Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wrap Up - Great Tastes Culinary Expo

Saturday was the Great Tastes Culinary Expo at the Tremont Grand and I was one of the panelists for the Baltimore Food Bloggers section of the event. My friend Julie and I went and ate and drank our way through four floors of the incredible Grand, former home of the Masons.

The place was mobbed and there were exhibits everywhere! Each of the rooms either had a presentation or exhibitors serving food or drinks. I managed to have some Piper Heidsieck Champagne, coffee with Kahlua Hazelnut and some Kubler Absinthe. I hadn't tasted absinthe since a long and boozy afternoon at the Napoleon House in New Orleans. The taste, which is very anise-y, took me straight back to that fun afternoon. But that stuff is strong!!!
The blog panel was lots of fun. Each of us introduced ourselves and talked a little bit about the focus of our blog, what we're trying to accomlish and who our audience is. Then we took questions from the audience and took turns answering them.

It was fun to finally put faces with the names that I read all of the time!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Translating the Numbers

On my design blog, I did a piece about how Ikea names their products. Turns out that there's a method to their madness. Who knew!

Now, I've recently found out what the numbers that you see on fruit and vegetables at the grocery store mean:
  • A four-digit number means it was conventionally grown
  • A five-digit number beginning in “9″ means it is organic
  • A five-digit number beginning in “8″ means it was genetically modified

Wow... that's good information to know. I will certainly keep my eyes open for a little number 8 and avoid it at all costs.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Peeps Diorama Contest

I give up sweets for Lent, which is a huge sacrifice! When Easter morning comes, I'd rather scarf down some Peeps flambe than nibble on chocolate bunny ears. My siblings think that this is another sign that I am adopted, but I love me some Peeps! I have just found that there's even a Peeps Research Center, which has loads of information on this spring species.

I was reading the Washington Post and found that they hold a Peeps Diorama Contest. This is the second annual, since last year's was such a huge success. Here are the rules:
  1. Think of a scene - current, historic or future.
  2. Get you some Peeps
  3. Get a shoebox or like-sized box
  4. Create a scene
  5. Take pix of your creation
  6. Send to the WashPost by Saturday, March 2.
  7. Winners will be published on Easter Sunday.
Make sure to scroll through the gallery of last year's submissions. They're hilarious!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

EEK! A Mouse!

Valentine's is always fraught with expectation... a good meal, some good wine and good service at a good restaurant... Is it really too much to be expected?

When you wait until 10:30 the night before to decide to go out, you're not left with too many choices. Hmmm... someplace that's not going to be mobbed, with easy parking and quick access to BWI so PB can make a late flight... Ahhh, Little Havana fits the reqs.

So, meet up there, get good parking spaces, even next to each other. Have a nice big Mojito, just for the memories of summer. Back booth, away from the others. It wasn't crowded, which was nice. Good crab quesadilla, some Fordham beer. Slider sandwich with fresh tuna for him, hamburger for me. Perfectly cooked. Great conversation. Lovely evening.
EEK! A MOUSE!!! Out of the corner of my eye, I see a mouse run from under our table across the floor to go hide amongst the beer kegs. Not good. My feet have risen about four inches off the floor. I am cringing. PB can see the mouse from where he's sitting. We have a quiet word with the waitress.

She tells us "What do you expect? We're an open-air restaurant". BZZZZZ! Wrong answer! NOT IN FEBRUARY! Maybe in August, but not in the dead of winter. And where did that mouse come from? I sure hope it wasn't from the bloody kitchen!
That big thud you heard??? That was the evening falling flat. Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Great Tastes Culinary Expo

You may have noticed a little logo on the right side of this page... it's the logo for the 2008 Great Tastes Culinary Expo which will be held on Saturday, February 23 at the Tremont Grand in downtown Baltimore. This day-long expo features seminars on a variety of food and wine related topics, appearances by chefs including Warren Brown, John Shields and Christopher Paternotte. Among the special features of the Expo is a panel discussion by a number of Baltimore-area food bloggers, including Pigtown-Pigout.

Tickets are available here and can be purchased at a range of price points. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


My peeps and I took a field trip to H-Mart this evening. We were looking for quail eggs so that Ms. Askew could maybe make this cool necklace from Stephanie Simeck which I found on the delightful blog M.A. Belle. Of course, they didn't have quail eggs. I had forgotten that Chinese New Year is this weekend, and thought that H-Mart was going to be mobbed, but it was actually quieter than I've ever seen it on a week night.

We wandered through the frozen food section, admiring the pot-stickers and laughing at the bottles of Pocari Sweat, Japan's favourite drink, which apparently tastes like 7-Up. Not that I am actually going to try it, especially when it's kind of cloudy looking white liquid. We were in the tea aisle when we stumbled upon this horror:

Really, I can't think of anything I would be less likely to want in a non-carbonated beverage than artichoke. The ingredients list includes "artichoke extract, sugar and water". Apparently, it's from Vietnam. I googled it and most listings of it were on food blogs. One person said it tasted like Southern sweet tea. Not going to try it, so I will have to take their word.

My blog-buddy, Kitchenography, loves artichokes more than anything. Wonder what she'll make of this? Artichoke canneloni, yes. Artichoke drink, not so much...

On a brighter note, they did have the most gorgeous miniature Italian eggplants. If you look on the right of this picture, you can see their size in relation to the Brussels Sprouts next to them.Seriously, if you've never been to an H-Mart, take a wander on over there. It's quite a lot of fun. Baltimore's is on Route 40 West and Rolling Road, diagonal to the Double T Diner.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Woodberry Kitchen (Not)

First, let me be clear that this isn't actually a review of Woodberry Kitchen. It's a bit of a bitch about them. A couple of odd things have happened that make me pre-disposed to be a bit irritated about them. First, there's this, from Elizabeth Large's Baltimore Sun food blog, Dining @ Large.

Apparently, Mrs. Large wanted to give her 3,000th commenter a gift certificate and although it was charged to a credit card, the certificate was never sent. When WK was called, they said it must have gotten lost in the mail and they'd send another one... which also never arrived. Even after writing about this on the blog (which gets several thousand visits a day), and getting a number of comments, WK still has not sent the certificate. Are they so busy and popular that they can afford this kind of bad press? And from Baltimore's main restaurant reviewer to boot?

Last night, I attended the Baltimore Architecture Foundation's Annual Groundhog Party. It moves from year to year, and this year it was at the Natty Boh's Bottle Building, an as not yet finished space. I was looking forward to the food, which was being provided by, you guessed it, Woodberry Kitchen. The party was for 300 or more people and the food WK provided was minimal, at best. They had three tables, with stacks of corn tortilla flats, bowls of guacamole, shredded pork and rice. Additionally, there was something that looked like roasted potatoes, but was really plantains.
The presentation of the food was something you'd sling out at a spur-of-the-moment backyard party for your good buddies. No chafing dishes, no serving utensils, plates only on two tables, brown paper napkins like the ones at a fast food joint, no forks on every table, etc.
The rice was in huge tupperware-like bins, and wasn't even warmed. The tortiallas were not even cooked or warmed, which makes them taste like eating rubbery damp cardboard. The flower arrangements on the table were gorgeous, but they weren't from Woodberry Kitchen. The beers and wines were great, but they weren't from Woodberry Kitchen. They were from Brewer's Art.

It was as though this gig was such an afterthought by Woodberry Kitchen as to not even have registered on their radar. This wasn't a crowd of flannel-clad 20-somethings, but a semi-formally dressed group of 30- to 50-year old professionals. If they were doing this event as a charity deal, and for the good press, I think they failed miserably.