A new take on white wines.
Spring’s gloriously warm weather has us in the mood for refreshing white wines—specifically, whites made from grape varieties that show off lighter fruit tones, have zingy acidity, cool mineral tones, and are unfettered by oak aging. We’re talking about the kind of wine you’d want to wash down a plate of flash-fried calamari or deliciously local asparagus from the farmers’ markets. We’ve tracked down three thirst quenchers to get you in the mood for patio sipping.
SoBo Cafe gets another chance.
Who doesn’t love a savior?
<p>Brio Tuscan Grille fills Inner Harbor gap.</p>
After languishing empty for several years, the prominent Inner Harbor space once occupied by Legal Sea Foods has a new tenant, Brio Tuscan Grille (100 E. Pratt St., 410-637-3440). The national chain, which also has a location in Annapolis, specializes in Italian food inspired by Tuscany. It’s debatable whether we need another trattoria in Baltimore, but Brio provides a fun atmosphere and well-prepared food that will appeal to downtown visitors. On a recent visit, I ordered grilled shrimp with orzo ($14.95, lunch).
A devotion to cereal treats leads to a cafe.
Nikki Lewis has fond memories of making Rice Krispies Treats when she was a child. As an adult, they became her go-to dessert for friends and families. Eventually, her love of the sticky, crunchy rice-cereal treat evolved into her own brand, Mallow Crunchies. Lewis puts her imprint on the sweet snacks by using ingredients like homemade marshmallow and caramel. She sells them through a website (themallowbar.com) and at local farmers’ markets, but always envisioned having her own place. “It’s been a long-term goal to own a cafe,” she says.
This pick-up service helps busy shoppers.
There aren’t many things more stressful than pushing your cart through a grocery store while your baby cries and your toddler pulls items off the shelves. But those days are over thanks to a service at the new Harris Teeter in South Baltimore called “Express Lane," through which you order your groceries online, a personal shopper selects the items at the store, you pick them up, and an associate loads them into your car.
Louisiana comes to Lauraville.
Tooloulou’s space is humble—a tiny storefront, open kitchen, and a few tables and counters. But the ambiance is warm and inviting, and chef/co-owner Shawn Lagergren is happy to talk about his menu, which ranges from artisan pizzas and po’ boys to sandwiches like the Coca-Cola baked ham and muffuletta, a New Orleans classic. His Louisiana food leanings make sense since he hails from there. Today, he and his wife, Megan, live in Lauraville, where the store (4311 Harford Rd., 443-627-8090, http://tooloulou.com) is located.
Celebrating warmer weather with wines from Loire Valley
The promise of warmer days ahead infuses the current season with a sense of anticipation. This month, we turn to the Loire Valley of France to find three wines that embody this time of year, and that will pair well with springtime bounty like lamb, asparagus, peas, and leafy greens.
Since The Corner Stable opened in Cockeysville in 1972, it has attracted hungry, happy crowds with its aim-to-please menu—heavy on fall-off-the-bone ribs and oversized crab cakes and light on anything that might be construed as newfangled or trendy.
Heavy Seas promises heady cuisine.
There was no denying the excitement when Matt Seeber was named executive chef of the new Heavy Seas Alehouse (1300 Bank St., 410-522-0850, heavyseasalehouse.com) near Little Italy. After all, this is a man who headed up one of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants in Las Vegas. Colicchio is probably best known as a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef. If Seeber had his culinary approval, we could only imagine what his impact would be on Alehouse’s menu.
Artisan popcorn arrives on the local scene.
Caramel popcorn lovers, rejoice. You don’t need to make a trip to the beach for your favorite treat. Robin Garrison has come to your rescue with her new business, Popsations Popcorn Company. “Baltimore needed hot, fresh, gooey popcorn,” says the Towson native. “I decided to go for it.” She now makes gourmet popcorn—in flavors including caramel, chocolate caramel drizzles, and classic cheddar—in a commercial kitchen in Timonium the old-fashioned way, using copper kettles and wooden paddles.
Downtown Diane reins in her busy life by cooking.
Even in the calm and comfort of her own Pikesville kitchen, Diane Macklin is in perpetual motion. She makes coffee with her new single-cup Keurig brewer, throws open the doors of a cabinet to show off her Indian spices, rifles through a recipe notebook to share her favorite dishes, and quickly pulls items out of her refrigerator.
Our twelve favorites
Happy days are here again.
Economy be damned. This past year, Baltimore became a haven for new restaurants, many with impressive chefs in the kitchens. We expect these upstarts to have a big impact on next year’s “Best Restaurants” list. Old-timers would do well not to rest on their laurels. Here are the 10 new kids to watch.
Bond Street Social 901 S. Bond St., 443-449-6234. What we like: This contemporary, wood-encased, fireplace-loaded space encourages sharing with its “social” drinks and small plates, convivial staff, and friendly bars.
Chazz: A Bronx Original 1415 Aliceanna St., 410-522-5511. What we like: Actor Chazz Palminteri and chef Sergio Vitale formed an awesome partnership to present Italian-American cuisine, featuring coal-fired-oven pizza, complemented by a chic décor that reflects New York locales.
The old-school cocktail is making a comeback.
On a chilly January night, the line at Maisy’s in Mt. Vernon was out the door. No, it wasn’t a hot new DJ or big-ticket fundraiser. It was an event for the Forgotten Cocktail Club, a group dedicated to old-school drinks that was started by B&O American Brasserie bar manager Brendan Dorr and Blackwater Distilling production manager Jon Blair. “Everyone wants their food to be local and organic, and that has trickled down to cocktails,” Dorr says.
It’s become fashionable to shorten the lengthy names of some grape varieties for the sake of brevity. Many folks now refer to Cabernet Sauvignon as “Cab” and Sauvignon Blanc as “Sauv Blanc.” I don’t like it, but I can live with it.
There is a problem, though, with asking your friendly neighborhood wine shop for a good Pinot. There are different kinds: Blanc, Gris, and Noir. Save everyone the awkwardness and say the whole thing.
Not sure which one you want? Here’s what you need to know, using three wines as examples.