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Saturday, January 20, 2024

Lamb Fest 2022

Every year Lamb Fest just seems to get better! This year the lineup and variety of dishes were absolutely incredible. In fact, many of the dishes are so sophisticated that the average consumer of lamb could find themselves overwhelmed by the dearth of offerings. Because of the general format of the event you ought not to expect pedestrian lamb chops or lamb on a stick.

Team 1 - Made you Choose

Sometimes choice can be an amazing thing. After all, variety is the spice of life. However, when you are waiting in line trying to slam as much lamb as possible, choice can be an awful endeavor!! Team 1 made you decide which lamb dish you were going to try, you were not permitted to select both. I assume one could probably get back in line and try the other dish, but when there is so much lamb to sample, it can be difficult to find the time.

Team 2 - Lamb Pizza

Team 2 made a lamb pizza that made me want to die. I thought they did a fantastic job of making a dish that was both delicious and freshly prepared. (Many of the teams are able to do a significant amount of their work ahead of the festival in prepartion.) These folks were busting their butts slaving over a hot pizza oven for the duration of the event.

Team 3 - Lamb Offal

This was probably one of the most underrated dishes of the entire event. They killed it while using everyone's least favorite part of the lamb. For more on my love of offal check this piece out about the organ dinner hosted by Fet Fisk at Dish.

Team 5 - Lamb Pierogi, Cookie

While some iteration of this team has made the cookie at almost every Lamb Fest I can remember, this years cookie was better than ever. The lamb pierogi was the perfect vehicle for a nice lamb punch to the face.

Team 6 - Lamb Curry

Not all of the dishes we tried really seemed to feature lamb. While the curry offered by Team 6 had a wonderful spice balance, and was buttery and rich in flavor, the pieces of lamb were quite small and the lamb itself almost felt like an afterthought.

Team 8 - Vegetarian Lentil Seitan

While this dish was flavorful, it was entirely lacking in lamb.  Do better.

Team 9 - Bahn Mi - Previous winners

These folks were the previous winners of last years lamb festival. Their Bahn Mi was absolutely beautiful with perfect texture and balance of flavors. The sandwich was very bright and the pate was absolutely amazing. This may have been the best dish of 2022. 

Team 10 - Lamb Noodles 

I'm sure you've noticed by now that I tend to complain when one of the dishes does not have enough lamb. This dish featured a decent amount of lamb and a very deep lamb bone flavor. However, the noodles themselves lacked texture and mouthfeel. While this was a solid attempt it ended up being underwhelming in terms of the execution of the overall dish.

Team 11 - Lamb Corndog

I would actually put the corn dog prepared by Team 11 in last place, even behind the vegetarian dish that did not contain lamb. The corn dog itself was a soggy disappointment. One of those rare instances where you wish you had saved stomach capacity.

Unfortunately there are a number of teams I was not even able to comment on at this years festival, by 2:20 some vendors had run out, by 3 many were out. However, it was a spectacular event and we all left feeling quite full and lamb drunk.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Lamb Fest 2021 - South Side Works


Some of the Lamb

Lamb Fest is easily one of the top food events in Pittsburgh. This year the event was better than ever. The South Side works turned out to be a perfect venue as it allowed for a very generous lamb flow. In previous years some of the other venues were a little tight and lines seemed to overflow into the thoroughfares surrounding the event. Due to covid concerns it was wonderful to have some additional space at this years event. Our group never had a difficult time finding a nice quiet table to enjoy our lamb and honestly we barely even had to wait in line to try the majority of the dishes.

In particular the VIP lounge was an awesome touch this year. The VIP tickets provided unlimited drinks, a private indoor dining area, a number of awesome sweets and even a very generous Larimer's gift card.

Pictured above is some bozo we saw eating lamb soup cooked by Team 5: The Northwest Shredders. Also pictured are the lamb fat donuts and lamb sausage cooked by Team2: Sheared Excellence and finally one of my favorites, the lamb sloppy jo cooked by Team 9: Average Jo's.




Now let's get down to the brass tax. Ranking this years contestants.  There were so many awesome dishes that it was nearly impossible to rank them. However, I managed to do it anyhow. The teams that placed towards the end of my list shouldn't be disappointed in the results. Their dishes were truly fantastic, much of my rankings were based on personal preferences. Everything I tried at the event was absolutely delicious. The exception is Team 6 who ran out of lamb an hour into the event. I didn't get to try their dish; you really need to learn to pace yourselves boys.

