|HOW WE GOT HERE (let’s eat)|
I created this newsletter as a way to keep people in Baltimore informed on ways we all can support our favorite local restaurants and food & beverage businesses.
No ads, no memberships, just info.
Photo above: Drinks with friends. I miss you, Dylan’s.
SMALL BUSINESSES HELPING TO STOCK YOUR FREEZER
It’s been really interesting to see folks around the city come up with creative and delicious food and beverage businesses that fill a current niche. And not just restaurants and bars are shifting their focus and reinventing themselves, avid home cooks and others are joining them.
Former Chef (and food-obsessed friend of mine) and now, Dad, Jon Carroll is a fine human, first. Second, his food is always delicious. He’s done successful pop-ups in the past with ramen and my favorite food group, nachos. Since he’s been mostly at home during COVID with his little one, Dezi, he’s now making burritos that you can easily pop into your freezer. Everything from simple rice + beans to chicken, steak, smoked pork and more. Each menu and ordering is all via his Instagram @jcburritos. He does it about once a week and they always sell out. Payment via Venmo and pickup at Union Collective.
Caroline Anderson is longtime hospitality pro and is now making pizzas (here is her site) and she does home delivery, plus sells her pies at Gundalow Gourmet, Angels Ate Lemons (which is where I first learned about her – thanks, Lane), Rooster & Hen Store at Cross Street Market, Tablefield Grocery (formerly Dionysus’ Kitchen), the Market at Liberty Delight Farms. The pizzas are frozen (genius) and are thick crust. It’s really nice to be able to pull a pizza from the freezer after a long day. Even better to know that pizza was made by someone here in Baltimore City. From Caroline: “With Grateful Pizza, I wanted to make something that’s convenient, but still feels intentional. Something that you could pop in the oven for a quick meal, just as easily as you could pair it with a salad and a cocktail for a special dinner at home.” Thank you, Caroline!
Maybe you’ve picked up dinner from the fresh case at Gundalow at Whitehall Market. You’ve probably bought a couple of Dana’s insanely good salted chocolate chip cookies (and did not share.) But I wanted to point out that the freezer case at Gundalow is one of my favorite places to shop for homemade food not made by me. Specifically, the meat lasagna is a real gem. Being a one person household, I tend to divide it up and pack into smaller containers and stash them in my freezer. Then I pull out a couple of servings and I’m set for a day or two. Also, make sure you always have the frozen quart containers of those chocolate chip cookies. Whenever you want one, you can just bake ONE! Or three. Also, Dana’s cookbook selection, along with cooking products and tools is really great.
Capital Grille Butcher Shop
The folks at the Baltimore location of The Capital Grille are the best. Yes, it’s a chain, but I like to support them because they serve high quality products, they support every single charity project I ask them to, they make a mean martini and mostly because the Managing Partner, Jim Kinney is kind, hardworking and a really good friend. Through all of the many, many pivots, Jimmy has been making it work — for his employees. One big change over this past year is that you can now buy their amazing steaks and burgers, ready to be cooked. If you’ve never had a Capital Griller burger, you are missing out, no kidding. Six burgers for $60. Get your toppings ready. Highly recommend!
This week only (they are close to sold out) Jimmy and Capital Grille are offering something very special. They have 30-day, dry-aged New York strip steaks for $25 each. They are bone-in and weigh in at 18 ounces. Call them Monday, January 11 (443-703-4064) from 12:00-8:00pm to place your order.
Hoehn’s Bakery Reopened
The home of the most perfect honey dip doughnut, Hoehn’s in Highlandtown, has just reopened after a six month hiatus due to a family illness. In addition to their doughnuts, Hoehn’s is adored for their peach cake, among many other favorites. They are open Wednesday – Saturday. They’ve been around since 1927, go support them.
