January, 28th 2013

New Orleans' "First Lady of Football"

jambalayaIn New Orleans, Olivia Manning, mother of quarterbacks Eli and Peyton, is considered the "First Lady of Football." It makes sense that she has some thoughts on game-day parties, especially since Super Bowl XLVII is being held in her backyard.

Manning has hooked up with Zatarain's, the maker of Cajun food products (which just happens to be owned by Sparks-based McCormick), to share party tips and New Orleans-style recipes for Sunday's Har-Bowl.

The football mother leans toward hearty, make-ahead dishes like jambalaya and chicken wings. I like her idea of setting up a jambalaya bar with add-ins like sausage, seafood, peppers, and onions so guests can customize the rice dish.

Manning also jazzes up wings with Creole mustard, chili sauce, and pineapple juice, "her husband's favorite," a press release says. Hubby is Archie Manning.

Visit Zatarain's Facebook page to check out all the game-day recipes.

Here's the recipe for Olivia Manning's Ultimate Jambalaya Bar to get you started. The recipe can be doubled.

2 cups water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional)

1 package Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix, original

1 pound meat or vegetables of your choice (see note)

Bring water and oil to boil in three-quart saucepan. Stir in rice mix; mix well. Return to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and rice is tender.

Remove from heat. Let stand five minutes. Fluff with fork before serving and adding in choices of meat, seafood, and vegetables. Serves six.

Note: For meats, options include smoked sausage, thinly sliced; cubed chicken or ham; or peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into bite-size pieces. For vegetables, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, or fresh chopped tomatoes can be used. All meat, seafood, and vegetables (except tomatoes) should be cooked properly before adding into prepared jambalaya.

Photo of jambalaya bar, courtesy of Zatarain's 

January, 25th 2013

Salisbury: A Restaurant-Crazy City?

ocean citySalisbury is a fine town, but should it be named one of "The 15 Most Restaurant-Crazy Cities in the Country," as determined by Huffington Post Food?

It not only made the list, but it was picked No. 2 in the nation. Juneau, Alaska, was No. 1.

And while HuffPost Food names Salisbury to its list, it included a photo of Ocean City, pictured. It's "part of the Salisbury metro area as defined by the NPD Group," the photo caption reads. (Note: Ocean City is about 30 miles from Salisbury.)

HuffPost Food based its findings on the NPD Group's annual ReCount survey, it said. You can find more details on the blog's website.

Of course, Ocean City has blossomed into a restaurant-filled resort and I'm happy for any Maryland recognition, but this study just gives me pause.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post Food 

12:00 pm Comment Count Tags: survey
January, 23rd 2013

Baltimore's Nancy Longo faces San Francisco chef

Nancy LongoNot just the Ravens and 49ers will be competing in New Orleans on Super Bowl weekend. At the Taste of the NFL, chefs from every football city will be serving up a regional specialty on Feb. 2 in The Big Easy.

Chef/owner Nancy Longo. pictured, of Pierpoint in Fells Point will meet San Francisco's Chef Gaines Dobbins in the culinary showdown that benefits food banks. She'll be serving crispy Louisiana blue-crab gyoza (pot stickers) with lemongrass oyster stew and crispy leeks.

Chef Dobbins will be preparing smoked Piedmontese brisket on rainbow cabbage slaw with Sharon's BBQ sauce.

The Taste of the NFL isn't a competition, but I'm rooting for Nancy's dish to draw a crowd. It sounds great.

Wayne Kostroski, founder of the NFL food gathering, predicted that both dishes would be popular with the guests. "The Super Bowl teams' stations are always a highlight of the evening," he said in a press release. "Guest can stop by ... to enjoy some regional cuisine and discuss their game-day predictions."

Nancy, who has been part of the Taste of the NFL for 16 years, will be sharing the Baltimore food station with former Ravens Qadry Ismail as part of the fan event.

Go Nancy and Qadry! Go Ravens!

Photo courtesy of Pierpoint's website 

January, 21st 2013

Inauguration cake baked in Baltimore

inauguration cakeThe Presidential Inaugural Committee asked Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes if his Baltimore team would bake the official Inauguration cake for tonight's Commander in Chief's Ball at the Washington Convention Center. Of course, he said yes.

