Friday, August 01, 2014

John Steven Closed in Fells Point?

Sorry to read the report from Richard Gorelick's 'Baltimore Diner' blog that Fells Point eatery John Steven Ltd. has been closed since the beginning of the week with the owner citing the "difficult economic climate".

The restaurant had been one of our "go to" destinations whenever we entertained out of town visitors and I have fond memories of the Irish stew around St. Patrick's Day as well as their fish and chips. But it's the Cream of Trout Soup I had there many, many years ago that will always stick in my mind as one of the finest dishes I've had during my years visiting and living in the region.

I always crossed my fingers the dish would be listed as a special when we passed by so I'd have an excuse to go in. Here's hoping I get that chance again.

Flying Dog Devoted 65% of Production to Old Bay-Flavored Dead Rise Summer Ale

When it was unveiled earlier this summer it might have been easier to actually see dogs fly or the dead rise than find Flying Dog Brewery's Dead Rise Summer Ale flavored with local fave Old Bay on your beer store shelf.

My first experience with the brew was courtesy of a lonely single bottle in the sampler fridge at Fairgrounds Liquors across from the State Fairgrounds. The guys at the counter assured me that I'd dig it – and they were right – but told me it was almost impossible to keep in stock – right again.

Subsequent trips saw THG come away empty handed, until one morning visit when it must have just been delivered and I snagged a six-pack from the cooler. When I brought it to the counter even the owner, who was working the register, expressed shock that I found it.

These days, though, Dead Rise is a pretty common sight at the store with a display as you walk in and plenty available for crab feasts, shrimp boils, cookouts and simply lounging around Charm City.

Turns out that Flying Dog was as surprised by the beer's popularity as anyone and – at one point this summer – ended up devoting 65% of their production to churning out the subtle but tasty seasonal brew.

Between the popularity and what Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso suggested might be "hoarding", the beer flew off the shelves at such a rapid clip that the company had to suspend sales to states outside the Maryland / DC / Northern VA corridor.

Read the full article at Baltimore Business Journal.

Baltimore Casino to Offer Charm City Cakes for "Street Cred"

I'm not a "cake guy" so I have no idea if people actually go somewhere because of the cakes offered. Is that a thing?

Well, Horseshoe Casino thinks it is because they've partnered with Baltimore's own Charm City Cakes (run by Duff Goldman) to offer their sweet treats in the casino's Baltimore-based Jack Binion's Steakhouse.

Horseshoe Casino GM Chad Barnhill (which sounds like a character James Spader or Craig Scheffer would have played) said the partnership gives the steakhouse "a little bit of that automatic street cred".

When explaining the intended Charm City menu offerings, Duff remarked "you put red velvet on a tire and you're gonna sell it".

I hope that's not what he thought "street cred" meant.

Read the whole article at Baltimore Business Journal.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Too Good to be True? Wawa Planned for York Road in Lutherville?!

Future Site of the York Road Super Wawa!
Longtime readers of THG are well aware of my devotion to Delaware Valley icon Wawa.

Excursions to Long Beach Island to visit family usually involve at least a half-dozen trips for hoagies (Italian Shorti with Provolone, please), coffee (Kona or Dark Roast), mac & cheese (my daughter's favorite), Herr's chips (especially the addictive new line of Old Bay cheese curls and popcorn) and the Diet Lemonade Iced Tea.

My in-laws – who literally live two blocks from one – joke that I'm there more in one weekend than they are all year.

Here at our home base of Lutherville, MD, though, it's a good 40-60 minute round trip to hit a nearby Super Wawa with a gas island which means I usually have to make sure the trip coincides with a visit to a client, supply warehouse or the nearby Costco. If not all three.

But no more! As spotted by my eagle-eyed daughter yesterday, the vacant lot picture above will soon be home to a Super Wa overflowing with gas and hoagies, coffee and iced tea. Okay, well, maybe not "overflowing" but you get the idea.

Unfortunately, the location is on one of the most congested stretches of York Road near our home and my daughter's school, so we've already started figuring out more strategic routes.

Progress will be documented!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Wahlburgers Coming to Philly, Shake Shack to Baltimore

Wow, the burger craze doesn't seem to be showing signs of slowing down. (Though I'd still rather eat my own grilled burgers.)

Turns out that one day after hearing that my adopted home of Baltimore is getting a Shake Shack, my old stomping grounds of Philadelphia will be home to as many as five Wahlburgers locations. The chain has gained fame due to ownership by the Wahlberg brothers and the A&E reality show filmed at one of the MA-based locations.

I've never been to a Shake Shack or Wahlburgers? Worth the trip? Use the comments section to weigh in.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

KFC Is Bringing Back the Double Down!

According to our friends at Grub Grade, KFC will be bringing back the Double Down for a limited time starting on April 21st (just in time for me to return to THG HQ – and the nearest KFC – from our Southern vacation).

For those of you who don't remember the Double Down, it was a bun-less chicken, cheese and bacon sandwich that appeared on the menu back in 2010. In today's paleo-crazy environment I would think the Double Down would do quite well.

And, as I remarked back in 2010, I'd be happy to see the sandwich (?) take up permanent residence on the KFC menu board. As it stands, I don't think I've been back to one since the day it disappeared.

Welcome back, old friend!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tomato Braised Short Ribs for a Gross Winter Day

I've never made short ribs before but after finding a good-looking recipe in the cookbook that Chris got me for my birthday (and locating a coupon for $5 off a $25 meat purchase) I decided today – filled with grey skies and a raw, biting rain – was a good day to give it a try. (Shortly after writing this the sun came out and temps soared past 50!)

On a cost per serving the whole meal breaks down to be pretty reasonable. 5+ lbs. of bone-in short ribs ended up costing $20 after the $5 coupon and the four cans of no salt added tomato sauce ran me about $1.25.

After that, the salt, pepper, garlic, dried basil and coconut oil for browning were all things I had on hand. Same with the head of cauliflower for the mashed cauliflower to go underneath. That comes out to about $3.55 per serving for a dish that would run you about $25 at a local restaurant. We'll have plenty for two nights worth of dinner and at least one lunch.

At this point I'm browning all the beef and then adding it to the crock pot with smashed garlic, salt, pepper, basil and the sauce. Kitchen smells great and the crock pot is set to low for the next 7 hours.

Browned short ribs ready to be seasoned with salt, pepper and dried basil.

Into the crock pot and topped with 10 cloves of smashed garlic.

Add four 8 oz. cans of no salt added tomato sauce, cover and turn the crock pot on low for seven hours.

After seven hours on low I cranked it to high for an hour and ... yum!

Cheesesteak Hot Pockets May Contain Meat from "Diseased and Unsound Animals"

As if eating a Hot Pocket wasn't exciting enough.

Now comes a report that Giant food stores (Hey, I go there... see me at one later this morning!) have pulled Philly Steak & Cheese and Croissant Crust Philly Steak & Cheese varieties from their shelves.

No, the chain didn't suddenly develop a conscience or have an attack of good taste. They simply found out from the USDA that some of the meat in the items had not, you know, undergone proper inspection.

I believe the actual phrase tossed around was "diseased and unsound animals".

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Hungover Gourmet's Favorite (New) Beers of 2013

I knew taking pictures of the beers I "tasted" over the course of 2013 was a good idea!

Sure, thumbing through a digital diary of all those beers was, um, sobering and made me think "that's a lot of beer" but it also made it easy to separate out the ones I simply liked from the ones I really loved.

So without further ado, here's The Hungover Gourmet's list of Ten Favorite New Beers of 2013...

  • Ballast Point Sculpin IPA: expensive but worth it!
  • Steen Brugge Tripel Ale: a Christmas Eve treat
  • Union Craft Duckpin Pale Ale: a hoppy, canned tribute to a Baltimore pastime
  • Harpoon Summer Beer: the beer of summer 2013
  • 21st Amendment Brewery Marooned on Hog Island Stout: a perfect warm weather stout brewed with oyster shells
  • Stone Brewing 11/11/11 Vertical Epic Ale: another Christmas Eve tasting... complex and peppery
  • Troegs DreamWeaver Wheat Beer: the surprise entry on the list as wheat beers aren't usually my thing but I loved every cloudy, fruity glass
  • Sierra Nevada Beer Camp (Imperial Red Ale 2013, Sierra Nevada IPA and – my favorite camper – Belgian-Style Black IPA): I couldn't pick just one... probably dropped more $ on these than any other beer on the list
Honorable Mentions go out to: Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA, Sierra Nevada Summerfest, 21st Amendment Bitter American, Lancaster Brewing Kolsch, Victory Brewing Summer Love, Finch's Fascist Pig Ale and Just Beer Project Just IPA.

Granted, these were just my favorite new beers that I tried over the course of the year and doesn't include such old favorites as Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale, Little Yellow Pils and Old Chub Scotch Ale, Dominion Brewing Oak Barrel Stout and Flying Dog UnderDog Atlantic Lager (which would go great with the baby back ribs that are currently slow cooking in my kitchen and making my stomach growl!).

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Vaccaro's Named One of Nation's Top 50 Bakeries

When friends visit us we have a laundry list of good eats dishes and destinations we offer up... crab cakes at Faidley's or G&M, barbecue from Andy Nelson's, a trip to Mama's on the Half Shell for oysters, shrimp and beer. It all depends on the visitor and their mood.

But one place almost everybody who visits gets to try at some point is Vaccaro's in Little Italy. It's our go-to stop for eat-in or take-out desserts no matter where we're coming from and I've been known to take home a huge hunk of tiramisu to raid in the middle of the night.

And now Vaccaro's is getting some nice recognition on a national level. The Daily Meal recently named it one of the nation's 50 Best Bakeries, the only Maryland establishment to earn such an honor.

Congrats to all at Vaccaro's for this honor... perhaps a celebratory wedge of tiramisu is in order?