Friday, June 28, 2013

We Almost Have Maryland's First Farm Brewery

Maryland's first farm-based brewery will open its tap room this afternoon -- and it's almost in Howard County.

Stillpoint Farm in Mount Airy is now operating the Milkhouse Brewery.  They're a little west of Woodbine and Mt. Airy.  It's officially Frederick County, but close enough count.  The tap room opens Friday afternoon and then will be open Saturday, according to the Facebook invitation.

I haven't seen much about the new brewery.  Anyone else know more?

(Update: Check out the comments below by Trip Klaus.  "First" seems like first to get approved, not first to serve beer.  But it's fun to congratulate all these folks.  Also note that "close enough to count" does mean 30 minutes past Woodbine.")

The Milkhouse Brewery would be a fun place to check out as part of a visit to Larriland Farm.  Thanks to @ADGCreative for the tip.  Stay tuned for more about beer-brewing -- but even closer to home.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Venegas Has Closed. New Restaurant Coming

The Vengas Prime Filet in Fulton has closed, but there is a big sign on the window saying that a new restaurant is coming soon.

Anyone know what new restaurant?  Anyone know the plan?

There has been talk that Robert Gadsby would take over the space in Maple Lawn.  After eating just a bit at his new Laurel barbecue place, I'd be happy to try out a restaurant that he runs.  I'd heard that folks have had a hard time with the space and the Maple Lawn rent.  I'm hoping for whoever makes the next run.

Special Hiramasa With Yuzu At Sushi Sono

Hiramasa with ponzu at Sushi Sono
Sushi Sono has a delicious sushi special -- and you need to snap those up to make sure they don't go down other people's gullets.

Hiramasa is an amberjack apparently farmed in Australia.  When it arrives in Columbia, Sushi Sono turns the fish into a special sushi.  Thin slices of the mild fish, glazed with a tangy citrus sauce.  That's yuzu, a citrus variation that mixes a sour tang into the mouthful of rice and fish.

Sushi Sono has long been one of our favorite restaurants in Howard County -- especially the large special rolls.  We started with the hiramasa special to break out of our standards, and it was perfect.  No soy sauce.  No wasabi.  The two pieces were a perfect balance of fish, rice and glaze.  Before finished that meal, I was already planning another visit with all sushi and sashimi.

Order that hirasama right away.  The kitchen buys a limited amount each day.  We wanted to end the meal with a second order.  But they were sold out!

There is really great sushi in Howard County.  Sushi Sono is stellar -- well worth a drive from one of the cities, and there are so many other great places that sushi is one of the county's deepest cuisines.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Whole Sign Is Up At Whole Foods

Coming in 2014!! Howard Hughes has posted a Whole Foods sign at the building that they're renovating for the upscale grocer.

Construction has really started at the former Rouse Company headquarters on LIttle Patuxent Parkway across from the Columbia Mall.  Fence up.  Parts of the first floor seem to have been torn down.

Great Sage Smoothies: Great Smoothies, Great Big Price, Good Call When You Want Cool Lunch

Pineapple-ginger-kale smoothie
I'm hesitant to recommend a $7 smoothie, but Great Sage in Clarksville really does whip up something unusual.

Pineapple, kale and ginger make a delicious drink.  That's a professional drink.  I wouldn't have put them together, but the flavor is bright and exciting without being overly sweet.  And without tasting anything like kale.

Mrs. HowChow stumbled on the smoothies when she wanted a snack on a trip to the Roots Market next door.  We have had them a few times after an athletic Saturday morning.  They're delicious.  They're nutritious.  You could almost justify $7 if the smoothie was your lunch -- although then you need to insist that they actually fill the cup, which hasn't happened every time.

Great Sage has a whole menu of smoothies with all kinds of fruit and even spinach.  Pinapple and ginger has become my signature, but "Black Beauty" -- three kinds of berries and soy yogurt -- has other fans and may be my next try.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Howard CC Students Start A Food TV Show, Profile Shanty Grill And Chef Warner's Salmon

Some Howard County Community College students have started a new television show about local restaurants, and you can check out their first episode about Shanty Grille in Ellicott City.

The show runs on local cable on HCC-TV, and the link above goes to YouTube.  Check out the Columbia Patch for an announcement that has channels and times.  The show gives you a tour of the Shanty Grille, then executive chef Charles Warner cooks a pan-seared salmon dish with risottoat the college kitchen.

