Friday, September 30, 2011

Breadery's Sourdough Bread At Roots

The Breadery has abandoned us for Catonsville, but it is still sending good loaves back to Howard County.

I grabbed a sourdough loaf at Roots in Clarksville, and I have to admit that it broke my stereotypes.  It's a light, crisp bread.  I'm a sucker for loaves with that contrast between the crust and a soft inside.  I've always thought of Breadery as heavier, whole grain loaves.  The sourdough broke that mold, and it made a delicious sandwich with tomato, greens, and some prosciutto that I crisped in a pan.

If you want to try your own hand at great bread, check out the no-knead recipes by Jim Lahey.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Link: New Supermarket In Elkridge By Mid-Nov

Green Valley Markets will open its first supermarket in Elkridge this fall, replacing the Superfresh, reports the Elkridge Patch.

Ma's Kettle In Savage

We went for lunch at Ma's Kettle on one of the first chilly, rainy day of the fall.

The Savage restaurant was cozy inside with a menu of American standards -- sandwiches, salads, barbecue and meatloaf.  The signs promote a homemade taste so the '34 Act Gourmet and I went with homemade creations, a pork barbecue sandwich and the meatloaf.

Meatloaf comes with a gravy, a pretty nice way to warm up and fill up.  The sandwich was packed with shredded meat and a relatively sweet sauce.  This isn't reinventing a classic.  This is the classic with a homemade taste just like they advertise.  It's comfort food, and we enjoyed the lunch even if half of a order is all of the meatloaf that I personally need.

If you go to Ma's Kettle, I'd go straight-forward.  The mashed potatoes were thick and creamy.  Skip the vegetables because you can steam broccoli at home.  The barbecue isn't Kloby's Smokehouse, but it was a fine sandwich as we talked and kept an eye on four-month-old Ethan who had eaten at home.

Ma's Kettle is open for breakfast and lunch.  They close at 3 pm.  It's a friendly place.  They split our orders onto two plates.  They kept filling the iced tea.  If you go, consider making your dinner by stopping in the Savage Mill for a loaf of Bonaparte Bread.

Ma's Kettle
8949 Baltimore Street
Savage, MD 20763

NEAR:  Ma's Kettle is near the Savage Mill.  It's easy to access from U.S. 1 or Gorman Road and just south of Rte 32.  From Gorman Road, turn north on Foundary Street.  That is the intersection with the huge bridge that leads to Savage Mill.  Go past the mill, then turn right at Baltimore Street.  Ma's Kettle is a block up on the right.

 Ma's Kettle on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Baltimore Sun Business Plan: Instructing Underage Kids Where They Can Buy Liquor

Apparently, the Sun has realized that its new pay wall will cost it on-line readers, and they're looking to drum up more business.

This week's offering:  Erik Maza's guide for Howard County teenagers about local places that sell alcohol to the underaged.  The Sun deserves the clicks, so I won't list all five places here.  But it brought back memories of how great it felt to finally buy beer without fear of arrest.

It's unclear if this will be part of a weekly feature by the Sun.  (I had heard Richard Gorelick will be trying to reach the kids by reviewing Aida Bistro & Wine Cooler Bar.)  Probably, the bosses will just chicken out and claim that this is some warning the public or a "news" story about police actions.  Too bad because it is certainly the kind of information that would have gotten me to subscribe in high school.

Links: New Sushi In Kings Contrivance, Aida Bistro's Wine By The Glass In The WPost

There is a new restaurant called Nari Sushi coming to King's Contrivance village center in Columbia, reports the P90 Noir blog.

Aida Bistro & Wine Bar in Columbia gets a huge plug from the WPost, which talks up the wine-by-the-glass program and the wine in kegs.  (Thanks to Sarah Says for seeing the article and tweeting.)

(Updated the right name.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yogopop in Elkridge

Yogopop has brought the tart frozen yogurt trend to Elkridge just off Rte 100, and it's just the kind of yogurt and topping that you would expect.

