Summer in the ‘Burgh

I ranked the 10 weirdest foods at Picklesburgh, and it was a jarring experience

Pittsburgh, we have a pickle problem.

The Incline reporter Colin Deppen eats sweet pickle-flavored sorbet at Picklesburgh 2018 and appears to be enjoying it.

The Incline reporter Colin Deppen eats sweet pickle-flavored sorbet at Picklesburgh 2018 and appears to be enjoying it.

Lindsey Van der Veer / The Incline
colin-square-crop

People go to Picklesburgh for the pickles. Some of us are also there for the puns.

I arrived at the fourth annual bridgetop celebration of all things brined today with a list of such puns in hand.

Of course there was “big dill,” the arena-rock anthem of pickle puns. There was also “Netflix and dill”; “cucumbersome”; “Picolas Cage”; “rill dill”; “jarring experience”; and on and on and on.

You can feel free to borrow these gems when you visit. Picklesburgh runs today until 10 p.m., Saturday from noon until 10 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. Here’s what else you need to know before you go.

I dropped most of my puns within minutes of arriving and, as usual, laughed harder than anyone else. Having exhausted the list, I started eating.

Food and Culture Editor Rossilynne Culgan determined which foods I’d try (specifically looking for the most outlandish flavors on the bridge), and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, which hosts the event, helped us obtain free samples from vendors.

I tried bites of 10 pickled delicacies — or delicacies that incorporated pickles in some way — for the purposes of this review. Here’s what I found, each ranked from one (worst) to five (best) pickles.


The Southern Tier beer tent at Picklesburgh is pictured.

The Southern Tier beer tent at Picklesburgh is pictured.

COLIN DEPPEN / THE INCLINE

Pickle Goseberry beer

Southern Tier

  • Alcoholic: ✅
  • New go-to drink: ❌

Tasted like a flat beer spilled into my jar of pickle juice or vice versa. I don’t foresee a pickle-beer revolution.

Not unpleasant, but not good.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒


Deep-fried, bacon-wrapped pickle.

Deep-fried, bacon-wrapped pickle.

COLIN DEPPEN / THE INCLINE

Bacon-wrapped fried pickle

The I’Dill Pickle

  • Massive pickle: ✅
  • A cord of bacon long enough to measure a First Down: ✅
  • Superheated to thermonuclear in a deep fryer: ✅

The deep frying of the pickle left the juice inside it very, very hot. And while the kind lady behind the counter very clearly warned me to let it cool, I didn’t listen and scalded the inside of my mouth. From what I could tell it was delicious — or “dill-icious” as I put it to her. She smiled politely and walked away.

The flavors are here — bacon, salt, what’s not to love? It’s hard to handle and greasy, though — and large and hefty enough to be used as an instrument of crime. Be sure to grab some napkins. The best part? The potato chips at the bottom of the paper basket that picked up all the bacon grease and pickle juice.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒


Pickle sorbet and ice cream.

Pickle sorbet and ice cream.

Ice cream with pickled cherries

Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream

  • Ice cream: ✅
  • Pickle flavor: ✅✅✅✅✅

There are three pickle-ice cream choices here: Bread-and-butter pickle sorbet, pickled-ginger ice cream, vanilla ice cream with Ritz crackers and pickled cherries. I tried the first and the last.

The sorbet looked like frozen split pea soup and was so intensely pickle-flavored and sweet that I stood there grimacing in the middle of the bridge for what felt like an eternity. As the foot traffic diverted around me, I tried another bite and then immediately wished I hadn’t.

Official Incline sorbet Pickle Rating: 💩

The vanilla ice cream with pickled cherries was delightful (compared to the sorbet), sorry, “dill-lightful.”

At this point the puns are involuntary and I apologize.

Official Incline ice cream Pickle Rating: 🥒🥒


Pickle fudge

Chocolate Moonshine Company

  • Green fudge: ✅
  • Pickle flavor: ❌
Pickle fudge, anyone?

Pickle fudge, anyone?

Colin Deppen / the incline

With the feeling slowly returning to my mouth after eating the bacon-wrapped pickle, I tried the kelly-green pickle fudge.

The color drew me in like a tractor beam. The purveyor assured me the fudge was room temperature and had at no point touched a deep fryer. He tore me off a piece.

