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, January 31, 2015

Belgian Beer Festival returns for 11th year - Max's Taphouse

The 11th Annual Belgian Beer Festival is set to take place Friday, February 13th through to Monday, February 16th, 2015 at Max's Taphouse in Fell's Point, Baltimore, Maryland from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. each day, free to the public. Max's will showcase 140 different Belgian drafts and almost 200 bottles of imported specialty beers, some of which will be making their U.S. premier.

This year, Max's Taphouse will feature daily special events with Stillwater Ales, Burley Oak Brewing Company, Oxbow Brewing and Perennial Artisan Ales. These extraordinary brewers will be featuring Belgian inspired beers, some of which have been made with the assistance of Max's Taphouse staff members.

This is not just for Baltimoreans, beer lovers from around the country visit Max’s Taphouse for their Belgian Beer Festival.  Beer lovers from near and far await this annual event. Max’s Taphouse suggest that out-of-towners check their website for hotel accommodations –  Visitors and locals can enjoy an added bonus of Baltimore City’s Restaurant week kicks off Sunday, February 15th.

Max's Taphouse has also opened their beer cave to further entice Belgian beer lovers this year. Max's will sell some very rare bottles beginning Friday morning and continuing through the festival, while supplies last. Specialty bottles such as 3 Fonteinen Oude Kriek 2006, Cantillon Cuvee Des Champions 2005 and Lindemans Faro 2010 are for sale during this festival.

Watch the video and read the full story HERE.

Friday, January 30, 2015

National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day - how will you celebrate?

Investigating back as to when this holiday began Wikipedia says it was a snowy day in the 60s, Rochester, New York, where Florence Rappaport was dealing with two cranky kids because it was too cold to do anything during a blizzard.  It was then that Florence suggested lets have ice cream for breakfast.  It is said these children continued the annual celebration, sharing with friends, classmates even through college.  Her grandchildren came on the scene, spreading the National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day celebration during their travels and now there is even an International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.  

National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is celebrated the first Saturday in February, this year February 7th.  One Baltimore ice cream parlor is telling their customers to roll out of bed and come to The Charmery in their favorite pajamas; in fact, there will be a PJ contest.  Doors are opening earlier that day, at 10 am through 1 pm when guests can enjoy specialty flavors created with morning breakfast, Saturday morning cartoons and homage to the college days of pizza for breakfast:

  • Spro Coffee
  • Cornflakes and Milk
  • Honey Golden Grahams
  • The Smurfs
  • Thunder Cats (with mini eye of Thunderas throughout)
  • Flintstones
  • Cold Pizza

 Check your city for National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day celebrations. If you are in Baltimore, you just might find me in my onesies at The Charmery , 801 W. 36th in Hampden  @TheCharmery Facebook: - I’m thinking a dip of Cold Pizza and Honey Golden Grahams with their Belgian Liege Waffle.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Captain Larry's annual chili cook-off

Do you like chili? Do you make a great chili?  Captain Larry’s moves forward Saturday, February 7, 2015 with their 8th annual chili cook off with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Dogs XL Rescue.  If you like eating chili, there is an $8 tasting fee and if you wear a Dogs XL t-shirt, enjoy happy hour pricing during the tasting which starts at 4 p.m. 

If you want to enter your chili into the contest there are some simple rules:

  • Show up at Larry’s at 3:30 p.m. with your chili in a crockpot
  • Bring signage to promote your chili for the voting
  • The Captain will provide electric, serving bowls and utensils
  • It is open voting by everyone that pays admission ($8)
  • Judging starts at 4 p.m. – Winners announced at 7 p.m.
  • Prizes will be award for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place

Chili recipes are not limited; it looks like you can go vegan to carnivore, beans or no beans.  Just for the heck of it I searched for chili recipe at Saveur magazine’s website  - they offered up 15 irresistible recipes: Rye’s Red Chili, Triple Chocolate Beef & Bean Chili, State Fair Chili, Lady Bird Johnson’s Pedernales Chili and more.    

I’m not sure what the prizes are but on a late afternoon in February  warm chili sounds like reward enough.  A smart chili maker will invite friends and family to help booster their votes.   

601 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, Maryland 21230 (410) 727-4799
Facebook – Twitter @captainlarrys

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Langermanns in Canton gets a jump on Restaurant Week

Looking for great dining bargains? What do you do in-between the specially priced pre-fixe lunches and dinners with the end of Baltimore County Restaurant Week that just ended January 24th and Baltimore City’s Restaurant Week, now called Absolutely Febulous, that kicks off February, 15th?  Langermann’s in Canton decided to get a jump on that promotion by offering a very special week that kicked off Friday, Jaunuary 23rd and runs through Sunday, February 1st.
Chef Neal Langermann has designed a delicious 2-course lunch menu for $15.15 per person and a 3-course supper menu for $30.15 per person. “We look at Restaurant Week as a special event for our guests. We changed things up a bit and included a little something for everyone—from chicken to pasta and steak. Of course we also have some of our most popular dishes such as Creole-spiced shrimp, our famous heirloom grits in bacon butter sauce and sweet potato cheesecake,” said Chef Langermann.

