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PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER + HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

2017


THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE OZ FOR THE HOLIDAYS

JANUARY 24 – FEBRUARY 11 BENEDUM CENTER

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Editor: Charlie Deitch Contributing Writers: Rebecca Addison, Meg Fair, Celine Roberts, Thria Devlin, Haley Frederick, Hannah Lynn, Stephen Caruso, Alex Gordon, Ryan Deto, Charlie Deitch Marketing Director: Lindsey Thompson Associate Publisher: Justin Matase Advertising Sales: Paul Klatzkin, Jeremy Witherell, Mackenna Donahue, Blake Lewis, Jennifer Mazza, Andrea James Design: Kevin Shepherd, Julie Skidmore, Jeff Schreckengost, Jennifer Trivelli, Liz Vento Circulation Director: Jim Lavrinc Interactive Media Manager: Carlo Leo Christmas card models: Maddie Do, Evan Magill, Elizabeth Jones, Elizabeth Addison, Chancelor Humphrey, Susan Pilarski, Lindsey Thompson, Ryan Deto, Rebecca Addison, Mark Addison, Carlo Leo, Blake Lewis, Charlie Deitch

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Contents copyrighted 2017 by Eagle Media Corp. All Rights Reserved.

(4+&#;5#62/ 5#674&#;5#62/ 570&#;5#62/ #PFTÃ…U(TCPEQEQPFWEVQT 4[CP5KNXGTOCPXQECNUr%JTKU5CPFGTUURGEKCNIWGUV 8CPGUUC%CORCIPCXQECNUr%TCKI-PQZVWDC The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh It’s the most wonderful time of the year — a spectacular concert of holiday music for the whole family. It’s Pittsburgh’s favorite holiday tradition!

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h g r u b s t t pi s n o i t i d a r t Bang a gong: A look at Pittsburgh-centric holiday traditions By Alex Gordon alexgordon@pghcitypaper.com

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y parents really dig classical Christmas music. Neither of them are religious people or classical musicians, but every Christmas season, they go out for performances of Handel’s “Messiah” or Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio.” Those are the heavy hitters, but I think they just enjoy the general atmosphere: the people, the churches, the history, the cider. And every Christmas Eve, they venture out to some chilly colonial church for Midnight Mass. When my brother Sam and I were young, they’d bring us along, and we’d yawn and twiddle our thumbs until Jesus arrives in Bethlehem and we could split. Personally, I spent most of the performances wondering why the pages of the Bible were so soft and the pews were so hard. I barely noticed the music. But once Sam was old enough 6 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

to babysit, we were allowed to skip it, which led to a Christmas Eve tradition of our own. I can’t remember the exact year it started, but at some point, when Sam was in college and I was in high school, we spent the big night sneaking beers and watching The

Ever since, we’ve spent Christmas Eve watching movies, drinking beer and talking. Things have evolved slightly, as we are both adults in our 30s. The beer is fancier (and no longer needs to be sneaked). There’s now a wife and a daughter

Godfather. It might not sound like anything special — beer and movies are widely available year-round — but it was a great opportunity to catch up and relax in a season infamous for being busy and stressful.

and a girlfriend involved, though the kid has yet to weigh in on the Lagunitas or the selected films of Christopher Nolan. Assuming they’re not caroled out, my parents hang with us when they get back. The movies are less Godfather-y, and more Batman-y

(except the year we watched Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in The Fighter, which was a good fit seeing as we are also brothers from Massachusetts with excellent abs).

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here have been a few off-years when scheduuling got in the way, but tthis remains one of my fa favorite things about the hholidays, despite how o ordinary it may seem. T Though, I actually think tthat banality is what m makes it work. Not to gget all sugar-cookie about iit, but I think the specifics of a holiday holi tradition don’t matter. It’s about the consistency of doing something in a particular way every year with the people in your life, even if it’s banal or silly or strange. (I imagine, for instance, mine is the only family that has a “Hanukkah Fairy,” but that’s a


e Mysliwczyk Photo by Jak

The Scene from Light Up Night 2017

The Gordon Boys dressing up for the holidays

story for another time.) That’s certainly what I found in researching local traditions for this year’s Holiday Guide. It’s no surprise that Pittsburghers love a good tradition, and the quirkier, the better. (It’s hard to imagine another city whose people can muster such deep and sincere love for a towel.) While there are too many to list all in one place, I certainly have my favorites. othing crystallizes the unremarkability of a good tradition like Eat’n Park’s Christmas star commercial. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a 30-second animated ad that debuted in 1982 and, for many Pittsburghers, marks the beginning of the holiday season. It features a plucky, sentient Christmas star attempting to make its way to the top of a Christmas tree. After a few bungled attempts, the tree comes to life and bends over so the little fella can hop on. The tree stands back up, with a kickass star on its head, and illuminates the screen with Christmas lights and holiday cheer.

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The Godfather

“We hope the special lift you get this holiday season lasts all year long,” a neighborly narrator chimes in. “Happy Holidays, from Eat’n Park.” It’s hard to argue with the ad’s warmth and sincerity (despite the commercial context), but the scale of Pittsburghers’ adoration for this spot is astounding and totally endearing. Any doubts about that can be addressed with the

Pittsburghers love a good tradition, and the quirkier, the better. video’s comment section, featuring gems like this: “MY FAVORITE COMMERCIAL OF ALL TIME!!!! it makes me cry how the star is trying to get on the tree. Very Inspirational!!! Love it still as a grown woman.When I hear music of the commercial starting and I’m in another room I run thru the house til I get to the tv and

just get goosebumps.” he suburbs may have a monopoly on ridiculously elaborate light displays, but I think cities take the cake for holiday vibes in general. Maybe it’s because cities are where the shopping goes down, or maybe it’s because it’s where both holiday films Elf and Scrooged take place. Downtown Pittsburgh in particular seems to come to life during the holiday season, with Light Up Night, the Horne’s Tree, the Christmas Market in Market Square, the window displays at Kaufmann’s Department Store, and some of the best peoplewatching you’ll get all year. Bonus points for the added layer of Pittsburgh’s tradition of referring to things by what they used to be called. A short history: Kaufmann’s became a Macy’s and is now neither, but locals still call it by its original name. Light Up Night once went by the name “Sparkle Season,” which some vocal folks found overly-PC. (Google that for some “fun” reading.) And, of

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course, the Horne’s Tree, located on a building that hasn’t been owned by Horne’s since 2003. Although to be honest, as a transplant, I still call it “that cornerbuilding Christmas thing.” hile holidays are mostly religious affairs, nationality obviously also plays a huge role in how folks celebrate. Many of the immigrant groups that populated Pittsburgh in the first half of the 20th century have distinct customs that remain important to locals today. I learned about one of my favorites from local author and historian Melanie Linn Gutowski (Kaufmann’s Department Store). Gutowski’s mother immigrated to Pittsburgh from Abruzzo, Italy, in the 1950s and brought with her the tradition of eating baccala (a dried, salted cod dish) on Christmas Eve. Some of you are likely rolling your eyes, saying “Duh! It’s the Feast of the Seven Fishes!” But baccala has a particular popularity in Western Pa., since many Italian-American families in this region emigrated from the

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Ringing in the New Year

Wouldn't be the holidays in Pittsburgh without fireworks

continued from previous page

mostly mountainous region of Abruzzo, says Gutowski. Mountains meant no fresh fish unless they were preserved in salt, hence you get salted cod. Baccala specifically involves soaking the cod in water over a couple of days to get some of the salt out, then combining with a marinara sauce. Though “it looks like shoe leather,” Gutowski says she can’t have Christmas Eve without baccala (nor baccala if it’s not Christmas). A number of local Italian restaurants serve elaborate Feast of the Seven Dishes that include baccala (Lidia’s, Stagioni, lots more), but Gutowski informed me that “it doesn’t count if it’s at a restaurant.” Dealer’s choice, I guess.

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he Pittsburgh tradition I found most surprising was the banging of pots and pans at midnight on New Year’s Eve, alerted to me by my colleague Rebecca Addison. I had never heard of this, but I dig it. This isn’t super specific to Pittsburgh or Southwestern Pa., but I had never heard of it or seen it growing up in New York, so it seemed important to get the word out. Asked to elaborate, Rebecca said

8 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

something to the effect of “you go som so m outside and bang on pots and pans ou uts t midnight on New Year’s Eve.” A at m simple enough explanation, but the simp si m origin i story is a bit weirder. Making loud, obnoxious noises to ring in the new year is actually common in cultures all over the world, though it seems like using kitchenware is a uniquely American approach. Other acceptable noisemakers include fireworks, sirens and drums (the original noisemaker). The mythology around it boils down to scaring off evil spirits and bringing good luck for the new year (a two-fer!). While I’m not sure I buy the math behind that one, I’m all for good luck and 100 percent anti-evil spirits, so I think I’m going to add it to my tradition rotation this year. And that’s the best part of all this tradition stuff, you can create new ones and revive old ones. They can be religious or secular, celebrated with blood relatives or not; there are no rules. These idiosyncratic characteristics of how you celebrate — the things you and your people do that nobody else does — are what make this season something worth caring about and worth looking forward to. OK, I know I’m verging on “We Are the World” -tier treacle, so I’ll just leave it there. I hope the special lift you get this holiday season lasts all year long.


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Shop our unique selection of handcrafted, American-made items, including jewelry, handbags, ceramics, glass and specialty holiday gifts. The Museum Shop is open Tuesday–Sunday, 11am–5pm and Wednesday, 11am–7pm.

