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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. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reynolds Tavern, Annapolis

My tiered tea!  This tray has tea for two people

Tea, Tea, Glorious Tea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

I went to Reynolds Tavern in Annapolis one weekend to sample their Afternoon (Tea) Delights. 
One thing I loved right off the bat about this menu is that they offer diners a nice selection of tea menus to choose from, whether it's a simple Cream Tea ($7.90 for a pot of tea and a scone) or a more elaborate Champagne Tea ($24 for the Afternoon Tea menu PLUS a glass of champagne and chocolate).   

I chose the Afternoon Tea ($17) which includes a pot of tea, one scone, a selection of sandwiches, 2 tiny savory tarts and a variety of tea cakes and pastries. 

Cranberry and Orange Scones

We had a choice of a cranberry and orange scone or golden raisin scone.  My cranberry orange scone was warm and full of fruit and flavor.  I knew from this scone that this Afternoon Tea was going to be a treat. 

I always eat the scones first since they are usually right out of the oven.  As you can see, I don't like to skimp on my cream or jam :)


We had three sandwich quarters - one cucumber, one ham and one egg salad.  Our two tarts were a mini mushroom tart and a mini shepherd's pie that had me oooh-ing and aaah-ing with my mouth full.  


Look at those beauties.  I was in sweetie heaven!!!  On this dessert tier I had a chocolate truffle, a lavender cookie, a Russian teacake, a lemon bar, a piece of poundcake, some hummingbird cake and THE PIECE DE RESISTANCE - a Bakewell cake.  When our server told us that this was included, I'm pretty sure I reacted like I had won a million dollars.  Bakewell tarts are quintessentially British, and this cake mirrors the cherry and almond flavors so well that I was transported to British heaven. 

Additionally, (and this is very important though not stated on the menu) you can have UNLIMITED pots of tea!!!  This is always a big deal for me because I like to try new teas at tea rooms (especially ones that I wouldn’t usually buy for myself at home).  I tried a regular British Breakfast tea, another black tea called Canton Spice Tea that I hated because it had lemon in it, and a lovely Green tea flavored with cherry that I surprisingly loved!

What a WONDERFUL afternoon.  I swear, if it were up to me I would be taking tea at a different place every weekend.  Sure, this may seem expensive, but trust me it's worth it if you love tea, or if you love bite sized treats, and if you have hours to spend chatting with friends - because this is not supposed to be a fast meal!

Reynolds Tavern is definitely one of the best Tea Rooms I've been to in Maryland (along with Tea by Two).  I loved:
  • Their tea selection
  • Unlimited tea
  • The food!!! 
  • The proper yet convivial atmosphere
  • The serving ware :)
  • The general adorableness of its location - in a brick building on Church Circle in downtown Annapolis next to plenty of street parking and parking garages, but also with valet.
Not only will I want to come back for tea, but I would love to try some of the British selections from their menu. Bangers and Mash?  Shepherd's Pie?  Yes, please!

Reynolds Tavern on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's!

Today (Tuesday, April 3rd) is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's from 12-8PM!!!

May I personally recommend their new Greek Yogurt flavors? I am kind of in love with them at the moment.  I've tried Blueberry Vanilla Graham and Strawberry Shortcake (you can get them by the pint at many grocery stores) and they were both so delicious!

Click here for store locations

Monday, April 2, 2012

Try Some Bug Cookies at the Maryland Science Center!

The Maryland Science Center's exhibit "Harry's Big Adventure: My Bug World!," running until April 29th, might open up some new horizons for you.

According to the press release I received, "Harry’s Big Adventure: My Bug World! is a one-of-a-kind,
interactive exhibit with thousands of live insects, interactive activities, contests and demonstrations that give Maryland Science Center guests a better appreciation for the impact these tiny creatures have on our lives."

And what better way to appreciate bugs than to eat them!? :)

The chef demos food all day during the weekend hours of the exhibit, including the following:
Chocolate Chirp Cookies - Chocolate chip cookies with crickets in the batter

 Washington wax worms on small slices of Washington apples with a dab of honey

Crispy Cajun crickets toasted in a pan with a little butter and some Cajun spices

I know I'm not brave enough to give these a try - are you?

601 Light Street
Inner Harbor
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

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