Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

As a thank you from Peak of Chic, I received a lovely little parcel from Atlanta. It contained some yummy goodies from Bella Cucina, Artful Food. I am a devout fan of pesto and I now was in posession of jars of artichoke lemon pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto.
The artichoke pesto was bright-tasting with just a hint of the lemon's sharpness. The sun-dried tomato pesto tasted like summer! Clear and clean tomato flavours along with a good olive oil and just a hint of garlic. I served the pestos with "home-made" flour tortilla chips and had some water biscuits so as not to compete with the pestos' stronger taste.

This afternoon, my siblings are meeting up at our mother's house to celebrate Christmas a little late. I've been tasked with bring the starters, so tried my hand at making sun-dried tomato pesto.

It's simple... a jar of sun-dried tomatos, good olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and pignoli. Actually, I skipped the nuts since my brother's allergic. Just put everything into the food processor and whiz it until it's a pasty texture. Make sure you add the oil from the tomatos because that will deepen the taste.
As for the chips, just buy either flour or corn tortilla flats from the store - you can get them anywhere these days. I got mine at the local Giant. Cut them into wedges and brush with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 13 minutes at 300 F. The corn chips will be crunchier than the flour ones.

Dip. Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

Check back soon for our oyster-eating adventures... a 25-year saga, and also Hoppin' John for New Years.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sweeney Todd

This is kind of food-related... We saw Sweeney Todd at the Charles last night. My advice is eat before you go to see it, because you won't have any appetite at all after it's done.

I can barely watch TV commercials for razorblades because I am sure someone is going to nick themselves and bleed, I am just that squeemish. Why I thought seeing this movie would be a good idea, I don't know. I'd seen the stage production and remembered the great music and some of the funny lines. They removed the signature song from the movie, but the remaining songs were great. Of course, they're Stephen Sondheim, so they would be.

Although the film's ostensibly in colour, it looks black and white. Very dark, very gloomy, very deep. I was interested to see how they portrayed London's Fleet Street area, too. I have a friend who worked for solicitors there and I know the area a bit.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Clayton's Update

I heard last night that Clayton's, which I wrote about in September, has closed. I don't think that they could ever make up their minds what they wanted to be - a regular bar, a wine bar or a club. Our meal there was good, but the service was shockingly slow.

I, and lots of other people, wish they would bring back Sean Bolan's! It was just a great little place in the "Cheers" tradition of everyone knowing your name.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wally World on Wash Blvd.

I hate Wal*Mart, but since it's the closest place to go for stuff like dogfood, printer cartridges, paper towels, and the like, I do go there sometimes. But I realllly hate the one in Port Covington, even though it's rarely crowded. I have behaved more badly there than any place I've ever been because of sheer frustration with the stupidity of the people who work there.

Like the time I put an Rx in and when I went back to get it, the desk wasn't open. So I went back the next day. They made me pay full price, because my insurance had expired the day before. Or the time the two women in front of me in the "12 Items or fewer" lane had more than 40 items between them. When I commented on it to the cashier, she got in my face about being racist.

So when T told me about a new W*M near the Home Depot on Washington Boulevard by I-695, I thought I'd mosey on down there, since I had to go to HD anyway. The new W*M is HUGE - measuring in acres, rather than square feet. It's got a full grocery store there and a Subway in the place. It's got more sections that you can believe.
But this pretty much summed up the experience for me.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Nick's Fish House

Last night was a rare opportunity to have dinner with friends who divide their time between Baltimore and Chicago and we wanted to go somewhere fun. Unfortunately, so did the 70,000 people who'd been to the Army/Navy game earlier in the afternoon. After much calling around Kit managed to find us a table at Nick's Fish House.

I have mixed feelings about Nick's... the owner is an old friend and the location is right on the water of the lovely Middle Branch of the Patapsco River (which sounds nicer than it is...), but in any season but high summer, the inside of the restaurant isn't a warm place in any sense of the word. I've also had some horrible meals there, but some good ones, too.

