Thursday, February 19, 2015

Vote For Best Maryland Restaurants On-Line

You can vote for your favorite restaurants -- including Howard County locals like Ananda, , and River Hill Sports Grille -- through the Restaurant Association of Maryland's on-line polling.

Trip Klaus tipped me to the voting.  Anyone can vote for some of the "dining public" categories, and there are locals on the ballot, including chef Fabio Mura at Grille 620 and Bistro Blanc for wine service.  Plus there are members only categories if you work for a Restaurant Association member.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

News Flashes! Quick Hits About Bonaparte, Gorman Farm, Caffe Benne, And Bon Fresco

I have been hearing news even though I haven't had time to pass it along.  So here is a quick roundup of comments and questions:
  • Does anyone know if the Bonaparte Bread in Savage has re-opened?  It closed in January, but Anonymous left a comment a week ago saying that the Savage location had re-opened, maybe under new ownership and management.  Who knows the details?  Who knows if I can buy bread there?
  • Is it true that Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel won't open a retail stand this summer?  Anonymous commented on an old post that Gorman will sell just to members of its CSA.  I can understand the move.  Farming seems hard enough.  Farming and running a store seems overwhelming.  But I loved stopped there for produce.  I hope they'll at least do pick-your-own strawberries.  I have a new farm hand for this spring!
  • Adam reported that the Caffe Benne bakeries has opened on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.  Has anyone been?  This is one of the string of Korean bakeries like Shilla and Bon Appetit.  I wrote a few months ago that Rte 40 is becoming Gangnam style literally -- that neighborhood has multiple bakeries on many blocks.  He also reports that the neighboring pizza shop turned out to be a Papa Murphey's Take and Bake.
  • Latest word in the new Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery is that it will open in April, reports Linh.  This is in the Lakeview Office Park.
Thanks for all the comments and emails.  I am trying to get back into posting.  We're just at deep sleep deficits here as Lil' Chow adapts to his new life.  Most days, there is no free time before I collapse.  But I hear that things get better.

Rebirth Of Seafood In Jessup? Wild Seafood Appears To Be Filling The Old Frank's

A new retail seafood shop appears to be filling the space formerly occupied by Frank's Seafood in the Jessup seafood market.

Look for Wild Seafood at the near end of the market.  Dave Webb, a former manager at Frank's, is in the process of opening that store, reports Rob.  Some fish may already be on sale, but the official opening is slated for February 28.  Says Rob:
Right now, he is having a "soft opening," and he has a few things in stock. But, he will be up and ready to go full steam.... ahhh CRABS... ahead on the 28th.
The former Frank's Seafood closed last fall after being a Howard County mainstay for years.  They were my spot for oysters and steamed crabs.  The new Wild Seafood appears to be taking over the same space, which is just south of Rte 175 and a few blocks east of U.S. 1.  You need to show an ID to enter the Jessup wholesale seafood market, but anyone can buy at the retail store.

If you go to the new Wild Seafood, I also recommend stopping at My Organic Market, which is on Rte 175 just east of U.S. 1.  I've done well in the past shopping for fish or shellfish, then taking that inspiration to My Organic Market to buy my other ingredients.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Did Bonaparte Close In Savage? Bakery Down?

The Bonaparte Bread in Baltimore closed and had a sign saying that the owner had gone to France to avoid money owed to the government, reports the Baltimore City Paper.

The City Paper said the sign -- which was later removed -- said the Savage location closed as well.

Does anyone know if the Savage store is open?  Anyone know if they're closed temporarily or forever?

Hat tip to Anonymous who left a comment on an old Bonaparte post linking to the City Paper.  Thanks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Restaurant Weeks Runs Now; Try Something New

If you don't have a feverish toddler in the house, then you should go take advantage of the Howard County Restaurant Weeks that run through February 2.

The winter version of the Howard County weeks has about two-dozen restaurants participating -- mostly upscale places and national companies.

I'm not huge on the weeks.  Most years, the specials aren't big enough to make me eat somewhere that I didn't plan to eat anyway.  But I see several places that were already on my list to try again, including Grille620, Aida Bistro, Iron Bridge, etc. 

