The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament in full swing - Year 6

In what is the Mid-Atlantic’s biggest culinary competition, the Mason Dixon Master Chef Competition is in full swing vying chef against chef from restaurants in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia). 

The initial field of 16 chef teams has begun their tiered competitions. Each chef team will have 30 minutes of cold prep time, and just one hour of cooking time to create original appetizer, entrée and dessert courses for the expert judging panel of three, and up to 36 audience guest judges. Dishes are scored on presentation, creativity, difficulty and taste, and at the end of each evening only one chef team will advance to the next round.

The public is invited to the Inn at the Colonnade Baltimore to watch, and possibly judge the competition. Guests gathering around the two kitchens watching the chefs and their assistants take on a themed challenged.  Matches are held Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the summer with the championship for the title of Mason Dixon Master Chef 2016 taking place on Sunday, August 14th.
Tournament Details

Tickets for  the remaining matches of this summer-long single-elimination chef competition are available for purchase at: Tickets for most matches are $25 for general admission and $45 for judging experience (including all taxes). In addition, the Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament donates 10% of the net proceeds of each ticket sold directly to their charity partner Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (

 Competition Dates (5:30pm – 9:00pm):
June 7, 8, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 -- July 11, 12, 18, 19  -- August 1, 2, 14
 Event Timeline:
·         5:30 p.m. – Happy Hour with Complementary Hors d’oeurves and Wine Tasting by Boordy Vineyards, plus Drink Specials
·         6:30 p.m. – Cold Prep Begins for the Competition
·         7:00 p.m. – Chef Competition
·         8:00 p.m. – Judging Begins, Complementary Dessert and Coffee Served

Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament 2016 – Colonnade Baltimore -  -Facebook   Twitter 

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Lord Baltimore Hotel's The French Kitchen new seasonal menu kicks off.

Seasons change and so do the menus, with that, new menu tasting invitations start to arrive as did the one from the French Kitchen Restaurant in the Lord Baltimore Hotel.  This was a great opportunity at the same time to visit the LB Skybar on the 19th floor of the Lord Baltimore Hotel. LB Skybar seats 60 people and is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-11:00 p.m., on Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to midnight and Saturdays from 5:00 p.m. to midnight. Pick your libation from the specialty cocktail list created by the hotel’s bar team exclusively for LB Skybar or choose from their beer and wine selections. Have a lite bite of sushi or antipasti before you head out to dinner.  We went before our dinner, so we were too early to enjoy the sunset and had headed home after our meal, missing downtown  all lit up against the night sky. 

Read the full story and watch the slideshow at / Dining

Coming soon to store shelves near you - Thomas' salted caramel English muffins and bagels

From the company that made the phrase, “nooks and crannies” iconic, Thomas’ English Muffins, comes a limited time offering of salted caramel English Muffins and bagels. These sweet, salty combo flavored muffins and bagels will arrive on your local store shelves starting June 27th through mid-October.

My food curiosity had to taste and upon request, samples arrived the next day.  A taste of the Salted Caramel  English muffin and the bagel proved that it is good for those with a sweet tooth whether for a breakfast item, on the go or just a plain sweet treat as a dessert or nosh.  The aroma of caramel is undeniable with both the bagel and the muffin.  My dilemma, what to put on the English muffin and the bagel, so I went traditional, butter on the English muffin and cream cheese on the bagel. My aha moment was thinking that a chocolate spread would be a good topping– chocolate, caramel and salt, unfortunately there was none in the house. Come the fall months, I would think sliced apple might be a nice topper.

Look for the Thomas’ Salted Caramel English Muffins and Bagels on your local store shelves in the next couple weeks.