I was pretty surprised that Nick's wasn't packed after the game, and on a Saturday night, too. But we had a big round table, and a great waiter.
We started with a dozen Chincoteague oysters, some mussels steamed in garlic and a bowl of oyster stew. Now oyster stew only has four ingredients (cream, oysters & juice, salt and butter), but it can be watery and horrible and some people even add celery. This was a nice thick stew with lots of oysters in it, added at the right time, so as to be plump, but not rubbery. I LOVE raw oysters, and take the opportunity to eat them in the "R" months. These were small, but briney and good.
Everyone but me had a fish dish, including salmon, cod, catfish and rock. I had something called a Tiara (which was perfect for moi!) which was grilled veggies on foccacia bread. Everyone ate every bit of their fish and raved about it. We got pies for dessert and the waiter talked Kit into trying an espresso vodka, which she shared with Mr. Chicago... All in all, one of the better meals at Nick's.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels

I had heard about Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels from Trader Joe's for a while now, and the thought really intrigued me. So yesterday afternoon, I cruised down I-95 to Columbia and went to the newly-opened Trader Joe's. From where I live, it's soooo much easier to go to anyplace in Columbia than anyplace in Towson, and they have a lot of the same stores (Nordstroms, Borders, Old Navy, TJs). The new store is in a complex with the relocated Best Buy, Costco, Lowes and some golf store. The layout of the complex is strange, but at least there's tons of easy parking, unlike at the Towson TJs.

It took a bit of looking to fund the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels but there they were, perched along with the rest of the candy above the frozen foods. The photo looked great and the sea salt is from the Dead Sea... When I tried them, the first taste was overwhelmingly chocolatey, which was not what I expected. The caramel is a soft center and not very forward tasting, sort of an afterthought. The salt crystals pop up in surprising bursts, which brings another depth of flavour. But it was the chocolate that was the major flavour, and not one that I really wanted. I am not a huge choccy fan, much to the horror of my siblings.
I think that what I should have gotten, and was probably looking for was Fleur de Sel Caramels, without chocolate. Maybe next time!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Zella's Pizza @ Hollins Market

The evening before Thanksgiving, Cat, Dog & I ventured over to Hollins market from our abodes in Pigtown. Despite some bad directions from Mapquest, we eventually made it over there. The Hollins Market area used to have some great restaurants like the Cultured Pearl, Tell Tale Hearth and Gypsy Cafe, but they're all gone now, and the site of GC has some odd bear sculpture on it. I had heard of a few new eateries opening in locations of old favourites, including the site of the former Tell-Tale Hearth. We decided to try Zella's Pizza, since we didn't want to have a heavy meal the night before the big pigout!

Zella's was nearly empty when we got there but filled later on with two groups and some guys from the local firehouse. We ordered some draft beers and Ensalata Caprice for starters. While this salad is better in summer when the tomatoes are real, it wasn't bad and the presentation was nice. You may remember that Cat & Dog are both chefs, so it's always interesting to hear their professional opinion (and it's also why I don't cook for them).

After a lot of discussion, we ordered 14" and a 10" pizzas. One had feta, spinach and onions on it and the other was a chicken pesto pizza. The pizzas were very good, hot from the oven and flavourful. In the professional opinion of my companions, the dough could be improved slightly by throwing a little sea salt onto the crust before the toppings were added.
During dinner, a group with a small boy came into the restaurant. A firetruck with its crew pulled up to get some dinner, and you could see the little boy was sooo excited. One of the firemen went over and asked the parents if the boy would like to see the engine. He carried the boy outside, put him in the driver's seat and turned on the flashing lights. Everyone was enchanted with this small, simple kindness that made a child very happy. During dinner, we also saw one of our local drug dealers, Tony the Pony, galloping by on his trusty little brown pony, Cash. (I inadvertently hired Tony to "entertain" at my Preakness Party before I found out he was a dealer!)

We got some desserts, a tiramisu and a cannoli, and coffees. I ordered decaf and Dog ordered regular. They brought his, but not mine, and upon questioning, the server said they don't really serve a lot of coffee and they serve no decaf. Dog's coffee had very clearly been sitting for a while, and was barely warm. The desserts are not house-made and you can tell.
All in all, we liked Zella's a lot and will order from them for carry-out as well as eat-in. The total for three, with beers included was $62.00, which is very reasonable! As we left, and I turned to take a photo, Zella's looked like an Edward Hopper painting, glowing in the dark.

