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Vol 4 • #6 december-january 2010

The Local Take on Good Food, Fine Wine & more‌

on the farm Calvert Farm

in the kitchen at Sotto Sopra

our common table A Better Option

a reason for the season

Seasonal Holiday Warmth

wine talk

Art Of The Sparkling

after dinner

From Pristine To Seasoned

holiday favorites

A Few Of Our Favorite Holiday Things complimentary


ZAGAT ® rATeD AmERICA’S TOP 1000 ItalIan RestauRants 2008

eat. drink. sleep. dream...italian.



LOCATEd IN THE HEART OF mOuNT VERNON, Baltimore’s Cultural district, Sotto Sopra is a contemporary Italian restaurant specializing in pastas and the freshest innovative mediterranean cuisine.

enjoy our pre - fixed menu :


courses for


Live Opera Nights check our web site for dates and menus

check out our web site:

for specials and upcoming events, visit our blog: 405 NORTH CHARLES ST.



december - january


principal • celeste corsaro •contributing writers stan bliden celeste corsaro kerry dunnington scooter holt bonnie north randi rom john shields •layout & design jaime leiner •photography dave kone •founder bonnie north •sales & marketing celeste corsaro 443.465.6076 baltimore eats magazine is published by local eats, llc a baltimore-based, independent publisher p.o. box 8630 elkridge, md 21075 baltimore eats magazine is printed by cavanaugh press •linda j. dragonuk, 443.690.4241 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Reproduction without expressed permission is prohibited. Certified by the international Forest Stewardship Council. FSC’s standards are the highest social and environmental requirements in the forestry sector.

departments Celeste’s corner - 4 the Charm City Scoop


at Calvert Farm

in the kitchen - 10

at Sotto Sopra


A Better Option

A Reason for the Season - 24 Seasonal Holiday Warmth


Art Of The Sparkling

AFTER DINNER - 32 From Pristine To Seasoned

Holiday favorites - 34

A Few Of Our Favorite Holiday Things


appy holidays

from all of us at Baltimore Eats.

We have been working hard throughout the year to bring you the best and the most current information about local dining in both print and on-line format. Thank you for your loyal readership! We hope that you will use as your local restaurant guide; we are consistently adding new content, recipes, articles and restaurant news. Please keep your recipes and suggestions coming. Additionally, we certainly encourage each of you to offer suggestions for content; your insight and innovation are welcomed. During the holiday season, check our events calendar for upcoming events, such as wine tastings, dinners, charity events and other celebrations. We're on the move... In January, 2010, we will be expanding into Washington D.C.! Yes, will be launched. We will bring you the same on-line restaurant guide which will feature D.C. restaurants, farms and vineyards. We will be delivering the only local restaurant guide for that region. In this issue, and every issue, please remember to patronize our advertisers; because of their support we are able to continue to bring local dining information to our readers.

Have a wonderful, safe and locally-delicious holiday season! 4 • december-january 10

Photo: “Seeds & Stems” by James Eichelman

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The Local Take on Good Food, Fine Wine & Restaurants in Baltimore

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Baltimore Eats




hen we arrived at

Pam Stegall’s Calvert Farm out in Cecil County, there were so many cars parked along the long drive that I wondered what was going on… At first no one was in sight, but then a beautiful young woman toting a baby on her back, papoose-style, and another older child on her hip, walked towards us in the chilly bright light. She introduced herself as Rachael, the farm manager, and directed us to the barn, a low-slung building covered with white aluminum siding. It was a brisk and windy November morning but inside the barn it was warm—warm in every sense. Half a dozen cheery women, several in the long dark dress and bonnets of the Amish, were gathered around a center table, deftly bundling parsnips into bags and filling the place with the chatter of happy, convivial conversation. The windows were lined with bins piled high with colorful autumn vegetables and a stronglooking man, in thick Amish beard and broad black hat, was going in and out, loading crates of even more vegetables onto a truck outside.

Pam Stegall and Diesel of her many farm cats, in the hoop house where the pods are dried for seed saving.

