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, October 29, 2008

Tapas Teatro Takes the Eat in Season Challenge

Tapas Teatro Takes the Eat in Season Challenge

Tapas Teatro will take Slow Food Baltimore’s Eat in Season Challenge from November 8-15. Chef Antonio Baines has created a delicious array of seasonal, locally-sourced tapas dishes suitable to the cooler weather of fall. The dinner menu includes:

· Farm fresh fried Green Tomatoes with herb-scented yogurt and a sweet
garlic-cornichon-piquillo vinaigrette ($6.95)

· Mixed Roasted Beets "au jus" finished with pinenuts, hazelnut oil, and
sea salt ($5.95)

· Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with toasted hazelnuts, dried cherries,
currants, golden raisins, and marinated red onion finished w/ a currant vinegar-elderberry vinaigrette ($8.95)

· Roasted Turnips "au jus" finished with shaved garlic, farm fresh sage,
cracked peppercorns, and house made creme fraiche ($6.95)

· Farm fresh Brussel Sprouts in a parmesan-truffle cream ($7.95)

· Pan-Roasted Halibut paired with farm fresh wilted spinach finished
in a Serrano horseradish cream ($14.95)

· Duck Leg Confit with cannellini beans ($17.95)

· Organic Egg Omelet with farm fresh broccoli, cremini mushrooms, Swiss,
and truffle peelings ($8.95)

· Chicken and Orzo soup with roasted garlic, fennel, and farm fresh mint

· Dessert: WineSap Apples in Puffed Pastry ($5.95)

All produce and herbs are sourced from Fig Leaf Farms in Howard County, a five-acre piece of land leased at Rox Farm by Tapas Teatro owner Qayum Karzai (also owner of "b" in Bolton Hill and The Helmand in Mount Vernon).

The apples are from Black Rock Orchards in Carroll Country and poultry and eggs are from Evensong Farms in Sharpsburg, MD.

Tapas Teatro is located at 1171 N Charles Street in Baltimore. It is the seventh restaurant to meet the Eat in Season Challenge.

A diverse group of area restaurants has stepped up to take the Eat in Season Challenge, an initiative of Slow Food Baltimore that invites area establishments to serve -- during one week of the month -- a special three-course menu each night with the primary ingredients in each course to be locally sourced, and either currently in season, or traditionally preserved. The metro-wide campaign encourages chefs to be innovative; to create food that otherwise may not be featured or showcased. The Challenge also teaches people about the powerful benefits of eating seasonally.

For more information visit, click on "Eat In Season."

Baltimore Area Cooking Classes - Adult & Children

I have investigated and gathered a pretty comprehensive list of cooking classes in the Baltimore region. The list offers many formats of classes; at your home, at the instructor’s home, in restaurant kitchens, at schools and at stores. From cake decorating to being a chef-for-the-day, there is something for everyone’s taste here. I have particularly noted some classes that are in November; in fact one is this Sunday. Look the list over. The classes are for beginners to the advanced, children and adults.

If you are wondering what to get the "foodie" in your life, a gift certificate to any of these classes would be an awesome gift.

Do you know of other cooking classes, please let us know.

Once you take one of these classes you are required to invite me over to taste test what you learned. - Deal?

Anne Arundel Community College – Main Campus
101 College Parkway
Arnold, Md 21012
Assorted non-credit and credit culinary classes at various campus locations

Cake and Wedding Cottage
8716 Belair Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21236

The classes are held as single events (demos) or as a weekly, one night per week series. Basic Cake Decorating is one night per week for 6 weeks and Intermediate Cake Decorating is a 6-week course, again one night per week. Rolled Fondant is a 3-night course, held one night each week. All other classes are normally one session

Multiple classes in November – check the website

Chef Professor In-Home Cooking Classes
Chef Jack E. Batten, CEC
Phone: (301) 627-4496

Where the Chef Comes To Your House to Teach You (and maybe some of your friends, too). Chef Professor offers Personal Cooking Classes presented in a client's home in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland suburbs including Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland areas.

