Friday, January 29, 2016

Flashback Friday - An Unusual Soup

Click the word "recipe" in the first paragraph to get the actual recipe discussed here. Yeah, it's a tad weird, but that's why we love Ed Lee.


This post was originally published on November 11, 2009.
An Unusual Soup

Last week I was finally able to read through the penultimate issue of Gourmet. What stood out most to me was an article on Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville that offered an unusual recipe of sauerkraut soup with scallops - I have a genetic appreciation for sauerkraut and scallops have always been a favorite. The recipe sounded pretty straightforward so I thought I'd give it a try.

A word of caution: when blending the soup, the sauerkraut tends to clog the blade and send the juice oozing out of the blender lid. After a couple of unsuccessful pulses, I poured out most of the liquid and blended all of the solids into a paste, adding a few tablespoons of broth back at a time. The resulting puree was then stirred into the remaining liquid in the saucepan.

The spice rub on the scallops required sumac, a tart flavoring popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. I could have sworn I had some on hand, but couldn't find it. I substituted dried orange zest, which lacked the tartness, but since there was plenty of sour in the kraut, it worked well enough. And speaking of tart - the taste seemed a little one-dimensional, so two teaspoons of honey was added to the finished soup, rounding out the flavors yet adding no discernible sweetness.

Mr Minx isn't a fan of the scallop, so his portion was made with shrimp, which worked just as well. We were both happy with the end result. If one didn't know it was sauerkraut, it would be hard to pinpoint exactly from what the soup was made.

While the seafood worked very well with the soup, my brain can't help but concoct other variations using pork meatballs. And sliced frankfurters and croutons would make for a nice "deconstructed" dish reminiscent of a ballpark favorite. Croutons (particularly those made from rye bread) alone would make this a nice starter for a traditional Baltimore Thanksgiving dinner; sauerkraut always seemed odd and out-of-place next to turkey and cranberry sauce, but this creamy version has a favor that would seem to mesh better with the rest of the meal.

So...unusual, yes, but also delicious. And potentially versatile. Sauerkraut isn't just for kielbasa anymore!

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mushroom Bolognese

I feel like we ate really poorly during the holidays and well into 2016. Far too much meat and pastry, not nearly enough vegetables and whole grains. So I succumbed to the lure of a box of produce from Washington's Green Grocer, which was delivered on the same day that we happened to go grocery shopping. We ended up with a pound and a half of crimini mushrooms as a result (a bunch of other stuff, too).

Mushroom soup was almost an option, but I felt Mr Minx would be more satisfied by a pasta dish. Why not mince the mushrooms and use them as a meat substitute? So I put together a pretty delicious (if I do say so myself) vegetarian bolognese, using up a pound of the mushrooms in the process. I wanted to really up the umami factor, so we wouldn't miss the meat. Adding soy sauce and black garlic helped with that, and a bit of leftover ricotta (from our Christmas day lasagna) added a bit more richness to the sauce. One could leave out the ricotta and the Parm garnish and have a really nice vegan sauce, but I liked the cheesy additions.

Mushroom Bolognese

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 lb crimini mushrooms, washed, wiped, and finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cloves black garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 32-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
Pinch dried thyme
Pinch dried oregano
Pinch dried rosemary
Pinch red pepper flakes
Pinch smoked paprika
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
Parm for serving

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat, until softened. Add the mushrooms, carrots, and celery. Cover the pan and sweat the mushrooms until they release all their liquid. After about 5 minutes, uncover the pan and turn the heat up to high to burn off any additional liquid.

Reduce the temperature to medium. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and stir the vegetables well to coat. Fry for about 2 minutes, then add the garlics and fry an additional minute. Stir in the soy and the tomato paste. Continue to cook the tomato paste veg mixture until the paste darkens, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir well. Cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, stirring regularly; it should take only a minute or so.