Langermann’s specializes in fresh, Southern inspired, Lowcountry (land along the coast of South Carolina with Charleston lying at the heart) dishes prepared by award winning Executive Chef/Partner, Neal Langermann – a seven time James Beard Guest Chef at the prestigious James Beard House in NYC. Prior to opening Langermann’s, Chef Neal received numerous accolades as Executive Chef at the world renowned Georgia Brown’s in Washington D.C and was voted Chef of the Year there in 2001. Langermann’s is located at 2400 Boston Street in The Can Company, Baltimore, Maryland 21224. For reservations call 410-534-3287. For more information, go to

Friday, January 23, 2015

Brunch in Baltimore

Wow, has this segment of the restaurant industry grown in Baltimore, it seems every restaurant and bar is offering brunch nowadays. Usually brunch is on Saturday and/ or Sundays, but there are other restaurants that kick off brunch on Fridays like Hampden’s The Food Market.  You can choose from ala carte or buffet, libations by the glass or pitcher, singles or bottomless- each place puts their own twist on brunch.  My brunches of late have been Nickel Taphouse in Mt. Washington Village, Mari Luna Latin Grille in Pikesville, and Wit & Wisdom located in the Four Seasons Hotel/Harbor East.  

Check out the full story on brunch in Baltimore and the slideshow HERE.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Restaurant Impossible's Chef Robert Irvine LIVE at the Hippodrome

When is a Friday 13th not bad luck? It is when you can grab tickets to the Food Network star of Restaurant Impossible’s Chef Robert Irvine LIVE show at the Hippodrome on Friday, February 13th. Irvine combines his chef and soldier know-how on stage interacting with numerous attendees, with challenges from a digital challenge wheel that they spin which determines time limits to ingredients to the challenge itself. Don’t expect a scripted show or a cooking demonstration – it is much more.

Anything and everything can (and likely will) happen! Depending on the challenges chosen for the evening, up to 30 people may be called on stage to participate! Audience members can be part of the show with social media: Twitter and Facebook. Posts are collected prior to and during intermission and incorporated in the show. New video footage will be interjected into the show with insights into who Robert Irvine is from his military background and getting on the Food Network.

Before you read my interview with Chef Irvine, let me say that a pair of tickets to his Baltimore show can be won by linking this story on Twitter with the hashtag #ChefRobertIrvineinBmore. We will draw the winning Tweeter’s name January 25, 2015. Read the complete interview HERE. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Family dining at Voltgaggio's Family Meal - concept expands

Among the numerous restaurant concepts that Chef Bryan Voltaggio and his partner, Hilda Staples, have opened, Family Meal focuses on a place where families can enjoy time together, around the table sharing food and conversation at a pocketbook friendly price. The Culinary Institute of America graduate, Chef Charlie Palmer protégé, James Beard Award nominee and Top Chef runner up, Chef Voltaggio’s culinary acumen can be seen on every plate at Family Meal reflecting his rendition of American diner fare.

At the beginning of January, the second Family Meal restaurant was opened in Baltimore at the end of Pier 4 at the harbor and in close proximity to the National Aquarium.  The first Family Meal was opened in Frederick, Maryland – home for both Staples and Voltaggio and where the initial partnership started at their restaurant VOLT. With a strong belief in the Family Meal concept, the two are expanding beyond the Maryland and Washington DC market into Ashburn and Richmond Virginia.  

Both Hilda Staples and Chef Voltaggio had time to chat for the Dining Dish radio program on Baltimore Internet Radio.  The vivacious Hilda gladly shares how she and a complete stranger, Chef Bryan Voltaggio, went into business.  Chef Voltaggio on why “farm-to-table” could be waning and why. Bryan was very articulate about Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry initiative; he waxed passionately about how no child should go hungry. In 2015 Maryland legislation is geared to have breakfast, lunch and dinner for those school children without and a summer program to keep them fed with nutritious meals.  

Watch the slideshow, read the full story HERE

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sooey! Cunningham's Cafe is having a pork dinner

Cunningham’s Café is kicking off their supper series with a pork tasting, a Cunningham Farms pork tasting on Saturday, January 24th at 6:30 p.m.  Pork, the other white meat, is more than just bacon and Cunningham’s Executive Chef Jason Lear and Bagby Group Chef Chris Becker and Angie Law, their Executive Pastry Chef will be creating a five course dinner featuring their own heritage breed pork from Cunningham Farms in Monkton, Maryland.

As the world famous culinarian James Beard said, “If I had to narrow my choice of meats down to one for the rest of my life, I am quite certain that meat would be pork.” The ticket price is priced right for a great Saturday evening out, only $49 per person, excludes tax and gratuity but includes one alcoholic drink, the food and valet parking. Additional alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase. Be advised that seating for this dinner is very limited.  Stop in the café to purchase your tickets or call them at 410-339-7750. 

