Friday, June 29, 2012

Walk And Roll: The Best Summertime Stroll and Food Spot (Almost) In Howard County

Croissant by the Breadery
I'm not saying that you should go out in 100-degree weather, but the best spot for a summertime stroll is definitely the Breadery in Oella -- just across the river from Ellicott City.

The Breadery is a terrific bakery that moved from Rte 40 to the hill in Oella.  It's a bit of a drive, but the new mix of dense whole grain and crusty loaves makes every trip worthwhile.  I love the rolls, and we had a savory potato focaccia that we reheated for Sunday brunch.

Shady walk under the bridge
But the Breadery's attraction goes more than the food.  The parking lot abuts an entrance to the Trolley Line #9 trail -- a paved walking path that runs from the river at the Howard County line up the hill to Edmondson Avenue in Catonsville.

The Trolley Line trail runs in deep shade.  Even on a hot day, it's a dozen degrees or more cooler as you walk next to a stream from the Breadery a little more than a mile downhill to the river.  You cross under the one-lane bridge.  You walk past high stone walls.

You can enjoy coffee, maybe a croissant from the Breadery.  But you should go early if want your choice.  When we arrived in mid-morning Saturday, the chocolate croissants were sold out.  (Guess who had promised a chocolate croissant to Mrs. HowChow.)  We walked downhill with a muffin and a regular croissant.  We then spent a fun morning eating around Main Street -- including the hot sauce at the Man Cave and the ice cream at Scoop-Ahh-Dee-Doo.

You can do some variations.  There is a parking lot at the bottom of the trail on Oella Avenue.  It's on the right just past the Trolley Stop restaurant.  You could park there and walk up to the Breadery.  That lets you walk downhill in the second half.  Either way, it's a perfect path for stroller walks or to tire out some kids that you want to entertain.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thank You For Reading HowChow

More things we like at Wegmans
Thank you so much for reading HowChow.

This is an accidental -- and geeky -- hobby, and we often laugh about snapping photos in restaurants and writing about crazy fruit.  You wonder sometimes if anyone reads the posts.

But Monday, we were in the new Columbia Wegmans.  It was my wife's first visit, and our first stop was the bakery.  We were standing by the pretzel rolls, and two women walked next to us. One pointed out the rolls to her friend.  We were about to take two, and Mrs. HowChow said to the women that the rolls were good.

"I read about the pretzel rolls on HowChow," one woman said.  We hesitated.  We'd overheard people discuss the blog before.  But no one had quoted us to us before.  We didn't know what to do.  Then, the woman turned right to my wife.

"Mrs. HowChow really likes them," she said.  We froze.  Mrs. HowChow really froze.  I started to laugh, and I had to turn and walk a bit.  Everyone smiled, and the other women walked on.

We wish that we had outed ourselves.  We should have said, "We're the HowChows."  It would have been hilarious for everyone.  But that was a novel moment, and it's not like we hold ourselves out as food experts in our off-screen lives.  And then the moment was gone, and we were chuckling our way through the deli section.

Thank you for reading HowChow.  We don't take this very seriously, but we appreciate that the blog does something real.  We love reading comments that people discovered something delicious here -- great bread, gas station tacos, Korean barbecue . . .  So go grab those pretzel rolls.

Popsicle Molds At River Hill And Sweet Elizabeth Jane -- Rockets, Twin Pops, Jewels And Bugs

Popsicles at Sweet Elizabeth Jane
The heat is coming back, and you can fight back with your own popsicles.

Bug pops at River Hill
I'm still a fan of the the Zoku popsicle machine, but you can find all kinds of unusual popsicle sets at home stores around the county.  The molds are fun.  Many are funny.  You freeze some juice, and you can pop them out to cool down.

In Ellicott City, I found a display at Sweet Elizabeth Jane on Main Street.  Rocket pops.  Twin pops.  Big pops.  Little pops.  They even had some tiny molds that make desserts that look like oversized jewels.

In Clarksville, River Hill Garden Center sells very appropriate molds.  They're bugs.  You freeze your favorite flavor in the shape of a beetle or a caterpillar.  (I think it's a caterpillar.)  That's perfect to eat out in your own garden.

Both Sweet Elizabeth Jane and River Hill have interesting houseware sections.  Sweet Elizabeth has a mix of modern stuff, and it's worth checking out along with Su Casa farther up the hill.  Plus they sell taffy.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Link: Great Sage On MinxEats

The Minx has posted about Great Sage in Clarksville, and she says the food was so good that it almost brought her back to a vegetarian life.  I haven't been back since the kitchen went completely vegan.  We should try it again.

If you want more from the Minx, you can pre-order the book that she and her husband are writing The Food Lovers Guide To Baltimore.

Scoop-Ahh-Dee-Doo In Ellicott City

Scoop Ahh Dee Doo
Main Street in Ellicott City is one of the few real pedestrian dates that you can have in Howard County.

