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PHOTOGRAPHY Christopher Sprowls | Contributing Photographer Hayden Rose | Contributing Photographer Corrine Jasmine | Contributing Photographer EDITORIAL STAFF Rachel Saul Rearick | Arts Editor Onastasia Youssef | Arts Editor Amanda Roszkowski | Music Editor Leah George | Living Editor Lyndsey Kramer | Food Editor Heidi Balas | Blogger Meghan McLachlan | General Assignment Writer Ashley Green | General Assigment Writer Roman Benty | General Assignment Writer Jonathan Warner | General Assignment Writer Corrine Jasmine | General Assignment Writer
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A JOURNEY THROUGH
ISSUE 6 SPRING 2018
CLAY With Yoko Sekino-Bove
Going under the blankets
8 LOCAL ARTISTS Dave Watt, Joe Mruk, & Jake Bellaire show the goods
13 THE HOW AND WHY Supporting your local music scene
17 SECOND CHANCES A hacker gets redemption
21 CAPTURING LIFE THROUGH A LENS A look into Maranie Rae Staab’s work and life 5268 Butler Street Pittsburgh, PA 15201
26 FIND YOUR YOGA Explore which type of yoga may be right for you
29 LIVING FOR A JUMPSUIT An inside look into fashionista Syma Hajian
33 A TASTE OF BASIL A conversation with Michelle Montana
37 WRENCH & RESTORE Pittsburgh’s vintage motorcyle scene
43 KITCHEN REMODEL DIY for the kitchen of your dreams
46 THE BURGH IS YOUR OYSTER A suprising and delicious find within the city
49 LOCAL DRINKS Great recipes using Maggie Farm’s Falernum
4 PITTSBURGH PRINTMAKERS
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Going Under the Blankets with PITTSBURGH PRINTMAKERS By Rachel Saul Rearick
I’m going to begin this article with full disclosure, I am a printmaker. Beyond the identification of such, I am often sidetracked by an afternoon of making monotypes or scrolling through Instagram to look at the latest linocuts. That said, if you’ve been out and about in the art scene of this region, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not in isolation when it comes to this interest.
the exhibition, Leslie says that it is an opportunity for printmakers to challenge the idea of shared space. The way the exhibition will work is that members will each invite a non-member printmaker from the tristate region of PA, WV, and OH to show work alongside them. And each member will write a summary of why they chose that colleague. “It cannot be ignored that living in a digital world prevents the public from experiencing the tactile nature of analog printing methods such as woodcut, intaglio, engraving, silkscreen and letterpress. These laborious techniques combined with the directness of the
Pittsburgh is blessed with quality printmaking. Take for instance Artist Image Resource, Tugboat Printshop, Commonwealth Press, Tip Type or a silkscreen icon, the Warhol Museum. Aside from these big names and shops, there are plenty of printmakers out there making a living as an artist or folks that are spending their free time making prints, just for the love of making prints. The intersection of all of that is the Pittsburgh Print Group. This non-profit organization is a group of artists who work in various approaches
to fine art printmaking. It was founded in 1972, and has been dedicated to the perpetuation of printmaking as an art form, by providing its members with exhibition opportunities throughout the southwestern PA region and tristate area. Which brings me to the upcoming exhibition, Under the Blankets, Printmakers Together. Before I go any further, let me give a quick explanation regarding that title-for those who aren’t familiar with printmaking. The intaglio process requires a set of wool blankets used for etching. Essentially, the culmination of three different types of blankets are used to aid in pushing paper and a plate through a press with even pressure, ultimately resulting in an even transfer of ink from the plate to the paper. So why the risqué play on words? Exhibition Co-Chair Leslie Golomb says, “Printmaking is often a collaborative activity, where workshops or print studios play a critical role in the development of an artist’s growth, both conceptually and technically.” Speaking more directly to | Issue 17
artists and viewers addressing why physical printmaking is still contemporarily relevant, i.e. we have the internet now, but here is why tactile printmaking still matters and functions independently. “ The Pittsburgh Print Group will be exhibiting Under the Blankets, Printmakers Together from May 4-July 8, 2018 at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. All of the studios will be dedicated to this exploration in printmaking and camaraderie, with the exception of one of the galleries, which will showcase the work of Imin. Additionally, there will be a myriad of educational programming to accompany the project, which will be listed on the Pittsburgh Print Group webpage at pittsburghprintgroup.com In conclusion, whether you are a lover of printmaking or a curious by-stander, I hope you’ll make a trip to Pittsburgh Center for the Arts to see Under the Blankets, Printmakers Together. It is sure to be an amalgamation of artwork from some of the most accomplished printmakers in our region, while paying honor to individual content and process.
human hand, generate an authentic involvement of life experiences realized in a finished print,” says Leslie. So, if only for two months, these printmakers will essentially be working in tandem. To put it all together, Professor of Printmaking Imin Yeh of Carnegie Mellon University is serving as an Advisor to the project. Exhibition Co-Chair Aaron Regal had this to say of Imin, “I think Imin’s conceptual practice sets up viewers to question the “why” of physical printmaking in a way that is important. Her work is an entry point into conversations amongst 6
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a David is an artist and designer originally from Monroeville, PA. A lifelong self-taught artist, he began learning graphic design as a way to create shirts and posters for his band, as well as many others in the local music scene and eventually beyond, working with countless labels, bands, brands, and individuals to create uniquely-styled pieces. He currently works as art director at Opus One Productions, one of Pittsburghâ€™s lead concert producers. He spends his free time creating personal art, collage, drawing and painting.
DAVE WATT | Issue 17
After graduating from Cal U with my BFA in 2010, Iâ€™ve become involved with the music community in Pittsburgh, working on designs and illustrations for many bands and festivals. Beyond posters and album art, Iâ€™ve made many designs for shirts, logos, periodicals, books, etc. I also enjoy playing music and teaching when I can. I have taught drawing classes for kids and adults at Wash Arts in Washington, PA, and coordinated and served as an instructor at a summer art camp for Lakota youth on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for three years..
JAKE BELLAIRE Jake Bellaire is a Pittsburgh graphic designer, his clients include, LOCALpittsburgh, Karma, Smiling Moose, and the late great James Street Gastropub.
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THE HOW AND WHY:
Supporting Your Local Music Scene Written by Amanda Roszkowski Hart
SURE, IT’S AWESOME TO SEE ROGER WATERS PLAY FOR $185 A POP, OR HEAD TO SEE RIHANNA FOR $130 JUST TO SIT IN THE PROVERBIAL “NOSEBLEED SECTION,” BUT WHY NOT SEE YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL BAND UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, FRONT ROW? WHEN YOU SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC, NOT ONLY ARE YOU SUPPORTING A BAND OR ARTIST TRYING TO MAKE IT, YOU’RE ALSO LIKELY NOT PAYING AN ARM AND A LEG TO BE IN THE BALCONY, WHERE YOU NEED BINOCULARS TO ACTUALLY SEE THE SHOW. MONEY AND VIEWING PLACEMENT ASIDE, SUPPORTING LOCAL ACTS IS A WAY SO SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY AND CAN UNDENIABLY BROADEN YOUR MUSICAL HORIZONS. BUT, HOW DO YOU FIND LOCAL MUSIC, OR BETTER YET, MUSIC YOU LIKE AND WANT TO LISTEN TO?
