Thursday, October 31, 2013

Best Of 2013: How Much I Miss Wordbones

What would Wordbones say?
The photo above is a Tesla outside a vegan restaurant.  Mrs. HowChow and I walked out of Roots a few weeks ago, and we actually saw two of the electric-powered sports cars outside Great Sage.

The sight should have sparked some witty observation about Teslas and vegan restaurants, but it just made me miss Wordbones again.

Dennis Lane died five months ago, and I still find myself wanted to email him or read the Tales of Two Cities blog that he wrote under the nickname "Wordbones."  Dennis used to post about cars that he had spotted.  Quick photographs and stories about convertibles or historic rides that he had happened across.

Dennis joked once about a BMV delivering pizza, and I know that he would have enjoyed two luxury cars driven to Clarksville so their owners could enjoy upscale food without burning gasoline or eating meat

I don't care about cars.  I drive a plastic box on wheels.  But I really did care about Dennis, even though I met him fewer than 10 times.  In a year when lots of wonderful things have happened, I wanted to note that we all lost Dennis last May.  Newspapers are dying, and we're losing the professionals who used to tell stories and keep watch on the powerful.  If we're lucky, people like Dennis will fill their place.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Food Experiences: Best of Howard County 2013

Guacamole from Roots
HowChow is more about food than restaurants, so it always feels more natural to recommend a list of cool experiences where you can work food into a day.

When I write this annual post, I have tried to replace half the items between each list.  You should check out all the "food experience posts" since 2009 because there are great ideas there -- donuts, hot pretzels, Korean Food 101, and more things that we enjoy all the time.  For 2013, I have gone 100% new -- except, of course, Larriland's pick-your-own that is just so wonderful to omit:

  • Make an easy dinner with guacamole from Roots.  The Clarksville grocery makes its own guacamole, and that zesty flavor turns almost anything into a delicious dinner.  Guac and chips can make you happy.  Or guac spread on a quesadilla of tortillas and cheese.  Or go crazy by making your own little dishes -- a salad of chopped tomatoes, some cheeses, the guac, and crackers.
  • Go for my newest taco find at Linsy's Store in Catonsville.  Linsy's is perfect for food blogging.  They're serving terrific Mexican food in the back of a store off Rte 40.  I heard from one of the owners at Portalli's -- where the Latino employees turned folks onto the tacos.  Cheap adventure and a guaranteed full stomach.
  • Mix your own cocktails.  The trend towards fresh ingredients can come into your liquor closet.  I discovered bourbon this year, and you can find all kinds of exotic mixers at local liquor stores.  Vinegar based shrubs at im Wine in Fulton.  Bitters at the Perfect Pour in Elkridge.  Search the Web for cocktail recipes.  Then check any of the nicer local liquor stores, and I'm sure that you can find something interesting.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Get Ready For The Mobbies - Vote, Vote, Vote

The Sun brings back the Mobbies for their fifth year -- a popularity contest to publicize Baltimore blogs of all shapes and colors.

I nominated a bunch of blogs tonight.  You can go to the Sun's Web site through Halloween to nominate other blogs.  Then you can start voting on November 4 -- and, of course, you need to vote for HowChow.  ;-)

Bean & Burgundy To Soft Open Nov. 5

Bean & Burgundy Bread will soft open November 5 -- according to the Ellicott City restaurant's announcement on its Facebook page.

Cindy Frazier spotted the announcement, and she posted on the HowChow Facebook page.  The new place is on the south side of Rte 40 west of Rte 29.  It looks like the menu will mix bakery items with a wine bar and a dinner menu.

Restaurants: Best Of Howard County 2013

Hiramasa with ponzu at Sushi Sono
When I wasn't looking, my "Best of Howard County" posts have become a tradition.

This is the sixth year that I have tried to collect recommendations about local food into a week of posts.  I don't know what you love, but I know that you can find wonderful food out here in the suburbs.  And more is coming.  Cindy Wolf, Whole Foods, and the folks behind the Ambassador all want a piece of Howard County, and that must be good.  