Chef’s Expressions at Grammercy Mansion
1400 Greenspring Valley Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21153-0119
(410) 561-2433

Chefs Jerry Edwards and John Walsh conduct culinary tastings at the Gramercy Mansion Carriage house. Jerry and John create 3-4 special courses and recipes for attendees to taste while enjoying the entertaining hijinks of the two trend-setting chefs.

Cooking with Ben
Ben Tehranian
6402 Wind Rider Way
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 410-312-0001

Ben Tehranian invites you to his kitchen to share his experience and skills in a relaxed, involved, and hands-on environment. Or if you prefer, he will hold the classes in your own kitchen using your equipment. Ben also offers assistance with planning and preparing your special gatherings.

Culinary Kids Cooking School LLC
Nikki McGowan, Executive Chef
Ellicott City, MD
Phone: 978-223-3068

Our classes and parties are all hands-on. We incorporate science, math, nutrition, and kitchen safety into the preparation of fun and delicious culinary specialties.

Our classes and parties are offered to elementary and middle school age children in schools, community centers, churches, and homes in Baltimore and the surrounding area.

Cooking with Donna
Chef Donna Crivello
Donna's Cafe at Snowden River Parkway
5850 Waterloo Road, Suite 100
Columbia, MD 21045

Fast Mediterranean meals for everyday and for entertaining. Practical cooking classes with tastings and recipes. We'll talk about Mediterranean ingredients, (shopping and stocking) plus techniques for pulling together great, quick and healthy dinners. Learn more about cooking without recipes . . .(not just pasta, but vegetables, chicken and seafood, legumes) and how to create dishes with great flavor at Donna's in Columbia (Snowden River Pkwy)

Upcoming classes: $45 per class

Nov 4 quick dinners
Nov 11 Italian thanksgiving side dishes
Nov 18 holiday brunches
Dec 2 holiday food gifts
Dec 9 Italian Christmas eve (seafood)
Dec 16 the New Year’s Eve hors d’oeuvres party

Elkridge Furnace Inn
Chef Daniel Wecker
5745 Furnace Ave.
Elkridge, Maryland 21075

Upcoming class
November 25: Adult Cooking Class
7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
$80 inclusive of service and tax
Reservations are required, limited space available

Whether you love cooking or want to learn some new skills join us for this interactive cooking class taught buy Executive Chef Dan Wecker. The class will be “A twist on Thanksgiving” featuring: Butternut Squash Soup, Ballotine of Duck, Root Vegetable Galette & “Ragout”, and Braised Lettuce Provençal.

For The Love of Food & Catering
Chef Diane Bukatman
20 Clarks Lane
Reisterstown, MD 21136-5810
443-865-0630 or 410-833-5579

For the Love of Food -Cooking Classes, Team Building, Kids Cook!

New Dates! Monday Series!
A 6-Class Series for aspiring chefs
MONDAYS, January 12, 19, February 2, 9, 16, & 23 at 7 PM $400

The ideal hands-on cooking series for seasoned cooks and beginners alike! We begin with Knife Skills and move on to sautéing, roasting, braising, poaching, pan & classic sauces and variations, and stocks. We'll cover butterflying meat and chicken, and the best cuts of meat for different types of cooking. Learn to tell when meats, poultry and fish are done without cutting into them! Overcome your fear of cooking whole fish and filets...and more ~ much much more!

Experimentation and questions are encouraged. There is no such thing as too much of a beginner - everyone will feel comfortable, and we guarantee everyone will leave a better cook than when you arrived!

Inn at 2920
Chef Roxanne Levis
2920 Elliott Street
Baltimore MD 21224
410 342 44450

Saturday, December 6th & December 13th
Cookie Demonstration $65.00 - 11 to 4 p.m.