It's amazing to me that tart frozen yogurt was exotic enough in 2009 that we drove to Olney for Yogiberry.  Now, Yogopop opened, and I can say "It's one of those by-the-ounce yogurt place with cool toppings."  You know what I'm talking about, right?

Eight flavors of frozen yogurt that you put in your own bowl.  Then you top with a range of items -- fruit, broken candy, breakfast cereal, and mochi.  Yogopop delivers the trend.  I prefer the plain tart yogurt and a purple-colored taro variety.  They're both pretty mild, which goes great with my toppings of mochi and granola.  (I took some chocolate and a gummy something, but I have to admit that they weren't as cool as I'd hoped.)

Yogopop has the bright, modern feel that seems to have come from the original Pinkberry.  That's similar to the Tutti Fruitti in Columbia and the run of yogurt places on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.  Similar enough that I think Yogopop is great for Elkridge, but I'm not sure why you would drive past any of these joints to head to another.  I actually think the big difference is the time of day -- when they're busy, they seem to have the best selection of toppings.

Anyone have suggestions about choosing among the yogurt places?  Any special flavors or toppings?  Anyone have the best stuff?

6010 Meadowridge Rd.
Elkridge, MD 21075
(443) 755-8901

NEAR:  Yogopop is just north of Rte 100 in Elkridge.  You get off on Rte 103 and take the first right.  You look like you're driving into an apartment complex, but a quick right puts you on an access road to Yogopop.

Yogopop on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 26, 2011

Honey At Gorman Farm In Laurel

If you're in the market for apples and honey this week, you really should go to the Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel.

Gorman grows its own vegetables, and it also hosts bee hives that are harvested into Gorman's own raw honey.  I have been enjoying a bottle since summer time.  They tell me now that the late season honey comes in darker, with a slightly deeper flavor.

You can also pick up apples and pears.  It's a perfect trip if you have some little kid in the house.  You get an easy drive right off Rte 29 on Gorman Road.  They get the exotic experience of a "dirt road to the farm" and walking around the rustic-looking stand.  They have pumpkins too!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Columbia Wegmans: Looking Like A Grocery

That's the Columbia Wegmans today.  After years of waiting and empty lots, you can actually see how it will turn out.  "That looks like a grocery store," shouts Mrs. HowChow.

Check out the "I Want The Columbia Wegmans" Facebook page where Denise posted a similar shot.

Veg Week: Authentic Chinese With No Meat

My key for Chinese food is to stay on the authentic menus -- even if we're eating vegetarian.

We took two vegetarian friends to Red Pearl in Columbia and ate our way across the menu. We wanted broad menus so that they would have choices, and, with Mango Grove temporarily closed, Chinese and Italian seemed like the best options.

Mu shu vegetables was certainly fine. There is a memory of college that bubbles up with those pancakes and the plum sauce. Something about the fun of eating.  But the really delicious items all came from the authentic menus.

Start with dan dan noodles -- noodles in a bowl topped with minced pickled vegetables.  You stir the dish to mix the spicy sauce hidden underneath.  That's a clean, spicy flavor and one of my favorite items on the Red Pearl menu.

Continue on the Sichuan menu to the ma po tofu.  This is steamed tofu that they called Chengdu style.  We filled the table with a special Chinese broccoli with garlic sauce.  They cook vegetables perfectly -- tender, but still firm.  To me, the sauces from the Sichuan menu and the specials always seem brightest.

If you can get to weekday lunch, you could try Red Pearl's dim sum for vegetarian options.  It's harder because lots of the choices have pork or shrimp.  But they're responsive.  Look for vegetarian dumplings with a pea on top.  There are also vegetables like a Chinese broccoli, and you can always end with the fried sesame balls with sweet filing for dessert.

This is part of Veg Week here at HowChow. With Mango Grove temporarily closed as it relocates, we're suggesting some other spots where you could please a vegetarian friend or please yourself. Obviously, any local vegetarian should check out the vegan kitchen at Great Sage in Clarksville. Or click on all the HowChow posts that we have marked on the theme.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yogopop Appears To Be Selling Frozen Yogurt

Yogopop appears to be open in Elkridge selling frozen yogurt in a cool-designed little shop, according to tweet by LaCasaDeSweets.  I need to check this out!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Links: Two Daily Deal Sites For Today

Two quick  links if you're trolling for a restaurant discount today -- $15 off at Pure Wine Cafe from Plum District and $20 off at Tersiguel's from Living Social.