This is my "Best Of" list.  These are places where I'd tell you to start if you want something delicious.  In 2012, I literally wrote "where to go" advice for someone just moving to Howard County.  This week of posts is more of an annual writing exercise where I think about stuff I have found and try to spark a little conversation with other eaters.

I don't know if your best restaurants are on my list.  That's why you can write comments!  Tell me the three places that you would recommend to someone who just started eating in Howard County.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Best Of 2013: Thoughts On Howard County Food

Crabs from Frank's Seafood - Awesome, but not on my "Best Of" posts
It has been years since I ate a bulgogi panini.

You may remember Riverside Coffee's Korean take on sliced beef sandwiches, but I was thinking about them this weekend because I haven't eaten one since I first posted in 2009.

We have lots of good food around here.  In my early years, this blog often argued against people's knee-jerk idea that there was nothing in Howard County except chains.  But those jerks have disappeared, and the truth is that the county has so much good food that I barely touch the surface each year.

I haven't stopped for a bulgogi panini because I always have something else to try -- guilty pleasures like cheesesteaks or great adventures like the tacos joints that span from Columbia to Catonsville.  In the same way, I haven't done justice in the past year to the fish at Today's Catch in Columbia or the egusi at Kuramo in Columbia or the hot pretzels and other goodies at the Dutch Country Market in Laurel.  I often think about a sweet from Touche Touchet as I see the exit off Rte 29, but I'm on my way somewhere or I'm already full or I'm too hungry to risk eating three desserts in the car.

These are all wonderful places.  They're places you should know about.  But we have so many good places for food that I'll write two days of "Best Of" posts this week without mentioning them.  Tuesday will be "Best Restaurants."  Wednesday will be "Best Food Experiences."

Both posts are chances for me to spark ideas about the food scene, and, if anything, that scene is just getting better.  Since 2012, Wegmans has changed the way that I shop.  I love the bakery, the cheeses, the speck.  We have gotten a row of new restaurants in Turf Valley.  We have been promised low country food at the Highland Inn, Indian at the Polo Club, and "farm to table" pub food at the White Oak Tavern, along with other new spots from Fulton to Ellicott City.  That all sounds excited, even though it pales in comparison with the coming remake of Columbia's lakefront with a Whole Foods and a restaurant from Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman.

HowChow is a hobby.  It is mostly short posts -- often about new stuff at the expense of great places that I wrote about over the years.  In its own way, I hope HowChow is an ad hoc guide to eating around Howard County.  I hope you'll click to the past posts linked from the "Best Of" week, and I hope that you'll click through the "labels" in the right column to see what else you might have missed.  Want to know where to find Nepalese food?  Or Vietnamese?  There are labels that will take you through many topics.

I also hope that you'll comment on the "Best Of" posts.  The county is so big that folks have favorite restaurants that I still haven't tried -- like Coho's in Columbia that Duane posted about last week.  I love hearing about great places or just great dishes.  That's how I learned about the tacos at Linsy's that will be among the "Food Experiences" and how I heard about Frank's Seafood -- the retail spot in the Jessup seafood market.  They sell amazing crabs, and, like that bulgogi panini, I left them off the "Best Of" posts because I'm trying to give you new ideas.

Feel confident about Howard County food.  It's not Baltimore or DC, but you can eat better here than in most places in this country.  And you can certainly fill a year with delicious items -- both old favorites and new finds.

Five goals for my upcoming year:
  • Try the tofu soup and brisket casserole at Yetnal House in Ellicott City.
  • Have more fun on Main Street in Ellicott City -- maybe try Rumor Mill or the Portalli's patio, definitely hit up a "Second Sunday" where you can eat and shop outside.
  • Get out to the beer spots.  Columbia Alehouse, Frisco Tap House, T-Bonz, Kloby's Smokehouse, Victoria Gastro Pub and other places are trying to do great beer with great food, and they're worth checking out.
  • Cook more fish.  I need to try some whole fish at Today's Catch or Frank's Seafood.  Maybe do more with clams and squid from Lotte in Catonsville or Wegmans in Columbia.
  • Get back and eat Riverside Coffee's bulgogi panini one more time.
Up Tuesday:  The Best Restaurants In Howard County.  Up Wednesday:  Food Experiences In Howard County.  If you can't wait, check out the "Best Of" posts going back to 2009.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Laurel Meat Market Sells Its Own Spice LIne

Has anyone tried the barbecue spices that Laurel Meat Market is selling under its own name?