Plus, it's fun!  It's an excuse to go out to dinner tonight or tomorrow or some other night in the next two weeks.  Go celebrate something.  Celebrate that you don't have a feverish toddler in the house.  Trust me, you should drink to that.

Check the restaurant list.  I'm clicking fast during Lil' Chow's nap, but I don't see an easy way to check out all the offers.  So please add a comment if you've seen a deal that looks good.

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Bon Fresco Opening On Broken Land, Bringing Great Sandwiches And Bread To Offices

A new Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery is coming to the Lakeview Office Park, according to a notice that the landlord has circulated to folks like reader Linh.

I had posted earlier about talk of a new Bon Fresco on Broken Land Parkway.  Linh left a comment that seems to confirm the new location -- although the time line (like all time lines) may be a bit delayed from their original plan.

This is a great place.  The original Bon Fresco is absolutely worth a drive.  They bake their own breads, then make delicious sandwiches.  I have posted may times over the years.

Anyone know the time line to opening?  Anyone know if Bon Fresco plans the same menu or variations?

Thanks to Linh for the update.  Thanks to everyone for your patience.  The new baby definitely cuts down on blogging.  Some people just have superhuman strength to blog with a new baby.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Check Out The Greek Cookies Tucked In A Florist; Raimondi's Does Cookies, Pies, Cakes And Candy

My four cookies from Raimondi's
There is a sweet thrill in eating where I can't figure out how they pulled off the recipe.

I stumbled on Greek cookies in a florist-bakery in Ellicott City, and I was excited to find that they're exceptional and doing something with butter that I can't do myself.

Step inside Raimondi's on Rte 108, and you'll see maybe 10 cookie variations.  These were rich treats, but they're somehow also light and crisp.  Delicious buttery flavor as I ate them, but no oily after taste or heavy feel.  Some vanilla.  Some chocolate.  A few dipped in chocolate, just a touch.  Imagine cookies slightly softer than biscotti, but closer to that dry, classy cookie as opposed to a gooey chocolate chip.

Raimindi's has a full bakery display and a candy counter inside the florist shop.  They buy the cookies from Yia Yia's bakery if I understood correctly.  They also sell pies and cakes.  They can special order Vaccaro's cannolis with a day or two's notice.

I only ate four cookies.  And I forgot to write the names.  I was just experimenting on a lark.  Raimondi's is a florist next to Coal Fire Pizza and across from Starbucks.  I pulled in for caffeine, but I was so pleased by the cookies that I forgot to buy an espresso.

Raimondi's is definitely worth checking out.  I have bought more than my share of cookies or candy displayed in retail stores.  Most are not interesting.  These Greek cookies are worth driving to pick up -- and I'll be pleased to hear if the pies, cakes or candies meet the same standard.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Eating Off The Kids' Menu: Mango Grove And Ananda Introduce Indian To Lil' Chow

The kids' menu dosa -- maybe larger than normal
When we rolled into Mango Grove in Columbia on Sunday night, we had no idea what Lil' Chow would eat.

He's a good eater.  But he definitely prefers crunchy food to soft stuff. 

He knows sticky short-grain rice, toast, seaweed, rice cakes, and pancakes.  But our only prior attempt at Indian had been a mistake where we tried Ananda on the day that clocks sprang forward -- so he was starving before we arrived and stayed addled through an appetizer before melting down.

We bet on the cheese dosa off Mango Grove's kids' menu.  A rice and lentil crepe -- stuffed with their normal potato filling, but also layered inside with melted cheddar cheese.

A boy and his mango lassi
It's delicious.  We know because Lil' Chow didn't bite at the crunchy dosa.  This could be a terrific meal for any kid willing to try something new and wanting to eat crispy crepe and warm filling potato.  (It can be spicy and adult as well if you order the mysore masala dosa.)  I'm confident that Lil' Chow will come around.

