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Paws & Pints Giveaway + Great News on the Dining Scene
Django reinstates corkage-fee-free deal. What’s going into the former Claxon's site in Altoona. Scornavacca's bakery reopens. Homemade pie from George Formaro. Oh — and a party, too.
Greetings! Here’s some news of note for local food lovers.
Paws & Pints Giveaway (Plus Details on New Chef + Menu)
I was invited to a Paws & Pints media event to sample the new menu from the new chef. However, the timing didn’t work out. But something else might work out just fine for one lucky new subscriber to this blog.
A little about Paws & Pints new menu: according to a press release, a new chef, AJ Briggs, has been brought on to “bring a fresh and innovative perspective to the culinary experience.” The Denver native previously worked as executive chef at Tupelo Honey and later served as a private chef in Des Moines.
Take a look at the menu, which features many popular bar-grill favorites presented with house-made/handmade touches (e.g., hand-breaded fried chicken sandwich with homemade ranch dressing, a burger with charred-scallion aioli). Especially snagging my attention is the Porter-Rinsky, a slow cooked wild-boar sloppy joe with pickled pepper slaw. (Incidentally, Jason Clayworth at Axios highly recommended this sandwich in a recent article.)
Paws & Pints is at 6218 Willowmere Dr.
And now, for the giveaway.
Paws & Pints has been kind enough to offer a $75 gift certificate for me to give away to one of my readers. How to enter? Simply subscribe to this Substack newsletter. No purchase necessary — there’s a free subscription option!
Next Monday, November 20th, at noon, I will randomly choose one winner from the list of new subscribers I’ve received from Friday 11/17 through noon Monday 11/20.
Be sure to type your email correctly, as that’s the only way I’ll have to get in touch with you!
Tip: Already a subscriber? Why not share this post with a friend. If they win, suggest they take you (and maybe your dog) out for a meal.
(P.S.: See a few boilerplate rules at the bottom of this post.)
George Formaro: Avid Pie Hound, Expert Pie Baker
In the face of today’s challenging news events, Orchestrate chef-owner George Formaro has been finding solace in the art of pie-making. The calming activity allows him, and by extension, us, to escape—at least for a little while—into a more comforting space.
His crumble-topped fruit pies are sold by the slice at Gateway Market. He has delved deeply into his extensive collection of antique and collectible cookbooks to perfect his crust method. Lard? No. A combo of butter and shortening. (It’s my favorite fat for piecrusts, too, by the way). Sorry lard-crust purists—but look at it this way: you can share George’s pie with your vegetarian friends. (Wait a minute. Share the pie? How is that good news?)
I scored the apple crumble pie, pictured above. With its beautifully flaky, “I can’t believe it’s not lard!” crust, a juicy sweet-tart filling, and crunchy crumble topping, this was one heck of a pie.
Available by the slice only, the pie can be found on the counter of Gateway Market’s cafe. (2002 Woodland Ave.).
Djubilation! Django’s No-Corkage-Fee Perk Returns
Earlier this year, Django (1420 Locust St.) scaled back its no-corkage-fee deal to Sunday nights only. Now, the generous offer is in place seven nights a week (with a minor caveat, see next point). Here’s the word, from their Facebook page:
“Dine with us any day of the week and enjoy NO CORKAGE FEE! Limited to two bottles per party; additional bottles will be at a $15 corkage fee each.”
For Holiday Gift-Giving: Experiences over Stuff
True. Most young kids will be mightily disappointed if there aren’t any toys under the tree for Christmas, but in addition to the usual stuff, how about giving away great experiences, too?
For a kid who’s curious about cooking, consider a gift certificate from Real Food 4 Kids. Owner Sue Honkamp leads engaging hands-on cooking classes specifically designed for children. Honkamp’s story is fascinating: She once worked as a brand manager for Oscar Meyer, but realized she didn’t feel right about marketing food that she herself had ceased buying for her family. Now, she’s passionate about helping kids make great food choices (while having great fun along the way).
Let’s Party at the Historic Witmer House
All paid subscribers to this Substack are invited to a gathering, hosted by the Iowa Writers’ Collaborative on December 7th, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. It’s a chance to hang out in the Witmer House, the former Governer’s Mansion, as well as to meet a few of the writers in the collaborative.
Although the current owner of the mansion will offer a few words of historical interest about the home, the writers won’t be presenting or reading or lecturing. The event is meant to be a fun, free-form gathering. It’s a party, more than anything, and a “thank you” to all those who support our roster of Iowa writers.
Please RSVP if you’re a paid subscriber. If you’re not a paid subscriber (and you want to come to the party), simply become a paid subscriber. You can do so for as little as $5 a month. You can even cancel a month-by-month subscription after a month, if you find this Substack is not for you. But I think you’ll like it!
Tidbits from “Bill the Informant”
I’ve mentioned Bill the Informant before — he’s this incredibly helpful reader who sends me great leads all the time! For instance, he recently told me that plans are underway for a new HomeGrown restaurant in the Ruth’s Chris complex. This week, he forwarded these gems:
• Casa Agave Mexican Cuisine (3131 8th Street Southwest, Altoona) will be opening in the former Claxon’s site. No opening date as of yet, but you can keep track on their Facebook page. I guess this quashes any speculation that MasterChef winner and Altoona native Grant Gillon might be taking over the site.
• Scornavacca’s Bakery (2920 SW 9th Street) reopened yesterday (November 16). The southside bakery closed after a car drove through the building last May. The menu includes Italian breads, sugar cookies, biscotti, wandas, cannolis, as well as breakfast and lunch sandwiches.
Whew! That’s a lot of news, people! I’m taking next week off — unless something big comes up. I’ll be in touch again the week of November 27th.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!
P.S.: The Fine Print: Rules for the Paws & Pints Giveway
This contest is hosted by Wini’s Food Stories and open to residents of the United States who are 21 years of age or older.
How to Enter: Sign up for the Wini’s Food Stories newsletter between Friday, November 17 and noon on Monday, November 20th, 2023.
Only one entry per person is allowed.
How the winner will be picked: The winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries no later than November 20th at noon.
The winner will be notified by email.
Prize: The winner will receive a $75 gift certificate to Paws & Pints.
Wini’s Food Stories reserves the right to cancel or modify the contest at any time.
Wini’s Food Stories is not responsible for lost, late, or misdirected entries.
The winner must provide a valid email address to receive the prize.
No cash alternative will be offered.
By entering the contest, you agree to these rules and the decisions of the sponsor.