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Huffington Post thanks Pittsburgh for 'Greatest Cake America Has Ever Made'

Huffington Post writer Julie R. Thompson fell hard for the burnt almond torte from Prantl's Bakery.

No cake made in any of the five boroughs of New York holds a candle to Prantl's amazing burnt almond torte. It is probably the BEST cake America has to offer...

To say that the burnt almond torte is light and airy doesn't even begin to describe the texture of this cake. It is beyond that. This cake is so airy it tastes like the idea of a cake, one that can only be tasted in the best of dreams.

Only it does exist in real life -- in Pittsburgh, PA, to be exact-- and it is frosted with the lightest of buttercreams (of course) and then dressed in candied toasted almonds. The contrast of the sugared almond slivers and the cloud-like cake is EVERYTHING. Oh, and did we mention the thin layer of custard in the middle and the large flakes of sugar on top? This is the kind of cake that will have you belly up to the kitchen counter, forgoing the civility of plates and diving in fingers first.

When Bon Appetit named Pittsburgh the best new food city of 2014, they couldn't have been more right. Only it's not because of the surge of hot new restaurants opening up. No, it's because cakes like this are made there -- and it's time people know about them. If a trip to Pittsburgh is not in the near future, you can still get your hands on this cake because, lucky for you, they deliver.

 
Original source: The Huffington Post
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia hosts world's largest game of Tetris

A Drexel professor and his students hacked the lighting system of the 29-story Cira Center in Philadelphia, allowing them to play Tetris on the building's facade. Check out the video here.

Original source: The New York Times


1,000 dogs have their day at the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association dog show

It was a big day for dog lovers in Monroeville.

Four Chesapeake Bay retrievers cavorted at ringside, waiting for their turns to compete in the Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association dog show Sunday in Monroeville. For 8-month-old puppies Elvis and Piper, it was a family reunion because they are litter mates, and they also have the same canine mother as Duke, 3, and Flow, 17 months.

Nearly 1,000 dogs were entered in the show at the Monroeville Convention Center, and only one wins the coveted Best In Show trophy. Eight Chesapeake Bay retrievers were entered, and only one wins the Best of Breed Rosette. But in American Kennel Club shows, there are many ways to win. Dawn Logan of Charleroi had more chances to win, because she is the breeder of the four dogs.


Original source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Encouraging more women to enter politics

A forum in Harrisburg aims to increase the participation of women in politics.

Siobhan "Sam" Bennett, the former CEO of the Women's Campaign Fund and She Should Run, is no stranger to being the only woman in the room at political gatherings.

"Women must ask other women to run," said Ms. Bennett of Allentown, Pa., a former congressional candidate. "They must write them checks. And when they lose, they must pick up the phone and say, 'When are you going to run again?'"

...The state historically has had low numbers of women officeholders; it ranks 38th nationally in the total number of women in the state Legislature, according to the Pennsylvania Center for Women in Politics at Chatham University. The legislature is a key body for those interested in increasing women's representation, not just for its lawmaking role, but because it often serves as a "farm team" for candidates who go on to seek higher political office, experts say.

Pennsylvania's Legislature -- which is a full-time body, highly paid in comparison to other states, and favors incumbency -- impacts the structures around it and the overall political ecosystem, Ms. Bennett said.


Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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UPenn veterinary oncologists learn about human breast cancer from dogs

An innovative program at the University of Pennsylvania looks at mammary cancer in dogs to better understand breast cancer in humans.

Because dogs typically have 10 mammary glands and often develop tumors in several glands at the same time, they present a unique research opportunity, enabling scientists to study lesions that are at different stages of development — from benign to cancerous, and at transitional stages — all in the same animal.

“The dog gives us the potential to answer the question: When did something go wrong at the molecular level?” said Dr. Karin Sorenmo, chief of medical oncology at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital, who founded the Penn Vet canine mammary tumor program in 2009. “We can also study the benign tumors and ask: What’s different in that one tumor that doesn’t change and become malignant versus another one that does change?”

This field of research, called comparative oncology, is used to improve the understanding of the biology of cancer and to fine-tune treatment for humans. In the process, shelter dogs get access to treatment.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Live-streaming Pittsburgh's bald eagles

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is now live streaming an eagles nest in Pittsburgh. 