Chop the tomatoes into smaller pieces by running a knife through them while still in the can. Dump the tomatoes and their juice into the frying pan and stir well. Turn heat down to low and simmer sauce for 1 hour. Check periodically to see if there's enough liquid in the pan; if not, add a bit of water. The sauce should be thick, but not dry.

Stir in the ricotta cheese. Season with the herbs. I don't like a particularly herby sauce, unless it's fresh basil, and our garden is pretty dead right now. Add more than a pinch of the herbs, if you'd like. The smoked paprika just makes it taste a little more meaty, and the parsley adds a bit of brightness.

Serve with pasta of your choice, sprinkled with Parm to finish.

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wines of the World

The question of the day should probably be "do you have enough wine stocked up for the impending Snowmageddon this weekend?" If you don't well, it's probably too late (or too crazy an idea to hit the liquor store today), but we're going to talk about wine anyway. :)

What countries are cultivating the best grape growing and also supplying some of the world’s best wines? From Bordeaux, France, known for its Petit Verdot and several other excellent beverages, to La Rioja, Spain, famed for Tempranillo, to Colchagua, Chile, renowned for its Carmenère, several places have developed reputations for producing high quality wines that generate accolades worldwide. Places that become known for winemaking generally have two characteristics that make them hospitable to the practice: proper climate and soil. The best climate for vineyards is generally temperate, and the finest soil is often rocky and boasts easy drainage. If you’d like to learn more about what and who makes the highest quality wine, check out the following infographic by Gold Medal Wine Club (

International Wine of the Month Club - Gold Medal Wine

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Monday, January 18, 2016

Worst Dishes of 2015

If Robert Sietsema can do it, I can, too.

Thankfully, we didn't encounter too many truly awful restaurant dishes. We did have a couple of less-than-good dishes, and even a generally bad overall experience.

Barcocina, in Fells Point, is the recipient of not one but two slots on the Worst Dish list.

Elotes are a popular street food in Mexico, consisting of grilled corn slathered with mayonnaise and sprinkled with cheese, chiles, and a squeeze of lime. The elotes at Barcocina were allegedly coated with ancho cayenne butter, queso fresco, and lime zest, but tasted of nothing. And, this one medium-small sized ear cost a whopping $6.

The "Barcocina dip" was also a fail. Billed as "an Oaxaca queso fundido," the oddly fluffy cheese-based dip contained rubbery and flavorless bits of chorizo and an overcooked poached egg that just kinda sat there on top until we chopped it up with a knife. Additionally, the tortilla chips were minuscule, making it rather difficult to scoop up a significant amount of dip.

The avocado panna cotta served at David Burke's Fabrick in NY was also a disappointment. I expected something novel, a somewhat firm, gelatinized, mousse perhaps. What I got was a bowl of mediocre guacamole with salsa and sour cream, and a side of overbaked chips that had been glued together with cheese, making them impossible to use as dippers. For $10, I might not have complained, but for $16, I expect a lot more than mediocre. Yes, NY can be expensive, but over the years I've had some really terrific food there for not a lot of money.

Le Garage also served up a couple of real bombs when we visited the restaurant in March. (We did end up going back later in the year, after Andrew Weinzirl took over the kitchen, and had a much better experience.) The dishes in question were appetizers that looked and sounded better than they tasted.

The pretty salad above is actually an octopus "escabeche." Generally, an escabeche involves cooked seafood marinated in an acidic mixture. In this dish, baby octopi were cooked until quite tender, then absolutely overwhelmed with a lime-based concoction. Other elements in the dish--celery shavings watermelon radish, and bizarrely, blackberries and raspberries--offered pretty color and some texture, but not enough flavor to counterbalance the unpleasantly assertive dressing.

Our other appetizer was better, but not by much. The pork belly was too crisp on the outside, and the black stuff, an "olive candy," supplied salt, but not much else. Pretty, but seriously unbalanced, flavor-wise. It was as if whomever had composed these dishes hadn't bothered to taste them.

