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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Boycott of Denny's to protest stereotyping

Just into my e-mail inbox is a request to to boycott Denny's. The Sons of Italy Commission for Social Justice (CSJ) is calling for a boycott of Denny's to protest the stereotyping of Italian Americans in the company's new national ad campaign, "Serious Breakfast."

The CSJ isthe anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America, the nation's largest Italian American organization. Denny's is the largest family restaurant chain in the U.S.

The CSJ has criticized one of the commercials in the series for its portrayal of three men who appear to be Italian American gangsters, discussing murdering "Benny" as they wait for their breakfast at a Denny's restaurant. The CSJ called for the commercial to be permanently removed from both television and the internet.

In response to the CSJ's complaint, Nelson Marchioli, Denny's president and CEO, said the company had reviewed the commercial and found "no ethnic stereotyping, just fun and humor."

"This is an unsatisfactory reply," says CSJ National President Anthony Baratta. "The Godfather movies and The Sopranos television series have helped make violence and criminality synonymous with Italian Americans," he says, "And the Denny commercial perpetuates this stereotype. That is not funny."

If Denny's refuses to archive the commercial, Baratta says "Italian Americans can and will enjoy a 'serious breakfast' at a restaurant that does not insult them. Denny's should know that Italian Americans are the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, and to offend us will only hurt Denny's bottom line."

Baratta urges all concerned to contact Nelson Marchioli at:

Denny's Corporation
203 East Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29319
(800) 733-6697 or directly at (864) 597-7781

For more info:
The Sons of Italy CSJ is the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), the largest and oldest national organization for people of Italian descent in the U.S. To learn more about the CSJ, visit us on the Web at or contact us via e-mail at

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Who knew Capital Grille could speak Italian

Yes, it is true, Capital Grille is speaking Italian for all to enjoy. It started Monday, February 23rd and running through April 5th, Capital Grille has created a five course Italian dinner for a mere $49.00.

When I had the opportunity partake of the special menu, I could not turn it down for many reasons: ONE-my husband LOVES Capital Grille and has been known to take a day off of work to go there for lunch and TWO-at Capital Grille you don’t eat, you dine; the service is impeccable and the food never disappoints.

For your drinking and food pairing pleasure Capital Grille and Castello Banfi have partnered in an exclusive release of BelnerO, Sangiovese di Montalcino proprietor’s reserve 2005. It is available for limited time at a discounted price of $69 per bottle or $17 per glass.

February 23, 2009 to April 5th 2009
Capital Grille's Five Course Italian Dinner
$49.00 per person - excludes beverages, tax & gratuity

Zuppa di Funghi Porcini
Creamy porcini mushroom soup with droplets of chive oil

(I love anything mushroom, so I might be prejudice but the starter of soup on my tongue was like the late Cary Grant –SMOOTH!)

Insalata Verde del Campo con Finocchio e Caprino
Field greens, shaved fennel, goat cheese, 12-year balsamic,
Tuscan extra virgin olive oil

(So much salad, two people could have eaten just one. You will enjoy the difference the aged balsamic vinegar makes)

Sorbetto di Limone al Basilico
Lemon basil sorbet

Choice of
Filetto di Manzo con Pomodori e Peperoni Arrostiti, Cipolline Caramellate
Herb-marinated beef tenderloin
with roasted tomatoes and red peppers, caramelized cipollini onions
Pesce Spada in Cartoccio
Swordfish roasted inside parchment paper with white wine,
roasted tomatoes, oil-cured olives, and capers

(I can’t say enough about these dishes. The meat was prepared to perfect temperature. Both were generous portions and with the perfect Italian accoutrements.)

Accompanied by
Maccheroni al Forno in Crema di Mascarpone con Tartufo
Campanelle pasta baked in mascarpone cream with shaved black truffle

(After my first bite, I didn’t want to share any of this with my husband – this was heaven on the tongue; rich, creamy with the aromatics of the black truffle driving me into food ecstasy.)

Gelato Fatto in Casa, con Salsa Cioccolato e Biscotti
Housemade caramel gelato with chocolate sauce and housemade biscotti

(As much as I was hording the Maccheroni al Forno, my husband inhaled his gelato and dug into mind)

For more info:
The Capital Grille
500 East Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Direct to consumer wine bill - what happened

This seems to be the never-ending story, a real up hill battle to give Marylanders the right to purchase wine direct. Maryland has some very antiquated liquor laws and this is one of them. Below is where the bill stands now and how you can help-it's simple.