But last Sunday, he ate rice and mango lassi.  That's the Indian basmati rice, looser and more flavored than the Korean rice that I made habitually now in my new rice maker.  Mango Grove stirfries rice with onions.  Lil' Chow chowed.  Then, he sucked.  He took the kid's lassi -- a mango-yogurt shake in a plastic cup with a lid and straw -- and drank down.  He was hilarious and a bit amazing since we had never seen him act so carefully with a drink before.

Mango Grove is one of Howard County's best kitchens.  We feasted on the dosa along with the mashed eggplant of baingan bartha and the unique jackfruit of kathal korma.  Unripe jackfruit give a meaty texture to that curry, although it's more of a subtle toothiness, not the weird "fake meat" texture that you can get from meat substitutes.  You're eating a vegetarian curry.  The jackfruit is firm, and the curry is beautifully spiced.

Today's snow got Lil Chow a second round of Indian rice at Ananda in Fulton.  Mrs. HowChow was minutes from dropping off our delayed-open daycare when they announced they were closed for the day.  Surprise!  She met RDAdoc for a playdate and then lunch.  When I got home, she raved about the butternut squash soup and the chickpeas.  No photos were taken.  (So sad.  Sad for me.)  But they also learned Ananda has started Sunday brunch.  We may be back there soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Did A New H Mart Already Open In Ellicott City?

Did a new H Mart already open in Ellicott City? 

I had posted about the H Mart that is replacing the Shopper's Food Warehouse on Rte 40.  A reader today commented that the store is open.  Already serving up samples!!

This is on Rte 40 at Rte 29.  The address is Ridge Road.  It's across Rte 40 from the longtime Lotte supermarket.

I'll be interested to see the new store and how it affects the area.  The new Lotte in Catonsville is beautiful, and I feel like it made the existing H Mart in Catonsville up its game with renovations.  I wonder if the new H Mart in Ellicott City is enough to cause changes at the Lotte.

HowChow needs to go on a holiday hiatus, but I will check out the H Mart right after New Year's.  Also, has anyone heard about a Chinese company taking over the Lotte shopping center and maybe changing the stores there?  There was a comment about that, but I haven't heard any details or seen any other mention.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Da Rae Won Black Bean Noodles And Lollipop Chicken; The Best Fuel For Ikea Shopping

"Lollipop" chicken wings at Da Rae Won
For a Korean food deep cut -- or just a great way to jazz up a trip to Ikea -- we recommend Da Rae Won in Beltsville.

This is Korea's Chinese food.  No more authentically Chinese than General Tso's chicken, but just as tasty. 

You can get black bean noodles, sweet-and-sour pork and other Korean-Chinese dishes at Tian Chinese Cuisine or Hanjoongkwan in Ellicott City.  But the noodles -- called jajangmyeun -- may be a touch more delicious at Da Rae Won.  Just a little most-complex flavor in the black bean sauce and an even-more-toothsome noodle.  Some Korean friends have definitely said Beltsville has the best.

From Howard County, the real beauty of Da Rae Won is that it is on the way to and from Ikea in College Park.  Look for directions, and you'll see you get to Da Rae Won from Rte 212, then shoot down U.S. 1 to the Swedish home store.  We ate lunch on the way home earlier this month, and I promise that it's better than anything you'll get in Ikea's meatball shop.

Personally, I suggest jajangmyeun and an order of the chicken wings -- sliced into lollipops and then fried with a slightly-spicy sauce.  They're different from the crunchy crisp of Bon Chon's chicken, but they might be just as delicious.  We have also had the sweet-and-sour pork, which a friend has compared to the deep-fried morsels of fried clams.  It's traditional and good, but heavy enough that I prefer the chicken unless I'm with a crowd and can order a bunch of dishes.

On our next trip, I want to try the spicy seafood soup. They use the same noodles in the soup, and people have recommended it as delicious and terrific for winter.

Da Rae Won is really casual.  It's the corner store in a shopping center just off U.S. 1.  Parking can be tight, but the place opens into a good-sized restaurant.  You can hear the bang-bang-bang of the noodles being made in the kitchen.  That's the gold standard for jajangmyeun.  If you're into  Korean food, this is worth driving to check out.  And if you're going to Ikea, this can turn your chore into some fun.

