Archive for the ‘Food Review’ Category

Sunday Awesomeness

Posted: September 6, 2015 in Food Review
Tags: , ,

image

Advertisements

image

image

Sunday Awesomeness

Posted: September 6, 2015 in Food Review
Tags: , , ,

image

image

This is my early-in-the-season 2015 update. May do one later in the season if things change.

Seems to be more diversity in products being sold. I’ve now seen sangria, a variety of stalls with infused liquid goodness, soaps, baskets (one of which looks like it was crafted to peacefully rock baby Moses down the river), plenty of root veggies, and of course, the Breadery with all their yummy carb goodies.

So far from the Breadery I’ve had the pumpkin pecan bread which was surprisingly lighter than I thought it would be and very good because while the pumpkin taste was present it was not overwhelming.

Another positive aspect is that the newer and some of the previous vendors have friendlier faces manning the front. So look, I get that you may be a small business or that you want to focus only on selling a quality product at a reasonable rate which may mean you’re turning a profit or barely making it, who knows? It’s hard out here in these sustainable streets for quality farm products and delicious goods. Because of that, I try to cut some farmers and their “front line” folks some slack. Not this time, though. Why?

Because I’m selfish with my mood and time. Because I take it personally when I drag my sleepy Sunday ass out of my comfy bed to enjoy the experience of my farmer’s market. Yes, for me, it’s an entire experience and I choose to be surrounded by pleasant sounds, smells, and positivity. I have no time for grumbles, rudeness or vendors rushing me when there’s no one waiting behind me (yes you, older lady at the south mountain creamery who rushes with the yogurts and is condescending when I ask for a small bottle of milk. How am I to know the difference in your damn product sizes?!! Hope your day gets better because being irritable can be draining…). Anywhoooo…

The friendliness of all of the other vendors have been remarkable! Shout out to BlackSauce kitchen for their consistently super awesome biscuit stylings, Dooby’s for the most delicious cappuccino treat this morning, the Breadery for their smiles, the lady with the sweet potatoes who was kind. Oh and the young man who served up yummy curried chicken over Basmati rice was absolutely adorable and sweet. I’ll definitely stop by for his stall’s vegan dishes again as well as the others I give thanks and kudos for my awesome weekly experience.

Also, don’t forget that most of the parking lots surrounding are FREE on Sunday mornings. There’s also ample street parking but you may have to schlep a lil longer, for which your fitbit will thank you. 🙂 Just remember to take bags with comfy straps or handles so you’re not dropping your precious food all over the place, like I may or may not have done at times…:roll:

Support local businesses, Baltimore. For those who don’t understand the importance of quality food, investigate and educate yourselves. I had to learn. I believe food that’s not processed and fresh can cure most ailments. Hell, healthy and tasty treats can also cure the blues. I really believe food can kill or heal. Your choice! Eat well, friends.

Spring has spring and oh, it is a wonderful and beautiful feeling!

Image

Yesterday, in the spirit of all things “springy”, I visited the Baltimore Farmers Market which is located beneath the I-83 Expressway. I was happy to see that many of the vendors from the year before were there and prices were very good, as always. I was a little sad to see less produce (fruits and veggies) as last year but I was reminded that it’s still early in the season so abundant fruits and veggies will be coming my way soon and I certainly cannot wait. The scents were overwhelming at first in a not-so-good way with a blast of fried foods, eggs cooking and that wet, outdoor, protein-rich scent where puddles of water had gathered as the vendors with cooked food products were set up. However, once we walked past that section, the scents of cheeses and fresh bread hit me which, the carb whore in me suddenly perked up and my mood was immediately elevated to new levels. It’s amazing how the feel of a cool, smooth, flawless kale leaf, the firm feel of sweet onions, or the sweet cream in those old-fashioned milk bottles can make me appreciate the animals, and earth from which we gain nourishment. So while there wasn’t as large of a selection from which to choose, I did not leave empty handed; in fact, we made two trips to the car. Besides, isn’t that what a Farmers Market is for? To get creative and get some ideas about food for the week that you may be lucky enough to change up next week!

Below are seven helpful hints of things I’ve learned from experience (and inexperience!) but before I get to that, here’s my usual “Good, Bad and Ugly” breakout:

The Good:

  • Most vendors were pleasant and seemed happy to be there. I will definitely return with much cash to encourage the feeling of happiness and warmth when interacting with these awesome folks. As I go there more this year, I will share more about the individual vendors…
  • The food was so fresh and so clean, clean!! The fish smelled and looked fresh, as did the buffalo, kale, collard greens, onions (red and sweet), sweet (heavy) cream, half and half, pressed olive oil, and avocado honey, among other products.
  • The co$t of all items I listed above were about a hundred dollars and twenty dollars. Yes! I got all of that for $100! Suck it, Whole Foods and Harris Teeter!! MUAHAHA
  • There’s not only produce and meat, there’s soaps, jewelry, clothing, and an entire section with cooked breakfast and lunch items, including coffee, delicious little donuts (that were featured on the Baltimore news recently for their tastiness), freshly made smoothies and juices, sandwiches, omelets, etc.
  • Abu the flutemaster. This gentleman at the opening close to the I-83 exit makes all of his instruments from PVC pipes, plastic funnels, etc., he plays them well and they sound very good!
  • The connections with people. I randomly met a Facebook friend in person and was able to share a few minutes of conversation and camaraderie.