Anyone know more?  I love a television show about Howard County restaurants.  Feel free to add more details -- like the folks involved -- in the comments.  Thanks to jgamny for the tip.

(Update:  It isn't students.  See the comments below.  Apparently, HCCC has employees who created the shows.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Wolf-Foreman Restaurant Aiming To Open In 2013 On The Downtown Columbia Waterfront

Columbia should get a new restaurant this year by the owners by Charleston, Petit Louis and Cinghiale -- filling the lakefront space that used to be Red Pearl, notes the Sun and other folks who got the press release.


As I had written in April, folks have been talking about Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman opening a new restaurant in downtown Columbia.  It's une idée formidable.  The Howard Hughes Company is developing a bunch of downtown land, and they're adding the nouveau restaurant down the lake from the Whole Foods coming in 2014.

Foreman and Wolf run wonderful upscale restaurants in Baltimore.  They should bump up the food around that area -- and be a nice pair with Sushi Sono overlooking the water.  One question remains: What kind of restaurant are they opening?  The official word is that no one should talk about that until authorized by .  But then, nous pouvons tous imaginer.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Link: RG's BBQ Cafe on Wong Eats

The new RG's BBQ Cafe got another write-up on the Wong Eats blog -- with raves for pulled pork, a fried fish po' boy, and more.

Check out the Wong Eats post for more reasons to check of this new barbecue place on U.S. 1 in Laurel.  Speciality dogs where a half-smoke gets topped with lettuce, tomato and collard greens.  Ribs, bacon-wrapped quail.  There are pictures.  You need to check this place out.

The Wong Eats blog hits up spots all around the DC area.  Check out the Wong review of Bonchon in Ellicott City.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Link: New Matcha Time Cafe In The Patch

The signs for the Matcha Time Cafe have been up in Ellicott City for more than a year, but the small Japanese restaurant will finally open for business on June 15, reports the Ellicott City Patch.

Andre Metcalfe interviewed the cafe's owners about their plans to offer sushi, pastries, and tea in the spot at the top of the large parking lot off Main Street.  They're near La Palapa, and they also have a small Japanese boutique.

Xitomate in Columbia: Rewriting The Review Of Mexican Spots Around Howard County

Fish tacos with good beans and rice
Is it just me, or is the local Mexican branching out?

Four years ago, my summary of Mexican restaurants topped out at Lily's Mexican Market in Columbia and El Azteca in Clarksville.  Soon, I need to update that 2009 round-up, and I may need to declare two separate weight classes -- a super-casual range from R&R Taqueria to the under-construction expansion of Tere's Latin Market, then a heavy-weight class trying to go upscale.

At this point, the new Xitomate in Columbia may top that high-end market.  You get a classy, trendy vibe.  You start with thick, exceptional chips.  You work through a menu full of unusual items like huitlacoche and churros.  I enjoyed our first dinner, and our second meal was memorable even though we split a glorified snack of chips, ceviche, empanada, and tacos.

First, the kitchen really does interesting food.  I loved the fish tacos, especially the warm corn tortillas that contrasted with spiciness of the salsa.  Tilapia is a mild fish, and the tacos went subtle in a way that took skill -- fresh, sharp salsa and the earthiness of the corn tortilla, enough to show off fish that was cooked moist.

Second, Xitomate passes my extra test with beans and rice that are better than the ones that I make at home.  When Mexican places offer lackluster side dishes, I'm more than happy to take my business to R&R -- where the tacos will be spectacular and half the price.  In contrast, this place makes the visit worth your while with cumin-laced black beans and a yellow rice studded with vegetables.  

Xitomate's flavors vary far more than your average Mexican place.  A creamy sauce under the empanada.  A sharp slickness of the ceviche.  The marinated shrimp has a real taste of lime and a bite from onion.  Forkfuls come with the crunch of onion and cucumbers.  The high-end lettuce pushed into the bottom of the ceviche glass becomes a fiery salad, and I used the last of the beans to cool my mouth own.

You get all this in one of the nicer dining rooms in Howard County.  It's still casual, and it still looks out on a parking lot.  But it's a cool, modern design.  Friendly for kids.  Classy enough for a date.