Walking is fun.  Walking with an ice cream cone is even better, and Scoop Ahh Dee Doo has opened a window on ice cream in the neighborhood.

Literally a window.  Scoop Ahh Dee Doo is an ice cream stand next to the Little French Market and just off the parking lot off Main Street.  They're importing Taharka Brothers Ice Cream.   That's the hippest ice cream company in Baltimore and a place with fans on Yelp.

Adam posted about Scoop Ahh Dee Doo in April.  He liked the ice cream itself, but he didn't like the bacon in the maple and bacon flavor.  I went simple with dark chocolate peppermint.  Really rich chocolate ice cream.  Peppermint flavor throughout the scoop -- not crunchy candy.  Two bucks for a scoop is actually a deal when the ice cream is that delicious.  It's worth even more on a hot day.

(Update:  Wordbones had posted Monday about Scoop Ahh Dee Doo with the delicious rave: "It is like eating a fat angel.")

Scoop Ahh Dee Doo
3748 Old Columbia Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

NEAR:  Scoop Ahh Dee Doo is on the Tongue Row collection of shops.  The buildings face Old Columbia Pike, but the shops are on the back side facing the parking lot off Main Street.  The shop is just to the right of the Little French Market.

Scoop Ahh Dee Doo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cotton Candy At The Columbia Mall

Cotton candy from the Columbia Mall.
Apparently, there is a stand in the Columbia Mall selling really delicious cotton candy -- fluffy, flavorful floss that melts in your mouth.

Anyone know the name?

I got the cotton candy -- and a rough description that it's a stand near Forever 21 and the fountain -- from someone in my house who is related to me by marriage.  (H/t Satchmo.)  Maybe it had a circus theme with other circus food?  Apparently, there are some people who don't photograph all the food that they eat.

The cotton candy is delicious.  It was airy.  It was sweet.  It was good after spending more than a day sealed in its plastic bag.   That's pretty impressive for pre-made cotton candy.  Great for a treat.  Great enough, Mrs. HowChow suggests, to serve on a pretty plate as a dinner party dessert.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blueberries And Beets At Larriland

Blueberries from Larriland
Our Larriland Farm season started a month earlier this year when we actually got there for blueberries.

Out in the fields
Often, we arrive in peach season.  But we got a canning book on Saturday, so we went out Sunday afternoon to pick some things to preserve.  First, we went to the blueberry fields.  Remember our lesson: Walk to the far part of the field.  We slogged a long time on plants that other people had been picking all week.

I had to laugh when we finally go to the far end and found plans with more than three or four ripe berries.  At th far end, you could just stand and pull handfuls.  By the end, we had 10 pounds of fruit.  I canned some.  I hope those will become a base for drinks and ice cream sauce.  We'll freeze the rest and make sorbet over time.

Larriland is spectacular.  If you haven't been, you need to plan on blueberries now, tomatoes, peaches, and blackberries in the summer heat, then apples and pumpkins in the fall.  The fruit just tastes better.  I have been popping handfuls of blueberries, and they're absolutely perfect.

Honey sticks!
And that's not even taking in the beets.  Beets are the easiest pick-your-own field.  Just pull them out of the ground.  We got 20 pounds in minutes, and I roasted them all.  I turned some into pickles.  I need plans for the rest.

Larriland is a great activity with kids.  It's a project for a serious picker who wants to cook or can.  Don't miss their expanded barn where they sell already-picked produce and some other treats.  We always get dried fruit candy for the ride home.  We also bought McCutcheon's sodas -- black cherry and sarsaparilla -- and some of the honey sticks.

The vegetables are still a deal, but beets were more than we paid last fall.  It was 99 cents a pound if you buy 20 pounds.  That was 79 cents last fall.  Remember the beet rule: Bring a knife to slice the stems.  Keep the greens that you'll saute with garlic and dress with a little oil and vinegar.

If you want to try Larriland, remember that you can get food for a picnic out there.  Harvest Fried Chicken is just north of U.S. 70.  Town Grille in Lisbon sells barbecue almost between U.S. 70 and the farm.

If you want to try to can, I recommend buying a canning pot from Amazon.  Ball sells jars all over the place, including Kendall Hardware in Clarksville.  But the price of the big pots makes that a deal.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Link: Patch Hams Up For CrunchDaddy's Bacon

The CrunchDaddy bacon-and-maple popcorn got a rave today from the Columbia Patch, which offered it as a rival to Ellicott City's chocolate-covered grilled cheese-and-bacon sandwich.

I loved the CrunchDaddy popcorn, as I noted in April.  The bacon-and-maple is CrunchDaddy's most popular flavor, but I thought the honey-and-cinnamon was just as creative and maybe even more delicious.