Back in February, we visited Frederick for a preview of their Restaurant Week. Mr Minx and I were in different groups that hit different restaurants. Our experiences were largely positive, until we hit the last restaurant on the list. JoJo's Restaurant and Tap House is generally favorably reviewed, so I am willing to chalk up our dismal culinary experience to an aberration. A deconstructed yellowfin tuna "taco" was an insult to tuna. While the fish itself was fine, the accompaniments--tomato tempura, avocado, cilantro lime sour cream, and something billed as "Dorito dust"--just didn't work. The "dust" didn't even taste like Doritos. Another dish, a chicken and spinach burger, was suitable only for someone with a bad headcold. It had no flavor, which a sick person wouldn't notice. Both dishes made us sad.

One last loser: I have to admit that the food at World of Beer, which opened in Towson in September, was pretty decent. However, the noise level was so ridiculously loud, even painful, that our experience there was downright unpleasant. We're not willing to go back.

So, yeah, we could have done much worse. But we're still hoping for fewer bombs in 2016!

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Friday, January 15, 2016

Flashback Friday - A Little Bit of Korea

Why is it that Korean flavors work so well in non-Korean applications, like tacos, burritos, and sandwiches?


This post was originally published on October 5, 2011.
A Little Bit of Korea

One day last week, I lunched on something that was billed as "Korean BBQ tacos." With that description, I hoped to chomp down on some toothsome beef that was both spicy and sweet and seasoned with garlic and sesame oil. Imagine my disappointment when instead I ended up with a mouthful of pot-roast-like meat seasoned with a ton of thyme. (I hate when that happens. The thyme part. I think thyme - especially dried thyme - when used in excess, tastes like something that would be better used to clean floors.) Turns out that the person who assembled my lunch used the wrong beef and the tacos weren't supposed to taste so bizarre. Still - a huge disappointment that left me wiping my tongue in disgust.

I made up for the experience by making Korean-style food at home over the weekend. Rather than duplicating the taco idea, I made a sandwich with marinated flank steak topped with vegetables including a Korean spinach salad known as sigumchi namul (a popular banchan dish), and a spicy mayonnaise.

After a couple of bites, Mr Minx said, "this is one of those things that tastes so good, you just want to keep eating more and more." Words I looove to hear. And I gotta admit - it was damn good. The meat was garlicky, sweet, and sesame-y, just like Korean short ribs, aka kalbi. The assortment of veggies added a variety of textures, and the mayo added some heat. While I'm not a huge fan the bizarre hair-like texture of sprouts, I felt they added a nice earthy flavor to the sandwich. If you don't like them, feel free to leave them out; ditto for the pepperjack cheese.

Korean-style Flank Steak Sandwich

Flank Steak
1/2 cup light soy
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon kochukaru (Korean red chile flakes)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 bunch scallions, root end removed, chopped into 2" sections
1 1.5 lb flank steak

Place flank steak in a zip-top plastic bag and add the remaining ingredients. Marinate for at least one hour up to overnight. (The longer, the better!)

Preheat broiler and move oven rack to the highest position. Place the marinated steak and scallions on a foil-covered shallow baking pan and broil for 3-4 minutes on one side. Flip steak and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until desired doneness. (Use a digital thermometer to access internal temperature. Ideally, 130-140 is medium-rare). Allow meat to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before slicing thinly on a diagonal against the grain.

Sigumchi Namul
1/2 lb fresh spinach
1.5 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
black pepper

Blanch spinach in rapidly boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to retain the green color. When cooled, carefully squeeze out all of the water. Chop the spinach coarsely and mix with the remaining ingredients.

Spicy Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I like Kewpie)
2 teaspoons gochujang
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger

Mix together in a small bowl.

Zucchini Pickles
1 lb small zucchini, peeled and cut into coins
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
large pinch of kosher salt

Mix everything in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate a couple of hours before using.