Pam, full of smiles and energy, popped out from the kitchen and break room in the back and whisked us outside again for a tour of the farming operation. Pam and her husband Paul Roberts own 17 acres here along Route 272 in the township of Rising Sun. They are growing on just five of those acres now, but reaping truly amazing harvests thanks to Pam’s careful methods of organic growing, intensive planting and crop rotation, Integrated Pest Management, and soil building. “I call it 5 equals 20, because we get at least four different crops from each acre in our yearly rotation.” She chuckles. The crop producing area of Calvert Farm runs down a hillside and levels out in a small valley below the barn. Followed by a couple bouncing and playful young cats, Pam led us up the hill to the asparagus beds. “These are Jersey Knight asparagus—a superior variety that produces all male crowns. We’ll let the ferns die back and then in late winter or early spring, as soon as the wind dies down, we’ll burn this field to kill off the egg cases of the asparagus beetle. This seems to be the best way to control those nasty little puppies.” We rounded the crest of the hill, viewing the berry patches, walnut trees and rhubarb. Swinging an arm around in a semi-circle Pam points out, “That’s due east. So this is a great south-facing field with an 8-degree slope. The lower field presents some issues because frost and cold air drifts down into that little valley there. So, for instance, we never put our tomatoes down there. But, we have to rotate our crops. Some things like garlic and onions have to be

photography by: dave kone

Calvert Farm moved with every planting because of potential soil pathogens…” She laughs, “It’s like putting together a giant puzzle! And it was really difficult for us to plan out where to put the perennials, like the asparagus and berries, that won’t be moved.” Pam is the quintessential “Good Steward.” She clearly knows every single inch of her farm and works with the land in an intimate fashion. “We don’t actually compost,” "Put Back" Pam explains, All crop residue is “The national dug back into the soil. organic ‘regs’ on composting are 400 pages long! So, I could either compost—or I could farm!” she laughs, “What we do is simply ‘put back.’ Any pick outs or throw outs, we just till right back into the field. All crop residue is put back into the soil.”

At Calvert Farm they plant directly from their own saved seed too, building seed banks of plants that are particularly suited to, and happy with, the micro-climate there. They have beehives to insure good pollination. They focus on heirloom and uncommon crops, like lemon grass and horseradish, and also have extensive herb beds in place. Two hoop greenhouses shelter the more tender plants during the winter months— even a miniature variety of banana that produces a smaller but delicious fruit. Launched 15 years ago, when Pam left her position as the meeting planner for DuPont Industries, Calvert Farm was one of the very first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) ventures in the United States—and today they are certainly one of the most successful. In the early years they kept a large flock of chickens but now their CSA subscriptions have grown to nearly 1,000 and they need every inch of land for crops. At the height of their season they may employ as many as 30 farm hands helping to plant, harvest and package.


december-january 10 • 7

“We were luckily able to out-source our poultry operation. When Amish boys are 14, it’s their last year of school and they have to complete a ‘Vocation Project.’ Our arrangement started about six years ago—Young Henry was working for us and he didn’t have his project planned yet, and I was frankly getting tired of messing with these chickens…so we moved them to his family’s farm and he took over our chicken operation. Now we have six flocks, being tended by six young Amish boys. They pass the project on to their younger brothers or cousins each year. We supply all the feed and equipment and our only requirement is that they have to be out on pasture every day and carefully locked up each night so that Mr. Owl and Mr. Fox don’t take them off for lunch!”

from the Amish boys’ projects and more typical summer-time commodity crops like corn they get from neighboring farms. Calvert Farm is certified organic and is a member of the Maryland Organic Food & Farming Association. They offer a 20-week summer CSA subscription that runs from May to September, and an autumn subscription that runs from October to November. They sell directly at the Baltimore City Farmers’ Market downtown under the Fallsway, and have nine CSA drop off locations as far south as Rockville and as far north as Wilmington. You can apply for a CSA subscription through their website.