Only 30 years ago, Pennsylvania had a mere three bald eagle nests left in the entire state. Today, Pennsylvania boasts more than 250 nests including this one near Pittsburgh. Click here to view a 20-minute documentary about bald eagle restoration in Pennsylvania and learn bald eagle fast facts, identification tips, nest viewing etiquette and more.

This camera provides a way for us to view the nest without stressing the birds. Federal mandates prohibit anyone from approaching within 660 feet of any bald eagle nest from January 15 until young eagles fledge. It is important to note that nature includes all creatures not just the eagles and eggs showcased through this camera. The Game Commission's mission is to manage Pennsylvania's wild birds, mammals and their habitats for current and future generations. Although we hope to watch three young eagles fledge from this nest, we advocate for all native wildlife and therefore will not take measures to prevent another animal (such as the raccoon that made an attempt at the eggs) from conducting its natural behavior. Despite predation and other nest failures, the bald eagle population is increasing at a rate of 10 to 15 percent each year.


Check out the livestream here.
Via ABC 27

Two Lehigh Valley schools lauded for their music programs

Two Lehigh Valley schools were recognized for their music programs.

Bangor Area School District and Northwestern Lehigh Elementary School both received music recognition from the NAMM Foundation, based in Carlsbad, Calif., according to a news release from the foundation.

Forty-three districts throughout Pennsylvania were named Best Communities for Music Education in the U.S., including Bangor Area School District.

Northwestern Lehigh Elementary School received the foundation's Support Music Merit Award, one of only 96 schools in the nation to receive the honor, the release says.

These schools set the bar in offering students access to comprehensive music education, the release says.


Original source: Lehigh Valley Live
Read the complete story here.

Layover Lift: The Free Library opens outpost at the airport

Bored travelers now have an exciting new distraction -- the Free Library has come to Philadelphia International airport.

The Free Library of Philadelphia recently opened an outpost in the Philadelphia International Airport in the form of a book-themed lounge with free Wi-Fi access to the library’s digital catalog.

Passengers are encouraged to relax in the reading room, in the concourse between the D and E terminals, and download books or author podcasts from the library’s collection of nearly 30,000 titles.

"We brought our high-speed line out to the airport in that little area. That Internet connectivity is extraordinarily robust, it matches what we have in the library," said Siobhan Reardon, president and director of the Free Library.

The idea was inspired in part by an especially snowy winter, she said.

"We were having extensive blizzards here in Philadelphia, and we knew that there were thousands of people camping in the airport," Ms. Reardon said. "We thought, 'What if we put a library in?'"


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Mapping wealth in Pennsylvania

Lancaster Online takes a look at the socio-economic demographics of Lancaster through census data. 

We now know, thanks to the Higley 1000, that the exclusive Bent Creek neighborhood of Manheim Township ranks among with wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States.

It's right up there with Jupiter Island, where Tiger Woods has an estate with his own personal four-green golf course in Florida, and East Lake Shore Drive, where Oprah Winfrey recently sold her condo for almost $3 million in Chicago...

So we sought out some newer data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the statistical survey that samples a small percentage of the American population every year.

We drilled down to the block-group, or neighborhood, level for the five-year survey results released just this past December.
We mapped out the median household income levels for all block groups in Pennsylvania, and found a handful of six-figure neighborhoods in Lancaster County besides just Bent Creek.


Check out your own PA neighborhood.

Original source: Lancaster Online
Read the complete story here.

Redefining 'elevator music' as a community booster

Inspired by the development of Muzak, Artist Yowei Shaw, a freelance public radio reporter and producer, has been working on "elevator music" that actually improves the community.

Shaw has been grappling with questions of engaging listeners in public spaces as part of her residency with the Philadelphia-based Asian Arts Initiative's Social Practice Lab. Muzak's social engineering history, she says, gave her an idea: "What if we could make our own kind of elevator music, but do it with pro-social intentions, to promote community?"

And so her project, Really Good Elevator Music, was born. Shaw asked six local musicians from Philly's Chinatown North/Callowhill neighborhood to produce tracks that would help "foster community" in the area. The result is the 13 track album of "really good elevator music," which is playing in the elevators of the nearby, mixed-use Wolf Building for the month of March.


Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter twinkles his toes onstage with the Pennsylvania Ballet

Mayor Nutter hit the stage with the Pennsylvania Ballet playing -- you guessed it -- a mayor. Check out the video here.