Check out the April post.  CrunchDaddy is a local, one-man operation, and he'll deliver the goods to people around Howard County.

Hot, Hot, Hot At Man Cave Off Main Street

Hot sauce selection at the Man Cave
If you're window-shopping in Ellicott City, you should get a taste of Man Cave on Old Columbia Pike.

But not too big a taste because the cave is stock with some serious hot sauce.

Man Cave is a shop a block off Main Street run by the guys who also run the Hackers Ink computer services company.  It's a mixed shop aimed at the boys.  Comic books.  An Atari 2600 hot-rodded to play on a flat screen television.  And hot sauces.

Dozens of hot sauces.   Jalapeno and cayenne, cayenne and ghost peppers.  It's a fun mix that runs from just crazy hot to unique takes that include bourbon, Old Bay style seasoning, etc.  You can taste a few, although you might want to bring a few crackers because a few squirts of raw spice was enough for me.

Man Cave also sells some barbecue sauces, but I'd really recommend it for someone who loves spicy.  Fun for the heat-head to explore.  Great if you wanted to buy some unique gifts.  Is it too early to think stocking stuffers?

If I'm right, the Man Cave used to be a little farther up Main Street on Merryman Street where Wordbones wrote about them last summer.  At the time of that post, the Man Cave was selling takeaway food cooked at Tersiguel's.   I didn't see a menu at the new location.   

At the Man Cave's former location, it looks like someone is renovating to open a new restaurant.  The sign advertises Matcha Time Cafe, a Japanese cafe and shop.  Anyone know the story there?

Man Cave
3715 Old Columbia Pike 
Ellicott City, MD 21044

NEAR:  Man Cave is a block off Main Street on Old Columbia Pike.  It's in sight of the traffic light on Main Street at Pure Wine Cafe.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Red Mango Comes To Clarksville

Yogurt and toppings at Red Mango
I may have been wrong about the frozen yogurt chains.  I had written that I'm not sure I'd drive past one to taste another, but I'll be driving to Red Mango this summer.

I need to research.  I need to fill some cups, scoop some toppings.  We blew through Clarksville last weekend, and we found some pretty great stuff at the new shop.  Really creamy yogurt, fruit that has never been frozen, mochi squares that tasted like the special stuff at La Boulangerie.  

Red Mango follows the main line of the tart yogurt trend.  Modern decor.  Self-serve yogurt.  An array of toppings like fruit and candy.  But Red Mango may be a step above.  The yogurt flavors were outstanding.  Honey yogurt melts into honey on the tongue.  The blackberries that were a treasure in June.

I really suggest the frozen yogurt whether you try Red Mango or one of the other chains.  You can really create whatever you want.  All the chains have the tart flavors and Asian toppings that made the trend exotic.  But they also have flavors that taste pretty much like soft-serve ice cream and the sprinkles and candy to please any sundae traditionalist.

Do you have a favorite chain?  Or a favorite flavor?

Red Mango
6040 Daybreak Circle
Clarksville, MD 21029

NEAR: This is the village center on Rte 108 in Clarksville.  It's near the Giant.

Red Mango on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Maiwand, Yogi Castle & Bon Chon Opening News

They're all still just internet mentions, but it looks like we have rough dates for a few of the new places coming to Howard County.

Maiwand Kabob's new Columbia location will open on Wednesday, according to their Facebook page.  (H/t to Mike.)

Yogi Castle's new Columbia shop will open on Saturday, June 23, reports Agilmut who says an email arrived with the announcement.

And Bon Chon hopes to be frying chicken in Ellicott City by the first week of July, they're saying on their Facebook page as well.  (H/t to MaybeKathy.)

Let me know if you know more or if you see any of these folks open up.  Click on the prior post to see the comments about these dates.

What You'll See At The New Columbia Wegmans

Fill a Wegmans truck with your favorite food
I didn't have to go to the new Columbia Wegmans.

I had planned on waiting a few weeks for the rush to slow, but then I had Monday off work and focused on food.  And I was excited.  I drove over at 8 am and ended up wandering around for much more than an hour.

What should you expect at the new Wegmans?  I appreciated the pre-opening publicity, but sometimes journalists get a little caught up in detail like square-footage and the number of check-outs and miss the way that things feel.

Gourmet cheese
It's huge.  The Wegmans is enormous.  The aisles are wide.  The store stretches forever.  It's more like a Target than a grocery store.  Get a map because I missed sections and had to loop back.  At the entrance, it's a gourmet store with prepared foods, bakery, meat, fish and cheese.  Then it's a huge produce department.  Then it's a grocery store down the center, then it's a steel-shelved club store at the far end.

