Here are a dozen places to visit in Downtown/Strip District, East End, South Side and South Hills for the best tacos in Pittsburgh.
I enjoyed the article on the Farmer's Market! ["The Original" by Gretchen McKay, Food & Flavor, Aug. 2]. My father, Edward Geyer, was one of the original Mon Wharf vendors, as he went as a child with his family. By the time he married and had two daughters, we sold at the North Side location. Our farm was located on Geyer Road in Mt. Troy.
My sister and I grew up going to the market three nights a week, from little up to high school, and in fact did our homework in the truck before the buzzer sounded. I remember the elite of Pittsburgh used to shop there. One was Mrs. Mesta and her servant.
When there was a lull later in the evening, Dad would allow us to buy an ice ball, but that wasn't often. Mom and my sister, Maybelle, would sell the retail produce and Dad and I would be in charge of loading and unloading the truck, and the wholesale items.
We stood next to Sonny Janoski and his family, and we were related to many of the farmers, including Diane Ryglewicz.
Thank you for a look back in time and wonderful memories.
LINDA GEYER CHRISTENSON
I'm 65 and even though I've always lived in the South Hills since first grade (before that in the Hill District and Uptown), for years as a child my family and I would frequent the farmers market. For some reason my dad would always call it "The Wharf." And for the obvious reasons, my mother would cringe every time we went on a Friday night because she knew Saturday she would be spending hours blanching all of the fresh vegetables.
I still remember the smells and sounds of fall evenings spent there and especially the taffy (candied) apples !
LINDA BUONO COLEMAN
Re: "You, too, can explore pisco" by Bob Hoover, Food & Flavor, July 19: You should try your Pisco Sour substituting kiwi juice (and some pulp) for the lime juice. It is outstanding, and the way true Chileans drink it. (I lived in Santiago de Chile in the mid '90s, where I developed the taste for kiwi juice in my Pisco sour.)
JOHN R. GOTASKIE, JR.
My children and I really enjoyed your article on milkshakes ["Shake things up" by Bob Batz Jr., Food & Flavor, July 12]. Last summer we spent a week taste-testing chocolate milkshakes in Pittsburgh. We hit most of the places you mentioned, and even went off our directive to the more experimental flavors as we could not help ourselves.
Our favorite milkshake came from Klavon's in the Strip. We went back again to make sure we had a winner; taste, texture, and serving size were all ideal (and recorded in detail). Plus, the service and atmosphere completed the experience. We decided when we wrote up our results for family and friends that it would difficult to find a bad milkshake in Pittsburgh. Indeed, I am happy that my children have so many good choices.
Our next experiment involves bakeries...
KELLY M. WEIXEL
P.S. Our bakery runs are just getting started. We still are trying to come up with our criteria for evaluation. I will say we have been making a lot of trips to La Gourmandine, but as a scientist I realize we need to stay away from bias!
Your article about finding the art of canning ["Get off your can" by Bob Batz Jr., Food & Flavor, July 12] brought back my childhood. I was raised on my father's garden vegetables that my mother canned just about the entire time I was growing up. Yes, both my mother and father worked hard at their parts of the process, but in January when the temperature is hovering around 10 degrees and the snow is blowing outside, you go down to the basement shelves and bring up a jar of canned homegrown tomatoes and then reach into the freezer for a container of frozen handpicked wild blackberries for dinner. The taste of summer comes back real quick and that work the past summer is all worth it.
My mother also made jam and jelly. There were many years that she won a large number of ribbons at the Allegheny County Fair when it was out at South Park back in the '50s and i'60s. She even won best of show one year. The only time I eve heard her complain is when the tomatoes were coming in faster than she could keep up with. We never had to buy tomato sauce at our house. Many of our meals were from what my dad grew or got hunting. Nothing beats a meal from the field to the pot to the plate. My house was eating organic before the word was invented.
I make jam to this day. It is a tradition in my family. I was taught by my mother years ago and now I have taught my sister, my niece and a friend of mine. ... This year my sister and I made three batches of strawberry jam and all 24 jars sealed.
I really enjoyed your article on rediscovering canning. Your apricot jam looks amazing. I just put up some quarts of apricots, and they look so beautiful in the jars. I also appreciate the books that you mentioned. I've been getting most of my info from websites, but I'll definitely be looking for the books you mentioned.
My son got me into canning last summer, after tasting pickles that our neighbor made. Now the whole family is hooked on it. We spent this past week canning all of the great finds from the produce market at the Saint Sebastian Parish festival [July 9 to 14].
One of our great buys were angelcots and black velvet apricots. They are only available for a short time, and "Saint Produce" as we call it always has them.
We used the hybrid apricots to create "Black & Gold Jam". The link below is to a blog I started recently, that shows the jam and the recipe for it.
Thanks again for the article. If I come across some apricots, I will definitely be trying your jam.
I'm one of those Pittsburgh ex-pats, born and raised in Carrick, who has lived in Florida for the past 20 years. My sister (who has lived her entire life in Bethel Park) recently sent me your article on food that is most missed ["Hungry for Pittsburgh" by Rebecca Sodergren, Food & Flavor, May 31]. I loved the article and agree with the selections, but found one glaring omission -- pretzels from the Pretzel Shop on East Carson Street in the South Side. These are the big, soft chewy, salted pretzels with a shelf life of about 12 to 16 hours. There is nothing like them anywhere.
I started eating these in fourth grade when I bought one every day walking to school, and once I started driving, I regularly drove from Carrick to the South Side for pretzels. For years whenever I returned to Pittsburgh the first stop (yep, even before visiting mom and dad and sister) was the Pretzel Shop. Friends and family who have visited me in Florida over the years regularly packed some pretzels for me in their carry-ons. My cousins and nieces and nephews have the same loyalty to the Pretzel Shop.
I can't believe your readers never mentioned them. My conclusion is that this is more of a South Hills delicacy than a Pittsburgh one.
Read more feedback, and find The Original Farmers Market story and video, at post-gazette.com/food. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Food at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.