Original source: Philly.com

PA restaurants make OpenTable's 'Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants' list

Three PA eateries made OpenTable's list of the country's "Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants."

The Butcher and the Rye, a Pittsburgh restaurant owned by Richard DeShantz, has made  a list of 100 hippest restaurants in the United States as picked by users of OpenTable reservation and review website.

Butcher and the Rye is the only restaurant in Pittsburgh and one of only three in Pennsylvania to receive the OpenTable 2014 Diners' Choice Award. The others in Pennsylvania are Cafe Fresco in Harrisburg and El Vez in Philadelphia.

The Butcher and the Rye opened in the fall of 2013 at 212 6th St. in downtown Pittsburgh. The restaurant is on the site of another former restaurant, Palate. It is owned by DeShantz, who also owns the downtown restaurant Meat and Potatoes. It features contempory American cuisine and was recently awarded a Yahoo Travel list  as one of the best new bars in the U.S.


Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
Read the complete list here.

Private money boosts scientific research in PA and across the country

According to a long feature in The New York Times, billionaire philanthropists are having an increasing impact on scientific research, in Pennsylvania and beyond.

American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise...They have mounted a private war on disease, with new protocols that break down walls between academia and industry to turn basic discoveries into effective treatments. They have rekindled traditions of scientific exploration by financing hunts for dinosaur bones and giant sea creatures. They are even beginning to challenge Washington in the costly game of big science, with innovative ships, undersea craft and giant telescopes — as well as the first private mission to deep space....

Many of their efforts are rooted deep in personal or family trauma. Sometimes, by sheer force of genetics and demographics, that impulse may risk widening historical racial inequalities in health care and disease research, disparities that decades of studies have shown to contribute to higher rates of disease and death among blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups....

Ovarian cancer strikes and kills white women more often than minority women. In 2012, after his sister-in-law died of the disease at age 44, Jonathan D. Gray, the head of global real estate at the Blackstone Group, the private equity firm, gave the University of Pennsylvania $25 million to set up a center to study female cancers.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 
 

PA's Trickling Springs Creamery provides vital ingredient in NYC's top Irish coffee

The Irish owners of New York's The Dead Rabbit searched far and wide for the perfect cream to top an Irish Coffee. They found what they were looking for in Pennsylvania.

"I think the cream we were using in Ireland had more oil content," said Jack McGarry, who, with his business partner Sean Muldoon, worked at the Merchant Hotel bar in Belfast before moving to New York and opening the Dead Rabbit last year. "But when we came here it wasn’t the same. We knew it for the first year we were open. It’s a problem we had from Day 1."

The solution to the tavern’s cream quandary presented itself in December at a Brooklyn dinner party where Mr. Muldoon met Patrick Watson, the proprietor of Stinky Bklyn, a cheese and charcuterie shop. Mr. Watson was primed for a cream conversation, as he had recently returned from a very dairy family vacation in Ireland.

"As I was having my Guinness, my two 14-year-old nephews are drinking a glass of milk," he recalled of the trip. "And they were freaking out, like we were freaking out about the Guinness. I figured, if a 14-year-old kid is freaking out, I’d better taste this milk. So the whole trip was about dairy."

Mr. Muldoon asked him if he could find a quality cream for the Irish coffee. So Mr. Watson sent his buyer, Katy McNulty, on a milk hunt. "We took eight or nine creams and whittled it down to five," he said.

Their favorite was from Trickling Springs Creamery in south central Pennsylvania. "It had a deeper color," Mr. Watson said. "It had this flavor and texture to it that was naturally sweet."

The bar owners agreed. "This cream is completely different," Mr. McGarry said. "It’s almost eggy."


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Hotels move into historic buildings: it's happening here, too

Hotels are moving away from cookie-cutter locations and towards unique historic buildings that showcase character and creativity to guests.

Reuse and recycle are taking on new meaning for hotels.

The Lamb’s Theater, a longtime fixture on West 44th Street inside the Manhattan Church of the Nazarene, is now the luxury Chatwal Hotel. In Philadelphia, the previously empty Lafayette Building near Independence Hall opened in 2012 as the Hotel Monaco. In New Orleans, new life is being breathed into the Cotton Exchange Hotel off Bourbon Street.

As the hotel industry shakes off recession doldrums and new hotels are being built, the once-standard chain hotel has a sibling, hotels repurposed from existing buildings like offices, warehouses and hospitals.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
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