The ball is one of just two parties that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend this evening.

Work on the six-tier cake took place this weekend as bakers and artists at the Remington bakery began constructing and decorating the giant pastry, pictured, Obama Foodorama blog reported.

Duff told AP that the three- to four-foot cake would have patriotic bunting, stars, glitter, and re-creations of the presidential seal and the seals of the four military branches in fondant and royal icing.

When finished, the cake is expected to weigh 50 pounds and serve several hundred people. Lucky guests will find layers of red velvet, lemon poppy seed, pineapple coconut, and pumpkin chocolate-chip, and Swiss buttercream icing inside the cake, AP said.

What a delicious way to celebrate.

Photo by Chris Dilts for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2013 

11:39 am Comment Count Tags: cake
January, 18th 2013

A Free Z-Burger If Ravens Win

Z-BurgerA Ravens win on Sunday equals a free burger on Monday at the White Marsh Z-Burger location. I hope the restaurant is ready. Of course, we're going to beat the New England Patriots.

Here's the deal: After we topple the Patriots, fans can go to the Z-Burger at The Avenue at White Marsh between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Monday and get their choice of a hamburger, cheeseburger, or veggie or turkey burger on a purple, pictured, or plain bun.

The purple bun has drawn some response in the Twitterverse with folks like @phillydesign writing: "Even if I was a Ravens fans, not sure I'd eat this purple-clad burger."

I have to agree. Some foods are not meant to be purple.

There's also a small catch to get the freebie. While there's no decoder ring, there is a secret password—"Super Bowl"—to receive the burger. I think we can all remember that.

Go Ravens!

Photo courtesy of Z-Burger's Facebook page 

January, 17th 2013

First Look: My Thai

my thai foodGood news: My Thai re-opened this week. The restaurant is now located in the refurbished Tack Factory along Central Avenue near Bank Street, serving much of its former menu.

The popular restaurant was displaced when a five-alarm fire in early December 2010 destroyed the historic Mt. Vernon building where it was located.

Now, My Thai has traded in its previous brick-lined basement grotto for a sleek, modern, street-level dining room, pictured below, with wood tables and floors and calm, earth-toned walls.

The space was once occupied by Lemongrass, which also served Thai cuisine. Heavy Seas Alehouse is a neighbor.

I went for a lunch visit today and can happily recommend my choice—pad woon sen ($14), pictured above, featuring a wonderful tangle of bean-thread noodles, a variety of veggies, and chicken and shrimp. The lunch dishes include a spring roll, too.

my thai interiorI can't wait to go back and try some of the other dishes, which will happen sooner than later since My Thai is within easy walking distance of my Harbor East office.

Other menu items include: crispy green beans, tom yum goong soup, pad Thai, crispy duck ka pow, a variety of curries, vegetarian dishes like stir-fried broccoli and spicy eggplant, and desserts like mango with sticky rice.

Don't let the chili-pepper drawings next to the dishes on the menu worry you. The restaurant lets you customize your "heat" quotient on a scale of one to three (impressive!).

I have to note that I was the only customer this afternoon. While the quiet was nice, I'm sure it's not going to last once diners realize My Thai is open again.

Photos by me 

January, 17th 2013

Feasting on the Seven Deadly Sins

christopher danielThese vices promise to be decadently delicious at Christopher Daniel's "7 Deadly Sins Dinner." The cleverly conceived meal includes a first course of wrath and, no surprise, ends with a dessert course of gluttony.

The seven-course, prix-fixe menu is $125 a person inclusive, with wine/beer/cocktail pairings. The event starts at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the Timonium restaurant. For reservations, call 410-308-1800.

Here's the wicked menu:

Passed hors d'oeuvres—Truffle popcorn and whipped goat cheese and mascarpone bruschetta with strawberries and basil. Served with a signature Five martini and Elyse Vineyards rosé.

First course: Wrath—Salt pond oyster on the half shell, topped with crispy-basil-and-tomato caviar. Paired with a spicy clear Bloody Mary shooter.

