Food & Drink

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Vacant East Baltimore Property to Become Urban Farm

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The future of 1801 E. Oliver St.
The future of 1801 E. Oliver St. via Technically Baltimore

1801 E. Oliver St., a blighted city-owned property in East Baltimore is being reimagined as a major component of the Baltimore Food Hub, a community farming and entrepreneurship project. The site will include several greenhouses and a commercial kitchen.

The Food Hub will supply Baltimore restaurateurs and food truck operators with locally grown food. And it also promises to be a small oasis in the East Baltimore food desert by hosting a farmer’s market and a community kitchen.

Take The Challenge: Buy Local Challenge Week is Now

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The Buy Local Challenge was created by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission and has since become a statewide program. The challenge encourages all Marylanders to eat at least one locally grown or raised product each day of the Buy Local Challenge Week, which is always the third week in July.

We’re all over the buy local idea: it’s better for the environment (saves gas transporting produce), is better for you (it’s freshest!) and it supports the local economy. If you need help identifying what’s “local,” click here to find a farmers market near you.

To celebrate the event, Governor Martin O’Malley is hosting a cookout at Government House tomorrow night that will feature local chefs and recipes. Classic Catering was chosen to participate and feature its Honey Brined Smokey Rub Chicken with Quick Pickle Salad and Chesapeake Lettuce Bouquet.

Sound good?  You can get the recipe and other ones from local chefs in the Buy Local Cookbook. Each year, the Maryland Department of Agriculture publishes a cookbook of recipes submitted by local chefs who source from local producers.   A copy of the cookbook is free and available to all!  To check it out, click here. Just remember to buy local when you buy your ingredients!

You Be the Judge: Local Chefs Compete at Mason-Dixon Master Chef Tournament

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Chef Christopher Lewis of Iron Bride Wine Company
Chef Christopher Lewis of Iron Bride Wine Company

Ever watch those shows like Iron Chef and envied the judges? Have you thought that you’d have something smart to say about dishes cooked up in a short span of time with limited (and required) ingredients? Think you’ve got what it takes to judge a food competition? Well, for the next several weeks, the dream can be achieved—on a local level, of course. But the competition over at the Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament is just as heated as the televised stuff—and being just a few feet away from the chefs as they dice, sauté, and infuse milk with Cap’n Crunch (yes, that happened) easily tops any at-home viewing experience.

I was lucky enough to attend the tournament on Greek night earlier this month. Rather than togas and sorority pledging, that meant that two competing chefs were expected to each create a three-course Greek meal, using a few of the culture’s traditional ingredients—lamb, kalamata olives, grape leaves, and orzo. Nothing too wild-cardy there, but using those ingredients to create dishes that were creative and contemporary while reflecting the traditional values of Greek cuisine is where the challenge lay.

Chef Josh Handel (right) and Sous Chef Kyle Fischer (left) of Josh Handel Catering and Personal Chef Services
Chef Josh Handel (right) and Sous Chef Kyle Fischer (left) of Josh Handel Catering and Personal Chef Services

The competitors on the evening were Josh Handel of  Josh Handel’s Catering & Personal Chef Service and Christopher Lewis of the Iron Bridge Wine Company. The woman across from me (an old friend of Josh Handel’s, to be fair) likened the pairing to David and Goliath: small Baltimore-native upstart catering company vs. a chef from a well known restaurant with two locations dangerously close to D.C. An accurate description or not, it went well with the tension and suspense of the evening. After all, even if it’s all in good fun, anyone who’s seen the inside of a commercial kitchen knows that for serious chefs, food is no laughing matter, and this throw down was serious business.

Healthy Meal Delivery Service Expands to Baltimore

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Courtesy Bmore Media –  Power Supply, a fresh meal delivery service that puts paleo food in the hands of the people at Crossfit gyms, has joined forces with Mindful Chef, a similar business that focuses on serving the yoga community.

The combined companies will run under the Power Supply name and will serve 44 locations in Maryland and Virginia, including Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Annapolis and Alexandria. According to Robert Morton, cofounder of Power Supply, the merger will bring new flavors and new drop-off locations. In Greater Baltimore, Power Supply serves South Baltimore Crossfit, Crossfit Revamped in Columbia and Crossfit BWI in Glen Burnie. 

Will Redevelopment Boost Baltimore’s Food Economy?

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THE FUTURE HOME OF THE BALTIMORE FOOD HUB, FORMERLY THE EASTERN PUMPING STATION. PHOTO BY STEVE RUARK.

Courtesy Bmore Media – Hampden resident Kate Nolan Bryden caters about a dozen weddings, baby showers and dinner parties a year. But she is holding off upgrading her Graceful Gourmand website because she hasn’t been able to find a nearby commercial kitchen for rent that would give her more room to work. Baking 140 cookies would take just 12 minutes with a commercial kitchen. In her home kitchen, where she currently cooks, it takes her six to seven hours.