I don't post about every daily deal site that advertises about a local restaurant because it would be overwhelming -- and not exactly why I write a blog.  But I'm going to use this as my inspiration to try Tersiguel's, and I'm a big fan of Pure Wine.

(Plus, I'm too jammed to finish the planned post.  Veg Week may stretch a bit.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Link: City Paper Raves Red Pearl's Dim Sum

Red Pearl's dim sum is the Howard County name on the City Paper's Best of Baltimore 2011 list.  Check out the list -- and check the dim sum.

Veg Week: Pizza Popping From Coal-Fired Oven

The beauty of pizza is that picky people don't stand out.

Do you want just tomatoes and cheese?  Fine.  You want to add pepperoni?  Fine.  Half onions, half mushrooms?  Hot peppers?  Fine.  People expect you to list the exact ingredients you want in your meal. 

That makes the vegetarian options almost limitless at pizza places like Coal Fire in Ellicott City.  We last went to Coal Fire on a Friday when friends spent a night near BWI en route to New York City.  Late night, no reservations, two kids?  No problem.  Coal Fire was the perfect place to fill a back booth and fill ourselves with pizza.

The basic pizza at Coal Fire makes a great vegetarian option because you'll get an entire meal's flavor from the slightly spicy sauce and the slightly charred crust. Coal Fire's gimmick is an extremely-hot oven that turns out thin, crisp pies, and it's best move may be the light layer of mozzarella, which used to be made in-house and is still delicious wherever they're making it.  Done right, the pizzas are full of flavor without grease or heaviness.

As I mentioned, you can outfit your pie with your own toppings.  Even a vegetarian can split a pizza with a meat-eating friend if you split the toppings as well.  Coal Fire is a hybrid place -- a restaurant aimed at unusual food that wanted to be a chain from the beginning.  So it's run by teenagers. Boys make pizzas. Girls wait tables. At least that's what I have always noticed.

The girls have always been nice, and it's a very kid-friendly atmosphere.  But the boys' work can be variable.  Often great, but I stayed away for a while after getting a few pizzas where the crust just wasn't good.  Don't make my mistake.  Don't eat a burnt or badly cooked pie.  Talk to your waiter because I think Coal Fire is the kind of place where they want to put out skilled food, and they'll try to make your happy.

This is part of Veg Week here at HowChow. With Mango Grove temporarily closed as it relocates, we're suggesting some other spots where you could please a vegetarian friend or please yourself. Obviously, any local vegetarian should check out the vegan kitchen at Great Sage in Clarksville. Or click on all the HowChow posts that we have marked on the theme.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Links: Sushi On Two Dudes And Ribs On Two Cities

Jump around the Web to read more about Howard County food -- sushi (all you can eat) at Niko's Japanese on the Two Dudes Who Love Food and ribs (not his favorite) at Pupuseria Las Delicias #2 on the Tales of Two Cities.

Sweetcakes Brings Cupcakes From Ellicott City

Hello Sweetcakes!  You must tell us more about yourself.

I noticed a bakery called Sweetcakes on Twitter today, and it kicked off a little excitement from people who thought that "cupcake" and "delivery" could make some adventures.

I can track Sweetcakes back to a Facebook page, but I don't know more.  They call themselves a cupcake catering business.  How do you order?  Where?  How much?  Anyone know the story?

(Update:  There is more on the Facebook page than I realized.  DanaB noted in a comment below that the phone number -- and the $20 per dozen price -- is on the Facebook "info" page.)

Veg Week: Vegetarian Bibimbop At Shin Chon

Korean barbecue may not be the first idea for vegetarians, but Shin Chon Garden can serve up great flavor even if you're passing on the char of grilled bulgogi.