On top of the meat counter, Laurel Meat Market has a line of ground spices -- a "sweet BBQ" rub, a Cajun mix, and a "Western steak" seasoning.  I assume they've arranged for someone to package their private label line.

I'm a complete amateur when it comes to cooking meat.  I cook it rarely, and rarely do more than run a steak or burgers on the grill or a cast iron pan.  I love Laurel Meat Market for exceptional ground beef -- including the "firecracker" mixture where they will special-grind you some ground chuck with their house-made pork sausage.

The quality of the meats makes me think that the spices are probably worth checking out.  I don't really know how to use rubs or big seasonings on meat.  I'd love any suggestions.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Drumstix: Junk "Food" Can Bring Us Together

Not as spicy as that bird makes it look 
I still cringe when I remember what I carried to Madrid to teach my host family about American food in the summer before my junior year of high school.

Fruit roll ups.  Jiffy Pop popcorn.  This Spanish family ate great food -- and frankly so did my family at home.  But I brought junk food in my suitcase and only later figured out that I could bake a pizza to show them a real American taste.

But then, America does really taste like fruit roll ups and Jiffy Pop at the same time that it tastes like heirloom tomatoes and charcuterie.  So I love checking out the junk food that we import from other countries.

Recent sensation among a group of our friends:  Kikiriki Drumstix.

Deliciousness at the Fritos level of processed food.  Crunch.  Oil.  Zest of chili and lime.  All with the brilliance of puffing them into "chips" that look like a chicken leg.  Each Drumstix looks like miniature fried chicken.  It tastes a bit like chicken as well, although I prefer the black box spicy Drumstix because you get the mild spice as well.

Honestly, the bird on the package is exaggerating the spice.  Doritos sells varieties that are three times as spicy as Drumstix.  This is just a mild spice with the "citrus" of lime flavoring.  These are a great snack for someone who wants a junk food fix -- or who wants to amuse some friends who will be inspired by chips in the shape of a a chicken leg.

I bought these at Lotte in Catonsville.  They're clearly package for export with an English side of the box and the full nutrition information.  Don't look at the nutrition information.  You aren't eating these for nutrition.  You're eating them make yourself worldlier.  To become more international.

And for the crunch.

I assume Drumstix are available at the Lotte in Ellicott City and at other Korean markets like H Mart in Catonsville and Super Grand in Laurel.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Highland Inn Aiming To Open In Nov/Dec

The new Highland Inn is aiming to open in November or early December, reports Richard Gorelick in the Sun.  Gorelick interviewed chef Brian Boston, who had hoped to open in 2012 but now sees the end in sight for opening an upscale casual place on Rte 216 just west of Rte 108.

Back To Bangkok Delight: Thai That Was One Of The Places That Tied Me To Howard County

The tingle on my tongue makes me remember Thailand and remember that Bangkok Delight still stands out.

The Columbia restaurant was one of the first restaurants that I visited in Howard County.  Mrs. HowChow lived off Rte 108, and she knew Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro and Bangkok Delight when we went on early dates.

At one point, I thought this was one of the best restaurants in Howard County.  It won't make that list when I run my annual "Best Restaurants" post next week, but Bangkok Delight's kitchen does put out fresh, flavorful food that make it worth driving past most of the Chinese places around.