221 North Main Street, Greensburg, PA 15601 724.837.1500 | thewestmoreland.org image courtesy of Knotzland Artisan Bow Tie Co., photo by Alex Corrie

a f or l u m r o f e h T at Hol iday F UN

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Dig out your best worst holiday sweater and join in the festive fun at 21+ Ugly Sweater Party on Friday, Dec. 22! Delight in the epic lights and musical wonder of a Holiday Magic Laser Show.

Visit CarnegieScienceCenter.org for schedules and showtimes. 10 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017


PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 11


We asked our readers some holiday-themed questions through our social media platforms and by using our website polls. Here are your responses:

12 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017


PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 13


food

Spanakopita

Culinary traditions are a big part of holiday celebrations By Hannah Lynn info@pghcitypaper.com

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n every subset of every religion, food is an important and essential component, especially around the holidays. It brings people together and helps them find common ground. Food creates a sense memory that can last a lifetime, bringing a person back to their roots anytime a scent wafts through the kitchen, whether it be their own or a stranger’s. With the winter-holiday season rapidly approaching, City Paper talked to community members to learn more about the foods that matter, how to make them, and what not to do wrong.

Hanukkah December 12-20 In Judaism, Hanukkah commemorates the rebellion of the Maccabees against their oppressors. The army only had enough oil to last one night, but miraculously it lasted for eight. Today, the holiday lasts eight days and nights to celebrate that miracle of light and

oil. Traditionally, Hanukkah foods are fried in oil, either in the form of sufganiyot, a jelly donut, or latke, a potato pancake. Drew Barkley, executive director of Temple Sinai, has experience making latkes for friends and family, as well as for large groups — upward of 150 people — for temple events. One of the most important factors in making latkes, Barkley says, is freshness. “There are people who try to freeze them and reheat them in the pan. It’s never as good,” he says. While they are fried, latkes should be light. A common mistake is not getting the oil hot enough, forcing the pancakes to cook longer in the pan. “You don’t want your raw ingredients to sit in oil that isn’t hot enough, because then it absorbs the flavor and gets heavy. It should be crisp and tasty,” says Barkley. Barkley shared his simple but dependable recipe with CP. “It’s the vanilla ice cream of latkes,” he says.The recipe can be scaled up to feed as many people as necessary.

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LATKES INGREDIENTS: 4 medium potatoes 1 onion 3 eggs 1½ teaspoons of kosher salt ½ cup of flour ½ teaspoon of baking powder • Grate potatoes. It is not necessary to peel them, but if retaining the peels, make sure they are well washed. • Grate the onion. Combine with the potatoes and drain off any water. • Add all the other ingredients and mix very well. • Pour canola or vegetable oil into a frying pan. Heat the oil and test it with a drop of batter. The drop of batter should instantly sizzle. • Form latkes between your hands to make them flat and of an even thickness. Place them in the oil. When the edges start to brown, turn over. • When latkes are nicely browned on both sides, remove them from

the frying pan and place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. • Serve hot with sour cream and applesauce.

Christmas December 25 For a lot of people, Christmas food traditions are somewhat universal. Where they tend to differ is due to the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of the celebrants. In the Greek Orthodox Church, preparation for the celebration begins weeks before Dec. 25, both spiritually and in the cooking process. The entire month is for fasting, while abstaining from meat, dairy and oil. “A lot of people start right after Thanksgiving making pastries, making spanakopita, putting it in the freezer, so they’re ready to pull out on Christmas Eve,” says Marcie McGuire, co-chair of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral’s Greek food festival. For McGuire, the food is about tradition, and passing down what


Explore different holidays and customs at your holiday dessert table

Drew Barkley of Temple Sinai makes his homemade latkes

By Stephen Caruso info@pghcitypaper.com thing better than a warm, surrounded by loved Toneshefillingononlyameal cold winter’s night are the

Wassail

Hagerty Photo by Kate

Buche de Noel

she learned from previous generations. “When I was a kid, I would watch my grandma make [spanakopita]. She used to roll it with a broom handle,” McGuire says. Making spanakopita can be tricky, because it uses delicate phyllo dough and its simple ingredients can be tricky to work with. “You can’t use grocery-store feta,” says McGuire. Locally, she recommends getting feta and phyllo dough from a Greek grocery store like Stamoolis Brothers. Another crucial component is making sure the spinach is as dry as possible to ensure the dough isn’t soggy. “Squeeze it until you cannot get another drop,” says McGuire.

um heat, melt 1 tbsp. butter. Add onions. • Cook for about 5 minutes. • Remove from heat and cool. • In a large bowl, combine spinach, onions, beaten eggs, both cheeses, salt and pepper. Mix well. • Butter the bottom of a 9-by-13by-2-inch baking pan. Trim phyllo sheets to fit the pan. Line bottom of pan with 10 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet generously with melted butter. • Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the phyllo. Top with remaining phyllo sheets, again brushing each sheet generously with SPANAKOPITA melted butter. Ingredients: • Score into serving size pieces 20 oz. frozen, cut spinach, thawed with a sharp knife, cutting only 1 med. onion, chopped through the top layer of phyllo. 2 tsp. dry dill or 3 tsp. fresh dill, with • Bake at 350 degrees for approximore to taste mately 35 minutes, or until rich 1 lb. unsalted butter, melted (do not golden brown. use margarine) 2 eggs, beaten 1 lb. good Greek feta cheese, crumbled December 21 ½ cup parmesan cheese ½ tsp. salt and pepper, (or to taste) Compared to religions that have been around for thousands of years, 1 lb. phyllo dough neo-paganism is relatively new and • Rinse and drain spinach until com- still figuring out its traditions and practices. While Yule, the observapletely dry. • In a medium skillet over medi- tion of the winter solstice, is a cel-

Solstice

ebration, it’s also moody. “Yuletide is scientifically the darkest time of the year, and it’s a really good time for fellowship and being together,” says Diana Paar, an intuitive and tarot-card reader. “It’s celebratory, but it’s somber and contemplative.” Many practitioners of neo-paganism were raised in other religions and cultures, and bring that to the Yule celebration, which usually takes the form of a potluck. Depending on who is at the ceremony, the spread might include German bread in the shape of a boar’s head, Italian pizzelle cookies, or a French buche de Noel (a chocolate cake shaped like a log). One steadfast offering, Paar says, is wassail, a drink made using hot cider and mulled spices. Old English pagans used to drink wassail in the middle of winter, while singing and shouting to ward off spirits that might hinder crop growth. While Paar doesn’t use a specific recipe, she has developed her own methods for concocting the drink. She brews it in a slow-cooker and buys premade spice mixes, which generally contain cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. The spices are tied up in a piece of cheesecloth and steeped like tea in the liquid.

sweet treats that follow it. But there’s more to the upcoming holiday season than just cookies shaped like Santa and Blitzen. If you want a nice hearty dessert, Amargie Davis says a slice of sweetpotato pie, a staple of Kwanzaa, might be in order. The holiday, meant to celebrate African-American heritage, runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Davis, who is co-founder of the Community Empowerment Association in Homewood and serves as the director of youth and family services, says pie is a staple of soul-food cooking. Davis says you can always buy a pie, but the real magic is in making it yourself. “I think almost every family has some recipe from grandma, some secret recipe,” Davis says. A typical pie, she says, should be spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, with its filling whipped to a smooth texture. Similar spices are also found in Poland’s traditional Christmas desserts. Marta Nutini was born in Poland, then moved to the United States at 22. Now 38, she has spent the past two decades as a manager at S&D Polish Deli, in the Strip District. She points to a poppy-seed roll called makowiec as the typical treat. It consists of softened poppy seeds, mixed with rum, raisins and a little orange zest, as a filling in a soft pastry. Traditionally, it’s a dessert served at Christmas and on New Year’s Day. In fact, in Polish custom, it’s good luck to eat poppy seed around the New Year; eat it, as the story goes, and you’ll come into wealth. Finally, no dessert table would be complete without some Italian pastries, according to Tony Moio, a second-generation Italian-American who runs Moio’s Bakery in Monroeville. The bakery started in 1935 in East Liberty before moving into the suburbs. Moio, now 47, has worked there since he was 12. For Christmas, he says long-time customers still stick to their roots and typically order pasticciotti, a pastry filled with ricotta cheese or egg cream. There’s also sfogliatelle, which offers almond paste or candied citrus peel inside a flaky crust. The bakery is also filled with Yule logs and a variety of Italian pastries, including cannolis. “Christmas is everything,” Moio says. “Everything we make sells. Everybody’s table is different.”

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 15


Abbigail Hanse of Photo courtesy

Vegan cinnamon rolls for chilly festive mornings

Pumpkin Pie

n a g e v l a n o i t i d a tr

By Celine Roberts celine@pghcitypaper.com hen the holiday season rolls around, everyone looks forward to their favorite foods. Gathering around the table to share dishes is one of the things that makes these days special and vegans shouldn’t have to miss out. We gathered a few recipes from local chefs to help make your holidays fun and animal-cruelty free.

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Hilary Zozula Former chef/owner of Eden, a health food restaurant in Shadyside “I’m a vegan chef, formerly of the restaurant, Eden, in Shadyside. Eden specialized in raw vegan cuisine and every fall we would have this delicious pumpkin pie on our menu. Not only is this super pie vegan, and bake-free, but it’s actually pretty healthy for you. So many of the ingredients are full of fiber, protein, beta carotene, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and rich in vitamins A, K, B2 and B6.”

