Thursday, June 30, 2011

Giant Campfire Mashmallows For S'Mores


"This is the best dessert in the world." -- Mrs. HowChow.

After living in a house with an electric range, it has been a real treat to get back a gas stove.  And the gas stove is the way to get a real treat.

This is the season of gas stove s'mores -- graham crackers, marshmallow, and a block of Hershey's chocolate.  It has to be Hershey's.  We experimented, even with candy bars that we loved on their own.  We keep coming back to the basics.

Now, we may have found our marshmallow as well.  My mother brought giant Campfire marshmallows from a Wegmans in Fairfax.  They make spectacular s'mores.  I brown the outside, then hold the marshmallow with the graham cracker and twist so that I pull the still-solid center from the crispy, cooked outer section.  That inside goes back on the stove where it bubbles and browns as well.

Perfect.  The two-step method doubles the crispy, browned pieces in the s'more.  The Campfire is truly too large for one graham cracker, but it's fun when marshmallow squirts everywhere.  Definitely a dessert that should come with a wet paper towel chaser.

I found the giant Campfire marshmallows at Harris Teeter.  I bet they're pretty common.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Facci Has Opened For "Take Out" Service

Facci Ristorante has opened for takeout service now, which means that you can finally carry out one of their pizzas or anything else.

This is part of Facci's expansion, and they have had a "2 Go" sign covered for weeks.  It was RDAdoc who noticed yesterday that the sign was uncovered.  She loves the pizza, but you need to be sure that you get the one that you ordered.  RDAdoc's report:
Yesterday I noticed that Facci 2 Go sign was up, and I was delighted to call and find that they opened two nights ago. They said that their menu was almost identical to their dine in menu so I ordered my two favorite dishes - Arguletta salad and Salsiccia e Rapini pizza.  (It's a white sausage and broccoli rabe pizza but I order it without the sausage.)  [HowChow: Get the sausage.] 
The guy who answered the phone was very nice and explained that the restaurant just got a new computer system so they were all trying to learn it and it would take a few minutes to enter the order. When I picked up my food, it also took a little while for them to ring up my order, but the cashier was very nice and I didn't mind. Unfortunately, when I got home I found out that they had given me the wrong pizza.   I am not sure if they rang up the wrong one or if they gave me someone else's order.  This pie had mozzarella and peppers and was almost as good as the rapini one I love so much. Normally I'd call to let the restaurant know that I got the wrong order, but I know they are working out their kinks.  Next time I will know to review my order before I leave.
If you go to Facci's, consider a cannoli.  If you're looking for Italian, check out the comments on a prior post about the new Tino's Italian Restaurant in Columbia. 

Jason's Deli Opening in Columbia? A Texas Chain With A College Park Location Coming To McGaw

Jason's Deli will fill the Columbia spot vacated a while ago by the Atlanta Bread Company, according to some comments on a prior post.

I don't know the place, but HowICook says that its a big menu with a salad bar.  Apparently, it's a Texas chain with a location in College Park.  This is the spot on McGaw Road across from the new Wegmans

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bon Chon Should Come To Howard County

Does anyone know if a Korean fried chicken place opened inside HMart in Catonsville?

That was the plan in March when Henry Hong wrote about Korean fried chicken in the City Paper.  In his article and a comment on HowChow, he contrasted fried chicken made in some Korean restaurants with the "Korean Fried Chicken" that has been a food-writer favorite.

Now, I can attest to the difference as well.  The Bon Chon chain has an operation in Rockland County, NY where we went to see our niece graduate from high school last week.  My brother-in-law grabbed takeout, and this Korean fried chicken is something different -- a crust so crisp that it shattered, but it was dry on the outside.  Between the double-fried crust, the garlic flavor and the seriously spicy sauce, the takeout box was unique enough that I wolfed down two legs and a bunch of wings.

