Tag: food

Baltimore’s Classic Restaurants Buck the Trends

David Derewicz, General Manager, The Prime Rib


Courtesy of B’More Media – They’re tucked away among brownstones and cobblestone streets or holding anchor over the Inner Harbor. They’re Baltimore’s classic restaurants. They serve as a reminder that in the fickle, faddish world of the restaurant industry, there are some that have stood the test of time by keeping it simple.

To compete with the bevy of restaurants that have opened over the last half year, classics like the Black Olive, Sotto Sopra, the Rusty Scupper, Tio Pepe, and the Prime Rib are using the freshest ingredients, offering discounts and other promotions via social media, refreshing their properties and cutting costs – but not corners.

While there’s no one secret to success, consultant and executive director of Bilingual Hospitality Training Solutions, Juliet Bodinetz-Rich, offers advice to remain open for decades in Baltimore.

“Service is as important as great food,” she says. “Many restaurants keep the same staff for years. That shows that the owner is doing something right.”

Baltimore Food Truck Rally: Start Fasting Now


Baltimore Food Truck rally this Friday!Baltimore’s food trucks will sell you peaches and cream cupcakes, lobster mac and cheese, crab cake tacos and/or South Carolina barbecue; the problem is, you usually have to drive all over town to find them. This Friday, however, you’re in luck — six of Baltimore’s most beloved food trucks will be rallying in Hampden, allowing you an easy stroll from Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon to Souper Freak to Iced Gems Creation. Beer and wine will also be available for purchase.

Last year’s food truck rallies were a resounding success, and this year they’re continuing the tradition of rallying for a good cause. The trucks will circle up at the Maryland SPCA‘s Hampden location from 5 – 8 p.m., and volunteers will show off some of the shelter’s adoptable pets. Some proceeds from the event will go to the SPCA as well.

We recommend getting there early, and on an empty stomach.

Gestalt and Pepper: Hometown Girl Rebecca Murphy Gives Her Favorite Food Picks


Baltimore, I think I have found your biggest fan. Her name is Rebecca Murphy and she describes her devotion to the city as “bordering on the weird.”

“I love every last bit of it, I mean, I am still a die hard Orioles fan.”  Enough said.

Rebecca’s passion for the city is not all lip service either, she works as director of special projects in the Mayors’s office (“it means I can be doing a different job every day”) and counts being engaged in improving the city as one of her greatest joys.

When you get to know Rebecca it is easy to see where all that passion for her hometown comes from. Her Baltimore roots run deep. The mother of two and Bryn Mawr and Western alum is a fourth-generation Baltimorean (her father is acclaimed attorney Billy Murphy) with a rich family tradition, a tradition where food took center stage. “My grandmother would ‘bring it’ for family dinners every Sunday,” she says. So it’s no surprise that when Rebecca talks about her restaurant picks, her focus is simple: good food and good people.

Charm City Cook: Irish Food and Drink from an Irish Lass

My mom (um, hello…Peggy Fitzpatrick, above) is Irish. Her great-grandmother Catherine Buckley arrived in Baltimore on a ship from County Cork in 1850 at the age of 16. And…when you see my mom, you say, “Yep, she’s Irish.”

And, while my Irish mom is a big part of who I am (and my dad, too…I named my dog Henry in his honor), my love of food and cooking and feeding people seems to come from my maternal grandmother, Mary Fitzpatrick. She and my grandfather Clark lived on a working farm in Harford County and I’ve written a little about them before. They were extremely hard working people – raising lambs, pigs, chickens and steer, churning their own butter, smoking and curing meats and so much more. Mary was a fabulous cook and if you stopped by their house, you ate. Like, really, ate. One of my mom’s most vivid food memories was her mother frying chicken in bacon fat – she said the skin was perfectly crispy. I’ve gotta try that.

James Beard Awards Recognize Baltimore Chefs, Restaurant


Looks like Maryland’s culinary stars are on the rise.  The James Beard Foundation announced Baltimore chefs Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen and Cindy Wolf of Charleston and Frederick chef Bryan Voltaggio of Volt as Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Semifinalists for its annual award. All three chefs have been nominated before.

