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.
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.