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Vol 4 • #5 october-november 2009

The Local Take on Good Food, Fine Wine & more‌

on the farm

Dragonfly Farms

in the kitchen

at Pizzazz Tuscan Grille

our common table Beware The Middle

a reason for the season

Autumn Comforts

wine talk

Blind Tastings

after dinner

Off The Beaten Path complimentary


ZAGAT ® rATeD AmERICA’S TOP 1000 ItalIan RestauRants 2008

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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 :


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t ’s autumn and that means it ’s already time to start

thinking about the holidays. Please support our advertisers in this and every edition. We work hard to bring you the very best on catering, farms, local products and services and restaurants in the Baltimore area.

Our website is up, running and directing traffic to local businesses. Sign Up to win gift certificates to area restaurants and read all of our present and archived articles. You will find recipes, chefs' columns and cover stories highlighted to help you plan your holiday parties and dining destinations. If you see anything that we should add to the site or you would like to see there, please e-mail us and we will consider your input. We are striving to make our new website entertaining, enlightening and informative with all of our content. We hope to hear from you! Congratulations to Gino Troia of Grano, on his new location in Hampden. If you are looking for a great Halloween Party in Baltimore, see our ad on page 17 and RSVP. We hope to see you there!

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 bonnie north •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.

october - november


departments Celeste’s corner - 3

the Charm City Scoop


at Dragonfly Farms

in the kitchen - 10

at Pizzazz Tuscan Grille

OUR COMMON TABLE - 14 Beware The Middle

A Reason for the Season - 20 Autumn Comforts


Blind Tastings


Off The Beaten Path

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 4 • october-november 09


Partyin the p ark!

Saturday, October 10 * 11 am - 5 pm Padonia Park Info: 866-771-3014 Featuring music by:

Tall in the Saddle Baltimore’s own classic California rock band B A LT I M O R E

Cruise Classic rock from the 60's, 70's and 80's

Milkshake Great rock music for kids

Activities & entertainment Local crafts and original art Games and shows for kids Tasty treats

Tickets: $10 adults, $5 Kids, 5-12 , Under 5 free Available online or at the door

* Rain date: October 17

Presented by

To benefit

Providing hope. Offering help. For families & young adults fighting addiction.

Sponsored by

ON THE FARM an two urban business-

women on the cusp of their middle years head out to the Appalachian Mountains and turn 80 acres of forest into a diversified and profitable farming business? Never— ever, say “Never.”

Claudia Nami and her husband had a successful custom silk screening business in College Park. Sue Lewis had a thriving computer sales business in Philadelphia. “Actually, my husband and I bought our computer systems from Sue,” Claudia recalls. Claudia’s husband passed away and Sue lost her sister at nearly the same time. Claudia wanted to raise her youngest daughter in a more rural community and both women had a deep love for the natural world—and a longing to immerse themselves within it. The friends were ready to take a chance on a new venture. As Claudia tells it: “My grandparents and aunt had farms. I’ve always gardened and I wanted to try my hand at a farm.” In 2002, they jointly purchased 80 some acres of hilly land outside of Mt. Airy. They did a lot of research and finally decided to start with a focus on wine grapes, expecting that to be profitable. “But we got so boxed in with the alcohol permits and regulations that we went for specialty vinegars instead of wine.” Claudia explains. Dragonfly’s vintage vinegars are now probably among the very finest in the world—an incredible testament to the patience, diligence, care, and the massive amount of labor they have put into an endeavor that started only seven years ago! 6 • october-november 09

In fact, visiting Dragonfly Farm you can scarcely believe that just seven years ago this was land lying fallow and forested. The vineyards and flowerbeds are orderly and stretch wide like a lovely tablecloth down the cleared hillside framed by the Appalachian Mountains in the distance. Green and vibrant on a cloudy September day, it was beautiful and truly impressive. Over an amazing lunch that Claudia prepared, I learned about the complex process of making vintage vinegars. “Our vinegar is definitely ahead of its time; at least here in this area. In California, in Europe, they appreciate a product like ours.” Claudia laments, “It’s a Finishing Vinegar. You put it in after you’ve completed your cooking and it adds an incredible amount of flavor and complexity to your dish.” Sue goes into the delicate and lengthy process involved in creating such a specialty product: “It takes two years to make each vintage. The sugar in the grape ferments to create wine, to create alcohol. Then we ferment it again to turn the alcohol into acetic acid…” To make a fine vinegar, you have to scientifically work with it, control

photo: dragonfly farms


Dragonfly Black Currant Wine Vinegar One of the finest vintage vinegars in the world.

