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, March 29, 2008

I Can Hardly Move

Vince Lupo, the intrepid photographer on my cookbook YUM and his lovely wife Mary came over for dinner. That is all Vince wanted as payment for some very nice professional shots he did of me. Here is a photographer who works for the leading magazines for fashion, food and architecture. So I wanted to make this a WOW dinner and I succeeded but I can hardly move.
(here are two of the pictures taken by Vince Lupo)

I started cooking yesterday. I did the brisket Italian style, the key lime cheesecake, cleaned the lobster for the lobster summer rolls, and made the lemon basil sorbetto. Oh, almost forgot I made the lentil and sausage soup.

Thinking I’m ahead of the game I did relax a bit in the a.m. and headed to the kitchen where I sliced the brisket. I did fancy oven roasted baby potatoes and broiled the asparagus. I made the dipping sauce for the summer rolls, did the Buddakan's Tuna Tea Eggs, put out the pate. Pulled out the mandoline to thinly slice the mango to top the cheesecake. Whipped the cream to top the cheesecake…oye!

Here is the final menu:

Appetizers in the family room

Pate, cornichons and French bread
Lobster and Mango Summer Rolls with Nuoc Mam dipping sauce
Buddakan Eggs with Raw Tuna topping

Sliced tomato, cucumbers, carrots, black olives, feta cheese with olive oil and benimosu vinegar

Sausage and Lentil Soup

Lemon Basil Sorbetto

Italian Style Brisket
Oven Roasted Potatoes
7 minute Asparagus


Key Lime Cheesecake topped with Mango Ribbons

It was a lot of food but people went for 2nds. I have about 2 hours of clean up in the morning. I’ll post the links tomorrow to some of the recipes.

Ciao Ciao

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Think Twice About Adding Milk to your Cornflakes

Two sisters from Chesapeake, Virginia found a corn flake shaped liked the state of Illinois and put it up for auction on E-Bay and eventually earned $1,350. I've eaten a couple of steaks the shape of Alabama or was it Montana - who knew?

Read more CLICK HERE:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lunch at Sauté

Today I journeyed to Canton for lunch to meet with restaurant marketer, Merritt Dworkin of Chameleon Consulting (410 258 9658 – I met Merritt about 6 years ago when I worked at Hoang’s restaurant in Canton. Some of you might know her name from the Hard Rock Café and Red Star Restaurant.

Merritt offered up a choice of restaurants for luncheon, one being the new Sauté and I thought it would be great to check it out for lunch. Also it helps with a list of recommended restaurants in Baltimore I am compiling for Sally’s Place (which get 6 million hits a year) Sauté is managed by Tony Guarino.

The place is lovely but my little point and shoot doesn’t do it justice. Along the bar side and in the dining room are these beautifully mullioned windows that fold open in good weather for a real European feel. Tony advised they will be offering al fresco dining once the weather permits. I’m not usually impressed with ladies rooms but they didn’t cut cost here where some might – it was very nice.

The original chef has come and gone and now Chef Mark Suliga, formerly of Brewers Hill Pub takes the top toque position. The lunch menu has the same lite fare, salads, and pizza offerings as the dinner menu. We kicked off our munch with a spicy Thai Shrimp, which were quite large accompanied with a chopped selection of hearts of palm and shrimp, add the avocado, blood orange and fried, yummy little toast and this plate is a hit.

I opted for the Serrano Ham Pizza with sun-dried tomato pesto, arugula and sherry vinaigrette. It had great flavor but the outer edges of the Serrano ham slices were a bit tough. The crust was thin and crispy the way I like it. Merritt ordered the Winter Panzanella Salad with butternut squash, pear, Asiago cheese, pumpernickel with a balsamic dressing. She added rare tuna to the salad.

Merritt and I discussed our careers and businesses and how we can help each other but in general it was a great excuse to have a nice afternoon out.

The dinner menu is pretty straight forward: Pan Roasted Delmonico, Tuna, Grilled Trout, Meatloaf, Seafood Bouillabaisse, Crab Cakes, Slow Roasted Pork Loin, Smoked Duck Breast and Duck Leg Confit, Pan Roasted Chicken, Porcini Encrusted Diver Scallops and Filet Mignon – something for everyone. They are running happy hour specials from 4 to 7 p.m.

Our lovely and very charming waitress informed us they have been pretty packed every night so definitely call for a reservation. They are offering valet parking on Friday and Saturday nights.

Dining Dish says: Check this place out!

