Twist and Shout about Screw-Cap Wines
"Any wine that comes like this," the restaurateur began, tapping the screw cap that adorned a delicious, charming bottle of pinot noir, "is vinegar. I won't even cook with it." It had been a while since I'd encountered such a damning opinion of screw caps, and it irked me.
Americans often attach an unpleasant stigma to screw caps, which is rooted in outdated notions of poor quality and low fashion. In fact, screw caps are the fastest growing method of closing a wine bottle, and for good reason.
Classic cocktail makes a comeback.
The mint julep has long been associated with the Kentucky Derby, so it's no surprise that Marylanders have been known to tipple a few during Preakness (May 17 this year), the second jewel in the horse-racing crown. But the cocktail seems to have fallen out of favor with the mojito-'tini crowd. Enter good ol' Southern boy Joshau Hill, chef and general manager of Night of the Cookers (885 N. Howard St., 410-383-2095), who is doing his best to introduce a new generation to the genteel drink he makes with Maker's Mark bourbon, simple syrup, and fresh mint.
Forget the fancy fare, local chefs crave mom's comfort food.
While some of the area's top chefs are laboring over ambitious presentations like saffron-poached sea scallops and red-wine-braised veal cheeks, they often experience pangs for more familiar foods from their youth-basic dishes that mom cooked. And every now and then, they're happy to put aside the duck confit and black truffles and go home to mac and cheese or pot roast-and reconnect with mom all over again.
Yellow Dog Tavern
Yellow Dog Tavern has had an impressive growth spurt in the kitchen. Not that there wasn't talent from the start behind the creative cuisine of chef Anita Scheiding, who owns the upper Canton restaurant with partner Amber Miller. But recently, Scheiding just seems to be orchestrating more confidence and assertiveness in her dishes-like the perfectly fried oysters, crisp on the outside and silky inside, with jalapeño and cilantro aioli.
Soft-shell crabs bring summer to our tables.
I was living in Florida a few years ago, feeling a little homesick for Maryland when Bon Appétit magazine landed in my mailbox with a feature on soft-shell crabs, including a recipe by Baltimore chef Cindy Wolf. Oh, happy day—a piece of home.
Not only did it give me a boost, but the recipe has turned out to be one of my favorites. Now, back in the Land of Pleasant Living, I look forward to our soft-shell season from late May through September when I can savor the bounty of the season with this easy preparation.
Perry Hall’s Liberatore’s continues a family tradition.
Some people dismissively call Liberatore's Ristorante a chain—that's not necessarily a bad thing. There are six restaurants in the group, but they are owned by a local family and deserve a look now and then. When a reader reminded us of the newest offspring in Perry Hall, we headed to Honeygo Village Center to check it out. The latest version (5005 Honeygo Center Drive, 410-529-4567) fits right in with the rest of the suburban shopping outpost—a mini wannabe of The Avenue at White Marsh—with its sleek lounge, bistro dining room, and carryout area.
Exciting times for Argentine wines.
The flight from Santiago, Chile, to Mendoza, Argentina, is short but breathtaking. Lasting not quite an hour, it takes passengers over a vast swath of the Andes Mountains and affords a view of the majestic peak of Aconagua if you’re seated on the port side of the plane.
Bakery owner Warren Brown whips up a new cookbook.
As if being an attorney, baker, and Food Network personality aren't enough, the ever-resourceful Warren Brown is adding a new job title to his resume—published author— when his cookbook, CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch, hits the stores this month. "I liked the idea of sharing what I learned," says Brown, 37, who recently opened a CakeLove in Canton (2500 Boston Street, 410-522-1825).
The 55 best places to eat right around the corner from your home.
What makes a good neighborhood restaurant? It's a question we discussed at length while working on this story. And it turned out that a lot of different elements went into making a place not just good, but locally good. A good neighborhood restaurant, we decided, shouldn't require dressing up. But it shouldn't be just a bar or diner, either—it should be a place you could take a friend for his or her birthday and not feel like a cheapskate. It should be open for dinner.
Night of the Cookers
When I called to make a reservation, the chef surprisingly answered the phone and asked how I had heard about the restaurant. I told him truthfully that I'd read about it, and I had—in snippets on various blogs, with words like Southern and barbecue attached to the posts. When I visited, I was expecting casual, earnest fare, and I found that—and so much more. This isn't your typical BBQ joint.
As one of my dining companions marveled after many inspired dishes, "This is haute cuisine meets down-home." Or as the chef, Joshau Hill, explained, "It's new Southern cuisine."
Not-so-Desperate Dave’s stakes out Broadway Market.
Desperate Dave's Spice Company and Emporium (1641 Aliceanna Street, 410-878-2024) might seem like a high-falutin name for a small enterprise at the Broadway Market in Fells Point. But once you push through the doors, you see what it's all about. The space is packed with more than 300 jars of hot sauces, salsas, mustards, and spices.
Ra Sushi expands its West Coast vibe.
Looking for a soupçon of hip with your sushi? Then head to Ra Sushi (1390 Lancaster Street, Harbor East, 410-522-3200), Baltimore's newest chopsticks palace. Push open the massive doors, go up a few steps, and you'll find yourself in the land of Ra. A techno beat pulses, red lamps cast a sexy glow, and ultra-cheerful servers await your order. There's no turning back, but why would you want to? Creative nigiri, teriyakis, and cocktails are ahead.
Our 41 favorite places to eat this year.
Everyone has a favorite restaurant. Just ask. Diners are usually quite passionate about their choices. Response to our readers poll, included in this section, showed us that. But the criteria for a good dining experience varies from person to person. And it doesn’t necessarily mean fine dining, although white-cloth places like The Prime Rib and Linwoods continue to wow. There are just as many devotees of such eclectic spots as The Chameleon Cafe and Peter’s Inn, where chefs are dedicated to innovative food without the frippery.
Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day—or any day—with Guinness stew.
Supposedly, everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, so we figured a little Celtic comfort food would get the party going for the March 17 festivities. We turned to Anne Rowley, chef/owner of Patrick’s of Pratt Street (934 W. Pratt Street, 410-244-5000, patspubs.com) for a recipe, in this case, her steak and Guinness stew. We figured she would know a good one. Patrick’s, which dates to 1847, calls itself “America’s oldest Irish pub.” Rowley and her husband, Patrick, have been carrying on the family tradition since 1999.
Tsunami ’tinis share space with superior Asian fusion.
Whoa—when did all this happen? That was our reaction one frigid winter night when a friend of ours told us to meet him for drinks at Lemongrass/Tsunami on Central and Bank. Yes, that Lemongrass/Tsunami—the cool Asian/Thai emporium in Annapolis beloved by bar-hopping 20- and 30-somethings. But how’s the food? Housed in the former Holland Manufacturing Company, Lemongrass/Tsunami features two restaurants connected by a courtyard. We decided to try Tsunami [1300 Bank Street, 410-327-1370], the Asian-fusion side. We were delightfully surprised.