Attend the ongoing (come and go as you please) cookie making demo by Chef Roxanne Levis on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Live demos of cookie making, come and go as you please. Take home your very own Gift Basket filled with: Ginger Molasses. Pistachio-Cranberry Biscotti, Snicker Doodles, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Baked Caramel Popcorn, and more. Take home a cookie basket

Maja’s Kitchen
Maria Springer
Call for reservations:
410-561-1157 or
Your reservation will be held upon receipt of full payment of $60.

Every year in December the Gingerbread House Decorating Afternoons in Maja’s Viennese Kitchen have become an event, and a tradition in many families around Baltimore and DC area.

Children come dressed for the Candlelight Holiday Tea which is served after they decorate their houses. Every child receives a pre-built house, a pastry bag filled with Royal Icing, and lots and, lots of candy to choose from to decorate their special Gingerbread House for the holidays.

Within an hour and a half they all finish eating candy, and decorating, after which they all go down to the basement where a Candlelight Holiday Tea is served. Children and adults are served hot chocolate or tea in china cups and saucers, and have many pastries to choose from at the Holiday Buffett.

Gingerbread House Decorating Sessions and Tea –
2 weekends in December…………….

December 13 and 14
December 20 and 21

All Sessions start at 12:30 PM and end at 3:30 PM
Children 5 to 12 need to be accompanied by an adult.
$60 for child and adult

Pierpoint Restaurant
Chef Nancy Longo
1822 Aliceanna Street
Baltimore, MD
410 675-2080

NOVEMBER 3RD INTERNATIONAL BBQ come learn techniques of International BBQ from all over the world , rubs, smoking techniques, as well as a few sauces from our on BBQ states in the good old USA. Barbecue is heating up again in the culinary scene, come find out how to make some of your own.

NOVEMBER 10TH BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND- Come learn lessons on how to cook a modern thanksgiving dinner, and all the short cuts a chef could teach you about how to cut your cooking time down for the big turkey day. We will also cover turkey sauces, chutneys as well as smoking, we promise when you leave here you'll never be stressed about thanksgiving cooking again, we promise.

Class fees are $75 per class, soft drinks, wine, beer, and recipes are included. Aprons will be provided, as well as a group meal. Please call 410 675-2080 to reserve a space as space is limited to 10 persons per class. Classes are approximately 3 hrs long, and include recipes, aprons, as well as food tastings of all items we cook in the lesson.

Roland Park Country School
Kaleidoscope Adult Class Series
5204 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21210

One Session $70
Saturday, December 13
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
William Matsuzaki

In Japan, there are certain dishes that are especially enjoyed by the people during the cold months, to warm them up and help gather the family together. There are variousnabe-mono including sukiyaki, shabu shabu, and yose nabe. In this class, you will learn how to make sukiyaki, a dish with various vegetables and meat in soy sauce-based sauce. You will also learn how to make tempura soba and tempura (shrimp, potato, onions, mushrooms and carrots) and soba. A fun family adventure.

Roy's - Baltimore
Chef Rey Eugenio
720 B Aliceanna Street
Baltimore MD 21202
(410) 659-0099 (go to What’s New – Special Events)

Chef Rey advised me they are tentatively looking to have a cooking class the beginning of December. It will be a demonstration class with optional hands-on. Pricing and details will be posted on their website under “What’s New-Special Events” – look for the Baltimore location.

Sotto Sopra Restaurant
Executive Chef Bill Crouse
405 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
For more information or reservation call Monika Pawlak at 410-625-0534 or email at

Cooking Class:

Cooking Class
Sunday, November 2nd
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Executive Chef Bill Crouse brings you into the back-of-the-house, Sotto Sopra's kitchen for a cooking class featuring the great foods of autumn. This will be his last class for 2008, so don't miss out.

The class is demonstration with the option of hands-on participation. You wrap up the class by enjoying those dishes taught and prepared with a glass of vino. Cost per person is $65/reservations required.