Committee Chairman Dereck E. Davis, a Prince George's County Democrat, said … that he thought his committee would this year again reject the direct-to-consumers wine bill, largely out of concern that it would make it easier for minors to access alcohol.
-- Baltimore Sun, 2/24/09 “
Bill to restrict sale of 'alcopops' stirs heated debate

Unless we mobilize and get focused on getting these two bills moving within the next two weeks, they will die an untimely 10th (?) death in the legislative committees in which they are heard. For those unfamiliar with Annapolis politics – of which I am one – the committees have the power to kill the bills through any number of means, and our voices are usually not at the table because we don’t have lobbyists paid to be there. Maryland consumers wonder why they can purchase narcotics, fireworks, pornography and ammunition delivered directly to their door but not a bottle of wine. The simple answer is the lobbying force presented by the opponents of this legislation.

You must provide that counterbalance! Our opponents would have our legislators believe that minors will be ordering liquor with which to get drunk through the direct ship program despite that not happening in the other 34 states that allow direct shipment. In fact, the number of infractions for underage drinking in Anne Arundel County (130 in 2007) far outnumbers the total number of documented cases of minors directly receiving alcohol in the other states that comprise 80% of the American population. If retailers are so good at checking ID, and UPS or FedEx are so ill-equipped, then why were there so many infractions?

What can you do to help?There are two very, very important women in Annapolis: Senator Joan Carter Conway and Delegate Mary Ann Love. They need to hear from their constituents that passage of this legislation is vital to them. Please contact Senator Conway and Delegate Love or ask your friends who live in their districts to do so. Their contact information:

Senator Joan Carter Conway(410) 841-3145 or 800-492-7122, ext. 3145e-mail:

Delegate Mary Ann Love(410) 841-3511 or 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3511 (toll free)e-mail:

Please also contact me soon as possible to learn how to help out in as little as 10 minutes a day, or else you too will be reading the post-script on direct wine shipping legislation yet again in the Baltimore Sun or your local paper.

Tastefully yours,
Adam Borden
Executive DirectorMarylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws

Earlier stories on this subject: Buy wines direct-you can make a difference, Senator Raskin's bill would "free" the grapes in Maryland,and Win a bottle of 03 Mondavi Opus One

Monday, February 23, 2009

Surprise Judge on Top Chef Finale

Bayona Restaurant in New Orleans just sent me an e-mail (because I'm a close personal distant acquaintance of Chef Susan Spicer- well I am!). Here it is:


We strongly recommend that you tune in to Bravo on Ash Wednesday, February 25, 2009 for the Top Chef Season 5 Finale. Rumor has it that you might see a very familiar face on the judging panel.

Happy Mardi Gras, and as always, Thanks for being a member of our Bayona family!"

430 Rue Dauphine
New Orleans, LA 70112
Reservations: 504-525-4455

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Your Smile for the Day

This has little to do with food but more about pure happiness. The good old days

Friday, February 20, 2009

$10 Three Course Dinner

Come on folks, you can’t beat this deal anywhere else – 3 course dinner plus a cocktail hour for $10. Now I know you are saying to yourself “no way” and I am saying “way”.

What: $10 three course dinner with a cocktail hour - $10 per person. The fixed menu of appetizer, entrée and dessert, will be prepared by 25 culinary students under the guidance of Jerry Pellegrino, Executive Chef of Baltimore’s acclaimed Corks Restaurant.

Why: So students preparing for careers in the hospitality industry can demonstrate their newly-learned skills from the National Academy Foundation High School (NAF) at Baltimore’s inaugural “Restaurant Night” on Wednesday, February 25. Students from the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism will prepare and serve a three-course dinner.

Where: Café Aroma – Restaurant Night
National Academy Foundation High School – Baltimore
Digital Harbor High School
1100 Covington Street
Baltimore (Federal Hill

When: Wednesday, February 25th starting cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m.

Who: The public is invited but seating is limited to 150 seats.

Reservations: Guests are requested to make reservations by contacting Ada Brown, NAF-Baltimore’s Director of Academies, at (443) 984-1593, or e-mailing

Working with high school students and giving them the additional tools to succeed in the world is one of my pleasures. This is a subject close to my heart and because of that I have been on the Restaurant Association of Maryland Education Foundation Board for a number of years. I mentor the Carver Center’s Culinary Team who will be going up against the Digital Harbor's Culinary Team in the state championship in two weeks. May all teams do well.