Our meatless meals at Shin Chon Garden in Ellicott City have been based around vegetarian dolset bi bim bop -- basically a heated stone pot filling with rice, then layered with a bunch of different vegetables, including carrots, sprouts, daikon radish, and others.  Mix in some of the spicy sauce.  The first servings are a delicious mix of rice and vegetables.  The second set get even better as the hot pot sizzles and crisps the rice.

If you eat meat, then I'd recommend the normal dolset bi bim bop because the beef adds an unctuous taste.  But it doesn't really change the dish, and vegetarians can eat well even in a place that specializes in grill-you-own meat.

The beauty of Korean for a vegetarian is that each table comes with a half dozen meat-free dishes.  Shin Chon serves the small plates called panchan with every meal, and they cycle through items like kimchi, other pickled vegetables, seaweeds, and potato salad.  Look out for tiny silvery fish, and look out for octopus tentacles -- the rare meat panchan that are usually obvious to everyone.

You fill out the rest of the table with a few well-picked entrees.  Chapchae are sweet potato noodles stirfried with vegetables.  The pancakes are plate-sized savory spreads with green onions.  The Shin Chon folks are sophisticated.  Explain that you're a vegetarian.  Explain how much you like hot peppers, and they'll put together a plate for you.

This is part of Veg Week here at HowChow.  With Mango Grove temporarily closed as it relocates, we're suggesting some other spots where you could please a vegetarian friend or please yourself.  Obviously, any local vegetarian should check out the vegan kitchen at Great Sage in Clarksville.  Or click on all the HowChow posts that we have marked on the theme.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Veg Week: The Vegetarian Roll At Sushi Sono

The vegetarian options in a sushi place often range from non-existant to uninspiring, but Sushi Sono delivers a special option that would anchor a fine meal.

The vegetarian roll comes out wrapped in pink.  That's fun on its own, but you order the vegetarian roll for the same unique balancing of flavors that make all of the unique "chefs" rolls and that make Sushi Sono one of the best restaurants in Howard County.

The pink soy wrapper contains distinct bands of seaweed salad, mushrooms, pickled carrot, fried sweet potato, and avocado.  The textures make the roll something special --  crunchy, tart pickles, crisp carrots and the smoothness of avocado.

I'd recommend the vegetarian roll for anyone because those flavors contrast nicely with the fish and spiciness that dominate so many other special rolls.  We paired it with the No. 14 roll and the "sushi nugget" roll.

For the vegetarian, I'd recommend starting with edamame and then supplementing the pink special roll with the agedofu appetizer, seaweed salad or a few smaller vegetable rolls like shittake and asparagus or asparagus, cucumber and avocado.  Ask what they recommend because Sushi Sono's chefs will make special rolls if you suggest ingredients.

Of course, vegetarians could always go with vegetable tempura, but I don't eat many meals these days of fried anything.  I'm sure that Sushi Sono makes light tempura, but I have never felt drawn away from rolls when I see tempura on another table.

This is part of Veg Week here at HowChow.  With Mango Grove temporarily closed as it relocates, we're suggesting some other spots where you could please a vegetarian friend or please yourself.  Obviously, any local vegetarian should check out the vegan kitchen at Great Sage in Clarksville.  Or click on all the HowChow posts that we have marked on the theme.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Corner Stable Building In Kings Contrivance

Corner Stable will replace the shuttered Michael's Pub in Columbia's Kings Contrivance village center.

Anyone know the time line for this expansion of the Cockeysville restaurant?  Construction is certainly underway, and they have ripped the place back to mostly raw space.  I walked past on a late-season visit for Rita's wild black cherry gelati.

Jason's Deli May Be Soft Opening Saturday

Jason's Deli is opening on McGaw Road in Columbia -- down the block from Apple Ford.

The official opening is Monday, but the soft opening may be as soon as Saturday, says Vicki in a post on the HowChow Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Filipino Food And A Fundraiser This Sunday

Check out Filipino food and a silent action this Sunday to raise money for a foundation that supports folks in the Philippines.