photography by: bonnie north

Dragonfly Farms it, introduce what they call an acetobacter—a genus of acetic acid bacteria characterized by the ability to convert alcohol to acetic acid. Sue explains that “We use our black currants to make what is called ‘The Mother,’—the yeast type acetobacter that does that second fermentation. In fact we offer fermentation services to the local wineries. If a batch of wine goes bad we can ferment it into good vinegar for them. Or, if they would like to have their own house vinegar we can do that for them.” This year they are selling what they call their Black Vinegars: their signature Dragonfly Vinegar made entirely from the black currants growing in the lower fields, their Black Merlot, a Black Cabernet and a Black Syrah. They bottle them right there on the farm in handsome bottles—tall, slender and deep pummeled they make for splendid gift-giving. All the vinegars are made from their own barrel-aged wines, slow fermented a second time with the black currant mother. There are no artificial preservatives, no sulfites, no flavorings, no colorings, and no water is added—this is truly authentic wine vinegar.

A Black Gewurztraminer is still in its second fermentation and also coming on is a “Green Vinegar,” made from grapes that are picked green before they have ripened. “We’re always trying new things,” Sue laughs, “We’re experimenting with a tomato vinegar too. We’ve had to expand and evolve to pay the bills!” That willingness to experiment has Dragonfly going strong. They have expanded and now grow traditional produce and exotic flowers. They have also launched an unusual CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) venture. Dragonfly’s CSA offers the usual produce share and also what they call a 'Premium Plan'. Premium shareholders not only enjoy the benefits of Dragonfly’s vegetables but also local fruits, pesticide-free flowers, artisanal bread, cheese, honey, jam or jelly, fresh roasted gourmet coffee, Dragonfly’s wine vinegars, mushrooms, and farm fresh eggs. Rather like a Locavore shopping service, they work cooperatively with other farmers and artisans to bring their customers a full mixed basket of


october-november 09 • 7

delicious and healthy foodstuffs. “We’re kinda moving laterally business-wise. One thing led to another and now we are a CSA. We sell what we grow and we work with other farmers. If you’re gonna plunk down hundreds of dollars in advance, we feel that we’re beholden to you to make sure that you’re gonna get your money’s worth. So we work with farmers that we know, that we think are reputable—and we bring people what they want.” Claudia insists,” We go to Northern Virginia and we go to downtown D.C.. We bring it to them…” All that they grow is pesticide free and they honor their land with good stewardship practices. A massive system of huge rain barrels collects water from the roof of the bottling building where it travels down the hillside to irrigate the currant fields. “We do have a philosophy that we try to adhere to.” Claudia says with

pride—and the beauty and bounty of Dragonfly Farm is a living testament to the worth of that philosophy. You can look for Claudia and Sue at the Great Falls Farm Market and at the Falls Church Market, both in Northern Virginia. You can sign up for the 2010 CSA through their website. Dragonfly vinegars are carried at Whole Foods in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C., and can be ordered on-line direct from the farm.

Dragonfly Farms P.O. B ox 10 Mt. A iry, MD 21771 www.DFFarms .com

240.353.8408 Bonnie North is the founder of The Learning Through Growing Project, which is engaged in planting gardens in Baltimore schools.

at the inn and spa at the colonnade 443.449.6200 4 west university pkwy baltimore, maryland 21218 •

8 • october-november 09

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 your delicious meal!

