Sunday, August 1, 2010

Andy Nelson's BBQ

So the Quiet One, Ms. Vertical, Shack-Fu (real nickname TBD) and I pulled what's becoming a Satruday regular. Market early (I was all the way up 97 and in Bal'mer by 7:15am and at Waverly by 7:30), coffee and breakfast while waiting for others to wake up, then a random driving tour, lunch, and a return trip to Annapolis.

This time we headed out Falls Road and up to Mount Washington, on to Smith Road, then Slade Road and all the way to Owings Mills. We learned that The Quiet One and Shack-Fu had once lived out that way. That is very un-Quiet One-like of her. She is not a Queen of Suburbia. We unsuccessfully searched a shopping center lot for a long-ago shave ice stand that wasn't there. I owe a stop at a spot soon, having now done two trips out into the county without actually stopping for a sno-cone. The Quiet One has not been quiet about it.

U-Turn in the middle of a conversation about whether the evils of Reisterstown Road suburbia or York Road Suburbia were worse.

A trip across Greenspring Vally Road to Falls again and then up to York Road.

It was destined to be a good day because I could a) cross York Road without dying and b) pull into a spot in the front lot at Andy's by the garage seats and not have to drive to the back and dodge the mass of humanity entering and exiting cars (those leaving smelling faintly of pork and heat).

We entered and the line moved quickly. No one wanted to be the jerk who held everything up. Quick, how can I maximize what I'm getting. Combo...nice. Ms. Vertical getting a similar (but not identical) combo so there's more to try. Pulled pork sandwich classic for The Quiet One? Okay, more to try. Sides looked good, though I was slightly surprised to no see mac n' cheese on the sides list.

Tables inside, picnic tables (covered and not, all with umbrellas) outside. And people everywhere trying to get their Q on.

...and now I shut up...

That's pork y'all. Rib meat. Not falling off the bone (which it shouldn't), but just holding on enough that a gentle tug will get you a mouthful of dry-rubbed rib-y goodness. I had three two-rib pieces in my basket. I was on my fourth rib by the time I felt the need to see what this tasted like with any sauce on it.

Ribs and pulled pork combo with coleslaw and potato salad. The ribs, as witnessed above, were amazing. I should have taken a rack or two home with me. My stomach was unable to comprehend that much more food when I polished off my plate, which looked like the above but with brisket instead of pulled pork and collard greens instead of potato salad. The brisket melted, the collards were vinegary perfection.

The classic pulled pork sandwich. Moist and tender meat, great sauces to add on your own (a smoky/sweet tomato base, a vinegar base, and a spicy mustard base). I tried the pork, but the sandwich disappeared way too quickly for me to get a taste of the meat, the sauce, and the bread all together. Next time...and oooooooh there will be a next time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Road Trip: Point Lookout

An e-mail.

A phone call.

More interweb communicating.

And a plan.

Meet at Dad's office for a road trip down to Point Lookout, the southernmost tip of Maryland on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Mr. Johnson will be joining. As will Pocahantski. Worlds of food colliding. The DC and the Bal'mer worlds in one blissful trip with a start in Annapolis, and midpoint at Point Lookout, and an end back in Annapolis. Nothing else on the agenda.

And then Karl showed up with S-H-to-the-AUNICA. Snap! Car full of awesome.

Hungry at the start with a stop at Sin Frontieras Cafe so Karl can have tacos, and we can see Walter make guacamole tableside, and meet the papusa lady who will start the next day. Plans for outdoor seating and ceviche sometime in the future. Mint growing out back for mojitos now.

Full bellies and a road trip in front of us we headed south out of Annapolis over the South River and on to Solomons and beyond.

Even better when Pocahantski says "Hey, if we're really going to stop at random places on this trip you should make the next right and go to that winery."

Done. Perigeaux. Eight acres of grapes. All their wine made from their grapes alone. Cab Sav, Chardonnay. Classic Bordeaux blends. A rose Pinot Grigio. Literally in the garage/basement. All right there and all better than expected.

There area apparently several wineries in St. Mary's County that do weekend tastings. Been growing in popularity over the past few years. There were three or four other cars we noticed as we hopped on to some of the other spots.

Two more wineries (one literally in the home kitchen) and then hunger took over.

Is that a BBQ joint on the other side of MD 235 in Lexington Park?

"Hold on," I shout over the chatter and light House coming over the Sirius. Crossing four lanes to get to the turn lane at the light and hag a U-ey.

Smokey Joe's in Lexington Park, MD with three sliders from your choice of six meats as a sampler?

Okay. Carolina pulled pork, Memphis chopped pork, and shredded chicken for me. Good slaw for sandwiches (not as great for a side because it was a fine diced chopped slaw).

On the road again.

Toes in the water.

Some great shots of friends and fishermen and foam as the waves hit the shore on a hot Saturday in June.

Back on the road to get home.

