Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kosher Deli Coming To Maple Lawn In May, But Already Getting Positive Reviews On The Food

Six weeks to the opening of a kosher deli in Maple Lawn -- and maybe as few as four weeks if you keep your eyes open, according to talk in the Fulton commercial area.

The owner of the new Pita & Rye deli is talking about a May 15 official opening with a "soft" opening as early as May 1.

He met some of his new neighbors and offered samples of some of the meats and breads that he is considering for the shop.  Trevor and others have emphasized in prior comments the draw of really good food, and Maple Lawn taste-testers volunteered that they were impressed.

Roadtrip: Smoked Fish, Italian Groceries And Maybe Flowers At Belvedere Square

We have to admit that Howard County does not have everything, and we certainly don't have anything like Belvedere Square.

Density.  Wealth.  Some developers with a vision for the unique.  You end up with the perfect place for a food roadtrip -- eat beautifully and then carry loot back to the motherland.

Belvedere Square is a small development in northern Baltimore.  One side has stores.  The other side basically has a spectacular food court -- a sushi joint, a bakery, an Italian grocery, Atwater's for soup, then even a stand that specializes in smoked food.  Roadtrip there on a weekend morning to eat, shop and nose around.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Has Ceazar International Market & Restaurant Closed in Elkridge? A Lost Institution

Has anyone else been past Ceazar International Market in Elkridge?  Lisa left a comment on an old post saying that the market and restaurant are closed, and the spaces were being cleared out.

Ceazar Market was the king of Middle Eastern markets when it opened its expanded space in Elkridge in 2009.  For 13 years before, they had operated in Columbia off Oakland Park Boulevard under the name Sizar's Food Mart.  The new store had a butcher, more space, and the attached restaurant.

Links: Candied Pecans & Fish (But Not Together)

Kiki made candied pecans on the KikiVerde blog.  Greg got a mystery fish from H Mart -- turned out to palmburo, which he loved and wrote about on the Food and Wine blog.

No connection between the candy and the fish, except that they're both local bloggers who you might want to check out.

Columbia Wegmans: A Flat Space And Promises

What we have now is a blank slate where a Wegmans will one day rise.

Wegmans site July 2010
The photo above is the Columbia Wegmans site Monday afternoon.  Not much to see from the street.  They flattened the trees and warehouse since last summer when I snapped this photo through the chain link fence.  They have certainly regraded and maybe even built up an area in the center.

But they're still burying pipes, and there were just a handful of people working there.  It isn't clear to me where the store is going to sit.

There is a hearing on April 7 before the Howard County planning board.  The sign says it involves a height adjustment to the clock tower.  Last I'd heard, Wegmans was aiming to open the Columbia store in mid-2012.  (Click here for all my Wegmans news.)  If anyone hears more details, let me know.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Drovers Grill Gets Reviewed By Sun And Tales

Drovers Grill & Wine Co. is a new family-run restaurant aiming to serve classy food and Maryland wine in Mt. Airy -- well, actually not in Mt. Airy, but we'll get to that.

Drovers is certainly in western Howard County, and it got a positive review from Richard Gorelick in the Sun.  Gorelick applauded the way that Drovers uses seasonal and Maryland products, talking up a fried oyster appetizer and a seafood/linguine soup.

Wordbones also enjoyed a meal at Drovers, although he went hyperlocal in the Tales of Two Cities blog by pointing out that it's actually in Poplar Springs and just borrows the Mt. Airy zip code.  He recommends the Blank Ankle wine.

I'm a little confused by the Sun review because I swear that we saw this in Sunday's paper, but Wordbones says his wife clipped in weeks back -- and the Sun's Web site has a March 18 date.

Watermelon Radishes At Mom's Organic Market

I never expected to love a radish, but you can't control when inspiration strikes.

We found watermelon radishes at a party.  Cool city party where the guys bought their vegetables at the Dupont Circle farmers market.

They're crisp.  They're mild.  None of the astringent taste that keep me away from radishes usually.  Plus, watermelon radishes look super-cool.  The outside is white, and the inside is magenta.  (Like watermelons -- white rind around red flesh.)