What's it like to work in a restaurant kitchen? That question can be answered with Sotto Sopra Restaurant's Chef-for-the-Day Program under the tutelage of Executive Chef Bill Crouse. For $100 you will work hard through the day and after evening service, enjoy a good meal.

Prior to coming into Sotto Sopra's kitchen, Chef Crouse assesses the Chef-for-the-Day's skill level and also offers up an additional challenge of creating a menu promoting them as the Chef-for-the-Day at the restaurant.

Chef Michel Tersiquel
8293 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043
410 465 4004

Day with the Chef

Join Chef at 5:30 a.m., yes that is a.m., at the Jessup Wholesale Seafood & Produce Market. Work with Michel as he inspects every product from kiwis to skate in his pursuit for only the freshest and best ingredients. There really is no telling what will be on the special board until after the "Market Run". This is a hands-on experience with an accomplished Chef who knows and appreciates quality and freshness.

You will then open the restaurant. We recommend getting started with a cup of freshly brewed French Roast Coffee. And then it's time to work. The real work day begins, including checking the stockpots, putting away the produce and preparing the mis en place. Your day will continue with hands on practical tasks in many of the stations. Learn mis en place, work with the Garde Manger and learn how our fine dinning kitchen works.

Chef's day continues with the exciting and ever changing process of day-to-day restaurant management with numerous purveyors and clients vying with the ovens and line for Chef's time. Throughout the day Chef is constantly working with a range of staff from our Sous Chef to dishwashers, hands on coaching and teaching the best ways to handle and prepare the products purchased fresh that day. Working with his Father in the garden and with the purveyors at the market, Michel changes the menu seasonally to reflect the freshest ingredients in what is now commonly called "from the farm to the plate" cooking. This is your chance to experience the way a restaurant kitchen is run, hands on and with passion to present a quality dining experience. Once your day of work is complete, please join our front of the house staff and enjoy a chef's menu for two.

Chef Michel looks forward to seeing you at 5 am.

To reserve your day with Chef Michel or purchase as a gift, please contact the restaurant.
Cost to participate $425.00

Whole Foods Market – Mt Washington
1330 Smith Ave
Baltimore, MD 21209

What's Cooking Wednesday
See what we’ve got cooking in our departments from noon-2:00pm and 5:00-7:00pm. We’ll have live demonstrations. Come join us every Wednesday.

Each Whole Food Market has its own calendar of events. Go to and find your store and you will see your store calendar.

William Sonoma
Store Locator:

Cooking Classes
Sign up for our weekly classes. Conducted by culinary professionals, these occasional series cover the latest trends in recipes and ingredients. Enrollment is limited. Contact your local store for a schedule of upcoming classes. This is a demonstration class only. Lite nibbles of what is prepared.

Yum-Yum Sisters
Call Sandy Spanos @ 410-833-1108

Join the Yum-Yum Sisters (Ilene Spector and Sandy Spanos) for a very special cooking class “Holidays in Paradise” at Roy’s Restaurant at the Harbor East.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

4 course Lunch and Cooking Class with demos by Roy's chefs
*Watch & taste new Yum Yum Sisters recommendations for home entertaining to "wow" your guests this holiday season!

Begin with a glass of POG (The traditional Hawaiian Breakfast Beverage) and seasonal breakfast treats as well as a "backstage" tour of Roy's Kitchen

Roy's will demo and serve their signature "Yamaguchi Sushi" and special "sizzling" hors d'oeuvres. Lunch will include a Hawaiian-Fusion Cuisine plated double entree, wine and Roy's famous signature sides

The finale will include a custom dessert for this event by the Pastry Chef as well as a taste of Roy's menu dessert favorites
Coffee & Tea

*Lots of surprise prizes
*No one leaves empty handed!

