Late-summer Grenache hits the spot
There's plenty of summertime heat left in September before autumn arrives in earnest. Satisfy your red-wine cravings with Grenache, a grape that thrives in hot places and pairs well with warm-weather fare.
The Reserve, a refurbished bar on the outer edge of Federal Hill, opened a few years ago with a menu that seemed to define the whole gastro-pub movement. As early fans of the place, we were surprised on a recent visit to find more conventional options: burgers, crab cakes, salmon, pasta, along with a trendy lobster mac and cheese and fish tacos.
The change is purposeful, according to owner Tom Brown, and the menu is more befitting of his youngish Federal Hill clientele: "I'm looking for someone who's going to buy a meal and stay around for a few hours and drink."
Yak, python, bear: Chef Bernard Dehaene at Corner BYOB gives Baltimoreans a taste of the wild.
When chef Bernard Dehaene held a "Flintstone Dinner" at his restaurant Zot in Philadelphia, he served guests such rarities as lion and Thai waterbugs, all the while dressed as the cartoon character Fred Flintstone. For his first Exotic Meat Club meal at Corner BYOB in Hampden, he may just don a loincloth, he says—or something in a leopard print. He hasn't decided.
A seafood menu suits the location
When celebrity chef Mario Batali visited Baltimore in April, he ate lunch at The Seasoned Mariner (601 Wise Ave., Dundalk, 443-242-7190) after hitting the links at Sparrows Point Country Club. I was curious about the restaurant's allure. Now, I understand. The Mariner is perched on Bear Creek with a prime view of the waterway and the pleasure boats cruising by or docking at the restaurant.
Pacific Coast reinvents jinxed spot
Pacific Coast (413 S. High St., 410-244-1185) is the latest restaurant to step into the Little Italy space once occupied by Tapabar and the short-lived Diner. Pacific Coast—with its fusion cuisine, including several crazily-named burgers like Paris Hilton, Led Zepplin, and Charlie Sheen—seems a match for this corner bistro setting.
How To Be Sweet on Rieslings
Riesling is the world's most versatile and food-friendly grape variety, but it is woefully misunderstood and often ignored by wine consumers. It can be a stylistic chameleon—from very dry to tooth-meltingly sweet, making it difficult for the novice consumer to decide whether he or she likes it.
Rarely is the sweetness level of the wine evident on the label, so ask your local wine shop for guidance. Here are three Rieslings that represent various stages of sweetness.
Kimko Seafood Restaurant is set up to evoke a place one might find in a typical Korean fishing town. It's brightly lit and tidy but feels a bit like a fish market at first blush, which is actually a good sign. After all, fish can't get much fresher than having been swimming around mere moments before serving, as evidenced by the bank of aquariums lining the entrance.
The tanks hold an array of marine invertebrates like sea squirt, abalone, snail, and, remarkably, lobster, an unusual sashimi option by anyone's estimation.
Fire up the grill and get cookin’.
Chris Becker—recently named an executive chef for the Bagby Restaurant Group in Harbor East and a former executive chef at The Wine Market in Locust Point—shares a favorite barbecue recipe that you can make at home.
Grilled Skirt Steak Bulgogi
The number of mobile eateries offering gourmet fare is growing.
On a rainy Tuesday, with only 30 minutes to spare, Kathy Patterson dashes out of her office into the streets near the University of Maryland Medical Center looking for lunch. Walking at a brisk clip, she bypasses any number of sandwich and fast-food joints before she reaches her destination: The Gypsy Queen Cafe.
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined1/2 cup olive oil mixed with garlic powder for shrimp plus 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil for gazpacho2 cloves garlic (optimally softened by grilling in an aluminum foil packet while you grill the shrimp, see below, then coarsely chopped)1 slice white bread, crust removed3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar15 tomatoes, pureed and strained through a China cap strainer, plus 6 tomatoes, seeded and diced, for gazpacho9 Kirby cucumbers, stripe-peeled, seeded, and diced4 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced
1 head napa cabbage, shredded1 carrot, julienned1 onion, sliced1/2 cup scallions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces3/4 cup sweet chili sauce4 tablespoons chopped garlic3 tablespoons chopped ginger2 tablespoons sriracha1/4 cup light soy sauce1 teaspoon dried shrimp powder (available at H Mart)
Incorporate all ingredients and let marinate for at least an hour (the longer the better).
Pastry cases are taking over the town.
Bakeries are popping up faster than city food trucks! Hamilton Bakery (5414 Harford Rd., 410-254-0797) added its fresh-baked goods and breads to the ever-growing northeast culinary corridor in May. For co-owner Ruben Hernandez it was the fulfillment of a dream. "I'm a foodie at heart," he says. "I thought I'd like to do this." Evidently, so do a lot of others. Roland Park Bakery and Deli moved to a Hampden location in April after its Roland Avenue location closed. When customers asked owner Anita Ward if she was going to continue operating the bakery, she had no doubts.
Our Baltimore delicacy makes its appearance in an array of clever dishes. Check out our favorites.
We haven't lost our allegiance to steamed crabs and crab cakes. (That will never happen.) We just felt it was time to pay homage to all the other ways crabmeat gets used in restaurants around these parts. Local chefs are extremely creative, incorporating jumbo lump into everything from the quirky (like the crab pretzel) to the avant-garde (decadent deviled eggs, anyone?). We also sought advice on everyone's favorite party snack—crab dip. We asked several food-loving personalities to share their special ingredient. You'll be surprised by some of the responses: Curry! Almonds!
A new Indian restaurant is worth a visit
We may have overlooked this Fells Point gem if we hadn't heard about it from so many people. The recently opened Darbar (1911 Aliceanna St., 410-563-8008) Indian restaurant deserves your attention, too. The servers, in crisp white shirts and black trousers, are friendly and efficient. But it's the food that will win you over. We started with crisp papadum to scoop up a threesome of condiments: mint chutney, onion chutney, and tamarind sauce.
Wine shops are offering reusable totes, too
Reusable bags have almost become status symbols in markets. They say to other shoppers that you care about the environment by limiting disposable throwaways. So, it was only a matter of time before wine shops realized their customers might like to take purchases home in bags they could reuse, too. Bin 604 in Harbor East has a bright-yellow, four-bottle tote for $1.50. The straps are long enough that you can sling it conveniently over your shoulder. The Wine Source in Hampden has a sturdy maroon, six-bottle one for $2.99.