C alvert Farm

C ecil C ounty, MD

www.C alvertFarm .com Since Calvert Farm excels with their 410.658.3914 heirlooms, herbs and perennials, Pam and Robert work with other nearby Bonnie North is the founder of The Learning small farms to put together a CSA Through Growing Project, which is engaged in Chefs Ad that smallis space 3/18/09 5:07 PM Page 1 gardens in Baltimore schools. offering wellhorizontal:Layout rounded. Eggs1come planting

Roasted and butterflied lobster with a cucumber citrus floral mélange

fashionable catered events 410-561-CHEF

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Wine Tastings & Happy Hours


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500 Harborview Dr. ▪ Baltimore MD 21230 443-682-8720 ▪

Open Daily at 6:30am

8 • december-january 10

Afternoon cake and espresso. An early evening nosh with cocktails. A soup to nuts dinner for two or four or more. For good food and fun à la mode in historic Fells Point.


december-january 10 • 9




Sotto Sopra

xecutive chef bill crouse graduated from le cordon bleu

(formerly the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute or PCI) at the top of his class and was the first one in his school to garner three associate’s degrees: pastry, culinary and restaurant and hotel management. He received the Award for Professionalism from Le Cordon Bleu as well as the Medal of Excellence from La Chaine des Rotisseurs—the world’s oldest international gastronomic society, founded in Paris in 1248.

www.S ottoS opra I nc .com

| 410.625.0534 405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD

10 • december-january 10

photos: dave kone

Bill grew up in Havre de Grace. “Food has always been a part of me. I recognized food and flavors as a child. My family cooked food straight from the garden.” His first job was making milkshakes at the Arctic Circle when he was thirteen years old.” At sixteen, he helped opened the Bulle Rock Golf and Country Club, the home of the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Championship in Havre de Grace–his first experience in what he calls a real restaurant. His next job was at Top of the Triangle, one of Pittsburgh’s top ten restaurants where he advanced from cook to executive sous chef in four years. A stint at the Elkridge Country Club followed– until he moved on to work with the Charleston Group’s Pazo and Petit Louis Bistro. Then, a friend at the City Paper called him about an ad for a sous chef at Sotto Sopra. Within one month he became the executive chef. Crouse took the helm as executive chef from owner Riccardo Bosio. “Riccardo developed the menu and we’re keeping his legacy alive. Many of our customers are from the early years and are excited that his creations remain as staples. I take it as a compliment that guests think the dishes are the same as when Riccardo was cooking.” Bill enjoys a strong working relationship with Riccardo and his wife, Monika Pawlak Bosio. “It’s the best thing any chef could ask for. Riccardo and Monika live with their hearts. It’s a real family style ownership—open and warm. Riccardo is a mentor—he lets me make mistakes.” Chef Crouse feels

that he and Riccardo are a good fit because they both want to give the customer the greatest value, allowing them to taste many different cuisines and they both espouse a natural style of cooking. To share his talents, Bill presents themed cooking classes once a month that promote healthy and easy techniques. Classes include a summer style barbeque, holiday classes where guests can learn how to roast a turkey and cook a delicious ham; and a Tuscan class that features pici pasta, a traditional Bolognese sauce. But his favorite event is Opera Night, which is held every third Sunday, except in December, when it will be held on the second Sunday due to the holidays. This event features a sixcourse menu that includes soup, salad, sorbet, risotto, an entrée and dessert. In between each course, live music is provided by two sopranos and a tenor who delight guests with their operatic talents. Guests enjoy the music in a comfortable, casual atmosphere while enjoying fine food and wine. Chef Crouse believes strongly in continuing education. For example, Crouse recently returned from a business trip to Sienna, Italy where he was the guest of the government’s agriculture department for a program called Denominavione de Origine Protetta—which loosely translates as denomination of origin protect. Funded by the government, a select group of producers of high quality olive oil invited visiting chefs to learn about their products in the hope that they would then import them. Referring continued

Capesante Scottate Pan seared scallops & corn relish with toasted sesame butter. (left)

Agnolotti di Vitello Veal stuffed agnolotti with applewood smoked bacon & sautéed spinach. (right)

december-january 10 • 11

vibe and compared it to a New York restaurant. The mural ends at the bar—a beautiful copper and brass mesh front with a ceramic blue and white glass counter. Sotto Sopra seats ninety-six guests and there are four street side tables as well.