To assemble sandwiches:
Radish sprouts
thinly sliced pepperjack cheese
baguettes or crisp-crusted hoagie rolls

Split roll horizontally. Spread both sides with mayo. Top with broiled scallions, sprouts, steak slices, cheese, spinach, and zucchini. Serve with your favorite chips. (I used Garden of Eatin' Sesame Blues, figuring the sesame accent would work well with the sesame in the sandwich.)

Makes 4-6 sandwiches, depending on how generous you are with the toppings. There will be zucchini pickles left over - refrigerate, and enjoy them within the week.

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Waterfront Kitchen + Sapidus Farms Oysters

Next Wednesday, January 20th, Waterfront Kitchen will have a dinner featuring Sapidus Farms oysters. This farm dinner will be the second in a series that showcases the farmers and growers with which the restaurant partners. There will be an a la carte menu with products exclusively from Sapidus Farms, but diners can also order from Waterfront Kitchen's seasonal dinner menu.

Dinner will be served from 5pm to 10pm; reservations can be made here or by calling the restaurant at 410.864.0215. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Oyster Recovery Partnership, an organization that supports projects that plant new oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Whether wild or farmed, oysters keep the Bay clean in addition to being good eats.

We're not able to make the dinner, so we went to the restaurant early to try some of those oysters. Raised in the Great Wicomico River, in Virginia, Sapidus Farms' molluscs are plump and clean-flavored with a light brininess. We tried them on the half shell with a fabulous, just-tart-enough, pickled vegetable mignonette and a garnish of peppery-earthy-herbal nasturtium leaf.

We also tried some items from the seasonal menu, featuring the culinary magic of the restaurant's new chef, Chris Amendola. Formerly of the Bagby Group and Bookmakers, chef Amendola's creations are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.

We shared an order of the roasted mushroom and ricotta ravioli with kale, brown butter, whey, and Parm. The dish was both delicate and hearty, featuring tender kale and earthy, umami-rich, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms over house-made pasta and ricotta.

The oysters in the fried oyster appetizer are not a Sapidus product, but still delicious in their delicate yet crunchy batter. Accompanied by tangy house-cured sauerkraut, lightly sweet beet remoulade, and pork belly, the dish is a lively combination of flavors and textures.

Neither Mr Minx nor I had ever tried fluke before, so we ordered the pan-roasted fluke with roasted cauliflower, pine nuts, brussels sprouts, and beurre blanc. The plate was almost too beautiful to eat, but we went for it. We noted that fluke tastes a lot like flounder--and that's because it is a flounder, commonly referred to "summer flounder." But I suppose it doesn't seem quite appropriate to use that name that when it's 20°F outside.

We had the rockfish, too.  Pan-roasted, like the fluke, it had skin that was delightfully crisp with moist flesh. And again, the dish was visually stunning. But rather than a buttery tender cruciferous veg accompaniment, this fish came with carrots galore: an outrageously smooth carrot ginger puree and a plethora of confit carrots. Dollops of hazelnut butter added a nutty complexity to the delicate sweetness of the carrot.

We passed on dessert this time, because too much of a good thing can sometimes be simply too much. Next time.

All of the dishes we ate yesterday are on the regular seasonal menu, so if they float your boat, make a reservation for any time. But if you want a more oyster-intensive experience, do check out the Sapidus Farms dinner next week.

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chamomile Honey Tea Gelato

Over the past few years, we've been hearing about the puzzling mass die-off of honey bees. Studies show that 85% of all plants are due to pollinators--like honey bees--so this is an issue that should concern everyone. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has instituted special programs to address this issue and have recently entered into a charitable partnership with The Republic of Tea. Their new Biodynamic Chamomile Honey Tea, available exclusively at Whole Foods throughout the Mid-Atlantic, was created to bring attention to this issue. The company was kind enough to send us a can to sample.

The chamomile in this tea, as with other The Republic of Tea chamomile varieties, comes from a small biodynamic farm at the base of the Italian alps, and is highly fragrant. In this particular tea, the flower is infused with a delicate but noticeable honey flavor, and it makes a terrific hot or iced beverage. While sipping it (iced), I thought it would make a lovely ice cream. Indeed, at the Fancy Food Show last summer I had tasted a chamomile tea ice cream that knocked my socks off.

