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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Havana Road Cuban Cafe, Towson

Yucca Fries

Havana Road Cuban Cafe is a charming restaurant in Towson, a place I would love to revisit often.  You can tell someone put a lot of thought into the design of this place.  The colors on the walls are warm, the lighting is dim, and on each table is a Cuban Cigar box full of photographs from Cuba.  What a great touch!

Oh yea, and their food is delicious :)

To start, we ordered some Yucca Fries ($4) and I must tell you that these were AMAZINGGGGGGG!!!!  Soooo soft on the inside, almost gooey in fact, and yet so crispy on the outside.  It's everything you want in fries!  We also tried the Tostones ($4) which were also crispy and perfectly seasoned. 

Carne Con Papas

Carne Con Papas ($14.50) - Cuban Beef Stew served with a side of plantains, rice and black beans (only available Thursday, Friday and Saturday).  This was an EXCELLENT entree, and one that really covers all the bases of everything I wanted to try - meat, beans, rice and plantains :)  The stew was succulent and hearty and the beans and rice were perfect complements - they didn't try to steal the show.  The plantains were a nice added bonus.  This was a hefty portion, you could easily take some home the next day for lunch!

Since the restaurant is a BYOB, they smartly offer virgin Sangria, Mojito and Margarita mixes.  I tried the Sangria mix and it was light and fruity and paired well with my red wine.  You can buy it by the pitcher or glass.  If you're going in a group, I would recommend getting the pitcher :)





Important note: This place is small! I would recommend going with 4 people at the maximum, and to make a reservation because this place can get busy.  The service was a bit dodgy when we went, but I will chalk it up to it being our servers first night, and will say nothing more.

Overall, I loved our time at this restaurant!  The atmosphere was so inviting, and the food is so delicious!  Oh yea, and next time I am going to order the Cuban Hot Chocolate and Churros ($5.50).  I am slightly angry at myself that I didn't save enough room for me to try it!!! :)  I can't wait to come again!


Havana Road Cuban Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hyatt Summerfield Suites Caribbean Cuisine Challenge!!



I know some of you are great cooks and can whip up your own recipes – so check out this contest:

Contestants are asked to submit an original “Caribbean Cuisine” recipe for a chance to win an IPad, a one night stay at ANY Hyatt Summerfield Suites hotel AND the opportunity to have your dish featured at a grilling social at all Summerfield Suites Summer Grilling Socials.

Here are the details:
• Participants may submit their recipe to the Caribbean Cuisine Challenge at www.HSSSummerGrilling.com 
• Contest ends on 12:59 a.m. on April 16, 2011
• Submissions can be provided under one of four categories, including protein appetizer, side salad, mocktail or dessert
• One grand prize winner will be chosen in each category (4 winners total)

Recipes will be judged on how budget-friendly the recipe is, taste, and ease of preparation.

To enter the Caribbean Cuisine Challenge and for complete official contest rules, please visit www.HSSSummerGrilling.com.

CHOCOLATE SALE

Hey fellow chocoholics, listen up

Amazon is having a Crazy Chocolate Sale!!!!!!

There are over 1000 chocolate products for sale, from Snickers bars to Lindt truffles to Chocolate gift baskets!

Fancy some of these?

Time to start baking, I think :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WOH.

 Oh hi, I have an adorable card for you

This is my 500th post.  

I was going to write some masterpiece about food and Baltimore, but really, let's be honest here - "It's my 500th post" is good enough.

Wow, I write a lot.  Thanks for reading, it makes me happy :)


Oh, and that hippo is just straight up cute.....

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Morning Haiku

 
My Friday Haiku
Was absent for two whole weeks
Was it sorely missed?

A haiku ABOUT my haikus?  That's some Inception stuff right there.  Or some Carly Simon "You're So Vain" stuff.

Either way, it's still lame and I apologize.  I love my haikus, I'm just not sure whether anyone else loves them hahahaha.

Well, it's Friday!  Yay!!!!!!!!!!  Unfortunately, this day has been tainted by that AWFUL Rebecca Black song which continually gets into my head.  NOOOOOOOOO!  Stop it!

What are your plans for this weekend?  I have a nice clear schedule and I'm really looking forward to it.  I think Dan and I are going to plan out some stuff for our garden and deck.  Right now I have crazy plans for our deck.  I want herbs to overflow pots and tomatoes to creep up vines and flowers to cascade everywhere.  I also want us to make something like this (found on the Grow It, Eat It blog). 