to his trip, Crouse said, “I was meant to be Italian—the Italian people love life.” The dishes he prepares showcase his love of “all things Italian.” Some of the most popular menu items include Capesante Scottate—pan seared wild scallops with corn relish, Ravioli d’Anatra—duck stuffed ravioli in a truffle veal reduction and Salmone alla Griglia–grilled salmon with honey and lavender glaze. Bill’s personal favorites include his homemade sweetbreads and braised pork cheeks. Chef Crouse is hands-on, and all of the recipes he uses were learned either here or in Italy. He describes Sotto Sopra as being topsy-turvy because they offer varied dishes with both Northern and Southern influences. “In Italy, cooking is about history; they teach a refined, clean way to cook. I want customers to remember their dining experience—the food, the environment and the people.” Sotto Sopra is decorated in soft tones—elegant, without being stuffy. Upon entering, the first thing you’ll notice is a huge mural that takes up an entire wall. Created by Stuart White, it depicts an evening at the restaurant from start to finish. The painting portrays a warm, jovial atmosphere, which mirrors the Sotto Sopra dining experience. Chef Crouse describes the restaurant as having an alive, electric 12 • december-january 10

Bill enjoys hosting guests and being a part of the culinary community. “My Mom instilled in us—always say yes. If you’re serving the community, there’s no sense in not helping that community.” To that end, he donates his time to many different charitable causes including serving as a mentor to culinary students at the Carver Center for Arts and Technology. Mom would be proud. Randi Rom is President of RJ Rom & Associates, specializing in events, promotions and branding.

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OUR COMMON TABLE I n D efense (of



f you have read past

columns, my rants on the evils of processed food have cropped up on numerous occasions. While I have not changed my opinion that overly-processed foods may well be something akin to the Anti-ChristApocalyptic End of Days, after some reflection, caveats may be necessary. I am totally on board with the local food movement and spend much time speaking to groups on the importance of using local products. Recently on a trip to the supermarket I hung out at the checkout for a bit to surreptitiously peek into unsuspecting shoppers’ carts. I try to stay in a nonjudgmental frame of mind, looking at the gathered contents as a culinary societal study. But it’s just not easy. I keep coming up with the fact that we just put a lot of crap into our collective carts.

After speaking with a number of shoppers, along with friends who are not quite as acquainted with the local food movement, the bottom line is time. We are a busy First World people. I too am faced with the same problem.

Processed Foods

I’m a chef and operate a restaurant but have absolutely no time to cook for myself on my day off. When shopping at the farmers’ market I have great intentions of creating a lovely homey meal with the freshest of ingredients. It seems that all the food I buy for dinner will most likely end up donated back to the restaurant, as I had no time to prepare the meal. A lot of my friends have hectic schedules always trying to balance jobs, children, household chores, and keeping up with day-to-day life. And they are not the exception. This is where minimally processed food comes into play. Let’s think about making a chili with beans, tomatoes, along with maybe some ground beef and vegetables. I for one, the eternal optimist, think that this time I will cook my chili beans from bulk dried beans. It is so much more cost effective. There will be less sodium in the finished product. I will have ample leftover for more meals. These are the thoughts that run through my mind on a regular basis. I’m sure there is medication to stop these thoughts,


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thoughts from

John Shields

but after a no-soak, no-cook the beans afternoon, it’s—“Hello Chipotle!” So if we are faced with the time crunch, don’t have the luxury of cooking a meal from scratch most evenings, and don’t want to be turned over to social services for failing to feed the children, I believe we need to make a distinction about how much a food or product has been processed and what is acceptable to us. There can be a better option—very lightly processed food purchases. As I mentioned, beans are a perfect buy to save time, yet provide the basis for a good nutritious meal. Maybe we bought some local meat, or just sturdy vegetables to make our chili. The addition of already cooked, canned beans, along with a can of diced, maybe low sodium, tomatoes make it a one, two, three, slam-dunk meal. Family happy, a basically wholesome meal, and no nervous breakdown about time constraints.

Ray. I for one cannot work mega hours a week, keep up with the yard work, do the laundry, make table decorations—and can and put up all my vegetables, from my own garden of course. And from the look at the shopping carts I’ve spied, neither can most people. Let’s continue to live and cook local, while judiciously choosing our ingredients based on quality and integrity, whether fresh or lightly processed. John Shields is the owner of Gertrude’s at the BMA and the author of Chesapeake Bay Cooking and Coastal Cooking.