EDEN’S PUMPKIN PIE Makes 16 pieces

FOR THE CRUST: 1 cup cashews 1 cup coconut flour 1 tsp. Salt 8 dates Blend in food processor. Once blended, add in ½ cup water using the pulse setting. Dump into a springform pan and press the in crust firmly so that it covers the bottom of the pan evenly. FOR THE FILLING: 2 cups fresh pie pumpkin, peeled into small cubes 1 apple, chopped 1 cup cashews 2 cups coconut oil 1 cup water ¼ cup goji berries 14 dates 1 tbsp. cinnamon ¼ tsp. cloves 1 tsp nutmeg 1 tbsp. ginger Blend in a food processor until smooth. Pour filling over top of the crust in the springform pan, smooth out evenly and let chill in the fridge for about 6 hours until firm. Slice and serve.

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Abbigail Hansel Relish Co. Abbigail Hansel helms Relish Co., an all vegan popup providing doughnuts, bagels, brunch and more for the Pittsburgh area. “I love creating comfort and novelty foods that vegans wouldn’t normally have access to, as well as making sure they are enjoyable by omnivores too,” she says. “These are extremely versatile. You can fill them with cinnamon, sugar and brown sugar; chocolate and hazelnuts (pictured); or something savory like cheese and spinach, etc.”

BREAKFAST ROLLS Makes 6-8 rolls 2 cups soy milk ½ cup olive oil 5½-6 cups all purpose flour ½ cup granulated sugar 1 tsp. salt ½ tbsp. active dry yeast ½ cup vegan butter at room temperature Bring soy milk up to a temperature

of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Add yeast and sugar, stir lightly, and let sit for five minutes. Mixture will get foamy, meaning yeast is now active. Add oil, salt and the first 5 cups of flour. Stir this mixture until fully combined. Add more flour a little at a time stirring with a wooden spoon until a wet dough forms. (It will not be a ball or smooth, just a wet dough that starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.) Cover this dough with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and leave in a warm room for about 1 hour. The dough should double in size. Dump dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Roll the dough out into a rough rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread the butter on the surface and top generously with your choice of filling. Cut into 2-3 inch wide strips and roll up. Place them loosely in a well greased baking pan with about 1 inch of space in between each roll. Cover with towel again and let sit for 20-30 more minutes. Rolls will plump up again. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-20 minutes or until golden and cooked thoroughly. Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from pan.


an urban bistro in the heart of mt. lebanon

Green Bean Casserole

Amanda Burk Sugar Sell Scoops Burk has worked all over the city as a chef at Randita’s Organic Vegan cafe, a personal chef and teacher at Naturally Soergels and is now starting Sugar Sells Scoops, a vegan ice cream business. "I’ve been vegan for 11 years, when there weren’t as many options and products as there are today," she says. “It can be tough around the holidays. As a vegan, you really look at the food industry and agricultural so differently. It can be depressing and hurtful to be around those who don’t understand. Even the slightest bit of effort is appreciated, especially around the holidays when families are coming together. My one grandma will always make me spaghetti because she knows I can eat that.” Here’s one thing Burk can bring to the table that everyone will love.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE Makes 9x11-inch casserole 16 oz. green beans, wash, trimmed and quartered if fresh 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered and sliced thin 3 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance, Melt, etc.) 3 tablespoons flour 1 cup vegetarian stock 1 cup non-dairy milk or creamer 1 ½ tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. tamari or sea salt black pepper, to taste ½ tsp. nutmeg, fresh grated preferred ½ tsp. pepper French’s Fried Onions (accidentally vegan!)

711 washington rd. mt. lebanon

412.306.1919 www.bistro19.com

Bring water with a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium pot.. Add prepped beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Beans should be bright green. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in a pot set over mediumhigh heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon tamari (or sea salt) and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the milk or creamer. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove cream mix from heat. Place green beans in casserole dish and pour cream mixture over top – thoroughly covering and combining. Top with fried onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately. PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 17


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NORTHERN SUBURBS ۸Burgh’ers ۸Della Terra Italian Bistro ۸Mad Mex (Cranberry and North Hills) ۸UPMC Passavant McCandless Cafeteria

REGENT SQUARE/ SQUIRREL HILL ۸Kimberley Ashlee Catering ۸Rita’s Italian Ice ۸Silk Elephant ۸Square Café

SHADYSIDE ۸Mad Mex ۸Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream ۸Pizza Parma ۸Soba ۸Steel Cactus ۸Umi ۸Wm Penn Tavern

SOUTHERN SUBURBS

۸Arnold’s Tea ۸Casellula ۸Chateau Café & Cakery ۸Legends Eatery ۸Scratch F&B

۸Bado’s Pizza Grill & Ale House ۸Bella Sera ۸Mad Mex (South Hills and Lakeside) ۸Sunny Bridge Natural Foods

OAKLAND

STRIP

NORTHSIDE

۸Café Phipps ۸Fuel and Fuddle ۸Hilton Garden Inn/ RLJ - University Place ۸Mad Mex ۸Magee-Women’s Hospital Cafeteria/ Gardenview Café ۸P&G Pamela’s Diner ۸Peter’s Pub ۸Prince of India ۸Rita’s Italian Ice ۸Sorrento’s Pizza Roma ۸Sushi Fuku (both locations) ۸The Porch at Schenley ۸UPMC Presbyterian Cafeteria

۸Eleven ۸Kaya ۸Lidia’s

UPTOWN ۸Buford’s Kitchen ۸Café Fifth Avenue ۸Hogan Dining at Duquesne University ۸Legacy Café ۸Pizza Care ۸The Red Ring ۸Souper Bowl ۸Z-Best Chicken & Ribs

WESTERN SUBURBS ۸Mad Mex (Robinson) Restaurant listing as of 11/16/17

ç9.89-*8*&843+47,.;.3, PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 19


20 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017


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JMTWVO\WOM\PMZ /M\aW]ZOQN\[\WLIaI\ SarrisCandies.com

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drink For those looking to raise a pint of holiday beer this season, the choices are nearly endless By Stephen Caruso info@pghcitypaper.com hile most people might imagine Black Friday shoppers waiting outside a big-box store for ridiculous price cuts on bigscreen TVs and new sneakers, Theo Ackerson, the general manager of Bierport, instead gets a yearly crowd of eager beer-heads. The Lawrenceville beer shop, which shares its building with the Row House Theater, is a yearly recipient of a special line of brews called Bourbon County, from Chicago craft brewer Goose Island. Ackerson says demand is so great that they usually open an hour early the day after Thanksgiving and limit sales to two bottles per person to “share the wealth.” Ackerson’s Black Friday sales are just part of a larger trend of Pittsburgh beer vendors making sales off the many quality, limitedissue craft brews that come out just in time for cozy winter nights in. The Bierport manager says that flavors on display in winter beers often mimic the flavors of seasonal

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favorites. “A lot of breweries release a special Christmas beer or holiday ale. They are holiday spiced, with things like cinnamon, cloves, spices you might associate with a holiday dinner,” Ackerson says. Ken Vecenie, of Vecenie’s Distributing Company, agrees, pointing to some of his top-sellers of the season, including Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, Tröegs Blizzard of Hops, Victory Winter Cheers, Bell’s Winter White and the especially valuable Tröegs Mad Elf. The seasonal order of Mad Elf, a red-colored beer with hints of cherry, cocoa, cinnamon and allspice, arrived at Vecenie’s in late October, and the shop has already sold every case. A thirsty beerdrinker could only try the beer now by buying a whole keg at the Millvale distributor.

22 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

Vecenie says the season is good for sales, partially due to the number of people needing extra beer while entertaining, but also because of all the special beers, like Mad Elf. “A lot of people seek out the special winter and holiday beer,” he says. What types of beer do well can vary, according to Manny Singh, who manages It’s Dogg’n It in Squirrel

Hill, but he says the sheer variety is good for business. “Fall and winter are our favorite season for beer, because we have the most diverse beers,” he says. The chain, owned by Rahul Chovatia, usually focuses on craft-beer sales and has two other locations, in Oakland and Shadyside. Singh mentions that fans of any type of beer can find a special brew that fits their taste buds. For IPA drinkers, harvest ales, like the Terrapin So Fresh So Green, fit the bill. Harvest ales are made with fresh hops that only grow in fall. For a fan of wheat beers, many heavily spiced winter wheat beers hit shelves around now, such as Southern Tier’s 2XMAS Ale, which includes flavors of orange peel, ginger and fig. He also believes that local Penn Brewing Company puts out its best beer in winter, the St. Nicholas


These cocktails will keep you warm throughout the holiday season By Thria Devlin thria@pghcitypaper.com

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here’s no disputing that alcohol brings people together, maybe even more so during the holidays. No matter your faith or celebration, a simple cocktail, punch or even mulled wine can help put the finishing touches on your snowy gatherings. City Paper asked two local bartenders to share their favorite holiday drink recipes with you.

