Hot Plate: Chef Cindy Wolf again named a James Beard finalist, Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival at the Fairgrounds, cocktails and plants at Hotel Revival and more

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On Thursday, B. Willow will host a cocktails and plants workshop in Hotel Revival’s pretty rooftop garden room.

Openings and closings, beer and baseball, plants and oysters–and candy. Here’s a look at what’s on tap this week for the Baltimore restaurant scene.

Openings and announcements
Downtown might be the city’s hottest food neighborhood right now. This week, the team behind 414 Light Street announced three new restaurants to open in May. Plant Food + Wine and the pizzeria Double Zero are both vegan options, and a ramen spot is also in the works. Next fall, two additional eateries–a fine dining restaurant and a coffee and juice shop–will also open in the building.

After several years of grappling with red tape issues, The Bun Shop’s Towson location has opened. 

Papi’s Tacos announced this week that the new Hampden location should open by April 8.

Last week, The Elephant announced its imminent closure, but this week, the news is a little sunnier. Starting April 4, the Mount Vernon restaurant will open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and that schedule will continue through the month of April. The owners have also started a GoFundMe page to raise the money they need–$600,000, they say–to stay open for good.

In sad news for North Baltimore residents, Ceriello Fine Foods, the Italian butcher in Belvedere Square, announced this week that it will close sometime in mid-April.

Local Dining Week Baltimore
Strong City Baltimore, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping the city thrive, is promoting a Local Dining Week from April 1-7.

Diners at a bunch of local, independently owned restaurants will have the opportunity to receive vouchers for free Orioles tickets just for dining out (and just in time for Opening Day during the first few days!). The purpose of the promotion is to encourage diners to support locally owned restaurants which will, in turn, bolster the city as a whole. Strong City says that for every $100 spent at a locally owned restaurant, $65 goes back into the local economy, compared to just $35 being recirculated locally for every $100 spent at a national chain.

For a list of participating restaurants, click here. Each one will have vouchers to share with 100 diners.

Celebrations at Charleston
Charleston received some happy news this week, with the announcement that Chef Cindy Wolf has again been named a finalist for a James Beard Award honoring the best chef in the mid-Atlantic. This is Chef Wolf’s eighth time as a finalist; we’re pulling for her.

The timing couldn’t be better, too, as the restaurant is already in celebration mode this week. On Wednesday, April 3, the Harbor East spot will host a dinner featuring the wines of Veuve Cliquot. The meal will include three courses, plus hors d’oeuvres and dessert, and each will be paired with a Veuve Champagne. Plus, Bertrand Varoquier, oenologist at Veuve Cliquot, will be on hand to discuss and enjoy the wines.

Asia North Festival
The Asia North Festival takes over Station North starting Friday, and lasting all weekend long, when the area around Motor House celebrates the food and culture of Asian countries.

The festival includes music, art, performances and food and drink from multiple Asian cultures, and will feature food from D.C. ramen spot Daikaya, rice balls from Lei Musubi, Japanese dishes from Otabe and a preview of fare from Old Boy, which will open in Broadway Market later this year.

On Sunday, March 31, a Taste of Koreatown food tour will educate and wow attendees with the terrific local Korean food scene.

Whole hog
The Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival rolls into town this weekend. On Friday night, the event at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium features an old-fashioned pig pick.

Saturday afternoon includes tons of barbecue, beer and bourbon, of course, plus a whole lot more, from cigars to music to seminars to tastes of smoked alligator.

Wockenfuss factory tour
Want to see how the chocolate gets made? Saturday is your chance, when Wockenfuss Candies opens the doors of its Harford Road factory once again for a day of up-close and personal tours.

Wockenfuss does this once a year just before Easter, and the free event is always a blast for kids and adults alike.

Knife sharpening at Charm City Farms
Whether at home or in restaurants, good chefs understand the importance of keeping their knives in good shape. On Saturday, Charm City Farms will help spread the word, offering a hands-on knife-sharpening class during which attendees can learn “the how and why” of sharpening different knives.

Shuckin’ in the Street
Lee’s Pint & Shell’s seventh Shuckin’ in the Street celebration is this Saturday. The party, which benefits Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Oyster Recovery Partnership, includes live music and a DJ, crush and shooters bars, and more than 20,000 free and freshly shucked oysters.

Brewery fun
Local breweries have been stepping up their games recently, scheduling tons of fun events and foodie pop-ups.

Today, Suspended Brewing Company hosts the Filipino pop-up Masarap for a plant-based dining extravaganza.

On Saturday, Checkerspot Brewing Company is partnering with Baltimore Beer Babes for a craft beer social workshop geared specifically toward women. The event includes tastings, lunch and guest presenters. The food is coming from SoBo Café and the beer from Checkerspot, DuClaw and others.

Rioja at Schola
On Monday night, Schola welcomes Luis Burgueño,, a representative of the Marqués de Cáceres winery in Rioja, Spain, for a special class and meal featuring several vintages from the winery. The meal will include dishes like pineapple and prawn skewers and ham croquettes.

Cooking with Jay at Cunningham’s
On Wednesday, April 3, Cunningham’s hosts its monthly “Cooking with Jay” class with Chef Jay Rohlfing.

B. Willow workshop at Hotel Revival
Thursday, April 4, B. Willow kicks off the second year of its monthly workshop series in Hotel Revival’s rooftop Garden Room.

The events focus on botanicals and cocktails. The first workshop, dubbed “Flora: Deception and Disguise,” includes lessons on how plants evolve to disguise themselves to survive, plus a pair of cocktails. Attendees will also take home a potted Sapelia gigante.

B. Willow will be back with more workshops at Hotel Revival on the first Thursdays of June, September and November.

Monica White in Baltimore
Monica White, the author of “Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement,” will be in Baltimore this week for a pair of events.

On Friday, April 5, she’ll be at Ida B’s Table, which will be closed for normal dinner service, instead hosting a fundraising gala to support Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), an organization that provides legal aid to farmers in need.

Saturday, April 6, White will visit Red Emma’s to discuss her book and meet readers.

Hampden West Fest
On Friday, April 5, the Gypsy’s Truckstaurant parking lot will get back to the eatery’s roots with Hampden West Fest, a food truck meetup including the Gypsy Queen truck along with Bistro Lunch Box, Pasta La Vista, Kommie Pig, Greek on the Street and Taharka Brothers Ice Cream.

The party includes drinks, music and, of course, tons of food.

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

April 9: 3rd Annual Chefs Cycle Fundraiser for No Kid Hungry at Gunther & Co.
April 13: DuClaw Brewing Company Sour Me Ale Festival
April 14: Manor Tavern Oyster Festival



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