Just because we may choose to use some lightly processed foods does not mean we need to throw our local food economy beliefs out the door. Quite a number of local farmers and even local canning/preserving companies like Mama Vida in Randallstown make excellent varieties of soups, sauces, salsa, chutneys, salad dressings, preserves, and desserts. Buying from these people not only makes our lives a little bit easier but also helps to nourish the local food economy, keeping the money in our community. So dear readers, I accept my failure in living up to my totally local, seasonal, from scratch ambitions. I (and we) am not Martha Stewart and Rachael

december-january 10 • 17

The classic crispy rice treat with a new yummy spin.

eats: [eets] noun — 1. food

Dessert party platters available!

exchange: [iks-cheynj] noun — 1. to trade or deal

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Doing business in Baltimore City for over 100 years and 5 generations.

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delightful food, sustainably sourced prepared simply w/a French-mediterranean flair


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Café Gia Ristorante is thrilled to announce the arrival of our liquor license!

Café Gia Ristorante 410 S.High St. • Baltimore, MD 21202 Voted by the people “Best Italian Restaurant..." - City Paper 2009

Mural-splashed walls & warm ambiance coupled with our authentic Italian Cuisine makes us the perfect choice for your upcoming holiday party. Buon Appetito! 410-685-6727

december-january 10 • 19

Southwestern Cuisine in a cool casual atmosphere

Sunday Brunch 11:30am-3:00pm

Southwestern Style Buffet $14 includes Mimosas & Champagne

Monday Happy Hour all night long! Half-Priced Appetizers


Tapas & Sangria

$3.50 glass $10 Pitchers


Half-Priced Wine-Glass or Bottle


$10 Taco Platters $3.50 select Margaritas

Friday Happy Hour 3:00-7:00pm


Noon-6:00pm Margarita Matinee

$3.50 select Margaritas 

2318 Fleet Street 410-732-1961 

Available for private parties, meetings, luncheons 20 • december-january 10

A healthy approach to Italian Cuisine




• Brunch at Pizzazz Saturday & Sunday: 11am-3pm

Pi at ze d Ja z

Live Entertainment (see website for details)

y pp Ho


• Offering Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free options

Ge t

• Off-site Catering & Delivery

5-8pm Fridays


• Valet Parking on weekends


• Heated Deck—Great for Holiday Parties on the Harbor

Join us for New Years Eve: Live Music, Fireworks & Great Food 711 Eastern Avenue • Baltimore, MD 21202 • 410 . 528 .7772

Condiments that turn everyday meals into gourmet treats! try each of our all natural hand-made flavors: award winning

Apple & Raisin Chutney award winning

Gourmet Fruit Salsa w/ Jicama

Spiced Cranberry Sauce for more information visit:


here is a new place for happy hour on Light Street, Monday–Friday hours are 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. An American bistro with an urban eclectic atmosphere. Call 410-962-1220 for more details.


Where great taste is only natural. Imagine an old-fashioned neighborhood grocery store, organic farmers' market, gourmet specialty shop and European bakery rolled into one. We are Whole Foods Market™, the leading natural foods grocer in the country and we are right in your neighborhood. Whether you eat to live or live to eat, we intend to tempt you with our unique blend of delicious natural foods. Join us for a Thanksgiving Tasting of holiday favorites from our natural free range turkey to our pumpkin pie, we promise to put you in the mood. Thursday, November 5th. Check individual stores for times. Visit our Holiday Table to pre-order you delicious meal!

Mt. Washington

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Harbor East • Store Hours Monday-Saturday 8am to 10pm Sunday 8am to 9pm

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Kerry Dunnington

can’t think of any way i’d rather spend a cold winter

evening than in front of a roaring fire partaking in a bowl of healthy, hearty soup and home-made hot rolls with my husband, family and friends! Just the aroma alone will have your guests clamoring to indulge. The recipes for my Christmas Lima Bean Soup and Quick-Cooking-Oats Oatmeal Rolls perfectly complement each other and need nothing more than good company and robust wine.

heirloom beans: christmas lima bean soup I was thrilled to discover Heirloom Beans Christmas Lima Beans for many reasons. They have a long history in American cuisine, dating back to the 1840’s. They’re beautiful; a cream colored bean with splashes of maroon. And they’re an excellent source of fiber and loaded with protein! I like to serve the soup and rolls with arugula that’s been tossed with really good olive oil. Helpful to know: Plan this meal accordingly; the beans will need to soak overnight. Heirloom Beans Christmas Lima Beans are available on a seasonal basis at Whole Foods Market or you can purchase them online from Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food. Also, I highly recommend using Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon with Sea Salt cubes available from Whole Foods Market.