But it's not exactly four stores stitched together.  Some items are scattered around the store.  There is bread in the bakery.  There is more way in the back.  There are sodas in a half dozen aisles -- including San Pellegrino next to Italian cookies on the aisles with pasta sauces.  It's more broken-up than a grocery store, which just means that you can walk around and make discoveries around any corner.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wegmans First Thought: Go Pretzel Roll

Pretzel rolls at Wegmans
I'm sitting in the kitchen listening to the metal lids pop as my newly-pickled beets cool down from the canning bath.

Because I had the day set aside for food, I took advantage of the morning at Wegmans.  It was easy to maneuver from 8-10 am when I wheeled around.  As the day's work ends, I'm writing up a longer post.

But first advice:  Go pretzel roll.  The bakery is one of my favorite parts of the new Wegmans in Columbia.  They share my love of the crusty loaves, and I grabbed pretzel rolls at Mrs. HowChow's request as I entered the store.  Then, I grabbed a pretzel on the way out.

This makes a terrific roll.  The pretzel was fine, but, at $2.50, a pretzel has to wow me.  It was the pretzel roll that became a meal as I lunched on cheese, some fruit, and lemon-pickled beets from last October.  The pretzel crust is unusual and lightly salted.  The inside scooped up the cheese as I worked and ate.  I've been joking about Wegmans mania, but that is the kind of little item that really does make the place stand out.

Lunch Today: CHOCOLATE-COVERED Grilled Cheese and Bacon Sandwich At Sweet Cascades

Chocolate-covered grilled cheese and bacon sandwich
You read the headline right?  Imagine a cheese sandwich.  Add bacon.  Grill it.  Then dip it in chocolate.

That's your lunch today at the Sweet Cascades shop on Main Street in Ellicott City.

The folks who brought you Old Bay chocolates, chocolate-covered breakfast cereal, and some very cool chocolate-covered wine bottles have branched out to lunch.  They make grilled cheese sandwiches, then choco-dip them and artfully drizzled them with white chocolate to finish them off.

I have to admit that I don't know how they taste.   I snapped a photo because we had already eaten ice cream and then lunch on Saturday.  (You read that right too, kids: When you're an adult, you can eat ice cream before lunch.  No one stops you.)

Sweet Cascades takes the sandwich seriously.  They talked up the bread, the cheese (pepper jack?), and the bacon.  I'm sure there is a trick to making sure that it dips right in the chocolate.  I highly recommend the chocolate-dipped sandwich, and I'd love to know what you think if you try.

Wordbones -- Isn't there a child in your house who needs this kind of one-stop nutrition?

(Update: Adam actually tried the chocolate-covered sandwich.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

So, What Did You Think Of The Wegmans?

First thing, start with ketchup
The Columbia Wegmans opens at 7 am this morning.  There are probably people in line already, and there will be crowds by dawn.

Have been there?  What did you buy?  What did you see?  What did you think?

(Update: Check out Tim's post from around midnight on the Facebook page.  He appears to have been there about midnight.  Scan the whole Facebook group for photos of the line.)

If you haven't been yet, here are lessons to help prepare.  From Duane, check out a post and photos on the HoCo Connect blog.  From my nephew, remember that, if the toy train isn't running at Wegmans, you can ask them to turn it out.  (Unless it's out of order, which it is a much more serious problem.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Twas The Night Before Wegmans

Only hours until the Wegmans lane opens!
What will you do in the few hours until the Columbia Wegmans opens?  Why read poetry, of course?  Poetry from Dennis and Amanda, who will be among the opening-day hordes on Sunday and who composed a perfectly-timed (and perfectly-rhymed) take on a famous poem.

You know the tune:

Twas the Night Before Wegmans 
Twas the night before Wegmans, when all through the county
Not a resident was stirring, not even for paper towels named Bounty.
The shopping carts were placed outside with great care,
In hopes that Sean and Dennis soon would be there. 
The Howard Sapiens were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of exotic cheeses danced in their heads.
And Amanda in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long night's nap. 
When out on Snowden River there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. 
The moon on the breast of the newly paved parking lot
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the new Columbia hot spot.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a coupon book to Wegmans for discounts to share. 
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on Route 175,
The prancing and pawing of Howard Sapiens beginning to form a line.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down came Wegmans employees from the county beginning to surround 
They spoke not a word, but went straight to work,
And filled all the isles, with delicious foods like Jamaican beef jerk.
And preparing their cash registers with currency and change,
They all gave a nod to begin the great exchange! 
They sprang to their feet, and gave a great whistle,
And away the Howard Sapiens all flew like a missile.
And I heard them exclaim, ‘as the residents lined up for the night,
"Happy Wegmans to all, my goodness what a sight!"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Roots Throwing A Party This Weekend -- Cheese!

Roots Market in Clarksville is throwing its 12th birthday party this weekend.  They have discounts from Saturday to Monday -- with cheese kicking off with 15% off on Saturday.  I do love the mini cheeses on the salad bar.