Discount Parking will be available

Bring your mother, sister or best friend as a special gift!
$60 per person. Only your check in advance secures your reservation
RSVP by November 5, 2008 – Contact Sandy Spanos 410-833-1108

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mari Luna Latin Grille Opens In Pikesville

It was worth the wait, the delays, to see how beautifully Chef Jamie Luna transformed a long empty restaurant in the heart of Pikesville. Mari Luna (ML) Latin Grille, (don’t confuse this with his Mari Luna (ML)Mexican Grille, a mile south on Reisterstown Road across from Seven Mile Lane), is decorated with vivid colors, tasteful banquettes, and for the foodies - a large picture window where you can watch the kitchen staff at work -watch the short video.

I was not a fan of Mexican food when ML Mexican Grille opened five years ago but then learned the joys of Mexican food through Chef Luna. His path wasn’t an easy one, working his way from dishwasher to prep cook, from prep cook up to the sous chef position at Michel Richard’s Citronelle and as the executive chef at Steve De Castro’s Babalu Grill.

Over the years at ML Mexican Grille, Chef Luna would introduce specials highlighting his great skills with seafood and Latin cuisine. But alas, the ML Mexican Grille is a small venue with limits but it didn’t stop its huge following putting them at the top of the Baltimore’s Zagat list.

Our Dinner at ML Latin Grille

Friday night, the husband and I journeyed to ML Latin Grille and were surprised that even before 6 p.m. there were a number of tables filled. If restaurateurs are hunting for staff and can’t find them it is because they are all at ML Latin. The staff wants to please, though at times, I found them a bit intrusive – no harm meant they just want to make sure all is good. I am keeping in mind that they have only been open a week and refining their service and working from a new kitchen.

Chef Luna has a huge fan base and by 7:00 p.m. the restaurant was packed with guests waiting. They do accept reservations at ML Latin which is something that they don’t do at ML Mexican and from the crowd; I highly recommend making a reservation. Out of curiosity, after dinner the husband and I rode by ML Mexican to see what was going on there, it was packed with people in line.

The Most Amazing Bread

I’ve been noticing the lack of bread (or similar starter items) at restaurants lately. At Three and at a restaurant in Fells Point (who I won’t name but had a pretty disappointing meal) there was no bread offered and it was the same at Bicycle. Could it be there way of cutting costs? With that said, at ML Latin we were presented with large, fresh popover rolls with a mango citrus butter that is too die for – airy, puffy, warm rolls.

Kicking off the Dining

Out of the three soups offered on the menu we chose the Lobster Bisque (7) and Honduran Conch Chowder with coconut milk (6.5). The conch was tender, not an easy feat and the coconut milk added a nice subtle richness.

Salads and Appetizers

There are three salads offered, the house salad (7), Ensalada Cesar with Serrano ham and shaved Manchego cheese (7) and the Ensalada Campesina which is crabmeat and field greens with avocado, tomato and balsamic vinaigrette (12). There are six appetizers with selections such as Empanadas Saltenas (8) and Chicharron de Puerco con Yuca (7)


In looking at the menu, I recognized many of the dishes that were specials at ML Mexican. I counted 17 entrees ranging in price from thirteen dollars (Peruvian Chicken) to twenty-six dollars (Seared Chilean Sea Bass or Roasted Rack of Lamb).

You choose 2 sides from the selection of Tostones, Frijoles Negros, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Yuca Fries, White Rice, Plantains, Congri (black beans, rice and bacon) or the evening’s vegetable medley sauté. The husband chose the Bistec a la Criolla (17) mesquite grilled skirt steak sautéed with Spanish mushrooms and red wine sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and the congri and I ordered the Camerones con Cana (19) pan seared sugar skewered jumbo shrimp with mojito sauce and I chose the sautéed veggies and the plantains. From the description, I assumed that the shrimp would be skewered possibly on sugarcane but they hadn’t been skewered at all that I could see…though they were perfectly cooked.


