Designs on the Square

You might just want to channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw for Under the Tent in Market Square — the opening night extravaganza that kicks off Pittsburgh Fashion Week 2011 on September 26. Now in its second year, PFW 2011 showcases the season's hottest looks from some of the fashion world's top designers. Created by Pittsburgh's own top model Miyoshi Anderson, PFW is putting the city on the fashion map with this seven-day revue of runway shows for women and men with some backstage assistance from  the following sponsors: Izzazu, Piatt Place, McCormick & Schmick's, the Fairmont Pittsburgh, Capital Grille and Doncaster on Fifth

Promising 60 different looks in 60 minutes, this fast-paced runway romp will dress 20 of the city's glammest models in fab fall and holiday designs straight from Doncaster's Big Apple studios. Emceed by Kristine Sorensen of KDKA-TV and WTAE's Wendy Bell, this catwalk caper struts its stuff for a good cause, too — with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Ladies Hospital Aid Society. And if you don't have your tickets yet, let's just say that passes for this high-watt tent show are selling faster than fish sandwiches at the Oyster House on Good Friday. To make sure you have a seat at the show — which starts at 7 p.m. — click here and discover why Pittsburgh Fashion Week 2011 is something to jump about.  (Online is your safest bet but if you're fashionably late and miss the online deadline, word on the street says there will be a few tickets available at the door.)

A quartet of interior design gurus will create a big splash in the Square with Design Squared. Inspired by the gusher of new businesses springing up around the Square, the kitchen and bath design wizards at Splash — located at the corner of Fifth and Market — are teaming up with PPG Pittsburgh Paints (located in PPG 2, facing Market Square), Axor kitchen products of Hansgrohe International, and Cambria custom countertops for another fab event. On September 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Square will be filled with product debuts from the participating sponsors, seminars, classes and more for designers, architects and others in the home decor business, cooking demonstrations by the kitchen wizards at NOLA, and live music by the Olga Watkins band from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. 

   While the designers have a jam-packed schedule of classes in the center main tent, all the great products and staff from Splash, PPG Paints, Axor and Cambria will be located in four smaller tents around the Square throughout the day. Geared to home interior designers, the general public is welcome to Design Squared to catch a sneak peek at a new line of color from Pittsburgh Paints, just off the drawing board quartz counters from Cambria, exclusive new Axor Hansgrohe kitchen and bath faucets and other hardware available only from Splash in a four-state region. And when the fun is done in the Square, all registered attendees are invited to enjoy a bit of the bubbly at the Splash showroom. If you are a design professional, you can sign up for this one-of-a-kind kitchen and bath home design event by clicking here.

Whether your looking to make a fashion statement with your wardrobe or in your home, Market Square is the place to be. 


Fall Into The Square This Week

Can you believe it? This is the very last week of summer 2011. As we count down the days to the start of autumn — which happens to be this Friday — we're also looking forward to a busy fall season in Market Square. In fact, we sneaked a peek at our events schedule, and it's as packed as the T leaving Downtown at rush hour. So this week you can join us as we gracefully glide into fall with plenty to do in the Square.

The bounty of fall continues this Thursday at the Farmers Market from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. In fact, you can enjoy the best of the harvest when it comes to local produce, organic meats, flowers and some of the best food in town at the Farmers Market through mid-November. A favorite just about any time of the year, the Farmers Market actually spans three of the four seasons from late spring right up to the heart of autumn, bringing the freshest farm products and prepared foods right to the heart of the city.

We've got some bonus activities at the market this week. Renewal by Andersen will be onsight offering a chance to win replacement windows for your home.  As the weather gets chillier you'll be glad you upgraded. Along with being warmer, you'll have that cozy glow that comes from saving money on your energy bills.  Fall also means back to school, but not for all of us. Reading is Fundamental can help you curb those blues.  They'll be on hand to sign people up for their Everybody Wins! program.  It's is a lunchtime literacy and mentoring program that pairs elementary school students with volunteers from local companies and other community organizations to share lunch, conversation, and good books.  And if these offers aren't enough, we'll be raffling off a $25 gift certificate to the Market Square business of your choice.  Help us make the Farmers Market better by filling out an eight-question survey and you'll be entered into the drawing.  Three lucky survey participants will be selected in October to enjoy a night on the town, Market Square style.