Now I just read Henry Hong's description, and it's better to quote smart writing than worry that I'd be unintentionally imitating it:
Its product is pretty typical, with an aroma that slaps you in the face with garlic (definitely powder and fresh, in my opinion); a glaze that possesses a pretty straightforward combo of salty, sweet, and in the case of the “spicy,” a fast-acting, mouth-filling heat; and an exterior that although is often described as “shatteringly crispy” is more accurately somewhere between crispy and crunchy, with just a tiny hint of chew. The meat itself is unseasoned, but extremely moist, protected from drying by its cornstarch cocoon. It’s good, finger-lickingly even, but not life-changing, and probably not worth a trip halfway around I-495. Not on a regular basis anyway.
But it would be worth a quick drive across the county, and the big news is that Bon Chon is a franchise.  For some reason, I had assumed it was a big company that opened stores at a glacial pace.  Based on the crowd at graduation, that franchise can't be catering to some massive Korean population.  Fried chicken has an international appeal.  *YOU* could open a Bon Chon franchise in Ellicott City or Columbia.

Anyone know if a Korean fried chicken place opened in HMart?

Link: Kloby's New Bar On Baltimore Beer Guy

For more about the new bar at Kloby's Smokehouse, check out the Baltimore Beer Guy.  He wrote about the 20 taps that Kloby's added with a link to Kloby's on-line beer list and talk about a Guinness ice cream float.

Check out the main BBG site for other news about a July 10 "Pints and Pancakes" at T-Bonz Grille and a July 21 Belgian festival at Frisco Tap House.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Link: T-Bonz and Kloby's On Beer In Baltimore

The recent expansions at T-Bonz Grill and Kloby's Smokehouse got the two places written up in the Beer in Baltimore blog.

T-Bonz is an Ellicott City joint that I visited long before its craft beer expansion.  They have expanded to 40 taps and include my favorite -- a sampler of four small glasses for $6.50.  Kloby's apparently soft opened its new bar section last week when people started to line up for what what supposed to be a test of the draft lines.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Samosa Week: You Say Samosa. I Say Sambusa Because I'm Eating Ethiopian At Soretti's


The last stop on Samosa Week takes us the farthest away -- Burtonsville and Soretti Ethiopian Cuisine.

The Ethiopian samosa is a sambusa.  It's the classic fried savory pastry with dough wrapped around a filling.  Soretti does three versions: beef, chicken and lentil.  They're the ideal fried item, so not-greasy that I thought it might have been pan-fried until I realized it was browned all over.

The sambusas are triangles.  Thinner than the Indian samosa.  The dough is thinner too, but still chewy.  It's somewhere between the thicker Indian and the crisp Afghan version.  The chicken version has minced meat with a little corn and other vegetables.  The lentils are tender and firm.

Like the Indian samosa, Soretti's sambusa itself doesn't have much spice to it.  It's great for the crunch, but the flavor comes from the accompanying sauce.  It's brown and slightly sour.  I was thinking tamarind again, maybe even lemon.  But that couldn't have been more wrong.

The sauce is based on balsamic vinegar with basil, olive oil, honey and black pepper.  Vinegar, oil and basil?  Can anyone say Italy?  Of course, that's the history of Ethiopian, and it just shows that fried pastries can rule the world.

If you give sambusas a try, they're a fine appetizer before Ethiopian stews that soak into the injera.  Consider the vegetarian and meat samplers as I wrote in a prior post.

This is part of Samosa Week -- a celebration of savory pastries from India and beyond.  We're highlighting the best of Howard County's fried appetizers in all kinds of flavors.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Samosa Week: To Fry Or Not To Fry, That Is The Empanada From El Patio Market In Jessup

Cheese gives everyone an unfair advantage, and El Patio's empanadas stand out in Samosa Week because you can get several varieties stuffed with creamy goodness.

The empanadas from El Patio Market in Jessup need cheese in this week's contest because they're competing without the benefit of oil.  The empanadas are baked and sold from a case at the checkout.  You can have them heated there or bring them home for a quick 400-degree touchup in your oven.

Until samosas, the empanadas come with enormous variation.  Depending on the day, you can get cheese and onion, ham and cheese, spinach, chicken, and more.  The flavor is in the fillings -- that melted cheese or shredded chicken mixed with spices and vegetables.  The shells are a shiny pastry that crackles after it has been reheated.

These could be a hot lunch if you were running errands, or they can be a super-easy dinner if you wanted to carry something home.  Each variety is folded slightly different -- one folder corner, two corners, a letter pressed into the dough -- so you can recognize the filing even without cutting them open.  Because they're baked, you can leave them in the fridge and re-heat them when you want.