Kimmie Durik, who won CP’s Best Bartender in our recent readers’ poll and currently bartends for Genoa, Downtown, says that her drinks “are for yinzers to keep warm this holiday season.” BEARDED YINZER IN A PEAR TREE 1 oz. Goldschlager 1 oz. pear schnapps 12 oz. mulled hot cider Optional: layer Yukon Jack over the top Simply pour equal parts of the liquor over the hot cider. KICKIN’ HOT TODDIES 1 to 2 oz. Fireball 1 cup of hot black tea Star anise to garnish Add desired amount of Fireball to a cup of hot black tea. Garnish. THE RUSSIAN CHRISTMAS 1 oz. vanilla vodka 1 oz. Bulleit rye bourbon 1 dollop of maple syrup ½ oz. heavy whipping cream Over ice, mix liquor, syrup, and heavy whipping cream. Mix until glass is cold. This is a go-to classic holiday drink that everyone will enjoy. Emily Struzebecher has previously tended bar at Livermore and Bar Marco and now resides at Pizza Taglio. “Growing up, my family’s version of winter cocktails were always the same cans of Budweiser or Rolling Rock, or a concoction my

Bock, which is a German-style strong lager with hints of chocolate and coffee. But what all vendors agree on is that the stars of the season are heavier beers, whether stouts or “winter warmers,” which are usually sweeter and more spiced to cover their higher alcohol contents. Singh pointed to Great Lakes Christmas Ale, at 7.5 percent ABV, and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, with has a 10 percent ABV. However, here are two sugges-

grandfather like to call ‘medicine,’ consisting of vodka and amaretto straight to the head,” she says. “Once I got older, I dove into the world of cocktails and have picked up a few favorites along the way that still drive me back to my childhood holiday memories, even though they don’t sear my throat quite like the ‘medicine.’” MULLED MANHATTAN Orange slices 1.5 oz. bourbon ½ oz. Cointreau (or Triple Sec) 1 dash orange bitters 2 heavy dashes of Angostura bitters Grape juice Muddle orange slices in mixing glass. Fill mixing glass with ice, and add bourbon, Cointreau and bitters. Stir well, strain into a “Nick and Nora” glass, top off with grape juice, and garnish with orange twist and cherry. This is a winter take on a classic that is sure to hit the spot when you want a combination of mulled wine and something a little harder. POINSETTIA ½ oz. Cointreau (or Triple Sec) 3 oz. cranberry juice Champagne Whole cranberries and rosemary sprigs for garnish

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Build cocktail in champagne flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with cranberry and rosemary bomb (sprig inserted into cranberry). This is a great champagne cocktail that is light and simple, yet festive and sure to get you in the mood for the holidays. PEPA Lemon twist for garnish 1-½ oz. dry vermouth 1 oz. cognac 1 oz. vodka 1 dash Angostura bitters Stir ingredients in glass for about 15 seconds with ice. Strain into coupe glass, and garnish with lemon twist. This cocktail is both spirit-forward and smooth, with hints of vanilla and cigar from the cognac, as well as a slight bite of clove and cinnamon from the bitters. It makes for a great holiday warm-up.

tions if you chose to partake in the winter-beer fun. One, even though Americans often prefer an ice-cold beer, make sure your quality brews don’t get frosty. Singh says that temperatures under 35 degrees muddle the beer’s flavor. Two, act quick. Singh has an easy rule of thumb on availability — get your beer before its eponymous holiday. “They’re projected to be done by the day they are named after,” Singh says.

Open Nightly for Good Girls & Boys! PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 23


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f you ever have an employer who says, “We will pay you to make mulled wine,” definitely take that opportunity. I’ve never made or even tasted mulled wine, so naturally I’m the perfect candidate for this assignment. The warm, alcoholic drink was invented by Romans in the second century to help keep warm in the winter. It became associated with Christmas, because it was sold at European holiday markets, and perhaps because a variation called “The Smoking Bishop” was mentioned in the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. I don’t celebrate Christmas, and I’m wary of some of its food and drink traditions. Eggnog, for example, is insane. No part of my brain or body craves sweet creamy eggs mixed with alcohol. However, there’s not too much that can go wrong by boiling wine. To guide me through this very easy recipe, which actually requires almost no guidance, I turned to fellow Jewess Ina Garten. (If I had to build a wood cabin from scratch, my first step would probably be to check if Ina had instructions on how to do it.) Recipes for the drink usually specify using a cheap wine, because it’s going to be altered by other ingredients and flavors. My young and frugal brain is trained to automatically find the cheapest alcohol in the store, so this is perfect. Different countries have different variations on mulled wine. In Spain, vino caliente uses lemon peel and brandy. Nordic glogg adds almonds,

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raisins and bourbon. In Ina’s recipe, the only alcohol is wine, which is significantly diluted by the large quantity of cider, so you’ll be full from the sugar before you can drink enough to feel tipsy. If family tensions are particularly high at your holiday party, you might opt for a recipe with more of a kick. An important step — which I forgot to do — is to pour the drink over a strainer when serving. There’s a lot of flotsam in the pot, both big and small. It’d be a tragedy for your party to be interrupted because Uncle Gary choked on star anise. The best part of any holiday food is sharing it with the ones you love. When making mulled wine, it’s best to invite at least a half-dozen friends, family or even strangers over. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a weird Tupperware container of now-cold wine to reheat later.

INA GARTEN’S MULLED WINE Ingredients: 4 cups apple cider 1 bottle red wine ¼ cup of honey 2 cinnamon sticks 1 orange, zested and juiced 1 orange, peeled for garnish 4 whole cloves 3 star anise Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each, and serve. (Recipe courtesy of www.foodnetwork.com)


is n o s a e s y a id l o h this

g n i p p o powntown! do

peoples gas holiday market

holiday saturdays

Open Daily through December 23

Free trolley and carriage rides, free Downtown parking* and free family fun. *Pittsburgh Parking Authority garages only. Saturdays through December 23rd.

• Featuring artisan gifts from around the world, including Ireland, Italy, Africa, Germany and South America. • Plus you’ll find special Pittsburgh gifts, designer jewelry, photography, artworks and even fabulous homemade treats. • Visit Santa’s House for Photos with just a suggested $5 donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank • New for 2017: the Holiday Karaoke Contest! Every Monday and Tuesday evening from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. through December 12, contestants will compete to move on to the grand finale on Monday, December 18, where one lucky winner will go home with a cash prize of $1,000!

Downtown Shopping Downtown is home to retailers of apparel, jewelry, toys, gifts, and much more! Don’t miss the four cool Downtown Holiday Season Pop Ups!

kidsplay 817 Liberty Avenue, Saturdays and Sundays, through December 23 Free activities, free trolley rides, crafts, stories and more!

for full details visit DowntownPittsburgh.com/Holidays

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PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 25


ADVERTORIAL

Th There’s no better time than the holidays to treat yourself to new, delicious creations that come from your favorite bars ne and restaurants around the city. Dine out, or be bold and try an to create them on your own at home. Food brings people together during the holidays, so eat, drink and be merry! tog

EIGHTY ACRES KITCHEN & BAR Monroeville/Plum

Apple Cider Mule This apple cider mule is a simple, yet sweet

twist on a great classic cocktail. Grab your favorite mug and share with loved ones at your next holiday gathering!

Ingredients:

• 1.5 oz Absolute • .5 oz simple syrup • 2 oz apple cider • Ginger Beer

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients, top off with ginger beer and garnish with dried or fresh apple wheel.

LUCCA by Chef Nathan Eddy Oakland

Savory Bread Pudding

Bread pudding isn’t only for dessert. This savory bread pudding preparation creates a fabulous protein side. It’s balanced with sweet and savory and serves well alongside turkey, duck and chicken.

Ingredients:

• 1 loaf rustic Italian bread • 2 cups heavy cream • 6 eggs • 3 tbs garlic powder • 1 tbs all spice • 1 tbs each - cinnamon and nutmeg • 2 tbs each - rosemary and sage • ½ cup each - chopped carrots, mushrooms and onions

Instructions:

Use loaf of rustic Tuscan bread. Remove crust and dice. Whisk together 2 cups heavy cream and 6 whole eggs. Set aside. Roast carrots, onion and mushroom over medium heat until soft. In a large bowl, add to the bread mixture, garlic powder, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary and sage. Add in roasted carrots, onion and mushrooms. Fold in egg mixture and stir together making sure bread is coated. Divide equally into 6 ramekins, place in water bath covered with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and brown an additional 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. 26 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017


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Pear Tree,

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hold the Partridge The colder months are a perfect time to reignite your long dormant love affair with gin. The Uncle Val’s used here is the star of this drink. This festive holiday cocktail combines warm herbal notes with a just enough FLWUXVDQGŴRUDOŴDYRUVWR balance things out.

Ingredients:

• Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin Ř%HUHQW]HQ3HDU/LTXHXUb • Wigle Rosemary Lavender Bitters • Fresh Lemon Sours

Instructions:

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients over ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with three cranberries.

The Stocking Stuffer Rob Hirst, Bar Manager at Round Corner Cantina says, “this divine yule-tide cocktail pairs perfectly with your cuddle-buddy in front of the hearth while roasting chestnuts. Sweet and smokey baking spices balanced with citrus and pepper.”

Ingredients:

• 1.5 oz Espolon Blanco • .5 oz Ancho Reyes • .5 oz Cinnamon Simple Syrup • .25 oz Jalapeño Simple Syrup • .75 oz Lemon Juice • 1 Egg White

$KHDUW\DQGƓOOLQJGLVKWRZDUP you up on cold winter nights. :HXVHSURWHLQƓOOHGcannellini beans with savory greens to bring together a classic and bold holiday dish.

Ingredients:

• 1 cup cannellini beans (rinsed) • 2 cups chopped greens (spinach, escarole and endive) • 1 tbs chopped garlic • 1/2 cup chicken stock • 2 tbs butter (softened)

Instructions: %ULQJƓUVWLQJUHGLHQWVWRERLO Reduce heat and simmer to slightly reduce liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in butter until incorporated. Garnish with grated romano cheese and serve with warm crostini.

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients, shake on ice and strain. Serve in martini or coupe glass. Garnish with cinnamon and star anise if you’re feeling frisky.

