Food & Drink

“Best Pizzeria in New York” to Open Highly Anticipated Hampden Branch Any Day Now

Paulie Gee's Regina pizza, with Fior Di Latte, Italian tomatoes, Pecorino, Romano, olive oil and fresh basil. Photo courtesy  Nick Solares/Serious Eats
Paulie Gee’s Regina pizza, with
Fior Di Latte, Italian tomatoes, Pecorino, Romano, olive oil and fresh basil. Photo courtesy Nick Solares/Serious Eats

In a city with more than 1,600 pizza parlors, New York City’s Paulie Gee’s is regarded as the napkins-down best slice in town according to many local aficionados. “Paule Gee’s is my favorite pizza joint in New York,” says Brooklyn pizza expert and creator of the Snack Compass app Jason LaFerrera. “The Hell Boy is the perfect marriage of salty and sweet. The combination of Sopressata and honey make me consider adding pork products to my trail mix.” And pretty soon you won’t have to take the Bolt Bus to the city to sample those delights; this week,  Paulie Gee’s announced that its branch in Hampden (3535 Chestnut Avenue, aka the former Hampden Republican Club) will be opening “ASAP.”

Vino Veritas: Confessing a Summertime Love for Sangria



Every summer, without fail, that first blisteringly hot and sticky Maryland afternoon, all I want is a pitcher of sangria.

I know. Don’t freak out, even I’ve had to learn to embrace this habit wholeheartedly (unlike my affection for tequila, which I normally keep on the down low). Critics and hard-core wine snobs may declare it a bastardization of wine itself, but when it comes right down to it, heavy red wine is not pleasurable to drink on a 95+ degree day. It just isn’t. And the goal of the perfect party drink is to deliver a pleasurable (and often alcohol-rich) experience to the consumer, is it not? So while sangria may possess little finesse, there certainly is much enjoyment and that’s what I’m usually after.  So let’s break this down two ways, one classic red sangria and one for those who, like me, are abstaining from alcohol this summer and must make do traipsing up and down the stairs to the basement to get ice out of the only freezer we have, a habit that will become increasingly precarious as I grow in girth courtesy of this pregnancy.

Sangria breaks down to a simple formula: wine, fruit, booze, and some kind of sweetener if you so desire. Don’t over think it, remember that what you’re trying to provide is, in fact, the best party beverage ever, and should therefore induce pleasure not only from that frosty, fruit-filled glass, but also in the process of its creation. So take a deep breath. Enjoy.

The Wine

Charm City Cook: Out of a Rut and Into B&O American Brasserie


You know how you get into ruts with restaurants? You stick close to home, stay with safe bets on dishes or go to the same places over and over. I sometimes joke that I never leave Hampden, but…I’m really lucky. Since moving to my ‘hood 13 years ago, it has become better and better, especially where food is concerned. We have some pretty great places like The Food MarketCorner BYOBArtifact CoffeeBirroteca and more. But everyone has to branch out and I’ve been doing lots of that lately.

Last month I did a piece on spring cocktails around town and for it, I went out for drinks six nights in a row. I honestly was exhausted. But really glad I did it. I met some great people and had incredibly creative cocktails. On my tour, I visited B&O American Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco (Baltimore & Charles).  It’s in a ‘hood I don’t visit often since I don’t live or work downtown, which is part of the reason I hadn’t been there in about two years. I’d forgotten how gorgeous the 1906 Beaux Arts building is – it’s the former headquarters for the B&O Railroad. After valeting your car, make sure you walk through the hotel’s lobby to take it all in.

B&O Brasserie

Here are the cocktails my friend and I had that first night – they were fantastic.

The Art of Bread


Baking bread can be a peaceful meditation, or a flour induced nightmare. Either way, it’s art.

 Video Courtesy of

Event of the Day: Mambo Combo Tonight at Belvedere Square!


Belvedere Square flyer_500x600

Mambo Combo was named best Latin music group in 2007 by WAMA (the Washington Area Music Association) and “Best Party Band” in 1999 by Baltimore Magazine. For more than twenty-five years, the band has been entertaining in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond, from the Caribbean to New England.Few people can resist dancing to the infectious soca and samba on Mambo Combo.  As Baltimore Magazine put it, “… crowds moving to the seductive rhythms of Island sound are a pretty good tip-off that the group is nearby.”
Belvedere Square will be open throughout the night for shopping and eating.  It’s the perfect night for Summer Sounds at the Square!