Mt. Washington

Harbor East

Mt. Washington • Store Hours Monday-Sunday 8am to 9pm

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

1001 Fleet St. 1330 Smith Ave. 410.528.1640 410.532.6700 Free parking at both locations •




Pizzazz Tuscan Grille

ietro priola, executive chef and his partner

Deanna Cook recently opened the new Pizzazz Tuscan Grille at Pier Five Hotel in the Inner Harbor. Pizzazz is a health conscious restaurant that offers gluten free foods and desserts, organic, vegetarian and vegan dishes. “This is revolutionary for an Italian restaurant. It’s exciting,” offered Priola. Deanna has been studying holistic nutrition for over twenty years and extols the virtues of nutrient dense food. www.P izzazzTuscan G rille .com

| 410.528.7772

711 E astern Avenue , Baltimore , MD 10 • october-november 09

Deanna's "Get the Glow" Raw Wrap Collard green wrap with cucumbers, avocado, red onion, sprouts, sliced tomato, and drizzled with raw cashew and taco sauce (left) Gluten-Free Pizza Pizzazz offers cornmeal, whole wheat or gluten-free pizza crusts (right)

The restaurant does not use any sugar or white salt-only agaves to sweeten and Himalayan sea salts to flavor. Ninety percent of the food at Pizzazz is organic and only first press olive oil is used in cooking. “Over the years, Italian cuisine has been Americanized and we wanted to provide a new way to do Italian,” explained Chef Priola. Born in Sicily, Chef Priola’s family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York and when his father was unable to get a job in his field as a mechanic, he found work in a pizza shop. Pietro helped his father after school and on weekends; he made his first pizza at the age of ten, standing on a milk crate in order to reach the counter. By the time he was seventeen, Chef Priola knew he wanted to work in the restaurant industry and explore his love for the art of cooking. What he enjoys most is the creativity involved in producing imaginative meals, though his personal favorite dish is still pizza. Pietro honed his skills at various restaurants and in the mid seventies he opened Villa Romano, a traditional Sicilian restaurant and café in the Gold Coast Mall in Ocean City, Maryland. Deanna and Pietro live in downtown Baltimore, in the Canton neighborhood. On a walk one Sunday, they passed Pier Five Hotel and noticed that 'My Panini' was closed. They contacted the property owner and two weeks later they closed the deal and opened Pizzazz two months later. Chef Priola wanted to create a place where people could feel at home and enjoy quality,

healthy Italian cuisine. When creating the menu for Pizzazz, he knew he wanted it to be different and his “new way to do Italian” restaurant has garnered rave reviews since its opening in June. The restaurant is warm and beautifully decorated on the inside and has a beautiful deck where customers can enjoy dining waterside across the pier from the National Aquarium. Boaters can dock right at the restaurant and enjoy a glass of organic and biodynamic wine. On the first Tuesday of each month, Pizzazz offers “smoothie classes” where guests can learn how to make their very popular and very tasty superfood smoothies such as the berry mango-a blend of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, banana and mango juice. The teacher, Kendall Reichart is a holistic health counselor whose focus is on whole food and living food nutrition. The principle is that when the body is properly nourished, it can perform at optimum levels. Once a week there are classes in raw food preparation. The theme of Pizzazz supports Chef Priola’s credo—“good food is good medicine.” Randi Rom is President of RJ Rom & Associates, specializing in events, promotions and branding.

Berry Smoothie Loaded with healthy and local ingredients— a customer favorite

12 • october-november 09

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

Café Gia Ristorante 410 S.High St. • Baltimore, MD 21202 "...distinct restaurant with fine Sicilian food..." - Baltimore Magazine "Best Italian–2009" - Baltimore City Paper

Welcoming Chef Gianfranco Fracassetti to our culinary team! 410-685-6727

13 Allegheny Ave . Towson . 410.296.0799

cafe juice bar catering “1/2”

- Elizabeth Large, Baltimore Sun “Best Restaurant” - Baltimore Magazine 2006, 2007 & 2008 “Best Wine Bar” - City Paper 2008 “Best Wine List”- Baltimore Magazine

