spend.

Market manager Emily Schmidlapp says that the incentive program is something that happens in other cities, too. Here, for every $5 an EBT shopper spends, he or she gets $3 worth of extra tokens, which can be used to purchase any food-stamp-eligible item at the market. 

The bonus tokens are paid for by donations, as well as money raised from the sale of market tote bags and at events run by Slow Food Pittsburgh, which sponsors the market.

Ms. Schmidlapp notes that a state Dept. of Agriculture grant helped, too, and, “We are hoping to secure some grant funding to continue the incentive program in the upcoming years” — and perhaps expand it to other Pittsburgh markets.

The Farmers@Firehouse market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 23.
For a complete list of the region’s markets, which are bursting with produce right now, as well as an interactive map of them, go here.

Bob Batz Jr./Post-Gazette photo

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San Fran? Eat cheap

Written by Moriah Balingit on . Deals

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A plane ticket to San Francisco International can be a real bruise to the bank account. But the city’s diverse eats means you can get mind-blowing meals for not so much. If you can’t afford a table at the Cliff House or Thomas Keller’s French Laundry -- where a prix fixe runs half my weekly salary -- here are some life-changing meals you can get for less than $30.

1. Bar Tartine for lunch

Located in the eclectic Mission District, Bar Tartine is the off-shoot of the famous Tartine Bakery & Cafe. It goes without saying, but the bread is fantastic and whatever pressed between them at lunchtime is equally so (a la the sandwich depicted above). The menu changes daily, so you might not be able to get the mind-blowing chicken sandwich I had -- shredded chicken tossed with Asian-style dressings (a bit of citrus and cilantro, reminiscent of a Thai larb salad) and pressed between two neat sheets of iceberg lettuce. The whole thing was served on a soft white sandwich bun.The sandwiches ($12 to $13) seem tame enough on the menu, but they’re Primanti-size portions. I was skeptical of the sprouted-rye bread with chocolate- and hazelnut butter ($5) as a dessert, but the thick, substantial bread served as the perfect counterpoint for insanely rich chocolate butter.

Bar Tartine: 561 Valencia St., 94110.

2. A dumpling tour of Chinatown.

Even though San Francisco’s Chinatown has become a bit of a tourist trap, it is still ground zero from some of the Bay Area’s best dumplings. There are a number of sit-down restaurants here, but one of my favorite activities is to head to the spots where the dumplings are piled up in the front in big steam baskets in the front and just order whatever looks mysterious. My favorite are the sticky rice ones that come wrapped in lotus leaves. Since there’s often a language barrier, it’s always a surprise what’s tucked inside the sticky ball of rice. We tried a few places and eventually Yelp led us to Good Mong Kok Bakery, where we got to sample every single dumpling for a grand total of $7.

3. Mission Chinese

Located in a storefront in the Mission, Mission Chinese an irreverent, hip twist on traditional Asian dishes. Pork belly comes with pineapple spears, a cloying Hoisin sauce and little cocktail umbrellas. Fried rice comes with salted cod instead of the traditional lapcheung (Chinese sausage). Rice porridge is specked with bacon. The restaurant is dark, with Chinese paper dragons looming ominously above. And naturally, they play gangsta rap. If you have trouble finding it, look for the crowds of hungry diners who may or may not be helping themselves to pre-meal beers in paper bags. (It helps that there’s a well-stocked convenience store down the street.) Entrees range from $12 to $19.

Mission Chinese: 2234 Mission St., 94110

08232013sanfranoven4. Una Pizza Napoletana

This place was recommended by a fine pizza maker in his own right, a guy I know only as Baker Rick. Baker Rick fanatically insisted I try this place, run by the equally fanatic Anthony Mangieri. Though Mangieri is a bit of a celebrity now, he makes all the dough and all the pies. All of it. And in case you’re skeptical of that, he does it all in full view in a gorgeous tiled dome-shaped oven in the middle of a drafty, high-ceilinged space in SOMA. That means he’s a busy man, but still not too busy to pose with diners for photos. There are only five kinds of pies, but each we tried was perfection: a heavenly dough with the right amount of gristle and chew with high-quality toppings to match.

Una Pizza Napoletana: 210 11th St., 94103.