I do want to re-write the 2009 series where I first tried to summarize food around Howard County.  That series was so long ago that Blogger didn't offer pages, and I "hid" the description of the entire series by dating in January 1, 2008.  What would you suggest for Mexican -- the restaurants and the favorite dishes?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Make Your Own Soda - WIth Korean Fruit Vinegar (I Promise. When Have I Lead You Wrong?)

Orange, pomegranate and blueberry vinegars
Nothing makes grocery shopping better than free samples, and that works even if you don't know what you're sampling.

A smiling woman at Lotte in Catonsville got us to try drinking vinegars.  They're sweetened vinegars that we were served as a shot.  Good tasting, and "good for digestion," according to the woman at Lotte.

Honestly, we bought the first bottle on a lark, but these vinegars -- pomegranate, cactus fruit, orange and other varieties -- have become the flavor of this summer as we have learned to mix them down.

Start with bubbling water.  Could just be a bottle of seltzer.  Could be that SodaStream that you splurged to buy.  Either way, a dash of pomegranate vinegar turns a glass of water into a spectacular drink.

We disagree on intensity.  Mrs. HowChow tints the water.  I pour at least a shot, maybe more.  It's a sugary mix, but you definitely get the taste of vinegar to balance out the sweet.  It's a nice refreshment.  Easy for you to personalize.  And ripe for a mixing with vodka or soju if you wanted to experiment with a signature drink.

One problem:  I can't read the bottle because the only English is the ingredient sticker.  Check out the bottles above.  On our last visit, they were in the first row of shelves looking over the produce section.  Show the photo to someone there, and they should be able to find the bottles.  They had large bottles of pomegranate or cactus pear or three-packs of smaller bottles with orange, pomegranate and blueberry.

I haven't looked, but I assume they sell these vinegars in the Lotte in Ellicott City and the H Mart in Catonsville.  All those stores are worth exploring for vegetables, fruits, fish and all kinds of international packaged goods.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Honey Pig Chicken Closes At Lotte

The fried chicken stand inside the new Lotte in Catonsville appears to have closed.

The Honey Pig Chicken stand was closed, and it had a sign that said "Chicken Store Closed" reports John Houser III, who has a legit writing job but offered a scouting report for HowChow.

It's sad whenever fried chicken closes, but don't despair.  Lotte still has a great stand for steamed buns, and you can still get great fried chicken.  Bon Chon does great chicken, especially if you like spicy, spicy, spicy food.   Tian Chinese Cuisine may be my favorite meal -- where you can get an order of chicken and an order of their black bean noodles.

Hat tip to Houser and Gorelickingood.

Frozen Lemonade At Kyky''s Hawaiian Ice

Frozen lemonade at Kyky's Hawaiian Ice
First find of the summer: A frozen treat even better than snowballs.

This felt like the first truly hot weekend, and some Sunday Swings with Shandra left us drained.  Thanks to AnnieRie's suggestion, we ended up at Kyky's Hawaiian Ice off Montgomery Road in Ellicott City.

Look just off menu for the sign about the frozen lemonade.  That's a snowball variation that actually beat out the two snowballs that we also ordered.  (Three cups of ice?  Well, Shandra makes you swing a lot in 90 minutes.)  Kyky's basically makes a lemonade to order -- a cup of ice, then a lemon-and-simple-syrup concentrate, then water.

It's delicious.  We drank a bit, scooped from lemony ice.  Sweet, but tastes like real lemon.  It's as refreshing as a snowball, and it beats those out because we can't really claim that our favorite technicolor flavors actually taste "real."

Kyky's also has the full range of snowballs indigenous to the Baltimore area.  They're good.  They're still not shave ice, which is more like snow than ice chips.  I love the Baltimore snowball and all the local stands.  But they're still not shave ice like we had in Hawaii.  I wrote about this last winter, and I still need to try Baltimore's Hula Honey and Randall's town Original Hawaiian Island Snowball that people recommended in the comments.

Kyky's Hawaiian Ice
a portable stand in front of T-Bonz Grille
4910 Waterloo Road
Ellicott City, MD 21043

NEAR:  Kyky's is a trailer snowball stand parked -- at least in the summer of 2013 -- on an access road in front of T-Bonz Grille at Montgomery Road and Waterloo Road (Rte 104) in Ellicott City.  It's convenient from Rte 100 or Rte 103.