Tag: foodies

Charm City Cook: Soft Crabs…Not to be Missed (or Feared!)

Soft crabs. To me, they are not called soft shells. This is Baltimore…

You pretty much either love ’em or hate ’em. I used to be completely wigged out by them. I think that having a job cleaning them at a seafood shop might have scarred me a bit. (Thanks, Billy.) My mom has loved them forever. Me, I’ve got texture issues – biting into a soft, yet crunchy LEG of a crab?

Um, no. (Then, fast-forward two years…)

Charm City Cook: Butter is Your Friend



Ah, desserts. They require precision and care as well as creativity and great taste. And people really love desserts, so you don’t want to mess them up!

Dessert can be everything from delicate to deeply comforting. Some of my latest faves are strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate cream pie and of course, (crack cocaine) salted caramel brownies! I’ve made those brownies so many times now for everyone from cooking clients to friends, neighbors and colleagues – everyone flips out when they eat them. I have a client who has a standing order once a month. One friend even sent me an expletive-filled text proclaiming her love. That was pretty funny.

Charm City Cook: I Scream, You Scream

Remember the hilariously inappropriate Eddie Murphy stand-up about the ice cream man? Wow, remember when Eddie Murphy was funny? You know, before he started making God awful movies? Anyway, when I was a kid in the 70s, we had an ice cream truck, as many communities did. Not a lot happened in my hometown, so it was very exciting when you heard the ice cream man’s music on the next street over. You’d literally hear kids yelling, “ICE CREAM MAN!”

Remember Bomb Pops!?

Bryan Voltaggio’s Pitching a Series


Last night’s MPT half-hour program, Obsessed with Everything Food: A Living Magazine, featuring the 2009 Top Chef contestant and Frederick chef Bryan Voltaggio, will be used as a pilot for national series following Chef Voltaggio across America in search of regional favorites.

The special showed the chef performing his cooking magic at his Frederick restaurant VOLT and touring some of his favorite culinary spots across the state. On the program, he visits a local food farm, experiences steamed crabs prepared Maryland watermen’s way, and prepares a recipe for Chesapeake Bay blue crab rolls. He also makes a stop at Flying Dog, Frederick’s own micro-brewery.

If you missed last night’s MPT program you can still watch the trailer on our video landing.


Dinner Party 101: The Host on High


I have heard it said that the guest list is more important than the menu in determining the success of a dinner party. But either is easily trumped by the behavior of the host or hostess. Even with the best intentions, it is entirely possible to ruin your own soiree. For example, it’s hard for people not to notice that you invited them over, then failed to spend any time with them at all. Why does this happen so often? Well, if you start late enough on the dinner preparations, if you choose too many dishes with last-minute steps, if you reach far outside your culinary comfort zone, you will be stuck in the kitchen all night. Do you care more about the creme brulée than your guests? Don’t answer that, just get out there and entertain.

An equally common dinner party faux pas is telling everyone what is wrong with the meal before they’ve even picked up their forks. If the sesame noodles were better last time you made them, you should conceal rather than publicize this fact. If they really are too awful to serve, don’t serve them. Shut up and let the poor guests enjoy their food without having to devote their evening to rebuilding your self-esteem. Be steadfast: Often I will get through the whole event without breaking down and at the very end blurt, “So no one thought the soup was too salty?” Really, what are they going to say?

One of the most memorable meals I ever had was served by an elderly gent who had my mother and me over for plain microwaved chicken breasts, rawish Minute rice, sliced white bread, and, heaped beside all this snowy white fodder, some violently orange baby carrots, also a la micro-onde. It would have ruined it if he’d apologized, and he did not.

Better to be an Unruffled Slopslinger than a Miserable Faultfinder — or her close relative, the Rueful Dreamer. Because really, you saw this great recipe for Thai noodles in the food section of the paper but you couldn’t get the lemongrass. You might have done your tiramisu, but a simple bowl of berries seemed more seasonal. No, you should not tell people what they almost won, or what they could have been eating. Most people love spaghetti and meatballs, as long as you don’t start raving about the lobster ravioli you saw on the Food Channel.

Speaking of lobster ravioli, perhaps you have met the Insufferable Uberchef. The Uberchef can prepare complex dishes from many different cuisines, and he does. He prepares them all, seemingly, at a single meal. And for each of the many courses and the wines to go with them, detailed notes will be provided. In many cases, the Uberchef will also have an Invisible Man problem, since the reduction sauce with the 30-year-old port can’t be prepared in advance. Perhaps he does not realize Joel Robuchon and Charlie Trotter didn’t make it. Since all but other Uberchefs are afraid to invite the gratuitous gourmet to their humble boards, this condition is its own punishment.

Please note: Because the home team should never be more swoozled than the visitors, or at least not dramatically so, do not start drinking more than one hour before the guests arrive. Once you drop the salad bowl, ladle gumbo all over the tablecloth and knock over their wine glasses, it will be too late.

Worse even than the Sloppy Drunk is the Divorce-in-Progress. It is a challenge to have people over to dinner when you are in the midst of serious relationship issues, and for some of us, this is a permanent situation. Nevertheless, nobody wants to have dinner with the Bickersons. As hard as it is, you have to avoid carping at each other all night and trying to involve people in your long-running arguments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been guilty of this, but one night I finally saw the error of my ways. We were guests at the home of a couple we knew slightly. He was the chef of the pair, a bit of an Uberchef actually, and was taking his sweet time getting his famous jambalaya on the table. She wasn’t happy about this. Nor did she like the method he used to prepare the rice, or the casserole he chose to put in the microwave, and she liked it less as she finished her second glass of wine and watched the guests fighting over the crumbs in the cracker basket. When, in the final moments before serving, the entire Pyrex dish smashed on the floor, my husband and I worried we might soon be called as witnesses at some sort of trial. I can’t even remember what we did eat, so I hope that’s not one of the questions.

Marion Winik writes “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a column about life, love, and the pursuit of self-awareness. Check out her heartbreakingly honest and funny essays twice a month on Baltimore Fishbowl.