921 e. fort ave baltimore 21230 at the Foundry on Fort

410.244.6166 lunch: Tues – Fri dinner: daily brunch: sunday

our next raw dinners will be: Fri. November 20th Thu. December 17th Quick casual cafe offering raw,vegan,local,organic, free range& wholesome foods

october-november 09 • 13



The G rocery Store & Processed Foods R evisited eware the middle .” that

was the recommendation in my June ‘08 Our Common Table column. The “middle,” referred to the middle of our grocery stores and supermarkets. My thought process: the powers that be in the grocery business had devised a plan to situate most of the highly over processed food primarily in the mid section of their establishments. In my somewhat over simplistic observations I felt the “perimeter” of the supermarkets, which surrounds those devious, nutritional dens of iniquity a.k.a., the middle, host relatively—perhaps even healthy, products. Well, actually really just the produce section. But I implied that the other perimeter sections hosted rather benign foods i.e. dairy, seafood, meat, and bakery. Part of my rationale was at least there are choices: organic or non, fair trade vs. not-so-fair, or locally produced vs. industrial farms. Not long after the June ‘08 article was published I received an e-mail from an extraordinarily articulate and insightful fellow, a “real” food devotee. Basically Keith (that’s his name) felt I had generalized and reinforced

14 • october-november 09

a stereotypical concept which he referred to as the “dieter’s wives tale”—essentially that all the middle food is bad and the perimeter is good. And boy was he right! So I spent the next year really re-looking at the offerings of the perimeter and taking a new inventory of the middle. All the while Keith’s e-mail sat looking over my shoulder, sort of a little electronic conscience. Walking into the dairy sections I totally let go of the “well at least there’s a choice between organic or non.” Come on John get real. Keith’s e-mail reminded me that the once healthy aspects of yogurt were now negated with the infusion of corn syrup, coloring and stabilizers. And let’s not forget the “bakery” department with its not-so-homemade white breads, cakes and pies. My e-mail correspondent was quite correct in his assessment of the perimeter. With loins girded I headed back into the cavernous aisles of the “middle.” To be fair to myself I looked back to the original article and re-read my

thoughts from

John Shields

initial reflection on the middle aisles. Here’s what I wrote: “Food experts and dieticians alike advise us to stay out of the middle of the supermarket where products that are highly processed by huge industrial “food” makers fill the shelves. They are seductive little jars, bags, cans, and plastic containers all cheerfully decorated and telling us just how delicious, easy and often, how healthy they are. But given the facts most of these products are simply vehicles to transport salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, saturated fat, and trans fat, containing virtually little to any natural nutritional value. However the purchase of these items has far reaching ramifications. Beyond the economic havoc they play in our local communities let’s consider the physiological results of our regularly eating this type of food. Our country and culture is in the midst of an epidemic of diabetes, obesity and heart disease–just to name a few of the ailments.”

nutritious food can be found. There are thousands of responsible companies producing good wholesome food— some in an unadulterated state and some minimally processed. The End? Well not so fast. While reevaluating my views on mega grocers some new and startling (at least to me) observations and “get a clue” moments emerged. So dear readers stay tuned and keep your eyes open for the next issue of Baltimore Eats where in Our Common Table I’ll present: In Defense of Processed Food. Oh no, has he gone over to the Dark Side? John Shields is the owner of Gertrude’s at the BMA and the author of Chesapeake Bay Cooking and Coastal Cooking.

On second look, I can’t say the sentiment or and tone was entirely wrong. What was misleading is the part about every professional in the world telling us to stay out of “the middle.” Truth be told, these nasty little food creatures described above can–and–do exist in every grocery store department. But the flip side of that coin is, truly healthy, nutritious products can be found as well. As Keith points out, “perhaps as consumers we need to keep our attention on the food products themselves and not where they are located.” As highly processed unhealthy foods slowly continue their assault, making a conquest of the entire supermarket, our only self-defense is vigilance in making sensible, healthy purchases. I mostly rely on local farmers markets for good “real” food. But even in the grocery store “real”

october-november 09 • 15

Chef Simone Martini Personal Chef & Kitchen Consultant

eats: [eets] noun — 1. food


e exchange: [iks-cheynj] a 1. to trade or deal s t



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Personal Chef Private Cooking Classes Private Training in Use of High-End Appliances 410.800.6511


