Hot Plate: Changes in Federal Hill, coffee competitions, wine dinners and more

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Order & Chaos’s latte art throwdown competition is just one of a couple coffee-related events this week.

From breakfast through evening cocktails, Baltimore restaurants have you covered this week. It’s a fun one. Here’s a look at what’s happening in and around town:

Openings & Announcements

Wine Market Bistro will, sadly, close its doors after service on Saturday, March 17. The restaurant has been a Locust Point staple for over 14 years; this is a real loss for the neighborhood and the city. However, there is some good news: Wine Market’s wine shop and front bar area will remain open.

Rusty Scupper announced this week that Pedro Duarte has recently been named the restaurant’s executive chef. Chef Duarte was most recently working in Miami; he now lives in Columbia with his wife and children.

Ekiben Celebrates – with Pop-Ups

Ekiben, the Fells Point Asian spot that is uber-popular thanks to its excellent food, turns two this month. This week, the crew is celebrating through collaboration: All week long, Ekiben chef/owner Steve Chu will host other local food phenoms for lunch and dinner collaborations in his Fells Point restaurant.

Monday, Tagliata chef Julian Marucci drops in to help cook dinner. Tuesday, it’s Damien Moseley from Blacksauce Kitchen for lunch. (Update: Unfortunately, the Blacksauce collaboration has been cancelled as a result of the early Friday morning fire that damaged Blacksauce’s Remington location.)

Wednesday’s lunch is with La Cuchara’s Ben Lefenfeld and on Thursday, Chu’s dad, the owner of Jumbo Seafood, will be in the kitchen for lunch. On Friday, Nick Schauman of The Local Oyster will be at Ekiben for dinner and Sunday, a pop-up dinner at La Cuchara has, sadly, already sold out.

Congratulations to everyone at Ekiben–on two years in business and on creating such a solid lineup of pop-up collaborations.

New Happenings at Gunther & Co.

This month, Gunther & Co., is launching two fun new regular events: Fried Chicken Mondays and “Counter Culture” on Tuesdays.

Fried Chicken Mondays is exactly what it sounds like: a special fried chicken menu available on Mondays, starting on March 12.

Counter Culture is a little more involved. Every Tuesday, the 16 seats at the restaurant’s counter, which faces the open kitchen, will be reserved for a special five-course tasting menu, which will change on a weekly basis. The guests will be able to watch their meal be prepared by chef/owner Jerry Trice, interacting with him while he cooks.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Everyone knows that a good breakfast is a great way to start the day, but the morning meal is sometimes overlooked by restaurants. Not so this week.

On Sunday, March 11, Foraged Eatery celebrates the pancake and the pig, with a Pig Parts & Pancakes breakfast featuring housemade syrup made from sap from local trees and, of course, some excellent pork. (See our review of Foraged here.)

Also on March 11, Minnow debuts a brand new drag brunch featuring bottomless Bloody Marys and mimosas and a tapas-style menu.

Wine All Week

Wednesday, March 14, the wines of Argyle Vineyards of Dundee, Oregon will be on display at the Milton Inn. The restaurant will pair the wines with five courses–dishes yet to be announced, but they are sure to be good.

On Thursday, March 15, Chef’s Expressions hosts a Rioja wine dinner, pairing the approachable wines with foods from its native Spain. The evening benefits Hope for Morrope and takes place at the Gramercy Mansion.

St. Paddy’s Prep

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until Saturday, but local restaurants are getting into the spirit earlier in the week, too.

Saturday, March 10, Gertrude’s hosts a “St. Paddy’s Day Primer” cooking demo and brunch, during which the Gertrude’s team, including chefs John Shields and Doug Wetzel and Gertrude’s co-owner John Gilligan, will demonstrate how to make Irish brown bread and soda bread, corned beef, boxty corned beef benedict, sticky toffee pudding and a “proper” Irish coffee.

On Tuesday, March 13, Blue Pit BBQ will team up with Wells Liquors for an informative seminar about Irish whiskey, taught by the portfolio manager for Teeling Whiskey, the only Irish whiskey distillery located inside the Dublin city limits.

Aubergine Debuts

Theater fans who also love food can combine their interests this month at Everyman Theatre. On Thursday, March 14, “Aubergine,” a play about “food, memory and immigrant families,” by Julie Cho, begins a month-long run.

Eating at the AVAM

On Thursday, March 15, American Visionary Arts Museum will play host to the National Kidney Foundation for its annual fundraiser, Sante: A Culinary Odyssey.

The event will feature food from over 20 restaurants, plus local wines and beers – and it will raise money for a great cause.

Also on March 15, bartenders and baristas will go head to head in a coffee cocktail competition at Ceremony Coffee Roaster’s Harbor Point location. The competition is tied to Coffee Fest and, in addition to the main event, the evening will include a tap takeover by Oliver Brewing and a DJ.

And on March 16, Order & Chaos in Federal Hill will host a small latte art seminar, with instruction from world champion latte artist Daisuke Tanaka, in town from Japan, followed by a latte art throwdown, during which baristas–both professional and amateur–can compete for cash and other prizes (as well as bragging rights).

Dinner with a Side of History

History buffs should check out the current lineup of events at Elkridge Furnace Inn: the inn has been organizing some intriguing dinners.

On Friday, March 16, the inn goes continental-colonial, with a Thomas Jefferson in Paris meal featuring traditional dishes like nut-crusted sweetbreads in cassis sauce and rabbit confit with sorrel. The recipes are adapted from Jefferson’s Paris cookbook and will be paired with French wines the founding father enjoyed.

Planning Ahead

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

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day at Tark’s Grill & Bar 

March 18: Ekiben Second Anniversary Dinner at La Cuchara 

April 21: Winemaking workshop at Charm City Farms 

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