Sake 101….
August 28, 2012

It was a stormy afternoon outside Pabu at Harbor East,
but inside, it was all smooth sake….

Yeah, what I know about sake would fill a thimble. Seriously. So the idea of going to sake school(Sake 101 they call it) at Pabu at the Four Seasons at Harbor East, to learn how sake is made, how to tell good sake from bad(oh there is bad my friend), how it’s (properly)served, the history of the beverage was interesting enough. But when you get to taste sake throughout the class? I’m all in.

These are the sakes we tried….no I cannot
read the labels. But so pretty…I wanted the center one for a vase!

Lesson number one: Sake is not hot battery acid you drink at 3AM  with bad sushi. This was quite a revelation to most of us, as that’s exactly what we’ve done in the past.

Lesson #2: Sake is not rice wine. It’s also not a beer or a spirit. What?? Sake is unique unto itself…(however it is brewed like beer soooo…..just sayin’).

Here is your sake professor..a.k.a. The Sake Lady….she know all!

Ok, I love edamame, but this fire roasted soy coated thingies
were just AMAZING….I want some right now.

No we did not just drink…we also ate. Delectable goodies like fire roasted edamame, and squid salad….really yummy stuff….

Beautiful, no? And we got to devour it!

I wish I could tell you that I am now a sake expert, and can order with aplomb from the extensive sake menu at Pabu….but that’s not be true. But no matter….I know tons more about sake now than I did before, which brings us to Lesson #3: Sake is served cold. COLD!

Oh, and there are two more Sake 101 classes(9-08 & 10-13) at Pabu, about which you can read details here. For only $25…it’s fun hour…and you learn something too. Win-win in my book. Here’s sake in your eye….

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Bacon and chocolate, beef belly, and gardens…did I leave anything out?
April 23, 2012

Project side garden....underway. I need more rocks!

OK, let’s see what’s been going on….I’ve been working on a little garden on the side of my house. It doesn’t get seen much really, so I’ve never given it much love. But when a huge Black Walnut tree came down last summer there, the area was just… so…nude, really. SO I bought a tall crepe myrtle that I intended to get in the ground last year. Ok, let’s make it THIS year. And once that was done( I hired someone to dig the hole for me) I was inspired to create a stone border and get some other things in the ground. Almost there, but still need more rocks!! But one of my neighbors has this garden thing down to a science.

I love the rhubarb in the pot...such a nice contrast....

And this morning, I paid a visit to the courthouse, where my daughter was determined to fight a “turning right on red without making a complete stop” camera ticket. “

I know I stopped before I turned. I’m fighting that ticket!”…..Oh my little activist. But what she(and probably others) didn’t know…is that the police don’t just have still pictures of your offense. They have actual moving video. So when she’s called up, and presented with video evidence of her heinous crime(in which she clearly doesn’t come to a complete stop)…really, what can you say? But just for her taking the trouble of showing up, the judge cut her fine from $75 to $35. I guess that’s worth a visit.

The charcuterie is housemade, and freaking fabulous....

Ok, best new restaurant find. I’m really psyched about this place, because I went there on a Groupon(which has fooled Donna a few times)….But the Blue Grass Tavern in Federal Hill, is the real foodie deal. It’s on the corner of Fort Ave. and Hanover…nice atmosphere, and the food was just sooooo good. And they had something on the menu I’ve never seen before. Beef belly. Pork belly…plenty…but never beef belly. The waitress  described it as a cross between pork belly and a pastrami(she had me at pork belly). I’ll just say this…if you go, order it if it’s on the menu. Just stop deliberating and get it. And I noticed at the end of the meal, they also have pimiento cheese, which was too late to order, but next time…next time.

Just plain yum.

Best new guilty treat: Vosges Haut Chocolate “Mo’s Dark Bar“….62% dark chocolate with hickory smoked uncured bacon and smoked sea salt. The guilt is on two levels. 1. That I just paid $7 for a chocolate bar. and 2. That there is something so amazing and I get to eat it! I allow my self a square or two after salad at my desk. It makes the evening at work, just a little smoother. Trust me on this.

Monday Catch Up….
February 27, 2012

Love Jean Dejardin!!

