Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Link: Microbrew Rock Star Coming Wednesday

A microbrew rock star is coming to the Perfect Pour in Elkridge from 5:30 to 7 pm Wednesday for a tasting -- and then continuing on at an after-party at Frisco Tap House in Columbia, says the Balted Marley blog.

Almostsuited writes about a Wednesday appearance by Mikkel Borg Bjergso, a Danish brewer who he compares to Mick Jagger if you're into beer.  Check out the Balted Marley post.  If you like this beer, Frisco says it will have 20 taps.

Very little posting this week.  We lost Verizon, and Verizon then decided this morning to move our repair appointment from Tuesday morning to Tuesday afternoon.  Uh.  I had to go to work.  So we'll be out until Friday.  Favorite part of the Verizon phone call -- when the guy uses that corporate script to imply that I'm lying about when the appointment was originally scheduled.

Monday, August 29, 2011

You Say Tornado? I Say Tomato. Learning To Can Tomato Sauce As Irene Blew Into Town

The nut calling Harris Teeter during the state of emergency to ask whether they sell Ball canning jars?  That was me.  So sorry.  I just used the quart ones that I already owned.

Gorman Produce Farm had $25 boxes of tomatoes when I picked up the CSA on Thursday.  Maybe 28-30 pounds of tomatoes.  A second chance at learning to make tomato sauce after Larriland had been picked clean of the regular size on our visit earlier this month.

So I grabbed the box.  Then I panicked Friday night when I realized the storm could leave me with no power and rotting tomatoes.  It was a race to preserve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Best Lunches In Howard County: What Do People Eat When They Can Order Anything?

The high tech 1990s are alive and well in a tiny sliver of Howard County.  I am usually a train-ride away at lunch time, but there is at least one company where the employees not only eat locally -- they eat a free lunch.

Sven was nice enough explain what happens when people can pick almost any lunch that they want.  Each employee get an allowance for the week.  Each day, Sven's company picks two restaurants -- most from Howard County, but some from near Arundel Mills or Baltimore.  It's a rotation, but favorites get on the schedule every two weeks.  You can order whatever you want each day, but you need to cover anything above your allowance for the week.

House of India -
Too pricey for takeout lunch?
What restaurants get picked?  What dishes are the best when they have to survive a delivery ride?  What are the favorite lunches in Howard County?  Sven has the answers:
The Restaurants

Of the two restaurants picked, one is almost always American cuisine and the other is typically something more exotic. In this way, the restaurants are divided into two groups: 'safe' and awesomely out there. The safe restaurants are your chains like TGI Friday's, UNOs, Baja Fresh, Qdoba, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Green Turtle, and Subway.  If you couldn't guess, I'm more of an adventurous type and so are the majority of my immediate coworkers. These restaurants include Tandoor Grill, Bangkok Garden 9, Pho Dat Than, House of India ("HoI"), Flavors of India ("FoI"), Maiwand Kabob, La Palapa Too, El Nayar, Frisco Grille and BGR The Burger Joint. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cooks 'N Cakes Bakery To Open In October In The Space On Rte 40 Given Up By The Breadery

The new Cooks 'n Cakes Bakery will open in Ellicott City at the end October in the Rte 40 space emptied out by the Breadery, according to a comment on a prior post.

It's an anonymous post, but it's signed by "Adell & Bill" and says that they signed a lease on Rte 40.  It's sad enough that I write a food blog.  I'm going to assume there isn't anyone sad enough to write fake comments on a food blog about bakery leases.

Cooks 'n Cakes is a bakery being opened by some former DC school principals -- with talk about cupcakes and that kind of stuff.  The Breadery is a bread bakery with an emphasis on wholesome stuff, which moved  to Catonsville.

Guacamole Takeout At Root's Market

The avocado forest on the side of my house was proof that Root's Market makes its guacamole by hand.

The Clarksville market generally displays plastic containers of bright green guacamole in the prepared food sections.  They were tasting it Saturday, and we got swept up in the fun.

I know that it's made in the store because I have carried Root's vegetable trash to my compost heap.  Once, I got bags of avocado skins and pits.  The remnants clearly showed they were making guacamole, and those remnants sprouted into a late-season grove of shiny avocado plants.  Too bad they can't survive a Maryland winter.

You'll need to go to Root's since you can't grow your own.  There is salt and a little tomato.  But the dip is mostly thick avocado, left just chunky enough and worth $5-6 for a half-pound container.  You'd spend almost that much on enough avocados to fill a bowl, and you can eat Root's dip tonight -- a big point because supermarket avocados are always a few days from being ripe.  Honestly, it would make dinner with some chips or wrapped into soft tacos.  Don't you deserve an easy night?