PS... We went back on Saturday for lunch. They were having "issues" with the bathroom and it smelled SOOO bad, we had to move tables. There was also some wretched screaming child, and with the wood floors, brick and glass walls and tin ceiling, the noise just bounced around and was quite jarring.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas Quiz

This is from Baltimore Snacker by way of Chris at Take the quiz and pass it on.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Egg nog is just too thick. So, it's hot chocolate with big marshmallows...and a shot!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
He wraps them in coordinated paper for different people

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White, non-flashing, non-moving.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. I am not tall enough

5. When do you put your decorations up?
About the second week of December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Cranberry and orange relish. Spiced pecans.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Being old enough to go to the big caroling party downtown with my parents and their friends.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
What truth?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We didn't used to, but we do some now.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Minimally. All one-colour balls which I buy by the box at thrift stores and then donate back.

11. Snow: love it or hate it?
Have to agree with Snack on this: Love it, as long as it doesn’t make things difficult on the road. Ice, though, is evil.

12. Can you ice skate?
Yep. I used to ice skate after work at the Rash Field Rink.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
A trip to the Costwolds for the entire family. It took two years of planning, but all 15 of us went for from two to six weeks.

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
The planning. Writing cards to friends scattered across the globe. Seeing family and friends at parties. The cheer and good will. This year, it's also making sure all of the kids at our residential centers have presents.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Mince pie with a sharp cheddar cheese.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
It used to be caroling downtown with the family, but now it's the Monument Lighting on First Thursday. Kitchenography said it better than I could ever... read it here. I also never miss the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College Cambridge that is played on Christmas Eve. I hope one day to attend in person

17. What tops your tree?
It varies.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Giving... I love finding the perfect present. Last year, I gave my niece private knitting lessons at a shop in Fells Point. I wrapped clues in a ball of yarn and we had the best time watching her unravel it. One year I gave my parents, who have everything they could want, a website.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Some of the old English/Latin carols like Personent Hodie or Gaudete.

20. Candy canes:
Only red and white peppermint ones.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?
Don't have one, although I love watching the Nutcracker ballet.

22. What do you leave for Santa?
The dog usually snags it first!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kitchen Nightmares

That's what my Halloween costume was... chef's jacket with roaches crawling out of the pockets, and ants and rats running around the hem and placket. But here's what really is a kitchen nightmare: the list of restaurant closings in Baltimore City, courtesy of the Baltimore Sun. The listings are from the city health department, and each of the counties surrounding Baltimore has a list. The listings are on a convenient Google Map, so take a look before you head out to eat. FYI, the listings run about a month behind, but you can spot trends.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Meet Up

I missed the Baltimore Bloggers meet & feed at Holy Frijoles last night, but I did have a mini-meet up with fellow Baltimore Blogger, and Style Magazine shout out, Kitchenography. Although she doesn't know this, because I forgot to tell her, she's partly responsible for my blogging career, such as it is.

Around this time last year, I was looking for a recipe for Cranberry Upside Down Cake, and Julie's blog was one of the links that came up on Google. I read her blog with great interest, figuring out pretty quickly that she was from Baltimore. Further reading narrowed down the neighbourhood, which I knew well. If you click on the photo below, you can find Julie's recipe for the cake, which is fabulous. As you read through her blog, you will notice that she's got a talent for taking lush pictures of food.
Since that time, we've e-mailed back and forth, commented on each other's pages and established a distant rapport. Today, we finally met up, united not by our love of food, but of flea marketing. We were both headed to the monthly Load o'Fun market, where I have gotten some goodies in the past.
Today, Julie was the one who scored, with a first edition of Julia Childs' Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and some other vintage cookbooks, and two beautiful vintage cotton sheets with beautiful detailing on them, for the grand sum of $2.00 each. I only got some old CD's, including one by the late, great Robert Palmer.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rocket to Venus

When you have to use a lighter to be able to read the menu, then you know that the place is too dark... That's what happened last night at Rocket to Venus, the newest addition to the Hampden eating scene. Someone was bound to yell "Freebird" at any second with the number of lighters lit at our table! I grew up in Roland Park, and I would never have thought that Hampden would become the trendiest part of the city! Saying that, I did witness a fight between two of the original locals when I was walking from my car to the restaurant.