Event of the Day: Fruitful Brews at Homewood House


From the Baltimore Fishbowl events page…

Thursday, May 30th, 2013
6:00pm – 8:00pm | $45

Homewood House Museum
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles Street

Reservations are requested: online through Brown Paper Tickets or by calling the museum at 410.516.5589. Free event parking is available at the University Baptist Church at 3501 N. Charles Street (use Greenway entrance, accessible from St. Paul Street at University Parkway), with pedestrian access to campus from N. Charles Street at 34th Street. The museum lot is reserved for handicapped parking (accessible from the North Gate on University Parkway). For maps and directions call 410.516.5589.

Fruit beer and cider makers are crafting a comeback, reviving Americas orchard heritage, revisiting traditional styles, and bringing new sophistication to these age-old farmhouse beverages. Enjoy some of the best fruit-powered artisanal brews and ciders, including a fruited cask ale with local rhubarb made especially for the evening by Union Craft Brewing, and locally-sourced snacks by Woodberry Kitchen.

Charm City Cook: Macarons vs. Macaroons


This Friday, May 31,  is National Macaroon Day. To honor the day, Food & Wine’s “People’s Best New Pastry Chef of 2012” and the Executive Pastry Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, Chris Ford is setting out to set the record straight and clarify the differences between the often confused confections: The macaroon and the French macaron.

While both are meringue-based confections, they hardly share any other similarities. A macaroon is Italian in origin, usually made of egg whites whipped to stuff peaks, sugar, almonds, coconut or nuts, and often dipped in chocolate. It’s much looser and does not take much discipline to make. To make the French macaron, on the other hand, is a much more intricate art, and it is a dessert that takes time and practice to perfect. A sandwich-like meringue-based confection, the French macaron is filled with a layer of buttercream, jam or ganache. It is often available in a variety of color and flavor combinations. My favorite ever is Chris’ PBJ macarons. They are perfection.

 Coconut macaroons. Photo credit: Pastry Studio

macarons PBJ
 French macaron. Photo credit: LAMILL Baltimore

After hearing about how hard macarons were to make, Chris Ford saw it as a challenge to begin not only making macarons, but perfecting them over the span of seven years. Today, Chris is held in high regard for pushing the envelope with his whimsical twists on classic French macarons like his Oreo macaron served at LAMILL Café Baltimore featured in The Wall Street Journal.

In honor of Macaroon Day, Chris will be offering a coconut macaroon-inspired French macaron at LAMILL Café, in the Four Seasons Baltimore.

And here is Chris Ford’s recipe for macarons:

Rotunda Cinema Owner to Take Over Pikes Diner, Will Open Movie Theater and Restaurant


Courtesy Bmore Media – The historic Pikes Diner & Crab House is one step closer to showing movies once again for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Ira Miller, the owner and operator of the Rotunda Cinemas in Hampden, will operate the new Pikesville theater and show films by the end of July. That’s according to Pikes Diner Owner Wil Reich, who says he is spending about $200,000 to renovate the building for theater use. The Cinema Bar and Grill is the name of the future combination movie theater and restaurant.

In Our Baltimore Pizza Paradise, Who Needs Domino’s Cheesy “Theater”?



Baltimore is a pizza lovers’ paradise, as our “best of” March Madness contest illustrated this spring. You’ll remember that Birroteca in Hampden won the most praise – after more than 20,000 contest votes were cast. Other crusty local legends – who topped the tasty competition – were Joe Squared in Station North, Johnny Rad’s on Eastern Ave., Tooloulou of East Baltimore, Iggie’s in Mount Vernon, and Matthew’s in Highlandtown. I personally pine for the pie at Two Boots next door to MICA and the slim, steaming slices at BOP (Brick Oven Pizza) in Fells Point.

Which brings me to my pizza-relevant point. With the new Domino’s walk-in shop opening in Hamilton this week, a stone’s throw from my Belair-Edison hood, I’m wondering how many of us true pie enthusiasts will bother to bite. Please weigh in below. Is Domino’s a processed-food guilty/nostalgic pleasure you still indulge in, when time is super short?