If you have leftover, cover the guacamole in plastic wrap.  The top layer changes color, but the guacamole that we bought Saturday was still fresh for dinner Monday.  Click here for all the posts about Roots in Clarksville.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Smoked Trout From Town Grill In Lisbon, Plus Cherry Tomatoes Three Ways For Now And Later

One of the best cooking lessons is to let other people do the hard stuff -- even when you're the chef.

Great food takes time.  People already put time into items like sausage, pickles and smoked fish.  With a few minutes, you can throw those items into your own recipes.  Make a start at Town Grill in Lisbon where they smoke their own salmon and trout.

Smoked trout was new to us.  We got four ounces, plus four more of the salmon.  They're fillets with a dry crust from the heat, but a moist, firm flesh that soaked up the smoke.  I broke the fillets with my fingers, and the smoke was strong enough that my hands smelled like barbecue.

We picked 20 pounds of cherry tomatoes at Larriland Farm in Woodbine, just down the road from Town Grill.  I sauteed a pint or so with some chopped onions and herbs.  They broke down into a rough sauce of soft tomatoes and a thin liquid to coat the pasta.  I cooked spaghetti, then broke up the fish with my fingers and threw them into the hot pasta and sauce.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pick Your Own Tomatoes At Larriland, But You Don't Have To Pick Between The Barbecue

You need to mark your calendar now for a trip or two to Larriland Farm because the pick-your-own fields are hitting their peak.

Peaches, blackberries, raspberries and tomatoes are available now, and the next few weeks start the rush towards apples and pumpkins.  Go fill your bags, and keep room for lunch out in Woodbine.  In July, I recommended a fried chicken picnic with the main dish from Harvest Fried Chicken. Yesterday, we stayed out of the heat by eating a late barbecue lunch at the Town Grill in the Citgo station.

After so much time picking produce, I didn't want to just pick one of Town Grill's barbecue options of pork, chicken, brisket, pitbeef, etc.  So I ordered sliders -- three small, soft buns that came with a half-cup dollop of meat.

Yesterday, we went for peaches and tomatoes with a plan to lay them away for winter.  I even bought some Balls quart canning jars as part of my bumbling effort to learn to pickle and can.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seaweed Snack Chips At Super Grand

We have reached a new frontier at Casa de HowChow -- the snack chip that was so unusual that Mrs. HowChow likes it more than me.

Fried sea tangle is a snack chip made from kelp.  It's a Korean crisp with the real taste of the ocean.  Salt from the chips, but also a sea flavor that smacks of something like a good oyster.

I smacked my lips.  But I admit that I found them odd.  I think I was expecting salt like a potato chip, maybe the taste of something like kale.  But the fried sea tangle comes with a hint of seafood, which seems right when I think about it but seemed a bit off as we first snacked in the car.

The Super Grand is a terrific market on Rte 197 in Laurel.  It's a Korean-run store like Lotte or H Mart, but it's a broader selection with Asian foods plus Hispanic, Indian, Jamaican and other cuisines.  Click here for all the Super Grand posts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Link: Buying Half A Cow On Kitchen Scribble

The Wagon Wheel Ranch will sell you half a cow -- butchered and packed into managable-sized vacuum bags, and the Kitchen Scribble blog has the report and photos of a table filled with roasts and steaks.

I don't eat enough meat to justify this type of local eating, but kat bought a half cow and split it with another couple.   If you want more about Wagon Wheel, check out my prior post where Penny described her experience, including smaller orders like a "Taste of the Farm" with chicken, lamb and beef.

While you're checking out kat's site, you should read her weekly report about the Breezy Willow CSA.   Kitchen Scribble and the Sarah Says blog have both created weekly posts that should be invaluable if you're wondering if you should sign up for a CSA next year.

We Lost The Breadery To Catonsvile, But We're Getting Yogurt, Japanese & Renamed Turkish

One of the unexpected parts of HowChow has been how much people respond to restaurant news.  They click on it.  They even send some in -- through comments, emails and tweets.

I love it all.  These are some of the news items that I have picked up from folks:

  • The Breadery has moved from Ellicott City to Catonsville, Eric said in a comment
  • The Turkish restaurant in Columbia has changed named again.  Now, it's Kabob House, reports Morty Abzug.  This is place on Little Patuxent Parkway that start as Cazbar and became Turkshish.
  • There are signs for another frozen yogurt place -- this time in Elkridge in the new center off Meadowridge with Kupcakes & Co, says Kam and tweets LaCasaDeSweets.
  • There is also a sign for a new Japanese restaurant on U.S. 1 in Elkridge, according to an email from Mark.  He didn't remember the exact sign, but he said it was a Japanese place coming soon.
Send any news.  I can't post everything immediately, but I try to keep track.  Send photos!  Or click all the posts about Howard County news.