R2V is a complete redo of the old Showalters that stood on the corner of 34th and Chestnut for many years. The menu features some interesting items, including deep-fried pickles and baby brussels sprouts in balsamic vinaigrette. Our group of five had burgers, gumbo, salad and a po'boy. All of the food was good, but there was way too much of it, and the only person who ate everything was the one who got the gumbo.

We had a couple of bottles of a Chilean red wine and I had a split of champagne. The service was good and friendly and the place is interestingly decorated with a lot of booths and small tables. There's a tile floor and acoustic tiles on the ceiling, so it's not hugely noisy, but if they'd had music, it would have been. R2V also has a small patio out front, so you can watch the neighbours fight!

As I said in the opening line, the place was too dim to even see your menu, so I didn't take any pix, because I didn't want to use my flash. The place was full of goth-chicks and boys, so our group of 40-somethings not entirely in black stood out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thanks, Style Magazine

When I lived in the UK, my mother sometimes sent me copies of Style Magazine because I liked it so much. I like it even more now that they've written an article about the Baltimore food blogging community, and included me in the list of 15. Here's the link to the article in their November issue. I've got reviews of Tabrizi's and Rocket to Venus coming up, so stay tuned.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Claytons in Federal Hill

Friday night, spur of the moment dinner with four great friends, and we chose Clayton's in Federal Hill on Light Street, a couple of blocks south of the Cross Street Market. They don't seem to have a website, so I can't link them.

I used to go to this place when it was Sean Bolan's (RIP) and they had the beer club, trivia night and St. Pat's Day morning breakfast in PJ's. But it changed hands a couple of years ago. My friends, the Houplas, raved about the food, so we walked over there from their house. The host seated us in the empty upstairs, which was good, since the first floor was a bit smokey. We're all counting the days until Maryland bars go smoke free! Clayton's logo is fun - it looks like a ring from a wine glass, but they slap it on each page of the menu, which makes the menu hard to read.

We got the menus and immediately ordered the Maytag & Bacon Potatoes, and some drinks. The drinks came but the appetizers didn't... and still didn't until about 45 minutes after we'd ordered them. It didn't look like there were a lot of people downstairs eating (maybe 30 people total downstairs) and we were the only ones upstairs, so we had a hard time figuring out what the delay was. When the waitress finally brought them, she didn't have an explanation.
K&N ordered rockfish and chips, and a burger. He-Houpla ordered the roasted pepper and whitefish soup and She-Houpla and I ordered half-pints of the Guinness stew, which is served in pint or half-pint glasses. It's their Guinness beef stew, topped with mashed potatoes to look like a drawn pint. Clever. She-Houpla and I also ordered the house salads, side-sized.
After another eternity, the food came. The soup was warm, not hot, but was good. The burger was fine. The rockfish and chips was huge with four fillets of rockfish. K said that she could have done with only one fillet. The salads were quite good - lots of blue cheese, pears and dried cranberries. The Guinness stew was hot and tasty and with the clever presentation, the hit of the evening.

We wanted after-dinner coffees and He-Houpla asked if the bar had Goslings Rum, which they didn't. He likes coffee, cream, Goslings and equal sweetner as a nightcap. That lead into discussions of other drinks, including a fave called a Purple Mother F*er. At that point, a bunch of 20-somethings had come in and were taking loud bets on whether one could tell the difference between Ketel One and Belvedere. We didn't care to find out whether he could.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

H-Mart Again

The other day, I was interviewed about this blog, and when I was asked where I do my grocery shopping (as if!), I had to come up with a name or two. I have to get food for the Connor-pup, but PetSmart doesn't count...

I figured that the places I food-shop most are H-Mart and the Farmer's Market. I went to H-Mart early this morning because I wanted to get all of my errands done so I could get back to the hood before the lunatics started arriving for today's Ravens game. H-Mart was relatively empty, compared to the usual mobs.
H-Mart's produce is always spectacular in both freshness and variety. I got lots of grape tomatoes, which I am now oven-drying for pastas. I toss them with a tiny bit of olive oil and some sea salt, put them on a jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with sides) and stick them in a low oven. I have gas utilities, so can keep the oven really low. After a couple of hours, the tomatoes will start to de-hydrate and the house will take on a bright tomato-y smell. The dried tomatoes are like candy, they're so sweet.