The Bad:

  • If you’re not a morning person (which I’m not!) the “getting there” aspect is a bit tough on a Sunday. The vendors are there from ~7 AM to 12 noon. So don’t go partying like a rock star on Saturday night unless you’re in your 20s still and can do that sort of thing on two hours of sleep. 🙂
  • Sometimes parking can be a pain but if you plan it right (see the helpful hints below), you can walk a few blocks with ease and not worry about the parking.
  • For some, there may be an issue with the number of homeless people who are around asking for money or food. I’m not bothered by a homeless person and prefer to give food, etc., but some of the people I’ve encountered in the past can be very demanding while others aren’t rude or abusive.
  • There were two vendors who didn’t make my “pleasant” cut.
    • One was just kind of “cutting” with her tone because I pronounced the name of some greens inaccurately (my tongue was not feeling the word, “Mesclun” at o’dark thirty AM. She said it was because she had just taken a swig of a potent smoothie, which was fine if that’s the case, but I felt like I was being judged a bit by my inability to state my order. I ended up just pointing to the wretchedly worded greenery as I asked sheepishly for a pound of it.
    • The other vendor was the Caribbean food vendor who sold cooked items. This man was rude and even if his products weren’t dry and overly seasoned (I promise you that the statement is accurate and not based on his demeanor. After all, I know my Caribbean items!), I will not spend my money or recommend his products. Unfortunately, he may have been from an Island and I had to sigh at my Caribbean peeps and their ‘tudes. Why? Here’s a play-by-play:
      • Me: Is the Caribe pollo item spicy?
      • Vendor: The ingredients are listed right there.
      • Me: What kind of… [as I raised my arm to point to the part of the sign that said, “peppers” I was immediately cut off]
      • Vendor: Right there. It’s listed there. Not spicy. [giving me an irritated look as if I asked if he had washed his hands before serving the food or something offensive]. Either way, he appeared aggravated that I didn’t just place an order and move on. Apparently, this someone had watched a little too much, “Soup Nazi” Seinfeld episodes!
      • Me: Okay, well your ingredients list peppers and I need to know what kind.
      • Vendor: Oh, multi type. Sweet peppers.
      • Me: Okay, that’s all I wanted to know. I’ll take it. [Thinking, “was that so freekin hard!? I’m never going to spend my money here again.”]

The Ugly:

  • There is nothing ugly about this Farmers Market thus far!

 Natasha’s Helpful Hints

  1. Get there before 9 AM if you want parking spots relatively close to the market. This Baltimore Farmers Market It’s located below the I-83 expressway ramp so while it’s convenient to access, remember to pay attention to the metered parking signs and parking lots that clearly warn you against parking in them or you may be ticketed and/or towed. It’s in the heart of the city and tow truck drivers don’t seem to sleep.
  2. Take ca$h! Most of these vendors do not accept credit cards for small purchases. Many take cards for larger purchases like the items for $25 and up, etc. but for the most part, cash is king there.
  3. Take large cloth carrying bags. They have soft handles that are more comfortable for walking longer distances, and you can place a lot of the smaller bags of items you purchase.
  4. Return your empty cream, milk and olive oil bottles to the vendor for saving$!
    1. The creamery vendor took $2 off the purchase when they have their glass bottle back.
    2. The olive oil vendor takes $5 or so dollars off the purchase when you return the olive oil glass jar.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes! Sometimes with all the walking on an uneven surface, with dogs, children and crowds, your feet will be stepped on and it’s not a club people…don’t go getting mad when people accidentally step on your toes. It can get pretty hot with large crowds of people so dress for summer time.
  6. If you don’t like a vendor’s attitude or products, walk around. Chances are, there are more vendors selling the same products. You’re there for a good deal and fresh produce. Scope out the competition. But please remember that the vendors need to make money too and they’re often better and fresher than the supermarket chains so don’t be a cheap bastard and get upset with the prices if they’re mostly consistent. If you really think they’re expensive, leave and go to your supermarket. Don’t make the experience a bad one for others.
  7. Smile! Talk with the vendors only if they’re not busy. I’ve found that everyone (except the two I mentioned above in the “bad” section), were willing to tell me about their products, such as, the day the fish were picked up from the fishermen, the small business fees when paying with a credit card, etc.