If you cut across the radish, you get thin slices that look like red dye is spreading from inside.  They're great in salads, and they're pretty enough to just lay out on a vegetable tray.  So far, I have only found them at Mom's Organic Market in Jessup.

Monday, March 28, 2011

R&R Taqueria Loves HowChow Users; You Should Love Them For Tacos, Maybe Some Soup

R&R Taqueria's business card (Thanks CupcakeRN)

Candied Fruit At Estrellita Market -- Mexican Sweets Create A Slice-And-Serve Dessert

[Update: Estrellita Market closed in late 2011.]

The Shell station now offers you a beautiful dessert on top of the tacos.

Estrellita Market has opened on the second floor of the Shell station at U.S. 1 and Rte 175.  Literally over the top of R&R Taqueria is a small Mexican market. Nice for spices, tortillas and Mexican basics.  But a must-visit spot for candied fruit.

Right at the counter, Estrellita displays "crystalized" fruit.  Real fruit, candied to sweetness and a texture that was exotic, yet obviously natural at the same time.  Pear becomes creamy and sweet.  Orange rind retains a bite and a touch of citrus, but becomes a chewy complex candy.

Link: King's Contrivance On The Swim-Run-Write

Mo's book club ate out at King's Contrivance, and she enjoyed the $29 prix fix meal with seafood bisque, salmon and the strawberry shortcake.  She posted, but has no photos because she worried that the book club women would be put off by cell-phone snapping.

This, people, is why I rarely say "Can I ask some questions?  I have a food blog."

King's Contrivance is an established upscale spot in Columbia.  I have actually never eaten there.  It's part of the "Woodberry Kitchen Problem" that I have written about before.  We rarely eat at expensive places, so, when we do, we often head into the city to somewhere that we know.

If you like Mo's post about upscale dining, check out all her posts about food competitive.  On Fridays, she posts "head to head" reviews of items like bagel sandwiches, wings, calamari, etc.  Click on all her food posts and then scroll down.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kolache Kreations Offers $5 Off Through Groupon

Get $5 off coffee and baked sweets at Kolache Kreations in Ellicott City through today's Baltimore Groupon.  You pay $5 and get $10 in credit.

Kolache Kreations serves up a sweet and savory pastries -- common in Midwest areas populated by eastern European immigrants, but pretty unique around here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Video And Profile Of Bonaparte Bakers On Patch

The Savage/Guiford Patch site has an entertaining video and article about the bakers at Bonaparte Bread at Savage Mill.  Brian Hooks (birthday: July 27 if you're shopping for him) talked to Daniel Ropero about making the bread that Bonaparate serves in Savage and Fells Point.

More Quick News: Smoothie Place Opened In Columbia, Groupon For Roma's Pizza

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has opened in Columia next to the Baja Fresh on Dobbin Road, according to a post by Mark on the HowChow Facebook page.  He says all smoothies will be 99 cents Friday and Saturday.  Apparently, it's a chain that he had tried in the Outer Banks.  (Update: Check out Columbia Patch for a $1 off coupon.)

If you're checking the Facebook page, also note comments by Wes and Matt about a new item at R& Taqueria called the "R&R" taco.  Beef cooked with orange juice and spices.

And finally, today's Groupon is $20 of food for $10 at Roma's Pizza & Subs in Columbia.  I haven't eaten there, but it is a chance to check the place out.

Fuji Restaurant And Sushi Bar In Ellicott City

Seafood udon w/tempura shrimp
Even I can be surprised by what can be hidden in a shopping center.

For years, I have ragged on reviews that employ the line about "I can't believe it's in a strip center."  Yet I was still wide-eyed to find a pretty, wood-paneled dining room at Fuji in Ellicott City.  Jean had written that the food was delicious, but I expected something super-casual like Mango Grove or Hanamura.

But Fuji is a little gem.  Very friendly, but dressed up with white tablecloths and artistic bowls and plates.