H-Mart also had some yummy-looking strawberries that were really cheap. I watched one of the produce guys culling the bad ones and consolidating the boxes. I may make some jammy sort of thing. Additionally, I bought some new potatoes, organic brown eggs, a can of peach soda, and some tubes of blackcurrant fruit pastilles to share with Coconut & Lime/Food Maven who has them on her list of things she's looking for. I also got a tube of mixed fruit pastilles, but there are pear-flavoured ones in there, which nearly made me crash the car in horror, especially since I thought they were going to be grapefruit.
H-Mart has vastly improved since I started going there about five years ago. It used to be a little on the grubby side, but they've really shaped up and it's very clean, as far as I can see!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Food Photo

I took this photograph a couple of months ago at the Mount Clare Museum House's 300 Years of Wedgwood press event. My mother got their newsletter this weekend and they had used my photograph. If you've never been to Mount Clare, go during October when it's free!

Incredibly, the white bowl is Wedgwood, and what's even more interesting is that it's more than 100 years old, and was used in a dairy. The contrast between the white bowl and the dark red apples is amazing. The way the late afternoon light is coming through the window makes the photo look like a Dutch still-life painting.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Donna's Cross Keys

It was a gorgeous end of summer evening and the last time the three of us had eaten dinner together was exactly the same time two years ago, in Paris where Mr. & Mrs. Bee spend part of the year. We wanted a Baltimore place, outside, easy parking and convenient to all of us. Donna's in Cross Keys was the result.

As many people know, Donna's is the creation of Donna Crivello, ex-Sun staffer and current chef, recipe-creator and on the night we were there, general greeter. There are a couple of locations, but I like the Cross Keys one the best, for it's huge outside patio and abundant parking. The evening we visited, it was full but not crowded, and Donna's parents were on floor duty, her father serving as the host.
I got there before the Bees, and ordered a small bottle of prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine. It's chilled bright taste was perfect for the evening. Mrs. Bee ordered a martini, which came in a martini glass the size of a wading pool, and Mr. Bee ordered Jack on the rocks. He started with a beautiful gnocci with portabello mushrooms and basil. We all tasted bits of it and it was lovely. Mrs. Bee ordered an eggplant cannoli, Mr. Bee ordered a four-cheese pizza and I got a summer pasta with farfalle, tomatoes, garlic, basic and a light white sauce.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Bee has problems with peppers and her cannoli was loaded with them, despite not being mentioned in the ingredient list on the menu. She hailed the server, explained the problem and within minutes has the same dish I had. The servings were huge, and none of the three of us could finish them, so we had the leftovers wrapped to go.
We did manage to find room for dessert and coffee. I had a tiramisu and Mr. & Mrs. Bee had a bread pudding, which we had a long discussion about earlier in the evening. Dinner at Donna's with the Bees was the perfect ending to the summer!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Miss Shirley's...NOT

On Sunday, the Runner and I attempted to meet at Miss Shirley's in South Roland Park for brunch. I had a sneaking feeling that it wasn't going to happen, as it was a holiday weekend and there's slim pickin's for place to have brunch in that 'hood. The Runner was coming from the north side of the city, and I was coming from the south, so it seemed pretty middle. As I drove by, there was a huge line of people out front, so I called the Runner and suggested we think of some place else.
Her suggestion was Sanders Corner in the Loch Raven watershed, just off upper Cromwell Bridge Road. I had always heard about this place, but since it's rare for me to venture that far north, I'd never been. There were some people milling about waiting, but nothing like Miss Shirley's. We wanted to get brunch and just squeeked in under their time limit of 1:00 p.m.

I ordered the "Full English breakfast", but having lived there, it really wasn't. Full English brekkies have grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, baked beans, black pudding and decent streaky bacon, sausages and lashings of hot tea. This didn't. I had watery scrambled eggs, well-done scrapple and a raisin bagel. And a coke. But I did have brunch with the Runner, which was the main event!
While the restaurant is on the Loch Raven watershed, you can't see the water. It's mostly on Loch Raven Drive, where there are lots of motorcycles. We did get to eat outside, which made it nice. And I got to spend quality time with the Runner, which was even nicer.