So, after a fruitless search for my own ice cream maker (likely tossed in a fit of pique, as my kitchen is too small to hold such unitasking appliances), I borrowed one from a gracious friend and set to work. Because chamomile is a rather delicate flavor, I thought gelato, made with whole milk rather than tons of heavy cream, would be a better way to show off the flavor of this tea. And it was. The flavor of the chamomile is subtle, but the honey is quite pronounced. There is no vanilla in it at all, but Mr Minx thought there was. It's really very delicious, on its own or scooped over a piece of pound cake. It'd also be dynamite served with a fruit crisp or crumble.

Chamomile Honey Tea Gelato

2 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
6 The Republic of Tea Chamomile Honey Tea bags
5 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream

Put the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar melts. Add the teabags and continue to heat the milk just until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the tea to steep for at least one hour. Remove the tea bags from the milk, gently squeezing them dry.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl. Reheat the milk until steaming. Using a ladle, dribble some of the hot milk into the eggs in a thin stream, whisking constantly. After about half the milk has been whisked in, pour the egg and milk mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk. Cook over medium-low heat until thick enough to coat a spoon, whisking all the while.

Strain the custard and stir in the heavy cream. Refrigerate until cold.

Freeze the cold custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Gelato has less air than ice cream, so keep it in the machine only until it starts to hold its shape. Once the consistency is like somewhat melted ice cream, scoop it into a covered container and freeze until firm.

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Monday, January 11, 2016

Best of 2015 - Part 2

We start off every year with a recount of some of the very best things we ate in the prior year. I had a slightly difficult time determining the best restaurant dishes from 2015, but home-cooking was off the charts, particularly in the first half of the year. Let's reminisce, shall we?


We started off the year adventurously by cooking octopus and serving it with cannelini beans and a smoked paprika vinaigrette. It was easy and delicious. I just wish I could buy larger octopi in a standard supermarket.

We had tried the always-on-the-menu butternut squash toasts at Cunningham's, and I wanted to replicate it at home. It was simple enough - the recipe is actually from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and is found in several places on teh Innernets. I think my homemade toasts were at least as good as the restaurant's, maybe even better, because I got to use up a winter squash that had been hanging around for a little too long and was serving more as a table ornament than a food product.


We had never tried freekeh (a roasted green wheat product) before, but we had some in the cupboard, waiting for the right recipe. It showed itself in the form of a rice pilaf flavored with grape leaves, sorta like a deconstructed dolma; I replaced the rice with the freekeh and was quite happy with the results. Lamb meatballs and oven roasted tomatoes completed the dish, which was hearty and satisfying.

In February, I also made spaetzle for the first time, flavored with sweet potato. A potato ricer was employed to make the pasta, as was a colander, strainer, sheet pan, large bowl, and several pots and pans. After browning the spaetzle, I topped it with sauteed onions, snails, cauliflower, mushrooms, and a ton of fresh parsley. The dish exceeded my expectations, and I remarked on Facebook that this had been an ambitious undertaking. Someone commented that it wasn't so ambitious; German housewives made spaetzle all the time. Thanks for attempting to rain on my parade, smug little fuck, but I'm not German, had never made these before, and it felt like I had cooked all day to get this relatively simple-seeming dish on the table. Worth it, though. It was, as you kids today like to say, awesome.

We make ribs fairly often - they're actually pretty simple, if you use Alton Brown's technique. I usually flavor them differently each time; this Korean version from February was the tastiest ever.


I really loved these muffins made with whole Meyer lemons, rind and all. They were moist and lemony, and smelled really beautiful. They froze well, too.


Gnocchi can be made from potatoes or from ricotta cheese. These delicious gluten-free babies are made mostly from spinach, with a little ricotta and oat flour to keep them together.

Roasted duck legs with winter squash puree. Yes.


