Hot Plate: Restaurant Weeks continue, Little Italy Meatball Fest, RAR + Union Craft at Don’t Know Tavern & more

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Chez Hugo Bistro chef/owner Steve Monnier will head to the James Beard House to cook this week. One of the dishes he prepares will make its way back to Baltimore and onto the Chez Hugo menu.

Baltimore Restaurant Week is winding down, Baltimore and Howard counties’ restaurant weeks are heating up and a diverse mix of events, from tea classes to beer dinners to meatball eating contests, are popping up on the horizon.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

Openings & Announcements

Plans are in the works for the Fork & Wrench space in Canton. The new spot, which will be an Asian restaurant, is owned by a Hopkins radiologist. After some sleuthing, the Baltimore Business Journal discovered that one of the consultants on the project has worked extensively with D.C. celeb chef Peter Chang, leading to speculation that Chang may be involved in the new eatery.

Brendali Italian Restaurant opened a new Reisterstown Road location this week.

Restaurant Weeks

Restaurant weeks are still going strong!

Baltimore Restaurant Week technically wraps up on this Sunday, but some local restaurants, including Petit Louis, Cinghiale, Johnny’s and Bar Vasquez, will extend through Sunday, Jan 27.

Restaurant Week promotions are upon us in the counties, too. Baltimore County’s event starts Friday and lasts through Feb. 2, and Howard County restaurant week starts Monday, Jan. 21, and runs through Feb. 4.

Prigel tour

On Saturday, Prigel Family Creamery will open its doors for tours of the creamery and processing plant. The tour will include a step-by-step demonstration of how their excellent ice cream makes its way from cow to table. And it all wraps up with an ice cream flight.

Tickets for the tour must be purchased in advanced; that can be done through the Prigel website.

Boots, Bluegrass ‘n’ BBQ

On Saturday night, the crowd at the Baltimore Agricultural Center will kick up its heels at Boots, Bluegrass ‘n’ BBQ, an event raising funds for the JTA Medical Trust. The trust provides funds for the ongoing medical care of JT Albright, a member of the local farming community, and will hopefully help to pay for additional medical bills and expenses in the future.

If you’re a fan of local farmer’s markets, you’ve probably interacted with the Albright family at some point. They’re one of a handful of local farming families that has been a regular farmer’s market fixture for years.

Saturday’s party features music from the Mayo Family Band, raffles, a silent auction and food from Mission BBQ.

Little Italy Meatball Fest is back

This Sunday, head to the Panola Learning Center in Little Italy for the neighborhood’s third annual Little Italy Meatball Fest.

The party includes a buffet, cash bar, music, raffles and more. The big draws are the best meatball competition and a meatball eating contest. Plus, all those meatballs benefit a good cause: Proceeds go to the Pandola Learning Center to support its Italian culture and tradition classes.

Baltimore heads to Beard

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Chez Hugo Bistro chef/owner Steve Monnier will join four other French chefs at a special James Beard House dinner honoring the late Paul Bocuse.

Next week’s dinner in New York is sold out, but the team will recreate it on Feb. 11 at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria. Plus, Chef Monnier will include his own course from the dinner–a steelhead mousse with crayfish coulis–on the Chez Hugo menu from Jan. 29 through Feb. 9.

Tasting Mt. Vernon Marketplace

Also on Tuesday, Mt. Vernon Marketplace will open its doors for Taste of the Marketplace, an evening event during which MVM stalls offer a special menu designed to help you “eat and drink your way through the Marketplace.”

Boozy meals

Skipping Dryuary this year? You’re not alone–and this week offers a couple good reasons to indulge.

On Tuesday, LB Tavern at the Lord Baltimore Hotel hosts an Australian wine dinner featuring three courses, including a lamb dish, paired with four wines from down under. For reservations, call 410-659-5254.

On Thursday, Jan. 24, Maryland breweries RAR and Union Craft Brewing are joining forces for a beer dinner at Don’t Know Tavern. The dinner features four courses of terrific-sounding Chesapeake dishes paired with RAR and Union beers, like oysters with grain mustard hollandaise and crispy pork matched with Union’s Blackwing Black Lager, and a pan-fried coddie with citrus-herb crème and RAR’s Bucktown Brown Ale.

Soup’s on…and more

January is National Soup Month and Atwater’s, the local go-to for hearty soups, is celebrating with discounts and Free Soup Day on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Dine in at any Atwater’s location and receive a free cup of soup with your meal.

Atwater’s was a recent star on Maryland Public Television’s “Maryland Farm & Harvest” program. The episode, which airs again on Sunday morning at 6 a.m., takes viewers from the wheat farms of Nagel Farm Service in Wye Mills to Atwater’s, where owner Ned Atwater discusses the importance of local wheat to the bakery’s desserts.

Future episodes of the show, which airs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, cover changes in conservation practices, hog farming and the burgeoning Maryland rice farming industry.

Back to school

Kids are back in school now–and adults can be, too. This week brings a couple fun opportunities to learn more about culinary matters.

Wednesday, Cosima‘s monthly cooking classes are back with an ode to hearty Italian soups, a timely offering for this season.

On Friday, Jan. 25, Ground & Griddled in R. House will offer a serious tea tasting and class with Carl Bakey of Passenger. The class will also include snacks from Harmony Bakery. 

Baltimore Free Farm Fancy Dinner

On Friday, Jan. 25, Baltimore Free Farm will host a fundraiser, its 8th Annual Fancy Dinner, at Space 2640 on St. Paul. St.

The evening will feature great food for vegans and others, plus raffle prizes and live music. Proceeds go to support Food Rescue Baltimore, Food Not Bombs and Baltimore Free Farm’s gardens and community center.

Super Bowl plans

The Ravens might not be in the game this year, but there’s still a lot to love about Super Bowl Sunday.

If you’re hosting a party for the game, set for Feb. 3, but don’t want to cook, Rye St. Tavern has you covered with a fun Super Bowl carryout menu that feeds 4 to 8 people–think fried chicken, cornbread and pie. You can order now via the website.

Planning Ahead

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

Jan. 27: “The Princess Bride” at The Charmery 

Jan. 29: St. Vincent Festival at Old Westminster Winery 

Feb. 6: J Lohr wine dinner at Towson Tavern 

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