I can't write about every wonderful event in Howard County, but Sunday's event is run by Robin -- the technical half of the HocoBlogs site.  On the food side, Robin and Kate are serving pork and chicken barbecue, spring rolls, chicken adobo and more Filipino foods, including several desserts.  On the charity side, they're raising money for the Tapulanga Foundation:
The silent auction raises funds for the educational, healthcare and micro-credit programs of the Tapulanga Foundation. The main beneficiary of the foundation is a small Catholic elementary and high school that my sister runs. She has almost 500 students now who all come from poor families and her goal is to help give these kids quality education so they can hope and dream for a better life. 
Tickets to our event are only $20 and kids ages 10 and younger are free.  We organize the event as a way to also introduce and serve Filipino cuisine to the community.
For more information, check out their Web page.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Anna's Coffee Roastery in Columbia: Roast Their Own Beans And Put Korea's BBQ In Mexico's Taco

Bulgogi tacos at Anna's Coffee Roastery
The local coffee shop scene gets a new roast and a new take on international bulgogi now that Anna's Coffe Roastery has opened in Columbia.

Anna's follows a line of local coffee shops that roasts its own coffee and sells a line of breakfast and lunch options until the end of the work day.  They're getting nice comments online about the coffee, but I went right for the flashy stuff: bulgogi tacos.

This is staple trend in places like Los Angeles, but the bulgogi taco is a nice lunch option here in Howard County.  It's the cousin of the bulgogi panini at Riverside Coffee -- and a similar use of Korean barbecue to head onto an international scene.

Anna's sells two bulgogi versions -- a "sweet' version with beef and a "spicy" version with pork.  They're thin-sliced meat, charred nicely and served on a corn tortilla with rice, letture and sour cream.  In the end, neither is very sweet or spicy.  The main flavors are the meat and their sauces, which were rich and offset nicely by the lettuce crunch.  Gabrielle and her family lunched there Sunday as well, trying both bulgogi as platters with rice and a salad, and she recommends it as well:
Gabrielle's bulgogi platter
The spicy pork was not overly spicy (I actually wouldn't have minded a little more heat) but had a great flavor full of onions, ginger, and red pepper. My husband's sweet beef bulgogi had a subtle sesame oil flavor and was also sprinkled with sesame seeds
Like Riverside's panini, Anna's tacos are aimed at a general audience.  It's a nice mix of Mexican and Korean favors, enticing to anyone who likes a little barbecue.  Dr. RDAdoc and I split two of the $8 taco plates, and I went spicy when he let me decide which of the final two tacos to finish.  If anything, I could have taken more spicy too.  A little kimchi, even on the side or as an optional topping?  Or some pickled Mexican vegetables to add just a little zip?

Anna's is definitely a nice addition to the options along the Columbia/Elkridge line.  Gabrielle's six-year-old devoured a half turkey club, and the menu runs from breakfast sandwiches through a bunch of lunchtime options.  For now, I'm pretty loyal to my Sidamo's coffee beans, but I'd love to know what people think of those other roasts.

Anna' Coffee Roastery
8827 Centre Park Dr Ste D
Columbia, MD 21045
(443) 546-4131

NEAR:  Anna's is in a shopping center between Rte 108 and Rte 100.  It's just north of the Giant onCenter Park Drive.  You pull into the entrance near the Burger King and Bangkok Delight, then drive past the Thai restaurant to a strip of shops with an MRI shop.

Anna's Coffee Roastery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Yogurt In Elkridge. New Japanese In Columbia? And Bugogi Tacos That You're Hiding

Why are you people holding out on me?  It was only by watching the #hoco Twitter feed that I happened to catch @jas_ing mention a new coffee shop in Columbia serving bulgogi tacos.

A new coffee shop in Columbia?

Serving bulgogi tacos?

And no one emailed me?   No one said, "You have to check out Anna's Coffee Roastery on Centre Park Drive.  They're serving breakfast and lunch, including Korean tacos"  To make it worse, @jas_ing tweeted that he'd been in Anna's listening to two women talking about the HowChow blog.