If you go to El Patio, check out the savory pies in the counter as well.  We tried one with a shredded chicken filling, and it reheated deliciously.  Same crisp crust on the top and flavorful filling.

This is part of the Samosa Week -- a celebration of savory pastries from India and beyond.  We're highlighting the best of Howard County's fried appetizers in all kinds of flavors.

El Patio Market 
7968 Washington Boulevard (U.S. 1) 
Jessup, MD 20794 
443-755-0385

NEAR: Just south of Rte 175 on U.S. 1. It's on the west side about a block south of the intersection. Very convenient from I-95.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Samosa Week Goes To Thailand: Chicken Curry Puffs With Cucumber Sauce At Bangkok Garden


When all the contestants are fried, the dipping sauce can carry the day.

Samosa Week went to Thailand for Bangkok Garden's curry puff appetizer, and the first note was the sweet, cucumber-flavored sauce.  The sauce, which comes with chopped onion and sliced jalepeno, certainly distinguishes the Columbia restaurant from Indian joints.

But the curry puff actually makes the "best samosa" list on its own.  The filing was a puree of chicken, potato and herbs.  That's as much flavor as an Indian samosa with the same profile of spiced, but not spicy.  Even more impressive, the pastry was perfect.  Crunchy and thick like an Indian samosa, but dry to the touch.  There is so little grease that it almost looks baked.

The Thai samosa is not a crazy pick.  I was surprised when I first read about curry puffs on Good for the Palate, but Bangkok Garden delivers on all three dimensions -- filing, pastry and sauce -- and contrasts the fried puffs nicely with fresh, lighter stirfries.  It's a new kitchen since the place was sold earlier this year, and definitely one worth visiting.

This is part of the Samosa Week -- a celebration of savory pastries from India and beyond.  We're highlighting the best of Howard County's fried appetizers in all kinds of flavors.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Samosa Week Crosses The Border: Thin Pastry Afghan Style At Maiwand Kabob

The first thing you'll notice about the Maiwand Kabob samosas is that you get a plate of them.

Afghan samosas -- as served by Columbia's premier Afghan restaurant -- are smaller than Indian samosas.  They're cousins, not twins, and Maiwand's appetizers come wrapped in a thin pastry, more like filo dough than the bumpy, thick skin of the samosas at places like House of India.

The filing is mashed potato.  It's not hot, but it is spiced to a zesty flavor with maybe tumeric, pepper, cumin . . .   I recognize the peas, but I can't win that Top Chef contest where they identify ingredients in a mystery sauce.  I do recognize the cilantro sauce, which seems similar to many Indian restaurants.  The yogurt sauce is unique.

Like many of the Samosa Week winners, the Maiwand Kabob samosas make the list because they're not greasy.  They come out hot and crispy.  The sauces contrast beautifully with bright and fresh flavors.  Frankly, they make a meal for two if you order samosas and maybe the mantwo or a plate of kabobs and rice.


This is part of Samosa Week -- a celebration of savory pastries from India and beyond.  We're highlighting the best of Howard County's fried appetizers in all kinds of flavors.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Samosa Week: India And Pak Make A Great Fried Pastry, But Can They Out-Appetize The World?

I don't think that samosas were my first Indian food, but they have certainly become a gateway drug for many people who explore the cuisines of the subcontinent.

And why not?  The appeal is international -- grab a handful of filling, wrap it in dough, drop it in hot oil to fry to a crisp.  Variations run from empanadas to sambusas to the knish.

But I think it's fair to start with the samosa.  You'd do fine at any of the Howard County Indian restaurants or even at the cashier at Food Cravings, but I'll start today with the vegetarian ones at Mango Grove / Mirchi Wok, the paired restaurants in Columbia off Dobbin Road.  (The Howard County planning board approved plans to knock down the building.  Anyone know what is happening to them?)

Two in a $5 order, they come out hot from the oil.  That's a key.  Samosas have a thick pastry shell that often bubbles and browns.  It's thicker than an egg roll, thinner than a calzone.  The best ones are fried and served fresh so that they don't soak in the grease and congeal.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Is Happening To Mango Grove? And Its Samosa Week Here At The HowChow Blog!!

Does anyone know what is happening to Mango Grove and Mirchi Wok?

