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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 13th - Dress Up and Get a Free Meal at Chick-Fil-A!

 
 On Friday July 13th Chick-fil-A Restaurants Nationwide will be celebrating Cow Appreciation Day by offering FREE meals to customers dressed as COWs.
 
Customers dressed “ head to hoof '’ as cows will receive a free meal (entree, side and medium drink) for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
 
If you're too “chicken” to dress in full cow attire, an entree will be given if you wear a cow hat, scarf, handbag or other unique cow accessory :)
 
For more info on the event, a photo contest and easy costume ideas go to www.cowappreciationday.com .

Thursday, July 5, 2012

City Cafe, Mount Vernon

DISCLAIMER:  This post has been sitting in my "to publish" section for WEEKS because I was too lazy to upload pictures :o/

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How had I never noticed City Cafe before?  This modern American restaurant is huge, first of all, and it's just a block away from Charles Street in Mt. Vernon.  I mean, it's literally in the thick of things over there.

To start the dinner off on a liquid note I ordered a City 75 ($10) - Hendricks Gin, Prosecco, and fresh lemon juice.  It was crisp and refreshing, though a tad sharp for my taste - I am used to my French 75's having a bit of sugar in them.

Since I ordered a $10 (!) drink, I decided to not splurge and order the $15 Moroccan Lamb Burger - Served on whole wheat flat bread with tzatziki sauce and a tomato, cucumber and feta salad.  The burger was tasty and full of spices, though it was a bit well-done. I especially loved piling on the thick tzatziki sauce with every bite.  I enjoyed the fresh salad as well, it was a very good meal.

My friend ordered the Chilean Sea Bass ($30) - Pan seared with jumbo lump crab, Buerre blanc, whipped potatoes and asparagus.  I had a small bite and I quietly cried inside that I didn't order this instead because it was INCREDIBLE.  The outside of the fish was buttery crisp, but the inside was soft and light and AMAZING.  Oh Chilean Seabass, you are such a tasty fish even if your name is really Patagonian Toothfish and you're on the endangered list :(

At least it's good to know that if you're going to pay $30 for a dish, you will get what you paid for.  The mash was also creamy and served as a good backdrop for the fish, which was the star of the show.

We ended up sharing the Cake and Ice Cream for $8.  The cake was soft and light and it was almost like an overcooked lava cake made from dark chocolate so it wasn't overly sweet.  This was a good basic dessert, and serves it's non-adventurous role well.

Other important things to note:
- The service was incredible!  My friend and I sat and chatted for 3 hours and we never once felt pressured to leave.
- They have complimentary valet parking!! Love!!!
- This would be a great choice for a large group

This was SUCH a great dinner!  The restaurant was an open and large space with a very hip, modern feel to it.  I really loved this place and can't wait to go back!



City Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Foodie News and Events

Here is some information that I've received through press releases lately

2nd Annual Maryland Traditions Folklife Festival is taking place on June 16th (this Saturday) from 11am-7pm at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson

NASFT's Summer Fancy Food Show is taking place June 17-19th in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.  
  •  This events "main goal is to connect food producers and businesses. Here, NASFT members (producers) promote hundreds of thousands of unique specialty food and beverage products that are often unavailable at your local grocery store or chain. The Summer Fancy Food Show invites chefs, food trade professionals, distributors and retailers from all over the world to attend this event and introduce them to some of the most innovative specialty food products in the marketplace."
  • If you are interested in attending, register for $35 ($10 off full badge price) when you use this promo code SX10. Click on this link to register.  
 
Ra Sushi is celebrating International Sushi Day on June 18th (Monday)
  • Anyone who "likes" Ra Sushi on Facebook can print a coupon for one complimentary Tootsy Maki.  It must be printed on June 18th and used that day between 11am-7pm.
  • Ra is ALSO introducing new menu items and cocktail selections on the 18th, including
    • Edamame Dip ($5.25), a creamy edamame and spinach dip served warm with wonton chips.
    • Drunken Black Mussels ($9.25) steamed in sake and sauteed in garlic an soy sauce. 
    • Crispy Asian Tacos!  There are five different flavors to choose from, including the Spicy Tuna ($9.25), Chicken ($7.50), Spicy Salmon ($8.25), "RA"ckin' Shrimp ($8.25), and Crispy White Fish ($8.25)
    • Lycheetini ($9) made with lemon vodka, muddled lychees, lychee juice, lemon juice and sugar free sweetener.
 