Muhammara is a dip made with walnuts and bell peppers. Trader Joe's makes a version, but you can make it at home easily enough.


Mr Minx usually gets chocolate cake for his birthday. This year, I added about twice as much sour cream as normally called for to get a cake that was truly moist and needed no frosting.


I fell in love with chamomile ice cream at the Fancy Food Show last summer, so when Republic of Tea sent a sample can of  honey chamomile tea, I had to make gelato with it. Seems odd, sure, but it was fan-freaking-tastic.


Made by swapping out semi-sweet chips for white chocolate ones, these white brownies are better than any standard blondie.

I wasn't quite sure how a chicken pot pie flavored with jerk spices was going to turn out, but it was a big success, from biscuit to gravy.


Mr Minx has quite a way with potatoes. He's made several of these enormous fried potato cakes over the years, and I have to keep myself from eating the whole thing every time. And I'm not a big potato fan. Although not a latke, this one was just in time for Hanukkah.

Lots of good eats in 2015 - will there be as many in 2016? Stay tuned....

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Friday, January 08, 2016

Flashback Friday - Chocolate Linzer Tart

I love this tart.


This post was originally published on March 11, 2007.
Chocolate Linzer Tart

My friend Amy mentioned making Linzer cookies during her holiday baking, and that reminded me of an old favorite recipe that I haven't made in a while: chocolate linzer tart.

Years ago, I used to have annual chocolate parties which involved myriad chocolate desserts served to an all-female crowd. At first I made everything myself, but then I realized that I could share some of the back-breaking work by having my guests supply favorite chocolate dishes. Despite the many new varieties of fabulous cocoa-laden desserts that arrived each year, it didn't feel right unless I made this tart.

It's been about fifteen years since I first made this, so I have no idea where the recipe came from originally. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Chocolate Linzer Tart
1 1/2 cups ground blanched almonds
1 1/3 cups chocolate Teddy Grahams, pulsed in the food processor until they are fine crumbs
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 t ground cinnamon
2 T cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 whole egg
1 jar Polaner All-Fruit seedless raspberry jam
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Place ground almonds, cookie crumbs, flour, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa into a large bowl and mix well. Distribute the butter over the mixture and add the egg. Work the dough with your fingertips, rubbing in the butter and making a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly butter a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. Pat about 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of the pans, forming a bottom crust.

Spread the jam thickly over the crust but not quite to the edges.

Roll pieces of the remaining dough into strips and arrange on jam in a lattice pattern. Sprinkle on the chopped almonds.

Bake for 35 minutes. Let the pastry cool in the pan before cutting into thin wedges.
Serves 12 - 15

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on

Monday, January 04, 2016

Best of 2015 - Part 1

We start off every year with a recount of some of the very best things we ate in the prior year. So let's begin 2016 (2016!) with a look back at some of our favorite restaurant dishes from last year.


I tried several varieties of fries at the Local Fry last February and enjoyed them all. I think my favorite, however, was the house version, the "Local Fry," topped with taco beef and spicy sauce.


It's hard to pick just one dish from the Oy Bay! dinner at Clementine to designate as our favorite. Everything was stellar that night, from the pickled oyster salad to the oyster stuffing-filled quail with squash and brussels sprout gratin, to the carpetbagger steak from Roseda Beef. (The quail is pictured above.)


No pic, but the slice of coconut cake I received at the Peppermill after our waitress accidentally dumped my destined-for-a-doggy-bag shad on the floor, was amazeballs.

A giant meatball at Pane et Vino, in Little Italy, was up there on the list of Best Meatballs I Have Ever Put in My Mouth (yes, there have been many). I was also pretty turned on by the steak and stracchino piadine, a quesadilla-like sandwich.


What wasn't terrific on B&O Brasserie's Spring 2015 menu? Not a whole lot. Loved the octopus tacos served with shells made from raw jicama, the juicy soft shell crabs (pictured), the flounder, oh, just everything!


Decadently rich and sweet, the corn creme brulée at New York's Quality Meats was meant to be a side dish, but served very well as dessert, too.