The Howard County planning board approved a plan under which the developer will knock down the Mango Grove restaurant and replace it with retail for two stores and a restaurant.  It is going to include a drive thru window.  This is on Dobbin Road just south of Rte 175.

I want to hear that Mango Grove is moving somewhere else in Columbia.  That's one of my Top 10 restaurants in Howard County.  I want them to end up somewhere else!!

(Update:  There is a comment below that says Mango Grove is looking for a new space nearby. In July 2011, the folks at Mango Grove were telling people at the restaurant that they would move Mango Grove to another place near Dobbin Road.  They're also hoping to open a "Mango Grove Express" somewhere else.)

(Update 2: The new location announced in October 2011 will be a few blocks down Dobbin Road in the shopping center with Lakeside Coffee, Noodles Corner and Pub Dog.)

This is particularly important because this is Samosa Week at HowChow.  A week of posts about fried savory pastries.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

One Big Plate of Howard County: Laurel Meat Market Flank Steak On A Salad W/Gorman Peas


Step One: Flank steak from Laurel Meat Market.

Step Two: Snow peas from the CSA at Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel.

Step Three: Lettuce, radishes, and carrots from the back yard.

Shake it up with the spiciest sauce that you can expect from the people at Cook's Illustrated.

Flank steak turns out to be easier than a hamburger.  Salt and pepper on both side sides, then grilled on high heat for five minutes per side.  We ended up with meat that was cooked well on the edges, but firm and pink through the center.

Perfect cut for Mrs. HowChow, who doesn't like gristle.  A small flank steak easily makes four or five salads.  I made "Sweet-and-Sour Chipotle Sauce" from The New Best Recipes.  That was brushed on the meat, then served as the dressing on the simple salad.  It's actual flavor from folks who normally teach technique, not ethnique.

Spice isn't the wheelhouse of Cook's Illustrated's, which burned me out after a year or two of roasts, meats, and traditional vegetables.  But The New Best Recipes is a terrific reference.  They explain technique, but in about half the length of the magazine's articles.  It's great for problems like "I have a flank steak.  What do I do with it?"

These are just some of the places that you can get great food around Howard County.  I'm trying new cuts from Laurel Meat Market -- aiming for new recipes from Planet Barbecue.  Talk is that the Gorman produce stand could open next week.  The CSA had garlic scapes, greens, peas, and squash.  I don't know how they already have squash.  These professionals.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Link: Iron Bridge Owners [Are Not] Opening New Restaurant At Former Friendly Inn

The owners of Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia have a deal to operate a new restaurant in the site of the former Friendly Inn on Frederick Road in Ellicott City, reports Wordbones on Tales of Two Cities.

(Update: Not true.  Wordbones has updated the blog, and the Iron Bridge guys aren't opening a new place.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Opens In Columbia

From a comment yesterday, I heard about a new place that opened on Dobbin Road -- Tropical Smoothie Cafe, which looks like a chain that sells smoothies, wraps and salads.

From the Web site, it looks like the Columbia location may be in the back side of the shopping center with Walmart just south of Rte 175.  That's where one of the Five Guys opened last year.

Anyone try it?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Link: Kimco Seafood On This Is Gonna Be Good

The This is Gonna Be Good blog has terrific photos and a long description of a Korean-style sushi feast at Kimco Seafood.

This was a spread with 25+ panchan and a meter-long wood board covered with sashimi.  1000yregg posts about exotics like sea squirt, sea cucumber and lobster, but much of the sashimi was halibut, tuna, salmon and yellowtail.  After all that, they had a lobster soup.

TIGBG actually posted about Kimco in April, but I overlooked it then.  It's too good to miss.  Kimco is the Ellicott City restaurant that I reviewed a long time ago when it was called Bethany Seafood.

For more about Korean restaurants along Rte 40, check out a prior post where Kevin talked about the variations, including Korean sashimi called "Hwae."

Kupcake & Co. in Elkridge

I married into a no-cake house.  No wedding cake, so we're not the first folks in line at a cupcake bakery.  (The Rice Krispy Treat bakery?  We're there.)