Wegmans Tour: Rob Tours Wegmans And Reports Back On Meats, Caviar And Shopping Carts

Cheese at Wegmans
Two key facts about the new Wegmans.  First, don't try to take shopping carts down from the second floor of the parking garage.  They have a conveyer so you can take your food up to the second floor.  But professionals will take carts back down.  Second, there is a model train running in the back of the store.  It's a Wegmans tradition.  It's all the most-exciting part of the grocery to my nephew.  So the Virginia HowChows can visit safely.

These facts come from Rob, who volunteered for the HowChow blog slot during Wegman media days.  He took a long tour on Thursday, taking photos and collecting information.  Here is a primer before the big opening at 7 a.m. on Sunday --

I arrived early for a 2-o'clock appointment and was struck immediately by the size of this place.  The parking lot, two levels of it, is huge.  I parked my car on the lower level in the "eggplant" section.  As opposed to "A" through "Z", Wegmans chose to label parking with the names of fruits and vegetables.  It turns out that I did myself a favor and looked over the recently updated web site and found the parking guide which provided some good information about how to park on the upper and lower levels as well as how to move your groceries from the lower level to the upper.  Hot tip:  Do not try to take carts from the upper level parking into the store.  But you can use the the escalator on the left side of the store (as you face the front from the outside) to move your cart and yourself to the second level. 
There was quite a presence in the store when I arrived.  I spotted Colleen and Danny Wegman talking to the troops as I sought out my contacts.  I actually got a balcony shot of Danny and store manager, Wendy Webster, if you can imagine the quality of a picture taken by a blind, one-armed chimp.  Jo Natale, Wegmans' Director of Media Relations, and Cynthia Glover, principal of Smart Works marketing company, were my guides through the 135,000 sq. ft. store.  Did I mention the place is huge?  It is.   

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Red Mango, Potbelly Open, But We're Still Waiting For Bon Chon, Yogi Castle & Maiwand

Yogi Castle coming to McGaw Road
Apparently, the Red Mango opened in Clarksville today.  Anonymous left a comment on a prior post and said the frozen yogurt shop was crowded.

Earlier this week, Potbelly opened in Columbia on Dobbin Road.  It's the slot that was Starbucks until the coffee folks moved across Dobbin to their new location. (Hat tip to Alicyn.)

Still waiting -- Bon Chon for fried chicken in Ellicott City, Yogi Castle for frozen yogurt in Columbia, and the new Maiwand Kabob for Afghan in Columbia.  Anyone know the story on those?  Jessica left a comment saying that Maiwand may be several more weeks.

Link: Patch Live-Tweeting Wegmans Liquor

The Howard County liquor board is holdings its continued hearing about the liquor store at Wegmans in Columbia.  Andrew Metcalf of the Columbia Patch is filing constant updates on Twitter.  You can check out his feed here.

The HowChow Spot At Columbia's New Wegmans

Parking lot cafe at the new Wegmans
Even before it opens, there is a HowChow spot at the new Columbia Wegmans -- a parking lot cafe on the side of the store.

From the right table, you'll be able to eat your Wegmans goodies while watching both McGaw Road and a two-story parking garage.  That's an unprecedented opportunity -- even in a county where we celebrate spots where you can eat while watching your own automobile.

I'm hoping for a robust preview of the new Wegmans on Friday morning.  Rob is scheduled to tour today, and he'll send over his report and photos.  I tagged along Tuesday night to the event for medical professionals.  I sampled the food and only saw the prepared food area.  The funniest part was listening to three women talk about "Where I had my first Wegmans."

The Wegmans plan is that I'll post Rob's report on Friday and then post again Saturday morning so people can add their own comments as the day goes along.  Other folks are posting too -- including Ian Kennedy (hat tip to Lanny) who got farther into the store and photographed the power bar aisle.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Travel Channel Star Calls Shin Chon "One Of Top Ten Korean BBQ Experiences In America"

Shin Chon Garden got a big time visitor tonight from the Food Channel when Andrew Zimmern and a crew from Bizarre Foods showed up to eat and film.

In a comment, Recent NoVa Transplant reported stumbling on Zimmern's crew while trying to go out to dinner.  Plus, Zimmern has been tweeting about Shin Chon with photos and the statement: "Shin Chon in Ellicott City Maryland is one of top ten Korean BBQ experiences in America. A must for anyone who loves food. Major discovery"  (Seriously, this is the tweet.  Look through his tweets for the photos -- like this.  He filmed in Lotte as well.)

Oh, dear.  I'm trying to plan dinner at Shin Chon, and Zimmern has 386,499 followers on Twitter.  That's going to fill up the barbecue tables.

Seriously, I'm a huge fan of Shin Chon -- and I'll emphasize that it isn't really bizarre food.  I mean Zimmern may have eaten bizarre stuff, but you can eat really well and enjoy everything even if it's your first Korean meal.  Try my "Korean 101" suggestions.  Or all my Shin Chon posts.