This year's Crab & Cruise is taking place June 22-23 in Crisfield, Maryland.
  • The Crab & Cruise is a two-day event aimed to attract Maryland seafood lovers from all over the country.  It starts with a part on Friday night and ends with an all-you-can-eat crab feast and bay cruise on Saturday.  
  • You can choose to do some of the events or all of them. It definitely looks like a great summer weekend! 
B&O American Brasserie is hosting multiple events this summer
  • On June 28th (Thursday) at 7:30pm it's hosting a Stags' Leap Wine Dinner for $75pp which will include a five-course menu all paired with a different varietal of wine.
  • On July 21st (Saturday) from 2-4pm, Chef Dunklin is having a BBQ demonstration and cocktail pairing from head bartender, Brendar Dorr. It's $35pp or $50 per couple.  This is a cooking demo, so you will get to eat what the Chef prepares!

Friday, May 25, 2012

REVIEW: Graeter's Ice Cream



So Memorial Day Weekend is here and I know a number of you plan to host or attend some parties, so let me give you some advice if you are unsure about dessert - find some Graeter's Ice Cream and you're good to go!

Graeter's originated in Ohio, but it started to become well known after it was featured on The Food Network and after someone named Oprah became a fan (see her review here) :)

I was sent four pints of ice cream to try, and I was quite happy to oblige :)  Dan and I hosted a BBQ dinner with our families and we all had a taste test for dessert.

Everyone was pretty excited about this line-up

The flavors they sent me were Vanilla Chocolate Chip, Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Mint Chocolate Chip.  And when they say chocolate chips they actually mean chocolate fudge chunks! Even directly out of the freezer, these HUGE chunks were still chewy and actually tasted DELICIOUS unlike most other chocolate chips in ice cream which are usually small, hard and bitter. 

The ice cream itself is creamy and luscious, but the chocolate chunks really steal the show. My favorite out of all the flavors was the Chocolate Chocolate Chip.  If you love chocolate, this is THE ice cream for you - it's just pure decadence!  The Vanilla Chip was a perfect original and I could totally see it being an amazing addition to something like this this.   The Black Raspberry tasted like a mild chocolate berry and though it was not my favorite, I still ate it because of the fudge chunks hahaha

Anyway, you bet your boots I'm buying this ice cream again!  I loved it!  So get yourself to Mars, Weis or The Fresh Market and buy yourself a pint!

DISCLAIMER: I was sent four pints of Graeter's Ice Cream to review for free, but these opinions are entirely my own.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Fun Day in Baltimore County's Country and Soup'R Natural, Parkton


Soup'R Natural is located in Parkton about 30 minutes away from the Baltimore city center.  I know that's a hard sell for those living downtown, so I decided to create a Baltimore County Country itinerary for you that includes lunch at this lovely restaurant.

Baltimore County Country Daytrip

Why not start your day with some winery tours?  There are a bunch in that area, such as Basignani Winery, Woodhall Wine Cellars and Royal Rabbit Vineyards.  Sure, Maryland isn't much of a wine destination, but it's always fun to visit local wineries and find some new favorites!  Check the Maryland Wine Association's website for any events that are going on in a particular weekend.

When you are ready for lunch, drive to Soup'R Natural and relax after your hours of wine tasting, and perhaps pay for your DD's lunch :)

After lunch, make a quick visit to Gunpowder Bison & Trading Company to see where a ton of restaurants get their bison meat. It's a small little farm, but seeing the bison and looking around the cute little shop is worth it.  When Dan and I stopped in, we ended up getting some ground bison (he uses this recipe to make amazing bison sliders) and some bison sausages.  Of course the meat isn't cheap, in fact we somehow spent $50 in that trip (!), but it sure is delicious.

Head south on York Road for an easy drive back to the suburbs.  Stop in at The Filling Station if you need a cup of coffee, and then, since you probably packed a cooler to store your bison meat, head to Hunt Valley Towne Centre to load up on any foodie delights at Wegman's before taking I-83 back home!

See!  What a fun day that would be!

Crabcake sandwich (foreground) and chicken salad sandwich (background)


Now, onto my review of Soup'R Natural!  

Soup'R Natural is a small restaurant that prides itself on using local meats, eggs, and produce from nearby farms.  It has a very casual farmhouse atmosphere that is great for families as well (my sister brought my niece with us). 

