A wine and cheese night might be common fare, but at Carnegie Science Center, it's no cocktail party. "21+ Wine and Cheese," from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 24, will allow adults to explore the science behind wine and cheese -- not to mention the Science Center itself while the usual gaggles of kids are home in bed.
Here are some of the heady (dare we say "cheese-heady"?) questions the 21-and-over crowd will ponder tomorrow night:
When is cheese no longer cheese? (Think nacho "cheese" and squirtable cheese-in-a-can.) Compare ingredient lists, textures and samples, and find out what the U.S. government classifies as "cheese."
How do you measure alcohol content by volume? You've seen the fine print on bottles and cans before -- phrases like "5 percent alcohol by volume" -- but what does that mean, and how do we measure it? Use a hydrometer and figure out how wine's alcohol content compares with that of beer, liquor, water and rubbing alcohol.
What sorts of acids are found in wine? Acids can affect flavor, color and fermentation, and winemakers must be able to measure these acid levels reliably. Find out how they do it.
Michael Kavic, owner of Kavic Winery in Carnegie, will give a virtual tour of his winery and discuss the winemaking process. And in the center's Kitchen Theater, guests will learn how to make their own mozzarella (see recipe).
The Science Center has hosted 21-and-up events in the past, but this is its first science-of-wine-and-cheese night.
The whole center, minus the submarine and SportsWorks, will be open that evening for adult play -- and adults do get in there and play when there aren't crowds of kids to shove aside.
"The space on the fourth floor that's meant for the 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds seems to be where people have the most fun" on 21+ nights, according to Zachary Weber, staff educator of adult programs. The adults splash in water tables and play with pulley systems that release buckets of little plastic balls, he said.
Tickets for "21+ Wine and Cheese" are $10 until noon Friday, May 24, when the price goes up to $15. There will also be a cash bar and snacks available for purchase. "Stranger Convention," a jazz group, will provide live music.
For tickets, call 412-237-3400 ext. 7, or go to carnegiesciencecenter.org and click on "21+ Night -- Wine and Cheese."
Crabbie's Ginger Beer: This alcoholic ginger beer, a big seller in the U.K., made its way to the U.S. a year ago. At 6 p.m. today, it's making its way to Pittsburgh -- specifically to Hough's Taproom & Brewpub in Greenfield. The beer will be served as recommended -- over ice with a slice of lemon or lime -- as well as in cocktails and in several dishes, including ginger wings, ginger-barbecue pulled pork sandwiches and soft pretzels with ginger dipping sauce. houghspgh.com.
Allergen-free treat mixes: Mandy's Pizza in West View has developed mixes for allergen-free brownies, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, muffins and flapjacks, as well as an all-purpose allergen-free baking flour mix. The new products are available at Naturally Soergel's in Franklin Park and the nearby Giant Eagle.
All-Clad factory sales: Save 30 to 70 percent on All-Clad cookware at two sales in the region.
Washington County Fairgrounds: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 31 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 1.
Crate in Scott Township: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 31, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 1 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 2.
Graeter's Ice Cream: The Cincinnati-based ice cream brand expanded into the Pittsburgh market by retailing in Market District stores starting in 2011. Now the company is launching a new flavor, Salted Caramel. The Graeter's "craft ice cream truck" will distribute free samples of Salted Caramel and the company's signature flavor, Black Raspberry Chip, at these Giant Eagle stores:
Century Plaza, West Mifflin: Noon to 2 p.m. today.
Brentwood: 4 to 6 p.m. today.
Washington Road, Washington, Pa.: Noon to 2 p.m. Friday, May 24.
Donaldson's Crossroads, McMurray: 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, May 24.
Settler's Ridge, Robinson: Noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26.
Waterworks, Homestead: 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 26.
Seven Fields, Mars: Noon to 2 p.m. Monday, May 27.
Wexford: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, May 27.
The Midwife Center's eighth annual "Let Them Eat Cake!" benefit event last Saturday drew 350 attendees, raised $25,000 and heaped accolades on some amateur and professional bakers from the area -- including one who was born at The Midwife Center 18 years ago.
Helena Nichols, an English major at Chatham University, is the former Midwife Center baby who won the "Best Overall Amateur Taste" category.
Best Overall Professional Taste: Tara Newhouse of Crave Gluten Free Bakery in Sewickley, for "Faces of the Future."
Best Overall Amateur Decorated Cake: Christine Sullivan, "Baby 5001: Pittsburgh Bound."
Best Overall Professional Decorated Cake: Maureen Joyce of Oakmont Bakery for "Through Infancy and Beyond!".
Read more at pgplate.com/forks.
30-minute mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid
1 1/4 cups distilled water, divided
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet
1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Spices and herbs, optional
Dissolve teaspoons citric acid in 1 cup distilled water. Set aside.
Dissolve liquid rennet in remaining distilled water. Set aside.
Heat milk on stove until it reaches 85 degrees.
Add citric-acid solution and stir gently until mixture reaches 100 degrees.
Add rennet solution and stir gently until it reaches 105 degrees.
Remove from heat and cover with lid. Let stand 10 minutes.
Strain curds (white clumps) from whey (yellowish liquid). Remove as many curds as possible.
Place curds in bowl and heat in microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove and squeeze out whey. Continue to heat in 30-second intervals until curds reach approximately 135 degrees. Remember to squeeze or knead out whey after each interval.
Add salt (and spices) toward end of heating to ensure that salt (and spices) stay in cheese and not in whey.
Fold or knead cheese into a ball. Cut into slices and serve.
-- Carnegie Science Centerrecipes - foodcolumn
Rebecca Sodergren: pgfoodevents @hotmail.com or on Twitter @pgfoodevents.