Kupcakes & Co. opened last week in Elkridge.  T.J. wrote a rave on the Patch, although early comments on a prior post had been mixed.  To settle it, RDAdoc headed over for HowChow.  Nothing like sending a nutrition PhD to do a dessert blogger's work.  She dropped one off here, and I thought the chocolate was good.  It's not the richest cake, but the flavor was chocolate -- not just a sugar rush.  This is the RDAdoc report:
Last week I hosted an end of the school year party for my son’s preschool class. Being RDAdoc, of course, I preferred to serve just fresh fruits and vegetables to the kiddies.  Wanting to avoid a revolt, however, I planned to offer cupcakes too. 
My party was a good excuse to try the new cupcakery in Elkridge: Kupcakes & Co. My original plan was to get mini cupcakes, but unfortunately they don’t make them. I emailed the owner to ask if she could put less icing than she normally does (I am, after all, RDAdoc). Graciously, she was happy to honor my request. I ended up placing an order for an assortment of two dozen red velvet, cookies and cream, chocolate buttercream and vanilla buttercream cupcakes, enough for both the kids and their parents. I decided to stick with basic flavors, but they do have more interesting flavors such as Key Lime, Mocha Latte and Peppermint Patty. They also have seasonal flavors that sound delicious including Margarita and Pina Colada! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Discount From Columbia Company

You can get a discount from a Columbia company that sells gluten-free ingredients through the Washington Post's version of the daily discount.

I had never heard about Jules Shepard or the Jules Gluten Free line.  The WPost highlighted the deal to me, and the Jules Gluten Free Web site lists an address in Columbia.

The deal is $29 (plus $12 shipping) for a "New Customer Pack" that includes flour, oats, three gluten-free e-books, and mixes to make cookies, graham and bread.  They say the normal price is $89, so you save two-thirds.  The ad links to a 2007 WPost article by Kim O'Donnel, who I always respected and who seems to enjoy the mixes.

Anyone know more about Jules Gluten Free and the Columbia connection?  The 2007 story said she ran monthly cooking classes at Roots Market and baked at Great Sage.


(Update:  Here is news from Jules herself:  
If you want to learn more about me, my cookbooks, my products, or my new recipes, here's all the info:
JulesGlutenFree.com
Blog.JulesGlutenFree.com
Twitter: JulesGlutenFree
FB: Jules Gluten Free Flour; Gluten Free Cookie Swap; & Gluten-Free Food Labeling Summit 2011

I don't teach a lot of classes locally anymore, as I travel (WAY too much!) to lecture, teach & do industry consulting, but if I'm ever doing something local, you'll find the info on my free weekly recipe newsletter or on Facebook!

Link: Cuba De Ayer's Cubano On DC Foodies

The DC Foodies blog went a long way to talk up the Cuban sandwich at Cuba de Ayer in Burtonsville.  It's an enormous post talking about Cuban sandwiches in DC that also highlights the sandwich that often makes me ignore the rest of the menu.  Key point: They recommend ordering a side of mojo -- "the garlic and olive oil mixture makes a good sandwich phenomenal."

Places To Buy Crabs Near Howard County

It is still too early for most Maryland crab feasts, but it is time to think about where you'll go for hard shells.

Frank's Seafood in Jessup has been my go-to place since I moved to Howard County, and they sold great crabs last August.  But people gave great suggestions in the comments last September when I asked for emergency help from someone who couldn't reserve Labor Day crabs at Frank's, including Casey's in Laurel, Sea King in Ellicott City, and Captain Dicks in Arbutus.

Where do you go?  What do you look for to ensure that you're getting good stuff?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tian Chinese Cuisine in Ellicott City

video
From the outside, Tian Chinese Cuisine looks like an anonymous hole in the wall Chinese joint, but it actually isn't any of those things.

Tian isn't really a Chinese restaurant.  It serves Korean food, the kind of menu served as "Chinese" in Seoul in the same way that General Tso's Chicken is sold as "Chinese" around here.  It also isn't anonymous.  The door opens into a bright, modern space with trendy stone-tile walls and an open kitchen.

Listen for the difference.

Thwack!  Thwack!  Thwack!  That sound from the kitchen is the reason that you should try Tian.

