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Wine, food and song set for Sweetwater

| Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Featured Chef series, held each season at Sweetwater Center for the Arts, in Sewickley, will explore Japanese cooking as well as wine and barbecue during its late spring and summer sessions. Reservations are required for all classes.

* "An Evening in Japan" will be taught by Marc Alfano, executive chef and co-owner with his wife, Christina, of Alfano's at the Quail, North Strabane, offering how-tos on making Japanese rice ( gohan ) for sushi, using a rolling mat for fresh seafood and vegetables, and deep-frying tofu. The three-hour demonstration class begins at 6:30 p.m. June 11 for a fee of $55.

* "Wines of Provence" is taught by John Eld, wine educator, who explores one of the oldest wine regions in France known traditionally for rose wines. Lately, however, noteworthy whites and reds are being produced. The program is from 6:30-9 p.m. July 10, for a fee of $50, which includes foods, cheeses, palate cleansers and materials. Limited to students ages 21 and over.

* "Beer, Blues & BBQ," with singing jazz chef Olga Watkins, manager of the Union Station Cafe in Highland Park, explores regional barbecue favorites sandwiched in between performances by Watkins and her Soul Kitchen Band. The event is from 6-9 p.m. Aug. 4, for a fee of $65, including class materials. Students are invited to bring their own brews, so attendance is limited to ages 21 and over.

Details: 412-741-4405 or online .


Potato folks offering big cash to video contestant

The Idaho Potato Commission has launched its first Internet video contest, which continues through June 29. The commission is reached out to spud lovers, asking them to work their magic in front of the camera with the Idaho potato, America's favorite vegetable. Three grand-prize winners will receive $1,000 cash each, and five runners-up are eligible for gift baskets.

Contestants must be willing to have two minutes of fun with an Idaho potato on-camera and share their entries with the world via YouTube. The commission challenges entrants to put their mental power to the test: videos can be humorous, artistic or even serious, include artwork, recipe demonstrations, use of a potato to solve a common household problem or a potato-themed skit or game.

Entries will be selected on three judging categories: creativity and uniqueness (50 percent of score), video-production quality (25 percent), and writing and acting (25 percent). There is a limit of one entry per person, and the contest is open to ages 18 and over.

Details: online .

Turkey Hill ice cream expands in distribution

Western Pennsylvania is welcoming the addition of Turkey Hill Dairy ice cream now that Giant Eagle is placing the Lancaster County-based product on the shelves of 225 of the chain's stores, including 93 locations in the greater Pittsburgh area. The ice cream has had limited distribution in the area until now.

Included in the flavor selection is the company's newest gelati-inspired product called Duetto, the first of its kind in the store-bought gelati category. The secret recipe keeps the soft-serve ice cream and flavored-ice mixture soft and scoopable.

Details: online .


Area is no griller's paradise

Uh-oh. Pittsburgh has made it onto another list of cities, and this time our weather conditions have pushed the Steel City nearly to the bottom. Blue Rhino, the No. 1 brand for propane-tank exchange, has announced its inaugural 100 Ideal Cities to Grill In for Summer 2007, based on the average sunshine rate, the estimated number of rain days and estimated number of days above 90 degrees, using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Pittsburgh checks in at No. 89, sandwiched between Raleigh, N.C., at No. 88 and a tie for No. 90 -- Columbia, S.C. and Houston. Allentown, in Lehigh County, follows at No. 91.

Here's more info that hurts: Cleveland is No. 39, tied with Chicago and Madison, Wis. Harrisburg showed decently at No. 53, but Philadelphia wasn't far above Pittsburgh, at No. 82.

If you live to grill, where should you go• The list is topped by Sacramento, Calif., followed, in order, by Reno, Nev.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Fresno, Calif.; Los Angeles; Boise, Idaho; San Francisco; Honolulu; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Grand Junction, Colo. Anchorage, Alaska, placed last, just below No. 99, Elkins, W. Va.

-- From staff reports


Send food and nutrition news to A La Carte in care of Living, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212; fax 412-320-7966; or e-mail

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