My sister and I split the Chicken Salad Sandwich ($8.75) - Roasted chicken with diced fennel, grape halves and sweet almonds and we both agreed it was one of the best chicken salad sandwiches we had ever tasted.  I loved the crunch of the toasted sweet almonds, and I personally LOVE grapes in my salad, so that made me happy.  It came with regular and sweet potato chips on the side, and the sandwich itself was a nice portion.

My bro-in-law got the Crab Cake Sandwich (Market Price) - served on your choice of bread with Old Bay aioli and capers, which he really enjoyed as well.  Though I didn't try it, it definitely was a good looking sandwich.


For dessert we all split their homemade apple pie with ice cream.  The pie was STUFFED full of sweet apples, and it was quite a crowd-pleaser.

This was a wonderful, comfortable, locally-sourced and family-owned restaurant in a scenic part of Baltimore County.  What's not to love?  Next time, I'll definitely try the soup :)

p.s. Thanks to my brother-in-law for taking some awesome pictures!  If you're into biking, check out the blog he writes for!


Soup'r Natural on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lamill Coffee, Harbor East



 If you feel like treating yourself to a swanky cup of coffee and some treats, look no further than Lamill Coffee, located in the new Four Seasons Hotel in Harbor East.  Be warned though, one look at the dessert counter, and your plans of getting a quick cup of coffee will be gone..... 



......because they make beignets.

I ordered a cup of coffee and my sister ordered a tea.  After a LONG wait (I am assuming they made the beignets fresh to order, so I forgive them hahaha), they brought out our treats, but I was a little annoyed that my coffee was in a mug and hers was in a to-go container - how does that make any sense?


Anyway, the drinks were great, but the real star of the show were the beignets (3 for around $4.50 with your choice of a lemon curd sauce or Valrhona chocolate sauce).  They were hot, covered in icing sugar and melted in my mouth like soft dough-y pillows dipped in an obscene amount of chocolate sauce.

We sat for a while in the coffee shop/bar area of Wit and Wisdom Tavern, and never felt any pressure to leave.  It's such a beautiful space, and a great place to go with a friend, a good book, a laptop etc.

And yes, there were 3 beignets and yes, sharing was tough :)


Lamill Coffee on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 4, 2012

RB Kebob, Towson

Samosa Chaat

RB Kebob is a tiny, slightly hole-in-the-wall South Asian (with a slight Mexican fusion) kebob place in Towson. 

Don't judge this place on its appearance - it more than makes up for the bare walls and lack of decoration with their food.  In fact, the times that Dan and I have come to visit, we still eat there rather than get carryout because we don't want to wait a single minute to start eating!

To start, we ordered the Samosa Chaat ($4.99 pictured above).  We had tried and loved their Samosas ($1.50 for one) before, so we knew we had to see what the Chaat was all about.  It's hard to tell from the picture above, but it was a very large portion and definitely enough for a person's entree!  It's one samosa (maybe 2...it's hard to tell) crushed on the plate and then topped with chickpeas, tomatoes, yogurt and tamarind sauce and cheese (UGH - there should NEVER be cheese in a South Asian restaurant unless it's Paneer).  Despite the cheese calamity, we LOVED this and would definitely order it again.  Beware, though, it's quite spicy because of the chickpea curry!


If you choose to get the Kebob Wrap ($5.99), you can order your wrap (aka a Naan Burrito) in a Chipotle-like style at the counter where you can choose your own toppings (chickpeas, rice, assorted meats, cucumbers, etc.) and sauces.  Dan likes to get the chicken tikka with rice, chickpeas, tomatoes and a ton of sauces.  Customize your wrap the way you like it, but please let them know your spice comfort-level so they can adjust accordingly!!!


The Kebob Platter ($6.99), which comes with rice, chickpeas, salad and a choice of meat, is a little less filling than the wrap (and I mean that in a good way).  The shish kebobs are EXCELLENT, made with chunks of cilantro and onions, they taste and look so authentic!  I enjoyed getting the Kebob Platter because the meat didn't get lost, like I felt it did when I ordered a wrap on a separate occasion. 

Now let me tell you a very important tip.  If you decide to get a Kebob Platter, please still order a side of Naan ($1.50).  They roll out the dough and make it right in front of you, so it's incredibly fresh and hot - there's really nothing like it!!!

At the end of the meal, I ordered a cup of sweetened milky chai ($1.50) made in the saucepan.  Perfect.