Thomas’ Salted Caramel English Muffins - Available sizes: 6-pack -150 calories - 0g trans fat - 1 grams of fat - SRP $4.49 /  Thomas’ Salted Caramel Bagels - Available sizes: 6-pack-260 calories- 0g trans fat - 1.5 grams of fat - SRP $4.79    Facebook   Instagram: @thomasbreakfast

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant opens in Annapolis

Nation’s Restaurant News in 2014 labeled Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants a ‘Breakout Brand’ and ‘Hot Concept’ – a fast casual concept that is first and foremost a winery then a restaurant and artisanal retail market.  The winery is based in Illinois, the grapes from California, Oregon and Washington and the winery/restaurants are in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, home state of Illinois and now the first Maryland location in the Annapolis Towne Centre.

The Annapolis Cooper’s Hawk restaurant is on the second floor with numerous areas to dine al fresco or partake of your food and wine in the climate controlled dining rooms.  The Napa-style tasting room and retail market is ground level with sauces, pastas, and freshly made confections: chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, cheesecake pops and other assorted chocolate temptations. 

What is different about the menu at a Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant is that the food doesn’t dictate the wine, the wine, The Cooper’s Hawk wines, are at the beginning of the recipe/menu development. You can order by the glass, bottle and the Winemaker’s Barrel Reserve from a decanter and you are encouraged to taste before you order a glass so you aren’t concerned about trying something new.  Not sure what wine goes with what dish, there is a suggested wine for each dish.

Read the full story, watch the video and slideshow at / Dining

Saturday, June 11, 2016

And the winners are

Being a big supporter of my hometown Baltimore it was a joy to see recognition for jobs well done recently handed out by the MADE: In America organization.  The city’s leading chefs created tasty morsels and Wit and Wisdom’s lead bartender created cocktails all reflective of the Foodways Award winners:

The American Treasures 2016 awardees in the Culinary Arts/Foodways:
·         Bourbon Barrel Foods, Louisville, Kentucky
·         J.M Clayton - Seafood, Cambridge, Maryland
·         Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey Distillery, Baltimore, Maryland

The 2016 American Treasures Awards were presented to the Nation’s top farmers, foragers and craft producers who were featured in a tasting created by the All American Chefs, chaired by Zach Mills, Executive Chef at Wit and Wisdom.

The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor of the City of Baltimore presented the inaugural Baltimore’s American Treasures Awards to individuals in recognition of their meritorious contributions to the city.

The Baltimore’s American Treasures Awardees are:
·         The Honorable Barbara Mikulski, United States Senate, Maryland
·         Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress elect

Also presented at the event was the prestigious American Benefactor Award to the Paterakis Family of Baltimore, Maryland for their support of the All American Chefs:

·         Zach Mills (Chair) Executive Chef, Wit &Wisdom, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
·         Chris Amendola, Executive Chef, Waterfront Kitchen
·         Chris Becker, Corporate Executive Chef, The Bagby Group
·         Jerry Edwards, CPCE, Pres. and Corp Chef, Chef's Expressions
·         Chad Gauss, Chef/Owner at Food Market
·         Cyrus Keefer, Executive Chef
·         Jerry Pelligrino, Chef at Schola
·         Nicholas Sharpe, Executive Chef, Birch and Barley
·         Jonathan Levy, Lead Bartender, Wit and Wisdom, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

MADE: In America’s mission is to create and foster a business climate conducive to the free exchange of ideas and information to revitalize and sustain the competitiveness of American commerce and industry in a global economy. A non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC, MADE: In America serves businesses throughout the United States. The organization presents the American Treasures awards to individuals and organizations for significant and singular contributions that are shaping and transforming our Nation’s cultural heritage. Learn more at

Monday, June 06, 2016

6 course French Asian pop up dinner by Chef Cyrus Keefer

Baltimore’s highly acclaimed Chef Cyrus Keefer is back, cooking up his unique French Asian fusion cuisine under the name of Défie Moi, his former late night dining hot spot in 13.5% Wine Bar & Food basement.  Chef Keefer’s first pop up dinner on Wednesday June 15th will be six courses and adult libations in the Private Kitchen at the Food Market. Keefer has cooked three times at the James Beard House in New York and recognized for his culinary creativity at

There are only 12 seats and at last conversation 8 tickets were already sold, so you are still in play to grab  these limited seat tickets to what will be a fun, tantalizing, tasty evening of communal dining and lively conversation.