Ice cream in North Beach and a walk on the boardwalk. Remembering the stories of Isabelle and the boardwalk that was no more.

Did that sign really say Calvert Kettle Corn?

Wait here, I'll be right back.

30 more miles.

Hugs and promises of more trips to come.

Sun setting over Spa Creek.

A pint at the pub and a regaling of the regulars with tales of Point Lookout while we munch on perfectly salty & sweet kettle corn.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Updates and Esoterica

There will be From the Inbox love soon. And there will be postings of foodie goodness soon too!

I'm dreaming up a missive on my hometown food scene after several boffo experiences in the past week...including two taquerias, a german deli/breakfast and lunch shop, and a new small plates joint on West Street that restored my faith in creative dining in Annapolis.

And I'm also about to get cleaned up (karljohn and Pocahantski will thank me) to hit the road and drive down as far south as you can in Maryland on the Western Shore of the Bay. We'll hit Point Lookout and then turn around and start eating our way back up Route 5 and Route 2. Stops for BBQ will happen. I expect I'll finally get to the Naughty Gull in Solomon's Island too.

Oh...and we're bring the camcorder.

On the kitchengeeking side, I also have some gorgeous mizuna, rainbow chard, creminis, shitakes, pattypans, and etcs. (I Love etceteras, they're my favorite). So the kitchen will also rock.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

24.3 Miles of Dim Sum (Oriental East & Asian Court)

That's the distance between Oriental East in Silver Spring and Asian Court in Ellicott City.

View Larger Map

They're worlds apart if for no other reason than there are 503,881 lanes of traffic between Silver Spring and Ellicot City. Oriental East is an inside-the-Washington-Beltway spot with metro access literally across the street. Asian Court rests outside the Baltimore Beltway and just west of Route 29 in Howard County and calls a newly-built strip mall with Giant, Home Depot, and Sears all close by its home.

You can get your dim sum on in either place and feel pretty good about your Authentico-Meter. Or at the very least, you'll eat incredible food that you'll want to talk about for quite a while.

Close to three-quarters of the clientele during Sunday cart-service were Asian. Both served beef tripe and chicken feet to every table without batting an eye (You came here, you get the full experience). Both had well-dressed paternal figures sorting out the waiting lines and seating. To give an idea of scale, Oriental East had between four and six carts out during the busy hours of 12-1:30. Asian Court was getting by with 3-4 from 1-2pm. Just a smaller place.

I hit Oriental East with the Seester Geek last weekend and Asian Court with The Quiet One, Pocahanski, and our pal Shack today. In both cases we started fast...really fast...and ended up picking and realizing small plates add up and there is dough or wrapper or noodle on almost all dim sum...and you will pay for it!

The Quiet One, Shack and I sat down and I immediately set my eyes on the cart that was going to arrive well before plates or silverware was set. Fah, I say! I will have dim sum! And at that point I didn't know the pace of carts at Asian Court and wasn't about to miss out. Shrimp dumplings? Sure. Shrimp wrapped in wide noodles? Yes, please. Beef with wide noodles, pork & peanut dumplings, pork buns in biscuit-like dough, and pork bbq in open-shell dough with sesame seeds...bring it! Pocahantski will get here when she gets here...

More, more, more...Those other pork balls look good. Yes, we DO want chicken feet (better at Asian Court with slightly less sweet and more heat to the black bean sauce they typically have smothered over them).

Seester and I had done it the same way, but had carts coming by less frequently in the crush. Shrimp eggs rolls and fried pork dumplings started us off. Then we upgraded to the taro dumpling with pork, shrimp and vegetable dumplings, and the fried shrimp pressed into roasted Japanese eggplant.

Both Oriental East and Asian Court had simple shrimp dumplings, shrimp wrapped in large flat noodles ladled with soy at service, shumai, beef balls, beef with flat noodles, chicken feet, beef tripe, coconut jelly, and pineapple rolls plus a dozen plus other dishes including greens, dumplings, and dessert 'rolls.'

Oriental East wowed us with its crispy shredded taro dumpling with chinese pork sausage and mushrooms and the fried shrimp with Japanese eggplant. Seriously...wowed. The Chinese Broccoli was also a hit not only for the salty-delicious oyster sauce that accompanied it but because it allowed me to legitimize the healthiness of the meal by eating close to a cup of real, live (or dead and steamed and sauced) vegetables without the benefit of dumpling or fryer or pork.

Asian Court's had a layer of what seemed to be taro/mushroom paste between the crispy shredded goodness and the mushroom and ground pork saute. We gobbled them up but I don't think we need the extra taro there. The winner here for me was the sticky rice wrapped in taro leaves with bits of chicken, Chinese sausage, and pork belly studded into the rice. That was followed closely by the flat noodles with beef and scallions and the pork and peanut dumplings. Shack was all over a pork dumpling that appeared to be bound with some egg and was definitely steamed and then finished in oil for a bit of texture to the outside.