The Chocolate Tres Leche (6) called out to the husband and I indulged in the Tropical Breeze (6), house-made mango and coconut ice cream combo. The tres leche was decadently rich with a lick-your-lips caramel sauce and the semifreddo like Tropical Breeze was accompanied with fresh fruit proved to be a nice finish to a very tasty meal.

With so many new and interesting Latino dishes to taste I know that I will be back again and again as well as getting our favorite Mexican dishes at ML Mexican Grille.

Mari Luna Latin Grille
1010 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville, MD 21208
410 653 5151
(Reservations highly suggested)
Complimentary valet parking in the rear of the restaurant
Call for hours and days of operation

Mari Luna Mexican Grille
102 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville, MD 21208

Mari Luna Latin Grille on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do You Think There Is A 20 Minute Wait for Carryout?

The fascinating West Lake Restaurant in the Hunan Provence of Changsha, China is by Guinness’s record book the largest Chinese Restaurant in the world with 5,000 seats. Other than our current economic woes, the largest problem for restaurants is staffing. West Lake has 1,000 on their staff with over 300 chefs manning five kitchens – yalza!!! Do you think there is a 20 minute wait for carryout?

I apologize profusely about missing advance notice to you on the airing of the documentary on West Lake Restaurant on the Sundance Channel. I was besieged with a crashed computer and auto accident plus two extended trips- it wasn't a good month. Hopefully it will be re-run. Here is a LINK to a video clip at the Sundance Channel for more in depth information - warning it may be a bit to graphic for some. Another video on West Lake Restaurant is below for your enjoyment.

I’m wondering where is the largest restaurant in the world? (I saw a video on a restaurant in Syria with 6,000 seats). Which restaurant in Baltimore do you think is the largest?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Calas, Belle, Calas Tout Chauds!

Almost lost in the rich food history of New Orleans are calas, a rice breakfast fritter. In the 19th century the calas women would call out, “calas, belle, calas tout chauds!” (“calas, calas nice and hot!”). Poppy Tooker, cooking instructor and food historian of the New Orleans culture prepares the calas for us. Click HERE for the recipe.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Matzoh Ball Theory of Restaurant Reviews

Food, like many other things is subjective. How do you judge that a dish is good, bad or lackluster? I have my own theory, it is the Matzoh Ball theory.

The foods we grew up eating tend to be our guideline, i.e. - soft fluffy matzoh balls or solid, chewy, heavy matzoh balls. I'm a fluffy matzoh ball kind of gal. My mother would just die when her's weren't light as air. If I go into a restaurant that serves chicken matzoh ball soup and the matzoh balls are heavy as lead - to me, the soup is a disappointment but if you grew up like many of my friends on the heavy dense balls, it is a good soup.

My suggestion is to read many of the reviewers restaurant reviews, especially from restaurants that you have gone to and see if your feelings are on par with theirs. If you seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum then it is a pretty good shot you'll like places they don't.

If every one dishes a place there is nothing subjective about that. Let your taste buds be your own guide.

Three...A Patterson Park Restaurant

Last night I took my husband out of his 2 miles radius of the house comfort zone, down to the edge of Patterson Park to Three Restaurant. For me it was my 2nd visit, though my first time with former Pazo Executive Chef, Peter Livolsi as the top toque.

The husband isn’t the patient sort, one to wait for table, so I had a 6:30 reservation. It was a pleasant evening with guests enjoying al fresco dining and the view of the park. We even got one of what I call the movie star parking spots. (did you ever notice that in movies, when the stars are driving anywhere, there is always a parking spot right in front of where they are going?)

There were a couple of tables filled, a hand-full of guests at the bar drinking and sharing food. We were lead to a premium table where we could look at the lower level guests without them seeing much of what we were doing. The décor, the exposed brick interior walls and contemporary art appealed to my senses.

The menu has four pages: Salads Soups and Small Plates, Farmer’s Market Selection, Main Course and Cheeses. The time spent at Pazo by the chef definitely was reflected on the menu.

