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.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cool Soup

The first item that has caught my eye at the International Fancy Food Show is the Cool Soup. I saw it yesterday when I was checking out tsp spices booth where I will be working for the next couple of days. Both booths are in the New organic and natural food section.

All natural soups with 3 flavors at the moment: Rich Vegetable Gazpacho, Carrot Bisque and Creamy Mango Spice. All natural, healthy tasty alternative for the fast life style - pop a straw and drink your Cool Soups.

Finding lots of info on products from South Africa that I want to review. I have to hit the show floor now. I have a meeting at the Chilean pavilion with their chef. There is a unique spice I haven't heard of before and will post when I can ...probably from the MAC store tonight.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Big Apple - Day One

Hello from the MAC store on 5th Avenue.  I'm psyched for the Fancy Food Show that starts tomorrow.  I hope to do some real time blogging if I can get to the computers in the press room.

Unfortunately I left my camera home and I had a tremendous dinner with my friend Suzanne Fass and her hubby at Sheridan Square Restaurant (only open about 4 weeks)  Suzanne used to work with the chef.  So at the end of the meal chef sent out 5 desserts and glasses of port.  A delightful evening.  I will blog more probably when I get home as to the meal.

The train ride was uneventful as was my stop by at the Javitts Center where I visited with tsp spices, Vanns Spices and the Carribean trade booths.  

My body is in sugar overload.  I have to study the pricing on tsp spices to be prepped to work their booth tomorrow.

That's it now kiddos....time to head back to the apt.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mayor Into The Lion's Den

There I was at a happy hour get together tonight of the local press, a great number of them from The Sun. It has been a rough week at The Sun with approximately 100 layoffs and buyouts. No one is really feeling secure about their jobs-not a good week there. Talking about having a bad week, let’s take a look at Mayor Dixon – not a good week there either. Now put them all together.

Talk about a strong, savvy politico, Mayor Dixon walked into the proverbial lion's den of a bar full of reporters who are drinking at a media happy hour gathering. This was truly a Kodak moment and I got it.

I got to chat a little bit with her honor, the Mayor. Being the non-politico and the Dining Examiner, I asked her about favorite foods and restaurants. I can say that the mayor enjoys grilled fish, seems to have a penchant for Italian food, and enjoys a good mojito though she was sipping white wine.

It Left a Sour Taste

The gathering was at Ixia and I would think that some arrangements would have been made for discounts on the drinks for this group of about 30 but no, and no one behind the bar or hosting was savvy to put discounts together. I had two cocktails and with tip was $30. It’s a beautiful venue, and my yuzu based cocktail was delicious but it soured when I got the bill.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Real-Time Blogging with Gourmet Magazine

This is a new experiment, I'm reading the just delivered July's Gourmet Magazine and I will post random thoughts while I peruse the magazine. I should be okay looking at the food photos, I just ate a salami sandwich and Kosher pickle to help deflect immense hunger.

The cover picture is a delicious looking steak with roasted baby and pear tomatoes. Looked so good I went to the freezer to see how many New York strips steaks I have left. Only one and two of us- damn.

The Wolf ad had two pages, one a beautiful layout of mollusks. I tried to guess all the names which are on the page but aren’t real visible. Got about 60% correct

Great picture of Martin Yan, from the very early food cooking show Yan Can Cook promoting Merrill Lynch.

The contents page photo is eye-catching of a house on a river. Content page two had a recipe for Sweet Ricotta Pudding with Roasted Grapes, looks way good and quite simple; I’ve folded the edge over to remember the page.

Ooh no, not Ms Perky, the Regis Philbin sidekick, who is promoting the heck out of Electrolux appliance. I doubt she ever touches a sauté pan in real life.

Still on table of contents page 3 and they are featuring the new Gourmet Test Kitchen videos (here’s the link

There’s a picture of Emeril promoting his pots and pans. I can’t remember where I read a story recently where someone tested all the celeb pots and pans - Emeril’s came out favorably.