We have always loved the curry dishes.  Green curry is bright and spicy.  On our most-recent visit, brown curry was slightly sweet and deeply rich.  It has little "hot pepper" spice, but it thick with the flavors of our honeymoon in Thailand.  Sliced chicken comes with potatoes, raw peanuts, and carrot.  I always cherish some extra rice -- or some rice cooked fresh with leftovers -- to soak up the curry sauce.
Mango sticky rice

In contrast, the special eggplant had a real spicy kick from slivered hot peppers.  It left that tingling tongue.  This isn't as aggressive as Bon Chon's spicy fried chicken.  It's the talented touch where spiciness complements crunchy baby corn, earthy mushrooms and eggplant cooked to that perfect point where it is fork-tender, but not mushy.

Save room for dessert if you like mango.  The mango sticky rice comes warm and sweet -- almost like risotto of rice and sweet coconut milk.  Sliced mango adds sweet tanginess, and you have the dish that made me first notice how much Mrs. HowChow loves dessert.  One early take-out evening, I brought home two mango sticky rices.  That may have been when she decided that I was a keeper.

Bangkok Delight has a cute look with paper umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.  I assume they do a big takeout business because I have never seen it full.  Crowds of Indian folks in House of India and Mango Grove always make me feel confident that the food meets the standards of native palates.  But Bangkok Delight does a good job for me.

If you like Thai, you should also check out Bangkok Garden in Oakland Mills in Columbia. We also need to try Thai Aroma in Ellicott City which I always think about when we're walking into Shin Chon Garden or Tian Chinese Cuisine in the same shopping center.  They're wonderful for Korean (ie. barbecue, rice bowls, etc.) and Korean-Chinese (black bean noodles), respectively.

Bangkok Delight
8825 Centre Park Drive #A
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: The Giant off Rte 108 just west of Howard High School and east of Rte 29. Bangkok Delight is in the shopping area just north of Giant. Look for the Burger King on the corner.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BGR's Burger, Bargain Bread, And New FroYo In Turf Valley: Adam Trolls Three Great Ideas

BGR's burger
You need to add Adam's idea to your "to do" list -- challah from The Breadery in Oella, spread with salmon cream cheese and topped with a poached egg.

That's a spectacular idea, and it's the kind of idea that keeps me blogging -- one of the many emails or comments where someone suggests something delicious that I would never have heard about.  Now, I've raved about the Bon Fresco's challah, but I never even noticed a loaf at The Breadery and never thought about that simple, but beautiful open-faced sandwich.

Today's Trolling post is more from Adam, including another new place in the Turf Valley shopping center that is really making a difference up on Rte 40 and a special at BGR The Burger Joint in Columbia.  Take it away Adam:
Breadery's challah
I think we can all agree that there is some great bread baking going on in Howard County. Not even counting specialty bakers like Bon Fresco and Great Harvest, grocery stores like Wegmans have taken store-baked bread to artisan levels. But for as great as the breads at some of these places are, you’ve got to admit they can be a little on the pricey side, and not always worth a weekly investment if the only person eating them in your household is, well, you. That’s why I love stopping into The Breadery in Oella. Their “Day-Old” rack isn’t just bursting with variety, but it features all kinds of great breads at 50% off. I’ve never bought a loaf from them that’s spoiled before I’ve finished it, and $2-3 for either an artisan old world bread or a home-style loaf of sliced bread, stopping in just to browse the day-old shelf has become a regular occurrence. I really recommend the Garden Herb loaf for tasty sandwiches (like a Goat Cheese and Apple Panini), as well as the Cranberry-Orange Pecan for something sweeter. A few days ago I even managed to get a loaf of their Challah. Lightly toasted with smoked salmon cream cheese and a perfectly poached egg, it takes on a custardy texture and sweet, rich taste as a open faced sandwich. 
There’s been a lot of buzz about the new Turf Valley Facci, but a new frozen yogurt stand just across the street that is worth checking out. YoLavie is a small chain with just four other locations, but they definitely bring a sweet presence to the new plaza. They held a grand opening on October 4th in which they offered all you can eat free yogurt, and I left on a sugar high after a mixed bowl of their peanut butter and coffee flavors. Both were excellent, as was the pistachio flavor I sampled. Not being a huge Froyo guy, I can’t say how YoLavie stacks up compared to the myriad of HoCo or national offerings, but I love that the new plaza has brought them in. 
Finally, it seems like most people find BGR The Burger Joint’s $6.99 burger a tad expensive, but if you’ve never tried the chain, I’d say to at least give it a shot.  They are running a deal right now where you can get their “burger” free with any purchase after signing up for their eClub online.  They have a location in Columbia near Target and Dick's Sporting Goods.  My burger was cooked a perfect medium-rare and dripping fatty juices, and I was really impressed with the freshness of the toppings and the deceptively light but buttery “brioche” bun.  Even without cheese I enjoyed it more than anything I’ve had from Five Guys (overrated, in my mind) and it exuded beefy flavor.
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.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cool Takeout Idea If You're Coming From The South: Pick-Your-Own Dishes At Soretti's