Jokers 'n' Thieves, Jesse Sandlin's new joint in Canton, delivered some edible happiness last summer, particularly in the form of a soft shell crab and waffle sandwich. The brisket and creamy Carolina Gold rice was a winner too.

The best breakfast of 2015 came from a tiny cafe in Charles County. Pancakes Plus served up these lovely eggs, plus grits, scrapple, toast, and surprisingly delicious coffee for about $6.

2015 was a great year for soft shell crabs. 13.5% Wine + Food's Cyrus Keefer served plump softies served with a corn congee that rank among my top five ever.


The beautiful carrots with harissa honey, goat's cheese, and hazelnuts at Robin Haas's new mostly-veg restaurant, Encantada, tasted as good as they looked.

This coconut pie from Bonefish Grill was all kinds of deliciousness.


We ate at Hersh's twice last year, and both times were blown away by the fabulous pizza. Pictured is the Tre Porcellini, a feast of porcine products atop a perfect thin crust. Mr Minx has found his pizza holy grail; a shame it's not closer to Towson.

We went back to 13.5% Wine + Food in August for a media dinner. There were so many tasty things, but my favorite were the pizzas, especially the French bread-style pizza topped with snails. I am a sucker for snails.

Best burger of the year award goes to Alewife. Chad Wells' Smoke Burger is a real thing of beauty. Chad's mac and cheese is pretty amazing, too, especially when used as a stuffing for eggrolls, or as a topping for duck fat fries. I also had the best crab cake of the year at Alewife, and more than my fair share of fine craft beers.


We found a Korean BBQ place more conveniently located than Ellicott City's Honey Pig--Be One, located in a shopping center between Maryland Ave/Howard Street, 20th and 21st Streets. Really terrific bulgogi, and an outstanding, crispy, octopus-stuffed pancake. Uh-maz-ing.


We had a fine meal at Bookmakers Cocktail Club, including what I felt was the platonic ideal of a Caesar salad. The brussels sprouts with candied bacon were also quite delicious, and Mr Minx couldn't stop eating his pappardelle with lamb shoulder ragu. I also discovered my favorite new cocktail there - the Federale, made with tequila and Becherovka.


We had some nice tacos at Empellon Taqueria in NY, particularly those stuffed with pastrami. The Brussels sprouts tacos were delish as well.

Everything at  Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen, also in NY, was well-done, from the duck-stuffed buns to the soup dumplings. But my favorite was the flaky scallion pancakes filled with sweet and savory slices of beef.

More NY eats: Best fish taco ever, the fried skate on a blue corn tortilla at Mission Cantina.

We ate a lot of ramen this year, partly because it's increasingly available, partly because we were writing about it. This cold ramen dish served at Ivan Ramen on the Lower East Side, called hiyashi chuka, was a little soup, a little chef's salad, a lot delish.

We celebrated Ejji Ramen's 1-year anniversary with some Kobe beef. The real stuff, from Japan. It was served very rare, basically just seared. and was so tender as to melt in the mouth.


At a charity dinner on #GivingTuesday, we had various Thai-style dishes created by Zack Mills of Wit & Wisdom, Cyrus Keefer (formerly of 13.5% Wine Bar + Food, now at the Baltimore Country Club) and Dooby's Tim Dyson. While everything was delish, my favorite was Cyrus' take on pad Thai, using tender squid as the noodle component, with a delightfully fatty sausage link on the side. It didn't taste like pad Thai, but the flavors were boldly delicious.

Also in December was a visit to the Corner Charcuterie Bar, in Hampden.

We tried several unusual dishes--an octopus "burger," ostrich tartare--but I really fell in love with the fried house-made pickles. A melange of different veg, like radishes and cucumbers, each with its own different pickle flavor, all lightly coated in a crisp batter and served with a ranch dip. A perfect bar snack.

That's all for 2015. Hope you ate as many good things as we did!

Follow on Bloglovin

Posted on