Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Local Fry specialty fry shop coming to Federal Hill

Kevin Irish from Ireland met his now wife Baltimorean Elizabeth while she was living in Europe and upon their marriage moved to back to the United States in 2009. Now with 4 years under their aprons as proprietors of a West Baltimore wing and sub shop they decided to try their own new restaurant concept, enter The Local Fry.

Federal Hill seemed ideal, a good neighborhood, a community they can support. The Local Fry will be located at 21 E. Cross Street and should be opening in November. The main feature of the menu will be specialty fries. Irish explained, “Our menu will showcase specialty fries using fresh ingredients, all prepared in house. We will be offering other menu items such as a variety of buffalo-style wings, salads, and possibly even sliders, but our main focus is on our gourmet specialty fries menu. Without giving too much away, our specialty fries menu will feature fries loaded with unique toppings, sauces and seasonings. Fries are oftentimes overlooked as just a side dish and our goal is to make it the star, a meal in itself. Think poutine times 10!”

A trip back to Ireland was the inspiration for the Local Fry, there were just some dishes the couple craved and couldn’t get here. Think Irish chips, which are reminiscent of our French fries but thicker, usually about 16 fries to an average sized russet potato. The Irish use malt vinegar on their chips, fries here in Baltimore are often time topped with our regional favorite, beef gravy. The potato is a blank canvas, like pasta and rice it can be topped with almost anything. Back in my youth, at the shore, some Rhode Islanders were dipping their fries in mayonnaise which wasn’t appealing to me as was the thought of Baltimore’s beef gravy on the fires was disgusting to them.

Fried potatoes are everywhere as Don Odiorne, Vice President Food Service of Idaho Potato Commission reminded me of the hundreds of McDonald’s in Tokyo. He gladly sent along a link to Idaho® Potato Daigaku Imo, Japanese caramelized potatoes.

Looking forward to the tasting and discovering the numerous variations on the fried potato at the Local Fry – I’m food curious to eat what poutine times 10 tastes like.

The Local Fry – 21 E. Cross Street – Baltimore, MD @thelocalfry and Facebook – Opening November, 2014

Don't miss The Farmer and The Chef - September 26th

One of the best food events in Baltimore is almost here, the American Institute of Wine and Food will be hosting for the 5th year Farm to Chef on Monday, September 29th at 6:30 p.m. at the American Visionary Art Museum. 

What makes it so special? It is about partnerships with chefs and local farmers who create, who on a day-to-day basis proffer the freshest culinary creations for their clientele. Farm to Chef is a special evening when a chef, a farmer put one locally grown or raised item center of the plate for you. There are 30 chefs innovating with the local farmers, vying for your vote.  Local celebrity judges have the coveted task of tasting all of the chefs’ dishes and choosing the tastiest and most creative dishes in three categories: sweet, savory and vegetarian. A People’s Choice award will be based on the guests’ votes.

In addition to the chefs’ creations, top mixologists from The Baltimore Bartenders Guild will serve innovative and unique libations using premium quality spirits from regional distilleries. Brendan Dorr, President of The Baltimore Bartenders Guild said, “The Baltimore Bartenders' Guild is excited to be part of the AIWF's Farm to Chef Event.” The bartenders of the BBG, like the chefs, will be using the freshest produce from the best local farms to create seasonally, exciting cocktails.

The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF) Baltimore/MD Chapter, whose mission is to advance the understanding, appreciation and quality of what you eat and drink, is proud to present this one-of-a-kind event, designed to highlight the local talents of Maryland’s chefs and the bounty of our local farms. “Farm to Chef” benefits Days of Taste®, a discovery-based program that brings together farmers, chefs and community volunteers - to introduce elementary school children to the basic elements of taste and to teach them how their food travels from farm to table. When monitoring one of the Days of Taste classes in the classroom, the chef asked, “Do you know where corn comes from?” One student raised their hand and waved it fervently, responding “a can.”

