Monday, May 31, 2010

Lunch at Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, MD

Poutine- the word takes me back to cold nights in Montreal getting fat on fries smothered in beef gravy with melting fresh cheese curds all sticky and gooey when you pull the fries up one by one.
It's a lot harder to find places who serve this dish in the area, so when I read that Columbia, MD's Victoria Gastro Pub had a version using duck fat fries, duck gravy, pieces of duck confit, & gruyere cheese, it warranted a visit. While gruyere is no substitute for curds, the Victoria poutine is still pretty good. The duck gravy has a more subtle flavor to it.
While eating lunch there, I also tried the very rich lobster grilled cheese that had brie in it. The sandwich was so decadent.
I also ate their Snake River Farms Kobe style burger with mushrooms & truffle cheese on a brioche roll. It was one tasty burger.

8201 Snowden River Parkway
Columbia, MD

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Soft Stuff Ice Cream, Ellicott City, MD

After eating at Honey Pig Gooldaegee in Ellicott City, assuming I'm not stuffed to the gills, I love grabbing a dip cone for dessert at the very old school Soft Stuff Ice Cream shop.
Alas, they no longer have the butterscotch dip I used to always get, but chocolate will do.

10021 Baltimore Pike
Ellicott City, MD

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lunch at Hunan Taste, Catonsville, MD

Hunan Taste in Catonsville, MD has settled with me and my parents as a great place for go for lunchtime. On weekdays, they have a fantastic deal of three plates and a soup for under $30.
My favorite soup there is the fish ball, thousand year egg, & cilantro soup. They make their own fishballs, and they are never frozen, making their texture and flavor a joy to eat. I would be happy to have this dish every week.
On a recent trip, we ordered the Hunan fish filets. It's lightly spicy, the fish was good (although the fish still had tiny bones for those of you who may not be used to that).
The lunchtime pork belly dish was very unique. They shredded the pork into fine pieces that made them like pork belly noodles. In combination with crispy celery and a little spice, it was surprisingly not oily or greasy at all.
For our third dish, we just got some simple vegetables. My mother worries about places that tend to over salt veggies, but these were just right.
We did order an additional dish of pork with wild mushrooms that was on the chef's specials menu. It reminded me of their Mao's Favorite pork dish but with diverse assortment of mushrooms.

If you look at feedback on Hunan Taste on boards like Chowhound, their seems to be a love-hate feeling to this establishment, but I can honestly say I've never had a bad meal here.

718 N. Rolling Road
Catonsville, MD 21228

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert in Baltimore

Last Saturday, our blog's inspiration Anthony Bourdain was in Baltimore for a conversation with Chef Eric Ripert. There were about 2000 people gathered in Baltimore's Hippodrome theater to hear two chefs chatting, a testament to the growth of popularity of foodie culture.
Bourdain was as usual, funny and blunt, and the way he was constantly making Eric Ripert crack up on the sofa was really special. The way Ripert carried himself reminded me of Frank Booth's description of Ben in Blue Velvet, "F***in' suave!"
There were several great moments in the evening: the two chefs dissing Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen, Ripert telling a dirty joke, the two of them dishing on Top Chef (calling Spike "reptilian" was just great), their discussion on who could hold their alcohol better (Ripert) and Bourdain encouraging Le Bernadin's chef to go try Baltimore Lake Trout.
Both men gushed about the importance of their families. Bourdain's image of himself in Sundays in his pyjamas watching Dora the Explorer with his daughter as a perfect moment shows he's mellowed in the last few years.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bangkok Garden, Columbia, MD

I've been meaning to visit Bangkok Garden in Columbia, MD since friends reported that the restaurant has a Thai language menu available to try. Equipped with a makeshift photocopy of an approximate translation of the menu, we dropped in last weekend for lunch.
We started with their papaya salad. However, instead of the usual dried shrimp, we got a version that used padaek, or raw brined blue crab. The flavor was fresh, salty, spicy and very good.
Our second dish was a crudite dish with a dip called Naam Prik Gapi which was a sweet and very spicy shrimp paste. We dipped veggies like baby corn, thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, cucumber, and broccoli, and we got a small whole grilled fish to eat with the dip as well.