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


thursday • Friday • saturday byob 5:30 - 9:00 byob 4 east madison st, baltimore, md 410.605.2020

delightful food, sustainably sourced prepared simply w/a French-mediterranean flair 410.522.1825 the can company ● 2500 Boston Street Baltimore, Maryland 21224

thursday • Friday • saturday byob 5:30 - 9:00 byob 4 east madison st, baltimore,CA md P TA I N L A R RY ’ S BA R & GR ILL 410.605.2020 601 E . FORT AV E . BA LT I MOR E , M D

410 -727-4799 w w w .CA P TA I NL A R RYS . c o m

Little Havana & Bent Fork Catering 1325 Key Highway Baltimore, MD 21230 410.837.9903

Where Baltimore's Chefs and the at-home culinarian shop online 4660 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21206 410-483-1900 16 • october-november 09

Facebook: Little Havana

The most universal Seasonings & Rubs on the market.

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

100% All Natural Seasonings & Rubs -NO MSG and Gluten Free- remember , it is always a good time to get


baltimore's sustainable coffee source

Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner & drinks everyday 902 S. Charles Street Baltimore, Maryland 21230

410-234-0235 Facebook: Metropolitan Coffeehouse & Wine Bar


thank you for supporting locally roasted coffee

www. b lu eb i r dco ffee . com

BARTENDERS PUB 2218 Boston Street Baltimore, Maryland 21231 (p) 410-534-BEER (2337) (f) 410-534-2338

re Eats & Chef’s Expressions, Baltimo evening of present anlgen t horrors scarily good wine, indu ly goo d tunes D’oeurves and shocking

Haunted Wine Bar & never-ending top shelf cocktails, midnight costume contest, ghoulish dancing and philanthropic shenanigans You will be undertaken at 9pm on the evening of October 31st

Facebook: Bartenders Pub


Every Sunday • 8am-1pm 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.

The 1840s City Lites re 29 South Front Street, Baltimo This event benefits THE LIVING CLASSROOMS

REGULAR: $70 until October 23rd, $80 thereafter, 9pm VIP: $100, includes Champagne Tasting at 8pm RSVP to Katie 410-561-2433 or online:

(Owings Mills JCC)

october-november 09 • 17

DINING ON HARFORD The restaurants at Hamilton–Lauraville Main Street

4341 Harford Road • 410.254.2376 w w

5402 Harford Road • 410.444.1497 w w

5506 Harford Road • 410.444.4220 w w

5512 Harford Road • 410.254.1639 w w

Your inner canoe lives in Lauraville.

4337 Harford Road • 410.444.4440 w w

3003 Montebello Terrace • 410.992.4388 w w

For more information on restaurants, shops and special events, go to:

w w

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.


october-november 09 • 19




Kerry Dunnington

n chilly fall weekends, i love to snuggle up in front

of our fireplace and reduce my reading pile a foot or so. So when the temperatures outside begin to drop, this seems the perfect time to prepare my recipe for pot roast. This rendition from my cookbook, This Book Cooks includes turnips and parsnips; some of fall’s root vegetables that are now in season. The recipe for hot delicious biscuits is great for sopping up the seasoned broth. Keep the pot roast warm while the biscuits bake.

beef pot roast Freshly grated or prepared horseradish is a complementing accompaniment to the roast. If the biscuits didn’t sop up all the essence, leftover essence is a delicious stock for soup. • 1–4lb. beef chuck roast, trim fat • 1 garlic clove, crushed • White flour • 2 Tbsp. canola oil • 1 tsp. salt • ½ tsp. pepper • 2 medium onions, quartered

• 2 cans (14.25 oz.) chicken broth • 1–28 oz. can whole tomatoes with juice • 6 small to medium red potatoes, quartered • 8 carrots, peeled, cut 2-3" long diagonally • 3 small turnips, peeled and quartered • 4 parsnips, peeled, cut 2-3" long diagonally • 3 celery stalks cut 4-5 inches long