You can support the ProStart high school culinary programs statewide, get $300 of restaurant gift certificates and a chance to win a car – check this out HERE.

Have a child who is interested in the culinary field/hospitality field - bring them to the dinner, let them see what students can do.

The National Academy Foundation High School of Baltimore City prepares over 350 students each year for careers in hospitality and tourism, finance, and information technology through work-based learning curriculum and experiences, and partnerships with local business and industry professionals. The unique curriculum emphasizes both academic excellence and career training with traditional classroom instruction, internships, and job shadowing. NAF High School is located on the Federal Hill campus of Digital Harbor High School.

Win a bottle of 03' Mondavi Opus One

The battle continues in the Maryland state legislature to allow direct shipment of wine to individual consumers. You still can make a difference and as I said in my last post I would notify you about the next legislative hearing. Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws Executive Director, Adam Borden, is offering a bottle of 03' Mondavi Opus One to the of age (21) person who brings the most people to the House of Delegates on Monday, February 23rd at 1 p.m.

Here is Adam's e-mail that I just received:

Dear Dara,

Our opposition, the wholesalers and select retailers, would like you to believe that massive underage drinking will occur if
SB338 and HB1262 will occur. Every minor from Ocean City to Deep Creek will be ordering Boon's Farm - I kid you not, one retailer actually brought in a bottle to the senate hearing on Wednesday - to be delivered to their door, and the unwitting FedEx or UPS drivers will gladly turn it over to them. The Chancellor for the University of Maryland actually wrote in a letter expressing his concern that their students could have over-21 resident advisors sign for their packages. If the retailers are so good at checking ID, then why were there 130 underage drinking violations in Anne Arundel County in 2007 and none reported via direct shipment in the 35 states that allow it? Oh yeah, and Senator Raskin pointed out that those states cover 80% of our ~300 million citizens.To deal with this ludicrousness, I am offering a bottle of '03 Mondavi Opus One (value: ~$200) to whomever brings the most friends to the House of Delegates hearing on Monday 2/23 (must be 5 or greater including you in your party).

Here are the specifics:
Monday, February 23rd ~ 1PM
Economic Matters Committee (ECM)
Room 231, House Office Building
6 Bladen St.
Annapolis, MD 21401

The Committee will be hearing 47 bills that day, so you must register in advance with Delegate Tom Hucker's office (, 301-858-3474) to appear on the docket. Please let Maria Topper there know your cell number as the bill itself will most likely not be heard until 3PM or later so she can be in touch with you about timing. I will plan to be there in person, and whomever shows up with the most friends will win the bottle of wine. We spent a lot of time talking about why we want the bill to pass at the MD Senate hearing but would better like to coordinate our testimony at this one. Once you let Maria know your and your friends' information, I can be in touch with you individually about the testimony.

Please let me know if you have any questions and make sure to send as many of your friends to our Facebook page as possible:

Lastly, we have received some generous donations thus far but are always in search of more. As the fight seems so close, we need additional resources to get out the consumer voice, so please consider sending a few bucks our way:

Hope to see you there!


Adam Borden
Executive Director

Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws

Like anything else in this world that you really want you have to make a committment to getting it.

Previous stories on this subject: Buy wines direct- you can make a difference and Senator Raskin's bill would free the grapes in Maryland

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Communal dining - love it or hate it?

How social are you when it comes to dining? Do you tend to eat out with other friends or keep it a solo or a two top? I have been a huge fan of communal dining for over 20 years and for me the more the merrier.

My first experience

My first experience was in Florence, Italy, when my friend and I were whisked to a communal table at Il Latini. We met and shared wine and food with a couple from Dallas, Texas, an American student studying in Florence and an Italian couple. By the end of the meal we had shared laughs, stories and great food with more than our share of wine. (I have some recollection of bouncing off the building walls walking back to our hotel -don't tell anyone.) What a wonderful way to dine.

As a business traveler, I always seek out restaurants with communal tables if I am alone. I ate at New York City's Asia de Cuba and met a fascinating advertising vice president from Paris and a California prosecutor who recently returned from taking a year off and traveling around the world with his wife. Fabulous dinner conversation!!!!!