The fudge was sweet and buttery and melted in my mouth. I couldn’t tell if this was because it was so delicate and refined or because it had been sitting atop the Roberto Clemente Bridge on an 85 degree day. It also didn’t taste of pickle, maybe a little dill. I’d hoped for more, a salt or tartness on the backend to punch it out with the sweet. That never happened. But it was good to have normal function and sensation returning to my tongue. Things were looking up.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒🥒


Sauerkraut brownies.
Colin Deppen / the incline

Sauerkraut brownie

Fabulous Homemade Cookies

  • Brownie: ✅
  • ‘Kraut: ✅
  • New classic combo: ❌

If Betty Crocker met my German grandmother and baked a brownie, this would be it. But there’s less sauerkraut here than one would expect — and certainly less than my grandmother would prefer.

There are strands of cabbage, not visible but definitely textural — the woman behind the counter assured me the ‘kraut was in there whole’ — and a grit that I hoped owed to the presence of ‘kraut and not to something else.

Takeaway: Tasty brownie. Sauerkraut in name only.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒🥒


Pickle cupcakes are a thing.

Pickle cupcakes are a thing.

COLIN DEPPEN / THE INCLINE

Pickle cupcakes

Patti’s Pastries

  • Weird: ✅
  • Weirdly good: ✅

Pickles in cupcakes? Sure, why not. Patti’s Pastries went all in on this one, with a spicy pickle cupcake and a bread and butter cupcake.

They are big and beautiful to look at. The flavors are balanced —not an easy feat when talking pickles and baked goods. But they pulled it off. In fact, the vast majority of vendors at Picklesburgh managed to strike this balance.

There’s a little something for everyone from the high-end to the fried to the sweet to the boozy. It’s all here, and after eating all of these pickled items at least I know I’ll be well preserved.

And I take a strange solace in that. You might even say I “relish” it.

Sorry.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒🥒🥒


Picklesburgh 2018.

Picklesburgh 2018.

Colin Deppen / the incline

Pretzel-wrapped pickle

Pretzel Revolution

  • Power couple: ✅
  • Salt: ✅✅✅✅✅

Yes. Yes. Yes. This makes sense. It’s portable — a good and necessary thing with the lack of seating at Picklesburgh. It has more salt than the Dead Sea — please don’t tell my cardiologist. But the flavors and textures work — because of course they do — and the ration of pickle to pretzel is just right.

I expect to see these in the freezer aisle at my local grocer if they’re not there already. Until then, Picklesburgh is on through Sunday.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒🥒🥒


Korean-inspired pickles and pickled toppings.

Korean-inspired pickles and pickled toppings.

Colin Deppen / the incline

Korean-inspired pickles and pickled toppings

Bae Bae’s Kitchen

  • Dancing taste buds: ✅
  • Renewed my passion for picked goods: ✅

Korean-inspired pickles and pickled toppings, featuring Grandma’s Kimchi, napa cabbage, white radish, and persian cucumbers.

Refreshing, tart, summer-y and visually pleasing. Impress your visiting relatives with your culinary adventurousness here and humor your dad when he makes that Kimchi Kardashian joke.

Be grateful it’s not a pickle pun.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒🥒🥒🥒


Superior Motors' Donburi.

Superior Motors' Donburi.

Colin Deppen / the incline

Superior Donburi

Superior Motors

  • Unexpected: ✅
  • Addictive: ✅

In his first time at Picklesburgh, Chef Kevin Sousa said he didn’t want to “put someone else’s pickle on a stick a serve it. We wanted to do something different.”

And they did. Doubtful that Donburi — a Japanese rice bowl dish — has been featured on the Picklesburgh menu before, but you’ll be glad it is now. It’s a plate of sushi rice, smoked and pickled egg, pickled trout roe, kimchi, dehydrated pickled furikake.

It’s a symphony, understated and elevated, and Sousa knows it.

You’ll know it, too.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒🥒🥒🥒🥒


Nashville fried chicken sandwich at Picklesburgh.
Colin Deppen / the incline

Nashville Hot Chicken

Coop de Ville

  • Seconds: ✅
  • Maybe thirds: ✅

Stop what you’re doing and go get in line for this — the earlier the better because that line is gonna be long. New from the Richard Deshantz Restaurant Group, Coop De Ville’s Picklesburgh offerings include two sandwiches: the Nashville Hot or Plain Jane. Both involve an exquisitely prepared and massive piece of fried chicken. The Nashville Hot involves some spice. The Plain Jane does not. I tried the former and stood along the side of the bridge moaning while smearing my greasy fingers across the front of my iPhone as I tried to Instagram the whole experience.

And it’s not just pretty. The sandwich tastes good. Like, really good, the heap of spicy pickles on top, the slaw. The hot sauce-slathered chicken.

My mouth was burning again. This time I didn’t mind.

Official Incline Pickle Rating: 🥒🥒🥒🥒🥒

Want some more? Explore other Summer in the ‘Burgh stories.