Takeout dinner from Soretti's in Burtonsville
Add an arrow to your takeout quiver by picking up dinner at Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine in Burtonsville.

Soretti's makes all kinds of delicious Ethiopian stews -- along with crisp fried sambusas.  I recommend the casual spot for eating dinner out, but they now have a special "grab and go" menu where you can pick your favorites and some pieces of the spongy Ethiopian bread.

This is incredibly easy.  You just pick from 11 stews -- seven vegetarian for $4 each or three meat for $6 eat -- and add bread for $1 per disk (or $1.50 for the pure teff versions that are totally worth trying).  For each order, you get a plastic deli packet stuffed with the stew of your choice.

You can be in and out of Soretti's in minutes.  You can warm the stews in a microwave, and you can eat in the cool Ethiopian style -- one bread covering your plate, stews poured on top, then another bread torn into pieces to scoop up the stew.  You get rich flavorful dishes with huge options for healthy stuff and lean meats.

You can pick between spicy and mild.  You can serve a bunch of people for $20.  I picked up three stews -- a spicy chickpea, a mild lentils and a spicy beef -- and gorged for dinner and lunch the next day.  I splurged on four injeras, and two stayed spongy and fresh in a plastic bag.

Soretti's is just west of Rte 29 on Rte 198.  It's easy to reach from Howard County, but the takeout dinner is ideal if you commute home on Rte 29 from the south.  Check the list of "grab and go" dishes on their Web site.  Call in an order.  Grab dinner and head back on the road.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rumor Mill Gets A Balanced (Salad) Review

The Rumor Mill on Main Street is on my list of restaurants that we really want to try.  Several people have talked it up to me, and I got another nudge last week when Balance Salad blogged about a 22d anniversary dinner there.

Kobe sliders, sweet potato fries, chocolate hazelnut tarts and more.  It definitely sounds like a place we would like.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Chef At Twist & Turn, New White Oak Promises "Farm To Table" Pub -- All On Twitter

It is a new world.  I posted yesterday about a possible new chef at Twist & Turn and an apparent new restaurant to replace Jilly's, and confirmation came back on both via Twitter.

From chef Bruce Allen's Twitter feed, you can see that he is leaving Sonoma's and joining the Twist & Turn Tavern in Highland.  I had heard that the place had picked up the front-house manager from Facci on Johns Hopkins Road.  They're also building an awning for new outdoor seating.

The White Oak Tavern Twitter page leads you to Facebook where you can see photos of the place, promises of "farm to table" pub food, and mentions of chef Greg Mason.  It looks like they're marrying the seasonal food trend with the "taphouse" model of many beer options.  I'm never happy to hear about a place closing, but it sounds like White Oak wants to offer something special in the new place.

Anyone know the plans at either place?  Timing on changes at Twist & Turn or opening at White Oak?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Changes Coming To Twist & Turn Tavern And Jilly's? Grille 620 Appears To Have Opened

Has anyone heard about changes coming to the Twist & Turn Tavern in Highland or Jilly's in Ellicott City?