ROUND CORNER CANTINA Lawrenceville

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 27


f l e s r u o do it y Making It Special By Meg Fair megfair@pghcitypaper.com he holidays can be a stressful time for anybody. It can be especially taxing on those who want to give a special gift but who are working with a small budget. The pressure to purchase nice gifts sometimes overshadows the fact that this time of year is meant for expressing gratitude and showing your love for the people who matter most in your life. Whether you spend $1,000 or $1.35, it really is the thought that counts, and the gifts that are often the most special are those made by hand and that come from the heart. Kelly Malone works for Workshop PGH, a DIY school with lo-fi and social classes on woodworking, sewing and more. She’s a strong advocate for the homemade gift, as the proud recepient of a handmade denim jacket with carved leather patches, and the proud giver of a handmade record cabinet for a friend’s vinyl collection. “Handmade gifts show more personality than a store-bought gift,” she says. “You put time and love into it and can add a bit of person-

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alization. It’s just a great way to say, ‘Hey, I think you’re awesome.’ “Workshop is all about handmade, whether you make it or buy handmade from a local maker: You’re getting something unique that supports someone in either case, and that’s something to feel great about.” As a proud gift-maker myself, I thought I’d share some of my favorite ideas for gifts that are quite cheap (and fun!) to pull off:

HANDMADE CARDS A lot of times, a special card is the perfect gift. But rather than spend a bunch of money on a pack of stationery, grab your gel pens, construction paper, scissors and some glitter, and get to it! The beauty of a handmade card is that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be sweet and endearing. Put some time into writing a sweet note for your best friend, aunt or mother inside the card, and charm everyone with your sense of humor or earnest drawing skills. The fact that you took the time to sit down to make and write your

28 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

card will not be lost on the giftee.

attention to their musical interests. I like to stack my mixes with a few MIXTAPES/MIX CDS songs I know they already love, and This is by far my favorite inexpen- pepper in songs or artists they are sive gift to pull off. Be mindful of unfamiliar with to give them somewhat medium your gift recepient thing new to fall in love with. can use, as not everyone has a cassette player these days. But chances COUPON BOOKS are, if your friends are as thrifty as I’m not talking about the sheets you, they are driving a car with a of coupons that inexplicably get tape deck in it! Mix CDs are also dropped into your mailbox from pretty safe and standard. You could grocery stores that don’t exist make a Spotify playlist for someone, within 30 minutes of you, or those but the physical medium makes it coupon books high school kids sell feel much more special, and you for fundraisers. I’m talking about a can decorate your cassette case or little handmade stack of individualCD case with the skills you used to ized coupons that contain offers make the handmade card! #two- to do fun and helpful things for birds #onestone someone in your life. For example, Blank cassettes are fairly easy to a slip of paper that says: “Redeem find and very inexpensive at thrift for one long, warm hug after a stores, and you can get a pack of bad day” or “Redeem for a coffee blank CDs at almost every dol- date at the shop of your chooslar store. If you’re in a hurry, CDs ing” or “Redeem for a dish-cleaning burn much quicker than making a session.” These little gestures can mixtape by hand (as you have to be a way to push for face-to-face actually record it onto the tape in engagement and hanging out, or real time). they can be for tasks that will lift This gift is great because you get a burden off your roommate or to show the recipients that you pay partner. It’s a thoughtful version of


Holiday Mixed Tape Photo by Meg Fair

Vinyl

an “IOU” that can be used all year round. For your little coupon book, okk, ok, just use whatever paper you ha have ve and be as fancy or as plain as yyou ou u desire. Put the coupons loose in n aan n envelope or staple them together. If like a blanket or quilt. But with the you feel fancy, bind them with rib- amount of discount coupons for bon or put them on a binder ring. craft stores during this season, as well as Amazon’s disconcertingly REGIFTING/UPCYCLING cheap options, you can usually make it work.

CLOTHING

Regifting is a bit taboo, but I’m a big believer in giving new life to old stuff you don’t use anymore. With so much environmental damage caused by "fast fashion" (not to mention the exploitation of workers in other countries), you can do good for the world, while giving a gift to someone you love. Have some band tees that don’t fit you anymore that your little cousin would love? Pass them on, maybe with a mix CD to accompany them. Have a shirt you never wear for a wrestler your sister loves? Cut the logo off and buy some stiffer fabric from a thrift store to sew to the back, and give it as a back patch. Maybe even offer to sew it onto the article of clothing of the recipient’s choosing! If you’re crafty, you can make a tapestry of band shirts or shirts with cool designs by cutting your shirts into squares and sewing them together. This idea is much more time-consuming and can become costly if you try to make it more

REGIFTING VINYL AND BOOKS This option is another thoughtful gesture to show that you want to share literature and music you love with someone in your life. Bonus points if it reflects their interests as well! Vinyl is an investment, and it’s tough to afford a bunch of new vinyl. Peruse your collection for records that have grown dusty or that you don’t listen to as much but think someone else would like.Wrap it in newspaper or tissue paper with a little note inside about your favorite tracks, and pass it along. The same can (and should!) be done with books. This is a gift that I really enjoy for younger relatives, as it’s a cool way to pass on the books that shaped you as a youngling. Write a little personal note in the cover for them to start off their reading voyage. This also gives you an excuse to talk to them after they finish the book to see what they thought about it! PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 29


Give the Gift of Fragrance!

Craaff Beer

We offer hand-poured candles in more than 120 fragrances, pour-your-own custom-scented candles, customizable home fragrance products, and smallbatch natural bath and body products. Contact us for more information and to Experiment With Scent! 4409 Butler St, Pittsburgh, Pa, 15201 412 439-4578 • www.thecandlelab.com @thecandlelabpittsburgh

30 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017


PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 31


ADVERTORIAL

Thi year, City Paper challenges you to branch out of your normal This gift gift-buying routine. DIY gifts are a great choice for anyone on your hol holiday-shopping list. Not only will you save a few cents, but by getting cra crafty you also show the special people in your life that your lov love for them is priceless ... which is like, way cooler. So, grab your knit knitting needles and your hot glue gun, because we’re about to show you the best DIY workshops and businesses in the ‘burgh for the holidays.

FIBER ARTS WORKSHOPS WORKSHOP PGH, *DUƓHOG workshoppgh.com Get tied up in knots at Workshop this winter with macrame, weaving, sewing, knitting and various dye classes. From making Pinterest-worthy wall art to dyeing those perfect Shibori blue curtains you’ve been dreaming of.

MAKE YOUR OWN HOLIDAY CANDLE THE CANDLE LAB, Lawrenceville thecandlelab.com Give the gift of fragrance! The Candle Lab offers hand-poured candles in more than 120 fragrances, pour-your-own custom-scented candles, customizable home fragrance products and small-batch natural bath and body products.

WOOD-WORKING WORKSHOPS WORKSHOP PGH, *DUƓHOG workshoppgh.com Workshop knows how to get your hands dirty with a variety of simple wood project classes. Learn to build your own bench, make a vertical succulent planter or an adorable triangle shelf or planter.

32 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017


ADVERTORIAL

HOLIDAY CROSS-STITCH KIT FIRECRACKER FABRICS, +LJKODQG3DUNĆ“UHFUDFNHUIDEULFVFRP Learn the basics of cross-stitch and embroidery with a beginner friendly craft kit, or gift one to someone who is keen to learn! Firecracker has dozens of different DIY kits, designed by indie makers, for stitchers of all types and abilities.

LEATHER-MAKING WORKSHOPS WORKSHOP PGH, *DUƓHOG workshoppgh.com Cut, sew, stain and stamp your own leather projects from handmade belts to jewelry and wallets. The best part is customizing your piece to be all your own - whether it’s your initials, your cats name or whatever fun designs you can muster up with the hundreds of stamps on hand.

DIY ANIMAL PAPER SCULPTURES RESIDENT DESIGN, residentdesign.co Build your own paper animal sculpture with a kit from Resident! :LWKGHVLJQVWRFKRRVHIURPWKHUHĹ?VDQDQLPDOWRĆ“WDQ\ personality and space. Designed and made right here in Pittsburgh.

WINTER OPEN STUDIO HATCH, 3RLQW%UHH]H hatchpgh.com Enjoy drop-in winter open studio hours for makers of all ages (ages 2+). Together, families can make special artwork and memories inspired by the winter season. Each week, Hatch will have lots for your family to explore like print-making, soft sculpture, card-making and of course, handmade holiday gifts. PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 33


n o i h s a f Shine On Leave the red and green at home and wear ear something sparkly this holiday season By Rebecca Addison raddison@pghcitypaper.com perfect occasion to add some me me sparkle to your outfit. “If you’re wearing a plain dress, ss, a great pair of statement eararrings or a statement necklace ce gives it a nice pop,” Parsakian n says. “It doesn’t always have to o be a sequin dress; it could bee your accessories.” But that doesn’t mean you u should overdo it. French fash-ion designer Coco Chanel was famous for saying that people should look in the mirror before they go out and take off one accessory. That advice is a cliché for a reason. “I usually scale back a lot of people when they come in. I try to make them look incredible as opposed to too much. That’s why statement earrings are good with no necklace,” Parsakian says. “Trends usually follow the red carpet. You might not

34 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

Black Dress

Photos by Joh n Colombo

uring the decades Richard Parsakian has been in the vintage-fashion business, he’s seen many similar stories play out. But there’s one that really irks him. “A lot of the times, people come in, they try something on, and it looks incredible on them, and they say, 'I have no place to wear this,'” says Parsakian, owner of Eons Fashion Antique, a vintage clothing and accessories store in Shadyside. “I don’t want to hear that anymore. Be brave.” With the holidays approaching and many people wondering what to wear to the upcoming parties on their social calendars, City Paper talked to Parsakian about how to wow this holiday season. “Be brave,” says Parsakian. “Don’t worry that this is Pittsburgh. Have fun with it; don’t be so serious.” The holidays are definitely a time for dressing to the nines and going all out so Parsakian says it’s the

