Just because the weather is warm doesn't mean you can't enjoy red wine. But instead of the usual choices like Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, here are three delicious varieties you may not have considered.
Red Pearl Chinese Restaurant in Columbia offers a healthy dose of the real deal. It eschews Pan-Asian or other such external influences instead, focusing on authentic Szechuan, Mandarin, and Cantonese cuisine.
<p>Snowballs: Born in Baltimore</p>
For Baltimoreans, it's a rude awakening to move to or visit other parts of the country and discover that our beloved summer institution, snowballs, are virtually unknown.
As it turns out, the frozen treat has a long history specific to Charm City: In the late 1800s, Baltimore kids besieged ice trucks driving from New York to the South and begged for ice shavings on hot summer days. Their moms made flavorings—the most common was egg custard, because it was so simple: eggs, vanilla, and sugar—to pour over the ice.
To propagate his garden, a restaurant owner turns to bees.
Alan Morstein, owner of Regi's American Bistro (1002 Light St., 410-539-7344), is now the proud overseer of more than 40,000 bees and his very own hive. "It's been so exciting," he says, as he looks forward to his new little workers buzzing around Federal Hill, pollinating the neighborhood flowers—and his own rooftop garden. Last year, Morstein, pictured, joined a growing number of restaurateurs who are cultivating vegetables and herbs on site.
A new Phillips restaurant without the name
When Bombora, the newest restaurant in the Phillips Seafood group, opened this spring in Ocean City, it signaled a big change for the global company. The name "Phillips" was attached neither to the oceanfront dining establishment that was formerly called Phillips by the Sea nor the building—the Beach Plaza Hotel—where it is located.
"We wanted to simplify everything," says Steve Phillips, the company's CEO. "We wanted Bombora to have its own identity."
We scoured area markets and shops to fill our carts with some of the best items around town.
We love a scavenger hunt, especially when it involves food. And that's exactly what it was like as we scurried around town, researching our local markets—from farmers' stalls and gourmet grocers to ethnic shops and organic stores. We discovered an array of new products and ingredients, including a wide assortment of vegan, raw foods, and gluten-free items. Our pantry is now bursting.
Gianni’s serves up crabs, Italian cuisine, and even doughnuts.
Meatballs, doughnuts, and steamed crabs may seem like an odd combo, but a restaurant in Halethorpe is offering all three under the same roof. Greg Orendorff, who owns Gianni's Italian Bistro (3720 Washington Blvd., 410-242-4555) with his wife Colleen, has expanded his operation.
Friendly comfort-food spot deserves a look.
If you've overlooked this cute cafe at the corner of St. Paul and East 25th Streets, you might want to take notice. Terra Café (410-777-5277) attracts a diverse following by offering free Wi-Fi, live music on Mondays, open-mic nights on second Fridays, and a menu heavy (and we use that word advisedly; this is not low-calorie dining!) on comfort-food favorites. To wit: Try the cheese steak ($7.95), pictured, which is available with chicken or beef, on a toasted roll loaded with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo.
Off the Eaten Path
As we graze our way through an array of small plates—steamed Brussels sprouts with soy dipping sauce, seared scallops on a bed of kale with a crumble of salty pork belly, and a simple flatbread with fresh garlic embedded beneath chewy mozzarella—we're already planning our next visit, wondering about all the things we didn't get to try this time around.
While May flowers seem to get all the attention, our favorite thing that April showers bring is rosé season. The wine's styles can range from slightly sweet crowd pleasers to full-bodied dark hues, not far removed from light red wine.
Rosés—not to be confused with sweet blush-colored White Zinfandels—are typically made from red grapes, but the juice only stays in contact with the red-grape skins for a short time, resulting in a pink-colored wine rather than a red one. For warm-weather dining, rosés are indispensable for their versatility and quenching demeanor.
There’s nothing to beware of as demand for yogurt grows.
It's Greek to me. At least, that's what it seems like when you look at the rows of yogurt lined up in the dairy aisle these days. Foodmakers like Kraft, Dannon, and General Mills have joined the ranks of companies offering Greek yogurt along with mainstays like Fage and Chobani. Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has a tangier flavor, thicker texture, and, typically, lower sugar, more protein, and higher amounts of probiotics, or "good bacteria." But not all Greek yogurts are created equal. Check nutrition labels for saturated fat, sugar, and calorie info, as well as milk origin.
Going organic for Earth Day
As Earth Day approaches on April 22, it's a good time to examine the state of organic winemaking. First, there is a difference between organic wine and wine made from organic grapes. Both must follow the rules of organic farming in the vineyard, but the former cannot have any sulfites added to the wine after fermentation. Since sulfites stabilize wine so that it can travel long distances without breaking down, "made with organic grapes" is becoming the overwhelming preference for winemakers who wish to work organically.
Mama Vida grows into a gourmet food business.
This Randallstown company started with two salsas—one hot, one mild—almost 25 years ago. Now, Mama Vida produces more than seven varieties of salsa plus gourmet marinara sauces, tapenades, soups, and other food products (for a list, go to mamavida.com). Owners Toto and Miki Mechali were immigrants (he's from Morocco; she's from Israel) who followed other family members to Baltimore and founded a food-packaging plant. The company is named after Toto's mother, but Miki's mother, a Holocaust survivor, was an inspiration, too.
Aida taps into kegs for a custom wine system.
The new location of Aida Bistro & Wine Bar (6741 Columbia Gateway Dr., Columbia, 410-953-0500) offers more than an enlarged space and the restaurant's delectable Italian entrees and homemade pastas. It now has a sleek arrangement of 20 silver taps for wine at the bar plus a display case holding five-gallon kegs. These kegs, containing wine mostly from Virginia, California, and Oregon, dispense the liquid through the taps, allowing patrons to order as little as three ounces at a time.
Off the Eaten Path
The Waterstone Bar & Grille—on West Madison Street as it makes its way from Mt. Vernon to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard—was buzzing on a recent Friday. It's one of the more diverse after-work crowds we've seen in a while: a mix of med students and hospital techs (some in scrubs), doctors (both medical and the Ph.D. sort), government office workers, and even a suit or two. A nicely dressed couple in the dining room may well be heading to the Meyerhoff or the Hippodrome.