Preheat oven to 325°. Rub roast with garlic and dredge in flour, coating all sides. In a large skillet, heat oil to medium high and brown meat on all sides, remove meat, season with salt and pepper. Place meat, onions and chicken broth in a large roasting pan to accommodate the meat (and eventually all the vegetables) cover and cook for 1 hour. Add vegetables and cook covered for another 2-3 hours. Turn vegetables once or twice to assure even cooking. Arrange pot roast on platter and surround with vegetables. Serve immediately. Serves 6

Kerry Dunnington Catering seasonal, local, organic


20 • october-november 09

delicious biscuits Plan accordingly; the dough needs to sit for at least one hour or overnight. • 1 package active dry yeast • 1 tsp. sugar • ½ cup warm water • 4 cups white flour • ½ cup raw wheat germ • ½ cup wheat flour

• ¼ cup sugar • 1 tsp. baking powder • 1 tsp. baking soda • 1 tsp. salt • ½ cup canola oil • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk

In a medium bowl, combine yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add warm water and stir until mixture is dissolved; allow to proof about 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl combine white flour, wheat germ, wheat flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly drizzle oil over flour mixture, “toss” with a fork until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add yeast mixture and buttermilk stir until moist. Cover and chill for 1 hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 450°. Turn dough out on to a heavily floured surface and knead several times. Roll into a ½ inch thickness and cut with a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Arrange biscuits on a greased baking sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden. Yields about 2 dozen biscuits. Kerry Dunnington is the author of This Book Cooks. Her forthcoming cookbook Planet, Kitchen, Table is expected to be on bookstore shelves soon.

october-november 09 • 21

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.

1636 THAMES STREET HISTORIC FELLS POINT BALTIMORE, MD 21231 410-534-MELI (6354) 22 • october-november 09

Holidays Happen at Lebanese Taverna LET US PLAN YOUR EVENT family gatherings office parties & happy hours

Mediterranean Cuisine 410.244.5533 719 S President St corner of president & lancaster L E B A N E S E TA V E R N A . C O M

Serving authentic traditional Italian cuisine in the heart of Historic Hampden.

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

3547 Chestnut Avenue Baltimore, MD 21211 410.869.3429

october-november 09 • 23



15 Bucks Challenge •

y wife thinks i ’m a

wine snob and has been pointing this out for quite some time. I, of course, have been vehemently disagreeing with her, in a nice way, until I finished my outline for this article. The wife bases her argument on my palate, which she claims tends to wines that are too dry, earthy, tannic, leathery etc., etc,. The truth is that my wife is more typical of a majority of wine drinkers out there who just want a decent glass of wine that is fruit forward, soft and pleasing. They also want the wine shopping experience to be easy and familiar. If you have been reading my articles on a regular basis you’ve probably noticed that I don’t write much about California wines. That is because in the price range of under $20, where I try to focus, the wines generally don’t fit my criteria for terroir—the combination of their climate, soil, grape variety, and vintage. When I taste the same wine from two vintages the style should be consistent but the wines should be different. To me that’s a turn on. To my

24 • october-november 09

wife and many others, that’s snobbery and a turn off. In a way they are right because there is something to be said for a wine to taste the same year in and year out. Therefore I have chosen several California Cabernet Sauvignons that are widely available and retail for under $15. I think the goal of most of these wines is a similar taste and style regardless of vintage. I do think there are differences in vintages in California, especially in the premier growing regions; however, they will not be as apparent in this price range. The tasting was done blind by a panel of Thom Wysham, Elon Bliden and myself. I chose the wines, removed the corks and capsules and gave them to a neutral party to put in paper bags and number. Thom and Elon were told the theme i.e.; California Cabs under $15. Here are the results of those wines that stood out on a 20 point scale... Stan Bliden, the second-generation owner of Midway Liquors on Pulaski Highway in Joppa, grew up in the wine business.