The crew told Recent NoVa Transplant that the Shin Chon episode won't air until January or February.

Egusi At Kuramo In Columbia

Egusi at Kuramo
We hit up the Nigerian food at Kuramo in Columbia, and I'm a fan of our first table of food.

Kuramo is a new restaurant in the Long Reach village center, offering up a short menu of Nigerian, Caribbean, and American food.  We asked for advice, and we ended up with egusi -- a spicy stew of spinach and ground melon seed served with a very cool alternative to rice.

It's pounded yam.  It looks like pizza dough, but it's more like mashed potatoes with a slightly firmer texture.  You pull off a piece of yam, and you scoop it to pick up the stew.  It's mild, but delicious.  The stew comes topped with a sauce and a choice of fish, beef or chicken.

It's delicious.  The stew is rich and spicy.  The ground melon seed looks more like ground chicken or tofu.  The meats were all good, although I liked the white meat chicken best.  The yam is filling and mild.  Pieces pull off easily, but it's a stretchy, smooth texture that feels simultaneously exotic and like comfort food.

Kuramo is a pretty big space with wooden benches and almost an island vibe.  It was pretty empty on a weeknight, but our waitress was friendly and chatted us up with advice.  She recommended the egusi.  She talked us through everything.  We ordered chicken curry as well.  It was another big stew, good but not as interesting as the egusi.  It came with fried plantains, which were halfway between the types that I'm used to eating.  They're sweeter than Cuban tostones, but not as soft and sweet as maduros.

Next time, I want to try to okro, a stew based on okra instead of spinach.  There are several stews along with rice dishes as well.  Anyone else have suggestions for eating at Kuramo or at Nigerian places in general?

Kuramo Restaurant
8775 Cloudleap Ct.
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: This is in the Long Reach Village Center -- north of Rte 175 off Tamar Drive.  The supermarket there is Family Market, which has nice vegetables, Korean food, and lots of Latin items as well.  There is also a nice takeout fried chicken place called Chick N' Friends.

Kuramo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Frozen Yogurt - Get On The New Way To Cool Off

Yogurt and toppings from Yogopop in Elkridge
Tart frozen yogurt was once such an exciting idea that we drove to Olney to sample what we'd heard the celebrities were eating in New York and Los Angeles.

Three years later, the serve-yourself yogurt shop has become so popular that I can't even track all the openings, closings and nuances between them.

Tutti Frutti opened in Fulton on Friday, and we stopped by in a crowd to pick from the 16 flavors and spoon on mochi and boba.  I've heard that the Red Mango in Clarksville is close to opening as well.  That means there are at least eight options in Howard County plus more in Catonsville  -- an entirely new way to cool off on a hot summer night.

If you haven't tried this yet, here is the basic idea:  Someone decorates a shopping center bay with white paint and modern design from Ikea and knock-off furniture stores.  They install a bunch of self-serve yogurt machines and a toppings bar that they fill with candy, fruit, breakfast cereal, and Asian items like mochi and boba.  Then they hire young people to weigh bowl and take money.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Last Week Without Wegmans - Hold The Buns (And Ask For "Firecracker" Mix At Laurel Meat)

Firecracker burgers from Laurel Meat Market
Wegmans opens to the public on Sunday, June 17, and I had to suffer through one final weekend wondering what life would have been like if they'd opened in 2009.

My burgers last night were special -- the "firecracker" mix from Laurel Meat Market where they take two or three parts ground chuck and regrind it with one part spicy Italian sausage.  It's a subtle difference -- a moist burger with a little more flavor than just meat, but nothing spicy.  Definitely worth checking out.  Definitely the fun of having a real butcher.  (The other great option is asking them to regrind some ground chuck with bacon.)

The bummer was that my buns were just okay.  I grabbed them from a supermarket.  They were fine.  But I couldn't stop thinking about the chatter about something call Kimmelweck rolls on the I Want The Columbia Wegmans Facebook page.  I don't know if they're right for burgers, but they sound different -- and probably are displayed next to a few other rolls that my supermarket doesn't carry.

My hope for Wegmans is that it will bring new options to the local scene -- cheeses, olives, baked goods, meats, etc.  I want good crusty rolls, interesting smoked fish, more bulk grains, imported sauces and crackers.  Other Wegmans have left us really happy with the choice of vegetables.  Mrs. HowChow is looking forward the prepared and semi-prepared aisle where you grab a marinated fish or a meat wrapped around to bring home to your grill or broiler.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tutti Frutti Opened In Maple Lawn, And People Say The Red Mango Looks Close In Clarksville

Opening night at Tutti Frutti in Fulton
Tutti Frutti opened the yogurt taps in Maple Lawn on Friday night, offering up frozen yogurt and trendy toppings like candy, fruit, and mochi.