We followed Jean's advice and ordered a seafood udon noodles and three sushi rolls.  And we got a bonus!  Small salads, which were fine.  Then miso soup, which was excellent.  Strong miso flavor without any saltiness or fishiness.  There is just something fun about getting a morsel extra.

If anything, the udon was better.  It's a large bowl of soup with noodles.  The flavors are rich and almost sweet.  The bowl was full of tempura shrimp, squid, octopus and mushrooms.  Jean had touted Fuji as run by a Japanese couple and the udon as based on a scratch dashi broth.  It lived up to her recommendation.  Perfect comfort food.  Warm for the winter, but light enough to eat all year long.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tutti Frutti Taking Its Talents To Columbia

Tutti Frutti appears to be opening a second location -- bringing the sour yogurt trend to the Dobbin Road area that has become thick with good food.

Tutti Frutti currently sells frozen yogurt with do-it-yourself toppings on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.  There is a sign for a second location in the Columbia Crossing shopping center near Dick's and Target, says emkenton in a comment yesterday.

This is right next to the spot where Ichiban Cafe already serves up Japanese food and BGR The Burger Joint aims to open in April.  It's also along a corridor running along Dobbin and Snowden River Parkway that includes Sushi King, Five Guys, Bon Fresco, Stanford Grill, Royal Taj . . . . . .

Anyone know what happened to the plans for a Buffalo Wild Wings on Dobbin Road?  Wino_II and others have comments about the new one coming to Arundel Mills, and I wonder if that replaced the Columbia location.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Michael's Pub Is Closing; Patch Has The Story

Michael's Pub in Columbia is closing tomorrow.  The Columbia Patch has a nice story about the bar that has entertained folks at King's Contrivance village center since 1986.

Old Bay Wings At The Second Chance Saloon

As the sun dropped Friday night, we enjoyed our first outdoor meal of 2011 -- and finally had a taste of the Second Chance Saloon's Old Bay wings.

To me, wings are the ideal pub food -- the fruit of deep frying that I don't want to do at home, but without the stuffed feeling that comes when you realize that the platter of nachos really was larger than your stomach.

Second Chance Saloon's wings made us happy because they were substantial and delicious.  Good meat on the bone.  You get eight pieces in an order.  We split one order of Old Bay and one of Buffalo and left quite happy with the first night warm enough to eat on a patio.

The Old Bay wings make my list because they're interesting.  Anyone can dump a breaded chicken piece in a fryer.  Second Chance turns out a light crisp texture, then the salty, spicy flavor of Old Bay.  This isn't the overpowering Old Bay that you can get caked on a hardshell.  This is crisp without being greasy, and you taste Old Bay and meat.

I never know which of the local pubs actually serves good food.  Bad nachos and burgers make me so sad (and distended) that I tend to stay close to favorites like Victoria Gastro Pub.  Second Chance had gotten a plug last year from the chef at Oceanaire Seafood Room, and one of the owners said he favored the Old Bay wings.

Second Chance has a nice menu of pub food -- somehow I got a vibe that they're trying to turn out good stuff.  It has a small patio out back and a few tables in front that overlook the parking lot, and they definitely had a beer list worthy to accompany the wings.  Anything else people suggest from the menu? Anywhere else you'd go for wings?

Thanks to Macsmom for tweeting about Second Chance's patio on Friday night.  That was the inspiration that got us there.

To me, the gold standard for local wings is Kloby's Smokehouse where you get "double" wings with each piece having both the tiny drumstick and the "two bone" upper piece.  For more opinions, check out the comments on a February 2011 post where many people chimed in on their favorites.

Second Chance Saloon
5888 Robert Oliver Place
Columbia, MD  21045

NEAR:  Second Chance is in the Oakland Mills village center.  This is between Broken Land Parkway and Rte 175 just east of Rte 29.  It's the same village center that hosts Bangkok Garden and the Sunday farmers market.  There is a Food Lion in the shopping area.

Second Chance Saloon on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 20, 2011

People Love Their Ice Cream - Even Chilled

We drive past Soft Stuff on Rte 40 tonight.  The temperature was 49 degrees, and the line was 20 people long.

