April, 18th 2008

Rachael Ray loves us

With the wonderful warm weather, I couldn’t help but think of steamed crabs. So, I headed to Ocean Pride in Lutherville for my first hardshells of the season. Those Texas babies were heavy, spicy, and expensive ($53 a dozen for large and up to $80 plus for jumbos). But before I even picked up a mallet, I had to order the crab nachos. The digital sign outside the restaurant had hooked me with "Rachael Ray says best crab nachos." Wow. Really? Rach was here, in my neighborhood?

As my server placed the huge pile of hot-stuff nachos, laden with crabmeat, in front of me, I asked, "So does Rachael Ray really say these are the best?" She didn’t have a clue, neither did a busboy who overheard the conversation. There was even a buzz going through the dining room about it. So, I did what any Lois Lane would do, I called the restaurant the next day and inquired about the sign’s message. And I got my answer. It turns out that in her magazine Everyday with Rachael Ray, the perky chef does indeed declare that Ocean Pride has the best crab nachos. P.S. They are really delicious.

10:44 am Comment Count Tags: tidbits
April, 16th 2008

Chill out at S'ghetti Eddie's

Now, you don’t have to leave the building to get a squiggle of ice cream at S'ghetti Eddie's (410 W. Cold Spring Lane, Roland Park aka Alonsoville). After you've sated your craving for a Philly cheese steak with Whiz or Sicilian pizza, grab a soft-serve vanilla cone with sprinkles ($2.29 and up), new on the menu. Or really bust the calorie budget with a sundae ($3.99, medium; $4.99, large) or banana split ($5.75 for two swirls of ice cream, banana, three toppings, chopped peanuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top, of course). Oh, there are yummy milkshakes, too.

There must be something to dual branding, as they call it in the food industry, pairing different foods together in the same space. The Fractured Prune and Lee's Ice Cream are joining hands in joyful partnership in a shop near Towson. Located at 6308 York Road, in a shopping strip next to Wells Discount Liquors, the store will offer the yummy doughnuts of Ocean City fame and 28 flavors of Lee’s Ice Cream, another local product. What's not to like about that?

1:26 pm Comment Count Tags: what's new
April, 11th 2008

Meet your local farmers

You’ve probably heard the latest eco buzz word, locavore, by now. Simply defined, it’s a person who enjoys and appreciates eating locally grown food in season. Now, Watertable Restaurant at Renaissance Harborplace and Slow Food Baltimore are capitalizing on this delicious idea by hosting a five-course farmstead dinner at 6:30 p.m. April 22 at the restaurant.

Local farmers and vintners from Springfield Farms, Roseda Beef, Chapel Country Creamery, Woodhall Winery, Ivy Brand Farm, and others will also speak at the dinner. The menu will feature produce and meats from these folks and other growers, including Gunpowder Bison, Marvesta Shrimp Farms, South Mountain, and Basignani Winery.

Reserve a spot by April 17 by calling 410-685-8439. Cost is $65 for such fare as bison carpaccio with cave-aged cheddar and truffle aioli, shrimp ravioli, and goat cheese with strawberry and rhubarb sauce, paired with appropriate wines, of course. It’s a foodie’s dream meal.

April, 7th 2008

From pub fare to crab cakes

I made the trek to Columbia this weekend to finally try out Victoria Gastro Pub. It’s been open since mid-December and has already gained a steady clientele. In fact, while we were there, our wonderful server, Laura, told us that there are already plans to open another restaurant in Annapolis. We can see why. The space is charming, and the menu is creative. It offers "English pub food with a twist," Laura informed us after we were seated. Even my picky daughter, a local chef, seemed impressed.

I also checked on Angelina’s of Baltimore on Harford Road. It’s been through another ownership change in the last several months, and I was curious if anything has changed. It hasn’t. Although our server couldn’t have been more pleasant, the space is dated, plates are chipped, and the food uneven. Even the once renowned crab cake seemed ho-hum. It’s still a tennis-ball-size whopper but lacked the flavor of blue crab. With a history dating to 1952, we’re hoping for a comeback story.

April, 4th 2008

Mother's Grille and more

I went to Mother’s Federal Hill Grille with a friend last week and had a really nice meal. How can you resist a dish called Rex Barney Beef Gorgonzola: three beef tenderloins covered with fried onions and that great cheese? Add a hummus platter with fresh veggies and a warm brownie a la mode, and it’s a happy time.

I have a feeling the 10-year-old bar/restaurant is going to get even better. I talked to co-owner Dave Rather, and he told me about his renovation plans, including a new kitchen, dining room expansion, and a curb-side carryout. He’ll also introduce a new menu in about a month, showcasing the cooking talents of new executive chef Warren Norris. And finding out about meal and drink specials will get even easier with a new text-message program. I can’t wait.

The weekend promises to be an eating extravaganza with two dining reviews on my schedule. I’ll give you a sneak peak on where I went on Monday.

10:50 am Comment Count Tags: Uncategorized
March, 27th 2008

Calling all foodies

Thanks for checking out my new blog. I hope this space will lead to discussion and input from readers about Baltimore's dining/food scene. I'd really like to hear your opinions. I know there are a lot of foodies out there.

Forgive the silhouette on my blog. It's part of having to be incognito when I visit restaurants on the job. It's not a great solution, but I think it's better that having baguettes in front of my face a la Craig LeBan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Or maybe not.

A little background: I'm a Baltimore native who escaped for eight years for newspaper jobs in other states and to spend some time in Paris going to cooking school. I've been back in town for about five months now and am still becoming reacquainted with restaurants in the area.

Working on March's best restaurant guide in the magazine threw me right into the mix. Now, I'm also compiling places in Annapolis for our June issue. Then, in July, I'm doing a roundup of crab houses.

People always ask what my favorite restaurants are. That's tough because it really depends on what I feel like eating. I also love to be in the kitchen. This weekend, I made a huge pot of spaghetti sauce. I also nabbed two beautiful salmon fillets and roasted them with a smoked paprika/cinammon rub and served them over wilted baby spinach leaves. You don't go hungry in my house!

The downside to all this eating/cooking—calories, lots of calories. I try to counter it with as much exercise as I can squeeze in my schedule. Oh, the pain and joy of hot yoga.

10:58 pm Comment Count Tags: Uncategorized
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