Monday, August 15, 2011

If You Squint, You Can Almost See The Olive Bar (Plus Wegmans Secret To Delivering Groceries)

Construction has kicked into gear at the site of the Columbia Wegmans.  I feel like skeletal girders just went up, but they're already wrapped in walls.

We seem to still be looking at a Summer 2012 opening.  I haven't heard more since the Columbia Patch's report.  But progress is always good, and I took an "out the window" video on Sunday.  The picture below shakes with each bump on McGaw Road, but you can now recognize the site as an enormous store.

People often wonder what makes Wegmans so different.  I posted two years ago about why I want Wegmans.  But one great difference is logistics.  Wegmans delivers 100% of its food in trucks like the one above.  Strobist, the eye behind the HoCo 360 blog, photographed that "vehicle."  You get great gas mileage from a Pez dispenser.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Link: Cupcake vs. Cupcake on Swim - Run - Write

Cupcakes go head to head now that the Food vs. Food feature has returned to Swim - Run - Write, a local blog that created the format that pits two local joints against each other.

I love all the Food vs. Food posts, although I do warn you that Mo swims and runs so she earns the ability to taste-test multiple cupcakes, buffalo chicken, and pizza.  She already has comments by people joshing about how cupcakes aren't on their diet.  Join the debate about where to get great cupcakes in Howard County -- Touche Touchet, Oh What A Cake . . . .

Anyone know what happened to Cooks n' Cakes?  There had been talk of some former DC principals opening a new place in Columbia.

Ribs At Longhorn Steakhouse in Columbia

Did you know there are chain restaurants in Howard County?

If you look at this blog, you'd think this town was controlled by the Little Restaurant Mafia.  But there are a few chains around apparently.  Good news for Mrs. HowChow, who likes her ribs falling off the bone from Longhorn Steakhouse.

This is one of the divides in our house.  What makes great ribs?  I root for the smoke flavor and the chewy tooth at Kloby's Smokehouse on Johns Hopkins Road.  Mrs. HowChow wants texture and lots of sauce.

The Longhorn ribs were Sunday dinner so that I could get out afterwards and work the garden.  They came with two sides -- broccoli and mashed potatoes.  (Side note: Who sells ribs without selling coleslaw as well?  The broccoli was nicely cooked, but too healthy for a night of ribs.  The potatoes -- or the butter in the potatoes -- almost made up for it.)

The ribs come away from the bones like cling-free peaches.  Not falling off, but coming with a tug.  The meat was tender.  Mrs. HowChow thought the meat was flavorful, and she liked the sauce.  They gave us a full container with of sauce on the side.  Sauce makes her happy.  She also likes the bread, which comes warm at the restaurant but still fresh and slightly nutty in the take home packet.

Those touches make Longhorn stand out, and I enjoy those ribs.  They're Mrs. HowChow's top ribs in Howard County.  And what husband would disagree to tell you about Kloby's?

Longhorn Steakhouse
8650 Snowden River Pkwy

Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 953-8180

NEAR: This is the shopping center on Snowden River just north of Rte 175.  If you're going to Target from Snowden River, the Longhorn is on the right side of that access road.  It's next to a Red Robin.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Age Tofu Appetizer At Shin Chon Garden

You barely need an appetizer at Shin Chon Garden because the Korean barbecue comes with a table of panchan, the rotating small dishes of vegetables, pickles, and maybe a little meat.

But the agedashi tofu is a delicious way to start.  Silken tofu is dusted with starch and then deep-fried.  It comes out warm in a bowl with a broth that tastes of soy sauce and maybe a fish broth.  It's topped with bonito flakes -- razor-thin slices of dried fish that wave in the heat coming off the tofu.

It's crisp, but light.  I look to the age tofu when we eat with four or five people at the Ellicott City restaurant.  I order an appetizer and then one fewer main dish than the folks at the table.  The tofu is light, and no one goes home hungry after we eat a Korean feast.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Link: The Sun Loves Kloby's Ribs

Kloby's Smokehouse on Johns Hopkin Road gets a rave from John Houser III in the Sun today.  Houser loves the barbecue, including the pork and beef ribs that I have talked up before.  He also discovered an off-menu item that I need to try:
Also new are some items you wouldn't find unless you flipped through a little sandwich board in the middle of the table (when we visited, the new menus weren't in). Be sure to look for the corn fritter bites ($5.99). Quick to come out of the kitchen, like all of the items that night, these morsels were harbingers of the great meal to come. Crusty and salty on the outside collided with sweet and gooey on the inside to create a fantastic fritter. The mayonnaise-based white barbecue sauce that came with it added a creamy tartness which fit the fritters.
Click for all my posts about Kloby's.  I'm overlooking Houser's major error because it really isn't his fault. That's not Laurel.  The post office may slap the name on the Applied Physics Lab, but that stretch of Johns Hopkins west of Rte 29 is misleading.  It's Columbia or Fulton or Upper Scaggsville, as folks have noted before.