People love their ice cream -- even on chilly nights.  Tutti Frutti looked packed as well.  Still a month or two before I update the "Ice Cream For A Summer Night" post.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Apple Wine Tasting At Heyser's In Silver Spring

Heyser's grows its early peaches in a Howard County orchard on Brown's Bridge Road, but their main operations -- and regrettably all their sales -- are in Silver Spring.  That is where Kyle says you should go on Saturday if you want to try the Spencerville Red Hard apple wine.  He tasted Thursday, and you can drink at the produce stand if you go tomorrow:

A generous tasting is free, glasses are $3, and a 750ml bottle is $10. Cases (12 bottles) get a discount. I didn't get a glass but the idea of drinkin' at the local produce stand is just cool.

Great Shoal Winery in Princess Anne, Md makes the 8% apple wine (too much alcohol to be a  hard cider) from Heyser's Spencerville red apple sweet cider.  The original sweet cider is very sweet with a high acidity and makes a crisp dry somewhat sour apple wine. There's no bubbles so no real carbonation. It's unfiltered and cloudy too.

Links: Crab Stock, Then Risotto On Sarah Says And Battling Cheesesteaks On Swim-Write-Run

If you're looking to cook, check out two posts on the Sarah Says blog where she made stock from crab shells and then used the stock in vegetable risotto.  That's a great way to get flavor from something you would otherwise throw away.

If you're just looking to eat, get some advice from the Swim-Run-Write blog where Mo tested cheesesteaks head-to-head.  She pitted Simmies Arirang Hill versus Philly's Best Pizza & Subs.  I have never been to either, and I have never even heard of Simmies before.  Go see which one won.  (Or check out all of the S-R-W food posts.)

Huarache at R&R Taqueria -- The Secret Menu At R&R Is Your Mouth; Ask For Something Special

I keep writing about R&R Taqueria because you should keep going back to R&R Taqueria.

It was easy for me to fall into a rut of tacos, tacos, tacos.  They're so delicious.  But the takeout joint in a Shell station on Rte 175 offers a broader array of Mexican food -- broader even than its printed menu.

Definitely check out the specials.  Last week, they had a chorizo black bean soup that looked interesting.  But I ordered huarache because Tyler Cowen posted that R&R served the best huarache that he had ever eaten.  

What's a huarache? Start with Wikipedia's profile on the Mexican dish.  Then go order one.  I got an oblong cornmeal base, something between a thick tortilla and an Indian bread.  The base is grilled to have just a touch of char taste.  Mine came topped with a mild white cheese, "al pastor" pork, and some cream.  Dropped on top was probably half an avocado, sliced and perfectly ripe.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kupcakes & Co. Bakery Coming To Elkridge

A new bakery is joining the Howard County scene -- Kupcake & Co., which is already selling cupcakes through local places like Pazani and Alexandra's and is opening a store in Elkridge.

KAM pointed out the Kupcake & Co. Web site on a comment to a prior post.  They have posted photos from early March showing the construction of new shop in the Lyndwood Green Shopping Center.  That's the same shopping center as El Hidalgo and Pazani Trattoria.

The Lyndwood Shopping Center is just north of Rte 100.  It is at the intersection of Rte 100 and Rte 103.

Kloby's Expansion, Facci Takeout & More Reasons To Watch For New Howard County Food

The construction dumpster sits outside Kloby's Smokehouse on Johns Hopkins Road, and the grinding, whirring sound of creation comes from the papered-over space next to the barbecue joint.

Look for the new space to open in about four weeks.  That's mid-April for a new bar, more kegs, a performance space and even a dedicated ice cream area.  Kloby's has outgrown its takeout roots, but it is still kicking out great barbecue to anchor all the new items.  

And that's just a piece of the new and expanded spots that are stretching out for spring:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All-Teff Injera At Soretti's Ethiopian

Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine has transformed itself into a nice, casual restaurant, and the Burtonsville spot has now begun to toss out the exotic items.