The main courses looked intriguing with the introduction that evening’s entrée of mushroom risotto for 16; if also offered blacken venison, ground lamb kabobs, grilled pork tenderloin and the rib eye steak for two with a Romesco sauce and mango butter.

Salads, Soups & Small Plates

Pineapple and Parmesan Cheese with Coppa and Pistachio Oil – 6

This dish intrigued the prosciutto and melon eater in me and I must say it was a delightful twist. I enjoyed the contrast of flavors, the little spice of the coppa and the fresh ground pepper. I kept trying to get anything pistachio from the oil – possibly it was to subtle my taste buds.

Mixed Field Greens with Sunflower Vinaigrette and Croutons – 6

A small taste of the husband’s salad found the chilled greens crisp and the vinaigrette with sufficient acidity to balance the richness of the cheese.

Grilled Andouille and Spicy Tasso Sandwich - 9
with Pepper Jack cheese, roasted garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato

This was the first night for this item on the menu and after tasting it, I was kicking myself for not ordering it and jealous the husband had. The spiciness of the andouille and tasso contrasted nicely with the creamy garlic aioli. The sandwich was excellent and a good value size for the price. I could see grabbing one of these sandwiches and a good beer – food nirvana at the table or at the bar.

Seafood Specials for the Evening

The special selections for the evening were Thai mussels or calamari. My penchant for Asian food was not to be denied: so one order of the Thai mussel for moi.

Thai Mussels – 10

Aaah, the bowl arrived with many mussels, sliced green and red chilies and a hunk of grilled bread to sop up the wonderful liquid. The mussels were cooked to perfection, moist and tender. For me, I found something lacking in the broth – maybe it was richness, the coconut milk too diluted, no chili flavor. I didn’t want to dunk my bread.

Farmer’s Market Selection

Items in this section of menu change nightly or weekly – when the supply is gone it is what is fresh that day from the market.

Roasted Pepper and Onion Bruschetta - 7

The three bruschetta rounds were generously topped with roasted peppers and onions with a hint of heat.

Eggplant Parmesan – 7

The aroma of this dish had me salivating before it hit my mouth. The batter on the eggplant slices was light just enough to add texture though not overwhelm. Slices of fresh, ruby-red tomato were sandwiched with the cheeses. Hubby couldn’t keep his fork out of my plate. I really enjoyed this dish but wanted a bit more umph, so I asked for freshly ground pepper.


The waitress recited the three dessert choices and confirmed that all were made in-house. The options were a chocolate and peanut butter mousse duo, a banana and pineapple dessert with rum sauce and sheep’s milk yogurt with lavender. My option was the banana and pineapple dessert but conceded to the husband on the mousse duo.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mousse Duo – 6

Do you remember the Reese’s television commercial where “you got chocolate in my peanut butter and vice versa?” This dessert was reminiscent with the two flavors being divided by with the “I dare you to cross the whipped cream line.” Yes, we mixed it up a bit, some chocolate and peanut butter together and some plain. The mousse was airy, sweet but not overly cloying. The husband cleaned up every last fluffy morsel.

A presentation note, I’m not sure if the waitress forgot to put a plate under the dessert or they were just serving it in the glass. The dessert seemed lonely or needing something to balance it out – I’m having a feng shui moment.

Value versus quality – it was a good meal, old favorites and new ones to add to my list. The main question is would I go back, and my answer is yes.

Footnote: My husband was hungry upon arrival and was taken back that there was no lavosh, bread, or cracker brought to the table, something to curb his hunger until our food would arrived. I can’t say if it was an oversight but I think the restaurant just doesn’t offer this amenity.