Remember, I'm doing this after one long run at each, so if I missed something not only am I sorry, but I want you to correct me so I can go back and have more.

The Oriental East crowd was more frenetic and the people just kept coming...forever. I was number 28 when I arrived and by the time Seester and I were audi-50 they were calling number 105. Today was more calm (hmmm, more suburban I suppose) and in a smaller spot but the food was no less compelling.

At Asian Court we would have been able to relax a bit more had our mouths not been working overtime. I was at one point reduced to an interrupting babble of monosyllables to express my happy-happy-joy-joy at the ginger and hot chili-spiked black bean sauce smothering the plate full of small clams. SPICY BLACK BEAN SAUCE. Yeah, let's just say we'll be back.

On the advice of Mr. HowChow, I also did the two-mile loop drive out further west to Bethany 40 to check out the Korean spots, the Canopy, and the Soft Serve joint so I was prepared for a trip on a whim out Ellicott City way in the near future.

Oriental East on Urbanspoon

Asian Court on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Call and Answer (Jealousy and Retort)

Ms. Vertical and The Quiet One are at Peter's. I am not. And therefore, I receive this...

That's right.

A picture.

No text with it other than...

"Perfectly seared tuna nachos with wasabi aoli, beet and cucumber slivers and a hint of srirachi. Remember my face when eating the balsamic reduction... This was better."


The Ms. Adventures and I have good times.

Little do they know that I have Salvadoran Adobo Pork Chops with Vidalia Onions and Tomatoes simmering in a 350-degree oven, sofrito and black beans (as taught by the Juban ex-girlfriend) with rice, a sauted mushroom and asparagus salad with CSA-fresh mesclun and radishes from Waverly with a dijon/balsamic vinaigrette ready to serve to pops, and steps- mom and brother tonight.

Touche says what???

P.S. Ms. Vertical? You're welcome for the Sriracha spell-check. It's what I'm here for. B Bistro is going to be hit in FORCE tomorrow night!!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

From the Inbox: The Neglected Inbox

Just because we haven't been blogging, doesn't mean we haven't been eating. Trust me, my pants are no looser now than they were at the time we last saw you here.

No, really, we know you want to read about us and all, and modesty IS our only flaw...but we've been busy. Jobs, wine tastings, family, dinner parties, home improvement, other blogs. Yeah, the jobs, family, and home improvement didn't really happen or get in the way. But it's a nice thought.

It's Spring, and that means there are so many bright, fresh, new food things that are occupying our thoughts and time. Let me tell you about some of them through lurvely e-mails.

From Pocahantski we read in about The Burnt Food Museum. And we are intrigued...their motto is "Celebrating nearly two decades of culinary failure."

Road Trip!

On the drive, and when no one is looking, Fetz (Dear Lord Fetz) and I will tip back just a couple of Pabstmosas. Yeah, you read that right.

Rowley writes: "Deb assures me that Pabstmosas are good any time of day. I’m glad to have ordered one. I’m glad for the subsequent conversations it sparked in which I learned about Arkansas martinis and Monkeywrench martinis (beers with an olive or a maraschino cherry, respectively). I was even glad to see the same bartender serving more later that night. But mostly? Mostly, I’m glad that’s the last Pabstmosa I’ll ever order."

I think this story is especially timely, having just convinced one of my two watering holes in town to carry the P. The B. And the R. On tap, no less.

But no, Pabstmosa, you are too far for even me. I wouldn't want to ruin the beer. I'm actually glad the hipsters have decided to get PBR on the retro-cool list. Just means it's easier for me to find on the shelves.

Pocahantski's final e-mail (actually the first 'cause I'm that crafty on the reverse-chronological tip...thought I couldn't use words like that in a food blog? FAH. FAH I say.) is another to file away in the "Places we want to go eat and embarrass ourselves with gluttony" category.

Um. Well it's true!

Anyway. It's Amish Cheese people. You don't go light on the cheese. The Amish made it. They're nice people. It would be rude not to try...all of them.

But we can't yet, because Ms. Vertical got in on the e-mail action last week too. And it's good.

If you read the other blog (and really, why aren't you?), you'll know there were several dinner parties recently held at Chez Geek. The Ms. Adventures were there. Other friends were there. People who didn't know what city they were going to and who hadn't been mentioned to the host were there. It was righteous.


I made a Strawberry-Rhubarb Clafoutis. First time I'd ever held a piece of raw rhubarb and cut it and cooked it. Won't be the last. And here's a good idea from via Ms. Vertical:
Roasted Rhubarb Compote
By Kate Ramos

Both sweet and pleasingly tart, this rhubarb compote is a snap to put together. The rhubarb stays in nice big pieces as it cooks but then spreads like butter over cakey scones. We also like it spooned over thick Greek yogurt.

