Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Trolling: Cooking Resources From Columbia Foodies

Nothing fits a food blog better than enthusiast amateurs, and today's Trolling comes from George, who has helped create an entire group of food-loving locals in the Columbia Foodies.

The Columbia Foodies are 14 people who meet once a month, alternating between hosting dinners and dining out.  There are a few professional cooks, but the rest are, as George says, "amateur but dedicated cooks of varying skill levels."

In October, the group showed off those skills by cooking for 24 people at the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge.  The lodge provides free housing for cancer patients undergoing long-term treatment at Baltimore hospitals.  They don't provide food, but they have a large kitchen where the Columbia Foodies cooked up squash soups, beef lentil soup, glazed chicken breasts, two kinds of lasagna and fresh-based breads.  They finished up with a crepe bar outfitted with ice creams and homemade fudge and caramel sauces.

I asked George to recommend some resources for local chefs.  He went beyond the Howard County line for a few places that I haven't visited -- and straight to U.S. 1 for the Sysco basics:
The European Market at 7428 Muncaster Mill Rd, in Derwood (near Gaithersburg), Md.  This grocery store specializes in Portuguese and Brazilian products as well as some Mediterranean foods.  They have fresh Portuguese breads and pastries, Portuguese sausages and clay cooking pots as well as a full line of Portuguese and Brazilian groceries.  They also have some terrific prices on olives.  Kalamata olives are $3.99 a pound.
Penzeys Spices at 1048 Rockville Pike in Rockville is an entire store devoted to spices and herbs.  They have an amazing selection in a variety of sizes at good prices.  I have been very happy with the quality and freshness of there products.  They also do catalogue and online sales.
Sysco Discount Food Store at 7540 Washington Blvd. in Elkridge has some good values in meats and canned goods and decent prices on commercial cooking utensils.  In the back of the store they often have merchandise from broken cases that are very good value.Co
The Columbia Foodies are trying to keep their group small, but they occasionally consider new members.  For more information, contact George at 410-290-8380 or gershonr at comcast dot net.

Trolling on Tuesday is my attempt at a series where readers would share three things with other HowChow readers -- favorite restaurant dishes, food to buy, food experiences, etc.  Click here for all the Trolling posts.  Click here for the explanation and the rules.  Anyone can submit.


Marcia said...

Penzey's spices are terrific! I have been ordering (mail & online) for years. Any time I mention Penzey's I hear raves from lots of other people. 95% of my spice cabinet is from Penzey's.

On Sysco - it is worth checking out. I got a very good quality jelly roll pan there last week at a great price. I didn't want a non-stick pan. I did find that some of the food items are notably cheaper at Costco (cinnamon and vanilla for ex.)and some of the frozen food looked a bit freezer-burned. But go sometime and look around.

Thanks for another great post!!

emkenton said...

Just wanted to put in another huge plug for Penzey's! I learned about the company some years ago from an online cooking message board and made some catalog orders (it's a family-owned company in Wisconsin.) Imagine my delight when a store opened in Rockville!

It is totally worth the drive over there. They have every single one of their spices/herbs/blends in apothecary jars so you can smell each one. Wonder what the difference is between 5 different kinds of cinnamon? Now you can sniff your way to that answer!

I would recommend everyone request a catalog because it comes full of recipes and little stories, too! Pretty soon you'll want to have a spice cabinet 95% full of Penzey's spices like Marcia! And, for the most part, the prices are even better than those found in grocery store spice aisles.

Sarah said...

Derwood in the house! That's where I was raised and had no idea that place existed. I'll be heading down there for Thanksgiving and will have to check it out.