With a family to feed, businesswoman Monyka Berrocosa puts an early interest in food and fine dining to good use.
Donning a red-striped apron as she emulsifies Dijon mustard to make a proper French vinaigrette, Monyka Berrocosa says that learning to cook was a matter of basic survival. “My mother was a terrible cook,” says Berrocosa, as she stands in the charming galley kitchen of her Towson home, with her Hungarian Vizsla, Tokai, at her feet. “Everything she ever made turned into spaghetti sauce—even if she started with a chicken.
Fans tout the merits of fruit and vegetable drinks.
Juices pack a punch these days, both nutritionally and in popularity. You’ll find a variety of drinks chock full of vitamins and minerals around town, including at Zia’s, Liquid Earth, and Grind House Juice Bar & Market. Even actor Woody Harrelson, a raw-food proponent, inspired one local drink when he was in Baltimore filming Game Change. To meet his request for a healthy beverage, Agora Market (Inn at the Black Olive, 803 S.
Food trucks aren’t putting the brakes on anytime soon.
Just look at the increasing number of vans taking to the streets with all manner of cuisine. We like the variety, but we always find ourselves going back to these road warriors.
We rank the top 50 places to eat around Baltimore.
Each year, while the rest of our friends and family are reveling in the high holidays of food—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas—we’re feasting, too. But most of our bingeing has to do with the “Best Restaurants” issue. Starting in October, we actually visit every restaurant on last year’s list, while checking out new restaurants and other spots with a strong buzz, to make our decisions on who makes the cut. We focus on places that serve dinner, looking for stellar food, service, and ambiance.
Steak mogul Steve de Castro’s home is a monument to a life of hard work—and a drive for perfection.
“I’ve been working pretty much my whole life,” says de Castro. “Living in a Communist country, one of the things Fidel [Castro] did was have you work for him every day on your own land. I remember when I was maybe 12 or 13, I’d get up and help my mother reach her daily quota—whether it was helping with sugar cane or hoeing in between rows of plantains.”
Area restaurants carry on the food traditions of Korea.
When TV personality, chef, and food writer Andrew Zimmern came to Baltimore last summer, he visited a variety of eating establishments including Angie’s Soul Food at Lexington Market and Chaps Charcoal Restaurant for pit beef. But he also wanted to go to several of the area’s Korean restaurants while filming an episode for the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods America. At Nam Kang on Maryland Avenue, Zimmern chowed down on octopus bibimbap and fish-roe jjigae before heading to Shin Chon Garden Restaurant in Ellicott City, where he continued his eating foray.
Local bakers create a stir with the popular breakfast mix.
Granola just didn’t crumble and go away when the hippies grew up. The cereal, like its sturdy grain-fruits-and-nuts ingredients, is as resilient as Birkenstocks and is actually having a resurgence around town. Michele’s Granola—an all-natural, organic mix with choices like pumpkin spice and ginger hemp—and Stone Mill Bakery, with its Tupelo honey granola, are just two of the local businesses continuing the cereal’s legacy.
Each year, we notice that Baltimore’s restaurant wine lists get more interesting and progressive as a genuine enthusiasm for good juice increases. Here are three delicious finds we sampled while working on this month’s “Best Restaurants” issue.
Your sip tip of the month.
There’s something about popping the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine that simply makes an evening more special. This is especially true on Valentine’s Day when sharing a toast together with a convivial glass of bubbles is the perfect way to kick off the evening. Here are three delicious wines to suit any budget.
A restaurant couple finds a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
On Valentine’s Day, executive chef Michael Matassa and sommelier Debi Bell-Matassa, pictured, of Alchemy in Hampden will be doing what Baltimore’s other restaurant couples do each year—working. The Alchemy owners, who have been married 20 years, will be making sure the rest of us have a wonderfully romantic evening on February 14. But Bell-Matassa and her husband will take time out for themselves on the Monday after with a massage and pedicure and a great dinner. “As many hours as we work, we still do downtime,” she says.
Restaurants set the stage for February 14.
1. Charleston, 1000 Lancaster St., 410-332-7373. Award-winning Charleston continues to rack up the accolades. “Does it really deserve this praise?” we sometimes ask. Yup, it does. You can count on chef/co-owner Cindy Wolf to turn out a beautiful prix-fixe meal, with wine pairings, if you’d like.
Think New England has a monopoly on maple syrup? Think again.
Maryland actually has a robust maple-syrup industry, though it’s mostly centered in Western Maryland. Still, several Baltimore-area organizations are hosting events this month to celebrate the sugaring season. Check websites for times, prices, and registration requirements.
Oregon Ridge has maple-sugaring demonstrations and tastings February 16-17 and 23-24, plus a Full Sap Moon Night Hike on February 22. All this leads up to its annual Pancake Breakfasts the first weekend in March. oregonridge.org.
Winston Blick of Clementine transitions from chef to business manager.
Despite his affable manner, Winston Blick is worried. The chef/owner of Clementine restaurant in Hamilton and the recently opened Green Onion market and Clementine at the Creative Alliance is once again trying to make payroll. “We’re struggling,” he admits. “If I hadn’t done half of the dumb-ass things I did, we’d be successful.” But Blick has never done things the easy way. He dropped out of high school (later getting his GED), married and divorced young, and started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher.
Two local women find a creative outlet with cookies, popcorn, and more.
Take one city special-ed teacher and one nanny, add a mutual fondness for cooking, and the result is Kinderhook Snacks, a delicious assortment of sweet and savory nibbles, like Baked Cheese Stamps, pictured, Bacon Popcorn, and Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies. Partners Katie Horn and Marie Stratton started their business “kind of on a whim” about a year ago, Stratton says. The name evolved from a fascination with presidential trivia.
Former Sun columnist/beer-book author Rob Kasper keeps the home fires burning.
Sitting in a Prairie-style chair at the kitchen table of his Bolton Hill row home, Rob Kasper reminisces about the round, claw-foot table of his childhood. “Some of the strongest memories I have are of sitting at that kitchen table,” says Kasper, who wrote for The Baltimore Sun for 34 years. “I have the strong belief that the kitchen table is the center of life from which all good ideas come—from the theory of light, to who is going to win the pennant, to how to make a good gravy.” Indeed, the kitchen table might also explain why a boy from the small town of St.