Second course: Envy—Cornmeal-crusted rainbow trout with asparagus and mushrooms, finished with a lemon-thyme beurre blanc. Paired with a Madrigal Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.

Third course: Pride—Black chicken roulades stuffed with goat cheese and red-beet purée, topped with a poached quail egg. Paired with a signature Christopher Daniel old-fashioned.

Fourth course: Sloth—Crispy pork belly with tomato-bacon jam and pickled veggies, finished with pork au jus. Paired with a double IPA.

Fifth course: Greed—Sous vide and seared buffalo heart with truffled duck risotto, finished with a duck aioli. Paired with Silkwood Wines Syrah.

Sixth course: Lust—Cherry tart with cherry foam. Served with a cold, spiked hot-chocolate shot.

Seventh course: Gluttony—Candy-cane bark, whipped peanut-butter cup, chocolate-covered vine strawberry, chocolate-espresso bread pudding with whipped cappuccino, and a layered chocolate truffle. Paired with a glass of Prosecco.

Sinning will never taste this good.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Daniel's Facebook page. 

11:06 am Comment Count Tags: events, restaurants
January, 16th 2013

$10 Wednesdays at Café Gia

Cafe GiaWednesdays just got better with this dinner deal at Café Gia in Little Italy. Starting tonight (Jan. 16), the charming restaurant (thanks for its lovely owner Gia) will offer pastas, pizzas, and risotto for $10.

Tonight's menu includes lamb ravioli in a butter-sage sauce, penne alla Norma, Sicilian tuna pizza, and risotto with sausage and peas, according to Gia's Facebook page.

There are no tricks involved. These are full portions. If you'd like glueten-free or whole-wheat pasta, add $2. The menu will rotate each Wednesday.

There is a scheduling issue to keep in mind. "Wednesdays at Gia" will take a break on Jan. 30 during Restaurant Week, but will be back in action on Feb. 6 and thereafter.

The restaurant opens at 5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Café Gia's Facebook page. 

January, 15th 2013

New restaurants announced for Towson

towson squareTowson is angling to be the area's next restaurant destination. Three restaurants—Nando's Peri-Peri, La Tagliatella, and On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina—will be part of the Towson Square entertainment complex, it was announced today.

They are the first of eight restaurants that will join Cinemark Theatres in the project being developed between East Joppa Road, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Virginia Avenue, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The other five restaurants will be unveiled later this year. The complex, pictured, is expected to be completed in 2014.

Another restaurant, Cunningham's—a New American, farm-to-table concept—is scheduled to open this summer in the Towson City Center. It is part of the Bagby Restaurant Group, which operates Bagby Pizza Co., Ten Ten, and Fleet Street Kitchen near Harbor East.

Architectural rendering courtesy of architizer.com

January, 15th 2013

Ravens cookies sweeten the game

Ravens cookiesThese look yummy. La Cakerie in Towson has stocked up on its popular Ravens cookies just in time for Sunday's game. They are $2.75 a piece.

In addition to the Ray Lewis cookies, pictured, La Cakerie has Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, and Anquan Boldin cookies, according to its Facebook page.

The bakery recommends ordering ahead for the weekend by calling 443-275-4050 or stopping by the shop at 49 W. Chesapeake Ave.

Photo courtesy of La Cakerie's Facebook page. 

10:41 am Comment Count Tags: bakery, Ravens
January, 11th 2013

Julia Child evening at Germano's

germano's trattoriaThe Cabaret at Germano's Trattoria presents Bon Appétit, a short opera, on Sunday, Jan. 13. The menu will reflect the performance.

The operatic monologue, performed by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Blades, pictured, was inspired by a PBS special, Julia Child: Cooking with the Masters.

It showcases cookbook and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich cooking pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage and risotto with porcini mushrooms.

In addition to the dinner and opera, Blades will portray Julia to performer Alessandra Fabiani's Lidia in a piece about the camaraderie of the two chefs.