2844 Hudson Street
Baltimore, MD 21224
Saute in Baltimore

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Biting the Hand that Fed You

Just looking over some food news only to discover that Chef Marco Pierre White, London's youngest chef to receive 3 Michelin's stars during his career attacks the Michelin Guide as being outdated and over commercialized. Read here

Learn more about Chef Marco Pierre White in his book "Devil in the Kitchen" or watch the video.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One Egg

Doesn't it figure when it comes down to wrapping up all these recipes for the holiday I'm missing one egg, well one yolk for lemon curd for the Olive Oil Cake. It was the egg that was in the carton that was broken. Neighbors are away, so no borrowing - do I dare send the husband to the grocery store on Easter or try to cut the recipe down?

Happy Easter!

I'm having my father-in-law and brother-in-law over for the holiday. With them simple is better but I still go a bit crazy. It's just about 7 a.m. and I'm heading to the kitchen to start cooking. We're heading out at 2 p.m. to a gathering then pick up the relatives to bring them back to the house.

Here's the menu for today:

Honey and Thyme Brined Turkey Breast
Mashed Potatoes
Haricot Verts with Shiitakes
Cranberry sauce
1/2 done pickled tomatoes (that is for me - no one else will eat that).
Ham cooked with mango and onions glazed with fruit nectar
Pumpkin Pie (baked already)
Olive Oil Cake (baked already) - still need to do the lemon curd

Yes all this for 4 people but plenty to send home with the father-in-law.

So I'm off and running...if you need me you know where I'll be all morning.

Happy Holidays

Friday, March 21, 2008

You Guys - Update #2

Again, on TV, the contestant on Do You Know the Lyrics uttered the annoying phrase.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mine Yours Ours Salud - Enjoy

Mio Restaurant in midtown DC at 1100 Vermont Avenue N.W. had a little get together on St Patrick’s Day for media and public relations people to meet their new chef/partner, Stefano Frigerio. You might recognize Stefano’s name as the executive sous chef who worked closely with Chef Fabio Trabocchi at the award winning Maestro Restaurant in McLean. Stefano recently opened Osteria Cinghiale in Baltimore. You might recognize his name yet again from Riccardo and Monika Bosio 's Sotto Sopra Restaurant blog post, Dinner at Dara's where Stefano and his lovely wife, public relations maven, Dusty Lockhart of Three Lockharts Communications had dinner at my house.

Dusty Lockhart & Executive Chef Stefano Frigerio

I asked my husband if he wanted to take off early from work and attend this little gathering and he seemed up for the road trip to Washington DC. It really isn’t far, it is just traffic can be a bear between Baltimore and DC. It seemed no one was on the road and we made the 50 miles into downtown DC quickly putting us ahead of schedule and the first to arrive.

Normally I don’t like to be the first one at a gathering but this allowed me quality time to talk with Dusty, well with child at the moment, Stefano, and the managing partner, Manuel Iguina (no slouch in the restaurant business). I got a private tour of the kitchen: the pastry section that doubles for upper level party room’s kitchen, a peek into walk-in where I spied some beef hooked and aging, and finally through to the open kitchen area where Nicholas Stefanelli, the sous chef who worked with Stefano at Maestro, was getting our hors d’oeuvres ready.

Guests started to arrive. I played catch up with Acqua Birchenall, exuberant over her art exhibit in New York city running through March. Her husband Michael and regional publicist for Loew’s Hotels, Ellen Gale arrived shortly thereafter. Michael is the editor of FoodService Monthy. Also at the party was the DC restaurant publicist and gossip columnist, Linda Roth, Alexandra Greeley with Gayot, Slow Food DC, and Eating Asia, Amber Pfau of PFAU Communications, Leigh Lambert of the Washington Post Food Section, and Clarice Lelle, former pastry chef at Maestro.

The real stars of the room were the food, the chef and the proprietor. We sampled Beef Carpaccio with Quail Egg, the Foie-Gras Ballotine with Honey-Huckleberry Sauce on Corn Bread, the Serrano Ham on the Parmesan Crisp with a Balsamic Reduction, Crawfish Bisque, Stuffed Fried Olives, and much more.

Beef Carpaccio

The husband, mine of course, did very well mingling and socializing – he gave me room to roam and network. Usually I get a thumb sideways from him suggesting we leave but not this evening. The thumb for the evening is up, a thumbs up for MIO from this foodie and I look forward to going back for dinner. Check out the menu and put it on your restaurant list. It’s has a stylish atmosphere, great food, easy to find, and $7 valet parking after 5:30 p.m.