Charleston received more recognition with two national nominations: one in the Outstanding Restaurant category and another in the Outstanding Wine Program category. It is the first time the restaurant, considered Baltimore’s finest, has received those nominations.

The James Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America. The Awards are presented each spring at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. The winners will be announced May 7.

Check out the complete list of nominees, to see all the restaurants across the country that were nominated.


Is Maryland Ready for Horse Meat?


On November 18, Congress reversed a decision in 2006 that banned the inspection (and therefore the sale) of horse meat, which is to say the slaughter of horses for meat is now legal in the United States. Of course, there aren’t yet any slaughterhouses processing horses, so for the moment it’s hypothetical.

I know that in the abstract it shouldn’t be any worse than slaughtering cows or pigs or chickens, but there’s really no line of reasoning that can diminish my shock at the thought of eating a horse. A United States in which I could pick up a horseburger at the McDonald’s drive thru, or read in a cookbook the best way to grill a horsesteak is a bizarro one.

And certainly Marylanders won’t stand for this. With our culture of horse riding, racing, and arabbing, I imagine even the more gastronomically adventurous among us might think twice before sampling Seabiscuit’s great-great-grandson.

At least we can expect not to see horseburgers being served at Pimlico any time soon.

Wines Fit for the Feast


Courtesy of Charmcitycook – When it comes to wine for Thanksgiving dinner, lots of people will tell you what goes best with turkey. And stuffing. And potatoes. And pumpkin pie. I wanted to get some insight from a pro, so I visited my friend Carey Williams at The Wine Source in Hampden for some advice and found some easy, happy crowd pleasers, as well as a few choices that are little bit different. Here we go…

I used to be one of those “I don’t like chardonnay” people. But all these years later, I know now that I simply prefer a cool climate chardonnay like Eve Chardonnay from Washington state. You’ll taste apple and a hint of honey…thirst quenching, too. It pairs well with mashed potatoes, green beans and more. Definitely a great basic, easy drinking wine many folks around your table will enjoy — a real crowd pleaser. $10.99

Rose makes many people think of summer. Some people think it’s white zinfandel. Um, no…but it’s a great choice for Thanksgiving. One great option is the 2010 Artzuri Garnacha Rosado, a luscious, dark pepper rose. It always seems balanced, soft and fresh — really great with turkey. $9.99

For a little more adventurous palate, you might consider 2010 Francois Villard Viognier from the Rhone Valley (the fancy name on the label is Les Contours de Deponcin). When you smell this one, you get rosy, perfume, exotic fruit. Yet it drinks so nicely! Medium weight, not super acidic, very elegant.  Really nice with sweet potato pie. $31.99 (Treat yourself for the holiday.)

You often hear about medium bodied reds for Thanksgiving and if you’d like to go that way, give the 2008 Kesseler Spatbergunder a try. It’s a German wine using a grape transplanted from burgundy where it’s known as pinot noir. This wine has a nose of blackberries and a hint of cherry and is on the rustic side. This would be a great red wine for someone just getting into reds — not too intense, with a juicy palate. $19.99

Want a red that’s a bit more spicy? Give the 2010 Tramontane Roussillon Rouge a try. Carey described it as, “juicy, forward and brimming with spicy red fruit.” I agree! Bold, juicy, complex. $9.99  (A great value, by the way.)

Don’t be intimidated or try too hard to make “perfect” pairings with your entire Thanksgiving meal. For example, it’s close to impossible to pair sauerkraut with wine. Beer is great with it, though. In fact, if you’re more of a beer person, do your thing and have some really good beer! The folks at scribbleskiff  have some great suggestions for beer pairings. I also recommend that you visit my friend Jed at The Wine Source for some advice. He has introduced me to so many of my favorite beers over the last few years. 

As we enter the holiday season, make sure you try something new and have fun!

Read more at charmcitycook

Open Table Names Cinghiale Tops in U.S. Wine Lists


Cinghiale announced today that it has been named a winner of OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for Top Wine Lists in the United States.  The list of winners is derived from more than ten million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“There are so many factors that influence the creation of a wine list that wows diners, from traditions and trends to economics and Mother Nature,” said Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer.  “We’re so proud to be able to honor the winners and their commitment to building wine lists that excite and educate diners seeking the ultimate complement to their meal.”