I'd read about Korean-Chinese cooking in Kevin's guest post about the options along Rte 40.  We had even eaten at Hanjoongkwan and started with the Korean-Chinese basics of kangpoongi (fried chicken) and jjajangmyun (noodles in black bean sauce).  But everyone lamented that none of the local places made their own noodles -- until now.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Link: Square Burgers On P90 Noir

The P90 Noir blog has come out in favor of square burgers, says the physics keeps them from shrinking like a round burger.  Really?  I do love the burgers, and I always recommend the house-ground chuck at Laurel Meat Market.

P90 Noir is also grilling pizzas!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sandwiches In Howard County: The Bready Competition Pita & Rye Joins This Weekend

Corned beef and Italian from
New York Deli in Columbia
The new kosher deli Pita & Rye is working out the kinks and aiming for an official opening this Sunday morning, and that got me thinking about the sandwich landscape that the new joint is joining.

Taste is personal, and sandwiches are super-personal.  Just check the comments on prior Pita & Rye posts to see people split in their preferences for meat and bread.

But there are certainly some Howard County spots trying to put out exceptional sandwiches.  They're selling food that I couldn't just assemble from the stuff that I can buy at the supermarket -- and that's important because I can get okay bread and pretty-good meats to pack in my own brown bag.

Pita & Rye has two angles that appeal to me -- falafel and special corned beef.  As far as I know, no one else sells falafel sandwiches around here, and I'd love hot fried chick peas if they come with some flavorful salad and dressing.

Bangkok Garden 9 in Columbia

Choo-Chee Goong and Pad-Mah-Kuer-Jae
Bangkok Garden 9 can serve food delicious enough that it's worth make sure that they get things right.

The Columbia restaurant has been a local attraction for years, and we have gone twice since it was sold earlier this year and added the lucky "9" to its name.  Thai food makes for happy evenings -- in no small part because it was part of our early dates and our honeymoon.

Bangkok Garden can deliver.  When it's on, the food is light and punchy.  The sauces are so delicious that I wanted extra rice to spoon it all up.  We have wiped out an appetizer and two large plates of food because it's just too much fun to box up.

Sharing a bunch of courses is important because you can sample so many different flavors in a Thai meal.  You could start with larb -- the cold salad made with minced chicken, lime juice, fish sauce, and herbs.  Or you could flip around to curry puffs -- a fried, flaky pastry like a samosa, stuffed with pureed chicken and pastry and served hot with a cucumber sauce.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Did Fortune Star Buffet Close In Jessup?

A comment on a prior post reminded me that Fortune Star Buffet in Jessup was locked and closed when I passed by over the weekend.

The comment asked whether anyone knows why Fortune Star closed.  I was wondering whether the closing was temporary or permanent when I peered through the glass doors.  I think the side said "Closed Today."  I couldn't see into the dining room to tell if the restaurant was still set up.

Fortune Star ran a large buffet of Chinese and American food.  It was one of the first places that I wrote about in 2008, but I have to admit that I haven't been back in years.

(Update: There is a comment below that says the closing is temporary.)

If you're looking for local Chinese food, check out my Summer 2010 post about Chinese restaurants in Howard County.

Goat Milk Lollipops At El Patio In Jessup

Imagine a dulce de leche lollipop -- sweet, but with the adult flavors of caramel and goat milk.

The Coronado lollipops hang just across from the cash register at the El Patio market in Jessup.  They're Mexican, and they could be a gourmet item if they were sold in a fancy joint.

First, they're delicious.  It's basically a disc of caramel that melts in your mouth.  (This isn't the durian candies that I said would be an acquired taste.)  Second, they're all-natural with just goat milk, sugar, corn syrup, salt and sodium bicarbonate.  I love a candy made from ingredients that I have in the pantry, except of course that my milk is a species more mundane.

The Coronado lollipops come in a string of 10 for $2.  They'd be great for a packed lunch and unique enough that I'm trying to imagine how they'd fit in a dinner party.

If you go to El Patio, definitely try the empanadas that they sell from the counter.  They're part of the taste test planned for later this month, and they're delicious.  Check out all the posts about El Patio.


El Patio Market
7968 Washington Boulevard (U.S. 1)
Jessup, MD 20794
443-755-0385

NEAR: Just south of Rte 175 on U.S. 1. It's on the east side about a block south of the intersection. Very convenient from I-95.  This is a great place to check out if you shop at Mom's Organic Market or Frank's Seafood in Jessup.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Make Your Own Fig Spread At Mom's Organic

Let's be clear: Mom's Organic Market isn't looking out for my health.