Fogo de Chao

There's been a lot of eating out the past couple of days. It all started on Thursday with dinner for four at Fogo de Chão (fo-go dèe shoun) on Pratt Street at Lockwood Place. It's a "concept" restaurant from Brazil. Gauchos come around to your table and slice hunks of meat off a skewer. All of the meats have an "outside" if you want it, as they are cooked over a charcoal grill. The selections include beef selections, leg o'lamb and tiny lambchops, pork and chicken, tenderloin, ribs, sirloin, filet mignon, etc. It's a fixed price of$42/person, plus drinks and desserts.
Before you get your meat, there's an amazing salad bar with lettuces, mayonaise salads, cheeses and cured meats. Each person gets a disk, red on one side and green on the other. When you want more meat, you flip it to the green side and a parade of gauchos bearing meat on skewers arrive at your table. When you're done, flip to red. Repeat as often as you're able.

We managed to have dessert, amazingly. The guys had strawberry mousse and papaya mousse topped with casis. I had to try the creme brulee and V had mashed potatoes. She doesn't like sweets, so this was perfect and the waitress brought it!

We all drank Caipirinhas, which are WICKED! They're made from cachaça, sugar and lime. Cachaça is a sugar cane based liquor like rum. Rum is made from molasses, but cachaça is made from sugan cane juice. Apparently cachaça has a very high alcohol content and was illegal to sell in Maryland for a long time. It's still hard to find.

Everything was wonderful until we had to get the car from the valet (too hard to park around that area). We took the ticket to the valet and they said about 10 minutes. So we waited, and waited and waited.... you get the picture. It took more than a half an hour to get our car. They seemed to be giving preferential treatment to nicer cars (we had a 2007 Toyota, luckily not my vintage Volvo wagon). Even the manager couldn't get them to get our car. It was unfortunate that was the way the evening ended.

Follow-up: I got a phone call and e-mail from the Operations Manager from Fogo's national office just checking to see if everything other than the valet parking was okay and giving me the name of the local manager for the next time I make a reservation. It's good to have personal follow-up and to know that the company is listening. The Ops Manager assured me that changes have been made to their valet system.

Monday, August 27, 2007


When I used to work on York & Gittings (and no, not in the slummy grocery store that used to be there!), we used to walk over to Fortunato's in the shopping center. I am not sure what the center's called, but it's right on the city line on York, just north of Wells Liquors.
Anyway...they have the most incredible tomato bread. It's pretty simple - just chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt and a little olive oil. They serve it on a small split roll and heat it. It's just brilliant. Apparently Rogers Forge native and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps used to swear by these! It's the perfect thing for lunch on a late summer's day.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Food Books from the Book Thing

I stopped by the Book Thing today on the way to visit with my mother and someone who must be a real foodie had just dropped off some great books. They all look very interesting.

So, maybe if I read about food instead of eating it, I will lose some weight. Think so?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob

My friend, Bill Cole, who's running for the City Council in our district, came by this evening for a "stoop" meet and greet with some of my neighbours... and a film crew. Sue Chen out of San Francisco, is doing a documentary on people younger than 35 running for political office.

As they were filming, an A-rabber trotted by and the looks on Sue and her cameraman's faces were priceless. He didn't get a shot, but a little while later I heard them coming back, so he got the shot. I do my best to buy from these guys and so wandered over to get some corn. Four ears for $1.00. He tossed in an extra ear, so I gave him an extra dollar for the pony.
I thought that I could probably oven roast it, so googled recipes, which turned out to be easy-peasy. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Shuck the ears, but leave the husks attached. Remove the silk, cover the ears with butter and salt and pull up the husks! I tied a bit of extra husk around the ear to keep it wrapped up. Some recipes say to just roast without even removing the silk, but I would hate to pick it off strand by strand when it was hot. Roast either directly on the rack or on a pan for 20-30 minutes.
The verdict? Excellent, simple and delicious! With the time it takes to boil water and then cook the corn, you can roast it in the oven. You could add anything you wanted to this to tailor it to your own taste, but to me, plain and simple's the winner!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Mac & Cheese & Chocolate

Over the past couple of days, in numerous conversations about Restaurant Week, I have been hearing about the dish "macaroni and cheese... and chocolate" that is served at Jack's Bistro in Canton. The description of the dish is "Shell pasta with a blend of five cheeses and shaved Belgian milk chocolate". They also serve a cheeseburger soup, which doesn't appeal to me at all!