OK , I got to see The Artist…the silent film that won Best Picture Oscar last night, just under the wire before Sunday night’s Oscars. It’s still playing at The Charles Theatre downtown.. one of my fav places to see a movie, but it’s a bit more of a challenge to eat dinner, since the Zodiac closed a couple of year ago. Sure, there’s Tapas Teatro which is wonderful…but even though we arrived at 6…were told there was a 40 minute wait for a table(a problem, obvie, when your movie starts at 6:50). Sophie’s Crepes was standing room only(that doesn’t take much of course as it is tiny), and my daughter had told me the Diner on the corner was good. So we traipsed over there…sign on the door says “closed for renovation“. Hmmmm, you never know what that means, except that you’re NOT having dinner there. But the sign also said the Club Charles next door was now serving some of the much missed Zodiac favs.

Let's be honest ...it looks like a dive bar...

So we tentatively open the door..it’s locked…they have to buzz you in, which the girl at the bar does. It’s dark inside, with kind of a 1940-ish, hipster/creepy/cool vibe…..there is one lonely other couple in the room, seated in the corner. And it is silent as…a… tomb. Not a good sound for a bar. But we’re hungry, and thirsty. So after dropping some money in the jukebox so things aren’t so depressing(yes they still have one) , we sit at the bar and ask for menus. Sure enough, the Zodiac pizza is there!!….With smoked mozzarella, chicken and caramelized onions…it’s a no brainer, and a winner. I get a glass of  sauvignon blanc(for $5 believe it or not)…and we chill. Bottom line, the drinks were cold, the music personally chosen, and the pizza fabulous, we made the movie…and we will be back. Don’t let the skeezy looking exterior put you off…push the buzzer..and come on in.

Pass the cinnamon bread, and the sushi while you’re at it…
November 14, 2011

Greenlee's Cinnamon Bread...from San Jose, CA

Ok, I have to share with you the best cinnamon bread I’ve ever had….I picked a loaf at Whole Foods on a lark, a couple of weeks ago…one of those impulse purchases.(you know how good those feel) Ooooooohhh, frosted loveliness. Toasted? With butter? Amazing. It was so good, I picked up another loaf this past week, and with it, the most delectable French toast I’ve ever made. It wasn’t until I was taking a picture of it for this post when I saw it….a little sticker on the back.

Look past the price tag to that gooey frosting......

Yeah. $7.99 for a loaf of cinnamon bread. Someone(near and dear to me) asked me, logically, “Didn’t you look at the price?” Well, duh…no, I did not. But seriously…I don’t think of any kind of bread as being a high price item…you know? Oh, Greenlee’s….why did you have to turn me into an addict before I realized the price of my little habit…now I have to get a cinnamon monkey off my back. (Maybe a loaf every two weeks??….something?)

What!!? There's a washer and dryer in the unit???????

Was apartment shopping with my daughter Saturday…and can I just say it is AMAZING that you can see two apartments that cost exactly the same, and both in the same neighborhood, and one be so nice and the other be so ratty? Seriously. One on Charles Street..brand new(see above), hardwood floors, washer and dryer in a little closet(apartment dwellers know how huge this is), dishwasher(ditto)….granite countertops, exposed brick……NICE.

My girl fell in love with this brick wall....

And for the same price, we saw a place that was so ratty looking(I took no pictures of this, it was too awful)…I mean…a cracked front door, cracked kitchen floor, the most grotty bathroom ever, ever ever. We smiled and nodded(polite southern girls to the end), touched nothing….and ran away as soon as we could. What gives??

Joss has amazing fish....

But we had a chance to have some super-sushi at Joss on Charles Street, for lunch on Saturday. It always amazes me that this place isn’t covered UP, their food is so good.

Joss South

If you’ve been to the perennially popular Joss in Annnapolis, …their sushi(and other seafood cooked-it’s not all sushi), is the best in town. I get the feeling Joss in  Baltimore is waiting to be discovered. But it will be…it will be.

Let’s see…what else. Oh yeah…my daughter is always complaining that I favor one of my cats over the other….that Baby Girl gets all the glory, so just to prove her wrong, a pic of my lovely calico, Muffy.