I went into the Jessup store Sunday to buy ingredients for a menu from Ani Phyo's Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.  This cookbook offers more medical advice that my doctor, but I was going to try a cauliflour mash recipe.

Seriously, this cookbook promises everything from more enzymes to fewer heart attacks, from stronger life force through soaked nuts to better-smelling sweat through organic foods.  This meal was going to be life-changing.

But Mom's Organic put fig spread between me and the psyllium powder.  A guy serving bruchetta -- sliced French bread topped with a fig spread, walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.  Delicious.  Sweet, tasty and crunchy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tino's Italian Bistro Opens In Columbia

Tino's Italian Bistro has opened off Rte 108 in the former space of Strapazza -- according to several comments on a prior post and a mention by Richard Gorelick in the Sun (third item).

Gorelick quotes the new owner who says that he teamed up with the former chef at Strapazza.  They're doing pizza, Italian food and a wine bar.

Link: Honey Pig On The Baltimore Snacker

Honey Pig pleases the city folks, including the Baltimore Snacker who brought two friends and feasted on barbecue and Korean beer.

I have enjoyed Honey Pig.  When people ask for meals worth driving from Baltimore out to Howard County, I always point to the Korean restaurants along Rte 40.  Great food.  Lots of variety -- Honey Pig, Shin Chon Garden, Lighthouse Tofu . . .

Check out two prior posts -- mine and an expert's -- about the variety of restaurants along Rte 40.

Links: Noodle Soup, Buffalo Chicken, And New Voices If You Want Food In Howard County

You don't need to rely on HowChow if you want to read about food in Howard County.

I'm glad that you're here, but the beauty of the past few years is that other people have joined the conversation.  At the start, it was just me and the Baltimore Beer Guy.  Now, you need to check the entire food "section" of Hoco Blogs -- the aggregator that links to any bloggers from the neighborhood.  But other blogs swerve from their normal subjects to touch on food like the scones on HoCo Connect, grilled pizza on P90Noir, or the splendid "Food vs. Food" posts on Swim Write Run.

I created a list of local food blogs in the right column.  Definitely check those and suggest any I may have missed.  I'm still hoping the HoCo Hangover folks will re-start the engines.  I'm excited for the La Casa de Sweets recipes and hoping for some local sweets reviews.  I'll steer you to start with a few recent posts:
If you write about local food, feel free to email me about cool posts.  I love to link or to add new people to the blog list.

Wegmans: They're Building, Anyone Know More?

The Wegmans hasn't exactly started to rise in Columbia, but at least they appear to be laying the foundations.

The site has lots of machinery, and it looks like they have leveled off large areas.  Of course, I'm just looking through the fence.  My source for real estate news is the Tales of Two Cities blog, which has predicted a Summer 2012 opening and talked about the parking garage.

For the future, I'm going to track the porta-potties.  I see three now.  I have a dream that one day I'll see them deliver 10 more, 20 more, enough porta-potties for an army of Wegmans construction workers.  It's good to have a dream.

(Update: Check out the comments below.  Also see Rick Bird's comment on the "I Want The Columbia, Md. Wegmans" Facebook page -- that footers are being inspected June 10.)

Anyone know more about the status of the Wegman's?  I assume the wet weather has slowed them down.  Anyone hear anything about an opening target?  Check back for my posts about news on Wegmans.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kupcakes & Co. Has Opened In Elkridge

The new Kupcakes & Co. bakery opened officially last weekend in Elkridge.  A HowChow correspondent has been dispatched to check it out this week, but you should stop for a sweet and then report back yourself.

Kupcakes & Co.
6010 Meadowridge Center Drive
Elkridge, Maryland 21075
(443) 552-3033

This Girl May Have Picked The Last Strawberries

Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel offered pick-your-own strawberries this spring, and I took advantage Saturday morning to walk around with a friend and his daughter.

Blame the toddler if she picked the last strawberries.

It's amazing to realize that even the beautiful strawberries at a place like Whole Foods don't actually taste like the sweet, delicate berries that you pick from your own plants.  The Gorman strawberries had the small size and the glistening color that says they won't last on a shipping truck.  They didn't need to last around here because my little friend mowed through a bowl with lunch.