D


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be wearing a $5 million pair of earrings, but you can still have that sense of a Hollywood starlet, if you have a sense of design and not overdoing it.” For work holiday parties, es,, Parsakian doesn’t advise toning ng your look down. And if your work rk party is straight after your usual 9-5, he says it’s important to plan accordingly. “If you’re working and then you have to stay for the party, you have to go from day to evening,” Parsakian says. “You can bring a great sequin top or sweater to go over what you have.” Parsakian says you should broaden your horizons beyond the typical red-and-green dress commonly donned during the holiday season. He’s not fan of those busy holiday sweaters either and says they should be reserved for “Ugly Sweater” parties only. “Please, those Christmas sweaters, there’s a place for them,” says Parsakian, “but it’s just that one party.” Vintage stores like Parsakian’s are

Blue Tuxedo

a great place for people to switch up their styles and try something new this holiday season. And if you wear something vintage, there’s less worry that you’ll show up to a party wearing the same outfit as someone else. “Everything is one-of-a-kind so you won’t go to a party and see anyone else wearing the same thing,” Parsakian says. For men, Parsakian recommends a brocade jacket or an unusual tuxedo jacket. As of this writing, Eons had a blue-velvet tuxedo jacket that would add an extra element to any holiday party outfit. As for Parsakian: “When I dress up, I don’t mind doing leather pants with tux tails,” he says. “Mix and match, and really think out of the box and play with it.”

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1. Find an uglyter. holiday swea

2. Crank the wow facto up to 100 wit r h ornaments and tassels.

Want to be best W ddressed at the aannual bash? Follow tthese instructions By Rebecca Addison B Photos by Re becca Addison

raddison@pghcitypaper.com ra

U

r 3. Attach you ts accoutremen like you’re a living Christmas tree.

36 PITTSBURGH S G C CITY PAPER HOLIDAY O G GUIDE 2017

gly-sweater parties are a newer holiday tradition, partly inspired by a love of nostalgia. Holiday pictures from the '80s and '90s are chock full of ugly sweaters fit for merciless mocking. But instead of being embarrassed by the fashion skeletons in our respective closets, many have embraced the ugly sweaters of years past and celebrate them annually at parties. Usually these sweaters are either holdovers found in a dusty box in an attic or basement, or original creations made by bedazzling regular sweaters. But here at City Paper, we thought, why not combine the two? Check out our tips for winning first place at this year’s party.


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By Rebecca Addison raddison@pghcitypaper.com n a time before Facebook, holiday cards served as a way to communicate with loved ones living far away. A card with a family photo gave friends and family a peek into the sender’s life, serving as a yearly chronicle of how a family has grown and changed.

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Today, more than two billion holiday cards are sent out every year. They feature partners and children, pets and parents. And while people can send out pictures of their families to hundreds of followers with the click of a button, many continue to use holiday cards to showcase

38 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

those they hold most dear. Here are a few tips to ensure the holiday card you send out shows you and your family looking your best. After all, years from now, you don’t want to see your beloved family holiday card on a list of awkward family photos.

The above photo is an example of what not to do. While embracing holiday dress can be a whimsical take on a traditional card, it’s probably a good idea not to torture your cat by shoving it into a matching Santa suit. Also, dial back the creepy on those facial expressions.


DO DRESS UP Take the opportunity to dress your family in something snazzy and leave those Steelers jerseys at home.

continues on next page PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 39


DO HAVE FUN Matching pajamas are big for the holidays, but if you want to be on trend, your everyday PJs won’t cut it.

40 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017


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s s e n i s u b l l a m s Supporting the small businesses that support non-Christmas holidays “It is about sharing and goodness.” By Ryan Deto ryandeto@pghcitypaper.com s the holiday season approaches, there is bound to be endless talk about Christmas gifts. However, it’s important to remember that Christmas isn’t the only show in town and that non-Christmas celebrants are also on the lookout for that perfect gift or decoration and those things can often be hard to find. Here’s a list of just a few of the places to shop and purchase gifts and items for the other non-Christmas winter holidays.

A

DHANURMAS The Pittsburgh region is home to more than 16,000 residents of Indian descent, as well as thousands more of Nepalese and Bhutanese descent. The majority of these South Asian Pittsburghers practice the Hindu religion, and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald

hold a Diwali celebration for the Hindu community each fall. But Diwali isn’t the only major holiday that Hindus celebrate. On Dec. 15, the month-long celebration called Dhanurmas, or Dhanur Masam, begins. The Hindu holiday is all about worshiping, and other celebratory activities, like weddings, are typically prohibited during this time. Hindus believe that worshiping and being generally good during Dhanurmas can bring good fortune throughout the rest of the year. One of the main traditions associated with Dhanurmas is the giving and sharing of Indian sweets. Treats like milk cake, and kaju katli, a dense sweet made of ground cashews are consumed. Chomchoms, milk-based pastries covered with shaved coconut, are also very popular during Dhanurmas. Jay Yarli, a cashier at Manpasand

42 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

Spice Corner, in Green Tree, says these sweets are sold all year d long, but grocers like Manpasand ng have to increase their supply during Dhanurmas. “During the festival, we ot sell more sweets,” says Yarli. “A lot more people come in during the holiday.” Many revelers will visit Indian stores like Manpasand, which has locations in Green Tree and

“It is about strengthening family and community.” Wexford, and then will travel to Hindu temples like SriVenkateswara, in Penn Hills, to observe Dhanurmas and share sweets. “It is about sharing and goodness; we offer sweets to God,” says Yarli.

“We do things for God, and we offer him and we share that pleasure.A sweet thing is a sweet thing.” Some other Indian grocery stores in the area to purchase sweets are Bombay Food Market and Kohli’s Indian Import, in Oakland, Nepali Bazaar, in Whitehall, and Desi Bazaar Indian Groceries, in Banksville.

HANUKKAH The Jewish holiday spanning eight nights in December is already one of the more popular winter holidays in the U.S., thanks to the country’s sizable Jewish population. In fact, Hanukkah decorations and gifts can be purchased at major big-box stores and party-supply chains. But


Photos by Kate Hag gerty t ty

Just a few of the Han ukkah celebration items at Pinsker’s Juda ica in Squirrel Hill Pittsburgh is also home to a vibrant Jewish community in Squirrel Hill and beyond, including stores that cater to those looking to boost their Hanukkah celebration. One of those stores is Pinsker’s Judaica. The store has been part of Squirrel Hill’s business district since 1954 and specializes in Jewish gifts, games and even kosher wines (Pinsker’s is the primary distributor of kosher wines in all of Western Pennsylvania, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Pinsker’s offers a large variety of Jewish ritual items, like menorahs for Hanukkah and mezuzahs to place in doorways. The store also has great Hanukkah gifts, especially ones for reminding recipients that the holidays aren’t just about presents. Jewish books, kosher cookbooks, CDs and yarmulkes are all sold in wide variety. Pinsker’s owner Brad Pearlman is so committed to his store being a place for all types of Jewish celebrations, that he even opened a kosher

café last year next door, called Eighteen. Another great shop for traditional Jewish gifts is the gift shop inside Rodef Shalom Temple, in Shadyside. The Sisterhood Gift Corner offers challah boards for your New Year’s challah bread, and tzedakah boxes, which are decorative boxes for collecting money to give to charity. Proceeds from Sisterhood Gift Corner sales directly benefit Rodef Shalom. The shop even offers specialty knit items that are created by Rodef Shalom’s sisterhood sewing group. The gift corner even has specialty covers to keep your challah and matza warm. L’chaim.

KWANZAA Not all African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, but for those that do, the holiday is all about connecting to African roots and celebrating a self-made community. In fact, the fourth principle of Kwanzaa continues on next page PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 43


Some of the goods at Wildcard in Lawrence ville continued from previous page

is “to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together.” Basically, Kwanzaa is largely about African-American small businesses. And the Ujamaa Collective is all about the fourth principle of Kwanzaa; the Hill District-based nonprofit is even named for that principle, Ujamaa. “Kwanzaa is needed to show the principles of the African holiday,” says Frankie Harris, boutique merchandiser of Ujamaa. “It is

Where to buy Pittsburgh-specific gifts that aren’t made in China Skip the knock-off Steelers-gear booth and give these shops a try By Ryan Deto ryandeto@pghcitypaper.com loves something with “yinz” written on it. In Pittsburgh, this usuEallyverybody means buying a cheaply made item of questionable quality that was made nowhere near the Steel City. But there is a better way to celebrate your Pittsburgh pride. The region is home to five cool boutiques that supply a plethora of gifts like jewelry, clothing and decorations with Pittsburgh-specific themes. Also, many of the gifts are made in Pittsburgh, either by local artisans or by the shop owners themselves. Skip the knock-off Steelers gear and give these shops a try.

about strengthening family and community.” Ujamaa was founded by Celeta Hickman in 2008. In 2013, Lakeisha Wolf became the collective’s executive director. According to Ujamaa’s website, Wolf has experience in social justice, arts, culture and entrepreneurship, and at Ujamaa, she “focuses on the business affairs and cooperative development of emerging Africana women-owned craft industries.” Ujamaa supports programs to help black women start businesses.