The evening will also include an amazing food-lovers raffle that includes culinary classes, wine dinners and a YEAR OF DINING –where 12 of the best restaurants in town each offer a $100 gift certificate! And not only do guests get to enjoy the tastiest event in town, they will go home with a special Hometown Swag Sack filled with local goodies.

Date:                         MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29TH, 2014
Time:                         6:30pm
Location:                  American Visionary Art Museum800 Key Highway, Baltimore, MD
Cost:                          Advance Ticket Sales -  $95.  Day of Event - $120
***Purchase Tickets:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Inaugural Baltimore Seafood Fest: Win a pair of tickets

Before we say adios to summer, when the weather is just starting to be kissed by autumn’s cool breezes bring the family to Canton Waterfront Park for the Inaugural Baltimore Seafood Fest Saturday, September 20 from 12 pm to 6 pm.  Live music, cooking demonstrations, oyster and crab eating contests, family area, crab feast tent and signature seafood dishes by your favorite Baltimore restaurants. 

I don’t know about you but I’m all in for the oyster eating contest, where do I sign up. Seriously, Baltimore’s Seafood Fest is a great way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon at the waterfront munching Baltimore chefs' culinary interpretations of the Chesapeake Bay’s bounty and sipping refreshing libations.

Experience Baltimore’s best seafood at the Baltimore Seafood Festival with offerings from: Aggio, Bond Street Social, Barcocina, Langermanns, Café Gia, Farmstead Grill, Heavy Seas Alehouse, Ryleigh’s Oyster, Captain James Landing, Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, Blue Agave, Stuggy’s, Lebanese Taverna, Roy’s, Atwater’s, The Nickel Taphouse, Dooby’s, Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, Pitango, and Flavor Cupcakery. 

Baltimore Seafood Festival guests will enjoy live music by Strykers’ Posse and Super Bueno, Smirnoff Crush Bar, Peligroso Tequila Bar, Wine Bar, the Groupon Cooking Tent featuring cooking demos by Baltimore’s top chefs, local artists, and a family zone with kid-friendly attractions. The event will also feature a VIP area as well as a Domino Sugar Crab Feast Tent, featuring private tables for groups with bushel of crabs, private bars and cocktail servers. 

The Groupon Cooking Tent lineup includes: Scott Hines (Heavy Seas Alehouse), Bryan Voltaggio (Volt & Aggio), Joseph Cotton (National Aquarium), Jerry Pellegrino (Waterfront Kitchen), Tim Dyson (Dooby’s), Jessica Formicola  (food blogger, recipe developer and food critic for Savory Experiments and Baltimore Foodie), and Gianfranco Fracassetti (Café Gia). Guests will enjoy complimentary cooking demos from Bryan Voltaggio’s Squid Ink Pasta dish with blue crab, jalapeno, and Old Bay to the history of Eastern Shore cuisine with Tim Dyson. 

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance, a local non-profit whose mission is to make downtown Baltimore a place where families can thrive.

For more information, please visit

How to be entered to win a pair of tickets to Baltimore Seafood Fest is simple. Share this story on Facebook and/or Twitter with the hashtag #BmoreCfoodFest. The winner will be chosen this Friday September 12th.  It’s that simple.   

Tickets packages start at $29 per person – kids 10 and under are Free. 

Baltimore Seafood Festival- Food and Drink Package - $29 in advance ($35 at the door if available): Includes general admission, a souvenir glass, swag bag, two drink tickets for beer, wine, cocktails or non-alcoholic beverages, and 10 tickets to use towards food items (items will be priced between $1 and $7 depending on the restaurant and item). Additional tickets for food and beverages may be purchased at the event $1=1 ticket. Kids 10 and under are FREE with a paying adult.  Purchase now!

B'more Crabby Ticket - $59 (will not be available at the door):  Includes general admission, a souvenir glass, swag bag, a half dozen premium male crabs, three drink tickets for beer, wine, cocktails or non-alcoholic beverages, 10 tickets to be used towards food items (items will be priced between $1 and $7 depending on the restaurant and item), and community seating in the Crab Cove area. Kids 10 and under are FREE and may enter with an adult as long as the adult has a B'more Crabby ticket, but chairs are designated for paying adults. Purchase now!