Over the weekend, I heard that the woman who used to run the front of the house at Facci has moved to Twist & Turn Tavern.  Talk was that they're adding outdoor seating (and I saw a new awning over the sidewalk when I drove through Saturday).  Talk was also that she was involved in getting a new chef for the tavern and that the food might change.

Anyone know more?  Anyone have recommendation at Twist & Turn?  It's an easy location right at Rte 216 and Rte 108, but I had assumed it was regular tavern food.  I'd love to hear about great dishes or new items.

This morning, John tweeted me to say that he had heard that Jilly's was closed or sold in Ellicott City.  he said "closed for good."  Does anyone know the news?  I can't open their Web page, and no one answered the phone when I called.  (Update: See Alicyn's comment below that Jilly's will be replaced by the White Oak Tavern.  Jilly's has news and photos on its Facebook page.)

On the opening side, Grille 620 appears to have opened in Turf Valley.  Jack emailed, and Chris posted with a report that sounds normal for a new restaurant -- pretty good steak and salmon with uneven service.

As a bonus, Trip Klaus posted a comment saying he had talked to the owners of the Bean & Burgundy that is coming to Rte 40 in Ellicott City.  Report is coffee all day, deli at lunch, and bigger dishes at dinner.  Let people know if you have reports or news on any of these places.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Drive-Through Starbucks Coming To Columbia?

Has anyone heard about a drive-through Starbucks coming to Columbia?

Deb messaged me on Facebook to say that On the Spot mobile detailing had mentioned the Starbucks when they emailed to say the business would be moving.  They said there would be demolition and development in the commercial area near Rte 32 and Eden Brook Drive.

I think On the Spot is in a commercial area at the end of Old Columbia Road.  That's a dead end so I'm surprised, but I'm not expert on placing Starbucks.  I guess the area is easy to reach from Rte 32, especially if you can order your coffee without getting out of your car.  This is the quote from On the Spot's email:
"For those of you who are local and interested, they are going to be putting a Drive-Thru Starbucks in the strip center they are developing at Old Columbia Rd."
Is this the right area shown in the Google "street view" below?

View Larger Map

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Vegetable Vindaloo At The Tandoor Grill

Vegetable vindaloo from Tandoor Grill
India is a big enough cuisine that you could fill a county with different options and dishes.

The Tandoor Grill on Johns Hopkins Road is a casual alternative to the run of terrific Indian restaurants like House of India and Royal Taj.   This is counter service in the shopping center next to La Palapa Too, and it's a slightly different -- different dishes, different spices, a few inspirations like the garam masala chicken wings.

There is the slightly crazy: the chile naan.  Several of my friends have celebrated themselves by eating Indian bread stuffed with tiny, green hot peppers.

But there are other dishes that are just talented and unusual.  I took out vegetable vindaloo on my last visit.  A rich curry over tender vegetables.  Seriously spicy, but really right -- heat that light up my mouth, but encouraged me to eat more.  I'm a sucker for healthy food with big flavor.  It means that you can eat a lot.  I grabbed the vindaloo before meeting for a movie.  I ate so much that I didn't even want candy at the show!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Things To Learn About The Grille In Fulton, Fresh Chips At Wegmans And A Possible New Honey Pig

Keep your eyes open in the HowChow comments because you can learn from the locals.  Four items that I saw recently seemed cool enough to highlight on their own:
Also, Al Pong has some exotic fruit trees for sale if you want bring some excitement to your house and yard.  Al propagates 26 acres of trees in Fulton, and he left a comment noting that he has trees like kaffir limes, pink lemons, kumkuats and more available.

Crunch Daddy Is Back At David's Market in Columbia; All Three Bags Will Make You Smile

CrunchDaddy popcorn (photo from their site)
Now you can pick special popcorns right off the shelves in Columbia -- CrunchDaddy is returning to retail.

CrunchDaddy is a little Columbia company that Dan Bazis started in 2012 to sell the flavors that he had imagine and cooked up.  Cheryl Clemens wrote a whole Howard Magazine profile last year, and I have raved about CrunchDaddy's sweet and savory varieties because they're as talented as restaurant desserts.