WILDCARD This sweet shop is right in the heart of Lawrenceville’s Butler Street shopping district. Wildcard features specialty cards, trinkets, books, candles, decorations and clothing. Many items display Pittsburgh pride, like retro-looking shirts with Forbes Field emblazoned on the front and coasters with maps of Pittsburgh printed on them. Wildcard also carries a wide array of tote bags and jewelry, even incline-shaped earrings. The shop prides itself on selling items made by Pittsburgh artists, but offers some non-Pittsburgh items too. After shopping, patrons can enjoy the many other small businesses in the area, including restaurants, coffee shops, a bowling alley and furniture stores. 4209 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-224-2651

And Ujamaa is not just about following the principles of Kwanzaa. The nonprofit also sells traditional Kwanzaa items and garb so people can participate in the winter holiday. Harris says the complete Kwanzaa display is sold at Ujamaa, including the Kinara (candle holder) and the Mishumaa Saba (seven candles). Kwanzaa revelers can purchase the items on Ujamaa’s website or at its Hill District storefront, which is open Monday through Saturday. Another part of Kwanzaa is wearing traditional African clothes. Harris says Ujamaa offers many shirts emblazoned with African col-

ors and patterns, as well as jewelry of African design. “We are women who have organized and operated the store,” says Harris. “We have a collective goal, and we can work together, create and sell through this experience.” Other Pittsburgh businesses that sell traditional African items that can be used to celebrate Kwanzaa include threeafrica.org, a fair-trade organization that offers many items that were hand-made by Malawian sewing collective, and IdiaDega, a collaboration project between local artist Tereneh Mosley and a Maasai collective in Kenya.

dred yards from the Monongahela Incline to a small shop filled with Pittsburgh-themed gifts. All items are sourced from Pittsburgh artists and makers. Pick up Pittsburghtheme tree ornaments, T-shirts, or even beer koozies. 301 Shiloh St., Mount Washington. 412-208-1234

Koolkat Designs in 2006, and featured the work of 22 local artists. Koolkat quickly outgrew its space, and McGrady expanded in 2015, renamed her shop Artsmiths, and moved into a renovated barn. Artsmiths has hosted hundreds of artists since. Two showrooms display ceramics, glass works, jewelry, apparel, paintings, prints and woodworks. In addition to buying Pittsburgh-made and Pittsburgh-themed art, patrons can also participate in art classes and view rotating exhibitions that Artsmiths curates. 1635 McFarland Road, Mount Lebanon. 412-341-2299

ROBIN’S NEST This is the store to go to if you are looking to buy art that would make anyone from the Steel City proud. Robin’s Nest opened in 2014 on Penn Avenue in Friendship, joining the fast-growing business district that now includes a Primanti Bros., a coffee shop, the Pittsburgh Glass Center and sneaker shop Refresh PGH. Robin’s Nest offers a wide array of wall art, including artistic and cartoony maps of Pittsburgh. Many of the items are handmade. The store also “LOVE, PITTSBURGH” sells home décor, jewelry, handbags and Kelly Sanders and Monica Yope opened ceramic vases: all the perfect items to fill up the love, Pittsburgh gift shop in Mount your own nest. Washington this July and filled a much5504 Penn Ave., Friendship. 412-362-2600 needed market. For years the neighborhood that attracts scores of tourists, thanks THE ARTSMITHS OF PITTSBURGH to its two inclines and gorgeous views Explore this expansive 10,000-squareof Downtown Pittsburgh, never had a gift foot space in Mount Lebanon and shop for shop. Now, patrons can walk just a few hun- local artists’ works. Kate McGrady opened

44 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

SONGBIRD ARTISTRY The boutique in Bloomfield specializes in jewelry, knit items, glassware and screen-printed apparel. The shop is owned and run by a mother and her daughters. Songbird offers a plethora of handmade items perfect for one-ofa-kind gifts. The shop also has a collection of Pittsburgh-specific tote bags and onesies for toddlers that read “I’m a ‘burgh baby.” 4316 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. 412-427-5500


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Explore the region’s best business i di districts i to shop h smallll You don’t have to suffer through traffic and giant mall parking lots to find great gifts By Ryan Deto ryandeto@pghcitypaper.com or the past several years, creditcard giant American Express has sponsored Small Business Saturday, which is a promotion for the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage shoppers to support small businesses. While a great idea on paper, the event has been criticized as merely a publicrelations ploy. Regardless of who’s sending the message, it’s still an important one. But, instead of an annual focus, we should try to patronize our region’s small businesses year-round. Small Business Saturday 2017 may be over, but the Pittsburgh area has many walkable business districts with small businesses to patronize. You don’t have to deal with through traffic and giant mall parking lots to find great gifts.You’ll also feel great since you are supporting your neighbor’s business. But buying local is not just about making you feel good, it is also better for the region. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, on average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses gets put back into the local economy, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chains. There are dozens of local shops to visit, and while everyone knows about the Strip District, here are a few other suggestions to get you started.

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LAWRENCEVILLE For decades, Butler Street in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lawrenceville acted mostly as a highway that drivers would take to get to the eastern portion of the city. Its storefronts were vacant and pedestrian activity was minimal. Now, Butler Street is arguably the most popular business district in the region, attracting city and suburban residents most days of the week. Boutiques and shops abound, and you can purchase fun gifts at Wildcard, or some scented candles at The Candle Lab. City Grows offers some great decorative house plants, and Pittsburgh Furniture Company offers unique, vintage furniture that is expertly curated (the store has even been featured in the New York Times). Espresso a Mano is the perfect place to grab a coffee to fuel your shopping, and you can relax with a craft beer at Roundabout Brewery or Hop Farm when you are done.

MOUNT LEBANON Mount Lebanon Uptown business district is your best bet for shopping in the South Hills. It’s compact; has plenty of shops, amenities and restaurants; and can even be reached by light-rail. Grab an Irish-themed gift or wool sweater at Celtic Cross

46 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

and then shop for a guitar or even a ukulele for your musically inclined friend. Ona Boutique offers some high-class apparel, and Dinardo’s Candy next door has all the sweets you could desire. Finish the day off with a slice of pizza. You have your choice of fancy (Il Pizzaiolo) or greasy, hot and fast (Mineo’s).

OAKMONT A shopping day in Oakmont must begin at Oakmont Bakery for carbs and coffee. The bakery consistently wins Pittsburgh City Paper’s “Best of Pittsburgh.” After a snack, head over to Mystery Lovers Bookshop for the best selection of thrillers and suspense novels, as well as a good collection of non-fiction and general-interest books.

SEWICKLEY The small town on the edge of Allegheny County has a booming business district. Restaurants, bars, and shops dot most corners of Beaver Street and beyond.The town even has a brand-new, two-screen movie theater, Tull Family Theaters. Penguin Bookshop is a perennial favorite and often hosts local authors (Pittsburgh Dad stopped by once and the town went nuts). Sewickley Yarns is the perfect place to get that hard-to-find-thread for the knitter in your family. And for

the family’s resident geek (this is a term of endearment now), Big Bang Comics & Collectables offers the latest editions of Marvel, DC, and Image comics, and a plethora of action figures and toys. Sewickley also has a dog bakery for gifts for the pooches, and Orr’s Jewelry has the finest metals for that really special gift.

SHADYSIDE In Pittsburgh, before there was Butler Street in Lawrenceville, there was trendy Walnut Street in Shadyside. The few blocks near the west side of the neighborhood have been such a popular shopping district for so long, that big businesses, like Apple, have moved in. But try to avoid the big boys (they hardly need your money) and patronize some of the longstanding small businesses that make the neighborhood great. Kards Unlimited has all the best tchotchkes and humorous gifts to give your friends and family laughs over the holidays. For gifts for a sweet-tooth, check out eureka! chocolates and gifts where the chocolates look like works of art. And then invest in some quality leather products at Roberta Weissburg Leathers. Cap off the day with a beer and some pub grub at Cappy’s, the favored hangout of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.


PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017 47


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t n e m n entertai Sounds of the Season Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra marks another year of Holiday Pops By Haley Frederick info@pghcitypaper.com he holidays just wouldn’t be the same without a festive soundtrack to put you in the spirit of the season. And when you’re sick of hearing the same tired renditions of the same 10 songs on all of your favorite radio stations once they’ve made the holiday switch, there’s really only one thing that can bring that music back to life: the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Highmark Holiday Pops concert has been a beloved tradition for more than 25 years. It keeps families coming back to hear their favorite holiday music performed by a live ensemble. This year, the beautiful Heinz Hall venue features a Chanukah menorah and 22-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree decorated in a “Winter Wonderland” theme in the Grand Lobby. This year’s Holiday Pops concerts will be conducted by the associate conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Andrés

T

Franco. Franco, who is also the music director of Tulsa’s Signature Symphony, will bring his own personality to the show, while still staying true to time-honored traditions. “We will have many of the audience favorites,” Franco says. “You have to be aware of those traditions, but also I like bringing new ideas into the program.” Attendees shouldn’t

connected to the holiday season,” Franco says. One piece that Franco cites as a highlight features an unusual instrument in the spotlight — the tuba. The symphony’s principal tubist, Craig Knox, will perform the solo in the playful piece called “Wassail Wassail All Over the Tuba.” “Everyone will have a great time

“There will be a couple of fun surprises that you don’t want to miss.” worry, as classic crowd-pleasers like “Sleigh Ride,” “Chanukah Lights,” the “Hallelujah Chorus” and a singalong are still a part of the festive line-up. “[The audience] will probably leave with a new favorite holidaymusic piece, because we are doing a couple of wonderful pieces that aren’t the usual fare, but are also

52 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

throughout the evening,” Franco promises. “There will be a couple of fun surprises that you don’t want to miss.” Guest performers will join the symphony for the season’s shows. Vocalist Ryan Silverman, who received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actor for his performance in the Broadway revival of