Private Crab Table - $750 (will not be available at the door): Includes general admission for up to 10 people, 10 souvenir glasses, 10 swag bags, one private table in the Crab Fest tent with a private bar and cocktail server, unlimited drinks including beer, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages, a bushel of crabs and sides, and 100 tickets to use towards food items (items will be priced between $1 and $7 depending on the restaurant and item). Please note that kids 10 and under are free, but space is limited and only 10 chairs per table. Purchase now! 

VIP Ticket - $75 (will not be available at the door): Includes general admission, a souvenir glass, swag bag, entrance to the VIP tent with a private bar, unlimited drinks, light fare, and 15 tickets to be used towards food items (items will be priced between $1 and $7 depending on the restaurant and item). Purchase now!

Kids Meal & Activity Package - $11 (will not be available at the door): Includes a catered boxed lunch (choice of PB&J or Turkey & Cheese, Chips, Fruit and a juice box), a "kiddie swag bag" with fish bubbles and a beach ball + an activity pass which will includes a sand art station, bracelet making station, temporary tattoo station, and crab hat station. Kids 10 and under are FREE to enter the event. This package is just an option for families.  Tickets must be purchased by 9/17/14. Purchase now!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Chef Patrick Fanning’s culinary exploits: Tales of Dorchester County

If you were to scratch the surface of the culinary revolution in downtown Cambridge, Maryland you would find Chef Patrick Fanning. The former military skydiver isn't scared of risks, isn't scared of hard work and isn't hesitant to support others in the community. He is the executive chef/partner at Cambridge Eateries LLC with Brett and Jamie Summers. As top toque, it is his culinary visions translated to the plates at their three restaurants: The High Spot, Stoked and Squoze.  The High Spot is a gastropub featuring all that is local and fresh; Stoked is a wood fire eatery featuring contemporary Italian cuisine and Squoze a healthy eatery and carry-out focused on fresh squeezed juices and smoothies.

Chef Patrick Fanning isn’t a secret anymore; Celebrate Dorchester named him Business Person of the Year and he was one of five chefs statewide nominated by the Restaurant Association of Maryland as Chef of the Year.  I first met Fanning last year when Patron Tequila chose him and his Cambridge Catering to create and prepare their Secret Society al fresco dinner held outside Baltimore’s Sports Legend Museum.

Chef Fanning partners with Crabi Gras’s Keith Gravis,  a hot sauce and T-shirt empresario on a selection of Cambridge Food Festivals; Crawfish Boil and Muskrat Stew Festival,  Crabi Gras Frog Leg, Key Lime & Conch Fritter Fest, Chicken Wing & Bloody Mary Festival, Crabi Gras Orange Crush and Buffalo Brisket Groove Fest and still to come this year October 18-19 the Hot Sauce and Oyster Festival

When Bernadine “Bernie” Elliott decided to take a new career path in baking, she took her cheesecake to Chef Fanning and a relationship grew from there.  Bernie recently opened Elliott’s Baking Company in downtown Cambridge, right next to Fanning’s highly anticipated Nose 2 Tail smokehouse and butcher shop.

When asked, why downtown Cambridge, Fanning responded “I like the village feel.” He continued, “Cambridge has the deepest waterways offering the best crabbing you can find and excellent local chickens.”  Part of Cambridge Eateries LLC mantra is supporting local: growers, fisherman and livestock – all which can be found center of their plates. 

