August 21, 2010

Scrapin' Up the Bits... Keeping it Local Style

Before I get to the local stuff, a quick update on the massive egg recall. Short and sweet: big surprise, the "farm" from which the 380 billion recalled, salmonella-tainted eggs originated -- the ones that to this point have sickened at least 1,300 people -- is run by a guy who is a habitual offender of numerous regulations that ensure food safety, prevent pollution, etc.

Jack DeCoster is one of the most reviled names in industrial agriculture. ... One day, as a group of disgruntled farmers gave me a tour of their CAFO-scarred county, they muttered darkly about DeCoster. They said he had been run out of Maine for the egregious practices of his vast egg factories, and that he had set up shop in Iowa with massive, highly polluting hog factories. He was cited as the owner of several operations as we passed foul-smelling concentrations of hog buildings, sometimes as many as eight plunked down together in a cluster, each containing thousands of hogs and each draining mass quantities of waste into a single fetid "lagoon."

From tainted eggs to something much more pleasant, happenings on the local food scene.

First, Mio in Aspinwall -- where I ate just once, an excellent but extremely expensive meal, due mostly to the purchase by our dining group of a lot of wine -- has closed. It was reportedly "financially successful." But Matthew Porco, the chef/owner, had "lost interest in fine dining." He's opening up pizza shops instead. Sounds to me like PR spin. The last thing this area needs is more pizza shops. Out my way, in the northern 'burbs, at least 5 new pizza places have opened in the last two years.

Next, in the Post-Gazette, China Millman gives a nice rundown on where to get good tacos -- that is, something other than ground beef and cheese in mass-produced shells/tortillas. Notably absent was Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville. Seems like a major omission to me.

Back to north of Pittsburgh -- in this case, fairly far north of the city -- is the recently opened Burgh'ers in Zelionople. It's supposedly all organic and local. Along the lines of north of the city and local food, a recent posting on the Chowhound Pennsylvania board reports the opening, allegedly later this fall, of Echo, which will take over the massive, but now empty, space vacated by Hereford & Hops, a failed steakhouse/brew pub that shut its doors at least a year ago, if not longer. The description sounds a tad... ambitious:

It will feature modern American cuisine using local, sustainable produce and a foundation of traditional western European techniques. The contemporary dining room will offer lunch and dinner as well as artisanal cocktails, craft-brewed beers and an extensive wine list in an upscale casual atmosphere. Additional culinary features of Echo will be on-site charcuterie product made in the restaurant’s meat fabrication facility and breads and pastries produced in-house.

The chef, according to this post, which got its info from a local culinary blog of some kind, worked at Alinea -- considered to be one of the best restaurants in the country -- and Frontera Grill in Chicago. Those are some big names.

This restaurant isn't new, and it's even further north, but I can give nothing but my highest recommendations to North Country Brewing Company in Slippery Rock. I've been meaning to dedicate a post just to North Country for some time, but have just never gotten round to it.This isn't a fine dining experience. It's a casual, drink a beer, eat some meat, have some old-fashioned fun kind of place. So take a drive, order a pale ale and a "farm-to-fork" burger. You will not be disappointed.


Troy said...

Still haven't heard much in the way of where Burgher's is getting their "Local and Organic" food products, but I may just make a visit soon, and scope it out for myself.

Fillippelli the Eater said...

Sorry, I failed to h/t you on the Burgh'ers.

I need to update this to add Elements, which opened yesterday downtown and claims to follow a "farm-to-table" philosophy. That term may already be losing its meaning.

Troy said...

No problem on the h/t (I had to look up what that meant).

As I mentioned on the PASA forum, I had lunch at Burgher's and didn't find everything I was hoping for, but I do hope they realize their vision of an "Organic and Local" restaurant.