The website notes that Jack is the most wildly imaginative chef in Baltimore. My feeling is that while throwing chocolate on top of mac & cheese requires more imagination than I will ever have, putting ingredients together just for the sake of attracting attention isn't what it's about. Tell me what you think of mac & cheese and chocolate.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Restaurant Week - No. 2

Last night, the Blonde, the Brunette and the Redhead visited Brasserie Tatin for Restaurant Week. I had been there before during the winter RW and had an excellent meal. However, I talked to a chef friend about going there and found out that Brasserie Tatin is having some problems, notably with their kitchen staff. However, there was no evidence of anything amiss last night.
The logical thing to do, since there were three of us and three selections on the RW menu was to try one of each, but we're just not that way. Starting for the Blonde and the Redhead was the Brie salad with a walnut encrusted Brie over butter lettuce. The Brunette had the house pate de campagne. Entrees were two orders of the scallops St. Jacque with a "forbidden" rice, which was a deep purple, and and order of the steak frites, with house-made mayonnaise. Desserts were an order of the four sorbets and the marjolaine, which is all sorts of mousse and chocolate.

One of the best parts of the BT RW dinner was the pairing of wines for each dish. Three wines for $15. They had taken some time in making the appropriate selections and they all worked well.

BT was crowded, but not jammed. The service was very good and our waiter was attentive and fun.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Restaurant Week - Restaurant No. 1

My office went to McCormick & Schmick for our summer outing, which happened to coincide with Restaurant Week in Baltimore. We had a reservation for ten, at 12:45, and were seated at a round table overlooking the water.

When I got there, the first thing that struck me was the smell. From the parking lots to the east, you have to walk by the garbage bins, which on a hot summer day, was pretty rank. Once we got inside, everything had a scent of mucky dishwater, standing water and cleaner. Things looked dirty and sticky. The place is huge and it wasn't very full.

Here's the lunch menu:

Lunch Appetizer
Maryland Crab Soup
McCormick's House Salad
Spinach Salad
Lunch Entrée
Grilled Tuna Brochette
Cedar Roasted Atlantic Salmon
Seafood Stir Fry
Lunch Dessert
Chocolate Truffle Cake
Walnut Crusted Upside Down Apple Pie

We got tuna brochette, which was way overdone, salmon and steak salads which weren't on the RW menu. I had a spinach salad which had lovely baby spinach leaves with a sesame/ginger dressing and pecans. Others got the house salad. Funnily enough, out of ten people, no one ordered the crab soup. The desserts were huge and the pie also had cinnamon ice cream on the side. Again, as we left, we had to go by the garbage, and it wasn't any better than before lunch.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Restaurant Week in Baltimore

This coming week is Restaurant Week in Baltimore and it's become rather a competitive event. Just how many restaurants are YOU going to get to? I've got two lined up so far, and may try another one. One is a revisit, just because I am going with friends and it was one place they mentioned. The other will be a new place for me. Catch my reviews in the coming week!

So, where are YOU going?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Tomato Aspic

I was over at Food Maven (and her other blog Coconut Lime) the other day and she's hosting a retro food challenge. It involves making a wobbly food product from a cookbook from before 1985. Now, I was a bit offended by that, since I am waaay pre-1985, and don't think I am terribly retro.

Anyway, I decided to make an old summer favourite, tomato aspic. If you are me, you say those words this way: tomaaahto aspic. It's like tomato juice jello. They used to serve it at the old Woman's Industrial Exchange on Charles Street in downtown Baltimore, with their famous chicken salad with mayonaise. Again, if you're me, you say myyy-naze, sort of the French way. My family's British and Southern, so maybe that's why I talk funny.

I was at my sister's house this afternoon and she had a 1946 copy of The Joy of Cooking (now that's retro!). So I took a picture of the pages with the aspic recipes and am going to make one to submit to the Food Maven. They also had a grapefruit aspic, which sounded very interesting. Stay tuned...

Oh...there will be a small prize to the person who answers the question in the post below (and Cat, you and Dog can't answer!).

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Dizzy Issies

Cat and I were trying to decide where to go, outside of the usual haunts, and since we'd had a conversation about Dizzy Issies a couple of months ago, and I had read about it on Baltimore Snacker, we mapquested it and headed up to Remington. It's a little hard to find because the cross street, 30th Street, doesn't quite meet up with anything but Remington Street.