This is part of a three-year wave as similar yogurt stores opened across the area.  (I'll try to catalog them Tuesday.)  But the Tutti Frutti franchise in Fulton seems to have adopted all the good parts of the trend -- a bunch of yogurt options, a bunch of spoon-your-own toppings, design by Ikea & Friends, and some places to sit outside and enjoy your dessert.

If anything, they had the best part of the trend on Friday -- variety.  You could pick from 16 different yogurt flavors and an array of toppings.  Your dessert could be basically soft serve ice cream with a sweet chocolate yogurt and sprinkles.  You could go kid-crazy with cake-flavored yogurt and candy toppings.  Or you could go with the tart trend with their basic yogurt and fruit.

To me, Tutti Frutti stood out because I'd never seen banana, coconut or orange yogurt before.  I made a mixed cup with those and the purple taro flavor.  They also had one treat new to me on the toppings tray -- fruit flavored "boba," jelly balls that burst with a liquid center when you bite them.

There are already Tutti Frutti franchises on Rte 40 in Ellicott City and near the Target in Columbia.  I think they're all independent, and these yogurt shops can vary based on the vibe of the employees and the selection and freshness of the yogurt and toppings.  I'm not sure that I'd drive past one to go to another, but then there are definitely places that seem more fun.

Separately, there is a Red Mango yogurt shop under construction in Clarksville.  Last I heard, the shop  in the River Hill village center hadn't been open on Saturday.  Please let me know if it opens.

Tutti Frutti
8170 Maple Lawn Blvd
Fulton, MD 20759

NEAR: Tutti Frutti is in the Maple Lawn development. That's on Rte 216 just west of Rte 29. When you pull off Rte 216 onto Maple Lawn Boulevard, make the first left and you'll see Tutti Frutti on the right. Park in the lot behind the office buildings.

Tutti Frutti on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 8, 2012

Link: Laurel Baker's Win Profiled In The Sun

Patti McDermott, a cake decorator at Kake Korner in Laurel, won a cake-decorating contest in Westminster and got profiled by Sara Toth in the Sun.

Kake Korner is a bakery a few blocks north of Main Street on U.S. 1.  McDermott talks in the article about being inspired by the Ace of Cakes show, and it sounds like her creations are part of the creative trend where cakes can become centerpieces and art on their own.

As I have mentioned before, we're not a big cake house.  We go more for the dense ones like Sweet Streets Desserts' carrot cake and Cuba de Ayer's tres leches.  But Kake Korner seems like fun -- and an option on a scene that includes Touche Touchet, Oh What A Cake, Linda's Bakery and more.

Hat tip to the MM on the 53 Beers On Tap blog, who wrote about Toth's article.  The MM seems to be talking to people who say nothing good is going on along the U.S. 1 corridor, but I'm not sure who that would be.

Replay: Cold Drinks For The Hot Summer

Watermelon agua fresca at R&R Taqueria
As we kick into summer, you should keep your eyes out for some delicious ways to stay cool.

Put down your can of cola and check out last summer's posts about cold drinks -- a mango shake, a watermelon cooler, a salted plum soda and an iced mocha.

Those were the "Cold Drink Week" posts.  Mango Grove has changed locations, but those drinks will still hit the spot on a hot day.  Any other suggestions for cool drinks that go beyond a bottle of soda?  (Not that I'm against picking up a soda -- or recommending that you try one from India, Turkey, or some other spot.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tutti Frutti To Open In Fulton On Friday

The Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt store in Maple Lawn will open on Friday, the community's homeowners association emailed today.

That's part of the great tart frozen yogurt explosion.  The BP station in Maple Lawn already sold frozen yogurt, and there are already Tutti Frutti franchises in Ellicott City and Columbia.  But I'm a fan of yogurt and mochi, so I'll take all the yogurt you can fit in a cup.

Any news on the Red Mango shop coming to River Hill in Clarksville?

Ginger Candies At Family Market in Columbia

Royal King ginger candies at Family Market
Still looking for a gateway drug to try a Korean supermarket? Consider ginger candy, which you can eat as a sweet or claim as a medicine.

Ginger supposedly settles a stomach.  You can claim them as something useful.  But I buy them for the fiery ginger flavor in each individually-wrapped piece.  The candy has a slight chew like a gummi texture.  It's a strong flavor, but refreshing at the end.

Family Market in Columbia has two brands of ginger candy.  Our top choice is Royal King in the yellow bag.  We really like another brand with a green package, but we didn't save enough of the package to remember the name (or where I picked it up).  You can find them at H Mart in Catonsville, Super Grand in Laurel, or Lotte in Ellicott City.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Snowballs -- Staying Cool With The Basics: Shaved Ice And Syrups That Aren't Organic Or Local!