So in keeping with MIO’s tag line: Mine, Yours, Ours, Salud – let me add Enjoy.
Mio in Washington

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You Guys - Update #1

Okay, it has been more then one day ...a day and a half. Here is my tally on "you guys" occurrences in the past day and a half.

1. A young chef doing a demonstration for high school culinary students and called them you guys. I brought up my "you guys" language police tracking and he still unconsciously said it two more times. He is trying to switch to "you all".

2. Today in all places and by what might be one of the most influential young ladies of our time
Miley Cyrus (Hanna Montana) greeted an audience of screaming 7-9 year old girls on the Oprah Show and called them, you guessed it "you guys".

I would love to hear where you are hearing this hackneyed phrase - send me your comments.

Monday, March 17, 2008

You Guys

I have become overwhelmed with the usage of "you guys" in our every day language. How lazy have we gotten in our language skills not to address and say ladies, people or call people by their given name. With all the texting going on and infiltrating our daily language it will soon be UG.

I'm not the language police but I find being called "you guys" annoying, thrown in a collective group of non-descripts. Go to any chain restaurant, and I'm sure non chains as well and the waitron will be at your table asking "Have you guys decided what you want?"

In researching this a bit it seems "you guys" started around 2000 at the "turn of the century" and now invades every facet of life. Watch you local news reporter's interviews. I won't even start the feminist rant here - I just ignore people who call me you guys.

Join the "stop you guys" bandwagon. I'm going to try to post a daily count for the next week on how many times I hear "you guys" and in what situation. Why? Just to prove this phrase has invade our everyday life. For those subscribers, please feel free to post your own counts in the comments. Understand I work from home and under most circumstances have little interaction with others on a daily basis so this should be interesting.

What's worse about this whole "you guys" situation is that it has slipped out of my mouth. Has it slipped out of yours? Are you willing to help correct this curse upon humanity?

Catch "you guys" later!

When I Cook, I Cook

For the first time in ages I didn’t feel I had to work throughout the weekend. No gun-to- the-head deadlines for clients. I perused my foodie magazines, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Food and Wine and saw some interesting recipes. I tend to fold a corner of the page down when I see an enticing recipe. Also for some inexplicable reason I had the urge to bake. I usually hate baking and considering my sugar levels I shouldn’t bake.

Two trips to the food store for ingredients and I was all set to go. I started with a white cake recipe with hints of lemon with a milk chocolate ganache from one of Nick Malgieri’s cookbooks. I followed it letter perfect but my ganache didn’t want to set. I still iced the cake and ended up throwing half the ganache away. It finally did set up. I liked it wasn’t too sweet. Next I spied a dried cherry, chocolate chip and pistachio biscotti from the same book and did that as well. It turned out just fine but still love the one biscotti recipe I do with dried cranberries and pistachios.

Wow was my kitchen looking like a mess. I do clean as I go but certain things are done when all the cooking is done.

I proceeded to make an orange curd for chocolate covered grapes from Food and Wine. I never got to the grapes. I made homemade pasta and used a mushroom and pistachio recipe from that same issue. The pasta was a pain in the ass. I should have used a bit more flour and the eggs broke loose from the flour well and all over the counter. The pasta was taking a bit longer to dry. Next time I’ll do it in the food processor but I was feeling more like mother earth and wanted to do the pasta by hand.

Slicing a pound of mushrooms thinly took some time but with my Santoku in hand I was pretty fast, not Yan Can Cook fast, but definitely fast. The mushroom and pistachio recipe is a keeper. I left the pots and pans for the next morning.

Today I spent about an hour cleaning the kitchen and then proceeded to finish the grape recipe which was quite simple. Chopped white chocolate and a little veggie oil and into the microwave, whisk, let cool and pour over stemmed grapes, stir, hit with some confectioners sugar to separate the grapes and voila…dessert. That recipe is a keeper as well but I think it will be better in the summer when some chilled fruit and orange curd will be more refreshing.

Meantime, come over we have cake, biscotti and white chocolate grapes with orange curd. The mushroom pasta is way gone…sorry.

I just realized it's after midnight, hence the green font for St. Patrick's day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Green Wine ( & possibly some ham)

Just in from David Callum at the wonderful Tilghman Island Inn - Green wine just in time for St. Patricks Day.