Side Show in 2014, will join the Pittsburgh Symphony for its Holiday Pops this year. Another guest vocalist is Oscar-winner Vanessa Campagna. Campagna, whose rendition of the classic Christmas song “Little Drummer Boy” made it into the Top 40 of the holiday charts, was born and raised north of Pittsburgh, in Beaver Falls. “I’m so excited to be a part of this year’s Holiday Pops concert,” Campagna says. “I always love performing with the PSO. I grew up performing with them. It all started when I was 8 years old. The late Marvin Hamlisch chose me for the Holiday Pops concert, and I have had the honor of doing it every few years since. I currently live in Nashville, so I’m really excited that I get to come home and spend six nights at the beautiful Heinz Hall with some of the most incredible musicians in the world. I’ll be singing one of Marvin’s songs, ‘Chanukah


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Santta a makes an appeara rance a he Holiday Pops.t th Lights,’ as well as ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ and ‘The Prayer,’ with Ryan Silverman. I really can’t wait to be back in Pittsburgh h and back on that stage once again.” n.” Whether you make it a special cial date night or take the kids to o a Saturday matinee, the Holiday Pops ops is the perfect way to embrace the splendors of the season. And you better watch out — because there will be an appearance by the man himself; Santa Claus will ride his sleigh all the way to Heinz Hall. “[When the audience leaves], they will feel happy and ready for the holiday season,” says Franco. “It’s a very uplifting show, and I am a hundred percent certain that everyone will get to hear one of their favorite holiday tunes.” The show will run for two weekends in December, Dec. 8-10 and Dec. 15-17. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Doors open an hour

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before each performance. And for an extra-special show, check out a one-night-only holiday performance by Celtic Thunder. In its 10th tour of the United States, the world-renowned singing sensations will be joining the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Tue., Dec. 12, at Heinz Hall, at 7:30 p.m. The featured soloists from the group will be Damian McGinty, Ryan Kelly, Emmet Cahill, Neil Byrne and Michael O’Dwyer. Celtic Thunder will perform a mixture of holiday and non-seasonal numbers, including hit songs from its albums Legacy, The Show and It’s Entertainment, along with songs from it’s popular holiday albums.

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Steel City Christmas and Shopping Tour December 16th Departures from Washington, Burgettstown, Robinson and Greentree (call for times & locations)

Charter our vintage coaches for any group, family, church or business outing

You’ll travel to Pittsburgh on our 1957 GMC coach to the Strip District then to the Market Square International Village. See PPG Winter Garden with life size Santa’s from around the world and a Gingerbread Village. You will also see the Steel Building’s Crèche and end the evening with a ride on the Duquesne Incline to see the city Holiday Lights.

Spice up your holiday gift giving with a Dirty Santa Party By Thria Devlin

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aise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by a white-elephant gift exchange. You too? Figures. If you’ve ever been involved, then chances are you’ve likely gotten the shaft — but that’s part of the fun. For those of you who don’t know the term, you may know this holiday tradition by other names, including Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa. Whether it’s with coworkers who begrudgingly agree to par-

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of cards or names in a hat. The first victim … er, guest … then chooses a gift and opens it for the world to see. This is where the fun starts. The next person in line can then either choose to open a new gift, or steal the sweet package the person before them just unwrapped. Once a gift is stolen, the participant must then choose a new gift, and the cycle continues until there are no gifts left or the police are

The cycle continues until there are no gifts left or the police are called. ticipate, or family members who think they’re being funny, the good ol’ white-elephant swap is guaranteed to screw somebody over. Not familiar with how the Dirty Santa deed is done? Here’s a rundown: Each participant — your grandma, your boss, you neighbor who secretly doesn’t want anything to do with your holiday shenanigans — brings a gift to put under the tree, or in a pile, if indoor shrubbery is not your thing. Pick a drawing order using a deck 54 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER HOLIDAY GUIDE 2017

called because a fight broke out over a Primanti’s gift card. We wanted to find out about the experiences that others have had with this tradition, so we turned to our online audience to find out what knick-knacks or bric-a-brac they got stuck with in the past. A wide variety of responses came in from both Facebook and Snapchat, but the following responses really made us laugh, and cringe. “While working for a paper-supply company, a group of co-workers


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Yankee Yank Ya n ee Candles nk Can an nd dless o dl orr sauerkraut k ... you never know what you might get. did a Yankee Swap in which the gifts had to be ‘useful’ and fit inside a box of predetermined size. They were then raffled off in random order. You got a minute to feel the box, lift it, and try to guess what was inside. Then you had the option to take someone else’s box, depending on what you thought you had, you could get something better. I stole someone else’s because my box was super light and seemed shady. The new box I received was really heavy. When I opened the box, I discovered a gallon of sauerkraut from Sam’s Club. I spent a year after trying to give it away.” “It was at a white-elephant gift exchange with a youth group I volunteered with in college. I opened the gift, and no one wanted to steal it, because I was stuck with a day-old Big Mac. The person that brought it couldn’t possibly come up with a logical explanation [of why].” “When I was 13 years old, my family switched Hanukkah over to this system (which I was pissed about as the youngest, since my brother and cousins all got YEARS of huge holiday pulls). Anyway, everybody always went for the envelopes because it was a near-guarantee for a gift card or, sometimes, straight cash. I ventured one time to go beyond the envelope and ended up with a handmade picture frame ... made by my great aunt’s sweet old ladyfriend, who was sitting right next to

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222 MAIN STREET me. So, I had to smile and be like, ‘Dope picture frame ... thanks!’” “I got a log of snuff. Somebody thought it was funny, but I traded it, though ... so who’s laughing now?” “I was at a white-elephant gift exchange one year, and it when it was my turn to pick a gift, I chose a decent-sized one in the middle. We all had been wondering what it was, but were too afraid that it was something small and dumb. So I unwrapped it and found that it was a bidet … because who doesn’t have a spare bidet laying around? No one would steal it from me, and the person who brought the bidet swore it had never been used, but I wasn’t so sure about that!” Other online responses included: a PVC pipe wrapped in duct tape; a coloring book of poop pictures; and 40 flavors of hot sauce packaged together. So, for your next holiday gift exchange, don’t spend hours looking for a perfect gift — just wrap up a jar of sauerkraut or used plumbing fixtures. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

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Tai Chirovsky ’s cover of The Killers’ “D Shoot Me Sa on’t nta makes our list” of the b holiday songs est Pittsburgh art by ists.

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For people who love holiday music, there’s something about a particular version of a particular song that you look forward to each year, regardless of your religious affiliation. By Charlie Deitch cdeitch@pghcitypaper.com “O Holy Night” Christmas Doo Wop & Pop, Vol. 2

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lthough some people claim to hate holiday music, most everyone has a favorite holiday movie. We asked City Paper readers for their favorite holiday flicks and the overwhelming favorite was A Christmas Story, a tale of a little boy and his quest for an “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.” That film secured 54 percent of the votes compared to the distant second-place finisher National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, followed by Die Hard, Polar Express, Elf, Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas. A quick poll of CP employees led to these selections:

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THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I generally don’t like holiday movies, but I do love stop-action animation, and especially Henry Selick’s darkly comic 1993 musical fantasy — the perfect holiday movie for people who aren’t into them, and a touchstone for misfits everywhere. — Bill O’Driscoll, Arts Editor

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Hammer, and Andy Dick plays Santa’s son. It’s a smart, witty, funny parody that also features Melvin Van Peebles, one of the stars of those classic 1970s films. — Charlie Deitch, Editor

SANTA’S SLAY. Santa hates children, slaughters everyone whether they’ve been naughty "or" nice, and he’s given us the best Christmas gift of all time: this amazing horror/comedy flick that’s a guaranteed pick-me-up even for the worst grinch. The killer opening scene is a can’t miss. Spoiler alert: death by eggnog. — Lisa Cunningham, Art Director

A CHRISTMAS STORY. Shot in Cleveland, Ohio, and being from Ohio myself, this was an inescapable part of the season when I was growing up. Something about the creepy dad with his leg lamp and the incessant whining of children really warms the heart. — Celine Roberts, Staff Writer

AUNTIE MAME. Most everyone agrees that the Rosalind Russell version is the classic, but I disagree. For me, it’s Lucille Ball all the way. This movie is everything. My favorite quote: “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” — Justin Matase, Associate Publisher

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It is a family tradition to watch this movie This is the first part of my perfect holiday on Christmas Eve and laugh all night. double-feature followed by Mad Monster — Lindsey Thompson, Marketing Director Party. Mad Monster Party has nothing to do with Christmas, but it’s a Claymation SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT. masterpiece, and it’s really interesting to Santa is an axe murderer! see where Burton got a lot of his inspira— Al Hoff, Associate Editor tion. Plus, you can never go wrong when you have Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller in A CHRISTMAS STORY. the same place. My mother doesn’t let us change the chan— Jeffrey Schreckengost, Graphic Designer nel when it’s on TBS for 24 hours straight each Christmas. THE SOPRANOS. — Thria Devlin, Marketing and Office It’s not a movie and not about Christmas, but Coordinator the holiday looms large in the Soprano family. Other mega fans probably already know THE HEBREW HAMMER. that almost every season takes place from This film had its share of protests when it late summer to late winter/early spring, so came out in 2003. It’s a parody of 1970s Christmas tends to line up nicely with the Blaxploitation films about a bad-ass Jewish climax of the season. “Kaisha” (season 6) superhero who sets out to save his fellow and “To Save Us All From Satan’s Power” Jews from an evil plot by Santa Claus’ (season 3) are probably my favorites. evil son, Damien. Adam Goldberg of Saving — Alex Gordon, Digital Editor Private Ryan and Dazed and Confused is the


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Holiday Guide 2017 - Pittsburgh City Paper