What to buy: Look for rhubarb that is free of blemishes. Remove any leaves, dried-out pieces, or brown spots before cooking.
Game plan: The compote will keep for 5 to 7 days refrigerated in a covered container.
This recipe was featured as part of our Mother’s Day tea party.
Total Time: 50 mins
Active Time: 10 mins
Makes: 6 to 8 servings (about 2 cups)

1 pound rhubarb
1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rinse rhubarb under cold water, trim ends, and remove any leaves. Slice each stalk in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 1-inch pieces.
2. Combine rhubarb, orange zest, orange juice, and sugar in an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish; toss together until rhubarb is well coated with sugar.
3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until the rhubarb has released a lot of juice and the mixture is bubbling, about 35 minutes.
4. Remove the foil and continue baking until the juices are slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
After this I actually have a post on some real, live restaurant eating with the gang. Details when I've typed them. Enjoy the yummy Inbox...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thanks Ladies: The Black Olive

Took the MsAdventures out for dinner last Sunday because...well, because they deserve it. So I'll shut up now and just show you all some of the awesome at The Black Olive. The ladies can chime in comment-style if they're so inclined.

The view out the front window. Classic Fells.

Savory Bread Pudding with Leeks, Artichokes, and Portabellas. Surprise hit of the app course. Get it.

Grilled Octopus Salad. But for a heavy hand with the salt, brilliant!

Those perfectly grilled calamari are stuffed with Greek cheese!!! I know, it's AWESOME.

Greek people know lamb. And when they cook it in parchment and serve it over couscous, it works.

I'm sorry? You're jealous of my Red Snapper fillet with roast beets? Too bad, get'cher own!

Fried dough drizzled with Greek honey and walnuts? Yes, please, I'll have that.

Three words: Baklava Ice Cream. Good lord that's a dangerous combination.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Quiet One Works: Edgewater Restaurant

Saw the Quiet One in 'Naptown this week. She was on her way down across the South River to the Edgewater Restaurant to eat crab cakes. She called them the best crab cakes in town. I will have to investigate. And while you all know I'm not always the biggest fan of using cell phone pictures; in this case I'll put it up because it's just pretty.

See that crust on the top? See that lump crab meat? Yeah, we eat well.

Head down Route 2 (which is kinda the southern spur of I-97 after the I ends in 'Naptown!).

She was kind enough to text an offer to drop off an extra cake to me on her way back up to Bal'mer. I was lame enough to already be at home crashed out for the night.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

10 Countries of Food and Drink: ONE DAY

Or, "What happens with KarlJohn and I decide we haven't seen each other in too long and drag our friends along to multiple dive restaurants and cafes."

You get the first Kitchen Geeking/97-MealsPerHour crosspost here. I can't put this on one and not the other. Too many cuisines, too much fun. Can't just be a personal thing, and the MsAdventures were close in my thoughts all day long.

But yes folks, it was an EXPLOSION of food yesterday in the land of the Kitchengeek.

I started out at about 10:30 in the morning having driven in to DC to meet KarlJohn of WeLoveDC fame at his new cafe. Proud part-owner in an independent cafe at Constitution Square in DC called Pound Coffee. Find them on the Foosebook here. Being independent means they can do things like invent their own Nutella syrup for lattes and shop for fresh ingredients to have one lunch special every day and work through thirty different ethnicities in a month. Good on them!

But we weren't in it for the District today. We headed across the river to what used to be the District until Virginia asked for it back. Arlington. Home of every hole-in-the-wall place you need (not really, but you'll get my point soon).

We were headed to El Charrito Caminante for tacos. You know, because it's what Karl and I do.

We got distracted, got ourselves seated next door at Don Arturo's Restaurant, and split a steak sandwich with fried egg and sauted peppers and onions while we were waiting for Karl's business partner Khalil. He called. He joined. He sat. He got up, said he didn't want to just sit there and watch us eat, and headed over to El Charrito.

After our hefty but thankfully split sandwich, we joined him and proceeded to order tacos, plantains, papusas...and then yucca, which Karl can't seem to avoid in his life.

Keep track now...Swiss (Nutella), Bolivian, Mexican (Tacos), Salvadoran (Papusa), and Peruvian (Yucca). We're on a roll now.

And we're chatting with Son/Owner Jose as he takes carry-out orders, rings up the throngs of customers stopping in, and checks with the kitchen on orders in process. Karl's partner was interested in how they carmelized the plantains and how they prepared their meats for tacos. Small business to small business. Great chats. We wanted Jose to bring one of the griddles he still had from his days as a Taco Truck driver to Pound to make papusas for the masses. He demurred.

You can see here why we might have wanted him to show. DAMN THAT WAS GOOD! And the cabbage slaw that came with it was just tart enough from the vinegar and still crisp to provide PERFECT salty, crunchy, vinegary balance to the chew and cheese of the griddled papusa. I want more, and I kinda want them now.

But alas, we had plans...big plans. Falafel plans. So a two block walk down Pershing to make room for the next course ensued.

