Hot Plate: National French Toast Day at Blue Moon Cafe, Nickel Taphouse Turns Four, Holiday Shopping at Local Restaurants

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Hoopers Island Oysters and Parts & Labor are collaborating on a vintage-style oyster tin filled with shucked oysters, available for gifts (or for your personal use) at P&L this holiday season.

With Thanksgiving behind us and holiday shopping season stretching over the next few weeks, it’s time to fortify and fill up. Here’s a look at where to do that in and around Baltimore this week:

Small Business Saturday

Most of the press about Small Business Saturday focuses on shopping, but it’s also a great day to support locally-owned restaurants and cafes. No matter where you’re shopping, when you’re ready for a break, look around for a spot owned and run by folks from Baltimore. There are tons of great locally-owned options, all over the city and in the surrounding counties.

Gift cards from those restaurants make great presents, too – so you can even get some shopping done while you’re stopping for a bite to eat.

Nickel Taphouse Turns Four

Nickel Taphouse is celebrating its fourth birthday all week long, with customer appreciation week. Throughout the week, the Mt. Washington restaurant will offer a special $4 menu including beer, wine, cocktails and food.

National French Toast Day at Blue Moon Café

Blue Moon Café, which has locations in Fells Point and Federal Hill, has long been famous for its quirky takes on French toast. This Tuesday, Nov. 28, which happens to be National French Toast Day, is Blue Moon’s time to shine – and they’re up to the challenge, having created 16 new takes on French toast to celebrate.

Some of the new menu items include Angel Face French toast, which includes angel food cake, mimosa syrup and champagne whipped cream topped with fresh strawberries and oranges, and Crab Dip French Toast, which involves both crab dip and crab chips.

Giving Tuesday

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has taken on a new role as Giving Tuesday – a day set aside to give back to worthy organizations.

Local company 206 Restaurant Group, which includes Pratt Street Ale House, Five and Dime Ale House, Park Tavern, Ale House Columbia and Deep Creek Restaurant, got a jump start on the giving with a Veteran’s Day fundraiser that raised a total of $13,000 for the Coast Guard Foundation, an organization that does work for members of the Coast Guard and their families. Right now, they’re doing a lot of work in Puerto Rico to help families who were displaced with minimal notice.

On Tuesday, Encantada will host an event raising money for The Red Devils, an organization that funds treatment support for local breast cancer families. Tickets are $40 and include a complimentary cocktail, appetizers and a buffet – and a full $20 of the ticket is tax-deductible and goes directly to The Red Devils.

WineD Up! Extravaganza

Wine Market Bistro will host its ninth annual WineD Up! Extravaganza on Tuesday night. The event includes tastes of over 25 wines paired with hors d’oeuvres like salmon tartar with apple salad and crispy pork belly with pickled chilies.

Basque Cider Dinner at La Cuchara

Earlier this year, La Cuchara chef/owner Ben Lefenfeld spent time in Spain’s Basque country. Inspired by that trip, he has planned a Basque Cider Dinner for the restaurant, taking place on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

The dinner will recreate a meal found at a traditional “sagardotegi” (cider house) in the Basque region, including dishes like wild mushrooms cooked on a wood grill, salt cod omelet and bone-in Txuleton ribeye.

Each dish will be paired with a special cider poured from the restaurant’s porrons, the large glass pitchers used to pour cider in Spain.

Persephone Statue Unveiling at Sotto Sopra

Also on Wednesday evening, Sotto Sopra will celebrate the unveiling of a statue of Persephone created by Sicilian sculptor Salvatore Rizzuti and commissioned by Sotto Sopra owner Riccardo Bosio in honor of his mother.

The restaurant has a seven-course dinner planned to honor the statue’s unveiling. Unfortunately, the dinner is sold out. But the good news is that the statue will remain, so future guests will get to enjoy the work, even if they miss the unveiling.

Soul Food at Modern Cook Shop

On Thursday, Nov. 30, Charm City Food Adventures is hosting a soul food dinner at Modern Cook Shop in Fells Point. The meal includes two types of meat, two sides, and unlimited beer and punch. The menu focuses on classics like fried chicken, smothered pork chops, mac and cheese and collard greens, and it looks terrific.

Dinner has a soundtrack, too, with a DJ spinning old school soul music.

Start Your Shopping

Now that the holiday season is officially here, it’s time to get moving on that shopping list.

Parts & Labor, Hoopers Island Oyster Co. and the International Can Co. are collaborating on one gift that will make food and history lovers happy: a collectible oyster tin similar to the cans produced years ago.

The tin’s manufacturer, Harford County-based International, was one of the original makers of oyster cans in Baltimore.

The tins can be purchased on their own or filled with a shucked pint of Hoopers Island oysters, at Parts & Labor (which has a terrific selection of gifts for food lovers).

In Hampden, Grano Emporio has added a retail area with some great holiday shopping options, like Louisiana popcorn rice and a variety of Italian treats.

Planning Ahead

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

December 4: Feast of Seven Fishes at The Local Oyster 

December 12: Bell’s Brewery Beer Dinner at Butchers Hill Society 

January 12: Krautfest at Gertrude’s 

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