Keefer will be doing other pop-ups in the near future but they will be ala carte dishes-first come first served -  July 1st at Union Craft Brewing Co and July 17th at Ekiben. 

The Menu for June 15th seated multi course dinner:

Burrata Croustade -sunflower shoots, Iberico ham and red miso
Escargot Gyoza-gruyere, baby leek, black garlic, nori & pistou
Duck Dog-merquez chili, lentil, marmalade, and black truffle butter
Stir Fried Calamari-broccoli rabe, pine nuts, Calabrian chili, and thai basil
Oil Poached Shrimp-shishito pepper, romesco, nduja and barley congee
French Dip Roll-steak tartare, brioche, horseradish, furikake, and dashi crema

What:  Défie Moi Multi Course Dinner by Chef Cyrus Keefer
When: Wednesday, June 15th – 7 p.m.
Where: The Food Market – Private Kitchen/Basement
                1017 W. 36th Street – Baltimore, MD  21211
Seat Tickets:  $100 per guest includes six courses – adult libations
Ticket Sales:  410-908-1978


Surprisingly good - Nando's PERi-PERi

My perception of the restaurant chain Nando’s PERi-PERi  restaurants was thinking it was another fast casual chicken restaurant, corporate designed, lacking personality and flavorful food for my curious palate. A visit to one of numerous 31 locations in the United States proved my perception, incorrect both in the matter of taste and eye appeal –--- it was a terrific find and looking forward to going back. 

This South African-Portuguese restaurant that originated in Johannesburg is known for its spicy flame-grilled chicken. Nando’s chicken is marinated for 24 hours and then flamed grilled with your choice of full flavored and spicy sauces that are reflective of the of African Bird’s Eye Chili, otherwise known as PERi-PERi.  Since their start in 1987, Nando’s PERi-PERi restaurants can be found on 5 continents and 23 countries.

For the full story and slideshow go to / Dining

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Tapas in the City: small plates and new tastes.

When you go out to dine, do you like it when your companions share a taste of their food? Are you food curious? Always wanting to indulge in the flavors and textures of numerous food offerings? If you said yes, then the newly formed Tapas in the City based Baltimore is just for you.

Tapas in the City is the brainchild of three of Baltimore’s food documentarians on Instagram.  Jordan Zelesnick @JZeats explained, “Rachel Lipton @LikeTheTeaEats, Andrea Samlin @Bmore_Hungry, and I had dinner one night and decided we wanted to bring affordable dining to the people of Baltimore. It's so hard to choose just one dish at a restaurant when there are so many delicious options to pick from. Some of our favorite restaurants serve tapas style (small plates) so we thought that might be a good route to go.”

Read the full story at 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Grand opening of &pizza: Free pizza all day

Mark your calendars to check out &pizza’s grand opening on Thursday, May 26th at their first Baltimore location, 1201 South Charles Street in Federal Hill – free pizza all day long for everyone.  The first five guests to request the shop’s signature ampersand tattoo will receive a complimentary one at the nearby Brightside Tattoo Shop and, get this….. free pizza for a year (one pizza per week for 52 weeks) once they receive the tattoo.

What a great opportunity to taste their pizza … an elongated version or the typical round pizza, think flatbread. Create your own or dive into one of their numerous signature pizzas.

Read all the details and watch the video at / Dining

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

This little piggy won't make it all the way home: Butchery demo and tasting

Open to the public, Stratford University and the American Culinary Federation –Greater Baltimore Chapter have gathered two experts in their chosen fields; Master Butcher Marc Pauvert and Eric Yeager CEC (Certified Executive Chef) who on Monday, May 23rd at 6 p.m. will present “Classic French Pig Butchery Demo and Tasting” at Stratford University.  Cost per person is a mere $50 and a rare opportunity to see the master butcher at work and taste Chef Yeager’s culinary creations from a properly butchered pig.