Avalon Napa Valley 2007 • $14.99 Pretty sophisticated for price, dark garnet with spice and dark berry nose, good balance of tannins, acid and fruit. A full rich palate and long finish with some complexity. Conclusion: excellent value worth buying multiple bottles or a case. [Score 17]

Ancient Peaks Paso Robles 2006 • $14.99 Quite a nice fruit style Cabernet from a warmer appellation way south of Napa. Plump berry nose is the best asset with good mouth feel and ripe tannins. Conclusion: Good winemaking and high quality fruit, excellent value. [Score 16]

J. Lohr Paso Robles 7- Oaks 2007 • $14.99 Smells like Cabernet and tastes like Cabernet—a good start. Plump and rich with a slight minty quality, a bit softer than Ancient Peaks but still well made. Conclusion: Could use a little more structure but still decent. [Score 15.5]

Cannonball California 2007 • $12.99 Elon really liked this wine and so do our customers. It is very soft, friendly and straight forward. Conclusion: A Cabernet that doesn’t require food. [Score 14]

Photo: “Seeds & Stems” by James Eichelman

Drink Local. Buy Maryland Wine from Your Favorite Local Wine Shop and Farmers’ Markets Drawing from generations of experience and an ideal climate for ripening classic winegrapes, Maryland’s skilled winemakers provide wine drinkers a wonderful experience—world class wine made in Maryland. Maryland’s wineries offer delightful settings for a family adventure, a gathering with friends, a romantic interlude, or a moment of quiet solitude. Visit a Maryland winery or one of our award-winning festivals & events – much more information is available online at

Wine is Growing in Maryland


Commercial & Residential Equipment Sales & Service [P]: 410.633.3007 [F]: 410.633.3011 WWW.DIPASQUALESESPRESSO.COM




october-november 09 • 27



veryone knows you shouldn’t

drink on an empty stomach, but no one ever told me that you shouldn’t help a friend move on an empty stomach. Moving requires food and beer, in my opinion. After schlepping large items of furniture and belongings down narrow flights of steps, may I suggest The Dizz on 300 W. 30th Street, in Hampden. It fit the bill. Walking into The Dizz is like stepping into a time gone by. Careworn wood bar, old “pleather “ barstools, all the trappings of the old neighborhood bar. This is the kind of place your grandmother used to go soak up suds. Well, if your grandmother was anything like my grandmother Vera. The difference is that this place has become quite the hangout for the younger crowd. The beer list sports some great microbrews, and the bar has all the wellplaced favorites. While I was quaffing a Yuengling and munching on one of their extraordinary cheese burgers, Ace of Cakes, the Food Network television series, was filming an episode out on the street. From what I could tell, the cast and crew had managed to convince a Baltimore city employee, driving a small city cart with traffic cones in the back, to race one of their Vespas down the block, bringing normal activity on the street to a screeching halt. Clearly, lunch at The Dizz can be way more entertaining than you bargained for, and at no extra cost. That evening, it was off to Alizeé, located at The Inn at the Colonnade, on University Parkway. There’s a serious pool of talent in this latest enterprise. Daniel Raffel, formerly of Sascha’s, and currently


Scoote r H olt

of his own catering company, A La Carte Catering, is consulting his little heart out on this endeavor, and it shows. The wine list is spectacular, and I sipped on a ‘06 Pouilly Fuisse to kick off the evening. Christian deLutis, formerly of The Wine Market and Corks, is manning the kitchen, and the menu clearly shows his skill is in play here. Now, everyone knows there are two things I love most in a bar: a drink and a couch. This place obviously has the cocktails and a formidable wine list to keep me happy, but it also boasts two richly upholstered couches just screaming to be lounged on. As I caught up with Daniel, I downed a Vanilla Passion martini as he explained that the focus was on modern American cuisine. The wine list is chef driven, which becomes clear as one peruses the list and the menu together. A major draw to Alizeé is the no-nonsense pricing on all of its wines. You can snatch some real gems well under the price most upscale restaurants are charging. Did you enjoy your wine with dinner and you’re wondering where to find it? No sweat. Alizeé will be offering a retail wine shop just across the hall. The space is wrapped in warm, rich colors, and the bar is extremely comfortable–they even have a piano player on the weekends. All the luxuries at just the right price. Just a helpful suggestion: if you plan on making this your food and drink destination after helping a friend move, make sure to pull yourself together first! Scooter Holt has been in the restaurant industry for over 15 years and is currently at Corks.

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

28 • october-november 09


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 • october-november 09

October-November 2009  

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