Years ago, this was a coffee shop.  But now Soretti's has spruced up the art, added more tables, and hung curtains to soften the front windows.  They're serving beer, including an Ethiopian variety, and even offering bread made from the authentic teff.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Moonlight Cafe Starts Serving Indian Food

The shopping center at Rte 29 and Johns Hopkins Road just keeps getting more food -- this time adding Indian to a lineup that already runs from Mexican to BBQ to Japanese to Italian.

The Moonlight Cafe changed hands, reports Fultie.  It used to be a lunchtime sandwich places, which makes sense considering the proximity to the JHU Applied Physics Lab.  But now, Fultie reports, there is Indian food as well:
It looks to be a gradual rollout, just a few Indian items offered right now, but i'm eating their chicken tikka masala as i type this. i enjoy Indian food. Hopefully, this place works out for the new owners.
Has anyone else tried the Indian at Moonlight Cafe?  This mimics Waterloo Pizza, which added Indian (and Nepalese momos) to a pizza place.

Wagon Wheel Ranch: Buy A Cow Or At Least A Box Of Meat From A Howard County Farm

Half a cow is way too much meat for me.  I cook so little meat that I can't even imagine buying a box.

But people were really inspired by a prior post about Maryland meat producers, and Penny sent me a rave about the Wagon Wheel Ranch which takes orders in the spring and then raises the animals on its own farm.  Penny says grass-fed beef varies in quality, but she says some of the best steaks in her life were pasture fed.  It's just a matter of finding the ranches that do it well, and Penny will lead you to Mt. Airy:
I started eating grass-fed meat after reading Michael Pollan's article in the New York Times Sunday magazine in 2002. My switch was motivated by my interest in the cow, but in addition, grass meat is decidedly healthier, arguably better for the environment, and potentially more delicious than grain-fed beef. 
I encountered, as most people do, substantial variation in the quality of the meat. Grass-fed beef can be stringy and difficult to chew, or it can be juicier and substantially more flavorful ("beefier!") than the typical prime cut purchased from a supermarket shelf. The variability in quality can be a turn-off to people trying grass-fed meat for the first time. It's just a matter of finding the ranchers that do it well. Raising cattle on grass, while in some ways simpler than the factory process, requires more attentiveness than probably most of us realize. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Link: Pinay's List of Happy In Howard County

I'm a fan of Yelp, and you should definitely check out big-time reviewers who can give you their thoughts about food in Howard County.

My newest find is Pinay's list of "Happy Eating At Howard County."  More than 30 spots -- many overlapping with HowChow reports.  But detail about places like Ranazul, Azul 17 and other that I haven't written much about.   Check out Pinay's suggestions.

Coffee Bubble Tea At Ichiban Cafe in Columbia

Sometimes you need a cute trendy drink to cool you down.  Some times you need caffeine.

Now, you can have both at Ichiban Cafe.

Ichiban serves up bubble tea along with a broad menu of Japanese food and sushi.  Mrs. HowChow tested the place last year with a jasmine bubble tea, but we went back with a need for refreshment -- and a mid-shopping trip pick-me-up.

Bubble tea -- or boba tea -- is basically a soft drink with tapioca pearls.  Places like Ichiban and  La Boulangarie or Bon Appetit Bakery in Ellicott City serve varieties often flavored with fruit and tea.  You get an oversized straw so that you can suck up the iced tea and the soft, chewy pearls.

At Ichiban, I got a coffee bubble tea.  Real coffee iced down, then tricked out into a Taiwanese treat.  Good flavor, fun with the tapioca, just enough caffeine to get me through the end of our errands.  If I remember right, they had a mocha version as well.  That's an alternative to a soda if you're doing errands in the summer heat around Dobbin Road.

Ichiban Cafe 
6250 Columbia Crossing Circle 
Columbia, MD 21045 

NEAR: Ichiban is in the Columbia Crossing shopping center with Target. This is off Rte 175 at Dobbin Road. It is near the Joseph A. Banks and across from the Dick's sporting goods.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lamb Soup And New Media At R&R Tacqueria

The legend of the R&R Tacqueria on Rte 175 is growing, and it is entirely deserved.  We went back for lamb soup and tacos, and I don't think there is a better bowl of soup in Howard County.