Da Rae Won
5013 Garrett Ave
Beltsville, MD 20705
(301) 931-7878 

NEAR:  This is just off U.S. 1 in Beltsville.  Garrett Avenue intersects with U.S. 1, and Da Rae Won is in the back corner of a shopping center that also has another Korean restaurant.  On-line maps often send me from Howard County to Ikea through a back way using Rte 212 (Powder Mill Road) and Odell Road.  That actually takes you with a few blocks of Da Rae Won.  So you can just go for the great food, then head from Da Rae Won to Ikea by just turning  south on U.S. 1 and watching for the store on your right.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fulton's Ananda Is One Of Washington's Top 20 Restaurants, Says The Washingtonian

The new Indian restaurant Ananda made Washingtonian Magazine's list of the Top 20 restaurants -- putting Fulton on a list dominated by downtown spots.

This is a great restaurant, and we have loved it since our first visit.  But I have been surprised and pleased to see such enthusiastic raves from professionals like the Sun's Richard Gorelick and Washingtonian's Todd Kliman.

I teased a bit when Kliman's first post seemed to gratuitously describe my part of Howard County as "the middle of nowhere."  But maybe I should have pulled back even on that now that he has show such love for a local place.

Local Oysters Join The Baskets At Columbia's Friends & Farms; Somewhere Steve Vilnit Smiles

Sapidus Farms oysters that you can buy through Friends & Farms
Folks who love local oysters should check out the Friends & Farms offering where customers can add Chesapeake and other oysters to their weekly food baskets.

Friends & Farms is a Columbia service where customers buy regular baskets of seasonal food.  It's a variation on a CSA, except that the company doesn't farm.  They buy meats, fruits and vegetables from a variety of places.

As long as the season lasts, they're now buying oysters as well.  You need to be buying a basket to sign up for add-ons, but that would let you buy any of four different oyster varieties -- listed on the Friends & Farms Web site by the aquaculture group that farmed them.

I'm a huge fan of Chesapeake oysters.  Last summer, Steve Vilnit took me along on a tour of an Eastern Shore oyster operation.  Vilnit promotes Maryland seafood for the state government.  The oysters were exceptional, and I could see why it's great for the bay and why they're worth seeking out.  This week's varieties at Friends & Farms run from $38 to $60 for 50 oysters.

Check out Friends & Farms' web site for more about the food baskets.  I haven't tried them yet, and I was surprised at how weekly CSAs didn't mesh with the way that I cook -- and that was when I had the freedom to eat late and cook anything for two adults!  But CSAs and Friends & Farms have great supporters, and they're terrific for bringing real foods to the fore.

Joe Squared Pizza Coming To Main Street Ellicott City, Landlord's Manager Tells The Sun

Joe Squared's pizza -- maybe coming to Ellicott City
Joe Squared Pizza will open an Ellicott City branch in the former Taylor's Antique Mall on Main Street, the landlord's project manager told the Sun earlier this month.

Joe Squared is a really good pizza restaurant with two locations in Baltimore.  We ate lunch at one today after a morning at Port Discovery.  It's a thin-crust square pie with high-quality toppings.

Blair Ames wrote a story on Dec. 11 about a tax credit announcement held on Main Street with a bunch of elected officials.  I would have thought tax credits were news 20 years ago when I was a newspaper reporter.  But amid a stultifying list of projects, Ames quotes Don Reuwer with information that actually affects people --  that they have a tentative deal for Joe Squared to occupy the first floor of the former Taylor's Antiques with offices on the second and third.

This is a prominent spot right at the intersection with Old Columbia Pike.  It is across from Pure Wine Cafe, which pairs nicely with Joe Squared's casual vibe and attention to ingredients.  The Taylor's folks have talked about a restaurant since at least January, and Reuwer told Ames that they hope to finish the project in six to eight months -- so figure next summer or fall because construction is always difficult and often delayed.