Plenty of people already pedal their way to town each day for work, shopping or just to grab a bite to eat in the Square before spinning back home. This Friday, Bike Pittsburgh invites all cyclists to drop by the Square for a breakfast of tasty pastries and refreshing beverages before heading off to the office. Bike Pittsburgh program director Lou Fineberg says the event will help everyone who attends discover how biking and other means of alternative transportation can help lower pollution, reduce traffic congestion, save on parking and improve your health. Plus, there will be a special announcement from the Port Authority for bikers who sometimes need a lift for themselves and their wheels. And most mysteriously, Lou promises a special "present" will be on hand during the event. Even though it will be carefully wrapped, Lou says what's underneath will be easy to figure out. To find out the secret, stop by the Square from 7:30-9:30 a.m. for this biker breakfast sponsored by the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, the Port Authority, Zipcar  and CommuteInfo.

If you're ready for the weekend, be sure to visit the Square for Tom Sarver's puppet show this Saturday. Internationally renowned, the founder of the Tom Museum on the North Side and part of a gallery exhibit currently open at Future Tenant on Penn Avenue, Tom will entertain and inform with a puppet show based on the classic Punch and Judy shows. And for those not running in the Great Race this Sunday, the Square is a Great Place to wait for those scampering through the streets of the city. Pick up a newspaper, a cup of coffee and a bite to eat and relax until your winner crosses the finish line.

Before we sign off for this week, here's a preview of what's taking place in the Square next week. We'll roll out the catwalk for a special opening of this must-see event — Pittsburgh Fashion Week. Join us on September 26 for a 7 p.m.  tent show that offers a glimpse of the hottest looks of the fall season. Not into fashion? Grab a drink at an outdoor cafe and enjoy the outdoor light show and a bit of people watching. For a different take on style, PPG Paints, Axor, Cambria and Splash, the city's fab design bath and kitchen fixtures store, team up for Design Squared in the Square, of course, on September 28 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

As summer fades into autumn, we're going to stop right here to search for that favorite sweater at the back of the closet. See you in the Square.


Park It In And Around The Square

Want to come Downtown for dinner or a show but think it's hard to find parking?  Did you know that there are more than 2,550 spaces in a half dozen parking garages located within a 2-3 minute walk of the Square? Forget all that trolling the streets for a spot, and slide right into a comfy garage.  All these lots offer flat rates of $5 and $6 for an entire evening's parking. That's a whole lot of peace-of-mind for less than the cost of an appetizer. So read on to discover where you can find bargain parking rates within a stone's throw of the Square.

Sixth & Penn: Like the name says, the auto entrance for this garage is on Penn Avenue at Sixth Street. But a Liberty Avenue pedestrian entrance cuts down the walking distance to the Square.  After 4 p.m., the normal rates drop to $6 for any of the 500 spaces inside. If you're going to a show at Heinz Hall, Sixth & Penn is the perfect location for an evening that includes a pre- or apres-show dinner in the Square.

Fifth Avenue Place: Tucked away at the very end of Fifth Avenue, this 270-space underground garage sits below the Highmark Building. It's the perfect prescription for the parking blues with a $5 rate after 5 p.m. As you walk to the Square, take a look up at the corner of Liberty and Fifth to take in the triangular-shaped Diamond Building across the street, one of Downtown's many early 20th-century skyscrapers.

Town Place Garage: Located on Stanwix Street, next to the main PPG Place building, 100 prime parking spots await you. On your way to the Square, stop at the PPG Plaza to watch the dancing waters of the plaza fountain during the warm weather months or admire the graceful skaters on the Hillman Rink when winter arrives. After 5 p.m., the parking rate is just $5.

PPG Place Garage: One of two garages with entrances on Third Avenue, PPG Place offers 707 spaces of parking under Philip Johnson's glimmering, neo-Gothic, 40-story glass tower. You won't need to reflect too long to realize that the after-4 p.m. rate of $5 is a special, too.

Third Avenue Garage: Almost across the street from PPG Place, the Third Avenue Garage offers the choice of entrances and exits on Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue. After 5 p.m., any of the garage's 570 spots can be yours for just $5. By the way, if you need new heels on your evening footwear, there's even a shoe repair shop near the Fourth Avenue entrance.

Three PNC Plaza: You might not recognize the name. But you'll know the location when we tell you that this 335-spot garage is in the city's newest high-rise that just happens to be the home of the fabulous Fairmont Hotel, between Fifth and Liberty Avenues. Once the clock strikes 4 p.m.,  the parking rate drops to $5.

The cherry on top of this parking sundae... the great $5 and $6 flat rates at these garages are in effect all day long on Saturdays and Sundays  — no matter what time of the day you park or how long you stay. Keep in mind, too, that there are plenty more spaces at discounted evening and weekend rates at garages at Sixth Street, Theater Square, Liberty and Ninth Street, Ninth and Penn and more. You can find a whole map of the $5 discounted evening and weekend rates at DowntownPittsburgh.com/Parking. When it comes to worry-free, affordable parking in and around the Square, these garages are just the ticket!