Rich with flavor, generously spiced and outfitted with tender meat.  R&R turns out a perfect soup where the spoonfuls differ as you pull of lamb or vegetables, but the bowl comes together in a strikingly red broth.  The deep broth shows off R&R talent.  There is a combination greater than the parts.  That's the trick that separates a real dish from just stuff simmered together in a pot.

And it's $5 for soup and a taco.  Why aren't you eating lunch at R&R today?

Check out the soup -- along with some other items like huarache and chile relleno that have been talked up in a series of articles sparked by the WSJ mention.  Tyler Cowen posted about all three, calling the huarache the best that he has even eaten -- including in Mexico.  We actually were ordering at R&R when the owner got a copy of the WSJ, and it was really fun to see him excited by the well-deserved attention.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kosher Deli Opening In Maple Lawn In May 2011

The kosher Pita & Rye deli will open in Maple Lawn after Passover -- aiming for May 2011, according to a press release sent out today.

Newspaper reporters must rely on official spokesmen and people who will be quoted by name.  The beauty of blogging is that you can apply the "normal people" standards and post about the new Pita & Rye deli in Fulton because there has been public talk by the people involved.  That's why I posted about the deli three weeks ago.

Pita & Rye circulated a press release today with quotes from owner Jay Fridkis and Rabbi Hillel Baron, who will supervise the kosher kitchen.  Baron, who runs Congregation Ahavas Israel, says in the release that this will be Howard County's first kosher food establishment.

I echo all the hopeful comments on the prior post.  A kosher deli may deliver New-York-quality ingredients, and that could be a great thing.  Bon Fresco has proven that great sandwiches can pack a house, so I'll second the anonymous comment emphasizing the need for the deli and the diners to do their part:
Everyone out there on Howchow - we have to support it or it will close! Let's say it again, we have to support or it will close! Again...get the idea?

Owners of Pita & Rye, whoever you are - you are risking a lot, we know, to give us a deli. Please don't screw it up. I beg you. Give us the good stuff, throw out the bad, and smile when you serve us. Give us good value & a good pickle.
Check out the Pita & Rye Web site here.

Trolling: Rice Pudding Like Naan Other

That's Tanya's headline and more clever than I remember putting on top of any posts here.  Tanya moved to Howard County from Cleveland without knowing anything about Afghan food.  But as she has worked her way through some local restaurants, she found a new favorite in the kabob spots:
I moved to the HoCo from the land of pierogies and Lake Erie perch.  I can tell you where to get either if you ever visit Cleveland, where where the food variety gravitates round American classics and Eastern European dishes.  But, after so many positive reviews of the kabob eateries around here, I had to try. It took a little guts, but finally, I took an initial gamble on Maiwand Kabob in Columbia a few months ago.
Honestly, for me, it was love at first bite of naan. Where has that fluffy and slightly sweet style of flatbread been all my life? My enthusiasm was not entirely matched by my boyfriend.  I'm a big fan of gyros, and I think anyone that's eaten those will like the local kabobs. But the BF was not convinced in full. He's kind of a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy in most cases.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hunan Taste Is Today's Baltimore Groupon

If you wanted to try Hunan Taste or its hot pot, today is your chance to get a little discount from the Baltimore Groupon -- $25 of food for $12.