Hat tip to the anonymous commenter who mentioned Joe Squared and Main Street on yesterday's post.  I hadn't read the Sun article, and no one had mentioned it to me.  There is another comment that says the new restaurant from the folks who own Victoria Gastro Pub will be FoodPlenty in Clarksville.

Double hat tip to the HoCo Rising blog that noticed the lede buried in the Sun story last week.  Of course, some bloggers live a leisurely life where their new baby can't run yet.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Who Knows About New Projects By Victoria, Bon Fresco And Bistro Blanc? More Good Stuff?

Talk is cheap, but it is getting louder about supposedly new projects by the folks behind Victoria Gastro Pub, Bon Fresco and Bistro Blanc.

Does anything know the actual plans?  I've heard talk that they're all working on new projects.  Maybe a sibling for Bon Fresco in an office park off Broken Land in Columbia.  Maybe a second restaurant from the Victoria folks?  Maybe a new or second location for Bistro Blanc near Rte 32 and Cedar Lane?

These are places that people love, and new restaurants would be great fun -- especially if they're opening late in 2015 when we may have enough control on our lives to get out to them.

Please comment if you know anything.

Madame BBQ Has Joined The Food Truck Party, Bringing Lunch To Offices Around The County

Madame BBQ is a new food truck working Howard County, and she is sparking loyalty in hungry HowChow readers.

I laugh at how I once imagined paternity leave would include trips with Lil' Chow to lunch spots that my DC job kept me from trying.  Now, my job and the boy will conspire to keep me away from Howard County lunches, but you can enjoy the reports from readers like Dana and Lisa.

They both said that Madame BBQ and its chef Nikki McGowan show up with really good pulled pork, sandwiches, tacos and soup.  They're pleased that Madame BBQ shows up at all because they're in spots like Elkridge that don't have many other options.

That area is a "lunch culinary wasteland," reports Lisa.  Nikki actually came tino their office to talk about the truck.  Lisa has tried carnitas tacos and the "Todd" sandwich with pork, bacon and deviled eggs.  "That's deviled eggs on a sandwich, yes!" says Lisa.  "My co-workers also love the Todd and have also tried the tacos and the  pork cheesesteak which is sometimes on the menu.

Dana echoed similar happiness at having Madame BBQ pull up at her Deerpath Road office:
I’m not sure you could find a more delightful food truck chef than Nikki. She’ll tell you all about how long she’s had a food truck, how she’s learning what takes too long to make for waiting customers, and she does it all with one of the biggest smiles and friendliest personalities I’ve ever seen!
I’ve eaten there twice, and today I had what can only be described as the best smash-up of breakfast and lunch I’ve ever had. Hash with pulled pork, potatoes, and fried egg and topped with beer cheese soup and jalapenos. The beer cheese soup is one of those things on the menu that you will always hope for (and pray she hasn’t run out of by the time you get there)! She also has amazing pork tacos and sandwiches with unique ingredients (the Todd has pulled pork, bacon, deviled eggs and siracha pickles). 

The key to finding Madame BBQ -- like most food trucks -- is to bookmark their Twitter feed or Facebook page.  That's where McGowan updates about her location for the day.  Check the Twitter feed, and you'll see that she was worked outside Aerotek, offices on Broken Land Parkway, and offices on Coca Cola Drive.  They also worked the Jailbreak Brewery parking lot, which is a fun spot to eat and drink.

Thanks to Dara and Lisa for the photos and descriptions.  I really wish that I could stroll over one day.  Check out all my posts about food trucks -- and let me know if you have a special one that stops near you.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Two Kinds Of Hand-Made Noodles In Catonsville; Or "Pair Your Clam Soup With Clam Pancakes"

Hang Ari's clam soup
I have raved before, and I will rave again:  Something terrific is going on at Hanoori Town in Catonsville.

The three restaurants have been revamped in the Hanoori Town section of the H Mart's shopping center.  Hang Ari's hand-cut noodles are the shiny new star.  Imported from Los Angeles.  Unique in the area as far as I know.