DI is located just across the street from the Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman and Charm City Cakes. We didn't see any of the gang there, but noticed that all of the windows in Duff's building are covered with lighting gels.

DI, which is a typical neighbourhood pub, was crowded at the bar, but there were some seats in the dining room. We snagged two and got to work ordering from their drinks menu. Cat started off with a wheat beer, which she said was a little licorice-y. I got a Tanquery & tonic, with lime. I usually order Mt. Gay rum & tonic, which I've been drinking since college, but DI doesn't carry Mt. Gay.

The dining room is a few steps up from the bar and is decorated with coloured fairy lights and old, not repro, advertising signs. There is a huge stone fireplace along one wall and the whole room only seats about 20. We did find out that the second floor is open as well.

Cat started with a cup of crab soup, which was thick and tomato-y and looked like it had lots of crab meat. She said it was a little spicy though. We both ordered burgers, medium. The waitress asked if we wanted our onions raw or cooked. WOW! The burgers came quickly and were juicy and perfectly cooked. I got a bleu cheese burger, a fave from college days at Happy Hamburger in St. Mary's County (RIP). The bleu cheese was a little overwhelming, but good anyway. The burgers came with what looked like Utz chips.

We still had a little room, so ordered a slice of lemon/coconut cake to share. It was light and very good. We each also had another drink.

The total cost for dinner was an amazing $33.00!!! The place was so small, I didn't take pix, but if you look at Baltimore Snacker's review, you can see some.

I've been asking people the quintessential question that every Baltimorean knows the answer to without blinking or hesitating. If you had to dump a dead body in the city, where would you do it? Answers please!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Charm City Cupcakes

Okay... let's just say this has been about the worst period I've ever been through in my life with bad things happening right and left, so I've not been too interested in talking about what I am eating.
Today was just as crappy as the last 300+ have been with the rain (although we needed it badly) and then finding that after working for a month at my (allegedly) cool new job, I am not getting paid because the payroll company screwed up or some bs like that. The other person who had started the same day as I had was well pissed, too. So we had to wander across the street to Charm City Cupcakes and console ourselves with a sweet.
I had just stumbled across them the other day on the blog Charm City Cupcake (no S). She mentioned it and I looked up CCCs to see where they were located. Their address said 333, but it just couldn't be that. I work at 343 and I am sure if there was a cupcake bakery a few doors down, I would have noticed it.
Someone I know happened to stop by the office this afternoon and said he and his wife were killing time before the cupcakes at CCCs were ready... huh??? Apparently, CCCs is down the street, on the other side at 326, but they were originally once-upon-a-time, located at 333. And today was dollar day at CCCs because it was their first anniversary. So we had nice strawberry and nice double chocolate cupcakes to make us feel better. But then I got some more bad news when I got home...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nasu Blanca in LoPo

I know it's been ages since I've posted, but if you've looked at Pigtown*Design, you will see that it's not been a great couple of weeks. But before things went to hell in a handcart, taking the slow road, not the super highway, Cat & Dog and I went for a happy hour event at Nasu Blanca. This new-ish restaurant is where the old Henry's used to be, on the corner of Woodall and Fort Avenue in Locust Point. It's a fusion Japanese-Mexican place which has been completely re-done from tip to tail - and it's gorgeous.
The Happy Hour is from 5:30 to 7:00, Tuesdays through Fridays and offers a selection of tapas and zensai, Spanish wines, sake, and beers. We took a look at the menu and basically ordered one of everything that was featured at the Happy Hour (it was our dinner). From the edamame with sea salt to tempuri asparagus, from mussels with chiorizo to empanadas, and a stunning tuna sashimi, everything was beautifully presented, well-explained and delicious.
Of course, since Cat is a pastry chef, we had to try the desserts, which were also beautiful and very tasty. Cat got a roughly-shaped apple tart with icecream, I got a molten chocolate cake with green tea and a sesame tuile, and Dog got the creme brulee with berries.
We went to Nasu Blanca on a weeknight, and it was very quiet because we had the second floor to ourselves, but other friends went on the weekend and said that it was very noisy. So that would be my recommendation - happy hour during the week.