Hunan Taste in Catonsville does authentic Chinese food.  I have heard some people clash with managers there, but I had delicious, unusual, accessible food like smoked bamboo shoots and tea tree mushrooms with pork casserole.  I'm buying the Groupon to try the AYCE hot pot where you cook your own vegetables and meats in broth.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bangkok Garden Sold, But Not To Tara Thai

Bangkok Garden has been sold to folks who will take over the Columbia restaurant and change the name, but not to "Tara Thai," according to a comment from Vida.
First the bad news. I've confirmed that the Columbia branch of Bangkok Garden has been sold. I went to the Bethesda location for dinner this evening and spoke with the owners. I was told that the new owners of the Columbia location are Tarin Thai, (not Tara Thai- sorry about that), out of Virginia. According to the previous owners, the new owners have been granted the right to use the Bangkok Garden name for about 6 months; after that time, they will have to change the restaurant's name. 
 Now for the good news. Bethesda isn't that far away. . . .
Anyone know more details?  I see a reference to a Tarin Thai on Yelp, but that Herndon restaurant is described as closed.  When people were reviewing, they focused on a Thai buffet.  Thanks to Vida for the update.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Has Tara Thai Bought Bangkok Garden?

There is a comment on yesterday's post that Bangkok Garden has been bought by Tara Thai, a chain that has expanded out of Virginia.

Anyone know about that?  Any more details Vida?  Has the place changed?  Is it becoming a Tara Thai?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thoughts On Columbia Village Centers: Central To History, But Not To The Best Eating Today

Chick n' Friends. That's food worth
checking out a village center.
Let me start by assuring everyone that I don't question the divinity of James Rouse.

Rouse created Columbia.  He brought education and culture.  He desgregated Maryland.  With his blue ox Babe, James Rouse carved the Grand Canyon when he once dragged his ax behind him.  I am neither educated or inspired enough to take on a real folk hero.

I'm just saying that Rouse's classic Columbia is almost irrelevant to current good food.

Mostly, I have been thinking about village centers.  Lots of people think about village centers.  They post about them.  They pick houses to be near them.  They talk about redevelopment, and they even announce plans to redevelop them.  But few people are eating great food in village centers these days.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Link: Oh, What A Cake On Baltimore Snacker

The Baltimore Snacker picked up cupcakes at Oh, What A Cake in Columbia, and his favorite was the butter with buttercream.

Guar -- Indian Green Beans -- At Eastern Bazaar

Go exotic without leaving your comfort zone by buying some unusual green beans at Eastern Bazaar.

Guar are also called "cluster beans."  They're thin green beans with tiny, tiny beans inside the pod.  Visually different from your regular beans, almost looks more like the green from a chive.

They're $3 a pound in the cooler at Eastern Bazaar in Laurel.  I had never seem them before, but a Googled a recipe on the spot and grabbed curry leaves to round that out.

Very easy to cook with some canned Muir Glen tomatoes and new potatoes.  Eastern Bazaar stands out among the Indian stores because it offers fresh produce.  I had actually stopped for curry leaves because I couldn't find them at the Grand Mart.  Eastern Bazaar often has eggplants, herbs and other items that stand out.

Try something exotic.  Try something authentic.  And it's green beans so it's not like I'm getting you to intestines or lungs.

If you want to try guar beans, check out the "Cluster Beans and Potato Bhaji" on Mamta's Kitchen.  Substitute a small can of chopped tomatoes for the two tomatoes.  And remember that a pound is about 500 grams, so it's about a quarter-pound of beans and half that much in potatoes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Somebody Needs To Get Henry Hong Drunk In Ellicott City So I Can Hear About Local Chicken

The City Paper's Henry Hong wrote about Korean fried chicken this week and even created his own recipe for glazed, double-fried wings to serve the food-writer "trend" that has bounced around for several years.

Hong contrasts fried chicken sold by takeout spots with the actual "from-Korea" Korean variations.  He bemoans the lack of Korean fried chicken in Baltimore.  Says he had to go to Annandale for Bon Chon.

Annandale?  Can someone get Hong really drunk and take him to Rainpia in Ellicott City?  I say "drunk" because Rainpia is a Rte 40 bar and because I find quasi-kidnapping is the best way to get a newspaper reporter to come to Howard County.  (You can't imagine how much Cristal it took to get Richard Gorelick to Facci.)

I know that Rainpia sells Korean fried chicken -- whole chicken, chopped into pieces, glazed with a sweet-spicy sauce.  I loved that chicken, and it's the best of a few that I have tried along Rte 40.  I'd love to know if there is some difference between Rainpia and Bon Chon other than the locale.