St. Patricks Green Wine Weekend. Come celebrate the return of the Osprey and the first daffodils. Sample food and wines that come from sustainable Farms and Wineries. Weekend Packages for this event are available for $590-$690 per couple, included in this package is 2 night lodging, continental breakfast each morning, a 5 course tasting dinner for 2 people one of your 2 night stay and a Champagne Brunch on Sunday with a Late 1pm checkout. More media has focused attention on reducing the human impact on the environment.

The Inn has been concerned about using products from sustainable sources for many years. We have used locally grown produce from organic and sustainable farms for more than 12 years and have had organic and sustainable wines on our list since the beginning. We have had a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 1996 and we won Sante' Magazines Best Mid Atlantic Restaurant in 2005 for the sustainable category.

One of our major suppliers, Dogwood Farms won the United States Department of Agriculture Best Small Farm in the United States in 2002. Sustainable practices and Bay Friendly land management was part of the criteria. The number of certified organic and sustainable wines have increased dramatically. Many experts feel that not only reduces the environmental impact but has improved the quality of the wines. (see Wine Spectator June 30, 2007)I have a copy of this article and can email it on request. Email me at

Click HERE for more information

Sous Chefs Wanted

Sous Chefs Wanted

Heck, the restaurant business is a tough business – tougher than most. If you think your energy bills are high you should see them for a restaurant. They don’t have the option of cutting back on heat, the amount of gas or lighting-the customer must be comfortable. Restaurants seem to get hit first from all ends, less disposable income, less dining out. These difficulties are only the tip of the food service iceberg, and I’m not talking lettuce.

Let’s look at food costs, transportation costs to get the food to the restaurant and still the restaurateur sucks it up and tries to hold the line on the menu items. But the real problem in restaurants is finding experienced staff that stays, that shows up on time and doesn’t disappear on a Saturday night (and trust me many just decide not to come in and not to call).

With all that said I am posting two sous chef opportunities at two different restaurants in hopes you will pass this along to some talented, experienced and reliable sous chef that you might know.

Baltimore, Maryland

Sotto Sopra Restaurant at 405 N. Charles Street in downtown-Mt.Vernon section of Baltimore is searching for an experience, talented and hard working sous chef who loves the heat behind the line. Sotto Sopra is one of the cities finest restaurants and their cuisine is contemporary Italian. If you get stoked when all the burners are going and you love to work with quality products send your resume to Wendy Holt at or call 410-600-5511.

Marietta, Pennsylvania

New Day Café recently opened in Marietta Pennsylvania midway between York and Lancaster. Owner and executive chef is Peter Belz; call him at 717 676 0074 for greater details. It is located at 132 W. Market St. I think there are some great opportunities to be had here as well.

I love eating out and I love the passion of all restaurateurs so this is my way of trying to give back. Spread the “job” word and support your independent restaurateurs.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Did Someone Say Raw Bar

What makes one eat their first raw oyster? It definitely doesn't have eye appeal. For me it was my dad who seemed to relish the bivalves and if it was good enough for dad it had to taste good. I remember trying the oysters time-and-time again and eventually learned to love them. Poor dad from then on he had to share.

This was a discussion last night at our table during the women chef's dinner at Abracrombie's Restaurant (new owners -new chefs). My table mates and I were discussing what makes you eat the things that you do. We talked how food is subjective in what you have eaten growing up. If your mother always overcooked steak then you like well done steak or your mom's matzo balls where soft and fluffy that is what you expect and the hard matzo balls were terrible.

What has brought on this rant is an email from VIN Restaurant in Towson. They are kicking off a raw bar come March 7th with oysters, shrimp, lobster, mussels, and more. Also on March 13th they will be doing a New England Clam Bake and evening of shellfish and New England regional beers...they are selling tickets now. Vin in Towson

I also have to get to Ryleigh's Oyster in South Baltimore. I think the best in oysters has been at two of the Women Chef and Restaurateurs conferences - one in Seattle and the other in Newport, Rhode Island - all you could eat of the regional oysters. I never thought I could eat enough oysters but I did both times.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

And the Winners Are - Maryland ProStart Competitions

The Carver Center ProStart High School team competed against 24 teams in the state competition yesterday and took home the 2nd place prize. The management team from Carver Center took home first place. I am proud of the students that I mentored for culinary competition and want to publicly state how rewarding this experience has been. A big congratulations to their teacher Bette Mullins for a job well done.

How can I forget my team - you should be SO proud, you honored yourselves, your family and your school. Thank you for accepting me as your mentor and embracing the new flavors I brought to the table.


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