Local communal dining opportunities

There are a couple restaurants in town with communal tables one being Pazo though I can’t think of the others (maybe you can refresh our memories).

Sotto Sopra’s Italian Language and Culture Dinner club is one of those events that I enjoy. Not only is the dining communal but it is family-style service, reminiscent of family holidays where you pass platters and bowls of delicious food. I’ve been to one and I’m going back on Monday, February 23rd . It is a dinner for people who love all things Italian. If you speak a little or a lot of Italian it is fun to practice your skills (though not a prerequisite to attend to the dinner). The guests share their passion for all things Italian: the food, the wines, cities they visited, the language, art…anything Italian-even their mother’s meatball recipe. From time-to-time they have guest host who lend their Italian expertise.

Food is always abundant (abundanza) - Here is a look at a couple dishes being served that evening - chef will add dishes as to what looks good from the market and purveyors that day.

Wild Mushrooms with Soft Polenta
Broccoli Rabe with Beans and Sausage
Baked Whole Red Snapper with Olives and Capers
Gianduia Pot de Creme

Food and wine dinners have that same camaraderie, a shared table with other diners with a passion for food and wine. There are many restaurants that offer events where dining is communal. Let me direct you to which is national and international in its listings. If you are traveling you can become privy to these special events. There are many events posted for Baltimore – do check it out. The link is always on the side column of my post.

Italian Language & Culture Dinner
Monday, February 23, 2009 ~ 7 p.m.
Reservations required
$55 per person (all inclusive -food, wine, tax and gratuity)
Sotto Sopra Italian Restaurant
405 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Check out the event HERE

communal table photo is courtesy of Asia de Cuba in New York City

Monday, February 16, 2009

Buy wine direct - you can make a difference

Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws supports the right of every 'of legal age to drink' Marylander to purchase wine direct and have wine delivered to their door. Out of 50 states, 35 states allow residents to buy wine direct (i.e. local wine shops, wineries or on line). Maryland is one of the 15 states that hasn’t allowed direct purchase.

You are invited by the Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws to join them in Annapolis on this Wednesday, February 18th at 1:15 p.m. at the Maryland Senate Education Health and Enviromental Affairs Committee at the 2 West-Miller Senate Building at 11 Bladen Street in Annapolis to make yourself heard. Come and make a statement – be counted. Contact Jaime Raskin’s ( to say you want to attend also let them know if you want to speak.

If you can’t make it in person

If your schedule doesn’t let you attend you can e-mail to the letter below (copy and paste the information below into you own e-mail)


Senator Joan Carter Conway
Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee
2W Miller Senate Office Building
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1991
Via email to:

RE: Official Testimony for SB338

Dear Senator Conway:

I am a Maryland consumer and interested in seeing passage of direct wine shipment legislation (SB338) in our state. I am shocked that we are not able to receive wine delivered directly to our door in an era when everything else can be. Given the size of the state budget deficit, I am sure you and your fellow senators are looking for additional revenue as hard as you can. So many other states are already collecting millions of dollars of additional permit fee income and tax revenue due to direct shipment in their states, and Maryland should have its fair share of that money. Passage of SB338 benefits consumers, retailers, Maryland wineries, and it will provide more tax revenue for our state. I sincerely hope that your committee will endorse this important legislation and that we can count on your support.


Your Name
Your Address
Your Telephone Number

For more information

Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws

Facebook Cause the Mailing List

150th Dining Examiner post contest

As many of you know I also post up on I hit a milestone with my 150th post and offered up a contest, with prizes - YES, prizes. Click HERE for the link. There are photo clues and less post to go through at

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dining Dish's Tidbits - delectable bits of food news

Let me introduce my new column “Tidbits” – delectable bits of food news that I think will be of interest to the foodie in you. This will be a regular column.

Meli Patisserie & Bistro, 1636 Thames Street in Fells Point will be celebrating their one year anniversary February 23rd. They are now offering entertainment on the weekends, Saturday evenings with a DJ and Sunday night is live jazz performances. Don’t miss their brunches on Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 410-534-6354

No Travel Channel Needed: Is there a little Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain in you? I am looking to put together a special authentic Asian dinner and wondering how many of you would try “new” and interesting dishes – let me know!