Rainpia isn't exactly on trend because the food-writer trend was fast-food style chicken outlets like Bon Chon.  But the chicken there certainly sounds just like what Hong's recipe was trying to replicate.  It's a pretty relaxed bar so, if you're comfortable in a Looney's or a Green Turtle, then you could just go for the chicken.

(Update: See below that Hong comments as "foodnerd" and does compare Rainpia's chicken to the Bon Chon style.)

Thanks to Brian for the link.  Thanks to Hong for the recipe and the thoughts on why this chicken is so good.  Hong says in the article that "apparently a KoFC place is opening up soon inside the HMart in Catonsville."  I think I have been walking past fried chicken there for years.  In the back right corner?  I feel like they have sold takeout Korean fried chicken on-and-off for years.  Anyone been there recently?

Fried Green Tea Ice Cream At Sushi Sono

Sushi Sono in Columbia recently shifted its sushi roll lineup, but the big deal according to Kevin is the introduction of a new dessert.

Kevin used to post on the late blog Kevin & Ann Eat Everything where the brother-sister duo called themselves the Rheelyfats.  Kevin has guest-posted here before, but this time he wants to talk about something important.  How important?  Let Kevin tell you:
Monumental, stupendous, fantastic, historic, outstanding, prodigious, awesome, significant, tremendous, unforgettable, REALLY REALLY important.   
I have two children, Littlefat and Tinyfat, with a third on the way whom I have preemptively named Nanofat.  For me the new addition to the menu at Sushi Sono is, without question or hesitation, more important than the birth of each of my lipid-dubbed children. 
I can say this because none of them can yet read, and I have no plans on ever telling my wife Mrs. Rheelyfat that I have written this statement. What could possibly have me so enamored that I have placed it above my children in my heart?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Aida Bistro Makes Baltimore's Best, What Else?

Baltimore Magazine's best restaurant edition has hit the newstands, but they only posted a few of the best restaurants on line.  Specifically, they posted a list of Italian restaurants -- one of eight topical lists that they made for 2011 -- and Aida Bistro in Columbia made the list.

Anyone else have the list to say what other Howard County restaurants made it?  Last year, they tapped Tersiguel's, Iron Bridge and Victoria Gastro Pub.  (Hat tip to Dining at Large.)

Trolling: Sushi, Udon and Teriyaki At Fuji; Join Jean At Ellicott City's Japanese Spot

Jean just moved back to Howard County after time in NYC, and she wants to troll her three items all from the same restaurant.  To Jean, it's a special restaurant -- Fuji on Rte 40 just west of Bethany Lane in Ellicott City.  

Fuji is a "Mom and Pop" joint with a Japanese chef.  It's nothing fancy, just fresh, authentic sushi and dishes that Jean says taste like Japanese home cooking.  Jean says Fuji looks emptier than she remembers, and she wants to talk up the kind couple who own the place and their food:
For straightforward simple pure Japanese food, Fuji is the real deal. Its the only one with a Japanese chef (all the other ones, even Sushi Sono, are run by Chinese or Koreans). Again, there are no fancy rolls or special items, but for simple, fresh, authentic sushi and flavorful udon and teriyaki, I don't want to go anywhere else in the county personally. 
The couple that runs the place is so kind and the some of the food tastes like traditional Japanese home cooking. It's not the type of place that can handle a lot of business anyway, but for it to be so empty, it really does break my heart.  You should check out: 
  • Sushi: The platter here is the Deluxe Sushi combo, with an array of the freshest fish of the day. What I love about Fuji’s sushi is that it is pure, traditional sushi. These are authentic bite-size pieces (not the monster-slab kind some people think are the best) of buttery, melt-in-your-mouth fish. You can tell the chef has a knack for choosing the most tender cuts of the fish. The sushi rice is seasoned with the right balance of vinegar and sweetness. The rolls have a nice no-holds-barred wasabi kick to them. The variety of items perhaps isn’t the widest around, but perhaps it’s because the chef wants to stick to what’s best each day.