A friendship among local chefs is a recipe for success on Baltimore’s culinary scene.
Sometimes, local chefs connect in unusual ways. Last fall, en route to Hampden’s The Food Market, chef/co-owner Chad Gauss was driving his Mercedes-Benz when a Honda Pilot pulled past a stop sign on Keswick Road, nearly careening into his car. The Honda stopped in the knick of time, but Gauss was pretty angry, launching a few “F-bombs.” Then, he realized that the car’s driver was none other than fellow culinary colleague Chris Becker, chief operations officer for the Bagby Restaurant Group.
Canned fruit adds a touch of summer to your day.
We found just the antidote to the wintertime blues—canned peaches. These aren’t those limp, pale slices you usually find in grocery stores. These are tree-ripened, golden halves from nearby orchards that have been processed so we can enjoy them all year long.
For a splurge, we turn to Toigo Orchards Bourbon Peaches, pictured, $15.99, from Shippensburg, PA, available at area Whole Foods.
Merlot has endured a tarnished reputation for years.
Merlot has endured a tarnished reputation for years. Many insiders blame the movie Sideways for making fun of Merlot drinkers while extolling the virtues of Pinot Noir; I’m not convinced an indie film, no matter how good, was solely responsible for Merlot’s downfall. Perhaps we were all simply yearning for lighter-bodied reds. Nonetheless, most of the Merlot out there is well worth checking out.
Neyers Merlot Napa Valley 2010
$40, Prestige Beverage Group
The Marquee Lounge merits its own billing.
Sure, it’s convenient to stop at the Marquee Lounge for a beer and a bite to eat before or after a show at Creative Alliance at the Patterson in Highlandtown. But you don’t really need a performance as an excuse to sidle up to the bar or take a seat at one of the restaurant’s bare wood tables. The small, lively bistro is a destination unto itself. For a short time, the Hamilton restaurant Clementine managed the space, installing one of its former sous chefs in the kitchen.
We Find Our Favorite Sweet Treats
“How do I love thee?” Let us count the ways—a dozen doughnuts, a handful of chocolates, two almond croissants, and three scoops of ice cream. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what Elizabeth Barrett Browning had in mind. But sonnets aside, sweets and love are a natural pair any time of year, especially in February when a gift of candy means more than calories on Valentine’s Day. In fact, it’s the fourth biggest holiday for confectionery purchases (after Halloween, Easter, and Christmas), according to candyusa.com.
Becka Dowding, head barista at Dooby’s Coffee in Mt. Vernon, shares her tips and tricks for staying warm by making latte art and pour-over coffee at home.
Whole Latte Love
To make your own latte art at home, it’s important to start with whole milk because the fats create a velvety texture. Also, when steaming milk, hold the pitcher at an angle to create a swirl.
Tilt your cup to one side so that, when you start pouring your steamed milk, it goes underneath the espresso.
Southern staples shine at the Charles Village eatery.
When the vacant corner spot that once housed the venerable M & J’s Soul Food at 25th and St. Paul streets began to show signs of activity earlier last year, we were giddy with anticipation for the comfort foods it promised. Finally, Georgia Soul Food opened in August and has already amassed a loyal following. Some hardcore enthusiasts may decry the absence of soul-food pillars like hog maws and feet as heresy—the menu being a fairly vanilla roster of home-style dishes—but what Georgia does, it does well.
The Charmery takes the chill out of winter with ice cream and hot chocolate.
That whacky David Alima, co-owner of The Charmery (801 W. 36th St., 410-814-0493) with his wife Laura, just can’t stop coming up with ideas.
“The beautiful thing about ice cream is that it’s a blank palette,” he says. “I constantly think about what flavors to do.”
He’s had fun with creations like Chinese Food and a Movie (a buttered-popcorn base with chocolate-covered fortune-cookie pieces) to celebrate a Jewish tradition at Christmastime and “Crunch” Davis (a sweet-cream base with orange-and-black sprinkles and candy-bar bits) in honor of the O’s Chris Davis.
We’ve gathered three wines that embody the passion and flavor of the region, just in time for your Valentine’s Day dinner.
St. Valentine is the enigmatic Italian who has evolved into a symbol of love and affection, and what is a more romantic setting than Tuscany in Italy? With its tidy estates of grapes and olive groves, luxurious villas, mouthwatering cuisine, and world-class wines, this legendary jewel draws many with its allure. We’ve gathered three wines that embody the passion and flavor of the region, just in time for your Valentine’s Day dinner.
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona IGT Toscana Rosso 2011
$15, The Country Vintner
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free goodies are available too.
These days, there are sweet options for most people dealing with dietary and medical restrictions. “I’ve seen people literally dance when they learn they can have a vegan cupcake,” says Mark Zlatich, manager of Sweet 27. The Remington cafe and bakery is happy to fill a need by specializing in gluten-free goodies and vegan treats.
Biologically, it may just be our nature.
Ever since the discovery of sugarcane in New Guinea in 6,000 B.C., our fixation with sugar has been both a complex source of woe (we’ve been known to cry in the face of a perfect chocolate mousse) and worship. (We bow to the altar of fudge.)
Baltimore sure loves them. But are Berger Cookies really all that? An unscientific debate.
When I first moved to Baltimore more than 20 years ago, everyone told me I had to try the Berger Cookie. “Life changing,” they said. “Best. Cookie. Ever.” So I bought a box. My first thought was the cookie looked unremarkable, but perhaps that was part of its charm? My second thought, after tasting it, was: THIS is the cookie everyone’s so gonzo about? I admit that, all these years later, like some sort of cookie-based Stockholm Syndrome, I’ve come to sort like the misshapen fudgy disc, but I still maintain it’s a mediocre cookie, at best.
Chef, musician, author, and television personality.
First, I want to talk about the Edible Inevitable tour coming to Baltimore on February 22.
It’s fun to say isn’t it?
Yeah, it’s a bit of a tongue twister. So what’s in the show? Is this your first tour?
It is. I’ve done a lot of live shows. But they’ve always been stand alones, and I’ve always wanted to actually put out an entire tour together, and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to do it.
What did you want to include that you haven’t been able to include before?
Wit & Wisdom
Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, 200 International Dr., 410-576-5800.
Award-winning pastry chef Chris Ford may have moved on, but the restaurant hasn’t missed a beat with its sweet endings. Look for a new pastry chef and dessert choices in February.
Editor’s pick: “The Baltimore Bar,” with caramel, chocolate mousse, peanut ganache, a brownie, peanuts, and Maldon sea salt.
Blue Hill Tavern
938 S. Conkling St., 443-388-9363.
Annabel Lee Tavern
601 S. Clinton St., 410-522-2929.
There is something about this Edgar Allan Poe-inspired tavern that makes us want to curl up next to the fire and sip a decadent cocktail—and they have plenty to choose from.
Editor’s choice: The Isadore with High Grounds coffee, Fireball whiskey, Baileys Irish Cream, vanilla extract, and a whipped-cream topper.
B&O American Brasserie
2 N. Charles St., 410-692-6172.