This French dessert is a classic finale to a holiday meal.
The holiday season is all about succumbing to sweet traditions–candy canes, sugar cookies, and, yes, even fruitcake. But what could be more tempting than a buche de Noel? Translated "yule log," the classic French Christmas dessert usually features genoise (yellow sponge cake) rolled with jam or buttercream frosting, then covered with more frosting and garnished with delicate meringue mushrooms. Patisserie Poupon (820 E.
If you haven’t been to this Ecuadorian gem, you don’t know what you’re missing.
A sweet little Ecuadorian storefront restaurant has survived for more than three years on Fells Point's Latino restaurant row, where storefronts tend to come and go. That alone speaks to the quality of La Cazuela, (1718 Eastern Ave., 410-522-9485), which distinguishes itself from its competitors with its genuine restaurant feel (beige tablecloths and spotless, sunny surrounds), the attentive ministrations of owners Enrique and Marina Tapia, and its consistently fine food. Yet on a recent visit, we were troubled to see the place nearly empty.
We’ll Drink to That!
The storm clouds of holiday stress are gathering forebodingly on the horizon. Many of our most important religious and secular holidays manage to be crammed into a period of just five weeks. But lest we forget, 'tis the season of love, happiness, family, friends, and spiritual renewal. And it's that spirit of conviviality—and the joy that comes from sharing a great experience with the people closest to you—that is the essence of wine.
This is one Winter Storm Baltimoreans look forward to.
The cold, crisp weather that autumn sweeps in makes us long for fireplaces and warm, spicy seasonal foods. And with those fall dishes, we like to turn to heartier seasonal beers, like Clipper City's just-released Winter Storm ale. Richer and more complex than those watery light beers you drank all summer, this Imperial ESB also packs a mean punch with 7.5 percent alcohol. "Because of the hop availability, this year's is pretty much identical to last year's," says Clipper City honcho Hugh Sisson.
I consider myself a bit of a sushi snob. Mostly this manifests in an aversion to maki (or rolls). To me, maki is for sushi-eating amateurs, the people who want dressed up tempura or fake crab stick wrapped in rice. Give me my nigiri (sushi) and sashimi any time—the more esoteric (hello uni and live scallop!), the better. Yamato has made me rethink this point of view. To be sure, their nigiri and sashimi are delicious—fresh and thickly sliced and always lovingly assembled.
Another Thai spot on Charles? Hey, why not?
Now that Minato has moved from its basement digs to a bright first-floor location two blocks up on Charles, that spot below Donna's needed new tenants. Enter My Thai (800 N. Charles Street, 410-528-8737), yet another entrant into the Great Charles Street Thai Restaurant Sweepstakes. It's a strong contender; the brick-lined basement grotto feels cozy and urban, and we always enjoy the option of getting sushi, when we're not in the mood for pad Thai.
Dial. Wait. Busy signal. Dial. Wait. Busy signal. Dial . . . . That's the drill if you want to score reservations at minibar (405 8th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 202-393-0812), the restaurant tucked into a corner of José Andrés's Cafe Atlantico. With only six stools at its counter, and only two seatings per night, weekend slots are usually gone within 15 minutes of the reservation phone line opening. (Call at 9 a.m. a month to the day before you want your table.) But it's worth all that fuss to experience Andrés's little love project.
Bartenders has suds, pizza ... and old-vine Carignan wine.
On first glance, Bartenders (2218 Boston Street, 410-534-2337) looks like any other Canton or Fells Point bar into which you might stumble: tin ceiling, plenty of TVs tuned to sports, and plenty of baseball-capped patrons downing their suds. But here and there, you'll see a couple leaning in close to each other and delicately touching thin-stemmed wine glasses. Bartenders has a surprisingly ambitious wine program— especially fun on Wednesday nights, when they feature four more unusual wines that aren't on their normal list.
The Grapevine Cafe
"Huh," says my friend Ben as we gaze around the Grapevine Cafe. Translation: "I do believe that the only people at this restaurant younger than ourselves are the wait staff."
"Yep," I say back. Still, at 34, I have reached an age where I take a certain level of comfort in feeling young by comparison, so I happily settle into the bar with my friends to wait for our table. It will take about 20 minutes; we're hitting the place just a couple weeks after a mostly positive review in the Sun, and they're still dealing with a new rush of business.
Made in Maryland
Perhaps the most alluring charm of European travel, at least from a wine perspective, is getting the chance to sample regional wines with regional fare. To wash down a hunk of Crottin de Chavignol with a delightfully crisp Sancerre, or a grilled steak dressed in lemon juice and olive oil with a fine Chianti, is to dip oneself in the sensual reflecting pool of a given region.
First-time restauranteurs divulge the joys and tribulations of owning their own establishments.
When Sam Curreri opened Sammy's Trattoria in Mount Vernon in June 2006, he thought he was well prepared to own his own restaurant. After all, he'd spent a dozen years as general manager at one of Baltimore's busiest restaurants, Chiapparelli's. Curreri figured he had seen it all.
Then his sprinkler system failed. And flooded the restaurant. The day he had a big political dinner booked.
"It almost flooded the whole dining room," Curreri recalls. "I kept calling it Venice and joking that I wanted to put a gondola in there."
For George Hastings, shucking oysters is all about creating pillows on the half shell and kissing the sea.
"Eating an oyster without a fork is kinda like kissing," says George Hastings. He's evaluating the denuded and glistening mollusk now lolling in the half shell he holds in his hand.
Now in its fifth decade and second generation, a Baltimore bakery is going strong.
It's a dessert lover's dream, a Fort Knox of foodstuffs. Stacked on racks inside a refrigerated corridor in a warehouse in Pikesville are hundreds upon hundreds of sweet slabs of cheesecake, each sealed inside an individually sized plastic container like Snow White in her glass coffin. Some slices are marbled with flamingo swirls of strawberry or smoky streaks of chocolate, while other unadorned pieces have the glowing, creamy complexion that only fresh eggs and real dairy ingredients can supply.
Another upscale grocer comes to Maryland.
The first thing that hits you at the new Fresh Market (2510 Quarry Lake Drive, 410-580-1930) is the music: Unlike your normal grocery store's soundtrack of Muzak or classic pop, the sound system here pipes in soothing classical pieces. Once you get over the aural shock, though, you'll see that the rest of the store matches that classy intro. Tiny compared to a Wegmans (or even a Whole Foods), Fresh Market nevertheless feels spacious because of the wide-open layout.
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.