But they're not the only hand-made noodles in town.  Chan Mat -- the restaurant in the back -- appears to have chef Chang Yon Huh banging out the noodles for black bean noodles as well.  Those are jajangmyeun, a cornerstone of Korea's Chinese restaurants.  The chef works in an open space where you can see and hear him throughout the dining room.

Hang Ari's clam pancakes
Seriously, these are exceptional, reasonably priced, casual meals.  I treated my parents to lunch of Hang Ari's clam soup and a clam pancake.  One order of each served three of us.  The clam broth alone is worth driving to Catonsville. The bowl can filled with tender clams and again had perfectly-cooked squash and potato.  The noodles are slightly chewy and contrast beautifully with the briny flavor of the clams.

The clam pancake was just as perfect.  Imagine chopped claim with just enough batter to brown and crisp.  The minimal-filler construction of a great crab cake.  That means they don't stay together like a finger-food latke, but they're delicious cut with a fork and dipped in a sauce.

New parenthood definitely makes blogging tough.  We are still learning to be efficient enough to have any free moments.  So I'm writing short posts this weeks on the theme of two items that you could buy at a single stop.  At Hanoori town, you could pair clam soup with clam pancakes or order one dish from each restaurant and pair Chan Mat black bean noodles with Hang Ari's noodle soup.

These are videos below of both the hand cut and "Chinese" noodles being made.
video video video

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Noodles And Fried Chicken: Pair Chapchae With Spicy Wings At Rte 40's Bon Chon Chicken

Chapchae at Bon Chon

Lil' Chow dances for noodles.  Thick noodles.  Thin noodles.  Fetticine with tomato sauce.  Udon with sesame oil.

That how we discovered the chapchae at Bon Chon Chicken, where we normally just ordered fried chicken and called it a day.

Bon Chon is the local outpost of a Korean chain that does amazing fried chicken -- crisp and crunchy  shell around moist and delicious meat.  We have left satisfied many times after nothing more than chicken and beer.

Fried chicken -- still amazing
But chapchae is a Korean noodle dish -- glassy sweet potato noodles stirfried with vegetables and sometimes meat.  I've recommended them as a vegetarian option at Shin Chon Garden, and I needed them for a boy who will sit patiently through dinner if you keep filling his plate with noodles.

Bon Chon's chapchae was exceptional.  Noodles with a terrific chewy texture.  The mild flavor of a sauce made with sesame oil and soy sauce and a generous mix of vegetables and thin-sliced beef.  Lil' Chow chowed and flirted with the waitresses.  I actually ate some chapchae because it was delicious enough to forgo even a few pieces of that great chicken.  Easily as good as Shin Chon Garden, our standard in Howard County where Lil' Chow had chapchae as recently as Sunday night.

Don't get me wrong.  You can go to Bon Chon just for the chicken and beer -- or the "Chi Mec" as it is known for the first syllable of the Korean work for beer.  But the chapchae makes a great pair if your group wants to try several flavors.  You could also order it vegetarian if your carnivore friends drag you to Bon Chon for dinner.

If you go to Bon Chon, definitely check out Shilla Bakery for dessert.  Bon Chon is in a shopping center that is parallel to Rte 40, but set back from the main road.  You actually enter from Plum Tree Road.  Shilla is in the shopping center that separates Bon Chon from Rte 40, and it has great coffees, pastries, cakes and other sweets.

New parenthood definitely makes blogging tough.  We are still learning to be efficient enough to have any free moments.  So I'm writing short posts this weeks on the theme of two items that you could buy at a single stop.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pair It Up: Oil And Bread At The Breadery

Oils and vinegars at the Breadery
The basics are new again -- this time at The Breadery in Oella that has added artisan oils and vinegars to the hot breads that they pop out every day.

I have raved about the Breadery since they moved just outside Ellicott City and started to offer a mix of crusty and soft breads, rolls and other items.  Now, I rave again because they're offering flavored oils and vinegars that can make a meal in seconds.

Again, this is basic stuff.  A dash of olive oil or vinegar to dress a salad, improve a sauce, or marinate a meat.  But it's new to me, and I love the ease of adding sweet, spicy and other flavors with just the tip of a bottle.

Honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar
The Breadery's selection is similar to the Secolari store in the Columbia Mall.  Vinegars with berries, chilis, or other spices.  Oils from a range of locations, some goosed with citrus, fruit or spices.  Great fun for a cook.  Great gifts if you buy for one.

For this week's blog theme, I'll emphasize that a Breadery loaf pairs beautifully with these oils and vinegars.  Dipped in an oil.  Served with a salad dressed with vinaigrette.  My Secolari finds let me make an ancho-lime dressing in seconds.  At the Breadery, I took honey-ginger vinegar.

You won't stumble on the Breadery unless you have business up the hill in Oella.  But it's a really easy drive from Main Street in Ellicott City -- even a beautiful stroll up a parkland path if you want to mix eating and exercise.  Definitely worth the effort.  With the occasional BrickNFire appearance, you can go there to eat immediately (BrickNFire's pizza), eat later (the breads) and cook for yourself (the oils and vinegars).

New parenthood definitely makes blogging tough.  We are still learning to be efficient enough to have any free moments.  So I'm writing short posts this weeks on the theme of two items that you could buy at a single stop.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fun You Can Only Have In Howard County; If You Like Twitter Humor, Follow Colonel Gateway

My new favorite Howard County joke is the Colonel Gateway Twitter account that I just discovered today.

I've said before that I spent years thinking there was a road off Rte 175 called Colonel Gateway.  That's because there is a sign on Rte 175 that says "Col Gateway."  As if anyone ever abbreviates "Columbia."

Now, there is fun to be had.  Someone has created Colonel Gateway.  He is tweeting about Columbia and posing at local landmarks.  That's fun that you can only have in Howard County.

Pair It Up: Kalbi And Tofu Soup At Lighthouse

The table of food you get with a single combo order of kalbi and soup at Lighthouse Tofu
Our new toddler means that we need to be efficient, so this week's posts will be two items to try in a single meal.

First stop: Lighthouse Tofu, one of my favorite Korean restaurants in Ellicott City.  It's a casual place that specializes in a tofu soup called soondooboo.  Very friendly place.  A great spot to expand your Korean eating if you have only done barbecue before.

And my Lighthouse recommendation is a two-part order that lets you enjoy a little barbecue and expand into soondooboo.

Mushroom soondooboo
That's the combo order of kalbi and soup.  You can pick your soup -- mushroom or meat, spicy or mild.  I heard mild ordered as "white" because the basic soup looks white and the spicy pepper sauce turns it red.

Lighthouse's soup is a spectacular winter meal.  Piping hot broth with deep, earthy flavor on its own.  Spicy if you want it.  Thick like a stew with mushrooms or meat and vegetables, then the silky tofu throughout.  I didn't grow up with tofu, so I lack the vocabulary to really capture the pleasure.  It holds its shape, but goes down without the chewing that you'd need for meat or pressed tofu.  It's a delicious, filling bowl.

Then you get a small platter of kalbi as well.  That's beef rib meat, marinated and then cooked tender and full of flavor.  I often pass on kalbi because it can be pricey, but Lighthouse gave me exactly what I want -- rich and flavorful like I don't get from just vegetables, but even better because it was reasonably sized and paired with the soup and side dishes.

Lighthouse Tofu is a terrific restaurant -- casual, kid-friendly, and reasonably priced at $10-15 a person.  I'm highlighting the kalbi and soup here, but you won't do badly ordering anything.  In February, I wrote about Lighthouse as an alternative for Korean Food 101.  That post has step-by-step instructions about going to Lighthouse and ordering some basics.  In Step Two, you could order kalbi instead of the pork belly that I  mentioned there.

I highly recommend Rte 40 and its Korean restaurants for anyone who wants to try great food in Howard County.  I posted a Korean Food 101 that explained how to try barbecue at Shin Chon.  I'm currently infatuated by the noodle soups at Hang Ari, which is in Catonsville but still on Rte 40.  You could also scan down all the posts about Korean food.