After stopping in the European Grocery at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Pershing then strolling into the parking lot of a small strip mall on Pershing to see what the Guatemalen place was all about (We didn't go in. We had to leave ONE rock unturned for the next trip.); we made it to Astor Mediterranean. A spotless, open, modern-looking seating area with an order at the counter style and a family from the eastern Med (Egypt actually) making the food. Mom was in the back getting ready to make some Koshari and then a whole lamb for a party later that night. We'll get there; because we immediately left without ordering.

Falafel was the goal. After more walking. We left to go check out Raja Bazaar. Recently moved to Pershing just off 50 from Quincy. Halal meats, Indian and Persian spices abound. Butcher in the back.

Okay, enough shopping for food, we were in it to eat.

Joined by a fourth, the amazing S-H To The. Missed that girl fierce since Orlando!

And we're off.

Falafel in belly we drop all but S-H's car and head across Pershing to Gleebe to hit Ravi Kebab so Karl could get chick peas. Which he did. But there were no seats. So we left and cross the street to...the OTHER Ravi Kebab. More modern and newly constructed. More seats. More food as Khalil and I each ordered the Special Samosa. Split open and doused with chick peas, yogurt, jalapenos and tomatoes. We ATE. And Khalil wrote down the ingredients in the chick peas so he can do his version. Which I will try.

Back in the car.

Back to Astor. Koshari's ready now. Mom comes out and finds out we've gotten a plate but she didn't put it together. So she wants to put it together the way she would have. So we get another plate. Rice, lentils, chick peas, pasta. All thrown together. Tomato-based sauce to add brightness and tart, but not heat. Ubiquitous Egyptian breakfast of champions.

At this point it's about 3pm. And we're getting slightly full.

Slightly. Remember, we're professionals here!

So I have the brilliant idea to go get coffee. And it turns out the marketing guy Karl and Khalil are working with has suggested they go check out Buzz Bakery, Coffee, and Dessert Lounge to look at their design and also try their baked goods.


As we're walking out to the car to head over to Alexandria I just have to turn to Karl, smile, laugh and say "This is EPIC!" as we gave each other a Frat-Tastic pound with the goofball 'explosion.'

Then we get to the cupcakes. Mini cupcakes to be specific. Delicious little morsels of sweet cake with an amazing crisp top and melty-tangy butter-cream or cream cheese icing. The Buzz with the coffee icing. The Red Velvet with the cream cheese.

And then Karl goes and gets a sausage, egg, and cheese brioche. A lovely, puffy, French pastry filled with breakfast. Market research. We're calling it market research.

After Swiss, Bolivian, Mexican, El Savadoran, Lebanese (Falafel), Pakistani (Ravi), Egyptian (Koshari), and French (Brioche), Khalil had to go. He may still be in a food coma.

Karl, S-H and I were not done. Not at all. On to the Great Wall Asian UBERSUPERMEGA Mart. Size of a Super Wal-Mart. Flavor of real food. Turtles, eels, frogs. In the SEAFOOD section. Funny moment when you realize there are "Asian Foods" and and "American Foods" aisles in the store. Small restaurant/bakery too.

More funny when the lady walked up and asked me if I wanted to get new glasses in their just-opened optical shop..."These are Bulgari. I JUST BOUGHT these." So much for my high fashion moment. Came crashing down in the fresh mushrooms, bamboo, and pork buns aisle of the Great Wall.

S-H bolted up to Rockville. Karl and I continued on. To Present. Which was packed. And made us wait 20 minutes before they said they probably wouldn't be able to seat us. But Karl says the crowd is just catching up with the amazing food and I saw whole steamed fish and larb that looked rockin' and tender bits o' meat in sauces that were shimmering. So we'll try again some other day.

What to do? What to do? After standing around naming countries and cuisines for a few minutes, we stumbled upon an Afghan place that Karl actually had on his US Wishlist. Which was convenient for both of us, because it made thinking a moot point. Down VA-7 we go. South on 395. Off at Duke Street/Little River Parkway. Into the Total Wine center. Over to Maizbon. Real meal. Appetizers, salads, entres, and the severe need for gastric bypass or a restraint epidural. Neither of which is going to happen. Really. It won't.

My Aushak (steamed leek dumplings with yogurt and meat sauce over it) was good but lacked a bit. The dumplings (think ravioli) were totally limp and over cooked. Meat sauce tastied things up quite nicely. Karl's Kadu (pumpkin) was delicious, and his Keccheri Quroot (think rice porridge with yogurt, spicy red sauce and meatballs) was the hit of the night. New texture, brilliant flavors mixing around. Lamb chops on my plate were well seasoned and well grilled but cut a thin and as a result cooked well (not dried out, mind you, just not pink enough for me).

But after all that, I was DONE. After walking around the Total Wine for a bit, I hit my food wall. Karl will be back to that same shopping center soon (he was plotting routes from his place on the drive after dinner) because he noticed after dinner that three doors down from the Afghan place is an Egyptian place. And Karl loves him some Egyp.

