The Mattress Factory's Urban Garden Party 2012
By Anna Moore
Posted: June 20, 2012
The alley leading up to the Mattress Factory was lined with shiny Lincolns, Audis, and Lexuses. The annual Urban Garden Party is said to be Pittsburgh’s most extravagant and Avant-garde celebration of the local art culture. With this year’s Alice in Wonderland theme, the MF put the wonder in Wonderland.
Come follow me down the rabbit hole and into the curtained entrance to a hallucinatory world of rainbow of lights, extravagant costumes, and all things Wonderland! There was a Mad Hatter, men dancing in green spandex flower suits, and these guys...
The sensational fashions and art displays induced a sensory overload, with light projections of the original animated film and a house-size Cheshire Cat that kept startling me as I waited in line for the endless buffet of food.
The biggest challenge of the evening was trying to balance tiny plates of miniature tacos and other bites of deliciousness, while trying to look sophisticated.
The food line seemed centered around the PGH Taco Truck, which offered party-goers an impressive array of custom tacos. Unable to decide between marinated chicken and lime with guacamole, or spicy beef with salsa verde, I asked owner James Rich to give me “whatever.”With a quick intense stare into my food soul the Taco Doctor prescribed me one he knew I would love. “This one is the best. If you don’t like this, you’ll get your money back!” – the man behind the grill jokingly added “If you don’t like it, just don’t come back, there may be something wrong with you!”
And they were right: it was amazing. A curried potato topping to a tender pork base — with a little squeeze of lime was just what the Doctor ordered.
Time for tea and, of course, dessert! Thanks to Tupelo Honey Teas, I got to drink my tea and eat i,t too! The cutest treat award goes to Tupelo’s Baby Green Macha cupcakes, made with a dried powdered green tea. A perfect treat for celebrating Un-Birthdays!
The endless array of Alice-themed cupcakes screamed, “Eat Me.” Yet, somehow I feel I won’t be shrinking after my cookie and cupcake count…The most spellbinding sample of the evening came from Legume. Their lavender panna cotta, topped with freshly picked local mulberries and raspberries, was good enough to make Alice forget about going home. Owner Trevett Hooper dished about the importance of sourcing local, high-quality ingredients for his Oakland restaurant. After about a hundred other samples, I somehow made room for the cool melt-in-your-mouth dessert.
First timer garden partier Doreen Valentine, owner of DOZEN Bake Shop loved how some people were in all out costume, while others were in jeans. “ It is crazy, but inviting!”
DOZEN’s display took the cake, as the Queen of Hearts herself donned a tiered dress of miniature card-themed cupcakes. The mountain of minis looked too good to eat... almost. Spades of pina colada vanilla, and clubs of Red Velvet and chocolate paired perfectly with Bean Catering’s espresso bar next door.
Kevin Clancy has been working at the MF since 2007 and says each year the event gets bigger and more extravagant. “The party is a monstrosity — in a good way,” he says, with a smirk. A strange choice of words, but I now know exactly what he means.
The MF’s Urban Garden party was over-the-top magical, tasty and eccentric, full of twirly-whirly dancing, and stuffing oneself silly! I had a wonderful time.