Supporting local music supports your local community and broadens your musical horizons. Helping your surrounding community succeed and thrive, only benefits you by making the livability and culture within your surrounding area better. And who knows, maybe you will meet a band or see them before they go big, and how cool is that? Heck, maybe you’ll contribute to that success.
Just like scouring the racks at your favorite record store to find the perfect vinyl, finding worthy, local music to support can seem tough. The truth, however, is that you’re just not looking in the right places. Maybe that one-of-a-kind Beatles White Album isn’t sitting in your local record store, but it’s at the antique flea market buried under old vinyl of Barry Manilow’s greatest hits. Same can be said for the search and discovery of local bands.
Pittsburgh, specifically, is a little big city that has been able to define itself and its unique feel through the continued support of local businesses, and that includes supporting the local music scene. But, how do you go about finding local music in whatever town or city you live in?
Here are some ways you may or may not have thought of that can put you in touch with the local music scene in your area:
Befriend The “Music” People
Local Independent Local Showcases Papers & Bloggers Or Festivals
There are a lot of people you need to meet to really know your scene, but who are they? Start first with college radio staff members. They are an untapped, often not thought of resource and Pittsburgh has several colleges to choose from. They are ambitious young music lovers and are happy to be involved with bands and artists.
Meetup is a great way to find local shows and other people interested in attending those. Local music meetups have members who post shows and attend those shows together. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people, who themselves are a wealth of knowledge usually about the local music scene. We’ve found that these groups are so bustling with local music suggestions, often times, you could even be overloaded with new bands to see!
Another great resource are local independent writers and bloggers. Scour the internet and search your city for music news and you’ll usually be able to find them. Or, go to your local more independent papers and check out the music writers. Start following their write-ups or blog posts and you’ll be introduced to a whole host of new local music. Usually after reading through their past posts, you can tell if their musical “tastes” are in line with your own.
The second-best resource for finding new, local music is by getting to know the talent buyers are your local venues (i.e., Spirit Lodge, Mr. Smalls, Cattivo). These are the people booking the talent at the local venues and although busy, are very approachable via email (which you can find on their website) to answer your question. The thing to keep in mind, is the local music community loves to share about new music. Similarly, event promoters can be your next best resource. This may be a booking company like Drusky Entertainment, or it could be more overall event promotion company like Easy Street Pittsburgh. In our experience, when you reach out to these types of promotion companies, interest in what they’re doing and who they’re promoting or booking is rarely met with a negative response. Lastly, the other best resource for new, local music is other bands. See them live and you may see a great opener you like. Talk to them after the show, and find out who they’re listening to now. Follow their social media channels. Or, another great resource in Pittsburgh is Live Music PGH, an aggregator site for bands to book at local venues and connect with other local artists.
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Be careful of papers or bloggers who seem to endorse certain venues or artists too often. If you’re really looking for subjective, honest opinions, you want to avoid listening to those that seem like they’re being paid to promote or talk about the artist they are writing about. And if you don’t find anything you like, you can of course always use LocalPittsburgh as a resource.
These aren’t mainstream festivals, but more local street fests or independent ventures like Deutschtown Music Festival for instance (July 13 & 14, North Side), or Jam on Walnut (the 2018 dates and lineup aren’t posted yet). You’ll be inundated in one to two days with a host of new, local bands that you can see and continue to follow if you like them. Again, also approaching these bands after the show, talking to them and hearing their own take on the local music scene is another resource we mentioned before for learning about new local artists.
More Of The Why
Now that you’re equipped with ways to find these local artists, it’s time to go out and support them. In the past big-time record labels and local radio conglomerates have controlled what we listened to. This has led to the dilution of the quality of the music we’re being presented with. But, nowadays, with more and more artists going independent or representing themselves and the introduction of Pandora, Spotify and independently owned online radio stations, we’re more and more able to make our own, uninfluenced decisions about music. We’re able to support local talent, giving them the legup they may need to become a more nationally or internationally known name, when in the past, this may have never been possible. Be a part of the solution. Support your local music scene.
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Second chances do matter
Written by Roman Benty | Photography by Hayden Rose
For those connected to the world of cybersecurity, the name Damon Toey rings a bell; in 2007, Damon pleaded guilty to participating in the largest case of consumer data theft of all time. It is estimated that at the height of the heist, the hacker group known as TJX that Damon was a part of owned 75% of Americans’ identities through infiltrating the consumer databases of banks, large-scale retailers, and the United States government. When Damon turned himself in, the severity of his crimes added up to two life sentences according to the federal courts’ point system, each crime is worth a certain amount of points, and the total amount of points equals the longevity and intensity of the sentence. Given Damon’s hyper-specific skill set, and the nature of the problems created by his crimes, he was presented with the unique opportunity to work with the Secret Service to untangle the network of TJX hackers and help return the government’s security systems to stability. After successfully undoing a large portion of the damage caused by TJX, the federal court system drastically reduced Damon’s sentence to only 5 years, noting the high-quality of his character and his capacity for good. Throughout his time in prison, Damon read as many books and articles about coding, cryptography, and computer-based mathematics as he could to keep his mind engaged with the technology that had come to define his life’s work, both bad and good. He wasn’t allowed to use computers while incarcerated for obvious reasons. Prison is also where Damon met Dan Bull, founder of entrepreneurial incubator Zero Six Eight. “The idea for Zero Six Eight is something we kicked off one another walking around the track every day,” Damon recalls. According to Dan,
Damon was the initial inspiration for Zero Six Eight. “I met Damon and I’m thinking, ‘God. He’s so screwed. He’s so good, and with a little twist, he could be so successful and help so many people. But he’s screwed. And it wasn’t just him it was us. We were screwed.’” Damon and Dan sought a path to utilize their respective talents and experiences in such a way that would benefit themselves and others like them who faced difficult barriers to entry when trying to find jobs in their respective fields after serving time in prison. What they found was that while there were nonprofits dedicated to helping ex-convicts find work, there was no existing infrastructure tailored to honing the strengths of exceptional individuals in a profit-motivated setting.