This place totally gets my approval, please check it out! I know I'm going to continue to go back again and again!

P.S. The photos on RB Kebob's menu are stock photos - their food looks MUCH better than that!!!!

RB Kebob on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Atwater's Ploughboy Kitchen. Mt. Washington

I was off work one day and was in the mood for a sandwich.  Atwater's Chicken Salad sandwich is usually my go-to for that kind of craving, but for the sake of this blog I decided I needed to at least try something different.  I saw that Atwater's has a location called their Ploughboy Kitchen in Mt. Washington that's literally a couple of blocks away from their OTHER location on Falls Road.  The Kitchen is only open for lunch Mon-Fri, 11AM-3PM. I was so confused that I decided that I needed to investigate the difference between the two.

The Ploughboy Kitchen is located in a business park and the space itself seemed so sterile and so unlike every other Atwater's. I wasn't tempted to stay a while, so I grabbed my sandwich to go instead, which took no time at all because there were hardly any customers.  Apparently, though, this place serves hand pies, unlike the other locations. I wasn't in the mood for a hand pie though, I wanted a SANDWICH.


And a good sandwich I had. 

I ordered half a Winter Roast Turkey ($4.95) Sun-dried tomato pesto, celery root remoulade, cheddar cheese, lettuce and garlic mayo on peasant wheat.  There was a LOT of cheddar cheese which was great, but I wish that the celerey root remoulade was more pronounced.  I also ordered the side salad ($3.95) local field mix, red grapes, pistachios and a balsamic vinaigrette that was very tasty, though quite overpriced.  One gripe - I wish the grapes were cut.  There's something SO annoying about trying to stab grapes with a fork.


In all honesty, I'm not sure I'll ever go to the Ploughboy Kitchen again, especially since the Kenilworth location is closer to me and has a better atmosphere, plus the menu is basically the same.  At least my curiosity was sated though!


Atwater's Ploughboy Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rusty Scupper, Inner Harbor

I, along with my parents, had the opportunity to dine at the Rusty Scupper* to celebrate the restaurant's 30th anniversary, and we all jumped at the chance.  The Rusty Scupper!  The iconic Baltimore restaurant that's at the end of the Inner Harbor pier!  That awesome restaurant that everyone knows about, tourists and locals alike!  And yet.....I've never been there and have never thought about going....WHY!?!?  I always thought The Rusty Scupper was some old, stodgy restaurant that only catered to tourists with some bland seafood.  I WAS SO WRONG! You guys, this place is GREAT!!!

We had the fortune of going when it was a gorgeous night out, so our wonderful seat by the window made  us truly appreciate how beautiful our city really is.  Tourists shouldn't be the only people to appreciate the view!

We started off the meal with some soft bread served with a creamy red pepper spread that had a nice spicy kick. 

The 10 Cane Mojito ($8.95) was perfectly made.  I'd be all about ordering this again. My dad's Scupper Swizzler ($8.95) was very tropical and sweet, though I forget exactly what was in it other than Malibu Rum.

Artichoke and Crab Dip ($13) Served with melted cheese over crispy pita chips. This was a surprise - it was HUGE!  I thought they had given us nachos at first, since I was not expecting a crab dip appetizer to look like this.  I thought this was very tasty though, there are lots of large clumps of artichokes in the dip, but even the pita chips are yummy by themselves. This would be really good for a large group since there is so much and it's so rich - it's hard to have a lot without compromising your appetite.

The Caesar salad ($6.95) was a nice hefty portion, though a bit heavy on the dressing.  The Chopped Salad ($8) (pictured above) was colorful with large chunks of avocado!  This was a solid salad with an oil herb parmesan dressing.  I would definitely order this as a side salad again.


Grilled Chesapeake Rockfish ($30) Simply seasoned and chargrilled with wild rice medley, fresh vegetables in a fresh lemon butter sauce. My mum ordered the Rockfish which she really enjoyed.  She said the delicate flavoring was a good match for this robust and meaty fish. 

Authentic Maryland Crabcakes ($32) Lump crab cakes lightly broiled with three mustard sauce served with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. I had to order the crab cakes, of course, and I am glad I did!  They were wonderfully full of lump crab with hardly any filler.  They were VERY well done, and an excellent introduction to Maryland crabcakes to any out-of-towner.  The creamy garlic mash was a perfect complement to the dish as well.