Home Jeeves. Karl, to the car. Still parked at Astor, from SEVEN HOURS BEFORE.

Route 50 again. Stupid 395 one lane down traffic.

Last call hasn't happened yet?


I can get a pint and add Irish to the day?

Well...okay. I guess I can call it a digestif and crack double-digits on the country of origin charts today.

G'nite y'all. I'm sleeping off this food coma for at least...until Brunch on Sunday.

And for those keeping track of calories, there was a total of $120 spent today. At all locations, among all the foodsters. Mostly shared stuff all day. $50 of the total was KarlJohn and I at the Afghan place at the end of the day.

Don Arturo Restaurante on Urbanspoon

El Charrito Caminante on Urbanspoon

Astor Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

Buzz Bakery, Coffee, and Dessert Lounge on Urbanspoon

Maizbon Afghan Grill on Urbanspoon

Crossposted at Kitchen Geeking.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

From The Inbox: Blizzards Are Gone Update

It's been a long time folks. And that's in part because we've been buried under so much snow that stores everywhere have been low on key supplies. But have no fear, the gang still eats. And we eat well. There have been few sightings of Ms. Vertical and Pocahantski, but we'll fix that soon enough. I think there might be a trip to see why the Holly's parking lot has fewer cars than the new place toward the 50/301 split.

Pocahantski chimes in with this story on the explosion of porky goodness in the restaurant world.
Until a few years ago, fine dining meant eating high on the hog. The phrase refers, literally, to the traditionally finer cuts of meat above the belly, such as the top loin, choice ribs, and “Boston’’ roast, which is actually the shoulder.

Then things began to change. To the shock of certain patrons, parts of the pig previously regarded as unfit for hot dogs (or so we are told) started appearing at upscale eateries. Pork fat with names that needed serious rehabilitation (lard, suet, fatback) started getting bigger play from celebrity chefs. New York restaurateurs Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, and David Chang paraded lard on TV and in their own kitchens.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

We Know Jack('s) - In Canton 'Hon (Plus Other Random Saturday Appetizers)

Watch this!!!!

No, really. Do it. It's ROLLER DERBY. And you get THREE food adventures to go along with it. Plus $3 PBR and Natty-Bohs. But only one beer per person in line (which defeated the purpose of one person going to get a round, and was THE only glitch in the Charm City Roller Girls extravaganza).

Saturday in Bal'mer with The Quiet One and the J&L Gang? Yeah, I can do that.

Wine tasting and raw oysters at Chesapeake Wine Market first? Yeah, I can do that too. Slurp, slurp peeps.

And eight whites. Sips, people, just sips. And The Quiet One, J from the J&L Gang, and I each popped 18 little sweet Chesapeake bay tasties.

I'll share with you that the second wine we had, the Cedric Buchard Pinot Noir Brut NV Infloresence (a champagne y'all), was the winner by far. Bubbles and oysters. My cup runneth over (or at least I wish it did).

Doors open at 6 for the derby and we have time to kill, so up to Canton Square we go. Mama's on the Half Shell was packed so we headed over to Helen's Garden for apps and cocktails.

If you have the chance you should do the same. Especially in the summer when the doors on the bar are open and the breeze is rolling by as you sip a Sancerre waiting for your Burger Au Poivre to arrive. Yeah, gotcha, didn't I?

And last Saturday, we got THIS:
Indeed dear readers, that is goat cheese "hugged" by prosciutto on a tasty little nub of french bread with slivered...almonds? No, that's garlic folks. Damn tasty, spicy, slivered, and sauted garlic with the rosemary and the honey/olive oil/balsamic. GO GET SOME (if you can, since it was the appetizer special, but they should just keep making more of them). The bread was chewy, the goat cheese just warmed enough to melt and held together by the barely crispy prosciutto. And then you dip that in the honey, rosemary, garlicky goodness and get to eat it? Oh my...

I don't have any pictures of dinner because a) it was a bit dark at the bistro and b) we were too interested in the delicious Claret and fantabulous food that kept coming out of the kitchen and dropping down on our table.

Turns out our server's wife just made the Roller Derby squad this year. She's still practicing and hasn't been in a bout yet, but it'll happen.

Jack's is classic bistro tucked in around the corner from the square. Guiness braised filet with cheddar/jalapeno grits. Sous vide strip and frites (and they won't let you order it any other way by medium rare, good on them). Mac n' Cheese n' Chocolate for an app. Creamy shells in a perfect cheesy/creamy sauce with a dusting of cocoa powder on top. 147-degree poached eggs with pork belly. Mmmmm.

Turned out the two tables on either side of us were post-derby folks too. We're trying to convince Jack's to have a post-game special since it's only a block from the arena. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 5, 2010

From the Inbox: Special Rome Edition

This is one where you get to go to Rome. Sort of. And really only if you can read AND use your imagination-machine.

