May 24, 2010

I Met Eric Ripert!

For my birthday among other things, Steve bought me tickets to the Foodie Experience: An Evening with Eric Ripert/Anthony Bourdain Foodie Experience at the Hippodrome Theatre that was held on Saturday night.

The evening of anecdotes, questions, and answers was hosted by Reagan of Mix 106.5. The chefs talked about all sorts of topics from contestants on Top Chef, working in the restaurant business, family, traveling, and of course food. Anthony Bourdain was asked what food trend he dislikes the most and he said cupcakes :( I'm still a fan though. I really did gain a lot of insight on what it is like to work in the food industry and I gained a lot of respect for restaurant chefs. After last night, I began thinking about how crazy it is that chefs today are as famous as rock stars.

For those who purchased a certain ticket (we did!), there was a special food tasting from local Baltimore area restaurants after the talk. Here is a list of restaurants that were there:

City Cafe
Taverna Corvino
Brewer's Art
Ryleigh's Oyster
Woodberry Kitchen
The Wine Market
Rumor Mill
Ale Mary's
Max's Empanadas
Sweet Sin Bakery
Diamondback Tavern
Peter's Inn
Dangerously Delicious Pies
A. Kirchmayr Chocolatier
Baltimore Pho
Antrim 1844
Mr. Rain's Funhouse
Spectrum Catering

Both, Steve and I agree that the food from City Cafe was the best of the night. They offered a cream of crab soup and watermelon bruschetta that was absolutely delicious. I had a chance to talk to the executive chef and compliment him.

Baltimore Pho had a prize wheel at their station which was fun because I won a free appetizer and Steve a shirt! We liked their garlic beef.

I was totally shocked to see that Ryleigh's Oyster was offering freshly shucked oysters on the half shell. Wow!

Being a HoCo local, I wanted to check out the Portalli's table. Portalli's was offering sea bass and a panna cotta and strawberries with a balsamic reduction. The sea bass was quite tasty and the panna cotta was ok, however, I was really impressed with them at how perfectly the fish was cooked despite not having an oven/stove at the event!

Other highlights from the night, MEETING CHEF ERIC RIPERT!!!!! Both, he and Anthony Bourdain were walking around sampling food from the local restaurants and at the same time were being bombarded by fans. I couldn't snag a pic with Chef Bourdain, but hey, ERIC RIPERT!

Chefs at the Portalli's table!

I really enjoyed myself at this event. I know as of recent, Baltimore hasn't really been known for too much besides it's high crime rate and slumping baseball team and because of that I'm really glad Baltimore had a chance to host something of this kind. Something positive and shows a better side of Baltimore- it's up and coming local food scene!


May 23, 2010

Quater Century Old

I celebrated a birthday in the beginning of the month. As usual, I couldn't decide where I wanted to go for dinner... I was throwing around the idea of going out the Sunday before and getting good take out after I got home from work on my actual birthday, but I wanted to do something special the day of. After much debate and driving Steve crazy, I decided I wanted my birthday dinner to be at Portalli's in Old Ellicott City where Jordan's Steakhouse used to be even after reading mixed reviews. I'm glad I chose Portalli's because it was a fantastic meal.

The inside looks a lot like Jordan's used to look like. We dined in the dining room (not the bar room) on the first level by the window. There were three other tables with patrons while we were there. The servers were attentive and were very helpful with answering questions about the menu.

Portalli's offers specials throughout the week and the night we happened to go, all bottles of wine were 1/2 off. Malbec is pretty much the only red wine I will drink, so we ordered a bottle of Malbec which was delicious with our meal.

To start we ordered the Portalli salad and Portallian Flatbread Pizza and for the main course Steve ordered Duck Confit Manicotti and I ordered Chicken Picatta.

The first courses were good, nothing I would rave about though. The manicotti was good, but Steve & I both felt it needed more sauce or more cheese on top although, I think there was plenty of cheese on top, but it may have been left in the oven for a minute too long because the cheese on top of the manicotti was very brown, slightly dry, and not... melty? My chicken picatta on the other hand, was excellent. The chicken was cooked perfectly, tender and juicy, the sauce was flavorful, seasoned just right with the pesto and caper sauce, and the polenta was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside not soggy at all. I felt that the portion size of the entrees were normal, in fact I had enough leftover for lunch the next day.


May 18, 2010

Happy American Craft Beer Week

This week is American Craft Beer Week. To celebrate, Steve & I went out for a drink after work to Victoria Gastro Pub on the corner or Rt. 108 and Snowden River Parkway. Last night featured brews from Flying Dog and Dogfish Head. I had my favorite Dogfish 120min IPA and Steve the World Wide Stout. Two local beer tweeters/bloggers were there (shout out to Baltimore Beer Guy and Beer In Baltimore) it was great to meet and talk with you!

On Sunday, two friends of mine & Steve's came to check out our new house as well as the HoCo area in general. They are thinking about moving to this area after they are married. We showed them around and talked HoCo up as much as we possibly could. We had big plans to do dinner at Sushi Sono, especially after reading about the No. 12 roll HowChow posted about a few days earlier. But, as luck would have it, Sushi Sono is closed on Sunday. And so is Sushi King. Dagger! Rattling our brains, we remembered Cha Ya Cafe on Mcgaw Road.

Steve & I have been there one time before and thought it had good sushi. I like this place for the fact that it offers "something for everyone" (Japanese, Chinese, and Thai food). Steve's only negative comment was regarding to the prices in relation to the size of the roll. I would have to agree. The rolls were a bit smaller than what we are used to seeing at the other local sushi places we've been to.

Our friends ordered the First Sight of Love Roll (lobster tail tempura, asparagus, cream cheese, massago, wrapped in avocado), the Cha Ya Philly Roll (hot baked roll w. salmon, cream cheese, avocado, and eel), and a Tuna Avocado Roll (self explanatory).

First Sight of Love Roll strategically placed in the shape of hearts. Points for creativity!

We ordered an avocado salad, Tom Ka Gai (the best he's had anywhere so far, says Steve), the Cha Ya Philly Roll, Twister Roll, and a Dragon Roll. Both times that I have been to Cha-Ya I've ordered their Cha Ya Philly Roll. It's pretty tasty. The Twister Roll (fresh salmon and mango over a spicy California roll) was good, but I wish the spicy California roll were spicier to contrast with the sweetness of the mango. We also ordered the Dragon Roll (cucumber wrapped eel with avocado and tobiko).