Get Cooking With The Farmers Market

This much you know already. When it comes to finding a good meal in Downtown — morning, noon or night — Market Square offers a tasty smorgasbord of choices that ranges from the classic Primanti's sandwich to traditional, rustic Italian dishes at Bella Sera. From Cajun cuisine and Mexican comfort food to all-American burgers and piping hot pepperoni pizza, the Square serves up something for just about any appetite — with even more eateries set to open soon.

But we want to point out that the Square is the perfect place to pick up fresh produce, organic meats, fresh spice mixes and other locally produced items to whip up a last-minute meal while you adjust to the start of the new school year. Of course, you can find all this and more every Thursday at the Farmers Market in the Square from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. So whether you're a  a parent on the run or a budget-minded student looking to eat healthy, the Farmers Market is the place to find everything for a variety of meals you can prepare in 30 minutes or less. We're even going to help you out with some easy-to-follow recipes. So read on.

Let's start off easy with a Greens and Beans meal. All the fixins are cabinet staples, you just need to add the fresh greens. You can find a slew of choices at Harvest Valley Farm's stand. With more than 50 types of just-picked fruits and vegetables, this Market favorite has just about everything you need for a delectable vegetarian treat. For a different flavor you can add a little lamb sausage available from Clarion Farms Organics, which also carries vegetables, eggs, dairy products and locally ground flour. (Just make sure you cook the sausage first, then follow the Greens & Beans recipe.)

September means it's back-to-school time. But this month also kicks off the Steelers season. To celebrate as you watch the Black and Gold tackle the Ravens in Baltimore, why not hold a pizza party for your family and friends. Visit the booth of Callifonte Foods for tips on how to convert their sauce and dough (white or wheat) into pizza magic. But when it comes to the toppings, let's get creative and crazy.
  • For a meatless pie, stock up your reusable shopping bag with green or yellow squash, hot peppers, red onions and whatever catches your eye and give them a quick saute before piling onto the crust. 
  • Don't forget to pick up some cheese at Clarion River Organics.
  • For the carnivores in your life, stop by Billy's Country Smokehouse for sausages, jerky and bacon bursting with flavor. Using the smoked meats eliminates cooking time so you can get to that game faster!
  • On the other hand, all the ingredients you need might just could be in your fridge, like that leftover container of general tso's.
  • If that's not enough, we're suggesting a totally Pittsburgh Pizza topped with Gosia's Pierogies. 
  • If you're planning a cozy date night and really want to impress, create your own gourmet margarita pizza with feta cheese, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, arugula and balsamic vinegar. Grab a bouquet of flowers from Ridgeview Acres Farms and a bottle of vino at the Greendance Winery table to complete the romantic tableau.
Speaking of creative... we've got some great ideas to stretch your local food dollars and use up all your perishables.  Like bread.  Occassionally even the best bread gets hard and stale.  Well, fear not!  Go out, buy an armload and devil may care! We've got four ways to reclaim bread that has been partially petrified but there are tons more all over the internet.  So buy some local bread from Rise Above Bakery and have no fear. Or, rejoice that you have a use for all the leftover hot dog buns from your Labor Day BBQ. Grab some eggs for these recipes at Clarion River Organics - at only a few cents per egg and a great source of lean protein eggs are a smart component to a healthy, budget-conscious lifestyle.)

Of course, no matter what you serve, dessert is the perfect way to end any meal. As you select the ingredients for your dining table, stop by Colaizzi's for a heavenly slice or two of specialty cakes.  Or head to the Sandhill Berries stand for a fresh fruit pie or Little Athens for out of this world Greek pastries. The choices are nearly endless.  For the health-conscious, take some of Sand Hill's fresh berries or some fruit from Harvest Valley and cook it down ina  small pot with a dash of water, cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice. Serve on top of plain yogurt or ricotta cheese. Dee-lish!

For some lite bite ideas, we've got a few tips. Grab a loaf for bread from the Rise Above Bakery as your base for any number of toppings. Pick up some salsa and chips at Cinco de Mayo or taste the Mediterranean with hummus from Little Athens scooped up with a cucumber from Harvest Valley.  For wow factor without the work, try this recipe for Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Bruschetta, with all ingredients purchsed at the market.

If you're looking for even more ideas, make sure you visit our booth in the Square this Thursday to talk to the experts from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. They'll be on hand to help you celebrate September as National Local Food Month. And hey - if you're at the market you're already doing some celebrating!

And please stop by the Renewal by Andersen booth later this month. Along with manufacturing amazing energy-efficient windows, the folks from Andersen are the generous sponsors of the Farmers Market and they bring all this local food to you!

Remember, the Farmers Market sets up every Thursday in the Square through November 17.