Okay, I’m at the Letters and You Asked for It Column. Someone wanted a recipe for sweet-and-sour crab salad. As I look at it the dressing is unseasoned rice wine vinegar, sugar, garlic and chili pepper flakes. They call for crab legs, cabbage, cucumbers and fresh herbs…didn’t bother to turn down the corner of the page.

Ooooh, ooh – yummy photo of a burger with a poached egg, beets and slice pineapple….have to skip to page 36 to read the recipe. It is called an Aussie Berger. I have folded the corner down on this. The salami sandwich isn’t cutting it now.

A blurb on the New classic duck fat fries. I wonder what they would be like if fried in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)?

Skipping the review of a restaurant in LA – won’t be in LA anytime soon unless I do a stage (pronounced staw aage) internship with a food styling company. Jan and Michael Stern’s review in the Roadfood column I will read that another day. More restaurant listing for LA, Culver City….pass.

Wine column---pass.

Promo for the Gourmet Institute in New York – October 17-19th. If I had the extra dollars, would love to do this but alas I needed two crowns and filling. Hint, hint Gourmet, treat me and I will live blog the event.

Good Living Cooking column – Book review, Beyond the Great Wall by the award winning cookbook authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I just received an article from the Washington Post about the Eye-Watering Taste of Bhutan’s Unique Cuisine being featured at the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival. It seems Yak is featured in both. Who is raising yaks in Baltimore? Anyone know? Buy local!

Debunking the don’t wash your mushrooms…Gourmet says go ahead and wash them – doesn’t matter, they are about 90 percent water to begin with.

There is a story on M.F.K. Fisher, inspired by what would be her 100th birthday in August. Postpone reading it for now.

Whoa Hoo – Goat, the next new red meat. Pass on that story-I’ll get back to it.

The science column----The Corrections is all about how everything we know about taste is wrong. Great column, I read the whole thing and will come back to it again. Corner of the page is folded.

(Ice Tea Break)

Another picture of steak…a definite run to the food store after I pick up my prescription.

Quick look at the Quick Kitchen column …nothing eye catching. Picture of the Zucchini-Basil soup looks good, simple preparation though I’m not sure I will fix it.

Interesting recipe, Cantaloupe with Coulis, you take the seeds and some juicy center section of the cantaloupe, using a blender, combine them with sugar and lemon juice and strain it. Serve it with the cut melon slices. Yup, that edge of the page is turned under.

Gourmet Entertains…lost me with the pictures of the skinny young folk in the bathing suits.

Gourmet Travels…ooh, an article by my namesake, Dara Moskowitz, who lives in Minnesota. I’ll come back to this later.

A story on Beijing and the Olympics. I have to come back to this. I’m falling behind in real work.

There is a great list of recipes using fresh herbs. Excuse me, ripping out that annoying cardboard piece for Gourmet subscriptions. Five chefs mention their favorite herbs. Okay, one is David Myers from Sona in LA, he donated a recipe for my cookbook compilation. Damn, his favorite herb is shiso. Shiso is impossible to find here in Baltimore. Do any of you know where to find it? I can’t find it at the Asian stores. Jerry Traunfeld, the chef from the Herbfarm near Seattle had to bring it in with him when promoting his cookbook. There was none to be found here and I needed it when styling for him.

On the article called Big Love, about our summer love with tomatoes. Here are the recipe titles: Tomato Bread Pudding, Tomato Risotto, Heirloom-Tomato Terrine, Sherry Tomato Granita (folding corner down), Porterhouse Steak with Pan-Seared tomatoes (cover shot I talked about earlier.), Green-Tomato and Honeydew Melon Salad.

Cool, cool tomatoes: a market guide of photos of the different types of tomatoes.

The grand finale, The Last Touch column on at final page, I love this column; they pick a single ingredient and list recipes. They discontinued this column at one point and so many people complained, it was added back. OK, this month it is parsley.