• 1–12oz. package Christmas Lima Beans • 10 cups water, divided (soaking/cooking) • 3 vegetable cubes • 1 Tbsp. olive oil • 1 cup white onion, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 2 cups water

• 2 cups (≈2-3 medium) carrots, julienned • 1 cup celery, chopped • 1½ cups rice, cooked • ½ cup fresh parsley, minced • 1 tsp. salt • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Soak beans in 4 cups water overnight. Discard soaking water. Transfer beans to a large pot, add 6 cups water. Bring beans and water to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook beans until tender, about 1 hour. Add vegetable cubes to the cooked beans and allow cubes to naturally dissolve in the hot bean water. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium high heat, add onion and cook until translucent; add garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil. Add carrots and celery, cook vegetables until fork tender, about 5-10 minutes. Add vegetables to beans and stir in rice and parsley, season soup with salt and pepper. Serves 8-10

24 • december-january 10

quick- cooking - oats: oatmeal rolls Helpful to know: Plan accordingly, the oats get soaked in the milk for 2 hours. These rolls are best eaten hot from the oven and slathered with butter. If they’re not devoured the day they’re baked, slice in half and toast lightly. I prefer using parchment paper to line my baking sheets but you can also lightly oil the sheets with canola oil or cooking spray. • 2 cups quick cooking oats

• 2 cups milk

In a large bowl, combine quick cooking oats and milk. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. • 1 package active dry yeast • ¾ cup warm water • 1 tsp. sugar • ¼ cup olive oil

• 1 tsp. salt • 4 cups white flour, plus extra for work surface • Canola oil for mixing bowl

In a small bowl dissolve yeast in water, add sugar and allow to proof. Add to milk/oatmeal mixture in large bowl. Add olive oil and salt, stirring until well combined. Add flour 1 cup at a time. When dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl (after about the third cup), transfer to a floured surface. Adding flour as needed to keep from sticking, knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 7-10 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with oil, place dough into bowl and turn dough to coat all surfaces. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch dough down; transfer to lightly floured work surface. Roll to 1-inch thickness and cut into 32 rolls using a 2¼-inch biscuit cutter. Place onto 2 baking sheets that have been covered with parchment paper. Cover rolls with towel and let rise for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 425° and bake rolls for 18-20 minutes, switching position of baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Yield: ≈32 rolls

Kerry Dunnington is the author of This Book Cooks. Her forthcoming cookbook Planet, Kitchen, Table is expected to be on bookstore shelves soon.

Kerry Dunnington Catering seasonal, local, organic


december-january 10 • 25

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

Serving Traditional Italian Country Cooking in the heart of Historic Hampden.

Open Monday–Saturday for lunch and dinner. Authentic Italian pastas and sauces. - BYOB -

serving you at two locations...

1031 36th St. & 3547 Chestnut Ave. Baltimore, MD 21211 410.869.3429 26 • december-january 10



’ve got good news


bad news. Here’s the good news—Champagne prices are lower this holiday season than last season. The bad news—nobody’s in the mood to celebrate! My sense is that the prevailing attitude or disposition is not to drink that lovely delicate wine with those beautiful tiny little bubbles that go straight to the head. Hopefully things will improve enough by Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza/New Year ’s to warrant a celebration, or we will step back, decide how lucky we are to have the things we have like family, health. You know by now that I am married to a cancer survivor so any day is a reason to celebrate. Real Champagne is a sparkling wine made via a process called méthode champenoise in the Champagne region of France. A simple explanation of the process is that it begins by taking wine, putting it in a bottle, adding liqueur de tirage—a mixture of sugar, yeast and still wine so it can ferment a second time but sealing the bottle so the carbon dioxide, a by-product of fermentation is trapped in the wine.