Cabaret Brewed Chocolate: This is not hot chocolate this is what the ancient Mexicans brewed. Stir a teaspoon in half a cup of hot water. The label says see how you feel after 20 minutes: maybe a happy sensation of calm, maybe a gentle lift of clear energy or a glow of well-being. Compose of water-brewed whole cocoa beans and organic evaporated cane juice. I really like it and nice change from tea.

Cooking Know-How by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough - 65 Simple Cooking Techniques with over 600 Recipes and Ideas for Thousand of Meals published by Wiley will be out April, 2009. It has already been chosen as a main selection of the cook book division of Book of the Month Club. If you click HERE you can get a preview of the book at I’m hoping to get this talented duo to Baltimore for a cooking class based on the book. Many of you might recognize them from their “Ultimate” cookbook series and the demos at the Baltimore Book Festival. This I believe makes their 13th cookbook.

Aldo’s Italian Restaurant, 306 S. High Street is celebrating their 11th Anniversary on Thursday, March 19th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Enjoy Southern Italian Wines and Calabrese cuisine.

They will clear out the tables and open their dining rooms for a casual cocktail-reception-style wine tasting event--modeled after the exclusive, limited-invite, trade-only tastings that usually only wine professionals and restaurateurs are invited to!Four wine distributors will be on-hand to pour their finest Southern Italian wines. And you'll be able to purchase your favorite wines at special, discounted prices from our partner retailers.To top it off, they’ve paired these great wines with Chef Aldo's own Calabrese cuisine... Chef Aldo will be preparing his food--the hearty and flavorful food of Calabria that is served at Chef Aldo's very own home table.

TICKET LEVELS:** Friend of Aldo's **at $55 per person (all-inclusive), you'll experience Chef Aldo's award-winning cuisine and the award winning wines of Southern Italy as we celebrate our anniversary together.**Aldo's Exclusive VIP Grand Wine Cellar Experience**at $185 per person, (all-inclusive) you'll enjoy exclusive access to our VIP Wine TastingExperience in Aldo's Wine Cellar featuring rare and ultra-premium Italian wines personally selected from our cellars by Aldo's Wine Director Vincent Transparenti, including: fine vintage champagne, the wines of Angelo Gaja, Super Tuscans and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to taste Dal Forno Romano Amarone ($1,050 / btl). This exclusive event begins at 7:00pm and is limited to 36 guests, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Order tickets via Eventbrite:

Valentine's Day - Get it right !!!

I’m overwhelmed with everything being Valentine’s Day. Did you hear the commercial to take your honey to the Auto Show at the convention center for Valentine’s Day? Geeez, gals –I’m sure that tops your list for romance. There is nothing like looking at concept cars to get me in the mood. This is the same fellow who will buy the little lady a new cooler chest for his beers for her birthday.

I don’t want overpriced and half dead red roses. If you want to bring me flowers know what my favorites are and get them (birds of paradise or lilies)-show some thought. Tsk, forget the flowers; send me lobster and foie gras – that my friend makes me romantic – I'll even rub some bbq sauce on my lips before I kiss you.

And gentlemen, when she says she wants to go to the theatre it doesn’t mean she wants to see the remake of the horror film Friday the 13th. Tickets to Cirque du Soleil Kooza are ideal and for those smart fellows you'll get the BBQ lips and get to nibble on her bacon earrings.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Free cup of coffee-open your hearts & cupboards

Love a good cup of coffee? In honor of Valentine’s Day on both Friday, February 13th and Saturday, February 14th you can receive a free medium cup of coffee and help out the Maryland Food Bank. All you have to do is open your cabinet or cupboard and bring in a canned food item to any one of Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company’s three locations (Timonium, Annapolis and Frederick).

Now this is a GOOD cup of coffee because Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co. ® is an importer, roaster and retailer of fine gourmet coffees. So grab that can of string beans, peaches or potatoes -hell bring two, be a sport.
For more info:
Timonium, Maryland
9 West Aylesbury Road
Annapolis, Maryland
890 Bestgate Road

Frederick, Maryland
5209 President's Court

Monday, February 09, 2009

Inexpensive, tasty recipe for Valentine's Day

Think tender, delicious pork tenderloin baked wrapped in bacon. I was planning a dinner party for this past weekend when I stumbled over the pork tenderloins on sale at the Safeway for $2.99 pound (good through Tuesday, February 10th).