Based on feedback collected from OpenTable diners between October 2010 and September 2011, the 50 award-winning restaurants received the highest scores.  For more information about all of the restaurants on this list, please visit http://www.opentable.com/wine.

Maryland Fried Chicken, Grandma’s Crabcakes


If you’ve lived here long, you’ve heard the debate — folks from New York insist that Maryland’s a Southern city, while anyone who lives below Virginia rolls their eyes and calls us Yankees.  But in terms of food, Maryland seems staunchly Southern, with an influx of influences from the many immigrant communities that have come to call Baltimore their home.

Which is why we enjoy The Baltimore Snacker‘s two-part take on distinctive Maryland foods — namely, fried chicken and crab cakes, two foods that can inspire strong feelings among cooks and eaters alike.  The Snacker quotes an old essay from a Southern cookbook:  Any attempt to prescribe the best way to prepare fried chicken is likely to start the Civil War all over again, or it may, at best, lead into a storm of prolonged arguments, widely diverse local and even neighborhood differences, not to say family bickerings.

So what makes the Maryland version of these dishes distinct?  Well, according to the Snacker, “the generic “Southern fried chicken” for example – is the shake and bake variety from the Middle South: soak it in buttermilk, put it in a flour mixture in a bag and shake it until coated, then dip it in cream and then flour again, and then fry.  Maryland fried chicken stops with the first shaking, but then gets fried in hot oil in a covered pan.  It is then served with a cream gravy.”  And it’s that gravy that makes it a true Maryland Fried Chicken (maybe we should start our own fast food chain?).

As for crab cakes, the Snacker kindly includes a recipe handwritten by his grandmother. It doesn’t get more authentic than that! Crucial ingredients include (obviously) Chesapeake crab, Old Bay, and dry mustard.

Read the discussions and look at step-by-step photos of the recipe steps here.

Are You as Ravenous as a Raven?


As football training gets into full swing, we find ourselves asking some tough questions about the Ravens:  namely, how much do they eat!? We checked in with Nick Goff, head chef at the Baltimore Ravens Training Facility (which is run by the Classic Catering People). Turns out, these are some pretty hungry men.

Baltimore Fishbowl:  How much food goes into an average meal for the team?
Head Chef Nick Goff:  On a typical day the protein options may include 120 pounds of poultry, 80 pounds of beef, 70 pounds of seafood, or 70 pounds of pork. These numbers change depending on the menu, which changes daily. For example, when I prepare BBQ Ribs as the main entree, I make 120 pounds of them.

BFB:  Are there any lucky meals?
NG:  You’re asking me to give away a superstitious tradition? That might be bad luck. I am not going to be too specific about this, but I have been asked to make Cajun Chicken Penne each time we play a certain team on the West Coast.  Additionally, I have been asked to make my Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya for when we play a certain team on the East Coast.  Usually, both of these dishes have been found to be successful in bringing back a win. If you want me to reveal what I make before a Steelers game, you’re not going to get it.

BFB:  What are some of the most popular dishes you prepare for the players?
NG:  Some of the players’ favorite dishes include Cajun Chicken Penne, Apricot and Ginger –Glazed Sea Bass, BBQ Ribs, Texas Beef Brisket, Garlic and Lemon Italian Herb Roasted Chicken, Grilled Lemon- Pepper Salmon, Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya, and Grilled Flank Steak. Additionally, my homemade soups are a favorite as well, especially later on into the season when it gets colder. A few of the top requested soups are Seafood Gumbo, Maryland Crab, Minestrone, and Chicken with White Bean Chili.


BFB: What’s the most difficult part to coordinate?
NG:  The whole process is difficult. I arrive to work at 5 A.M. and I’m moving as fast as I can to prepare almost 300 pounds of food for lunch service at 11:30. We have an all-star team here in Baltimore and I take pride in serving them gourmet food every day. There are no short-cuts. Everything has to be done to the highest quality standards. We’re feeding people who work hard for us, and I want to work hard for them.