Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Drink, Eat, Travel | 2 comments

I truly believe coffee is a common language among all people; either you love it or you hate it. Those who can’t live without coffee, myself included, rely on that cup to get us going in the morning. Coffee makes the world a happier, more alert place. Yes, even on an early, rainy morning.

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It’s quite amazing how one coffee recommendation from Twitter led to such an unreal day for me this past April in Pittsburgh, PA. Jenny Bonchak of Slingshot Coffee in Raleigh and her husband Jonathan, a sales representative for Counter Culture Coffee previously lived in Pittsburgh. When I travel around the states, I always ask this coffee-loving, power couple for recommendations. Jenny and Jonathan insisted I try a neighborhood shop called Tazza D’Oro, proudly brewing Counter Culture Coffee, which is roasted in Durham, NC.

I walked through the beautiful Highland Park neighborhood in Pittsburgh taking in the warm spring weather. Tulips were blooming and friendly neighbors smiled at me as I ventured to Tazza D’Oro.

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I used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to post a picture of my cappuccino. Within a few minutes, Tazza D’Oro’s owner came out to visit with me. That’s the power of social media, folks.

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Amy greeted me with a big smile and handshake. We talked for a while about the importance of local foods and agriculture. The local foods movement is no stranger to Pittsburgh. Coffee shops, restaurants and Pittsburghers support their neighbors who are growing sustainable, local agricultural products.

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Before I knew it, Amy set me up on a tour of Garfield Community Farm. This urban farm is run by John Creasy, the Associate Pastor at The Open Door Church in Pittsburgh. Cornelius Franz-Deppe is the Apprentice farmer, as well as the farmer for Salt of the Earth, Garfield Community Farm’s restaurant partner. My mouth dropped when Cornelius mentioned he was harvesting dandelion weeds for Salt of the Earth because I had dined there the night before! How serendipitous.

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Garfield Community Farm teaches community and congregation members how to organically and sustainably care for a garden, harvest produce and make it available to the community. I appreciated John and Cornelius taking time out of their day to show me around the greenhouses and gardens.

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They also told me about their latest project on Garfield Community Farm, a new bioshelter. I visited the farm during the bioshelter’s framing process.

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After the incredible farm tour and meeting two fantastic Pittsburghers, Amy treated me to a delicious lunch of beet-tinis, mussels and frites at Point Brugge Café.

Mussels

The beet-tini allowed me to learn even more about local products in the Pittsburgh area. The friendly bartender crafted the beet-tini from Boyd and Blair beet infused vodka, ginger simple syrup, lemon and lime. Boyd and Blair vodka is distilled near Pittsburgh in the town of Glenshaw, PA.

Beet-tini

Amy and I discussed her upcoming travel plans during our lunch. She would be staying on a vineyard in Northern Italy drinking fabulous wine and learning about local foods. She told me to swing back by her coffee shop later to pick up a bag of Italian wines. She packed two bottles for my friend and me to enjoy during dinner at E2, a BYOB restaurant that also sources locally grown food.

Wine Bottles

I smile at experiences like these while traveling. People are beautiful and want you to appreciate new places. Most importantly, people want you to feel at home wherever you may go.

Pittsburgh