Pork should not be overcooked. I got mine out of the oven at 155 degrees and let them rest wrapped in aluminum foil which would take them up to 160 degrees. (This is the recommended temperature). I brined my pork tenderloins for about 4 hours, this is not a necessity – just something I like to do to add moisture and flavor to my meat and poultry when I can.

Roast Pork Tenderloin wrapped in Bacon

Serves 2


1 Pork Tenderloin approximately 1 to 1 ½ pounds
*Assorted Seasonings: I used lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder, pepper and some paprika
3 slices of bacon

*Season your meat with your favorite spice profile. Use dried herbs as well.

Shallow roasting pan or ½ sheet pan
Roasting rack
Instant read thermometer

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Season your pork tenderloin
3. Tuck the narrow end of the tenderloin under. Proceed to wrap the bacon around the tenderloin and put on the rack.
4. Cook for approximately 25 to 35 minutes depending on your over. This is where the instant read thermometer comes in. Put the instant read thermometer in the center of the loin to check temperature and pull the pork tenderloin out no later than 155 degrees…the temperature will rise after coming out of the oven. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting it.

Serving suggestions:

1. Mashed or oven roasted potatoes. I served mine with mashed potatoes and homemade mushroom gravy. Don’t like potatoes then rice is a cost-effective alternative.
2. Vegetable: I did a spinach sauté with garlic, butter, olive oil, onion and chicken stock. Your veggie options are wide open: string beans, cabbage, peas or a salad – I did a mixed green salad with pear, blue cheese and homemade vinaigrette.

If any of you are interested in brining the pork tenderloin, drop me a note and I’ll get you the formula for brining (

Friday, February 06, 2009

Valentine's Day dinner with cooking class bonus

For my readers who love to cook and dine out I have a great Valentine’s Day suggestion for you. Have Valentine’s Day dinner at Pierpoint Restaurant on February 14th and Executive Chef Nancy Longo will give the couple a $50 gift certificate towards her adult cooking classes. The coupon is applicable for two people taking her adult cooking classes. Chef suggests you make your reservation no later than February 12th. If one of you doesn't like to cook, than share the cooking class discount coupon with a friend.

Longo is offering 3 course pre-fix dinner with numerous selections for $55 per person including a glass of champagne (not including tax or tip). Here is her menu.

For more info:
Pierpoint Restaurant
1822 Aliceanna Street
Baltimore, MD 21231
410 675 2080

Post Chocolate Affair

The 18th Annual Chocolate Affair was a huge success. Last night I saw so many friends, the only person I didn’t see was Willy Wonka. The list of city celebs were about, most of them judging the selections of sweet and savory offerings from the city’s leading restaurants, bakeries, confectioners and caterers. I snapped a picture of Patti Neumann of, the ever effervescent Anne Boone-Simanski writer of Seen and Scene column for The Examiner and Allegra Bennett, Renovating Woman. I am always energized being around dynamic woman.

I finally got to chat with Top Chef contestant, Jill Snyder, honorary co-chair of the event. She recognized me from my Facebook photo which is exciting in itself since the photo had been photoshop’d to remove all signs of aging. I met Jill’s mom who is as beautiful as her daughter but they grow them tall from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, so much so, I felt like a munchkin from the Wizard of Oz and started humming the Lollipop Guild. (Here is your earworm for the day)

The list of the usual suspects

I saw Eddie Applefeld, Diane Macklin-Downtown Diane, Monyka Berracosa of, Brian Michael Lawrence, editor of Style Magazine or I like to call him BML, Randi Rom and Michael Birchenall of FoodService Monthly, Celeste Corsaro of Baltimore Eats, Lynn Williams of Gayot, Rob Kasper of The Baltimore Sun and Kerry Dunnington, food writer and caterer.

Well, what about the food?

I’m like Kathy Griffin, I’m on the “D” list, so I wasn’t asked to judge the food but I will give a shout out on a couple of items. Catherine Berenson’s, Cooking with Catherine habanero chocolate brownies had tongues wagging about the great taste and the heat. Bonefish Grill offered up a shrimp dish that was yummy and the line waiting to get some proved it. I went to more the savory dishes and only tasted a couple of the chocolate dishes. I enjoyed a chocolate truffle topped with sea salt from Chef’s Expressions. In all honesty, I didn’t eat much chocolate – I know that is blasphemy at the Chocolate Affair.