Now, you can check out CrunchDaddy in person at David's Natural Market in Columbia.  Starting this afternoon, David's will stock three varieties -- "maple & bacon," "caramel & peanut," and "honey & cinnamon."  They're all delicious.  Bacons makes for fun where ever it appears, although "honey and cinnamon" sits among my favorite two or three favors from the entire line.

David's will charge the same prices -- around $6.50-$7.50 for a quart bag -- as the CrunchDaddy Web site.  They'll also have some seasonal flavors that Dan is working on now and expects to unveil in late October or early November.  CrunchDaddy's bags are fun eating on their own, but they're interesting enough to be great as a hostess gift or in a gift bag.

I personally love CrunchDaddy's popcorn.  Once you have tried the three varieties at David's, I have to recommend the "peanut butter & jelly" variety on the Web.  We bought an assortment for my parents over the summer, and my mother joined the rave about Dan's imagination.  Peanuts appear in many fancy popcorns, but Dan got the "jelly" with minced grape jelly beans.  It's smart and fantastic.

Dan makes all the popcorn in small batches with real ingredients - everything from Old Bay to cheddar cheese, real butter to candied ginger.  David's sold them briefly last year, but Dan retrenched a bit with production issues until going back to retail now.  CrunchDaddy has been reviewed on the Pop Blog by local popcorn blogger Kevin.  You can click through to the links from Kevin's list of all the popcorn that he has reviewed.

David's will also stock CrunchDaddy in Gambrills and Bel Air stores in a few days.  If you go to the Columbia David's, definitely check out the sandwich counter for a meal -- and consider Today's Catch seafood market on the other side of the village center if you want to cook your own dinner.

David's Natural Market
5430 Lynx Lane
Columbia, MD 21044

NEAR: This is in the Wilde Lake village center very close to the Columbia Mall. It's not in the section with the Bagel Bin and The Melting Pot. It is across Lynx Lane in a separate set of stores.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What Will You Do On Furlough Week No. 2?

Waterloo Pizza's cheesesteak is calling furloughed workers
Let's make lemonade out of the government shutdown -- or at least a great sandwich or something else to eat.

Congress has left thousands of people out of work for the past week.  The House has been polite enough to say that they will pay the people who are pawns in the political game, so folks should breath a little more easily this week.

What food fun could you have if you're sitting around Howard County?

Lee Biars sent me an amusing offer.  Diamondback Tavern and Portalli's will give 25% off an entire party's check to anyone with a state or federal government ID.  They're running the special Monday to Thursday this week.  Does anyone know similar offers aimed at government folks?

If I were home this week, I could imagine looking for some special lunches.  I could do chores and errands, getting myself out at mid-day to enjoy some places far away from where I normally spend the weekdays.  Five ideas:
Any other suggestions?  Any reports about food fun that you have had during your furlough?

Friday, October 4, 2013

New Bon Fresco Comes To Annapolis Junction; Breakfast Or Lunch For Gov't Contractors

London Broil!

The Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery in Columbia is truly one of the best restaurants in the county even though they serve sandwiches from a counter.  Everything starts with amazing bread, then fills with great meats and vegetables.

Now, a second Bon Fresco has opened in Annapolis Junction.  Jeff from Southern Skies Coffee Roasters has a day job nearby, and he reports that it's a great place for lunch -- or for breakfast, which they don't offer in Columbia:

One of the hardest things to do with a retail business is to expand while maintaining the same quality and service that your customers have come to expect. From all indications, it appears that the owner of Bon Fresco, Gerald Koh, has done exactly that. Tucked into an industrial building in Annapolis Junction, Bon Fresco fills a much-needed shortage in lunch options for the thousands of government contractors in nearby National Business Park.  
The menu is the same as that of the Columbia location, but with the expanded morning hours, they've added in some breakfast items. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to try anything from the breakfast menu yet. My perennial favorite, the london broil sandwich, is still just as good as it's always been. Served on crusty ciabatta, the broiled steak is thinly sliced and dressed with mixed greens and seasoned mayo. The contrasting flavors and textures combine perfectly to create what is one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. 
Koh is a master at surprising you with unexpected flavor profiles. A perfect example of this is how the pearl couscous salad is elevated by the addition of apricots, which give it a subtle touch of sweetness reminiscent of vanilla. There is clearly a lot of thought at work here. 
The service is friendly and the staff handles the lunch rush quickly. I recognized a few faces from the Columbia location. It's a welcome addition to the lunch scene east of I-95.
Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery
10907 Guilford Rd.
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701

