Hot Plate: Champagne & Buche de Noel from Petit Louis, Truffles at Gnocco, Nouvelle Cuisine at La Cuchara

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Buche de Noel prepared by the Foreman Wolf team

This past week was an exciting one in the Baltimore food world, with the much-anticipated opening of R. House (it’s fantastic) and the Chopped appearance of Faith Paulick, the executive chef of C Squared Restaurant Group, which includes Papi’s Tacos and Huck’s American Craft.

This week, the openings frenzy  has calmed down, but there’s still plenty to keep local food-lovers entertained.

Champagne Wishes

At Petit Louis, the three-course Champagne menu has returned. Throughout the month, the menu, which features the flavors of the French region famous for bubbly, will be available, along with specially priced bottles of the wine itself.

On Tuesday, December 11, join local star sommeliers Chris Coker and Julie Dalton as they explore the world of Champagne with a “Champagne Supernova” class. The class takes place at Bartender’s Pub and includes champagne, plus cheese and charcuterie – and a lot of combined knowledge.

Celebratory Meals

Petit Louis is not the only place adding drama to the menu this month. ‘Tis the season for a lot of things…including over the top restaurant meals. This week, local restaurants have some spectacular options to offer.

On Tuesday, December 13, La Cuchara will offer a five-course menu of classic nouvelle cuisine (think roasted oysters, salmon Troisgros and filet with truffled potatoes and sauce au poivre) paired with wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. It’s shaping up to be a fancy Tuesday: the attire is black tie for men and formal evening wear for ladies.

On December 14, food and drink lovers will have to decide between a couple events that sound terrific.

At Gnocco, Chef Brian Lavin will host a five course truffle dinner, featuring white and burgundy truffles and dishes paired with Spanish and Italian wines.

And at Ouzo Bay, a four-course cocktail dinner will pair signature dishes with custom cocktails developed by the restaurant’s head bartender, Will Escalante.

Holiday Shopping

On Sunday, December 11, learn all about how to make chai tea blends – ostensibly for gifting – at Juniper Culinary Apothecary’s chai tea workshop. The event will include a tea tasting and attendees will go home with handouts explaining how to make tea blends, plus the tools and ingredients to create – and wrap! – three one-ounce chai tea blends.

On Thursday, December 15, visit Bird in Hand, the new bookstore-café from the Woodberry Kitchen and The Ivy folks, for its first, soon to be annual, Holiday Bazaar. Vendors will sell gifts – both food-related and otherwise- and snacks and drinks will be available for shoppers. 

Get a Jump Start on Holiday Dinner Plans

It’s already mid-December, which means that Christmas will be here in a flash. Many Baltimore restaurants are planning special events for Christmas Eve and Christmas night.

Birroteca, Aldo’s and Cosima are all celebrating Christmas Eve with special Italian meals, including Feast of Seven Fishes celebrations at Aldo’s and Birroteca and a “Seriously Sicilian Christmas” at Cosima. La Cuchara’s Christmas Eve menu includes fabulous Basque specialties. At Charleston, Christmas Eve will feature a truffle menu. Up at Hunt Valley Inn, Cinnamon Tree Restaurant will offer prix-fixe dinners on both Christmas Eve and Christmas night. And Wit & Wisdom will be open on Christmas, with a brunch buffet in the morning and dinner starting at 2 p.m.

Also, if you’re dining at home, consider skipping the dessert prep and, instead, ordering. The Foreman Wolf pastry chef has created Buche de Noels available for pickup at The Comptoir at Petit Louis in Columbia from December 20-24 (orders are due by December 17). Starting December 21, Alma Cocina Latina will have  Torta Negra – chocolate-based cakes studded with dried, rum-laced fruits – available for pickup. (They promise the cakes are so good, even fruitcake naysayers will like them.)

The Woodberry Kitchen and Parts & Labor teams also have a variety of baked goods and meats available for sale prior to the holiday – if you’re in the market for cookie platters or a 12 days of sausage gift, they’re great go-to.

Planning Ahead

Here are a few events to look forward to over the next few weeks:

December 20: Bubbles & Oysters at Wine Market 

December 22: 1st Annual Fells Point Holiday Food Stroll

January 12: Whiskey Rocks at La Cuchara



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