(Photo: Patti Neumann, Anne Boone-Simanski & Allegra Bennett)

Be Italian for an afternoon - Little Italy's Oyster Roast

You just know this is an Oyster Roast not to be missed if it’s held in Little Italy. For $17 an adult can enjoy fried oysters, ham, turkey, potato salad, cole slaw and non-alcoholic beverages – children under 10 eat for just $10. There will be a cash bar.

Gather family, friends and be Italian for an afternoon and go! Mangia tutto!

Sunday, February 8th ~ 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The Little Italy Lodge
985 East Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

For more info please call Bob Taylor at 410-803-9190 or at 443-250-2528.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Valentine's Chocolate Cooking Class

Surprise your loved one with homemade chocolate confections. Take Maja’s Viennese Kitchen’s baking class either Thursday, February 5th or Saturday, February 7th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you love great desserts, especially chocolates…don’t miss this class. I've had Maja's desserts, they are not to be missed.

What you’ll learn:

Hungarian Chocolate Crepes
Individual Black Forest Cakes
Molten Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Layered Cake
Chocolate Truffles

Cost per person: $40
Maja’s Viennese Kitchen

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The anti theft lunch bag

David Lebovitz, great pastry chef and cookbook author posted this link up on Facebook. He saw it on website. Such a clever little idea but I'm not sure how many sandwiches I have had stolen, if any. Thought you would get a smile out of this and if someone is snitching your lunch, I say go for it.

The site,, list 5 or 6 unique items that they sell and 5 % goes to hunger relief.

Here is the link for the bags:

What I'm taking to the Super Bowl party

Each year it is a decision as to what I am going to take to our friend’s Super Bowl Party. Last year I did shrimp summer rolls with Nouc Mam dipping sauce, the year before that was Chef Suvir Suran’s Mangalore Shrimp, another year was Millionaire’s Shrimp – do you see a theme and of course, I took the rock the house recipe of Shrimp in Spicy Creole Sauce.

It was time to find a new appetizer dish for the party and of course, it was going to be shrimp. I just stocked the freezer with 26-30 count IQF shrimp that were on sale for 11.98 in 2 lb bags. (Metro Grocery Stores through Super Bowl Sunday). The caveat is the dish has no place to be reheated or cooked so it must be ready to go on the table when you bring it in.

I looked around at a couple recipes; one fun one was with Bloody Mary shrimp served in Asian spoons-I have about 48 spoons so I could have done it but I would have to assemble there and probably some of the spoons would end up in the host’s trash.

My decision was to go with a recipe I found on from 2003 Bon Appetit Magazine. I am making the full amount of sauce but cutting back to 2 lbs of the 26-30 count shrimp per pound which are a bit smaller in size. The original recipe said 4 pounds with a total of 75 shrimp making the original size of the shrimp 15 to 20 count per pound. I will reduce the cooking time to about 2 ½ minutes.

Perfectly Poached Shrimp with Green Goddess Sauce
Bon Appétit June 2003
Adapted from Rozanne Gold


1 large garlic clove
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup (packed) chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup chopped green onions (white and pale green parts only)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (no fresh in the store will use 1 tablespoon dried)
8 canned anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons cup coarse kosher salt
2 pounds uncooked unpeeled jumbo shrimp (about 60)


For sauce:
Finely chop garlic in food processor. Add all remaining ingredients; blend until smooth and pale green. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer sauce to serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

For shrimp:

Fill 2 large bowls with ice water; set aside. Bring very large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1/2 cup coarse salt to boiling water; return to boil. Rub shrimp in another large bowl with remaining 1/4 cup salt. Add shrimp to boiling salted water and cook just until cooked through, about 3 minutes (water will not return to boil). Immediately drain shrimp in colander, then quickly divide between prepared bowls of ice water; cool completely. Drain well. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact. Arrange shrimp on platter. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve shrimp with sauce.

Fill 2 large bowls with ice water; set aside. Bring very large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1/2 cup coarse salt to boiling water; return to boil. Rub shrimp in another large bowl with remaining 2 tablespoons salt. Add shrimp to boiling salted water and cook just until cooked through, about 3 minutes (water will not return to boil). Immediately drain shrimp in colander, then quickly divide between prepared bowls of ice water; cool completely. Drain well. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact. Arrange shrimp on platter. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve shrimp with sauce.


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