So why is this unique? On this night, under one roof, Marc Pauvert and Eric Yeager, experts in their chosen fields will be sharing their culinary expertise with food professionals and enthusiasts in an up-close and personal environment. 

Read the full story, details and watch the video at  / dining

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What's new for spring at Bonefish Grill

It is always a treat to be asked back to Bonefish Grill, to taste and talk about their new menu offerings or special promotions. Not new to the menu, but always a treat, is the bang bang shrimp, stacked in a pyramid these spicy (not too spicy) shrimp have your mouth watering before you even unwrap the chopsticks. If you happen to be at a Bonefish Grill on any given Wednesday, enjoy the bang bang shrimp for just $6.

The Bonefish Grill’s spring menu is featuring simple preparations of these fresh wood-grilled fish as well as more creative offerings:

Read the full story and watch the slideshow at / dining


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Boathouse's Dockbar opening for al fresco drinking and dining

Come by boat (make a docking reservation), by foot, by bike, water taxi but come to one of the nicest al fresco, people watching, casual dining and drinking locales in Baltimore, the Dockbar. 

The menu is filled with fun foods for all pico de gallo and guac, Chesapeake Crab Dip, The Boathouse’s famous Mojo’s pimento cheese, wings and those are just starters.  Sandwiches, salads, raw  bar and let’s not forget the drinks; Crushes in multiple flavors, margaritas, draft  and can beers and let’s not forget the grape, by the glass or bottles of wine.  Be sure to check out the extensive taco bar.

As Annie sings in the Broadway show and movie, “the sun will come out!” soon, I hope.

The DockBar will have live music on Wednesday and Friday evenings from 6-9 pm and Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 4-7 pm. The DockBar will be open seven days a week weather permitting, beginning at 3:30 PM Monday - Friday and 11:00 AM Saturday & Sunday. Additionally, Happy Hour Specials include $5 Orange Crushes, half priced wines by the glass, and special beer and cocktail prices.

Dock Bar at the Boathouse – 2809 Boston Street, Batlimore, MD  410 773 9795  Twitter & Instagram @boathousecanton  Facebook

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Taste of the Town at Baltimore County Public Library Towson branch

No secret password for this speakeasy, the Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) kicks off their 5th annual Taste of Towson with a roaring 20’s theme at the BPCL Towson branch at 320 York Road on Saturday, May 14th from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.   Sample food and drinks from some of the Baltimore County’s finest restaurants and caterers, enjoy live jazz music and bid in a fun, eclectic silent auction, all for a great cause! Tickets are on sale now at $75 per person, and can be purchased at any BCPL branch, online at

Participating local restaurants include BB's Cafe, Bill's Seafood, Cafe Troia, Charles Village Pub & Patio, Jake's New York Deli, Kathmandu Kitchen, La Cakerie, Kooper's North/Kooper's Jacksonville, McFaul's IronHorse Tavern, Nando's Peri Peri, Noodles & Company, Prigel Family Creamery, Truffle Butta Bistro and Wegmans Hunt Valley.

This year's event will be hosted by local authors, Gregory and Nicole Priebe, the "alcohologists" behind A History of Drinking, the cocktail blog that pairs random and often obscure historical events with appropriate cocktails. Active in the national and online cocktail communities since 2009, they have created custom cocktails for Hiram Walker, Crown Royal and many other brands. Gregory and Nicole will demo one of their favorite Maryland cocktails, and each guest/couple will receive a complimentary copy of their book Forgotten Maryland Cocktails: A History of Drinking in the Free State. The Priebes will be signing books at the event. There will also be signature cocktail for the event.

The Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library provides additional resources to enrich the Baltimore County Public Library’s commitment to empower the citizens of Baltimore County to explore, learn, create and connect. The Foundation funds important early childhood literacy programs like the Read Rover bookmobiles, Summer Reading Club and both Storyville early learning centers, as well as many other vital programs such BC Reads in Baltimore County. For more information, visit their website at

Monday, May 09, 2016

Maryland Farmer's Markets opening for 2016 season

How local farmer’s markets have grown, the joy in the availability of farm fresh seasonal produce, flowers, breads, desserts and noshes makes attending a special outing.  For example, Pikesville’s  Farmer Market opened  this past Tuesday, May 3 at Pomona Square at 1700 Reisterstown Road with a record number of 20 participating vendors that span everything from cream of crab soup to falafels:

•Beads by Bettina - Handcrafted jewelry
•Cathy's Ginger Spices - Spices & ginger products, teas & lemonades
•Chiropractic Works - Free chiropractic health consultations
•Connect Hearing - Hearing professionals
•Debbie's Cuisine Catering - Cream of crab soup
•Great Shoals Winery*- Local hard cider and wine
•Hillside Meadow Farm - Produce, fruits & meats (all natural Black Angus beef cuts, all natural lamb cuts, pasture raised free range eggs)
•Just Ice Frozen Desserts - Freshly made Italian ice
•Keith Baker Cabinet Shop & Plants - Bedding plants, vegetable plants, hanging baskets, container gardens, mums and handmade wood items
•Kitchen Saver - Kitchen remodeling services
 •McCleaf's Orchard - Varieties of apples, apple cider, apple butter and other fruits
•The Mondel Broad - Homemade mondel bread & loaf cakes
•Msprity Enterprises, LLC - Vegan skin care & seated chair massages
•The Residence at Pomona Park* - Some of the largest apartments in Pikesville
•Simply Delicious Desserts* - Breads, pies, energy & power bars, cookies
•Susie's Southern Pound Cake - Homemade pound cakes
•Tovavi Falafel*- Vegan & kosher Falafel cooked and served in pita bread
•Washington DC Dills*- Pickles, kraut, beets, ferments
•Wholesome Nibbles, LLC* - Bliss balls: espresso chocolate, almond cocoa, apricot walnut, cranberry coconut
•Your Traveling Chef, LLC - Homemade food

*New venders for 2016 – Pikesville Farmer’s Market Open Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m through Oct 25th.

Find your local Maryland Farmer’s Market days and hours of operation  at the attached listing – 2016 Maryland Farmers Market Directory PDF.  Twitter @MDsBest

A utopia for locavores and foodies alike: Annapolis's Level Small Plates Lounge

A media invitation to enjoy all the new spring dishes and cocktails created by mixologist Josh Miller and Executive Chef John Brown at the highly praised Level in the heart of downtown Annapolis could not be turned down. 

Our evening kicked off with cocktails first, a chance to taste the new spring additions which are lighter and fruitier, a sign that summer isn’t too far away; Level Gimlet (Finlandia vodka, fresh lime, sugar cane, lime foam), Strawberry Phil (Bluecoat gin, strawberry, thyme, lemon, sugar cane, soda water) , Weekend at Bernie’s (Ron Zacapa rum, grilled pineapple, pressed lime, orgeat) or the Acai Smash ( Finlandia vodka, Cedilla, mint syrup, lemon).  Scratch made syrups and daily, fresh squeezed fruit juices are the gospel for the best cocktails according to Level’s libation master, Josh Miller.
Read the full story and watch the slideshow at / Dining

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day - Food memories from a bygone era

Mother’s Day, what better time to reflect back on the woman who started me on my culinary journey with her pitch perfect cooking. Her cooking wasn’t fancy, although on occasion when lobsters were on sale we might get a crab imperial stuffed ½ lobster or a veal scaloppini.  My mother was the youngest of 9 children; her parents were immigrants from Europe, who for a short period, lived in London before coming to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. I tell you the United Kingdom waylay because of the foods served to me like Finnan and Haddie (smoked haddock) or kippers with sautéed onions with vinegar. Though I haven’t had Finnan and Haddie since I was a young girl, I still to this day order kippers at a local delicatessen.  