Lamb Rankings 2021

1st Place

Team 7 - Lamb Lettuce Wrap

2nd Place

Team 5 - Shredded Pancake Lamb Stew

3rd Place

Team 4 Lamb Croquette

4th Place

Team 9 - Lamb Sloppy Jo's

5th Place

Team 3 - Lamb Quesabirra

6th Place

Team 1 - Lamb Neua Gae

7th Place

Team 2 - Lamb Dog and Donut

8th Place

Team 8 - Terrine

9th Place

Team 6 - DNF

 Below I've described each dish for your pleasure.

Team 1 - f-f-f-f and a nice chianti - Lamb Neua Gae

This was similar to the lamb lettuce wrap but served in Belgian endive which tends to be somewhat bitter. I heard many of the guests at the event describe the dish itself as bitter, but I would imagine they just aren't accustomed to eating Belgian endive. The dish had a varied texture which added depth. The flavor in general seemed unbalanced and was lacking but it had an awesome spice level. It had one of the best spice levels of any dish at the contest and the team used the entire animal in preparing their dish which is something I appreciate. Word up to my main man Don.


Lamb Dog

Team 2 - Sheared Excellence - Lamb Dog and Donut

I have to give Team 2 bonus points for having so many wonderful dishes when all the other contestants only offered one dish. They had a delicious jerky that was loaded with flavor, a lamb donut and also a lamb sausage which was delicious and paired extremely well with feta, onions and cucumber. I felt the sausage was a bit too bread heavy. The donut made a nice presentation but overall was a bit underwhelming.

Team 3 - Slamb Let the Boys be Boys - Lamb Quesabirra

 I absolutely love quesabirra. While I've generally only had the dish prepared with beef, lamb is perfect as well due to the high fat content. Also, the house made tortilla was fantastic. The dish had a great texture and plenty of meat, but it felt like it lacked salt and it was also a bit difficult to eat as the tortilla was lacking in integrity. 

Soju was a member of Team 3 - in case you missed it the owner of Soju had an amazing rant on social media earlier this year explaining his food prices and touching on the topic of what it means to offer authentic food. While the tortilla may have been lacking in integrity no one can say the same about Soju or the other members of Team 3.

Lamb Croquette

Team 4: Casa Vandal - Lamb Croquette

Someone get these guys a bigger deep fryer! Team 4 was the only team that continuously had a line throughout the event. This was because they were individually deep frying croquettes in a deep fryer designed for home use. Due to the process involved each croquette came out piping hot and delicious. I also loved the tangy dipping sauce accompanying the dish. I thought this dish was beautiful but I also felt it could have done a better job featuring the lamb. Shout out to my man Joey.

Team 5 - Northwest Shredders - Shredded Pancake Lamb Stew

Honestly this was probably my favorite dish of the day, but I ranked it second because I almost felt like they were cheating. This stew was absolutely remarkable. Just loaded with flavor and amazing ingredients. The stew featured a ton of tofu, an amazing broth and tender delicious lamb. Again, the lamb almost seemed like an afterthought which is why I ranked them second. Each bowl of stew was customizable and included red pepper, cilantro and pickled garlic as possible options. The day of the event was a bit cold and dreary and this was the perfect dish for such a day. A+++ work. 

Team 6 - The Under dogz - Pure Lamb

The Under dogz were definitely under dogs as they totally blew it. I made the mistake of waiting to try their dish last. Just one hour into the competition they had run out of lamb and closed shop. I told chef Roger Li that I expected more. I'm sad to rank them last, but I didn't even get to try their dish. Lamb is just like sex or a buffet, you need to pace yourself. If you haven't  checked out Parlor Dim Sum by Chef Li I highly recommend that you do. His dim sum boxes are fantastic.

Lamb Lettuce Wrap

Team7 - Wood Fire - Lamb Lettuce Wrap

This was what I considered the best dish of the competition. It was perfectly seasoned and balanced and they did a remarkable job of featuring lamb as the main ingredient. The pomegranate added a magnificent crunch and wonderful texture. I could eat this everyday.

Team 8 - Lambaholics - Terrine with Condiments

Honestly, if it had been a hot day I think this might have been my favorite dish. The terrine itself was absolutely fantastic and loaded with flavor. However, the presentation left a lot to be desired and it just wasn't an ideal dish for a cold rainy day.