FACING TWO LIFE SENTENCES DAMON TURNS HIS EXPERIENCE INTO A COMPANY The information this testing yields is extremely useful for both CEO’s and IT technicians working for cyber giants: from an overhead perspective, those in charge want to make sure that their security networks are as impenetrable as possible. From an IT perspective, this information can be
As soon as he was released from prison, Dan began building Zero Six Eight to serve as an incubator for the talents, skills, and ideas of driven exconvicts. One of the newest and most exciting Zero Six Eight enterprises is Codex. Codex is the brainchild of Damon, who was only able to launch the company late last year after the successful completion of his parole. A self-described “security professional,” Damon uses his extensive hacking background to diagnose vulnerabilities that exist within the security systems of various companies and information networks. Known as “penetration testing,” Damon is essentially contracted to hack security networks and identify their risks and problems. | Issue 17
used to lobby for more agency in deciding what measures need to be taken to make sure a network is as secure as the parent company guarantees it is. Codex is interested in the variety and outcomes of penetration testing, noting that the field of cyber security is constantly evolving in response to the fluid nature of both hacking and coding alike. Damon’s background makes him the perfect candidate to partake in a “wargame,” which is essentially a penetration test where a company hires security professionals to compete against their IT department in a live-action scenario, each side trying to exploit or defend against a vulnerability in the security network. Codex is also equipped to locate “zero days.” A zero day is a vulnerability that is unknown to the entity that is trying to defend against it - essentially, a security network can’t test for a zero day because the network doesn’t register that this type of vulnerability is even capable of existing. Networks can’t test for problems that they aren’t programed to defend against, making “zero days” some of the most dangerous vulnerabilities in cybersecurity. Not all information security companies are capable of offering this type of testing, but Codex is. Of course, given Damon’s history there are many major companies that won’t offer him work. While this creates a barrier to accessing certain larger contracts (think government, military, credit card companies, etc.), Codex is fully confident that they will continue to grow 18
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based on a reputation of exceptional work and full transparency. Given the foundation of Codex and Zero Six Eight, reputation is everything these companies have had minimal outside support from the get-go, but have been able to link arms with other like-minded individuals to create a network of upward mobility that is changing the way industries think about ex-convicts. After several long, difficult years of building relationships, trust, and capacity; Zero Six Eight now encompasses 30 businesses ranging from construction companies to cyber security firms. Thanks to Zero Six Eight, more than 180 jobs have been created for ex-convicts working in a variety of fields. Originally from Virginia Beach, Damon couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to grow his company in Pittsburgh’s budding tech industry. This second-chance city seems like the perfect fit for a second-chance cybersecurity guru. For more information on Damon Toey and TJX we recommend reading, “The Great Cyberheist,” New York Times, 11/10/2010.
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The Pittsburgh region has no shortage of talented and creative people, but Maranie Rae Staab is one of the most extraordinary women Iâ€™ve met here.
CAPTURING LIFE By Rachel Saul Rearick
Through A Lens
You may recall seeing some of her photos along the Allegheny Riverfront; the series Displaced depicted refugees from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. What you may be surprised to learn of Maranie is that she is a self-taught photographer, and has only been behind the lens professionally since 2015. While she grew up always around a camera, it was not the course she planned. What took Maranie to college was a track scholarship, and college led to a corporate life. What brought her to the camera full-time was an accident that almost took away her ability to even walk.
“We’re all here for a reason. You know when you’re following your path and when you’re not.” photos of people without consent.” She explained that even in times when the consent is not a verbal process because the gravity of a situation is so heavy, eye contact with an individual is telling enough to dictate whether or not to capture an image. I would venture to say there is a seen truth to her connection with those in her images, after even just a few minutes of looking at her images.
It’s a bit of a turbulent story, working in the corporate world, Maranie found herself returning to Pittsburgh in 2011, to help care for her mother after an onset of encephalitis. Following that was after her own accident, which forced a grave reality to sunk in, life could be taken away in a moment. It’s no wonder that there is a sense of sophistication and acute recognition of humankind in her images, she has walked close to the line herself, and witnessed the fortitude of survival with her mother. Following those experiences and after her own recovery, Maranie began using her 22
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three weeks of vacation per year to backpack and begin her journey as a journalist. “I was inspired and stimulated by travel,” she told me, as she described those early experiences exploring the world from behind a camera lens. The freedom of those experiences is what led her to where she is now. Then she told me, “We’re all here for a reason. You know when you’re following your path and when you’re not.” Each and every one of her photos is telling. Some images amplify the happiness of the human spirit, seen in the smiles of the women of the Congo which she has captured; others sting with the most deplorable and despicable ramifications of humankind, such as her documentation of an airstrike in Mosul. Maranie explained the consensual relationship that she has developed with people from behind the lens. “It’s important to make someone feel respected. Sometimes people want desperately for their story to be told. And you can tell when people don’t want to have their photo taken. I don’t take
“I learn more from these experiences than I could ever give.”
connected in one way or another, I would invite you to peer through her lens. Her photos are a quick and strong reminder that art is more than a tool for social justice-imagery can be a lifeline. See for yourself at www.maranierae.com or by visiting her Instagram @maranierae Right now, Maranie divides her time between freelance local work and global journalism. “If I could travel and do issue driven work half of the year, I’d be happy. There is no lack for stories out there,” she said. Talking further of her images and why she does the work that she’s doing now, she told me, “I learn more from these experiences than I could ever give. The perspective gained is invaluable.” Spending 45 minutes over tea with Maranie Staab was the spiritual reawakening that I didn’t realize I needed. If you ever catch yourself taking life for granted, or forgetting that we’re all
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Photos by Julie Kahlbaugh
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Mon-Sat: 2pm-10pm | Sun: 1pm-9pm
Located a few Doors down from Monte Cello 10441 Perry Hwy Wexford | 724-719-6740
9805 McKnight Road 412-366-4990
The ultimate locals bar. Sidelines is the place for everything from an end of the day drink to a full on sports bar. The menu is simple but satisfying. This is where the neighborhood gets together to watch sports and enjoy a few cold ones. Looking to really test your pallet try the Rebecca’s Revenge…. just try it. 518 LOCUST PL. SIDELINESBARANDGRILL.COM
Salu’d meaning “health or cheers” is all about fresh, simple and healthy. Started by friends who according to their web-site had a “passion for helping people reconnect with God’s good earth.” Their extensive menu includes juices, smoothies, shots and much more. Interested in a detox or cleanses, they have a complete line available. 348 BEAVER ST. WWW.SALUDJUICERY.COM
` SALuD JUICERY
SLIPPERY MERMAID With its sister location in Florida, this is the Sewickley goto place for all things sushi . Known as “the Slipp” it’s much more than just sushi, and the tiki bar makes this stop even more enjoyable. 613 BEAVER ST. SLIPPERYMERMAID.COM
With an American inspired menu, extensive cocktail list and vast wine selection, Bruneaux offers a complete dining experience to its guests. The menu is heavily influenced by local ingredients including organically fed and openrange, steaks, chops, chicken and fresh seafood. Indoor and outdoor dining is available and a chef’s table is available by reservation. 409 BEAVER ST. WWW.BRUNEAUX409.COM
CAREY WIMER making her mark at the Sewickley Hotel Born and raised in a small town north of Pittsburgh called Freedom, Carey never went to culinary school, her knowledge comes jumping into “the fire”.
food. I want to put a new, modern twist on the classics here at the Hotel, and bring a rustic gastropub feel to our future with food that is fun and creative but still has an upscale appeal to it. We have a broad demographic here in town, so I will create food that “wows” everyone equally.
Her early years were spent with the Bravo Brio Restaurant Group learning how to run a high volume establishment. She then went on to work with two high-end restaurants, Isabela on Grandview and Vivo Kitchen. Next up was a short stint at a local pizza shop- just for a new experience.