My mother ditched keeping Kosher when she married and moved into her own home. We weren’t very religious, although my mother maintained many Jewish traditions; the Friday night Shabbat dinner. All the aunties and uncles (and there were a lot, again, my mother one of nine and my father one of seven children) would clamber to sit at her table. Her roasted capon was legendary; the fish for her gefilte fish was hand chopped and flaky, and the chicken soup with light and fluffy matzo balls. In the early days, the butchers had unfertilized eggs she would get in a paper tray and cook them in the chicken soup.  

Read the full story at 

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Greek and Korean food mashup - 1 day only - Brusco and Dooby's

Are you one of the great food explorers, stopping at no end to taste what is new and unique then you don’t want to miss this melding of ethnic flavors from Brusco and Dooby’s.

One day only, this Friday, May 6th from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. come to Cava’s luncheonette Brusco at  1302 Fleet Street in Harbor East for a mashup of Mediterranean and Korean flavors.  Get your falafels with kimchi-cucumber, and soy ginger, or lamb dumplings and other great casual bites that blends Dooby’s, Korean inspired café’s cuisine and Brusco’s modern day flavors from Greece:

Falafels // kimchi-cucumbers, soy-ginger ($6)
Lamb Dumplings // spicydill vinaigrette ($7)
Gyro Buns // tomato, feta, harissa, tzatziki, spicy hummus ($7)
Korean BBQ Gyro // wasabi crema, tomato, pickled onions ($9)
Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich // tzatziki slaw, spicy pickles ($9)
Greek Salad // choice of Korean BBQ gyro or Falafel ($10)
GREEKOREAN fries // spicy-G sauce, creamy feta, oregano ($3.5)
Kimchi Potato Salad ($3)
Fruity Pebble Rice Krisipies ($3)
HoneyGreek Yogurt & Black Sesame Gelato custom made by Dolcezza Gelato ($5)

 “We’re fortunate to have an amazingly collaborative community of chefs and restaurants to
give rise to mashups like these. I’m particularly excited about this popup, as the flavors go
so well together. It’s really a dream come true to merge both Greek and Korean casual fare.”
Phil Han, Dooby’s

No reservations necessary, it is simple counter service – you can order online through

Where: Brusco’s in Cava – Harbor East – 1302 Fleet Street – Baltmore, MD  11 am to 8 pm.  Instagram: @doobysbmore  Facebook: DoobysBmore Instagram:  @eatbrusco  Facebook: EatBrusco 

Monday, May 02, 2016

A new taste of spring at B & O American Brasserie

B & O American Brasserie’s Executive Chef Mike Ransom, Mixologist Brendan Dorr and their teams seasonally adapt and brighten their menus.  The rich, warm tones, leather appointments and décor of that of a high end rail car in its heyday add to the 2 story restaurant’s atmosphere.  Located in the former B & O Railroad headquarters, the obvious inspiration of a time passed. Not so the menu.

Attuned to the here and now, one can enjoy what is fresh with B & O’s seasonal updated menu additions.  For example, their winter cocktail menu was called The Spice Box, cocktails with the aromas of an evening by the fire – cinnamon, star anise, allspice and clove. Now that spring has sprung and the B & O American Brassiere’s Paris in Springtime cocktail list is offering the likes of the Dandy Lion; Clear Creek Brandy, Royal Combier, Dandelion Tea, Lemon Jack Ruby Tonic and Soda, The Jazzman; Barsol Pisco, Lillet Rosé, Jasmine Syrup, Lemon, Egg and the cocktail that passed my lips was Purple Rain; Lavender infused Novo Fogo Cachaca, Lemon, Honey-Apple Shrub – so smooth and well balanced. 

Check out full story and slideshow at / Dining 


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