08232013sanfranout5. Venice Gourmet

My family set out for a somewhat harrowing trip across the Golden Gate Bridge on bikes and stopped in for a snack at Venice Gourmet. A "snack" for a family of ravenous biker went something like this: a chewy sourdough baguette, a bit of pate, some turkey slices, varsious kinds of cheese and smoked salmon. We enjoyed our petite picnic at this quaint deli right on the water, where we feasted on the astounding view and made the seagulls jealous. The do-it-yourself deli was reasonably inexpensive. Pre-assembled sandwiches are $6.95 to $9.95.

Venice Gourmet: 625 Bridgeway, Sausalito, 94965

Moriah Balingit photos

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Free Smiley cookies

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Deals

BlackGoldSmiley cookie
Two games into the lockout-shortened hockey season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins already are two for two.

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but can you say "Stanley Cup?" 

The folks at Eat'n Park are pretty tickled about the start of the National Hockey League season, too. 

To celebrate, the restaurant chain tomorrow will offer a free hand-iced Black-n-Gold Smiley Cookie to any guest who shows up wearing Penguins attire at any of its 70-plus locations. 

The promotion will last all day Wed., Jan. 23. 


Eat'n Park photo





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Pittsburgh Penguins get iced... donuts, that is

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Deals

Pens Donut

The National Hockey League lockout is finally over, and Pittsburgh Penguins fans are pretty jacked up about it, as evidenced by the thousands of people who lined up around Consol Energy Center on Jan. 16 for a free Black and Gold intrasquad scrimmage.

Turns out, the folks at America's favorite doughnut shop are just as excited about the Pens' return to the ice as we are. 

To celebrate, area Dunkin' Donuts have trotted out a Penguins-themed doughnut. Meant to evoke the team's colors, it's frosted in chocolate icing with a yellow dipping-icing drizzle.

Actually, re-introduce might be a better word, as the doughnut chain, which got its start in Massachusetts in 1950 and today counts more than 10,000 restaurants in 32 countries, initially offered the special yeast ring doughnuts at the start of the season.
 "Then it went away when they didn't play," a manager at the Market Square franchise told me.  

A single doughnut costs 99 cents, while a dozen will set you back $7.99. They will be available until the end of the 48-game season, which if the Pens play as well as everyone hopes they will, should extend to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in June. 

As part of the on-going celebration, Dunkin' Donuts also will offer small, 99-cent hot or iced lattes every day from 3 to 6 p.m. until the end of March. 
 
Anybody else doing special hockey-themed menus or food items to celebrate the Pens' return? Let us know. 

Dunkin' Donuts photo

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Burger King celebrates birthday

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Deals

whoppers

After a certain age, birthdays can sneak up on you. To wit: can you believe Burger King's flame-broiled Whopper turns a whopping 55 years old this year? 

I'd be having (another) mid-life crisis if it were my birthday, but the fast-food giant is doing anything but.

Rather, the world's third-largest fast-food hamburger chain is celebrating the milestone by offering a special deal on the iconic sandwich, which arrived on the menu three years after the company's founding in 1954 in Miami. In the years since, it quickly became its No. 1 seller.   whopper sign

Today through Sun., Dec. 9, when you buy any Whopper sandwich for the regular price of $3.49, you can get an original 1/4-pound Whopper for the celebratory price of 55 cents.

OK, so it's not exactly the original 1957 price of 37 cents. But it is the same warm, toasted sesame-seed bun that millions have been enjoying every day since.

It's also the perfect excuse to grab a buddy and try one of the two burgers you've undoubtedly seen promoted on the sign outside your local store:  the chain's new Wisconsin White Cheddar Whopper, or the retro Angry Whopper, which comes topped with melted habernero cheese, thick-cut smoked bacon, spicy onion petals and jalapenos, and a spicy "angry" sauce. 

Burger King photo
 

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Heads up for the All-Clad factory sale

Written by Melissa McCart on . Deals

CaptureToday's PSA for home cooks and holiday shoppers is a reminder about the All-Clad factory sale from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Washington County Fair and Expo Center. Prices are 40- to 70 percent off regular retail. 

A vast selection of the All-Clad line is available and restocked over the next two days, according to a spokesperson I called this morning. Bloggers note lines to get in are heavy early and dissipate in the afternoon. 

I asked a few restaurant chefs whether they're using cast iron, copper or All-Clad and a handful gave the brand a nod for sauces, sautes and things for which you need a clean, even surface. 

Have you been to the sale before? Feel free to offer strategy in the comments.

All-Clad photo
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