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.

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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