NEAR:  Bon Fresco is just north of Rte 32.  It's near the intersection of Guilford Road and Dorsey Run Road.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Corned Beef At New York Deli In Columbia

Corned beef from the New York Deli
Styrofoam plate on a cafe table right next to a parking lot.

That isn't where I'd expect you to find an exceptional sandwich, but I'm really captivated by the corned beef sandwich at the New York Deli in Columbia.

The deli sits on Snowden River Parkway in the same shopping center as Linda's Bakery and House of India.  It appears to be a Korean-run place, but I have enough hope for Jewish-Korean mixtures that I ordered with real expectations.

New York Deli delivers.  It's good light rye bread with right meaty, salty corned beef in between.  Sometimes, especially back in 2010 when I first ate there, I have gotten thick-cut meat.  On my last visit, the corned beef was almost shaved.  Either way, it's a special sandwich, and it's one of my favorites -- along with great finds like the gyro at Maiwand Kabob and almost anything at Bon Fresco Sandwich Bakery.  (Start with London broil, corned beef or turkey.)

What other sandwiches do people recommend?  I don't eat lunch in Howard County often, so I'm eager to share ideas with the regulars.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Columbia Mall Getting Two Restaurants ... And An OIl & Vinegar Store Over The Next Year

The Columbia Mall is getting two new restaurants and a store that specializes in vinegars and oils, and the Baltimore Sun seems to have re-printed the press release.

Coming in November: Secolari, a store that sells olive oil, vinegar, other foods, and bath products.  There is apparently one in Bethesda already.

Coming over the next year:  Seasons 52 and Zoe's Kitchen.  They both look like small thoughtful chains.  Anyone have thoughts on them?

See The New Columbia Whole Foods -- Photos!

Where you'll eat lunch from Whole Foods
Take a tour of the new Columbia Whole Foods.  It's still under construction.  No food displays because they're still pour concrete, and there are no walls.

Duane got a tour, and he posted photos and descriptions on HoCo Connect.  He noted that windows -- even those overlooking the lake -- will be replaced by supermarket walls.  He also described some kind of spa and exercise facility that the Columbia Association will open in the same building.

I can't wait for Whole Foods to open in 2014.  Over the summer, we had a great day around the lake.  We ate at Sushi Sono, but I noticed the grassy areas between the Whole Foods and the lake.  That will be a great place to eat lunch.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New Pollo Feliz, Closed Mama Lucia? Comments On Nichi BK's Move, T-Bonz's Burger, RG's Po Boy

Pollo Feliz & Taqueria coming to Ellicott City
The restaurant wheel keeps turning with places opening and closing, so there is always more to learn about local food.

Coming soon:  Look for Pollo Feliz & Taqueria that seems to be opening next to Tere's Latin Market in Ellicott City.  They're expanding into the former Quizno's, and it looks like the taqueria inside Tere's will turn into a full-scale restaurant.

Closing down: Marylynn and others asked about Mama Lucia that used to be on the Elkridge/Columbia line near Trader Joe's.  They saw it had closed.  Does anyone know why?  Or if they're re-opening anywhere nearby?

As always, the comments on HowChow offer great advice and information.  Peter, P90Noir and others made suggestions about bourbons and cocktail recipes.  Jack, Rich and others reported on the new Ernesto's in Ellicott City -- a Mexican spot that we haven't tried yet.

Bon Chon's fried chicken. What about sliders?
And there is more to learn and share: