|Summer: Peaches at Larriland|
In no small part, that's true because I'm writing this in mid-winter with dreams of peaches, blackberries, apples and long afternoons spent walking Larriland's fields in the sun. Seasons matter, and Larriland is a magical place for half of the year -- from May strawberries through October pumpkins.
Howard County can be a fun place no matter the time of year. If you're looking for adventure, you can tailor the day by the season.
HowChow's 2012 guide to Howard County -- "Welcome Home." Ten posts to prove there are dozens of places worth your time, that you can find great food all across the county. It's written for someone new to Howard County (maybe a link you send a friend thinking about moving here), but hopefully it's useful to anyone.
|Winter: Tofu stew at Lighthouse|
- Go with soups. Try Vietnamese soups either An Loi or Pho Dat Trahn in Columbia. Or a tofu stew from Lighthouse Tofu in Ellicott City.
- Find a fireplace. You can sip coffee next to the one at Sidamo Coffee and Tea in Fulton. I think I remember beautiful fireplaces at the Stanford Grill in Columbia as well.
- Get a steak. It's too cold to grill, but it's cold enough that you could go full steakhouse. Try Venegas Prime Filet in Fulton.
|Spring: First beers on Victoria's patio|
- As soon as it is warm, you need to eat outside. My first suggestion is a seat on the patio at Victoria for the best burger and a beer sampler. But we're famous for our "parking lot cafes" so you could sit outside at Facci, Pub Dog, Great Sage, Ranazul, and Maiwand Kabob.
- Borrow a toddler and pick strawberries at Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel. The farm runs a CSA and a produce stand that you should definitely check out, and they do pick-your-own strawberries so close to the barn that even the littlest kid can handle the ride and the walk.
- Check the Web site to see if downtown Ellicott City revives the "Second Sunday" market. The French Market and other businesses helped run a monthly market in 2010 and 2011 with food, produce and other goods for sale. It's a great way to get a taste of downtown Ellicott City.
- Picnic at Centennial Park. The Columbia park offers kayaks and canoes at reasonable prices, or you can walk the 2.6-mile loop around. Fuel yourself up with a picnic lunch. There aren't many restaurants right nearby, and neither Yama Sushi nor Iron Bridge lends itself to an outdoor lunch. But you can find something good. I brought lychees on a first date. She swooned.
- Ribs or barbecue near U.S. 1. In warm weather and especially on weekends, there are folks grilling meat along U.S. 1 and Rte 175 in Jessup and Savage. Most are $10 plates with meat, rice, beans and salad like the guys at Mel's Liquors in Jessup. On weekdays, you could lunch at Dave's BBQ near the Savage MARC station. Or check out all the posts about local food trucks.
- Watermelon agua fresca at R&R Taqueria in Jessup. It's fruit and ice blended into the refreshing drink that Slurpees wish they could be. There are actually many great takeout drinks. I did a week of "Cold Drink" posts in 2011 to suggest alternatives to a cool-down soda. (Or consider a milkshake from The Duchess in Ellicott City.)
|Fall: Crabs at Frank's|
- Crabs at Frank's Seafood in Jessup. The secret of Maryland crabs is that they improve as a chill hits the air. Crabs fatten up to hibernate under the mud. So fall crabs are heavy and sweet. Frank's steams for you. They often run great specials as well.
- Larriland Farm in Woodbine. I've said that it's the best place in Howard County for food. It's actually great spring to fall with strawberries, peaches, blackberries, tomatoes and more. Consider canning. But it''s perfect in October when you pick apples and pumpkins and run around in their Halloween activities like a hay bale maze. Whenever you go, remember to pair your picking with the barbecue at Town Grill in Lisbon or the fried chicken at Harvest Fried Chicken in Woodbine.
- Local turkey from Maple Lawn Farm in Fulton. The farm on Rte 216 brings baby chicks in every year, and it serves up turkeys every fall. Full birds for your Thanksgiving table. Saddles, sausage and other specialties if you shop at the farm.