Have you been to the Farmers Market in your town or neighboring city? Or the one in Baltimore and/or DC? Tell me about it!

Happy Spring!

ImageImageImage

 

Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Baltimore

The Good:

Excellent steak! (pics included below) We had the porterhouse for two and my, what a beaut she was when she showed up all sizzling on the 500 degree plate. The porterhouse was perfectly cooked at a medium temperature with a warm pink center and the soft, succulent pieces of USDA prime cut with both the tenderness of a filet and all of the flavor of a NY strip danced over my tongue with every bite.

The a la carte side choice was asparagus in a hollandaise sauce. Honestly, I didn’t care whether there was a party dress on my asparagus because I am such a fan if it’s lightly steamed and crunchy, which this was, but I hear the sauce was good so I’ll rate it as such. J

To accompany this feast, we chose a red wine that some may consider lighter than desired for a NY strip, but I highly recommend it because of the smoothness and taste. The lucky wine of the night was an Australian Shiraz from Rosemount Estate (pic included below) and surprisingly, one of the less pricey wines on the list. Don’t let the price fool you though. While I would typically pair a Shiraz like this with a peppered steak or a burger, the dark, smoky taste left delicious layers of ripe plums in a hint of oak on my tastebuds that complemented the orgasmic bites of steak.

The dessert was awesometasticer than the steak! We had bread pudding in a whiskey cream sauce (pic included below) which was liberally laced with a semi-sweet whiskey (maybe Jack Daniels?). The bread pudding is dense but soft and moist enough to be broken up easily with a fork. The serving was generous and unless you’re having nothing but dessert, you will be taking leftovers of this delicacy home with you. I paired mine with a Macallan 12 year and my dining companion went with a cocktail. Either way, we were happy with our choices and hey, after finishing a bottle of wine, who could blame us? 😉

Everyone, from the hostess to the wait staff and busboys were wonderful hosts, very friendly and courteous. I felt like a valued patron and despite the fine dining atmosphere, the environment felt “warm” and welcome. I would rate this restaurant’s service higher than any other restaurant I’ve dined in recently, with the one exception to the excellent service being the head bartender, which is a good segway into the bad…

The Bad:

The head bartender at the bar which is on the first floor. He made several “off-color” quips and jokes which made me uncomfortable and for a few minutes, ruined the experience. However, I think with our refusal to be baited into an awkward conversation, he realized his mistake when he did not receive laughs for any of his so-called jokes and tried to make up for it by being more of a bartender and just sticking to conversations about booze. After all, that’s all I want – a knowledgeable bartender and someone without a chip on their shoulder.
The Ugly:

Nothing ugly to report here, so yay!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oregon Grille
1201 Shawan Rd
Cockeysville, MD 21030

The Good
The free food that I’ve had at this bar, which accompanies the happy hour drinks are exceptional! As much as I love good, well prepared meals, I have to say that while lunch and dinner at this restaurant have been very tasty, you can’t beat the happy hour specials in the bar.

Bar: I’ve had delicious oysters as well as some wonderfully prepared salmon and tuna sashimi. All of the seafood has been fresh, well prepared, and the tables at the bar with the food have been kept very clean, even when there are hordes of patrons surrounding it.

Full Dining: I’ve had several dishes during restaurant week, including pastas with red sauce, gazpacho and tasty salads, all of which I would recommend during restaurant week.  Outside of restaurant week, I’ve had several fish entrees, all of which were tasty and well-seasoned, but not overly done, with fresh veggies which were just the right amount of crunchiness and crispiness.

The Bad

In addition to the fine dining side, I’ve been at the bar for two full happy hours. I don’t like to judge a place only on one visit unless they’re absolutely horrible, but will say that the food is the only thing that will keep me going back. I had a good experience with the bartenders the first time around, and one in particular is always friendly, knowledgeable and fun. The other, not as much.

While this other bartender was good at making a drink that you ask him to prepare as you give all of the details needed, don’t ask for a whiskey, scotch or any similar recommendation. I asked for a whiskey or bourbon recommendation based on the types I expressed as my favorites and when he suggested one, I asked if I could taste it since I’d never tried it. His response was, “I can only let you taste a small drop or two of it”. Wow, what an immediate turn off. A bartender recommending a supposedly high end drink, after I’d already had a glass of wine as did my friends, all of whom have been to this restaurant several times, who did not want to share a taste or considered my request unimportant. I don’t know if he thought I’d go round tasting whiskey all night and not purchase any, but that’s why judgment should always be checked at the saddle bearing wall of the Oregon Grille.

The Ugly

The bartender’s response. Plain and simple. The ratings for this restaurant’s food and seventy percent of the employees are good. However, I will remove a star or two as this bartender’s response ruined my mood for a few minutes and was less than friendly on two occasions in small spurts.

http://www.theoregongrille.com/

http://www.opentable.com/baltimore-restaurants