But three abandoned buildings in East Baltimore — used most recently as a filming location for “The Wire” —could be her salvation. That’s where developer Bill Struever, restaurateur Spike Gjerde and other partners are plotting a $16 million campus for food-related enterprises in the former Eastern Pumping Station. The Baltimore Food Hub will contain a commercial kitchen for rent, an incubator, small business counseling and an urban farming operation led by Big City Farms.

Have You Secured Your Crab Feast Tix Yet?

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Time is running out!  Get your tickets today.  Reserve a table for your crew & save a few bucks.  This is a fun group and is sure to be an event to remember.

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Click Here for additional Details on this event.

Possibly the Best Date Idea in Town? Whiskey Wednesday at Johnny’s

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Some of the small batch whiskeys sampled at Whiskey Wednesdays retail for between $50 and $60 a bottle.

Looking for a great way to spend the evening that isn’t just the usual dinner and a movie? In this heat, we’re kind of crossing most outdoorsy options off the list, but what makes for a great night out that is more than just the usual “wanna grab a drink?” Johnny’s, the latest from restaurateurs Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf, has the answer. Every other Wednesday at Johnny’s, you can attend Whiskey Wednesday—an event sure to excite anyone who’s already a fan of fine whiskeys, and to convert anyone who isn’t (yet).

New to whiskey?  What to expect is explained on your placemat.
New to whiskey? What to expect is explained on your placemat.

Every Whiskey Wednesday features a flight of four different high-end whiskeys, and each flight has its own theme. On the evening we attended, the theme was Jim Beam style bourbons—we weren’t even sure what that meant going in, but soon, all was explained. Our host for the evening was the affable and uber-knowledgable Sam Massa of Bin 604 Wine Sellers. There are a few different hosts who rotate week to week, but Sam told us he’s pretty much there for every event, just because he loves tasting the whiskeys. He also gave us plenty of fun facts about each whiskey we tasted—not just the usual “hints of citrus, port undertones” kind of thing, but actual whiskey history and trivia, which gave the evening an extra sense of fun—this wasn’t just about tasting a nine year-old beverage, this was American history!

Vino Veritas: Get Into The Glass – Extolling the Virtues of Correct Stemware

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One summer I decided to read a very large book detailing a few restaurateurs’ journey through every Italian wine region in order to better be in touch with my cultural heritage. Each section began with a snapshot story of life in the region, a pleasant aperitivo before diving into the meat of the chapter: grapes, ground, climate, history, all of those important things. In one section, while they wandered somewhere in southern Italy, the authors comment that the wine they were offered — occasionally it was from vines their hosts had out back — was often served in juice glasses. Simple, unpretentious, a piece of tableware with multiple purposes, just like wine. I abandoned my wine glasses for the duration of the season and drank wine, mostly Italian, from tiny glass cups instead.

So what’s the big deal with stemware? Is it really necessary to have a six or seven shapes of glasses sitting in your cabinet, waiting for the right wine to be opened so you can use your Syrah or Sangiovese-oriented glass, whenever the time arises? And the question asked most often by customers was: “Does it really matter anyway?”

While I’d be the first one to pour a glass of anything in a repurposed jam jar, I can say with some confidence that there are, in fact, purposes for all of the various shapes of stemware. Granted, just because a glass is labeled as a Merlot glass, it doesn’t mean it’s exclusively shaped for that variety and plenty of others will show just as beautifully. You never have to drink Chardonnay from a Burgundy glass or Cabernet from a Bordeaux glass, but there are tactile and sensory benefits to doing so.

First, the basics: a wine glass should be shaped like a tulip, that is to say, slightly wider at its base than it is at its rim. The reason for this is simple: aroma is a huge amount of wine’s pleasure. You have four variations on taste on your tongue: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. But you have myriad of olfactory sensors waiting to be exploited. So smelling your wine, as ridiculous as it may seem to you, is actually just one more way to enjoy the heck out of it. When wine fills the bottom, wider portion of the tulip and you wash it up the sides of the glass with a gentle swirl, the wine evaporates and aroma is funneled up through the smaller opening directly into your face. It’s awesome. 

Why I Hope Baltimore’s Pie Man Loses His Reality TV Competition

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The last time we wrote about Rodney Henry, the pie-master in charge of Dangerously Delicious Pies, he had just announced his intentions to compete in the Food Network’s reality TV program. The show’s been on the air for about six weeks now, and Henry has managed to out-cook and out-charm his competition so far; he’s one of only five remaining contestants. And I hope he loses.

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