Fresh Fresh makes its giant crab cakes from scratch.
The owners of Fresh Fresh Seafood (507 York Road, Towson, 410-821-3474) are so proud of its namesake ingredient, it had to say it twice. They also display much of it at the counter on ice: gleaming gray clams, pearly scallops, and big, fat shrimp the size of your fist all greet you as you approach the cash register. Darlene and Ricky Parker—who moved their restaurant from its original Greenmount Avenue location seven years ago—are adamant about making everything from scratch.
Sara Engram and Katie Luber had a spicy idea.
Single-sized pouches of salt and pepper have been around for nearly as long as the Golden Arches, but you don't typically see pinches of ancho chil or cinnamon in a packet. Baltimore business partners Katie Luber and Sara Engram, best friends and cooking enthusiasts, thought that was a product waiting to happen.
Inside Baltimore's oldest and best-loved Spanish restaurant.
There is a pig in Tio Pepe's kitchen and it smells great. The pig has been gutted, slit belly to throat so that it can lie flat in the roasting pan. Its teeth are bared, its ears singed black and crispy at the tips. Its skin has reached a deep shade of bronze, but it is the meat inside that is the real treat—the rich odor of roast pork wafts up from the pan, which is coated in a layer of drippings mixed with water that will later be reduced into a sauce.
Below a popular Pennsylvania brewery lies a portal to another time.
"Bring on the pyg!" Hardly the cry you'd expect to hear over a candlelit dinner; nor would you expect wenches, wastrels, minstrels, and marauders. Yet you can't miss them when you feast in little Mount Joy, northwest of Lancaster and 75 miles from Baltimore. Bube's Brewery (102 N. Market Street, Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania, 717-653-2056), one historic building with three restaurants, hosts up to 60 feasts a year in the Catacombs, a stone-walled, partly natural cave 40 feet beneath the surface.
The Stone Mill Bakery’s new carryout business lets it quicken its pace.
We have good news for those of you who have endured the lunchtime lines at the Stone Mill Bakery in Greenspring Station: They've now opened a new, quick-service operation right next door called Stone Mill Gourmet 2 Go (10751 Falls Road, Lutherville, 410-821-1310). The place stands in stark contrast to the old bakery/sandwich shop—bright, modern, and open.
Two java mavens are proving that local coffeeshops can work—even in the country.
At nine in the morning on a Saturday in July, the cars are lining up in long rows outside an old gas station on York Road in Sparks. But the cars' owners are waiting for fuel of a different kind: coffee.The Filling Station, just north of the now-bustling Hunt Valley Towne Centre (the original location is on Falls Road at Shawan Road), has cornered the market on rural coffee sales and brought high-end espresso drinks to a community largely devoid of such luxuries, which are usually saved for those living "in town."
A couple of times in the last week, I've mentioned that I recently ate at an Indian restaurant in Towson, and the other person's eyes have lit up. "Cafe Spice?" they say. "Isn't it awesome?"
Well, yes, it kind of is. For one thing, there's the satisfaction of having found a secret gem: The place is hidden away in a basement below a 7-Eleven. The owners have done as much as they can to make the windowless, brick-lined room feel gracious, including the addition of an exuberantly decorated corner fountain guaranteed to mesmerize any children in your party.
Often when one reads wine descriptions, the food pairing suggestion is "delicious with grilled porterhouse" or "a natural with poached salmon." While there may be truth to such assertions, they are not, in the end, terribly helpful. I figure if a reader is engaged enough to be interested in the wine review to begin with, then he or she is already past the "big red goes with meat" phase of connoisseurship.
A beloved Jamaican restaurant re-opens with its charm intact.
When Carolyn's Cafe (aka Ras Doobie's) closed earlier this year in Ridgely's Delight, you could hear foodies moaning all over town. The tiny and tucked-away Jamaican eatery had been a favorite of many (and a perennial Cheap Eats winner within these pages) for its spicy jerk chicken, generous vegetarian options, and friendly island vibe. But moaners, take heart: The place has re-opened as the Penn Street Tavern (213 Penn Street, 410-752-5858), and the new owner happens to be a longtime friend of Ras Doobie.
The new Rumor Mill offers cocktails and more in Ellicott City.
It's obvious that the owners of the new Rumor Mill (8069 Tiber Alley, Ellicott City, 410-461-0041), located where Sidestreets used to be, are thinking big. The menu ambitiously hops around the globe, pairing Asian-inflected raw tuna with guacamole and tortilla chips, or barbecue-coated grilled shrimp with soba noodles and miso broth. A lot of things don't quite hit their mark, but like any good rumor, at least it isn't boring. The fried rice balls, filled with a stuffing that changes nightly, are a reliable companion to the place's creative and fun cocktails.
I'd been holding off on Canton Dockside, because former tenant Canton's Pearls closed so quickly, making me worry the spot was another doomed location. But this new venture had plenty of customers when we arrived, and obviously had been busy all day: When we showed up at 5:30, we barely snagged the last dozen crabs in the house. At $39 a dozen, they were understandably small, but still sweet and heavy for their size.
A former Capitol Hill staffer cooks up a new career.
How much would you pay for a cupcake? At Baltimore Cupcake Company, it could run you as much as 12 bucks a treat, but owner Tracy Rice is having no problem finding takers: Her growing clientele is forking over as much as $2,500 an event for cupcakes sparkling with Swarovski crystals, monogrammed with chocolate letters, or topped with handmade whimsical parasols. (The basic model goes for $2.50.)
El Patrón brings Mexican to an elegant old Mt. Vernon rowhouse.
"We still get people coming in asking what happened to Tony Cheng's," sighs our server at the recently opened El Patrón (801 N. Charles Street, 410-244-8494), which does indeed occupy the digs of that former Szechuan favorite. But people should give El Patrón a chance, if only to enjoy a free basket full of the most addictive corn chips I think I have ever tasted. We couldn't decide what made them so good—they were a little lighter, a little sweeter than usual, and still hot from the fryer.
A new gelateria is a little bit crazy and a whole lot delicious.
Organic milk from grass-fed cows. Bronte pistachios flown in from the slopes of Italy's Mount Etna. Free-range chicken eggs used the day they're laid. It's safe to say Pitango Gelato is a wee bit obsessive about the ingredients in its frozen treats. At their Fells Point storefront, which opened earlier this summer (802 S. Broadway, 410-702-5828), each gelato is kept in its own lidded compartment to prevent flavors from mixing. And such flavors!
Safety is an admirable goal. It's what motivates us to inhabit cozy homes, to strap on our seatbelts, to step away from that grizzly bear. There's safety in numbers, of course. There's even a Safety Dance. For American wine producers, there is safety, too—in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, or Oregon Pinot Noir. (Heck, these days, Pinot Noir in and of itself is a vinous Fort Knox.)