28 • december-january 10

There are three other ways to make champagne. One is to inject carbon dioxide into the wine. The result is big bubbles that dissipate quickly. The second is the Metodo Italiano or Charmat process where wine undergoes secondary fermentation in large tanks then bottled under pressure. This process is used for Asti and Prosecco in Italy and other places where a light, delicate, fruity drink, not wine, is desired. Most inexpensive American sparkling wines like Andre use the Charmat process. Finally there is the transfer process where the wine goes through the secondary fermentation in a bottle then is opened and filtered to another bottle. When the wine goes through the secondary fermentation it throws off sediment called “lees”. The lees are easy to get rid of in three of the four processes but not in méthode champenoise. Thank god old Madame Clicquot, from the famous Veuve Clicquot Champagne house, invented the disgorgement process to clarify the wine in 1816. The process begins after the sparkling wine has rested in the champagne cellars for at least 15 months. The bottles are placed at a 45-degree angle with the cork facing down in special racks called pupitres which are shaped like an upside down “V”.

Over the next six weeks the bottles are gently turned and moved to a vertical position. This process is called riddling or in French, remuage. For years the remurer was the highest paid semi skilled worker in France. At vertical, the lees is in the neck of the bottle and ready for disgorging. The neck is lowered into an ice cold saline solution which freezes the lees and wine, the bottle is opened and the plug shoots out. Before recorking it is determined how sweet the wine will be and the liqueur d’expédition is added. Each house has their secret liqueur but it is basically wine with sugar. Today most of these processes are automated except for the most expensive wines. The champenoise method is used around the world to make high quality sparkling wine. I believe the most unique thing about Champagne, or even high quality sparkling wine, is the fact that most of the wine is non-vintage dated. In other words the wine is a blend of multiple years. How can a purist like me who loves wines that show their terroir or character respect a non vintage wine? Well, my favorite champagne and one of my favorite wines happens to be Krug Champagne, a non-vintage blend of 7 vintages. The highest paid worker at a Champagne house is the blender. Most houses buy grapes from all over the region and make a number of different wines with the goal of creating a house style. The blenders’ job is to take these raw wines and blend them together before the secondary fermentation. The result is the finished product tastes the same year in and year out despite the fact that variances of vintages make consistency a real challenge. Furthermore, the wines still capture the essence of the region. I could go on and on about this subject but I hope I have whet your appetite for a glass of bubbly. Here are a few of my favorites from around the world. Have a wonderful holiday season.

In Vino Veritas...

Segura Viudas Brut Reserve Cava Spain • $8.99 A little barnyardy and some yeasty flavors but nice and dry and perfect for mimosas.

Riondo Prosecco Italy • $12.99 Light and not too dry, perfect for an aperitif or making belinis.

Mumms Napa Cuvee Brut Rose • $16.99 Beautiful color with a gorgeous nose of black cherry and strawberry leading to a full bodied rich palate. Terrific wine for the money.

Nicolas Feuillate Brut • $29.99 or less A top co-op in Champagne that consistently produces excellent bubbly. Medium bodied with crisp lemony flavors and light yeast. Nice tiny bubbles with refreshing acidity.

Taittinger Brut La Francaise • $35 But should be able to find for under $30. A beautiful, rich, full bodied champagne with flavors of green apples, fresh dough and toasty flavors. The high percentage of Chardonnay (40%) gives this wine roundness and depth.

Krug Grande Cuvee $150 or less It doesn’t get any better than this. Rich and full bodied with the tiniest bubbles that send sensations down your spine. Slightly oaky but balanced with toast, honey, apples and hazelnuts. The palate has a lovely creamy texture yet refined and fresh. The finish goes on and on and on and on... Stan Bliden, the second-generation owner of Midway Liquors on Pulaski Highway in Joppa, grew up in the wine business.

great food good company a classic american tavern

1702 Thames Street • Fells Point • Maryland, 21231 • 410.563.5423 •


Best Pint of Guinness this side of Ireland J Irish Breakfast served all day, everyday

1700 Thames Street • 410.563.6600

Rooftop Waterfront View

Caribbean Cuisine

Island Cocktails

Live Music


821 South Broadway. Corner of Thames st. • Upstairs from Slainte •

30 • december-january 10

Satisfying customers with mouthwatering creations and friendly service since 1913.

D Baltimore, M(f) • t e rk a M n Lexingto .1397 | 410.539.5928 2 410.75


december-january 10 • 31



love the smell of a

new bar.