The Quiet One is in Rome. And you will benefit because laughter extends life, and...well:
Dear self: In the future please remember the physical strains of walking at least 6 miles and climbing the 328 stairs to the top of St. Peters' Cupola will lose the battle (and war) to a 7:30pm espresso.
There was, sadly no picture of said cupola. Nor were there any other words or images in that message. See, I told you reading AND imagination-machine.

And brave traveler. Because if you've been to Rome you know it's either 1) get in cab and live in fear you'll be t-boned by another cab, or 2) walk and live in fear you'll be struck by a pinwheeling cab after it was t-boned by another cab. Either way you're in fear, but the gelato helps!

Ms. Quiet One also tells us of Amarone and Osso Bucco. And we drool. You will note, astute reader/looker (yeah, I called you a looker. And you deserved it SEXY!!!) that there is no marrow in that there shank bone. Yeah, it was there when the plate was put down. What? You think we don't rock the marrow in the 97-mph crew?


Remember what I said about laughter?
All the missing bone marrow is happily in my tummy :)
Before you get too jealous about the foodie missives and food-porn thoughts of marrow, just remember that The Quiet One started her trip by providing weather reports!

There will likely be more missives from Italia. We will provide them forthwith. And you will remember of course that the connection here is that The Quiet One had to drive on I-97 to get to BWI to take her flight. Good luck to anyone trying to do that today!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jiggling Eggs - We Are Begging You Please!

Let us tell you all a story. About eggs. And how much it PAINS us to send them back to the kitchen. Almost EVERY TIME we go to brunch.

As you will see as you read this post, the geek can cook eggs. Perfectly. And the Misadventures don't want to eat imperfectly prepared eggs.

We would like to take this Sunday morning time to remind restaurants in the Greater Universe Metro-Plex that if you are going to put eggs on your menu, and if you're open for brunch it's likely, please make sure your staff knows how to cook them. This is especially true of Eggs Benedict, Sardou, Chesapeake/Maryland, and the kitchengeek's personal favorite Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs.

If those suckers aren't jiggling, you overcooked them. And we don't want them.

Your hollandaise could cure disease and your hash could inspire an end to the conflict in Burma/Myanmar and we'd still send the eggs back if they don't have yolk that flows like the cheap lite beer at a suburban Applebee's on a Friday night at happy hour. We're not interested in hard-boiled eggs unless you have the best Chef's Salad in the history of mankind. And we're only interested then if we've also ordered said salad.

And evidenced by this gorgeous little shot here at the end, there are times when it comes out perfectly the first time. It is the nirvana of brunch to have hot coffee throughout a meal and to break the yolk of a poached or sunnyside up egg ever so slightly with one tine of your fork and watch the molten orange create the perfect sauce for your meal.

In our recent attempts to brunch and brunch well we have hit a few roadblocks in the egg department. We would like to profusely thank our servers for each of those meals. They understood immediately, quickly whisked away the plates, ensured coffee was full and hot for the extra wait, and also clearly made sure the eggs were taken from pan to table in the shortest possible time on the re-fire. Both were grace under pressure, at the height of the brunch rush.

So please managers, chefs, cooks, and staff of the world; please take care with your eggs. We know that servers have multiple tables and kitchens have multiple orders flying in at the same time. So if you see a jiggling poached eggs set under a heat lamp, pick it up and lovingly deposit it in front of the diner to whom it belongs. They will likely thank you. And you will have earned much food karma.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

From the Inbox: January 24-30

In addition to the cooking and eating that goes on, there are the endless conversations about food. How else do you think we come up with the mythical lists, roadtrips, and crazy ideas for dinner parties?

You're lucky we like to share (unless you're trying to get the last piece of speck or duck prosciutto off a plate...we'll cut ya' sucker!).

From Pocahantski this week we have two pieces of joy.

  • Go to the Boston Globe to learn about Feed Me Bubbe, the 83-year-old grandmother who has her own online kosher cooking show. Get that lady on America's Test Kitchen!

  • There's also the International Food & Wine Festival in Washington, DC. Lower ticket prices in effect until February 6. Wanna meet there?
The Quiet One and I are fresh off a successful trip to the 32nd Street Market this morning that included Curry Shack pockets, vegan brownies, a massive turkey breast, and a cup of butter pecan ice cream for her. I worked ground lamb for kefta; beef short ribs, onions, carrots, cremini and shitake mushrooms, and garlic for just damn tastiness; and a ham steak as big as my face that will be slathered in red-eye gravy sometime this winter. My Curry Shack haul is almost gone. It included Turkish Beef pies, Lamb & Potato pockets, and SpicyTurkey pies. In addition to actually shopping for food this week, The Quiet One sends us word of these two tidbits:
Ms. not. She is horizontal. On a beach. In Puerto Rico. We are not amused. And we (that is Pocahantski and the Kitchengeek) will be less amused when The Quiet One gets on her flight to Rome this week.

