Atwater’s elevates the bread from punch line to palate pleaser.
Fruitcakes take a lot of abuse. They’re the butt of jokes and maligned as doorstops or boat anchors. Ned Atwater—owner of several local shops making and selling fresh foods and baked goods, including Atwater’s in Belvedere Square—set out nine years ago to bring a little respect to the seasonal dessert. “People were skeptical,” he admits.
An inside look at the region’s top 25 watering holes
You could say that Baltimore is a city of regulars. People who are from here tend to stay here. Consequently, our local watering holes are full of lifers, Baltimoreans born and bred, and when they find a place they like, they stick with it. So, we wanted to do as the regulars do, and give you a stool's-eye-view of the best after-hours haunts. And while we're extolling the city's treasures, we also give you a rundown of hyper-local cocktails, made with regional ingredients and Charm City firmly in mind. Plus, we give you insider tips on the best places for late-night eats.
A Federal Hill cafe offers sweet treats and coffee
A chic Federal Hill cafe is drawing early birds and late-night customers alike with its trendy frozen yogurt, pastries, and espresso. Afters Café (1001 S. Charles St., 410-244-0909) is airy and bright, even on a rainy day, with tiled tabletops and a cozy seating area with comfy couches. Self-serve frozen-yogurt dispensers line the wall beside the cash register and a toppings bar is available with items like fresh fruit and candy—at 45 cents an ounce for everything, you can have as much or as little as you'd like.
Savor our American holiday meal with reds, whites, and a bubbly
Thanksgiving—America's most anticipated food and wine holiday—is nearly upon us. And now is the time to stock the wine rack with goodies that will pull together all the disparate flavors of our time-honored holiday traditions: turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, green veggies, and so on. Sure, you can celebrate with a bottle from a wine country beyond our shores, but you will probably want to honor our local bounty with something made in the U.S.A. Here's an all-American lineup for your meal.
Suburban House claims to have the world's largest matzo balls. When asked if there is any empirical evidence to support this claim, however, our waitress just shrugged. Soon she returned, balancing a shallow soup plate with what looked like a softball resting in its center, surrounded by bright-yellow chicken broth and wide slithery noodles. This dense dumpling is not just big; it's seriously good.
Sabatino's draws after-hours diners
If your late-night hunger pains pine for civilized dining, complete with silverware, cloth napkins, and top-rate Italian cooking, head to Sabatino's (901 Fawn St., 410-727-9414). The vaunted Little Italy restaurant stays open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays (12 a.m. other nights), serving its entire, extensive menu. There's something beautiful about digging into a plate of frutti di mare, a medley of seafood served in homemade marinara sauce over spaghetti in the wee hours. The Famous Bookmaker Salad is also a great way to start—or end—a meal.
A familiar dish graces the table.
John Shields, the chef/owner of Gertrude's at The Baltimore Museum of Art, is just like any other Baltimore cook on Thanksgiving. He has to make sauerkraut. Besides local tradition, he has another inspiration—Gertie Cleary. "My grandmother used to make it," he says. "I reworked it, remembering what she did." He also honors Gertie each year with a Krautfest at the restaurant, to be held on January 13 and 14, 2012.
Gertie's Sauerkraut and Apples
Dough Makers Talk About Their Pizzas
Bob Dylan, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and writer-producer David Simon are in good company. They love Matthew's Pizza. The popular pizzeria was founded in 1943 by Matthew Cacciolo, who brought his recipes from his native Italy. Says current owner Chris Maler (whose uncle Jesse Cox is a partner): "We like to say that he built the foundation, and we built the house."
Wines to drink with pizza
"Pizza wine" is a moniker that once conjured up images of red-checked tablecloths and straw-basket bottles. Nowadays, lots of wines claim to go with pizza, but few have what it takes to work.
Pizza is usually about tomato and cheese, and to sing with both, a wine needs a fresh, snappy acidity to go toe to toe with a high-acid food like tomato and to clean up the fatty textures of mozzarella. Check out these three charmers that have what it takes to pair with pies.
It's been 14 years since Stewart Dearie opened Baldwin's Station in a brick 1883 railroad station anchoring the picturesque Main Street in Sykesville. But if his performance on a recent evening is a guide, his enthusiasm for the restaurant and its customers has not dimmed.
A hot-dog eatery raises the bar with toppings
With a prime location in Canton Square, Dog Bar (2938 O'Donnell St., 410-409-4232) brings a taste of the boardwalk to the city. Begin with a Baltimore Build Your Own Dog (starting at $3.29)—a steamed, quarter-pound, all-beef wiener that can be stacked with specialty toppings like bacon, guacamole, and pulled pork for 59-99 cents extra.
A sweet shop turns to a variety of patties
Puffs & Pastries has transitioned into the Baltimore Burger Bar (830 W. 36th St., 410-878-1266) with owner Anisha Jagtap using her culinary talents for savory fare. This isn't your typical burger joint, however. With a few tables on the front porch, there's room to stay, though bigger groups will have to do carry out. The menu (without prices) is handwritten on a blackboard, with sides, sauces, and vegetarian and specialty burgers changing weekly.
Candy maker branches out to caramel apples.
Baltimore's homegrown Wockenfuss, long known for its chocolates and other candies, also makes luscious caramel apples on a stick—from plain and milk-chocolate caramel to a monster almond caramel apple ($5.49-7.49). For the fifth year, the company will set up shop at the annual Darlington Apple Festival (Oct. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.) in northeast Harford County to sell hundreds of caramel apples, says company president Paul Wockenfuss, a third-generation owner. Of course, you can get these treats all year long at its eight stores.
It’s the ultimate comfort food, and we’ll tell you where to find the best.
For a town not known for its pizza, we sure have a lot of pizzerias. The pies show up on a number of restaurant and bar menus, too. And while we don't have a signature pizza style a la New York or Chicago, we have so much variety that you can just let your taste buds lead the way. Want classic? Go for a straightforward Margherita. Traditional? There's pepperoni and sausage everywhere. Gourmet? Choices abound—from crab and roasted duck to mac and cheese.
A new winery sprouts in Baltimore County
DeJon Vineyard in Long Green Valley is the little winery that could. The former cattle farm may not be as well known as its neighbor Boordy Vineyards, but Baltimore County's first winery to open in 23 years is already making a name for itself. Its wines have taken medals in the 2010 and 2011 Maryland Winemasters' Choice Awards. Owners John Wilkerson, a retired software exec, and his wife Denise McCloskey, a full-time ER nurse, started growing grapes in 2008. "We thought, 'Why don't we make wine if we have all these grapes,'" Wilkerson says. And so they did in a refurbished hay barn.