People, people.  If you're in line in a new coffee shop talking about this blog, then you should snap a cell phone photo and email me.  Share the news -- and a quick review of those bulgogi tacos.  Luckily some other facts are sending updates:

  • There is a sign saying "Katana" on the Hickory Ridge village center space that was formerly the Maruha Japanese restaurant, reports Brad.  He asked me if this was related to the Katana Sushi in Clarksville.  I have no idea -- and no idea if either are connected to the Katana Sushi in Elkridge.
  • Speaking of Elkridge, there are signs for a new Japanese restaurant -- but no name -- in the U.S. 1 shopping center with Great Wall Chinese, reports Mark in an email.  This looks to be a few blocks north of Rte 100.
  • While you're waiting for those places to open, you apparently can bide your time with frozen yogurt from a new place off Rte 100 in Elkridge.  LaCasaDeSweets tweeted that the new yogurt joint is called Yogopop.

Pickled Tomatoes (Remember That Larriland Trip)

Beginning pickles can be pretty harsh, but it's always a nice lesson where you eat the results.

The pickled cherry tomatoes above were my first attempt preserving a little summer in the fridge.  Those are just refrigerator pickles -- a brine of vinegar, water and spices poured over jars of Larriland Farm tomatoes.

After a few weeks, I gifted four small jars to friends and popped open one of the two big ones.  Let's be honest: The vinegar is on the front end when you pop one of these babies in your mouth.  (It's on the front, middle and end, says Mrs. HowChow.)  But I like them.  The vinegar is balanced a bit by tomato sweetness and especially by the still-firm texture of of the cherry's flesh.  I think they'd be best served with other strong flavors, maybe as a pungent note on a cheese plate or an antipasta.

The other option is using the pickled tomatoes as an ingredient.  Cut them into a pasta or tuna salad.  That's my plan for next week.  Either way, my two jars will carry my tomatoes through the fall -- until I'm ready to break open the tomato sauce and the pickled green tomatoes biding their time in my closet.

Friday, September 9, 2011

For Canning Supplies, Check Out Kendall Hardware in Clarksville

I'm still not sure if I'm any good at canning, but I certainly know now that Kendall Hardware is the place to go for supplies.

I have a shelf of items that I put away in a recent mania brought about by cheap tomatoes and a dread of winter.  But it is a strange experience because I have no idea if anything tastes good at all.  I saved a little tomato and basil jam in a plastic container, but all the pickles, sauce and roasted tomatoes are set aside for winter use.

To date, my real discovery has been that Kendall Hardware in Clarksville is the local place to outfit yourself if you're an old hand or on a new jag like me.  Target, Larriland Farm and some supermarkets had a few items.  But only Kendall had a half-aisle of Ball jars -- everything from quart to half-pint and an array of wide and regular mouths.  Great selection.  Good prices too.

Personally, I'm going with small jars.  I see myself canning a few quarts of sauce.  But mostly, I'm looking to cook small batches of pickles and other ingredients that I can set aside in eight- and 12-ounce jars and break open when I need good food in little time.  So I loved the jelly jars and the wide-mouth half-pints.  They also sell the tools - like a jar lifter, a funnel, etc. -- in both Ball brand and some cheaper, generic options.

Right now, the Kendall folks have a special display of Ball jars in the middle of the store.  They said they're a year-round product.  If they don't have what you need, they can order special.

I still need to buy the giant pot that people use to process their jars.  I'm planning to buy one from Amazon because I just need the pot.  Ball seems to sell a package with a canner and a bunch of supplies, but the price seems inflated.  Better to buy the canner on Amazon and all the other supplies at Kendall Hardware.

(Update: I bought the Columbian Home 33-Quart Jar canner from Amazon.  Seemed large and not that expensive.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back To School: Bento Boxes Can Help You Pack Lunch, Then Make Your Lunch Entertaining

This is the season to start packing lunches, either your own or for a kid in your life.

If you're looking for inspiration -- and some practical advantages -- consider bento boxes and the Japanese accessories that go with them.