Reservation for Four...Table for Six

The Mis-Adventures +1 (that's the folks at this here blog) have come to a conclusion based on two dinners in Easton, one brunch in Chestertown, and a dinner in Mt. Vernon. We will now share with you our conclusion. It is about us...

97-mph Member - "We'd like a reservation for four for Friday night."
Restaurant - "Execellent. What time will you be joining us."
97-mph Member - "8pm. And we'll need a six-top."

This is what happens when four people believe in 1) food; 2) wine; and 3) "and" being better than "or" as a life choice.

We frequently have candles and sugar caddies on the booth next to us or behind the table somewhere to make room for charcuterie, and apps, and salads, maybe a soup or two, and sharing plates (you call them bread plates).

This principle will be born out in posts coming on Feast @ Four East in Baltimore and a two-weekend Shore-stravaganza including two meals at Scossa in Easton, a lunch at Latitude 38 in Oxford, Ice Cream and Lamb Chops at the General Store in Oxford, Butt Rub in St. Michael's, and brunches at the Imperial Hotel in Chestertown and the Tidewater Inn in Easton.

Yeah...we get around (food)...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Setting the Stage

What we have here is an effort to communicate. With you. About food. Good food that requires silver and crystal; good food that requires pits and spits; and good food that requires cocktails and wine. If it’s a trend, we’ll try it. If it’s a trend that sucks, we’ll mock it.

We are in fact food snobs; we know that you better let the Som know your date doesn’t like oaked-Chardonnay, not just that she doesn't like Chardonnay. Because, sir, that IS an important distinction.

We also have obsessions about Eastern European meat products (and charcuterie in general because it’s a fun word and hams, salamis, pates, and rilletes are just damn tasty). Hell one of us even has a degree in Eastern European history, and a serious taco fetish to boot!

There are lots of blogs about food. We know that. You know it. But we’re funny, just ask us. And given the amount of time and energy we spend not just on eating out, but on THINKING about eating out, and cooking ourselves, and tasting, and learning about food…we’re pretty sure we can talk with a fair bit of substance with opinions based on something other than having read three reviews of Chick-fil-As in the greater Bal’mer area and choosing our favorite.

And it is about Bal’mer, ‘Hon. And ‘Naptown (which sadly doesn’t have much of a food 'scene' on its own). And DC (which also means we are not scared to cross the Potomac for NoVA spots). And the places in between and nearby. And we get to define nearby (because Philly seems really close some days and the Bolt Bus can have us swimming in Dim Sum in New York's Chinatown or Little India in Jersey really quickly).

Just the other night, in fact, we talked about trying to find really good Indian food closer to Baltimore than to DC and ‘this guy’ blurted out ‘I bet there’s really good Indian in Columbia’ without really knowing why. The Quiet One immediately shouted (heh, we’re ironical already) that there was! So you see…we’ll trek off I-97 a bit. We have to; Baltimore requires some combination of I-695, MD 295, MD 2, I-95, or U.S. 1 to actually get from I-97 to the city. And stopping at the southern end of 97 leaves me about 5 miles east and a bit south. And I want to play!

Tonight that will include a ‘road trip’ to the Shore. It was going to be Frederick. No, not for THAT PLACE. Silly…we already did that. Ms. Vertical must be on the shore for the puppies, so we will eat on the shore. My parameters were “Two meals today, much driving, one meal tomorrow.” There was no dissent. The ladies discussed oysters. I am down with that. Seafood on the shore. This is how we roll.

Since this is my stream-of-consciousness first post; I will tell you here that the posts about restaurants are not intended to be classic restaurant reviews. They are meant to be stories about the experiences the four of us (together or individually) have had. While we don’t like to admit it often, we know we’re not the be-all-end-all. We also recognize that if we don’t like something, we’ll tell the proprietor too.

We’ve had a number of conversations and moments in our lives that got us here that started this adventure. I already write about food. The Quiet One and I have talked about restaurants for almost a decade now and keep adding new places to a mythical ‘list’ that we must complete. The Quiet One, Pocahantski, and Ms. Vertical have Food-ed themselves in the Bal’mer scene for years. Pocahantski and I have actually cooked together…sort of. There will likely be a CSA sharing this summer and The Quiet One and Ms. Vertical will support us, by eating what we cook. We read lists like Dining @ Large’s and contemplate completion. We also let each other know where we’re traveling for business, in case one or more of the rest of us want to tag along for the food. Pocahantski has a trip to Berkley coming up, and I might just be in New Orleans at the end of February.

I don’t know that we have a set format in mind for ‘reviews,’ stories, posts, and thoughts about food; so that will evolve over time. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to have photos. Sometimes we’ll just use our words (And sometimes that’s hard to do given the fact that we all believe in wine, bourbon, grapa, and blue-cheese stuffed olives too).

So off we go. I’m finishing my espresso and making sure my overnight bag is packed…