On my recent tour of Fanning’s Cambridge Eateries LLC, Chef Fanning treated me to newly created dishes on the High Spots menu:

·         Almond Crusted Goat Cheese with grilled peaches
·         Double Duck Southwest A L’Orange with a duck confit risotto cake and sliced duck breast
·         Chicken & Belgian Waffle with buttermilk fried legs, thighs and wings, Bird Dog hot sauce, butter and honey
·         RAR Chipotle Lime Shrimp & Sausage with house made Kielbasa, jumbo shrimp, chipotle lime mango salsa and local RAR breweries Nanticoke nectar

What’s next for Chef Fanning, I do know, but I have been sworn to secrecy on penalty of having my knife and fork permanently removed. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Dining Out For Life: Eat well so others might do the same

Here is what I want you to do, make reservations for Thursday, September 18th at any one of these restaurants, enjoy a great meal and these kind and generous restaurateurs will donate from 25% to 50% of the revenue to Moveable Feast. It has been 21 years since the inception of Dining Out for Life, a charity event that benefits over 60 service organizations nationally and here in Baltimore, Moveable Feast.
Moveable Feast, a non-profit which offers meal delivery programs to homebound people living with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer, transportation and in addition, a culinary training program.
Last year we interviewed Dining Out For Life celebrity spokesperson, Ted Allen. Here is a look back at that interview.

The Food Network’s James Beard Award winning host of Chopped Ted Allen has been a spokesperson for Dining Out for Life for the past six years. Ted Allen shared time to chat with about his commitment to Dining Out for Life, how Queer Eye for the Straight Guy evolved, Top Chef, Iron Chef America and more.
Examiner: When you look back at your early days as a journalist in Chicago what were your aspirations? Any dreams of what the future would hold for you?
Ted Allen: I had no aspirations of television. The contract to write for Esquire Magazine was my dream comes true. I wanted to write for a quality magazine; stylish, experimental and one with flair. I had to hustle for the Esquire job, they weren’t found on Craigslist.
E: Thank you for doing your part as Dining Out for Life’s spokesperson for the past six years. In fact, it is DOFL’s 20th anniversary this year. What have been the accomplishments and what do we still need to do?
TA: Over 4 million dollars has been raised annually for DOFL in 50 cities for local AIDS service charities. The money raised in each city stays in that city.
HIV/AIDS has promising therapies and is no longer the automatic death sentence. It initially hit the gay community first but with precautions the incidents of the disease in gays were down. The disease then seemed to spread to women of color and now with young gay men the numbers are increasing. The fight continues.
The real heroes are the activist, health care workers, volunteers. Dining Out for Life is a simple opportunity that by dining out on a specific day at designated restaurants, patrons are making a meaningful contribution. Restaurateurs donate a portion of the proceeds of that evening (and/or lunch) to DOFL. Everyone wins; the restaurateurs fill their seats with new patrons.
E: How did Queer Eye for the Straight Guy come about? It was pretty brave even for 2003 to ‘come out’ nationally. It wasn’t that long before that Ellen DeGeneres’s career suffered a blow when she came ‘out’ in 1997.
TA: No one took it more seriously being ‘out’ on television. Many didn’t like having it shoved in their faces. It opened a door for the LGBT community. It allowed me to come out to many but a few relatives learned when the show aired.
Since 1933 Esquire Magazine has set the standard for men to be modern world travelers, how to dress, where to dine – numerous service articles, an orientation to being a well rounded male. The folks from Queer Eye were huge fans of Esquire Magazine; it was almost a template for the show.
E: How did being a judge on Top Chef and Iron Chef America prepare you for hosting Chopped?
TA: When Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was at its peak (Emmy Award winner), I was on two television networks, Bravo and The Food Network. That was pretty unheard of at that time. It was important to talk about food in a way anyone could understand. Both Iron Chef America and Top Chef refined that talent, improved my skills to communicate on how food tastes.
It was Alton Brown and Tom Colicchio who influenced me to focus on the food and not who cooked it. They are both scrupulously fair in their judging.