I wrote about bento boxes two years ago when the Hanoori Home Plaza was new in Catonsville. At the time, I bought a bunch of accessories like tiny sauce bottles and silicon cupcake liners with a plan to make art. But that never happened.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Report On Local Korean Fried Chicken

We're proud to carry Mad For Chicken!  Come try some!  on Twitpic
Korean fried chicken has come to Howard County -- through a Mad for Chicken franchise inside the Tian Chinese Cuisine in Ellicott City.

I couldn't run out yesterday, but Hanah saw the post and ordered some takeout. She reports on the chicken, the crispiness and the glaze:
Over the years, I've had my taste of Bon Chon and other varieties of Korean fried chicken. So I was excited to learn through HowChow that I could get my chicken fix just several miles from my home. 
The Mad for Chicken at Tian Chinese Cuisine didn't disappoint. The outside was crispy and light while the meat inside was moist. The garlic spicy glaze had just the right amount of garlic. The sweet radish which comes with the order provided a nice balance to the spice. Even my husband who is not a big fried chicken eater enjoyed Mad for Chicken. 
Since they fry the chicken in-house, order at least 25 minutes ahead for take out. I ordered the 20-piece wings, which at $17 is cheaper than Bon Chon.  I hope you get a chance to get it out soon.

Tart Cherry Pie From Lovebirds

Pies impress me when they taste like fruit, and the miniature tart cherry pie from Lovebirds delivers the most-interesting experience: I almost didn't notice the filing.

I noticed the cherries.  They're firm and nicely sweet and tart at the same time.  But I almost didn't notice the jellied filling -- the gelatinous downfall of most pies crammed with more sugar than fruit.

With the Lovebirds pie, the filling is a mild background that tastes like fruit.  Most of the dessert is spearing those firm cherries and slicing up a flakey crust.  The crust is superb.  Supermarket crusts may be as good as the ones that I have made, but Lovebirds gets layers and that dry, but not dried out texture.

I have seen Lovebirds recently at Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel and Roots in Clarksville.   I'd look at David's Natural Market in Columbia, because they sold there last year as well.  Last year, RDAdoc bought us a maple apple, which  also came through like a homemade dessert from a talented friend.

These are a splurge -- $8 for a pie with four small slices at Roots, maybe a few dollars less at Gorman.  But they're worth way more than some giant pies that I have bought and never finished.

Anyone know these Love Birds people?  No contact information on the package, but they say that they're baked in Howard County.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Korean Fried Chicken Has Come To Howard County, And I Need To Go On A Pilgrimage

We're proud to carry Mad For Chicken!  Come try some!  on Twitpic
Tian's photo from Twitpics
Korean fried chicken appears to have come to Howard County -- a Mad For Chicken franchise being run from the Tian Chinese Cuisine on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.

Mad for Chicken looks like a franchising company.  Its Web site doesn't actually say "Korean fried chicken," but the pictures have the look of the twice-fried crispy birds that I have only been able to sample at a Bon Chon in New York.

Tian Chinese Cuisine serves Korean-Chinese food.  It's Chinese as it's sold on Seoul, and you should check it out for the house-made noodles that Tian's kitchen bangs out every day.  Delicious in a black bean sauce.

Tian tweeted about the new fried chicken yesterday.  I need to stop by the restaurant in the Lotte Plaza just east of Rte 29 to see if it lives up to Henry Hong's description of the Bon Chon product:

Its product is pretty typical, with an aroma that slaps you in the face with garlic (definitely powder and fresh, in my opinion); a glaze that possesses a pretty straightforward combo of salty, sweet, and in the case of the “spicy,” a fast-acting, mouth-filling heat; and an exterior that although is often described as “shatteringly crispy” is more accurately somewhere between crispy and crunchy, with just a tiny hint of chew. The meat itself is unseasoned, but extremely moist, protected from drying by its cornstarch cocoon. It’s good, finger-lickingly even, but not life-changing, and probably not worth a trip halfway around I-495. Not on a regular basis anyway.
Does anyone know if the Korean fried chicken stand ever opened inside the H Mart in Catonsville?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Asian In Elkridge, Closed Asian in Columbia?