The Rowhouse Grille at 1400 Light Street in Federal Hill is just that. Brand-spanking-new, with lots of fresh-smelling cherry and oak accents on the bar, window frames, walls and table-tops. I predict this is going to be a winner. Owners Joseph Flynn and Patrick Dahlgren have really carved out a nice little spot here, and upon arriving, I ran into four people I know, so the word is clearly spreading. They have a signature cocktail list, and I chose their Dark and Stormy, made with Gosling’s dark rum, Gosling’s ginger beer (a key ingredient; most places use generic ginger beer), fresh muddled lime and crystallized ginger. After throwing that back, I tried a draft, just to see how cold it was. With a new keg system and insulated lines, that puppy was chilly. Patrick took some time to sit with me to explain their concept and show me their proposed menu, which should go on-line within the next few weeks.

32 • december-january 10


Scoote r H olt

The emphasis will be fresh, upscale casual fare, and their chef is apparently quite the “Soup Nazi.” I can’t wait to sample. They’re also playing it smart, he explained, by pulling staff from some of the best bars and restaurants around town, and he wasn’t lying. Of the staff I recognized, their previous employment included places such as Clyde’s, Mother’s, MaGerks, and Midtown Yacht Club, just to name a few. I knew this because I’ve regularly gotten blitzed in all of the above, of course. The upstairs, opening in the next few weeks, will feature another bar and dining room, and will boast a 25-foot ceiling and fireplace to warm your tootsies this winter. I can see already that this will be an excellent “snow day” bar, and I take snow day drinking very, very seriously. Wednesdays is $15-$20 select wine bottle night, and they run other specials throughout the week. The website wasn’t quite up yet, but you can “friend” them on Facebook

and get a rundown on their special updates. From the smell of new to the familiar—the smell of an old bar—I love it. Hull Street Blues at 1222 Hull Street in Locust Point may not be THAT old, but it certainly has that quaint feel. A whiff of wood, stale beer ground into the wood planks, a faint odor of a time gone by when smoking was not only accepted, but downright encouraged. Lots of nautical pictures and paraphernalia litter this neighborhood joint, and nothing makes you want to drink profusely like a “sailor’s bar.” Who even knows if a sailor has ever stepped through the front door but…who cares? It’s fun to think they did, and on a regular basis. I did some gabbing with folks along side of me, and, as they were all friendly, it’s clear why the neighborhood has taken a liking to

the bar. This place has quite a nice selection of Vodkas as well, and that pleases the straight-Vodka-drinker in me. Along side the wall is a long shuffle board table, and who doesn’t love the smell of the fresh sawdust that covers those babies? And what is it about a shuffle board table that makes me want to dive head-first along the top of it? After a few ice cold brews in this joint, I had to leave, fearing I might actually try it, and find out just what it takes to get booted from this fine establishment. So, you’re probably wondering, which bars do I like to smell best, old or new? Truth is I really don’t care either way. I just like to smell bars. Scooter Holt has been in the restaurant industry for over 15 years. He can most times be seen in Baltimore’s favorite watering holes, from the glitz and glam, to the down and out, sharing his experiences along the way.

december-january 10 • 33

HOL IDAY FAVOR I T ES ting: er of CP Marke Cindy Plackmey Case. Traveler Wine Veuve Cliquot int. Po e Bar, Fells $99. V- No Win .com ar eb | v-nowin 410-342- 8466

Celeste C

orsaro of Baltimore Lavaz za Eats: Espresso M aker- EP 8 $150 | d 5 0. ipasquale sespresso .com

Downtown Diane: Glarus Chocolate Truffle s. $3.50 -$48 866-GLARUS-1 | glarus

ats: ltimore E iner of Ba e Foster. Jaime Le u t" by La ri in o P g in "The Sipp thewinec | . 5 .9 6 1 $

rant Group: of Kali's Restau Nick Angelini CD. an "Symphony" Sarah Brightm n. de ar G d un $14.99. The So | 11 90 3410-56

Tom Hamrick

of George's Pe abody Court: Roma Gourm et Sausage. 410- 675- 0786 | romagourm


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December-January 2010  

Baltimore Eats Magazine: The Local Take on Good Food, Fine Wine & more...

December-January 2010  

Baltimore Eats Magazine: The Local Take on Good Food, Fine Wine & more...