Our third plate took a break from the spiciness. It was a straightforward dish of Chinese broccoli cooked with chunks of pork belly.
Our final dish, the spiciest of the meal, was Khang Som Cha-Om , a sour red curry broth with shrimp and pieces of acacia omelette. Acacia is a green leafy vegetable. I'm not sure what it tastes like because the curry was so hot, but the texture in the omelette reminded me of spinach.

When we ordered our meal, one of the other waitresses came out to our table because she said that she had not seen non-Thai customers order some of the dishes we selected.
The Thai menu has at least 20 or more items that, considering how good this lunch was, warrant return trips to explore.

5810 Robert Oliver Place
Columbia, MD 21045

Saturday, May 22, 2010


It's been great to be able to find mangosteens in the Asian markets in the area. Sure they're priced at $10/pound, but the chance to eat this super sweet and juicy fruit here in the U.S. makes it worth it. I don't know how long the season lasts, but I would encourage all of you to go out and try some.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cooking Momofuku pork buns

We were cooking with friends this weekend, so I decided to make David Chang's signature dish - Momofuku pork buns.

First off, I couldn't find pork belly at either Wegman's or Whole Foods, but thank goodness for the Amish market. I got a great thick piece of pork belly there and set it up to brine overnight in a solution of water, salt and sugar.

I followed David Chang's recipe on epicurious, which was actually different than the one in his cookbook. The one online was brined in liquid as opposed to dry-rubbed in the cookbook, and the meat is kept in the juices throughout the whole process, so I figured maybe we'd end up with juicier pork.

After brining for 12 hours, I set to roasting the pork belly - fat side up - in a low temperature oven - 250 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Then you turn the heat up to 450 and continue baking uncovered for 1/2 hour to crisp the fat.

Next the whole thing is chilled. This let me skim off the fat from the juices, plus it makes the pork much easier to slice.

After cutting into slices, you keep the slices in the juice, then right before serving, reheat covered in the oven.

Chang also had a recipe for the steamed buns, but I wasn't ambitious enough to try those yet. Instead, I bought buns from the Asian market, and steamed them while the pork was reheating.

Finally last step is assembling - hoisin sauce, pork, cucumbers and scallions. Delicious!

Post by fougoo, photos by 1000yregg

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cuba De Ayer, Burtonsville, MD

I've been a big fan of Cuban food since back when Fougoo used to live near a great place, La Rosita on the Upper West Side. Sadly La Rosita is gone now, but I'm happy to have found a good Cuban place down here in Maryland.
I've driven by Cuba De Ayer restaurant in Burtonsville, MD a few times, so I decided to drop in for lunch.
I ordered the Lechon Asado, slow cooked pork marinated in mojo criollo, a sauce of garlic, onion, chile, and citrus. It was delicious. I got side of sweet plantanos maduros and Moros Y Cristianos, black beans with rice.
I could not resist finishing off the meal with a cup of cafe con leche.

15446 Old Columbia Pike
Burtonsville, MD

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cooking Morels

Right now is the season for morel mushrooms. I have several friends in the Midwest who have their own secret spots to find these delicious mushrooms, but since they are not as easy to find here on the East Coast, we have to order them. Thanks to Gubeen who ordered a batch from Wisconsin, I got a small share of morels for myself.

After cleaning the morels of dirt and some critters like ants, I love how easy they are to prepare. I tried a recipe using bacon that was really good.
My preference is still using just butter to cook up the morels, followed by a splash of white wine. The flavor is just so good in these morels, that you don't need to do a whole lot to enjoy them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Miss Twist Ice Cream Truck, Baltimore

One evening, I came across the Miss Twist ice cream truck parked at the Locust Point fire station in Baltimore.
She serves soft serve ice cream, but she can also make sundaes as well as milkshakes. I had a nice black and white shake that night.
I asked the lady if she considered having followers on Twitter or another comparable web presence, but she said she really didn't need to. All I know is that 9 pm most nights of the week, you can find her at the Locust Point fire station.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ze Mean Bean Cafe, Baltimore

In the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, we went to the Ze Mean Bean Cafe, a nice neighborhood place specializing in Eastern European food.
We started with the Slavic sampler plate, which had a holupki (cabbage roll), a potato pancake, a piece of kielbasa, and 3 pierogis, one with sauerkraut, one with potato, and one with cheese. My favorite item was the cheese pierogi.
I ordered a bowl of Ukranian borsht. The special of the evening was that it was made with golden beets.
I also had an order of Holushki, an dish of potato dumplings sauteed in butter served with mushrooms and vegetables. Both dishes were nice and light.
I tried some of the Hungarian Goulash as well. It had a good amount of paprika and was served on the same potato dumplings I had.

1739 Fleet Street
Baltimore, MD
(410) 675-5999

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lambfest at the Slackhaus

This year, after the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival, Gubeen and Olironstomach invited us over for a Lambfest dinner. Our friend, Jake, also lent a hand in cooking as well as supplying us with amazing drinks.
It was a fantastic and ambitious dinner using 6 different cuts of lamb.
We started with Gubeen's tasty quinoa dish served with Jake's dish of lamb tongue, fennel and oranges. The tongue was so tender- more so than beef.

Our second lamb dish was loin chops roasted on the infrared grill. They came out a perfect medium rare and were just amazing with really no other prep beforehand.

It was served with homemade persillade, a side made of chopped parsley, garlic, oil, & vinegar, that went perfect with the lamb.

Redneckhunter was thrilled to have the next course- white beans cooked with lamb necks.

It was so good- the meat from the lamb neck actually had a really nice sweetness to it. Fougoo and I both cleaned the bones clean. I'm pretty sure I ate all the cartilage, too.

Inspired by what they had at the festival, they also made a pit lamb for us. Just to kick it up a little, the meat had a glaze of sriracha sauce. It was so much better than any pit beef I've had because of the lamb's incredible flavor.

Our last courses were grilled lamb leg and shoulder pieces. The best part was the shoulder because Jake had marinated them in Dolin vermouth. I think the shoulder was my favorite piece, or pieces rather, of lamb I had that evening.

Jake brought some bottles of Dolin vermouth- the rouge, blanc, & dry. I tried all three and really loved the flavor of each of them.

My favorite drink of the evening was an aperitif, the Cocchi Americano. I finished the evening with this fine digestif.
I should also note that after crashing in the living room that night, we had more Cocchi the next morning to kickstart the day.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Second Eden Center Food Safari

We did another mini Eden Center food safari this past weekend. This time, Fougoo and Redneckhunter tagged along.
We started at Cho Cu Saigon, a Vietnamese Chinese restaurant. We ordered their Roast Pig, and we were told not to mistake it for the roast pork. The pig came out chopped up with amazing thick and delicious pieces of crispy skin.
Redneckhunter also wanted to try Cha Gio (Vietnamese eggrolls), and the ones at Cho Cu were great- nice thin crispy skin.

Our second stop was for Banh Mi, Vietnamese sandwiches. We went to the Nhu Lan Sandwich Shop.
When you first enter, the place smelled of stinky tofu. We ordered a No. 1 sandwich with Vietnamese coldcuts. It was amazing. Their bread was chewy and delicious. Fougoo noted also that the bread was buttered as well.
I got a white gourd drink which was interesting- not great.

Our last stop was Thang Tong. We ordered their Banh Xeo, or Vietnamese crepe. It was made of thin crisp dough loaded with pork and shrimp and filled with bean sprouts and mung bean. We dipped it into fish sauce and chile sauce. It was really nice- reminded me of the south Indian dosa.

Eden Center is so big that we expect to have enough for a few more of these food safaris in the next few months.

The first Eden Center safari here.

Cho Cu Saigon
6763 Wilson Blvd
Ste 6D

Nhu Lan Sandwich Shop
6763 Wilson Boulevard

Thanh Tong
6795 Wilson Boulevard
Falls Chuch, VA