Lemon-blood orange snowball in Clarksville
You may not realize but the rest of America doesn't let people just throw up a wood shack, fill it with artificial flavors and sell snowballs out the window.

Snowballs were new to me when I was lured up to Howard County.  I remember an old man who made Italian ice near my grandparents in New Haven, but I don't think I ever saw a stand carving ice off a block and just dumping your choice of flavors on top.

Lucky for us, you can see them all over the county.  To me, they mostly seem to offer the same treats, but each one is a great way to cool down in a hot season.  Plus, they qualify for a date, a special run with the kids, or a break while you're driving on errands.  These are the summer moments that you'll remember.

These are some stands to start you off:
Pete's Snowballs in Columbia
In the end, a snowball is just shaved ice doused with a flavored syrup.  My local is the Snowballs in Clarksville, but that's mostly because it's right outside the hardware store where I often find myself doing weekend errands.  You can add marshmallow, sprinkles and other toppings at some locales.  But I'm pretty happy with just syrup.

On Monday, I stopped by Pete's, which is definitely a local spot worth checking out.  It's a piece of land that appears to have pre-dated the Rouses.  Oakland Mills deadends there, and you sit on a picnic bench outside the stand.  Ask if they have honey to sell.  I forgot to ask this week, but in previous years, they had honey from their own hives.

Snowballs in Clarksville
Where else are there stands?  At various times, there have been KyKy's Hawaiian Ice stands in parking lots in Elkridge and Ellicott City.  Are those back this year?  What's your favorite place?  And what's your favorite order?

Speaking of Hawaii, I'd really love to know if anyone knows where to get shave ice.  Shave ice is a variation on snowballs where the ice is shaved far thinner.  It's almost like snow.  We found it once at a festival in Baltimore, but otherwise, I have never seen it near here.  Any luck?

This is the first of three posts about staying cool in the summer.  Watch for an update on the frozen yogurt explosion and one about other ice cream options.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

People Comment About CrunchDaddy, Ice Cream, Asian Liquor, Italian Food, Schwarma, & More

The "orange roll" at Yama Sushi
I recommend the orange roll at Yama Sushi, but I don't remember exactly why.  I took a photo.  I created a post.  But I didn't write down notes -- or at least I lost them before I could write out an explanation.

But you should definitely try the Columbia sushi joint.  That's one of many places that I discovered through comments that people left on HowChow.  The newest place was Tere's Latin Market, which I tried for the first time in May.  John, Kelsey and others chimed to recommend specific dishes at the Ellicott City spot.  They're joining with one of my Chowhound favorites, Elgringoviejo who has posted about Tere's tacos there, saying he prefers them to R&R.

One question about a possible new place:  Has anyone seen a cheesesteak truck working the area near Rte 216 and Maple Lawn?  Eric emailed me, saying that he had seen the truck twice but hadn't been able to catch the details as he drove past.  Anyone know the story?  Email me.

Beyond new places, the comments provide everything from recommended dishes to reports of meals to requests for information.  As I try to do, this is a catch-all of some recent comments so that you can check them out:

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Breadery -- Across The Border And Worth It

Sourdough from The Breadery
For someone who eats all kinds of food, I'm remarkably catholic about my views on bread.

Crust.   I like crisp crust and a mild crumb.  I range from baguettes to sourdough to rolls to Italian loaves, but I don't go for sweet breads or soft, multigrain loaves.

Grilled cheese on Breadery sourdough
That's why the new Breadery seems to great to me, even if it is a little farther away.  The Breadery used to be on Rte 40 in Ellicott City, and it moved last year to Oella (or Catonsville as it likes to say). With the new location, they're baking new breads.

They're still making the whole grain and sweet loaves from the old location.  Cheddar parmesan, cinnamon raisin walnut, whole wheat.   They mill their own flour at The Breadery, and those loaves look great if you're into that kind of thing.  But they have a new kind of oven as well, and it turns out my kind of crisp-crust loaves.  Baguettes, Italian, sourdough.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Asian Court Gets Sun Review, Fibs About Its Age

Asian Court in Ellicott City got a very positive review from Richard Gorelick in the Sun this morning.

Gorelick liked almost every dish that he ate.  We need to check the place again for the regular Chinese menu after going there only for dim sum.

Gorelick needs to go back and ask the owners some questions again.  They appear to have told him that they opened Asian Court two years ago.  He mentions he hopes some word of mouth will help fill the dining room.  Of course, I posted about Asian Court in 2009 noting that City Paper had named it the best dim sum for that year and the esteemed Worthog had written it up in Chowhound in February 2008.

If I remember the talk right, the Minx noted in 2011 that Red Pearl in Columbia was staffed by folks who used to work at Asian Court.  Maybe new folks bought the restaurant two years ago -- and just didn't think that story would sound as good in the Sun.