By 2 pm on Saturday, the farm was hanging a "sold out" sign at the gate as I drove to the library.  I can't tell from the Web site whether that was the last weekend for strawberries or there is one more week left.

Click here for all the posts about Gorman Produce Farm, which is just east of Rte 29 and just south of Columbia.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Link: A Special Howard County Summer Beer

Victoria Gastropub and T-Bonz Grille have created a special beer with Oliver Ales -- a hoppy wheat ale called HoCo Summer Session, reports the Baltimore Beer Guy who has video.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Okra Chips At Laurel Dutch Market

The power of RDAdoc is so strong that she got Mrs. HowChow to eat okra.

Mrs. HowChow is the most-flexible of diners, happy to eat whatever I cook except for oysters and the night that my Thai curry was just too hot for human consumption.  And okra.

I vaguely remember her really liking my okra when I cooked on an early date.  But now that the deal is sealed, her lips are sealed to a vegetable that she considers too slimy.

The beauty of RDAdoc's discovery is that it's okra, but not slimy.  In fact, it's dried crisp, then dusted with oil and salt.  It's okra chips at the Amish market on Rte 198 in Laurel as she reports:
When it comes to trying new foods I am not very adventurous. I know what I like and I usually stick with foods I know. 
Several years ago while shopping at The Fresh Market in Quarry Lake, my eyes were caught by a bag of okra chips. I am not sure that I ever had tried okra before but there was something about the chips that I found intriguing so I bought some and ended up eating the entire bag myself. 
They were crunchy, salty and absolutely delicious! They tasted like nothing I had ever eaten before. Since then, I have been on a mission to find a store close by that sells them. Unfortunately I have looked and looked with no success -- until last week. 
While I was shopping for fruits and vegetables at the Dutch County Amish Market in Laurel, my two-year-old pulled me to JR’s Candy and Bulk foods to get him gummy bears .  To my surprise, I saw bags of okra chips!  (That must have been my reward for buying him candy - something I normally wouldn’t do.)  I was absolutely thrilled and left with two bags.
They are close to $12/lb, but well worth the cost in my opinion.  So worthwhile that I was overly enthusiastic about the okra chips to the cashier, and she gave me a strange look when I couldn’t stop raving.  I have to admit that’s not the first time I’ve gotten that reaction from someone who saw me eating okra chips and asked what they were.  It must be hard for people to understand why okra chips could elicit such strong emotions.  I admit they do look a bit odd, but give them a chance if you are ever at the Fresh Market or JR’s Candy and Bulk Foods.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First Thoughts On BGR The Burger Joint

There is something distracting about a meal spent thinking about what I paid for each onion ring.

BGR The Burger Joint opened last month in Columbia, and it's a variation on the limited menu and counter service that has done so well for Five Guys, Elevation Burger and other small chains.

BGR's niche is quality.  Burgers are made to order.  They come in variations like lamb and tuna.  They serve sides like sweet potato fries and grilled asparagus.  It intends to sell good, unique food, which always attracts me in world where people could just open another Subway.

But it's hard to focus on the food when you paid more than $4.50 for six onion rings.

I'm trying to remember that BGR opened just a few weeks ago, and we may have walked in during the dinner rush.  But we paid almost $30 for two burgers, two sides, and one drink.  We also waited more than 20 minutes.  So I just couldn't help noticing that my "Cuban" burger had been cooked too far, then left to cool.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is Maiwand Kabob Expanding To Rte 175?

People at Maiwand Kabob were talking about plans to open a new location near Pier One in the shopping center at Rte 175 and Dobbin Road, reports Gussika on Twitter.

Anyone know more?  The Afghan restaurant is one of my favorites.  Spectacular bread, meats and vegetables with casual counter service.  If nothing else, go for the mantwo.

I feel like there are some empty spaces between the Pier One and the book store, but I can't picture what closed.  This is the same Columbia Crossings shopping center where they leased to Ichiban, Tutti Frutti and BGR The Burger Joint on the opposite side.

(Update: There are comments below that says Maiwand Kabob is expanding to a bigger location in Columbia Crossings. Maybe a bigger menu too.)