Don’t forget; make your reservations and Dine Out For Life, Thursday, September 18. If you can’t do that, do think about a donation at Moveable Feasts.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Blissful Ananda Restaurant enchants for lunch and dinner

There are so many good things to say about Ananda Restaurant located between Baltimore and the D.C. suburbs off Route 29 in Fulton/Maple Lawn that it is hard to choose a starting point. The stand alone sandstone colored building located in close proximity to a strip mall is a bit hard to recognize because there is no sign, just their numerical address, 7421, on the pillar at the front entrance.

Ananda, which in numerous Indian languages, translates to bliss lays the groundwork for what you will feel during your visit(s).  The brothers Singh, Binda and Keir, already successful restaurateurs with the Ambassador Restaurant in Baltimore built Ananda from the ground up in a year and a half time frame – fulfilling their vision for Indian fine dining.   

Each area of Ananda tells its own story from the Polo Bar with tons of natural light to the more formal dining rooms with warm earth tones, wood, leather banquettes, and multiple fireplaces. The showstopper, the year-round terrace with its rattan and pillowed chairs, open vistas, fireplaces, ceiling fans – one feels transported back in time to the British Raj of India.  I had visions that David Niven, circa 1940’s might enter any moment dressed in his polo whites to sip a Mumbai Mule while perusing the lawns. The terrace is the highlight of Ananda’s Royal Indian concept.

Ananda features regional Indian cuisines for lunch and dinner along with their seasonal special menu. Fascinating to me was the Asian influence from Tibet. Binda explained, “We have always enjoyed Himali cuisine from our summer vacations and pilgrimage with our grandfather. From momos (dumplings) to thupka (Tibetan noodle soup), it is heavily influenced by Tibetan communities in the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s known for its liberal use of sesame and soy.”

The Singhs maintain their own 11 acre garden close by in old Maple Lawn where they grow seasonal fruits and vegetables. Their successful growing endeavors are apparent in the many dishes served to us at a recent media dinner. Their special menu best reflected all that is fresh this late summer season with the Kerala Cake with crab and Silver Queen corn, the swoon-worthy chilled Summer Squash and Carrot Soup with spiced pear chutney, Hindvana with watermelon, local goat cheese and Ananda’s lime chili dressing, or the Peach Strawberry Crumble with cardamom ice cream. We also relished and cleaned our plates of a tandoori-styled jumbo shrimp served with lip-smacking chutney of mint, mango and avocado. The Market Fish was halibut steamed in tamarind and sesame to flaky perfection.  

Stop in for “Bliss Hour” which is actually 2 hours from 4 pm to 6 pm for a wide array of wines, beers, small plates and signature cocktails.

Go now, while the weather is ideal for dining on the terrace or what southerners might call the veranda – watch the sunset, enjoy the lush surroundings and the royal hospitality of the Singh brothers.

Ananda Restaurant – 7421 Maple Lawn Blvd, Fulton, MD 20759 301.725.4800  Closed Mondays

Ananda on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 29, 2014

Seasons 52 Restaurant opens at the Mall in Columbia

Seasons 52 Restaurants bragging rights are that no one item on their menu is more than 475 calories, which led me to picture one of those sterile looking, healthy food mall concession type food outlets. Boy was I wrong!!!!! The visually stunning interior inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Waters with the richness of the wood, greenery and subdued lighting offers the customer a warm and inviting atmosphere. 

The bar, with Season 52 etched glasses in the hanging racks around the perimeter acts as a chandelier effect.  Totally equipped for the technological age, one can find electrical outlets for charging their smart phone all along the bar and booths.  For entertainment, there is a pianist-singer whose piano is located inside the physical bar and whose music is piped throughout the restaurant and private party rooms. 

If you are a wine enthusiast, know that one of the founders of Seasons 52, George Miliotes, is one of only 211 Master Sommeliers in the world and is hands on to finding outstanding wines. You will find them by the glass and bottle under “Drink Them Before They Are Famous” menu listing.  The menu showcases over 100 different bottles of wine, 50 of them available by the glass. 

Not only is it about each item being less than 475 calories, it is about seasonally inspired ingredients with the main menu changing with the seasons and then weekly featured special s(i.e. Seasons 52). It is said before they put lobster on the menu, that one could not find butter in the restaurant.  