Oh Muffy....so...quirky...

And because she will demand equal post space, one of the luxurious B to the G.

My sheepdog of a cat....Baby Girl

Get your Groupon, on…The Art of the Deal
August 13, 2010

 

Chopper ride anyone?? Do it for less....

Ok, here’s something I should have shared with you before…I feel bad now. Some of you are no doubt, already members of  Groupon-here’s a link…..it offers  a new sweet deal every day, where if enough people buy it…the deal is ooooonnnnn. Like today’s offer(which is unusual, I must say) which is for a 15 minute helicopter tour of the Baltimore Harbor from Baltimore Helicopter Services, ..the price is usually over $500…but with the Groupon it is $146. That’s not a bad deal…and would make a fab gift.

More often,  Groupon crushes it in the  restaurant category…I bought two Groupons for the Dogwood Restaurant in Hampden when it was offered a couple of months ago, a $40 coupon for $20. That’s a no-brainer…IF you patronize or want to try that restaurant. Most recently for $20, I bought a $45 coupon for Restaurant Sabor off Padonia Road….never been there, but it’s byob(you know how I love that)…and the Latin  menu look kickin’. 

Sweet treats for everyone...half price!!

 I’ve also Grouponed a dozen cupcakes at Charm City Cupcakes($15 for 30 value-yummy), dinner at Blue Agave in Fells Point($15 for $30 value-hello, margarita)….and I could have bought six lessons for pole dancing($22 for $49 value),though I didn’t. Really.  But 900 others did. And over 3,500 Groupon maniacs bought half price tickets to the Baltimore Zoo….hey, if you’re gonna go, why not do it at half price? And there have been kayak excursions, deep hair conditioning treatments, and even 18 holes of golf on Groupon.

They have a place on their site for businesses to find out more about being part of Groupon…I would guess it exposes you to a whole new “groupon” of customers, that might not know you exist.  I’m a fan, so the only question is…where to go tonight. Dogwood for those fabulous short ribs? Maybe…..but it’s Friday, babyno one can take that away. Have a great weekend, play nice, don’t throw rocks and come home safe….’cause we miss you!

I’m not the only one with a problem pet….and we’re looking for a place to lunch!!
September 23, 2009

Baby Girl pondering where to pee next...

Baby Girl pondering where to pee next...

Gentle blog readers….now is your chance to help out a fellow reader, and get a laugh at the same time. Remember the cat Dolce, who will only drink from the faucet, and who was, for a while at least,  on kitty prozac? Well, Dolce’s owner Katrina wanted to commiserate a little about cats who occasionally…ummmm… “act out”, like my Baby Girl…..here’s her email.

Natures Miracle...problem solver...

Nature's Miracle...problem solver...

Hi Donna, Hope all is well on your end! I saw your post on Baby Girl, and it made me think of my sweet little Dolce. She too had a peeing problem, and the Nature’s Miracle  stuff works like a charm. Dolce felt it was necessary to pee all over my fiancé’s new luggage right before we left for a trip. Thank you Dolce. 

Anyways….I am writing to see if you can help on a location for my bridesmaids luncheon. Our wedding day is 4 ½ weeks away, and I need a cute place to take the girls after our nail appointments. Any suggestions?”

I’d like to add that Dolce survived the incident ,thought I’m sure a few choice words may have been uttered. Oh, and Katrina says she’d like to keep the lunch downtown Baltimore, as the mani’s and pedi’s are in Canton. So…any ideas out there? Cute places for a girl’s lunch? (I’m not a big lunch person…I get a salad everyday and eat at my desk…I know, so dreary.) Right off the top of my head, maybe Helen’s Garden in Canton. It’s a cute place, and they have an interesting menu, even at lunch…an almond crusted tomato sandwich with portobello, chevre, pesto mayo and roasted red peppers sounds divine. And you probably couldn’t go wrong with Pazo…I’ve never been there for lunch, but it’s always so pretty and chic, and the food is very good. Or for something historic Baltimore(and I have never been there..only seen pictures and read about it)…the B & O Brasserie  in the new Hotel Monaco looks to be like a cool space. Gonna check it out next week…

 

 

Food for Friday: Changing the world one plate at a time!
July 17, 2009

  
Plates Cafe, change the world one plate at a time...

