|Laurel Tavern Donuts|
So, like in 2009, I'm taking Elizabeth Large's inspiration for a list of "great experiences" to create a separate list of ways that you can enjoy great food in Howard County. I arbitrary replaced half the items the 2010 list (and almost everything from the 2009 list). Please add comments with your favorite Howard County food experiences -- places to shop, places to eat, etc.
- Pack a picnic, then eat a peach right off the tree at Larriland Farm in Woodbine. From berries in early summer through apples and pumpkins in fall, nothing beats the flavor of the first peach that we split driving away from the farm stand. Picnic option: fried chicken from Harvest Fried Chicken in Woodbine.
- Buy a hot pretzel, then walk around the Dutch Country Farmers Market in Laurel. Start with a hot pretzel, then circle the relocated market to check out Amish salads, butchers, candies, baked goods, etc.
- Pair a cookbook from the Howard County library with a market that you would like to try. Steven Raichlen's grilling cookbook has options for almost any cuisine. Or try a Rick Bayless book with Lily's Mexican Market.
- Shop along U.S. 1 on the Jessup/Elkridge line. Tacos and agua fresca at R&R Taqueria. Stop at Mom's Organic Market. Maybe buy fish or oysters at Frank's Seafood. Then grab a goat milk lollipop at El Patio for the ride home.
- Stop for a milkshake at the Duchess. The Ellicott City spot makes thick shakes from ice cream. It's the ultimate local spot and everything you'd want in a treat.
- Try ground lamb at one of the local halal butchers like Nazar Market. They'll grind it for you, and you can make delicious kabobs. Start with Steven Raichlen's recipe.
- Run a fried chicken taste test. American at Harvest Fried Chicken. Import at the Mad for Chicken franchise inside Tian Chinese Cuisine in Ellicott City.
- Go try Ethiopian food at Soretti's Ethiopian in Burtonsville -- start with sambusas, which are like samosas, and one of the meat or vegetarian mixes.
- Dim sum at Red Pearl or Asian Court. Both joints do weekday dim sum from a menu, but take a group for weekend brunch when you can pick from a card and sample both the standards like shumai or steamed buns along with exotic items like chicken feet and savory cakes.
- Go try Korean food. Howard County's unique cuisine is the Korean options along Rte 40. You can get everything from barbecue to soup to tofu. You could read an overview post. Or just start at Shin Chon Garden and order dolset bi bim bop and a table where you can grill some bulgogi. Try the little dishes they bring -- along with the miso soup and the steamed egg.
- Sample craft beers and spicy burritos at Frisco Tap House in Columbia. If I drank more, I would spend more time at the bar sampling the best beers and eating the Southwest cuisine. They moved to a new location and added even more beer.
- Pick strawberries at Gorman Farms. It's an easy drive from anywhere from Fulton to Ellicott City. It's a short walk to the field. Great to take kids.
- Hot soup on a cold night. The tofu stews at Lighthouse Tofu BBQ make for a terrific, casual weeknight dinner.
- Take someone for a donut at Laurel Tavern Donuts. They're soft and puffy right out of the oil, and even the cake donuts are light. The U.S. 1 spot will make some memories for you.
- Buy authentic Mexican ingredients at Lily's Mexican Market in Columbia. Start with shepherd's tacos from Steve Raichlen's cookbook or anything from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday. Lily's has all the spices, the canned peppers, even fresh cactus. And Lily's makes fresh corn tortillas.
- Sample beer and a burger at Victoria Gastropub in Columbia. Five half-pours and the best burger in Howard County. Even better if you can enjoy the "parking lot cafe" and eat watching your car.
- Shop for kitchenware in the Hanoori Home Mart. The Asian kitchen store near the H Mart sells decorate items like tea cups and chop sticks, along with knives, steamers, bento boxes, and rolling pins that you won't see a Williams Sonoma. You can buy all the supplies that you'd need for Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings recipes.
(Update: Read the comments for some great ideas. I should have remembered Tea on the Tiber. Mrs. HowChow went once with RDAdoc, and they had a great time. I don't know why I never posted. Probably because they didn't take a photo!)
This week, I'm posting a series of "best of" posts starting with best restaurants and best food experiences. Then some posts about finds at stores -- the best grab and go items and the best ingredients for cooks. You can click for all the "best of posts" going back.