It's weird thinking about gardening when we have snow in our forecast this weekend....I will try and ignore that :)

Have a WONDERFUL weekend, friends!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Prime Rib, Mt. Vernon - Review and Dealon COUPON

Hot Fudge Sundae, yes the bowl was almost as big as my face

Do I even need to introduce The Prime Rib?  The restaurant opened in 1965 and it's a place you go to spend lots of money on some AMAZINGLY good steaks (or actually, anything else) and a classy, romantic atmosphere.  As their website says, it's decorated to "evoke the elegant supper clubs of 1940s Manhattan" and you really do get a sense of that.  

You also spend a lot of money to have the most incredibly attentive servers. Our server kept thanking me when he cleared my plate or refilled my water.  It was almost strange.  

Dan and I first started with some cocktails.  He chose the Mojito and I chose a Pimm's Cup, which has now led me to be obsessed with Pimm's.  Thanks, Prime Rib!  The drinks were both refreshing and delicious. 

We then ordered our salads ($9.95) which were HUGE!  Dan ordered the Caesar Salad and I ordered the House Salad. Delish.

Dan's Filet Oscar

And then, the moment of truth.  The Entrees.  I ordered the 8oz Filet Mignon ($40.95) and Dan ordered the Filet Oscar ($51.95) - Topped with jumbo lump crab, asparagus and bearnaise sauce.  Holy moly, it was THE BEST steak I've ever had in my life.  Incredibly tender and juicy.  I couldn't get over how amazing it was, I kept sighing after each bite!!!!!  Of course, Dan kept on raving about his Filet Oscar with generous portions of lump crab.  We also ordered one side - the Au Gratin Potatoes ($7.95) which were cheesy and decadent.  After the salads and the entrees, one side was definitely enough for the both of us.

At this point we were totally full, but then we saw this amazing dessert pass by our table, and we knew we had to have it - the Hot Fudge Sundae ($8.50) (pictured above).  OMG IT WAS SO GOOD.  Just a huge bowl of delight.

All in all, our experience at The Prime Rib was flawless.  My steak was the best I had ever had, and the service was impeccable.  This is one of those restaurants that you need to try at least once, so if you are looking for a place to celebrate something or if you want an elegant and romantic dinner - keep this place in mind!

Of course it is WOH expensive, so we were happy to use a coupon towards the meal - and they are offering one on DealOn today!  $29 for $60 for Food AND Drinks!!!!

P.S. Even though it does say that the dress code is Business Casual (except for Saturday's when a jacket IS required), men - please wear a jacket!!!  Dan was THE ONLY man in the restaurant without a jacket.  Even the 13 year old boy who was celebrating his birthday had a jacket on hahahahahaha.


Prime Rib on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Pages!

Hello there!  I've added some additional pages to my blog!

An alphabetical list of every single restaurant I've reviewed: http://tasteofbaltimore.blogspot.com/p/restaurant-listing.html

A list of some of my favorites recipes that I've made:
http://tasteofbaltimore.blogspot.com/p/recipes.html

Hope you like them!  Let me know if there's anything I should add!

Tea By Julia Faye, North Baltimore


Last Thursday I had off from work and decided to treat myself to a delightful afternoon - I went to a new tea room! Now, I was a little apprehensive because taking tea is traditionally a shared activity, but I didn't want that to stop me.

Tea by Julia Faye is a small but cozy tea room and shop located right by the Cylburn Arboretum and Sinai Hospital.  Though I was the only guest there at the time, I was made to feel completely comfortable by Miss Julia, who was incredibly warm and friendly and not at all overbearing.

Considering I didn't make an appointment, the food preparation took longer than usual since the food is made fresh.  I didn't mind.  I ordered a port of Keemum black tea and read my magazine by the window while some beautiful classical music filled the room.  Let's all just imagine that and say ahhhhhhhhh, because it was as lovely as it sounds!

I ordered the Light Tea ($11) which came with a 4 cup pot of tea, a blueberry scone (served with freshly whipped cream, lemon curd and jam), a cheddar biscuit and some assorted tea sandwiches.  My sandwiches included cucumber and cream cheese on two baguette slices, half a croissant filled with a DELICIOUS chicken salad with cranberries and two little square turkey sandwiches on raisin bread.

You can order sandwiches a la carte. The delicious croissant with chicken salad that I loved comes with chips and is $6.95!  What a steal!

