On a blustery, cold Saturday morning two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet up with Chef Steve Monnier at his new restaurant space in Hampden, Arômes. You may remember the location as the Nutty Pub on Chestnut Avenue, just south of The Charmery. I always cracked up at that place because a friend thought Nutty Pub was called “Just One More” because of the sign out front. “Hey, you wanna go to Just One More?” That’s funny, right? Sorta like when my friend was driving around South Baltimore looking for a restaurant called Open Table while I waited at The Wine Market. Okay it was like 2010, so I gave her a break.
Photo: America’s Test Kitchen
I’d always been told that making risotto is a bear. All that stirring, stirring, stirring. Blah, blah, blah. How do you know when it’s done? But thanks to the wonderful folks at America’s Test Kitchen, I’ve found that it’s not that hard. Risotto actually is your friend.
Two years ago, Dana Slater had an idea to create a speaker series that addressed food sourcing in the Chesapeake Bay region. At the time, her son Jake was the general manager at Woodberry Kitchen, which is run by one of the area’s most forward-thinking chefs of our time, Spike Gjerde. Spike and his team at Woodberry work very closely with local farmers — as do many Baltimore area restaurants — and Jake and the staff at Woodberry were constantly singing the praises of these local food and beverage producers to their guests table side. But there is so much more to say.
So, here we are…Origins is launched.
Chef Chris Becker is a Baltimore guy. He has worked his way up to the top to become corporate executive chef of the Bagby Restaurant Group, which is no small task. He has cooked in some of Baltimore’s best kitchens, like Linwood’s, Wine Market Bistro and The Brass Elephant. While he was at Wine Market Bistro, he was noted as one of the top “Chefs to Watch” by Baltimore Magazine. And we watched.
It’s officially brown liquor season! But some people (like me) enjoy it all year long. That said, it’s finally cold out, we got some snow and it’s perfect weather for sipping a little rye whiskey – and the Walters Art Museum is hosting an event that is sure to warm you right up.
Guilty pleasures exist in so many aspects of life: television, music, food to name a few. Maybe you secretly watch the Kardashians or belt out Barry Manilow in the car. I do love a Real Housewives marathon, but now I am cable tv-free, so that one has been nipped in the bud. Thankful for that, actually.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks of the last year? Which cookbook or food memoir are you hoping to add to your collection? As a relatively new cook, I’m always looking for really good, thorough, useful (and beautiful) cookbooks.
Here are some top lists for the year (and for all time.) Any favorites in your kitchen library missing from these lists?
Wit & Wisdom Chef Zack Mills is a pretty even-keeled guy. There he is on the line on a busy Friday night: headset, directing traffic, plating dishes — he concentrates on the job at hand, which is turning out gorgeous, delicious food. And when you look over, you know he’s got this. Quiet, precise, focused. Then he looks up, smiles warmly. All of this in the middle of a bustling dining room. It’s like theater.
Reality shows like Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, Chopped, Iron Chef and others are hugely popular. Even being on them – not even winning – can be a huge career move. I can name 20 “cheftestants” from past seasons of Top Chef. I have a bit of crush on Tom Colicchio and I think Hugh Acheson should have his own show. Jenn Louis, too, she’s amazing. And I’d love to meet Jonathan Waxman. Okay, I’ll stop now…
With the increasingly popularity of food and cooking, chefs are becoming rock stars in their own right. I’ve definitely met a few who believed their own hype, but for the most part they are just really hard-working, creative folks. I randomly met one super famous chef – Emeril Lagasse – in NYC earlier this year and he could not have been nicer. We chatted, he asked me about Baltimore and my business, and he told me about a new food show he was creating with Martha Stewart. He was so, so normal. That’s nice to know.
I met Bryan Voltaggio for the first time just this year. My friend did his PR and invited me up to Volt for dinner. And Bryan happened to be there that night, and the food was exquisite, the service, flawless. Our servers moved stealthily – each course swooped in when you weren’t even looking. I had never experienced service like that (I live in Hampden and love dive bars) and I liked it. I could get used to it – very much so. Bryan and his Chef de Cuisine Graeme Ritchie visited with us for a little while and then we headed to Family Meal, just to see it, since I had not been yet. Bryan was not far behind us, he rolled in to check on things there and we caught the last inning of the Os game at the bar and ordered shakes to go. I can’t wait to go back to Volt. I loved it. But for me to spend that kind of money, I need to save up a little bit, but I will…
It’s that time again – Beaujolais Nouveau is almost here and 13.5% Wine Bar is having a dinner to celebrate!
First, I have to say that I think that 13.5% is one of the most underrated restaurants in town. Maybe because it’s a wine bar, maybe they don’t promote themselves too much, maybe it’s at the far end of the Avenue in Hampden…whatever the reason, I think a lot of people don’t give Chef Kate Erwin her due. The cheese selections are always interesting and delicious, the wine, beer and cocktails are creative and the menu always features seasonal dishes, so it changes often. Chef Kate made me love roasted cauliflower – it’s one of my very favorite things now!