Longan Season Has Returned; Check Them Out With Some Lychees At The Korean Markets

I think that longan season has arrived again, and you should go harvest a bag of your own at one of the Korean markets like Super Grand in Laurel.

Longan are a tropical tree that puts out bunches of fruit.  The thin, leathery skin splits easily and releases a tender, moist fruit.  Imagine a peeled grape, although the flavor is less sweet and the interior seed is a lacquered black pit.  I can pop them for hours.

Mrs. HowChow picked longan at the Super Grand on Sunday.  She learned from a woman who didn't speak English, but pantomimed that you want fruit still attached to a branch or at least with a bit of stem on the end.  If the stem was broken off, that might have left a hole and a dried out fruit.

(That's a lot to learn through pantomime, but Mrs. HowChow and another woman agreed that they'd learned the same lesson.)

I assume that longan are available at Lotte in Ellicott City and at H Mart in Catonsville.  I think their season runs for a few more weeks in late summer.

While you're at it, pick up some lychee as well.  They're a cousin to longan, slightly sweeter and moister than longan.  They were also a key part to our first date and an early HowChow post.

(Update: Check out the A Day In The Life II blog for a post about how to eat longan and lychees.  Great pictures and description.  It's easy once you have eaten one, I promise.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

There Is Room In This Town For Both Of Us (Especially Because They're A Smaller Size)

The Howard County blog scene just got a taste younger when two brothers started their own look at local food.

The How2Chow blog kicked off last month.  They've checked out some local pizza and Clyde's.  The name is a bit close, but let's recognize that they're kids and celebrate the younger voice.  Go check them out.

(Update: The guys are changing the name of their blog, but they're upping the ante by making their own videoes.  I'm already getting outclasses by the new generation.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pupuseria Las Delicias #2 Serving Grilled Meats And Big Sides In Columbia Near Snowden

Local lunches aren't my speciality because I'm a train-ride away most weekdays, but you can get out of your rut by following Rob to a new food truck selling grilled steak, chicken and ribs near the southern end of Snowden River Parkway in Columbia.

Pupuseria La Delicias #2 serves up $8 plates with meat and "south of the border" sides from morning to mid-afternoon, and Rob has stopped by with an appetite and a camera:
Pupuseria Las Delicias #2 is run by Carla, who arrives Monday through Friday at 9:00 am and stays open until 2:00 pm.  Carla drives the food truck, which holds her supplies, and she tows a magnificent grill with 55-gallon-drum-type grill on the back end and a two-door smokebox on the side.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wegmans Says Columbia Will Open Summer 2012

The Columbia Wegmans should open in Summer 2012, a Wegmans spokesman told the Columbia Patch.

Things are serious now.  Wegmans rented office space for the next year, reported Wordbones.  They're finally giving a date, which seems great.  I may push the public demonstration to Memorial Day 2012 -- better weather, and we'll be closer.

If you're interested in Wegmans, join the I Want The Columbia Wegmans Facebook page and post there.  Some new Facebook system means that new members must be approved by current ones.  Feel free to invite and approve your friends.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New YogiCup Frozen Yogurt Coming To Columbia

A new frozen yogurt place is opening off Dobbin Road in Columbia, says Sarah in a tweet about YogiCup that she saw going in near Noodles Corner, Pub Dog and Riverside Coffee.

Anyone know the story about YogiCup?  Any idea when it is opening?

Ken Ulman Wants To Steal Your Food

Ken Ulman wants to steal the food from your mouth -- or at least from the mouths of your earth worms.

Howard County will start a pilot program in September asking people to save food scraps for large-scale composting.  Families fill a special 35-gallon container, and the county whisks it away once a week to a Woodbine company for composting, says the Sun.

Don't fall for this, people.

This program beats throwing your vegetable scraps in the trash, but old food is gold if you give it half a chance.  Or maybe half a year in your own compost pile.

Composting is a great way to support your own vegetable garden.  Collect shredded leaves in the fall, then mix your vegetable scraps over the year.  By next summer, you'll have crumbly black compost  to improve any garden that you have.  That's Ulman's plan.  They are taking your trash, and they'll sell it right back to you.