This was one of the loveliest afternoons I've had in a while.  I was so relaxed and everything was just so pleasant.  I'm sure this place is very busy over the weekend, but if you have a chance to go during the week, I urge you to consider it, but make an appointment first!

I can't wait for my next day off work!!!

Tea by Julia Faye on Urbanspoon

A YEAR'S WORTH OF FREE CHICKEN AND $4K?????!!!!???

Recently, Perdue announced that they are the FIRST poultry company to receive the USDA Process Verified Seal.  That means that the USDA has verified that Perdue products with this seal are from chickens that were fed an all vegetarian diet with no animal byproducts and have been raised without cages. 


 They’ve kicked off this huge contest to help announce this exciting news!!!! They are seeking videos of people's tips, tricks and techniques for preparing or serving Perdue chicken.  So get your creative hats on FAST because it’s time to win $4,000 and a year’s worth of free chicken from Perdue!!! 

Get cracking because submissions will be accepted through March 28th, 2011 at Noon!
Go to www.PerdueVerifiablyGood.com to learn more about the contest and upload your videos!!!!!




Video Entry submissions must:
•    End with the phrase "Perdue, verify MY process!"
•    Showcase your best tips, tricks, techniques and recipes for preparing or serving your favorite chicken.
•    Be a minimum of one (1) minute and a maximum of three (3) minutes in length.
•    Be in the English language.
•    Be your original idea.
•    Be creative and let your personality shine!
•    Demonstrate proper food safety
•    Be in a format that can be uploaded to Shycast’s website, i.e. mpeg (recommended), mov (recommended), qt, avi, mp4, mpe, mpg, or wmv (least recommended) with a Maximum file size of 100 MB (Video Entries may be filmed with a handheld video camera, webcam or mobile device).
•    Be clear and easy to hear and understand.

Video Entry submissions must NOT:
•    Exceed three (3) minutes in play time and/or 100 MB in file.
•    Use or reference other brand names; use generic terms like "mayonnaise" or "Italian dressing"
•    Use any music – let your process speak for itself
•    Contain material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations in any jurisdiction where Submission is created.
•    Include mention or performance of any copyrighted media production including but not limited to music, films, books, television programming, etc., or identifying descriptions of any media property.
•    Include third party trademarks, logos, insignia, location signage, photographs, artwork, sculptures, or music that is written, performed or produced by third parties.
•    Include third parties, including but not limited to minors, celebrities and friends, who have not expressly authorized entrant to display their image, likeness or voice in any submitted video or otherwise use such image, likeness or voice in accordance with these Official Rules.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Demi, Belvedere Square

UPDATE: THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED

Last week I was super excited to be invited to Demi, a restaurant that is located in the basement of Crush in Belvedere Square.

Demi is an amazingly inventive restaurant - a Foodie Paradise that knows outright that it will dazzle some and keep away others.  Those looking for a large portion of meat and potatoes should look elsewhere, but those looking for small yet interesting plates with complex flavors, should look no further.  Demi's new chef, the wonderful Tae Strain has this entire menu thought out perfectly.

Let's start, shall we?

Ahi Tuna, Jasmine Rice, Vanilla Soy Broth, Sirachi Aioli ($13)

Yes, the tuna is tasty and tender, but the vanilla broth here is the standout - and they encourage you to drink it up with a spoon!  The flavor is reminiscent of a rice krispie treat (I promise you that's a GOOD thing), the sweetness pairing wonderfully with the spicy aioli.

Six Minute Egg (Runny), Cauliflower Puree, Asparagus, Parmesan, Toast ($9)

First of all let me say, I LOOOOOVE runny eggs, so I was excited to see this and to know that it was A-OK to dip my toasted bread (which itself had truffle butter on it) into the runny yolk.  But then I happened to sop up not only the yolk, but the creamy cauliflower puree and parsley oil.  These flavors just swam perfectly together in my mouth.  YUM YUM YUM

Diver Sea Scallop, Miso Butter, Brussel Sprouts, Shiitake Mushrooms

Look at that seared scallop - flawless, right?  And it tastes that way as well, especially with the miso butter which reminded me of a salty apple butter!!!!!!  I couldn't get enough!!!!!  It was probably one of my favorite flavors of the night!  I was saddened, however, that we weren't served the full brussel sprout.  I love that vegetable! This particular dish isn't on the menu yet, but it will be served with 3 scallops for $15. 