It’s a wrap. Go buy your own July copy of Gourmet and let me know what you like. Off to the food store. You guessed it, steak for dinner.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Edible Enlightenment - Part 1

When Nyghia and Phoung Hoang introduced me to Vietnamese food, it was truly a day of edible enlightenment. Some of you will remember them from their Hoang’s Seafood Grille in Mt. Washington and Canton. The Hoang's have relocated to Falls Church and have opened Hoang' s Cuisine.

The Hoangs became good friends and it was Nyghia who introduce me to pho (pronounced FUH), which means soup in Vietnamese. I received an in-depth lesson on this rich, flavorful broth at Hoang’s carryout location on York Road, near Lake Avenue. The carryout had a small counter and it was only there that Nyghia offered pho. In Baltimore, at that time, few if anyone knew of pho, of course the Vietnamese and then the Vietnam War veterans did. From my Northwest home it was easily a 30 minute drive but I had to have my pho. I remember dragging Chef Nancy Longo from Pierpoint Restaurant for this new flavor sensation.


This story is not for the attention deficit. For those of you who read all installments, you will be deemed pho literate (by Dining Dish standards). Yes, I said installments: recipes and reviews are to follow.

What is the History of Pho?

A great number of people believe that pho (fuh) was derived from the French dish, pot-au-feu, which the French colonist introduced to the Vietnamese. The method of charring the onion and ginger for pho is similar to that process of charring onions for pot-au-feu. Let me suggest you read Andrea Q. Nguyen's story for a thorough examination of pho - Click Here . I am not here to re-event the wheel when it is so well documented.

Here Comes the Pho, Here Comes the Pho

The basic aromatics are star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel seeds and a long simmer of beef bones are the heart of this broth.

Pho is typically served to you in a deep bowl which containss rice noodles (banh pho), the same type of noodle used in Pad Thai, reminiscent of linguini in shape. You can choose from an assortment of beef toppings and I usually pick the brisket and rare beef (which cooks submerged in the broth while you eat it). There can be scallions and onion in the broth when served.

You will be served a separate dish with accoutrements; cilantro, culantro and/or thai basil (remove the leaves from the stems and add to the pho), mung bean sprouts, sliced onions, scallions, wedges of lime, and sliced chili peppers (dip in broth so the natural oils come out or leave them in the broth if you really like hot).

On your table will be a condiment tray of hoisin sauces, srichacha sauce, chili and garlic paste, hot chili oil and nuoc mam (fish sauce).

You Are the Final Flavor Profile to your Pho

How tart, how hot, how salty and how sweet is based on what you add. I throw in the herbs, sprouts, onions, squeezes of lime, srichacha sauce, hoisin and a splash of nuoc mam. For your first foray with pho, go gently. What I mean, add just a small amount of the items you think you will like and then taste it, you can always add more but you can’t take it out.

From my Spaghetti Eating 101 Class, I apply the twirl method to eating the pho rice noodles. I twirl the noodles twisted in my chopsticks on the base of the flat Asian spoon and then I slurp it all up, loudly and with great pride. At a recent trip to Asian Court ,a Chinese woman complimented me on my fabulous chopstick skills when eating dim sum.

The number of pho restaurants are growing in Baltimore and I will be reviewing a selection of them in my next installment Edible Enlightenment Part 2.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lobster Watch

I just got a call from "the husband" that the SuperFresh in Timonium has lobsters at $6.99 a pound. I do not know how long this will last but do know they are limiting everyone to 4 lobsters.

Guess what I'm having for dinner?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tainted Tongue

It was just less than 2 weeks ago I got an e-mail from Roopa K., writer of inviting Baltimore’s food bloggers to a gathering where our taste receptors on our tongues will be altered.