At a recent media dinner many of us sampled the upcoming fall menu items.  What was very unique, they asked about dietary or life choice food preferences: i.e. gluten-free, vegan, pescetarian etc. and accommodated with special dishes.  Check out their alternative menus.

Yes, they have desserts, but you ask how do Seasons 52 keep the calories below 475 calories, the desserts are mini’s offering that little something sweet but not too much.

The Columbia Seasons 52 is around the backside of The Mall in Columbia - Broken Land Parkway near all the other large restaurants. Valet parking is available.

Seasons 52
The Mall in Columbia
10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy Suite 3150
Columbia, MD 21044
410 715 1152 - open lunch and dinner @seasons52

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bar Louie opens in Hunt Valley: Free food

Do I have your attention now with the free food. It is real. To celebrate their grand opening, Bar Louie will be hosting a 4-day blowout bash from September 4th – 7th. Every guest will receive their first appetizer or flatbread FREE just for stopping by at any point during the four-day span. In addition, the signature martinis that made Bar Louie famous will be featured for $2 from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m.  "We're going big with our opening celebration," says Bar Louie GM, Shawn Smith. "There's a need for a place like Bar Louie in the Baltimore area. Our guests are going to be blown away when they see what we have to offer."

Located in Hunt Valley Towne Center, this Texas based brand opens their doors on August 29 making it the second Maryland location for Bar Louie brand.

 In addition to their grand opening celebration, Bar Louie Hunt Valley will open with drink features and some amazing food specials. During happy hour every Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. guests can enjoy $3.25 drafts, $4.25 wines by the glass, $5.25 signature martinis, half price flatbreads & select appetizers. Locals won't want to miss Burger Night every Tuesday from 5 p.m. – close (signature burgers with tots or fries are only $5!), and Blues & Brews every Thursday night.

Founded in downtown Chicago in 1990, Bar Louie is an eclectic urban bar and eatery catering to guests looking for a casual, yet lively atmosphere. Known for their handcrafted signature martinis, they also feature an exceptional selection of appetizers, flatbreads, salads, burgers and sandwiches. While beer and wine connoisseurs will be impressed with the extensive selection of imports, beers on tap and wines by the glass, cocktail drinkers will revel in the 32 signature martinis, mojitos and margaritas made from premium liquors, fresh fruit and hand squeezed juices.

Located at 118 Shawan Rd in Hunt Valley, Bar Louie seats more than 200 and will be open daily for lunch, dinner and late night dining from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Sunday, with entire menu available until last call. or Facebook @barlouie

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Food Market offers Restaurant Week rain check

Clever marketing on the Food Market’s part to come up with a prix fixe 3 course $35 menu and call it a rain check for those who missed making it in for Summer  Restaurant Week.  Monday September 8th kicks off the Food Market’s promotion and ends on Sunday, September 14th. You might want to get your reservations in early, it could be an excellent preamble to events at the Star Spangled Summer Celebration.

The Food Market has more leeway with the menu since it is no longer under the auspices of Baltimore City Restaurant Week having to maintain a $30 price dinner. With a slight up charge to $35 per person the menu it a bit more substantial.

First Course (choice of one)
·         Moroccan Lamb Taco
·         Beets, Pears, Citrus
·         Truffled Portobello Bisque
·         Little Lobster Roll

Second Course (choice of one)
·         Kinda Famous Spaghetti & Crab Balls
·         Seared Duck Breast
·         BBQ Beef Short Rib
·         Shrimp Pho
·         Fish Surprise

Third Course (choice of one)
·         Heathbar Bread Pudding
·         Dirt Cup
·         Banana Cream Pie
·         Salted Caramel Pots de Crème
·         The Charmery Ice Cream Cond Du Jour

For reservations call 410 366 0606

The Food Market · 1017 W. 36th Street · Baltimore, MD 21211 @FoodMarketBmore Street and Valet Parking available 

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