Sous Vide Bistro Steak, Spice Crusted Fingerling, Haricot Vert, Salsa Verde

Oh the meat was so tender, the haricot verts were so crunchy and the red pepper and CHORIZO oil were great flavor complements.  This is currently not on the menu, but will be added shortly for $15.  P.S.  See, you can still order your meat and potatoes here! :)  

Croissant Bread Pudding, Golden Raisins, Creme Anglaise, Biscotti

Though bread pudding isn't my favorite dessert, I did love the presentation and the deliiiiiiiiiiiiiicious out-of-this-world creamy ice cream.  Lovely ending to an incredible meal.



What was so interesting about this restaurant and about each dish is that EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. mattered, even a dribble of sauce added to the flavor of the dish.  It's definitely a new way of eating something - to view it as a whole, rather than as separate parts.

Now, let's be honest.  This place is expensive, especially because you will have to order at least 3 of these items in order to be satiated.  But this isn't the type of place you go in order to become so full you can hardly move.  Instead, order a bottle of wine (yes, that's right, a bottle) and take your time sampling the menu over a long conversation-laden evening or come here later on in the night for some high end snacking. 

Demi on Urbanspoon

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Foodie Event at the Hippodrome - Alton Brown AND FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!


The Hippodrome Foodie Event with Alton Brown was straight up awesome.  I'm not sure how else to describe the entire evening, but I'm not sure I stopped smiling (the picture above was taken at the end of the night and I was STILL smiling!).  Alton Brown was HILARIOUS and kept me entertained the whole time.  He had a special email specifically for the show for audience members to send him questions to answer throughout the evening.  It made for an even funnier time, and proved how much of a talent Alton has at being an entertainer.  I loved his thoughts about food and family and weight-loss.  It was such a great treat to see him in person.

And then when he finished - the night was still not over.

Oh no....for Dan and I, it had only just begun.

More than 20 different restaurants were offering samplings of their fares.  Sure, it was crowded and people were excited - but it was surprisingly not a madhouse.  The lines weren't unbearable, but when they were long they gave us some time to digest our previous sampling, whether it was braised rabbit or a wild boar meat sauce!

Max's Empanadas served mini chicken and beef empanadas, which was a great idea in my opinion - it was unfussy which allowed people to get out of line quickly.


Mr Rain's Fun House carved up a whole pig for their display and served the meat with spicy BBQ sauce.


And then there was Langermanns.  Oh Langermanns I can never forget you.  They seared scallops and served them on cheesy grits and then poured a butter bacon sauce on top.  Warm comfort in a bowl.  I need to go to this restaurant solely because of this....and I guess that was the point :)


Overall , Dan and I had a BLAST!  We both agreed we would absolutely come to this next year, regardless of the performer!  I know it's expensive, but we really thought it was worth it hands down. Oh yes, and Dan came face-to-face with a new true love - the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding from Ale Mary's!  :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And the winner is....

And the winner to the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra's Spring Gala ticket giveaway is


Gerhart!  Or Gerry as I know him :)

CONGRATULATIONS, GERRY!!!!!  I'll be emailing you with more details!

Also, I've heard a LOT of people swear by Burpees seeds.  I am not a talented enough of a gardener to start from seed (as I learned, sadly, last year), but maybe one day!

Thank you everyone for entering the contest - your entries made me really smile, especially one gentleman who even wrote a poem!  Good luck next time!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MARDI GRAS EDITION!!!!!

Photo credit: xoashleigh

Doesn't my title make it sound like I have a ton to say about Mardi Gras?  Perhaps I am in New Orleans collecting thousands of beads? Perhaps I have oodles of recipe ideas?  Perhaps I just found the baby in the King Cake?

Nope, none of these.  I just know it's Mardi Gras and that people get excited about it and therefore maybe I should get excited too?

However.......

I am NOT excited about the fact that I've never tasted a King Cake before.

and

I am NOT excited that I was supposed to eat pancakes this morning and did not.

I AM excited that a bunch of my friends and I went to the Louisiana Kitchen and Bayou Bar in Bethesda this weekend.  What a shame I didn't take pictures though, because it was an AWESOME and CHEAP meal.  I was soooooooooo stuffed. Hurting stuffed.  If you go, order all your entrees as a small rather than large - trust me.  Their portion sizes are generous and you will get full quickly, especially if you get some appetizers.  I ordered a small cup of chicken gumbo ($6.25) which was full to the brim with their rotisserie chicken.  They do NOT skimp on the meat here.  Then Dan and I split an oyster po' boy ($10.50) and a small entree of the etoufee with "the works" ($10.50) - chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp and catfish.  I loved the etoufee and would definitely order it again.  Also, please believe me when I tell you that you do NOT need to order a whole plate of beignets ($3.95) for yourself.  They are not the size of munchkins, they are much MUCH larger than that.  They are also not as sweet as you would imagine. The Key Lime Pie, however - now that was sweet and delicious.