The invitation “ Have you heard of miracle fruit? (If so, feel free to skip ahead.) Miracle fruit is an amazing little berry-like fruit that contains a protein called miraculin. Miraculin alters your taste buds' perception of foods such that any sour or bitter foods you eat taste sweet; the effect of each berry lasts anywhere from 20-60 minutes. After you eat one, lemons taste like lemonade; goat cheese tastes like cheesecake, Guinness tastes like chocolate, and vinegar tastes pleasant. It has been written about in a number of publications and on many blogs, and, most recently, the New York Times ran an article on it in Wednesday's dining section - take a look at it for more info on a recent miracle fruit party in NY.”

I, in fact, had read the story in the Times and was right there for the gathering just this past Friday night. Meghan, writer of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was co-hosting and was on WYPR discussing the Miracle Fruit

The Experiment:

There were a number of us bloggers gathered at Roopa’s Mt. Vernon apartment. She spent a great deal of time putting together food items to taste; plates of citrus, pickles, cheeses, vinegars, hot sauces, beer, unsweetened tea – one blogger brought a can of artichoke soda that was already sweet so when tasted sweetness was cloying.

We were to coat our tongues for about 30 seconds with the berry and I actually felt a tingle or numbing on the tip of the tongue. Most of us went immediately for the lemon and grapefruit which rather than being sour were a sweet tart. The vinegars were sweet, the hot sauce if it was sweeter I didn’t notice because the heat took over. The pickled items took on the “sweet bread & butter pickle” flavor profile.

I squeezed straight lemon juice in water and it tasted like lemonade and the ice tea, unsweetened tasted bitter but once I squeezed citrus in the tea it tasted sweet. So for me, it didn’t alter bitter it only altered the tart items. I could munch on a fresh piece of rhubarb with no wincing.

The Bloggers:

Here are the bloggers and their links:

Baltimore Snacker


Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

Black Coffee and Donut


Strawberries in Paris

Along with our food bloggers from Baltimore, Rob Kasper of the Sunpapers attended as well. ttp://,0,6430018.columnist

In conclusion:

My tongue was challenged, tainted and taunted - it has fully recovered.

Food Pornography

Here I am at 6 a.m., licking my monitor’s screen: enticed, titillated, and with uncontrolled yearning. It was wrapped in a virtual brown paper wrapper, an innocent e-mail newsletter from that touted "Father’s Day Grilling Tips" in the subject line. There I was the lamb heading to the slaughter (pun intended).

I perused the stories and there, innocently stuck in-between #7 Jim Clarke's Sincere Musings on Sancerre and #9 Top 10 Jobs on JobFinder was # 8 Recent Tasting Photos From New York: Gordon Ramsey, Morimoto, Adour, Beards Awards and more. I clicked, and I was hooked: picture after picture of the most delicious food and drink, I was salivating heavily.

Oh no, the whole gallery is there – I’m going to loose the entire day drooling over food, looking at pictures of the great chefs and their food. OH NO! The gallery has photos all the way back to 2006.

No junkie (well food junkie) likes to drool alone – join me: CLICK HERE

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Whoooo Hooo Stephanie

Dear Stephanie Izerd:

Congratulations on your win on Top Chef. Thank you for representing women chef in a positive demeanor.

Much good fortune and may I have the pleasure of enjoying your food up close and personal one day.

A big Whoooo Hoooo Top Chef Stephanie.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sopranoville Grilling Lesson

Okay youse guys, put on the wife beaters, talk like Joe Pesci and light up the grill for Father's day. If you loved Tony Soprano you will appreciate this video.

How can you not love the aroma sausage, onions and peppers on the grill.

Happy Father's Day and Mangia

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ter-i-yak-i (scratch that) Food Network

I was just writing a story about how delicious and simple teriyaki is to prepare when I got a phone call from the Food Network. Change of story, change of plans. I need your help.

The Food Network is looking for a independent retailer, small manufacturer, non-chain restaurant and/or caterer that creates something unique for Thanksgiving and ships it anywhere in the country. It can be a whole Thanksgiving dinner, it can be an unusual component (old family recipe for cranberry relish or Aunt Tessie’s turkey seasoning mix), and/or something new for the Thanksgiving table. Write me with your suggestions at


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