Three…a patterson park restaurant
2901 E. Baltimore Street
(corner of S. Linwood)
Baltimore, MD
410 327 3333

Tuesday - Thursday 5:30pm - midnight
(Kitchen closes at 10pm)
Friday - Saturday 5:30pm - 1am
(Kitchen closes at 11pm)
Closed Sundays & Monday

Three on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

No Purple Feet for Me

This past weekend while picking grapes at Basignani Vineyards, I couldn’t help thinking of the great Lucille Ball and her Lucy Riccardo grape stomping episode . My outfit differed, my head covered with a baseball cap versus Lucy’s bandana, no peasant blouse off the shoulders nor full skirt and definitely not barefoot – I was in jeans, t-shirt with a bulky sweater for the early morning foray into the fields.

Each year Basignani Vineyards invites guests to volunteer to help with their wine harvest. When I arrived the four Basignani dogs were playing with a soccer ball out on the lawn, the leaves on the tree just turning color and the weather sunny with a slight fall chill. Volunteers were gathered under the tent, a number who came from Virginia and the DC area to participate.

We were taken to a field, given snipers, and a glove for the alternate hand. “Snip the grapes as close the bunch with as little stem as possible, remove any dried or bad looking grapes and put them in the plastic cartons” were the directions. The volunteers worked both sides of the vines. I chatted up fellow pickers as we snipped, picked and pushed our plastic bins down the line. From young to old, female and male, we all worked diligently.

I was across the vine from a brother-in-law to the Basignani family, Wayne Gardner, who was quite knowledgeable about their wines. A question was asked of him what happens to grapes once they leave the field? It was a Wilson like moment from Home Improvement, enjoy it as I did in the video below.

It took us about 3 hours to do what was necessary. Some were able to walk back to the tent, others caught a ride. Backs ached, knees were sore from squatting to reach the lower vines and no one was without vibrant purple stains upon their wardrobe and hands.

The Basignani family provided a wonderful lunch for the volunteers consisting of a lentil and meatball soup, panzanella salad, Italian cold cuts, tomato pie, house-cured olives and roasted peppers and the wonderful Basignani wines. Let me not forget the apple cake and brownies. All-in-all, a grape time was had by all.

Dee Basignani’s
Lentil Soup with Mini Meatballs
Serves approximate 4 - 6

2 quarts water
5 to 6 beef bouillon cubes
1 bag lentils (2 cups)
4-5 stalks celery chopped
1 lg onion chopped
2 lg carrots sliced
olive oil (a little bit)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
onion powder to taste
garlic powder to taste
tomato paste or fresh tomatoes

Meatballs (or your own favorite meatball recipe)

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 lg egg
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste
salt to taste

2 lg potatoes, peeled and cut in a ½ inch cube
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to garnish

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven add the water, bouillon cubes, lentils, celery, onion, carrots, olive oil. Once to a boil, taste and add the salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and tomato or tomato paste. Reduce to a slow simmer and cover.

While soup is cooking, combine your beef or turkey, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic powder, onion powder and salt – mix well. Form the mixture into gumball sized meatballs (approximately 1 tablespoon). Cover and reserve.

After the soup has simmered for an hour bring it a boil and add the reserved meatballs. When the soup returns to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. If the soup is getting too thick add a cup or two of water. Cook for another 30 minutes and then add the cubed potatoes. Cover and cook another 30 minutes.

To serve top each bowl of soup with grated Parmesan cheese.

Basignani Vineyards
15722 Falls Road
Sparks-Glencoe, Maryland 21152
410 472 0703 phone

Open to the public
Wednesdays through Saturday
11:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Noon to 6 p.m.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Roux the Day

Should it be called the Holy Trinity? Why no butter? What is a celery vase? Those questions and more are answered in the following videos.

Food historian and cooking instructor, Poppy Tooker and the matriarch of Creole cooking, Leah Chase discuss how to make a proper roux along with other panelist Marcelle Bienvenu and Michaela York before a room full of women chefs in New Orleans.

Since you couldn’t be there I took the liberty of whipping out my trusty point-and-shoot Kodak camera and hit the video button. My cinematic skills are such that Martin Scorsese shouldn’t be concerned about competition at this year’s Academy Awards.


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