Lamb Sloppy Jo

Team 9 0 Average Jo's - Lamb Sloppy Jo's

The lamb sloppy jo was also one of my favorite dishes of the day. The brioche bun was very good and the creme fraiche added a nice balance to the lamb mixture. My only complaint is that the lamb to bread ratio was a bit skewed and I could have used a little more lamb or a little less bread.

If you like lamb you had better get a ticket to next years event. The Western PA Lamb Festival does an amazing job of showcasing not only the versatility of lamb but also the talents of some of the best chefs in the city. It's lamb heaven. 

Monday, January 25, 2021




We had an awesome opportunity to work with TenFourSocial and Weight Loss Direct to make this amazing video. Be sure to SPICE IT UP




Thursday, November 26, 2020

Jean Louis - Dormont

Jean Louis
Jean Louis - Pork Bread Mushrooms Sweets

Jean Louis was one of the best culinary treats that I had the pleasure of experiencing this year. I know what you might be thinking: why would you expect exquisite French cuisine in Dormont?

But you should! Chef Vincent Capuano trained extensively in France but he has all the sensibilities and quirky qualities you could expect from any chef raised in McKees Rocks.  His approach to French dining is totally lacking in pretension. He came across as warm, honest and humble. But his food was remarkable and displayed the qualities that you might expect from a much more unyielding chef.


Our first course was octopus which was extremely fitting as it was the very first dish that Chef Vincent learned to cook. I love octopus and this was some of the best octopus that I have ever tried. It was remarkably tender, well seasoned and served with gorgeous accoutrements. If you could only try one dish at Jean Louis, I would say try the octopus. Based on the article that the City Paper ran it would seem that everyone agrees with me. 

Crab Cake


Our next dish was this spectacular crab cake. It was entirely unique from any crab cake I've tried as it was not breaded or heavily fried and the dish itself really featured the richness and quality of the crab.  It was almost like a delightful warm crab salad. They used jumbo lump crap from Ecuador. It is worth noting that jumbo lump crab meat is not usually used in crab cakes because it is the more expensive part of the crab. Thanks Jean Louis! 

Pasta With Musrooms

Our next course was the burrata pappardelle with these remarkable mushrooms. When I expressed interest in the mushrooms Chef Vincent actually sent out his sous chef with this absolutely gorgeous box of assorted fresh mushrooms. I'm a huge mycology guy, that's to say - I get really excited about fungus.

Did you know that Kennett Square in Pennsylvania is the mushroom capital of the world? Those lunatics produce over 500 million pounds of mushrooms a year, nearly half the US crop.  With recent changes in legislation in Oregon and other parts of the country I would say that Pennsylvania has a great opportunity to cultivate all sorts of mushrooms.

Foie Gras

Throughout the evening we really found the presentation of each dish to be spectacular. This foie gras is the perfect example. I personally adore foie gras. The rich texture lends itself to so many delightful applications.

I find it outrageously silly that there is a move to ban foie gras in some parts of the world such as New York. Despite what the psychos at PETA might think, not all production of foie gras is unethical. In fact many farms are quite transparent about how they treat the geese that are used in the production of foie gras and I would venture to say that if you have a problem eating foie gras you probably shouldn't be eating meat at all. (Disclaimer, I have no disrespect whatsoever for vegetarians. Personally I subscribe to Kantian ethics when it comes to the treatment of animals. The only thing that I find infuriating is when people decide that it is more ethical to eat some animals or some parts of animals than other animals. What a bunch of fucking hypocrites.)

Some of the other dishes we really enjoyed included the scallops and the desert pastries. Personally I would say you can skip the pork belly. It's quite obvious that the staff here takes great care in selecting quality ingredients. Overall this is a remarkable restaurant. I would highly recommend stopping by to pay Chef Vincent a visit.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fet Fesk - Round Two

The Precious

Fet Fisk has previously been a traveling act, but for a while earlier this year they found a temporary home at Pear and Pickle in Troy Hill. Back in October I had the opportunity to check out Fet Fisk at Dish Osteria for a spooky meal comprised of various offal. It was just fantastic.

I had the pleasure of visiting Fet Fisk again at Pear and Pickle in early 2020. I was scheduled to dine with them again in March, but unfortunately their regular dinners been on hiatus due to COVID. I've been telling anyone who will listen that I believe Fet Fisk is one of the most unique culinary experiences that Pittsburgh has to offer.