Bouillabase ($30) Shrimp, Diver sea scallops, mussels and white fish in a saffron tomato broth with rouille and crostini. This just stole the show, I mean, look at it!  The HUGE Le Creuset dish was filled with with large pieces of shrimp, mussels and tomatoes swimming in the fragrant saffron and tomato-flavored broth.  Please just get this and share with 2-3 other people - no one person can finish it.

Save room for the desserts!  They were such a highlight of the meal for all of us that it would be a shame if you missed out on them!

Sweet potato cheesecake ($7) Served with warm pecan praline sauce and whipped cream.  I wasn't really excited about this initially, but oh boy I am so glad I got to try this because this was one of our favorites!!!  It was decadent!  Superb!  It was so creamy and I just loved the pecan praline sauce on top.  Perfect with a cup of coffee.

Apple Walnut Upside Down Pie ($7) Warm apple pie inverted with a crunchy-candy glaze of walnuts and brown sugar, topped with vanilla bean ice cream.  I loved the warm apples, pie crust and caramel glaze, but i wasn't a fan of the hard candy on top - it was too tough on my teeth.  I just moved it to the side of the plate and kept eating the rest :) It was too easy to finish.

Smith Island Cake ($10) Six layers of yellow cake and chocolate fudge icing served with Amaretto Biscotti ice cream.  I'm not normally a huge fan of Maryland's signature cake (SORRY!!!), since yellow cake and chocolate icing is just not my thing, but I can appreciate this cake for what it is.  I brought some home to Dan who LOVED it (though he preferred the sweet potato cheesecake).  It's served with an Amaretto biscotti ice cream which takes this plain (for me) dessert a bit further.  And, just as with all their desserts, these are all made for sharing!

Other notes about the restaurant:
- There was live piano music, and it was so lovely!
- This place is pricey, but please do keep it in mind for celebrations.  Pre-prom dinner, an engagement celebration, or an anniversary would be lovely in this venue. There are several private dining areas in various sizes.
- The views are spectacular when there's daylight, when the sun is setting, and when it is dark - you will want to see it all!  Keep that in mind when you make your dinner reservation!
- They have a parking garage right next to the restaurant, which they will validate for $6 BUT they also have a complimentary shuttle service available to guests within the city limits Mon-Sat, 5pm-Close!  That is AWESOME. Have a couple more mojitos!


My parents and I had such a LOVELY dinner at the Rusty Scupper.  They couldn't stop raving about the food, the atmosphere and the view, and I was the same way.  This is a really special Baltimore restaurant, and we should be proud that it's been around for 30 years - there's definitely a reason why!


Rusty Scupper on Urbanspoon



*DISCLAIMER: Though this was a free dinner, I was not asked to write a positive review and felt no inclination to write anything which did not reflect my true opinion of The Rusty Scupper.



Friday, April 13, 2012

Goat Cheese and Fig Appetizer

Friends!  I present to you my new favorite "in a pinch" appetizer!

Let's say you're having an impromptu get together with a friend after work and need to grab something in a hurry, head to Trader Joe's and buy this stuff.  If there is no TJ's close to you, I've given you some alternate options!

I present to you, the lineup of goodies:

Image from here

Get some Rosemary Raisin Crisps ($3.99).  If you've never had these before, these crackers are Trader Joe's answer to the ridiculously expensive but ridiculously amazing Raincoast Crisps which are a little over $7/box.  They are delicious crackers, don't get me wrong, but I can't justify spending $7 on crackers.   

Then get some goat cheese (any kind, I went with a 5 oz log from TJ's).  If you want to be fancy, get some of the delicious goat cheese from the local favorite Firefly Farms

Image from here

Then get some Fig Butter ($2.29), which is AMAZING and you will always remember and love me for telling you about this.  You could also be fancy about this purchase as well and get some Ficoco - a fig and CHOCOLATE spread (I've found Ficoco at Giant and Wegman's).

Now, get your cutest little platter and top each cracker with a bit of goat cheese and then a small dollop of fig butter, and you're ready to start pleasing people!  Sorry for not having a picture of the finished product, but I assume you are all a very imaginative bunch and can figure out what it would look like.

Let me know if you try it - it's my new favorite (and takes the place of this appetizer as being my go-to).

And nope, I was in no way compensated by Trader Joe's for this post (wouldn't that be glorious, though! hahaha), these are just my own ramblings. 
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