The "Julia Child Meets Lidia Bastianich" event begins at 6 p.m. at the Little Italy restaurant. The cost is $39, excluding liquor, tax, and gratuity. For tickets, call 410-752-4515.

Photo by Edward S. Davis

January, 10th 2013

Glarus Chocolatier moves to Timonium

glarus chocolatierWe had a scare. We noticed that the Harbor East storefront, where Glarus Chocolatier was selling its Swiss chocolates, was empty.

After contacting Glarus co-owner Jenny Hauser, we found out that the chocolate company is moving to Timonium and is expected to be up and running by Valentine's Day. They weren't able to continue their lease in Harbor East.

The new shop will be located next to Smyth Jewelers at 2046 York Rd. "We're very excited about our move," Jenny said in an email.

We're looking forward to checking out the new place in February. The Glarus kitchen is closed for now. We think we can sustain our chocolate-bark deprivation until then.

Photo courtesy of Glarus's Facebook page

January, 10th 2013

Baltimore County Restaurant Week starts Friday

Baltimore County Restaurant WeekWho's participating? Baltimore County's Winter Restaurant Week kicks off tomorrow and runs through Jan. 27 at 44 restaurants, including The Milton Inn, Towson Tavern, and Patrick's of Cockeysville.

Diners will find prix-fixe meals, featuring one to three courses. Some restaurants also offer lunch deals.

The pricing varies at each restaurant. For instance, Cafe Troia in Towson has a three-course dinner for $35.13 and a three-course lunch for $20.13.

At Mari Luna Latin Grille in Pikesville, the price is $30.13 for a three-course dinner and includes a glass of house wine or sangria. The lunchtime special is two courses for $15.13, including a soft drink, coffee, or tea.

Check out all the participating restaurants at the County Restaurant Week's website.

Then, plan for Baltimore's Winter Restaurant Week from Jan. 25-Feb. 3.

There goes the New Year's diet. 

January, 8th 2013

Winter Wine at Evergreen on Thursday

wineHere's an event that will get rid of the post-holiday blues. The first Winter Wine party will feature more than 25 locally grown and produced Maryland wines, a special sparkling-wine reception, and a selection of hors d'oeuvres by Baltimore caterer Chef's Expressions.

The wines will be served in Riedel stemware in the Evergreen Museum & Library's lovely Carriage House from 7-10 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10.

Musicians from the Peabody Institute will be performing, and winemakers will be available to answer questions. All wines will be available for purchase.

Passed hors d'oeuvres will include such offerings as: cream of fresh butternut squash soup shooters, grilled duck canapé, Natty Boh crab puffs, honey pepper shrimp, and grilled Black Angus loin crostini.

An array of the state's best sparkling wines (poured by the winemakers) will be sampled from 6-7 p.m. in the historic Evergreen Museum & Library, featuring Asian artwork, Tiffany glass, and a variety of paintings, including Degas, Modigliani, and Picasso.

Tickets are $65 for the Carriage House event or $80, which also includes the sparkling-wine reception. They can be purchased online.

1:32 pm Comment Count Tags: events, wine
January, 7th 2013

Krautfest tickets going fast

krautfestBetter hurry. There are still tickets left for Gertrude's annual Krautfest on Friday, Jan. 11, although the Saturday, Jan. 12, event is sold out.

The evening, from 6-9 p.m., features a buffet menu celebrating all things sauerkraut, including roasted beet borscht and kraut, sour-beef brisket, pork goulash, locally made sausages, and even double-chocolate sauerkraut cake.

The cost is $40 in advance and also includes live polka music and dancing. A cash bar will offer "Krautinis" and seasonal beers. Tickets can be purchased at the restaurant or by phone at 410-889-3399.

This is the 10th year for the event, which started out as a happy hour in Gertrude's bar with some sauerkraut dishes. It's expanded to two evenings over the years.

The staff at Gertrude's begins preparing for Krautfest in November by chopping cabbage from local One Straw Farm and Richardson Farms. The kraut ferments in 30-gallon tubs until it's time to feast and party in January.

Photo of Gertrude's owner John Shields with friends at a previous Krautfest, courtesy of Gertrude's. 

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