Some of my favorite dishes from the evening included the soft omelet with gravlax, the fish head soup, the fishmongers lunch with smoked mussels, scallop, octopus and salt cod. It was just a wonderful array of perfectly prepared seafood. We honestly tried everything on the menu.

As our oysters arrived I asked if it was possible to have some mignonette or cocktail sauce. The waiter came back and told me that the chef said that any additional sauce was forbidden! I know that a lot of people might be offended, but I personally think it is great when the chef tells you how to enjoy something exactly as it is intended.

Within the last few weeks Fet Fisk has opened their Royal Market featuring some really amazing looking smogasboards.  They should also have some additional offerings as they get acclimated to their new space, how exciting.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Sheetz Unviels New Hop Dog Beer with Neshaminy Creek Brewing

This post was brought to you by Sheetz in collaboration with Pittsburgh Happy Hour.

Just last week Sheetz unveiled their brand new beer, "project hop dog." This was the second time I had the opportunity to attend the unveiling of a Sheetz collaboration, and they really are a ton of fun.

Sheetz worked with Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company to produce this remarkable hot dog inspired beer. I would describe the hop dog as being salty and subtly hoppy with a great finish that really does remind you of a hot dog. While they claim it doesn't actually taste like hot dogs, I swear that it does!

My favorite part of the launch event was when one of the members of the Sheetz family referred to Sheetz hot dogs as "death dogs." Ha! 

I love Sheetz food, but instead of their hot dogs I usually go with an MTO chicken sandwich with about 14 different toppings. My go to toppings are pickles, banana peppers, jalepenos, sauteed onions, raw onions, lettuce, tomato, boom boom sauce, habenero sauce and extra cheese. It's a real mess but totally worth it.

For the next few weeks you will be able to get a hop dog at most Sheetz locations throughout the state while supplies last. For a full list of participating locations, visit I highly recommend grabbing a sixer if you like IPAs as this unique beer will not be around long.

Launch Event
Thank you to Sheetz and Neshaminy for putting together an amazing event! They've provided some additional information below.

About Sheetz, Inc.
Established in 1952 in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Sheetz, Inc. is one of America's fastest-growing family-owned and operated convenience store chains with more than 20,000 employees. The company operates 600 store locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina. Sheetz provides an award-winning menu of M•T•O® sandwiches and salads, which are ordered through unique touch-screen order point terminals. All Sheetz convenience stores are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Recognized by Fortune as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, Sheetz is committed to offering employees sustainable careers built on an inspiring culture and community engagement. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter (@sheetz), Facebook ( and Instagram (

About Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company is an award-winning craft brewery and taproom located just north of Philadelphia in Croydon, PA where they use their DIY ethic to make great tasting beer that challenges both their drinkers and brewers. Founded in 2010 by Jeremy Myers, Rob Jahn, and Steve Capelli, Neshaminy Creek has grown exponentially over the years and expanded distribution across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and New York. In 2017, Neshaminy Creek opened their brewpub, The Borough Brewhouse, in Jenkintown, PA which features a full bar, kitchen, and exclusive beers from Head Brewer, Jason Ranck. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook (, follow us on Twitter (@ncbcbeer) and Instagram (@neshaminycreekbrewingco).

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Restaurant Week 2020 - How I Roll

Some of my treasures.

Restaurant week is amazing. For years Brian has been putting together a heck of an event and this year he brought back the special food blogger dinner. Three courses at Bonfire in the Southside prior to the start of restaurant week: the raw deal (tuna tartare with pureed black beans) wagyu meatloaf and a fancy hazelnut chocolate crunch dessert.

Overall it was an absolutely fantastic meal, but I do not understand why you would use wagyu beef to make meatloaf. C'est la vie.

We also stopped by Or the Whale. Their prices have become more reasonable since they opened and they served up some fantastic seafood chowder along with fire roasted chicken with broccoli and potatoes.

Also pictured is Piper's Pub Sunday Supper. A generous serving of roast beef with mashed potatoes, yorkshire pudding and roasted brussels. (They actually serve this meal every Sunday and it was not part of Restaurant week.)

Finally, the Carlton has become my absolute favorite option for restaurant week. I visited for both lunch and dinner as unlike many other participating establishments they serve a different lunch and dinner menu for restaurant week. I'm talking shrimp, I'm talking short ribs, I'm talking kung pao  chicken. Pure bliss.

I also dropped by the Capital Grill, but their salmon was just OK. I simply adore those fancy uniforms the waiters wear though.