Plates Cafe, change the world one plate at a time...

Normally, I eat lunch at my desk….almost always the same thing…a spinach salad, topped with crunchies and canned salmon..I’ve been eating it for years. But today, I’m breaking the pattern, and heading off to Plates Cafe and Catering, downtown on Charles Street. Never heard of it, you say? That’s because it opened just this week, serving lunch Monday-Friday from 11 am to 4 pm

Plates Cafe is the brainchild of Bridget and Galen Sampson… they are the duo behind the always popular and always delicious Dogwood restaurant, on 36th Street in Hampden. Some of you may know that the Sampsons not only try to use local food products in their restaurant, they also provide job training and a real world employable craft to people who have had some hard times….whether through incarceration or drugs, and are striving for a new and better life. And you can’t get there without a job.  So, Plates is expanding that mission….not only providing classroom training by a 5-star chef, but also professional experience, counseling, job placement and support services.  And while that is great all by itself, there’s more.      

 

Sock monkeys at the Exchange!!

Sock monkeys at the Exchange!!

It was sad when the lunchroom inside the Women’s Industrial Exchange  closed their doors after a century in business(the crafts part was always  open, still selling those cute sock monkeys!)…I love the space, the black and white checked floors and have enjoyed their chicken salad and tomato aspic, more times than I’d care to count. But it’s nice to know the restaurant space is alive again, providing a place to have a great lunch and provide employment for people, who want the chance to provide for their families. I  hope you will support Plates Cafe…and its mission.    

 

 

 

 

my slammin salmon blt!

my slammin' salmon blt!

Update:  Just got back from Plates….had a fabulous salmon blt….seared salmon, bacon, local tomatoes, lettuce…what’s not to like..it’s now my new fav blt.

Charm City Cupcakes...

Charm City Cupcakes...

Oh, and here’s something I didn’t know….though probably many of you do….Charm City Cupcakes  has the most darling cupcake stand inside the historic Brown’s Arcade…also on Charles Street…and an equally charming man named Billy Palmer was selling those sweet little morsels…and when I said I didn’t know that’s where CC cupcakes were located, he said( joking I think), “I know where you are….am I gonna have to change the channel??”  I assured him that would not be necessary, and bought a red velvet, a pecan praline, a vanilla vanilla, and a chocolate mousse filled one. Yummo…can’t  wait for desert tonight….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort food in a cozy setting….
December 5, 2008

The parlor...warm and cozy...

The parlor...warm and cozy...

I wish I could say I discovered Feast @ 4 East Madison, but that would be fibbing. I read about the place this week in Elizabeth Large’s column in the Baltimore Sun.  Sounded intriguing…like dining in someones home, good food, b.y.o.b….all things I like. And since last night I was at the Washington Monument Lighting…in the rain…it sounded like a good idea to try out a new place that was just a block away, knowing I would need sustenance…quickly.

Bottom line? I loved Feast…everything I needed last night. Welcoming staff who took all my drippy wet bags(I had hauled a lot to the lighting) without any bad looks, sat us promptly at a pretty table right by the parlor, put down menus, poured water, and opened the wine. Good start. Our waiter was urbane and funny…just the right touch of friendly. When we observed the tealight candle had burned out, he whisked it away and brought  a new one…..happily.

Red beans and rice with Louisiana sausage..sensational, dark complex flavors…yummy. Basque organic chicken….very good, and I brought half of it home…it was an entire half chicken! The pate’ starter was just so cute, served in a china teacup. The server mentioned it would be slightly sweet, made with Marsala wine, and it was….but it was fabulous. A field green salad with warm goat cheese, beets and pecans with a pecan vinaigrette(how do they do that?) was just perfect. All in all, a lovely dinner, and there are several vegan options for those so inclined. The owner (and chief chef) Sandy, came out to chat with the different tables as dinner was ending…she said she was looking forward to making some gumbo, after hearing how much we loved the red beans and rice. I’m looking forward to it too.

These days, when people do eat out…they’re looking for value….and comfort. I found that  and more at Feast…try it.