What are you likely to be found doing on your day off? When I’m not working you will find me outside in the woods hiking or floating the river in my kayak- but I’m always looking for food. I am a forager and herbalist so between the woods, gardens, and my kitchen I don’t have much more time! I make vinegars, mead, wine, beer- anything fermented, really- from local ingredients that I foraged. I constantly have jugs and mason jars sitting around that my better half lovingly calls
Can you tell us a little about your journey as a chef? I started working the buffet and as a dishwasher at Eat ‘n Park when I was 16, and then progressively worked my way through the ranks learning everything that I possibly could. I wasn’t a good student in high school so my mom got me a job there thinking it would help me “straighten out” and do better in school. That plan clearly backfired, because I was hooked from day one. Cooking has been my therapy, my escape, my mentor, and my life since then. Now you find yourself at the Sewickley Hotel, how did this come about? Craigslist, actually! I replied to an ad from Craigslist, and talked extensively with the owner about what he wanted, and what I was looking for, and we decided it was a good fit for both of us. I came aboard and haven’t looked back! Can you tell us about what your plans are? Eventually, I’d like to open my own place, but probably not in Pittsburgh, I want to fly south to the eastern Tennessee and Asheville area. In the meantime, I will perfect my craft and make fresh, local, great tasting
my “witch doctor concoctions.” I also teach classes once a month at Sterling Yoga on various topics, this month’s class was on shrubs and switchels, the health benefits of them, and how to make and use them.
A TASTE OF Italy,
Serving freshly made Modern and Traditional Cuisine
Locally owned and operated since 2008 Located directly off the I-79 Wexford Exit in the Franklin Village Shopping Center 2602 Brandt School Road Wexford
724-940-7777 Join Us for SUNDAY BRUNCH!
1.5 OZ. JAMESON FRESH SQUEEZED LEMON AND SUGAR DASH OF SOURS TOPPED WITH SPRITE
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PICTURE & RECIPES COURTESY OF
Rory is always looking for the best local places to grab a bite. Before choosing a local spot, Rory reads reviews, food blogs, and even looks at photos of food that people have shared on social media. But to him, good restaurants go beyond good foodâ€”they are committed to the people, the environment, and the economic health of the region. Thatâ€™s why he uses the Restaurant Finder on EatSustainably.org to find restaurants with delicious food and sustainable practices and learn exactly what each restaurant is doing to better the region. Finding good food that is also good for Pittsburgh has never been easier.
Over 100 Restaurants Waiting on You
EatSustainably.org | Issue 17
Generally, I gravitate towards this kind of teacher…
Hands down, the one with the most formal training and experience.
Someone with an engaging personality.
Describe your current state of wellness I am new to yoga/out of shape/ physically disabled and am starting at square one.
I have issues: I need to go deep to release old traumas.
I’m in great shape and love to be challenged.
When you get upset, you deal with it by... Taking a bubble bath.
Going for a run.
Iyengar Yoga, founded by the late Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, is arguably the most accessible style of yoga: Whether you’re an absolute beginner, recovering from an injury, physically disabled, or advanced, you will be challenged in class. Props like blankets, straps, blocks, and chairs are utilized to shift the body into better postural alignment and to help facilitate longer holds. Pranaya-ma (yogic breathing) techniques are also included in the curriculum. Each of the more than 12 Iyengar teacher certification levels requires one to two years of study and a weekend of testing and assessments by senior instructors. Iyengar students learn to emphasize their home practice, building self-sufficiency rather than teacher dependency.
Veterans, recovering addicts, and others suffering from PTSD commonly find solace with a Yoga Nidra practice. Yoga Nidra–– literally, “yogic sleep” or the state of consciousness between sleeping and waking––classes are typically 35 to 40 minutes in length and consist of students reclining on yoga mats as a teacher guides them through simple visualizations to build body and breath awareness. If you feel intimidated by the thought of a structured yoga or meditation practice, Yoga Nidra may be for you.
Originally taught by the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India, Ashtanga Yoga spread to Europe and the U.S. in the early 1970s. In the Ashtanga yoga method, students learn to synchronize their breath with a structured series of poses: The breath and the set sequence of poses work together to produce internal heat, so no external heat is used in classes. Ashtanga newbies start with the "Primary Series," which focuses on standing postures and hip openers. Teachers are more hands-on than most and usually provide physical adjustments. There are six total series of postures. If you consider yourself patient and disciplined, Ashtanga is for you. A sense of community organically develops in these classes. If you're just starting out with this style, look for "Led Primary Series" classes.
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Agree or Disagree: Sweatiness is Next to Godliness.
How important is a sense of community to you?
Are you OK with doing the same sequence of poses every class? Yes! Routine is the real spice of life
No way! Routine bores me.
I’m more of a lone wolf.
VERY. Speaking of...when’s the next potluck? I’ll bring the vegan cheeseball!
Renouncing her traditional Iyengar training, Ana Forrest developed Forrest Yoga in 1982 to help practitioners combat common Western lifestyle ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome from computer work and lack of circulation in the feet due to restrictive shoes. Forrest classrooms are heated and class format usually follows a warm upheat up-warm down framework. If you want to release old traumas in the body, this style is for you. Expect intense abdominal work, long holds, and deliberate sequences of poses as well as heightened self-awareness, intuition, and inner work.
Vinyasa means "a joining or linking mechanism" (i.e. breath and movement) and has come to designate "catch-all" flow yoga classes with a heavy emphasis on four repetitive, linked poses: Plank Pose, Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Upward-Facing Dog, and Downward-Facing Dog. Vinyasa style classes vary based on the studio atmosphere and teachers’ formal training and personality. Generally, classes are heated and geared towards young, fit students who are bored by routine.
Bikram Yoga––named after its founder Bikram Choudhury––is taught in a room heated to 105 degrees to simulate the climate in India, the birthplace of the practice. Bikram practitioners perform an ordered sequence of 26 yoga postures, and each posture is repeated. The routine is bookended with breathing exercises and takes 90 minutes to complete. Because of the Bikram tendency toward “tough love,” there is a sport-like feel to these classes. It’s difficult not to develop a sense of community and camaraderie with your fellow Bikram yogis.
Meraki [may-rah-kee]: doing something with total love and pure soul. Leaving a little piece of yourself in your creative work.
see what’s going on
412.742.4132 2350 Railroad Street Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Merakistudiopgh.com | Issue 17
URBANFITCO.COM | 412 BEAVER ST, SEWICKLEY | 412-259-8709
NEW STUDENTS: $15 for 15 DAYS 6012 Broad Street | Pittsburgh | www.omloungeyoga.com 28
| Issue 17
By Heidi Balas Photography By Hayden Rose
Fashion is one area that I never truly address in my writing despite how much I love it. That’s not to mention that I have some of the most fashionable friends in this city (yes, I am biased, but it’s true). Thus, I decided to showcase my lovely pal Syma Hajian in this piece; fortunately, she was kind enough to open the doors of her closet (and the Pittsburgh Winery) to let us all take a peek into her world. Heidi: So first of all, thanks for agreeing to do this. Sitting in your closet is everything that I thought it would be, and I am realizing now that mine is terribly inadequate. You already know I think you have your finger on the pulse of Pittsburgh when it comes to lifestyle, especially when it comes to fashion. With that in mind, I want to explore your thoughts and ideas regarding what style means to a modern Pittsburgh woman... like yourself.
Heidi Balas is a regular contributor for LOCALpittsburgh, and brings her own brand of perspectives to Pittsburgh at www.thesteeltrap.net.
Syma: Thanks for visiting my happy place! This tiny room is a carefully curated combination of all of my favorite things. Try to say that three times fast! I’ve always loved fashion; my mom has been buying me Vogue magazines since before I could read. Even though I’m definitely not buying couture off the runway, I like to stay inspired. And as you can see, I also draw a lot of style inspiration from rock ‘n roll and art. My style icons are probably a combination of seventies Cher, Edie Sedgwick, and Debbie Harry. We wear a lot | Issue 17
of black at the Winery…not just because we attempt to have an edgy aesthetic, but it also hides the spills. We are pretty laid back in the tasting room, but we are lucky enough to sponsor some amazing events throughout the city and it’s a great excuse to dress up a bit. H: I’ve always admired the way you pull your outfits together. There’s definitely an Almost Famous vibe going on. What are your signature pieces? You know, those items in this closet that are uniquely and identifiably part of your look? S: Wow, thanks! I hardly ever feel put together! I feel like this time of year most people can see me coming from a mile away by my loud furry coats. Leopard, white shag, and gray ostrich feather are in my regular rotation. I also live for a jumpsuit- I cannot have too many black or chambray jumpsuits. With heels or flats- day or night- you can find me wearing one year round! H: Is there a story behind any of them? S: One of my favorite pieces of all time is my vintage Penny Lane coat. It’s perfect camel suede with a fluffy fur collar. I don’t know who wore it first, but it has amazing energy and it the warmest thing I’ve ever worn. I’d definitely save it in a fire. H: See! Penny Lane! I knew it was an Almost Famous vibe! What about staple pieces? You know, the ones that aren’t signature, but are so essential for day to day life. S: I love staple jewelry. There’s something to be said for not having to think about your accessories every morning. I wear gold hoops or diamond studs everyday along with gold bangles, a skinny vintage gold watch and an assortment of gold rings. I’m naked without them. Another staple is my leather jacket that’s perfectly broken in. That thing can take any outfit up a notch. 30
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And I know I have so many shoes, but white Chucks and black patent pumps are true essentials. They are on my feet at least once a week and in every suitcase I pack. H: Oh I totally agree about that. Let’s talk shop. Yes, that was a pun. Where do you love to shop? What would you recommend are the best spots in the city for finding unique pieces? For finding staple pieces? S: I shop online a lot…mainly for convenience. I love Revolve, Shopbop, and Zappos. For vintage pieces, I love Highway Robbery and JuJu. I love Brandy Melville or TopShop at Nordstrom for basics. H: [looking around] How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? S: I still have room on my shelves! But I’m going to guess 100ish. H: Goals! [laughing] Lastly, folks might not realize that you grew up in West Virginia. Since we are both from coal country, I have to ask, are there any items in your closet that reflect those years of your life? S: [laughing] Oh yes, the fashion epicenter of Appalachia: Morgantown, WV. I was very lucky to work in a super chic boutique in college that was owned by a costume designer from LA. She was way ahead of her time, but she taught me so much about style and the importance of great denim. I still have a few pieces (that fit!) from Sugar Britches. I also keep a vintage WV hat on my shoe shelves. As much as I couldn’t wait to escape, now I kind of love to represent. H: Oh I still bust out my flannel from time to time! Take me home, country roads! On that note, Cheers! [clinking glasses of my favorite Pittsburgh Winery vintage, the 2015 White Blend]
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Sunday Brunch Thai Night Thursday Under the direction of Chef Steve Morehouse | Issue 17
Come, relax, and experience.
Banco Business Park • 1061 Main Street • North Huntingdon, PA 15642 • 724-515-5983 Mon. - Thurs: 11:30 am - 9 pm • Fri. & Sat: 11:30 am - 10 pm Sunday Brunch: 11:00 am - 2 pm • Sunday Dinner: 4:00 pm - 8 pm
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412.486.2016 | 888.268.1138 www.PaulMichaelDesign.com neapolitan pizza & small plates
banco business park • 1061 main street, irwin • 724-515-7012 • www.dalfornorestaurant.com 32
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A TASTE OF BASIL: THE CURATED CLOSET
IN CONVERSATION WITH LOCAL VINTAGE SHOP OWNER, MICHELLE MONTANA Written By Corrine Jasmin, Photos by Corrine Jasmin Shopping online has become more prominent, convenient, and affordable, especially in today’s digital age. Currently there is a wave of vintage fashion knocking on all fashion lover’s doors - this is clearly seen on high volume sites such as Etsy or Depop, where vintage shoppers eagerly sift through for original clothing. Where many shoppers are aiming to steer clear of big retail stores, pop up shops have been making an appearance, giving customers the (limited) opportunity to buy one of a kind items. This type of retail also gives buyers incentive to buy now rather than missing out being that they can’t come back to the shop the next day. These shops are becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst smaller shop owners seeking to expand their business. Michelle Montana, originally from Buffalo, New York, delves into pop up shops, and is one of the many innovators climbing up in Pittsburgh. Michelle is the owner and founder of Basil, a vintage fashion business which she describes as a “curated closet” and “an online shopping experience.” The experience also provides fashion advice via the site’s blog. When Montana first moved to Pittsburgh, her primary focus was studying photography. Moving forward from her collegiate years, she utilizes her photography and art background and applies it to her advantage. “My background is mostly helpful because I look at each
collection as a new body of artwork. Everything must be cohesive. Each garment is chosen for a reason. Each piece can make a statement on its own, but is even stronger as a whole.” Basil offers vintage finds as is as well as “reworked” vintage finds and Basil original apparel. The shop is primarily online, however customers can find special pop up shop events around the city where they can buy in the flesh. Montana promotes sustainable fashion and makes it a point to steer clear of “fast fashion” retailers. She’s not met with intimidation of being a woman in the business, and firmly states “Confidence is key.” Highlighting women owned, women operated businesses in the city below is an interview for more information on Basil.
WHERE DOES THE NAME BASIL STEM FROM? Michelle Montana: At first, it was a
no-name project. I knew I wanted it to be something big, so I took some time to settle on the name. But I do remember my exact thought process being ‘let us dress you’ to ‘lettuce’ to ‘basil’, in less than a second.
WHY VINTAGE FASHION? MM: The fashion industry is
the second leading cause of pollution. The first being oil. As a consumer, it is so hard not to contribute. As a vendor, I try my hardest not to contribute to this. There are so many clothes out there that were just thrown away. There is so much fabric
that never got the chance to evolve. I choose vintage because clothes deserve a second chance at life.
WHO ARE SOME FASHION INFLUENCES OF YOURS? MM: My favorite designer, currently,
is Chloé. This brand was a huge influence to my upcoming Spring/ Summer 2018 (SS18) collection. I love their entire essence of the carefree woman, the nomad - that feeling really resonates with me and who I am as a woman. I chose to shoot SS18 in New Orleans because my collection was inspired by that same carefree state of mind that dances amongst the streets there. I felt that these two really went hand-in-hand to give my collection an easygoing, elegant, and lively spirit. Porter magazine also has a huge influence to my brand. Porter is all about empowering women. The magazine praises and encourages women who are smart, driven, and advocate for what they believe in. Any woman that is a force to be reckoned with is an influence to me.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT POP UP SHOPS? MM: Why have a ‘brick and mortar’
when I can just go where the people are? I definitely prefer pop-ups where I am flying solo, as opposed to group shows. I have definitely learned a lot from doing popups; more about my client and the industry as a whole. It’s great market research! I had my most successful pop-up at the Ace Hotel. The last one was a huge success. | Issue 17
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF FASHION? MM: My favorite thing about fashion
is that it is always changing, which coincides with the evolution of fashion. The best part about both of these things is that it recycles - obviously, or vintage shopping wouldn’t exist. My collections are created with current trends in mind. Two years ago, I probably wouldn’t have worn snakeskin - too Fran Drescher for my taste. But now I can’t get enough and it has had a huge impact on SS18 due to its influx on the runway. This is where I feel that shopping vintage is so important. Trends change constantly, but it’s rare to see something that is truly innovative in fashion. Feeding into ‘fast fashion’ is not only hazardous to the environment, but also silly because you can probably find something with greater quality and one-of-a-kind by shopping second hand. (To know more about this topic, you should watch the documentary ‘The True Cost’ on Netflix!)
WHAT EMPOWERMENT DO YOU FIND IN RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? MM: Honestly, it is really rewarding
owning my own business - building something from scratch with no involvement from investors. It’s something that I’ve poured more of myself into than I’ve gotten in return, but Basil is my heart and soul. I’m building my future by building my career. It feels pretty good!
HOW DOES PITTSBURGH INSPIRE YOU AND YOUR VISION? MM: Pittsburgh has had a heavy
hand in the creation and survival of Basil. This city is full of hard-working and generous people. There is a great entrepreneurial spirit that resides here. People are always willing to 34
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lend a helping hand or collaborate and that in itself is inspiring. Other cities have more of a competitive atmosphere. People here build each other up. It’s a beautiful thing.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF BASIL LOOK LIKE TO YOU? MM: I definitely see it growing.
I’m currently I’m in the process of hiring an intern! SS18 has the most reconstructed work of all of my previous collections. I used vintage fabrics to reconstruct and even create brand new pieces. I’m trying to take sustainability to the next level. I can still create new looks and remain sustainable by using fabrics cut away from other garments or by using unused vintage fabrics. The goal, overall, is to make Basil a viable source to shop, learn, and get great fashion advice for people globally
WHAT DO BUYERS GET TO LOOK FORWARD TO FOR THE SPRING COLLECTION? MM: There is a heavy feminine vibe
in this collection - flowy, elegant, and lacy. But I love a good contrast, so the femininity is balanced with snakeskin and chains. I mentioned prior, it was inspired by the vibe of New Orleans, but while this collection borrows aesthetically from feminine figures of royalty, Greek mythology, and Voodoo queens, it was inspired by women - classy, beautiful, and strong as hell.
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT WWW.BASILOFFICIAL.COM TO VIEW AND PURCHASE PRODUCTS AS WELL AS RECEIVE FASHION INSIGHT FROM THE BLOG! THE BEST WAY TO STAY UP-TO-DATE ON WHAT’S NEW IS THROUGH THE SITE AS WELL AS BASIL’S INSTAGRAM PAGE @BASILOFFICIAL_
Authentic Middle Eastern Food
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404 S Craig St, Oakland - (412) 682-2829
Craft Beer and Wine Available
28 Braddock Ave. | Braddock, PA 15104 412-660-0600 | www.portogallopeppers.com | Issue 17
4055 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 412.405.6031 smokin-brews.business.site BUSINESS HOURS Mon 12:00 – 7:00 PM, Tue 12:00 – 7:00 PM, Wed 12:00 – 5:00 PM, Thu 12:00 – 7:00 PM, Fri 3:00 – 8:00 PM, Sat 12:00 – 7:00 PM, Sun 12:00 – 7:00 PM
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By Jonathan Warner Photographs by Christopher Sprowls
I CUT THE ENGINE AND PARK MY MOTORCYCLE ON THE CURB IN FRONT OF THE BROWN GARAGE DOOR OPPOSITE AN UPTOWN ALLEY JUST OFF FORBES AVENUE. It sounds pretty quiet, but Geoffrey said he’d be here. I give the garage door three swift bangs like usual and step back. A few seconds go by before it begins to rise. The lift motor works slowly as if to add some drama to the scene it will reveal - first it’s the back tire of a cafe racer pitched on its center-stand, then a greasy collection of sprockets and spark plugs, the exhaust pipe of a 350 Scrambler leaning up against the wall, and finally the stripped steel body of an ancient Kawasaki that stands out among the 6 other iron horses crammed into the garage. Geoffrey waves to me from where he’s testing a battery behind the skinniest chopper i’ve ever seen.
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SLAGHEAP CYCLES - I’d first found it several years ago when I was having battery issues as the new owner of a 1985 Honda Nighthawk. Geoffrey Frost’s garage, specializing in repair and restoration of classic Japanese bikes, was originally opened in a Millvale warehouse in late 2011. The “Slagheap” name was inspired by trees growing out of piles of slag along the bike trails of Pittsburgh’s Panther Hollow where Geoffrey used to ride with friends. It seemed the ultimate metaphor for rebirth from refuse, he says. Resurrecting 30 - 40 year-old bikes can be quite a challenge, but according to Geoffrey, that era offered a special combination. “The 70s and early 80s - it’s the sweet spot of motorcycling machines,” he tells me. “That was the intersection of reliability and performance at affordable prices while everything was still relatively simple to maintain.” He looks up from his work bench, recounting how he learned his trade working on hundreds of bikes (vintage models and otherwise) as a mechanic at a San Francisco garage before moving back to Pittsburgh to start his own venture. “That was an important time for me. Just the sheer volume of bikes you get to a point with seeing so many similar situations that you can start to identify the root cause more quickly.” These days Geoffrey’s own uptown garage always seems to be overflowing with projects - repair, restoration, storing bikes for the winter. Believe it or not, he doesn’t do any marketing. With a close-knit community of classic bike riders, word of mouth has been enough to keep his space crammed full of jobs. He shares his appreciation of Pittsburgh’s friendly business environment and spirit of collaboration – it’s allowed him to grow his establishment, forge local partnerships, and even buy his own building. Geoffrey runs his enterprise a little bit differently too. On Slagheap’s website there’s a “barter list” promoting non-monetary exchanges for service. “Everyone is good at different things,” he explains. “I repair motorcycles. Maybe the next guy is a gardener or web designer, but it’s the opportunity to facilitate a more direct exchange of value.” Now, truthfully, I usually pay cash for my Nighthawk’s carburetor cleanings, but I did once bring Geoffrey a 5 lb bag of coffee beans just to get some bartering under my belt. Today he won’t take my money - “she’s running like a
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top,” he says, dismounting my Nighthawk after a quick spin around the block. I swear I’ve been hearing some strange engine noise, but maybe subconsciously I just wanted an excuse to stop by and see the latest Slagheap projects… As many times as I visit Geoffrey, Slagheap Cycles isn’t the only motorcycle garage I frequent. Across town in Lawrenceville, another shop’s also making a name for itself in Pittsburgh’s motorcycle scene.Founded in December 2016 by three friends, MOTHERSHIP MOTO sits at 3354 Penn Avenue, just a stone’s throw from Lawrenceville’s Doughboy statue on Butler Street. James Donachy, Jason Smith, and Adam Frye, long-time friends and riding buddies, opened their doors with a vision of building a business around their love for motorcycling. They saw an opportunity to become one of the few bike garages within the city limits. “There were a lot of shops around in the suburbs,” says Jason, “but nothing really here in town – we wanted to bring the neighborhood together with a garage in a centralized location.” It wasn’t always smooth from day one, but now more than a year later, business is steady for the Mothership team. So steady, in fact, that they barely have time to get out and ride their own bikes! Adam tells me that the bulk of their jobs serving city riders have been tire changes, carburetor cleanings, and restoration projects. They’ll work on almost anything that gets brought through their doors, but like Slagheap Cycles, their specialty is classic Japanese bikes. “We get a lot of models in here from the 70s and 80s,” says Jason from his seat next to a red café racer awaiting a rear tire. “It’s unique work and sometimes requires a lot of tinkering, but we love to help keep vintage styles alive and on the road.” James, whose first bike was a 1974 Honda CB360 agrees: “The older models have a lot of character, and it’s a really rewarding process to maintain them,” he says. I turn to Adam and ask if he remembers looking over my ’85 Nighthawk back in September when I brought it down for power issue. “Yup,” he says with a smile, “I bought a new Ducati Scrambler recently, but I love all those older models.” He adds that many of the classics are also great beginner bikes because of the affordability and simplicity they offer new riders.
Party Room Open We Cater Any Event!
STEAKS, SEAFOOD, WINGS, SALADS, AND MORE As we sit chatting next to a row of restored Kawasakis and Hondas, our conversation turns from talking business to swapping riding stories – the Pacific Coast Highway, Route 36 through California’s Trinity Alps, dirt bike adventures in West Virginia… The three of them have logged thousands of miles motorcycling from coast to coast numerous times together over the years. These journeys play into a philosophy found on the Mothership Moto website, they tell me: “Motorcycles are the only vehicles worthy of traveling on the pathway to cosmic truth.” According to the Mothership team, the freedom and challenge of adventures on two wheels can inform a lifestyle, offering the opportunity for self-discovery, self-reliance, and growth. It’s clear that their passion for riding bikes lies beneath every carburetor they clean at
3354 Penn Avenue. “It’s been a great experience.” says James. “We feel really fortunate to be here and just want to thank the community for supporting us.” As the 2018 riding season approaches, Mothership Moto looks forward to building on their presence in the city with events and group rides and of course still doing the quality work for which they’re now known. Between Mothership Moto and Slagheap Cycles, Pittsburgh has its motorcycling resources and expertise covered. So whether you’re into vintage Hondas, Harleys, sport bikes, or just curious about the art of twowheeled restoration and repair, stop over at Mothership Moto or Slagheap Cycles to say hello. These guys are sure to have a project or a bike to catch your eye!
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7526 WASHINGTON AVE SWISSVALE PA, 15218 412-271-5049 | Issue 17
HOWARD HANNA REAL ESTATE SERVICES 6310 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15217 LeahGeorge@HowardHanna.com DIRECT 412-713-0513 OFFICE 412-421-9120 Ext. 516
4110 Old William Penn Hwy, Monroeville, PA 15146 | 412.810.0040 40
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KITCHEN REMODEL your dreams are within your reach
Written By Leah George
reating your dream kitchen doesnâ€™t have to be a nightmare (for you or your wallet!) If the layout is functional, why start from scratch? Give your bland or outdated kitchen a fabulous facelift like Nettie and Mitch Mercer did at their home in Shadyside.
b e f o r e
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PAINTING CABINETS: This can be a DIY project, but be forewarned- it’s not for the faint of heart! Consider calling a pro like Hardesty Renovations who helped Nettie and Mitch. To pick a color, Nettie made giant swatches by painting samples onto chunks of cardboard, then hung them in various spots to see how each color truly looked in different lighting. (Pro tip: If your cabinet boxes are intact, but the doors can’t be saved with paint, look into replacing only the doors and drawer fronts to change the entire look at a fraction of the cost of all new cabinetry.) APPLIANCES, COUNTERTOPS, AND FLOORS: The Mercers were fortunately able to keep their existing appliances, counters, and floors, but if you have no such luck in those departments, explore options before making any choices so you can create a unique style that won’t look like everyone else’s kitchen! Stainless steel appliances are almost always the best bet, but for counters, check out more than just granite as quartz, soapstone, and concrete are popular counter options while laminate, vinyl, and bamboo offer a surprising variety of flooring choices these days! Be sure to research to confirm that your new flooring choice offers the level of durability needed for your lifestyle. BACKSPLASH: A backsplash is a great way to add interest to your kitchen design. Nettie and Mitch’s kitchen didn’t have a backsplash at all, so they had a blank canvas! They chose white square tiles paired with white grout for a fun twist on the classic subway tile look which created a subtle, yet polished look. Create your own design by switching up the pattern or using less common materials like stainless steel, reclaimed wood, or a continuation of your stone countertops (if you plan to replace yours).
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DETAILS: Once the major items are handled, it’s all in the details to finish off the look! For Nettie and Mitch, there was no light fixture and the recessed lights were old, so they added a rustic pendant over the island and upgraded to LED recessed lights to brighten the room and offer a more modern feel. Next, they painted the exhaust hood the same blue as the cabinets to add a splash of color on the white walls and tie everything together. Finally, there was nowhere to hide the trash can and the stove was at the end of the cabinet line, which looked incomplete. They solved both problems by installing a matching trash cabinet next to the stove. Nettie scoured the internet for a drawer pull similar to the ornate hardware in the rest of the kitchen so it blends right in! (Pro-tip: If you live in an old house like Nettie and Mitch, check out www.houseofantiquehardware.com for hardware.) Now that it’s finished, the Mercer’s have a kitchen they love at a fraction of what a total renovation would have costed! This “facelift” idea can be applied to a bathroom as well, so use your imagination. If you want to update the look of your home, check out www. costvsvalue.com for the approximate cost of many renovation projects. You’ll also find the approximate increase in equity each project could yield, which can help you decide how to allocate your renovation.
26 BEERS ON TAP FULL MENU MINUTES FROM THE TRAIL 601 AMITY STREET â€¢ HOMESTEAD PA 15120 412.4616220
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Written by Lyndsey Kramer Photography by Hayden Rose
When you think of Pittsburgh cuisine, chances are oysters aren’t the first thing to come to mind. One could argue that it’s because they don’t come with fries and slaw piled on top, but I think it’s because folks are a little intimidated by them in general. Chances are you’ve been introduced to a raw oyster at some point in your life and you probably scoffed at them with apprehension or even disgust. But, even though they are admittedly a little funky looking, they really are delicious. Need some convincing? Let’s see if oyster expert, Luke Wholey, can twist your arm.
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Luke is the Owner and Executive Chef of Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grille in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District and a famous name around the city when it comes to seafood. I recently met with Luke at the restaurant in hopes of picking his brain and compiling a sort of “Beginner’s Guide to Enjoying Oysters.” I also wanted to eat... so my experience was a win-win. Luke started off with some simple education about these little bivalves:
Temperature is the MOST important part about handling and serving oysters. • Improper handling, especially when harvested in the warm summer months, can cause bacteria to grow. • Optimal harvesting temperature of the water is between 32-40°. • It’s best to eat oysters in the months that end in R, because those are the coldest months.
Freshness is the second most important part about oysters. • They should be alive up until the moment you’re ready to eat or cook them. The shells of live oysters are usually tightly closed or will close quickly if tapped. If the shell is open, the oyster is dead, and cannot be eaten safely. • They should smell like clean seawater. Not fishy or rancid. • Once the shell is opened, they should float in the brine. (AKA, the liquid inside)
Proper shucking is also key. A shucker should know what they’re doing. • Rule number one: don’t cut yourself with the oyster knife. • Rule number two: don’t cut yourself with the oyster knife. • Really though, shucking can be dangerous if not done properly, so you may want to leave this part up to professionals at a restaurant. Go visit Luke at his place! • The shucker should always pry from the hinge side of the oyster to avoid breaking the shell. Shell fragments aren’t really a nice accompaniment. • Lastly, you don’t want to puncture the meat or it will give the oyster a bitter taste and affect the presentation.
From there, Luke went on to explain that there are two basic categories of North American oysters: You’ve got your Tupac’s and your Biggie’s. I mean, West Coast and East Coast. Every ocean has oysters, so all oysters grow in either sandy-bottom waters, rocky-bottom waters, or in pots. Depending on where the oyster is grown, they take on different shell characteristics and have different flavors because they take on the flavor of the water where they’re grown. The North American West Coast varieties are more colorful and have more ridged shells. West Coast oysters are also much creamier due to their higher fat content. Some will taste like melons or cucumbers or even smell sweet when you open them. West Coast oysters tend to be a little sweeter while East Coast oysters tend to be saltier and brinier. East Coast varieties, specifically from a bay, tend to be the mildest and have muted shell colors. Although he suggests oysters from the East Coast of Canada as a good “introductory” oyster, Luke’s favorites are “Blue Point” from The Long Island Sound. They are a larger oyster with a high salinity content (saltiness) and a beautiful texture and clean flavor. The further north you go, the smaller the meat, the lower the salinity, and the milder flavor they’ll have. Regardless of East or West, the larger the oyster, the richer the flavor. Luke also says, “The younger the oyster, the sweeter the flavor.” Another fun fact that Chef Wholey shared about oysters, either East or West Coast, is that they’re GREAT for hangovers because of the salt content. Good to know! If having oysters after a long night of drinking isn’t your idea of fun, here are some other ways to enjoy these salty little morsels. Chef Wholey’s favorite way to enjoy any oyster is raw, on the half shell, and naked. He loves the simplistic, salty, oceanic flavor of the oyster. Most folks at the restaurant prefer horseradish and homemade cocktail sauce or the champagne mignonette, which is champagne vinegar with fresh
shallots and white pepper. No matter the toppings you choose for a raw oyster, the easiest way to eat them is by sucking them out of the shell from the thin lip side, not the hinge side. Bottoms up! You want the meat and all the liquor that comes with it. Finally, you lay the shell back on the platter face down, a signal to your server that you’re finished. Another fan favorite is the Fried Oysters. Battered and deep-fried then served with a homemade remoulade dipping sauce. I was lucky enough to sample the raw (naked, with horseradish, and with cocktail) and the fried… and I can’t tell you which I enjoyed more. The raw made me think of the ocean. Which, seeing as it’s April and still snowing in Pittsburgh was a good fantasy to have, if only for a brief moment. They were sweet and briny, they were refreshing, and they paired perfectly with a mid-afternoon glass of champagne. The fried oysters were meatier, they felt more like lunch to me, and they were saltier than the raw… which I enjoyed very much. Both delicious. Both very approachable and unintimidating to someone like me, who doesn’t eat oysters very often. Most people either love or (think that they) hate oysters. If you’re one of the latter, I encourage you to give them a second chance. The next time you’re visiting the Strip District is a good a time as any, so stop in at the Wild Alaskan Grille and give them a try!
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Located in Pittsburgh’s Regent Square neighborhood, Thai Cottage offers an amazing selection of authentic Thai Cuisine.
Colangelo’s 207, 21st Street Strip District
412-281-7080 OPEN 7 days a week….
Thirty years of baking for Nicholas complimented by Denese’s 15 plus years of traditional Italian culinarian expertise proudly serving
Pizza, Pasta, Salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries……… Try Our ALMOST World Famous Soup
Our Legendary Beans and Greens! Tuesday Oyster Specia
1/2 P Broile rice Raw Oyste d or Oyste Fried Oys rs ters r Po’ B oy
Private Dining Available Gift Cards Available
Daily Happy Hour Specials 5-7 | 412.904.4509 @WildAlaskin412 | www.lukewholey.com 48
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1109 S. Braddock Ave. Pittsburgh PA 15218
Falernum is perhaps the only shelf stable fresh ingredient on the market and is made by Pittsburgh’s own Maggie’s Farm. Falernum is a cordial originally from Brabados, it was once difficult to find because it is so labor intensive but is now locally produced. This cordial is made with a mixture of clove and allspice ground with a mortar and pestle; additionally, every liter produced needs the zest of nine fresh limes. Finally, freshly chopped ginger, turbinado sugar, lime juice and white rum finish it off.
GOV’NER MARGUERITE (Pennsylvania Libations twist on a French 75) 1.5 oz Maggie’s Farm Falernum 2oz Big Springs Spirit 7 Governor’s Gin In cocktail shaker, combine gin, and Falernum. Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe or champagne glass and top with a dry brut champagne or sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon or lime twist For easy drinking, strain into a collins glass over ice and top with a dry sparkling wine. Also works great with seltzer for a lighter version
For the summer, a super easy cocktail that is sure to please just about anyone, consider using local favorite Blume Honey Water and Maggie’s Farm Falernum. Two great tastes that go great together. Perfect for any summer day, served on the rocks JUST ADD WATER 10 oz Blume Honey Water Ginger Zest 2 oz Maggie’s Farm Falernum Serve in a pint glass with ice and fresh fruit garnish of choice
HOT TODD-Y 5 oz hot tea (preferably a light green tea or a chamomile tea at night) 1 Tsp of local honey 2 oz of Maggie’s Farm Falernum Stir honey into 5 ounces of tea in your favorite tea cup and then add 2 ounces of Falernum and instantly feel better.
spirits | Issue 17
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