How are you all celebrating Mardi Gras?  

One thing FOR YOU to be excited about is that today is the LAST DAY TO ENTER MY CONTEST!  2 tickets for 1 winner to the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra's Spring Gala.  Enter everyday on this post!


Louisiana Kitchen and Bayou Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Morning Haiku

I love local deals
Groupon and Living Social
Other sites as well

I don't know about you, but I love that there are so many coupon websites for Baltimore now!  There are the big ones like Groupon and LivingSocial that everyone seems to know about, but there are others too!
Eversave
Chewpons - Right now their deal is $25 for $50 at Bo Brooks!
Restaurant.com- Right now save 70% off with the code FORK
Daily Dealster
Tippr
DealOn

Are you aware of any other deal websites?

The only problem I have with the growing number of coupon sites is that I seem to forget what I have coupons for!  Currently I have one for Restaurant Sabor, The Falls, Bo Brooks, Cazbar, and a mountain of non-restaurant coupons as well.  I am going to create an excel sheet with the deal, website and expiration date of the coupon so that I can keep track of everything!

p.s. Yes, I am linking you to my unique referral links to some of these - I hope that doesn't offend you!

p.p.s. Don't forget to enter my contest!  2 tickets for 1 winner to the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra's Spring Gala.  Enter everyday on this post!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Chocolate Kitchen?

picture courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

This is a replica of Chef Alain Roby's kitchen made entirely out of chocolate and sugar (see the article here).

I'm quite partial to that red tea kettle as my first snack.



p.s. Don't forget to enter my contest!  2 tickets for 1 winner to the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra's Spring Gala.  Enter everyday on this post!

Chik-Fil-A Free Fry Day - TOMORROW, MARCH 4TH

 I love waffle fries.  They are so much tastier than regular fries, soooo much tastier!

Anyway, here's the info:
On Friday, March 4, from 2-4pm get one free medium order of Waffle Potato Fries when you mention you're there to try the new Heinz Dip & Squeeze.

http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Ext/FreeFryPromo.html

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Londontowne Symphony Orchestra’s Spring Gala – Ticket Giveaway!!


On March 15th, 6-9:30pm, Londontowne Symphony Orchestra’s Inaugural Spring Gala will take place at the wonderful Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, MD and  I have TWO TICKETS to give away to ONE lucky winner! 

The Gala (which is held during the Homestead Gardens Flower Show) will feature food, local wine, music and a silent auction.  Top Chef lovers take note – Chef Jesse Sandlin will be there preparing tasty treats and tips, along with Chef James Barrett from Azure Restaurant!!

Tickets are $35 per person or $60 per couple.  Proceeds will benefit the LSO and their Artist-in-Residence program at South River High School.  Call 410-562-8920 or visit www.londontownesymphonyorchestra.org to purchase.


GIVEAWAY INFORMATION
- ONE winner will receive TWO tickets to the Homestead Gardens Spring Gala on March 15th from 6-9:30pm
- Enter the contest by leaving a comment on this post telling me SOMETHING about flowers/plants.  It can be as silly, informative, or as cute as you like :)
- You can enter ONCE PER DAY!
- PLEASE leave a contact email!
- This giveaway will end on Tuesday, March 8th at 11:59PM.
- I will choose the winner by random selection on March 9th and I will notify them via email and via a blog post! 


Good Luck!!!

Happy St. David's Day!


Today is St. David's Day - the patron saint of Wales!

I went to Wales when I was much younger but sadly I hardly remember it :(  I would love to go again - it's soooo beautiful! 

I also, unfortunately, drank a cup of Scottish tea this morning instead of the Prince of Wales tea I recently bought.  Oh well - one day I'll get better about creating themes to my day :)

Welsh cakes
Picture from BBC Food

Instead, I leave you with a recipe for Welsh Cakes from BBC Food (a GREAT place for recipes, p.s.), which apparently you need to serve with "lashings of butter and jam."  I wish someone would make these for me IMMEDIATELY.
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