Two bits of restaurant news from folks asking on the blog or Facebook --
  • Anyone know a story or timeline behind East Moon Asian Bistro?  There is a sign up in the Shipley's Grant development on Rte 108 in Elkridge.  Inside, it is a construction site.
  • Anyone know if Tokyo Cafe closed in the Wilde Lake village center?  Kelly left a question on the HowChow Facebook page.

This Is The Sad Face Of Community Supported Agriculture, And I Support The Full Experience

The first thing we do, let's kill all the stink bugs.

People blog all the time about the happy, sunny side of community supported agriculture.  Then this week, I realized that Hurricane Irene had smacked around my farm.

When I say "my" farm, I mean Gorman Produce Farm in Laurel where we're splitting a share with RDAdoc and family.  The weekly bag came with some nice-looking tomatoes, but also a note that made me realize that my share of the 2011 harvest has shrunk.

Wind and water ruined tomatoes ready to pick.  They blew flowers off eggplants and peppers.  They forced Gorman to pull squash long before they were cured.  Bummer, but I signed up for the risk.

And the real risk is stink bugs!  They ruined many tomatoes in my personal garden, and Gorman reports the same kind of problem.  Their note has the nicest explanation of why they were sending squash covered in blotches:
We can't just too them into the compost pile, there is plenty of good meat to the squash.  We ask for your understanding and that you eat these right away!  I brought some home hacked off the bad part, skinned and cubed the squash and have mine stored covered in the fridge.  It is ready to go into any meal this week.
That's the reality of CSAs.  On the up side, I have a delicious-looking yellow heirloom on my counter.  On the down side, my fall eggplants got wiped out by that hurricane, and my squash are being molested by exotic insects.  But it is pretty cool to know what the farmer is eating for dinner.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mango Grove Closed, Looking To Relocate

The Mango Grove restaurant has closed -- along with its paired kitchen Mirchi Wok -- to make way for new construction and apparently a drive through Starbucks.

Several people posted comments or emailed me.  Then a comment on an earlier version of this post lead me to Mango Grove's Facebook page.  (This post has been re-written on Friday morning.)

This has been discussed for a while.  Apparently, the Starbucks on Dobbin Road will move to a new building that will replace the Mango Grove and Mirchi Wok.  The county planning board approved the construction in June.  The Mango Grove folks had said they would find a new location nearby, and the Facebook page says that remains their plan.

Let me know if you hear about a new location.  I love Mango Grove.  The food is excellent, and the dosas and southern Indian food bring a unique cuisine.  (Flavors of India has opened in Columbia with some of the same items, although I haven't been often.)

(Update:  The new location announced in October 2011 will be a few blocks down Dobbin Road in the shopping center with Lakeside Coffee, Noodles Corner and Pub Dog.)

Where Do I Get Mooncakes In Howard County?

Keep an eye out for moon cakes at the H Mart in Catonsville or other places that cater to a Chinese crowd.  The Mid-Autumn Festival starts on September 12, and I'm looking for any advice and any sightings.

Mooncakes are pastries that people often give as gifts to family or friends around the festival.  Min gave me advice months ago, especially about Rockville bakeries:
I only see boxes of imported moon cakes from renown moon cake makers of Taiwan and of HK at H Mart in the weeks before Mid Autumn Festival (aka Moon Festival, the 15th day of 8th month in the lunar calendar).  Moon cakes are highly seasonal and labor intensive.  There are different styles (Taiwanese, HK, Cantonese, Jiansu, etc.) of moon cakes to choose. But I buy my mooncakes from Maxim Gourmet Oriental Market every year in Rockville. Maria's Bakery & Cafe in Rockville (HK style bakery) and Bread Corner (Taiwanese style bakery) may carry some items similar (e.g. egg yolk cakes, mung bean cakes), but never the real deal.
Anyone have mooncake places closer to home?  How do I know if I"m getting the real deal?  Any advice?