Heritage breed pigs can be traced back to a time before industrial farming and were kept out in the pasture and foraged during all kinds of weather. Time and industrial farming diminished these heartier breeds of hogs.  Some farmers held on to these breeds so they didn’t become extinct and we now call these numerous breeds “heritage.”

Cunningham’s Café – 1 Olympic Place – Towson, MD 21204  Facebook  Twitter& Instagram: @CunninghamsCafe

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Morty's Delicatessen open in Maryland Live! Casino

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 14th is National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day. Can’t you just taste that warm pastrami on fresh cut Jewish rye with a glob of yellow mustard and a slice of half-done Kosher pickle on the side. Maybe splurge for a cup of steaming hot matzo ball or crab soup on a cold winter day.

Maryland Live! Casino welcomes its newest restaurant offering to the casino floor – Morty’s Delicatessen. Now open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining, Morty’s features a menu of classic, made-to-order deli sandwiches, served with a selection of homemade soups, sides, salads and desserts.

To celebrate the grand opening, Maryland Live! Will give away 500 FREE Pastrami Sandwiches through a Facebook offer on January 14, 2015, which is “National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day.” To claim a free Pastrami sandwich, visit the Maryland Live! Facebook page on January 14 to claim an offer valid through January 18, 2015. While supplies last.

The 84-seat restaurant, which was designed to offer a traditional, New York-style deli experience, features a selection of classic Core Sandwiches, such as Corned Beef, Roast Beef, Brisket, Ham, Salami, and of course, Pastrami.

 Morty’s Delicatessen is located on the casino floor, next to the Live! Buffet. Guests must be 21 to enter. For information, visit  Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday, 6:00am–3:00am; Friday, 6:00am–4:00am; Saturday, 7:00am–4:00am; and Sunday, 7:00am–3:00am. Breakfast will be served until 11:00am each day.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Chef Cyrus Keefer’s Pop-Up sneak peek dinner at Sotto Sopra

Chef Cyrus Keefer, who has cooked twice at the James Beard House in New York City and featured by for his culinary prowess, has a large following in Baltimore and beyond. Formerly the chef at Fork & Wrench, Birroteca and other regional restaurants, Keefer wants a place that is truly his own  – hence the pop-up dinner for Keefer’s Pique Restaurant will be hosted at Sotto Sopra Restaurant at 405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD.  This is a one evening event with limited seating on Thursday, January 22 with the reception and silent auction starting at 6:30 p.m. with passed hors d’oeuvres and adult libations.  At 7 p.m. the five course tasting styled seated dinner will follow; a sampling of what restaurant goers can expect at Pique when it is opened. Guests will receive packets on the new concept restaurant and ask to donate to their Kickstarter campaign.     

Chef Cyrus Keefer is looking to open his own restaurant in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood at 846 W. 36th Street and he is looking for funding through Kickstarter to raise the dollars necessary.  The restaurant is called Pique, a restaurant committed to seasonal ingredients with an eye to Asian and French cuisine. It will be a 25 seat micro restaurant with dining at the tables as well as the exhibition kitchen counter. Initially Pique will start with dinner service Tuesday through Sunday. They will be BYOB and looking to expand to licensing for beer and wine and numerous special events.

The name of the restaurant Pique (pronounced PEE cue), is actually named after an onion pique, a method of cooking where one pins bay leaves with whole cloves to onions although the other definition of pique, to excite, is as relevant never knowing what else is up Chef Keefer’s culinary sleeves. 

What:  Chef Cyrus Keefer’s Pique Restaurant Pop-Up & silent auction at Sotto Sopra Restaurant
Reception of passed hors d’oeuvres /wine and silent auction plus a seated 5-course Pique tasting menu – Cash Bar

When:  Thursday, January 22, 2015
                6:30 p.m. Reception & Silent Auction
                7:00 p.m. Seated Dinner

Where:   Sotto Sopra Restaurant (Host restaurant)
                405 N. Charles Street
                Baltimore, MD  21201 – valet parking available

Menu:   Reception / Silent Auction
Passed hors d’oeuvres and adult libations

Seated Dinner
·         pork belly dumplings+ whiskey vinegar/ dashi crema
·         insalada bianca + cippolini onion, pickled mushrooms, cauliflower, tart Apple
·         tender octopus+ tomatillos+ green curry+ coconut poached potato
·         egg custard+ marinated tomato & olives, smoked olive oil
·         duck pot au feu + roast turnips, black garlic, ginger, Thai basil

Cash bar

Tickets:  $75 per person includes reception, seated dinner, tax and gratuity - does not include beverages  during the dinner / cash bar. Guests must be 21 or older to attend. Valet parking will be available

Kickstarter:  Readers can donate at Pique’s Kickstarter Page

Pique Social Media:  Facebook  Twitter @PIQUEBaltimore


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