Apparently I am known to be a super fan, because I even got interviewed by the Baltimore Business Journal! (N – E – R – D)
Baltimore Community Fridge
Next time you go shopping (or order groceries) consider grabbing a few extra things to donate to this community effort. They really need snacks like whole fresh fruit (bananas, apples, oranges…), protein and granola bars, snack sizes of pretzels, bottled water, Vitamin Water, Gatorade, etc. You can also make easy to grab meals like sandwiches, wraps, etc — you just have to mark them clearly with all the ingredients. Canned goods are also welcome. But really, think about anything that someone without regular access to a kitchen could take. Last weekend, I donated bagels, nuts, crackers, tangerines and protein bars. It was absolutely the best feeling putting things into that fridge!
Travel size toiletries are also welcome.
209 McAllister Street (off Guilford Avenue)
Please check your cabinets and refrigerator — every little bit helps!
Check them out and follow on IG: @bmorecommunityfridge
MY FAVORITE TAKEOUT
Here’s a list of places I have ordered from and loved. I’d love to hear where you’ve ordered from that really impressed you. Don’t forget to tip as much as you possibly can on takeout!
The Heritage Kitchen – Baltimore’s first Filipino restaurant! Chef Rey Eugenio cooks very comforting food that makes people really happy. The menu changes every so often…make sure to get there for Rey’s incredible chicken adobo and crab & coconut soup. Check out their menu on Facebook, plus updates and easy ordering on Instagram. Heritage is open inside Whitehall Market Thurs-Sun. (ps. Whitehall Mill is on break Jan 4-8.)
Ekiben – Not only is the Neighborhood Bird Bowl two meals in one, they’re continuing to add new menu items all the time. Now they even do a burger! (Tues, Weds, Thurs) at the Fell’s Point location.) They have been offering their “Buy a Hero a Bun” thing for a while now, where people can pay it forward with delicious food for Baltimore area healthcare workers. Good people!
La Cuchara – I love shopping online at their Marketplace for everything from flour and lemons to prepared dishes. I often buy basic vegetables here so that I don’t have to go to the grocery store. I love the Lefenfelds (owners), they are the best people.
The Food Market – The Food Market has been doing takeout for a while now, I’ve ordered twice — drinks, too! Now they are running a weekends-only “Fast Food Market” menu featuring burgers, cheesesteaks, fried chicken sandwiches, those crinkle fries with my favorite thing: fountain soda! I can personally attest to the deliciousness of the cheesesteak.
Le Comptoir du Vin – Sandwiches, wine, sake, cider, cheeses (Camembert + Quince combo is my favorite), get the French lentils and chicken liver pâté. The glazed ham caught my eye (pretty hard) on their most recent email update. You may remember that Comptoir was a Bon Appetit Hot 10 last year — one of the ten best new restaurants in the country — and it was very well-deserved.
Ovenbird Bakery – If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have a major crush on this place. I don’t usually love baked goods, but really bagels and croissants are a whole different thing. GO. Everything here is good, I mean it. Magnolia and I go down on weekends and she always makes friends with the staff, the customers and of course, the doggos walking around Little Italy. God, I love this neighborhood.
The Prime Rib – I never thought I’d ever, ever order takeout from The Prime Rib, it is a place to be experienced in person. However, they are doing takeout and I highly recommend every single thing I already love from there…potato skins, martinis, prime rib, Caesar, mushrooms, etc… All packed perfectly. I think this will need to happen again for me. BIG treat! (Getting martinis served in pouches is worth the whole meal.)
18-8 Sushi – I have ordered from here a lot. A lot. It’s in Hampden (The Rotunda), always very fresh and delicious. Even the basic rolls satisfy my sushi cravings. Food is presented and packed very nicely. Order online, easy.
Dylan’s – The kale salad is my favorite thing ever, plus the burger, soups, classic Baltimore coddies (fried cod fish cakes on saltines with mustard) and tons more. I love that they are also selling shucked oysters to go! I stood by my stove last week and ate oysters and drank Chenin Blanc. It felt downright decadent. And, the best cocktails. Follow on IG for updates on daily specials.
Cinghiale – They’ve started a new venture, an Italian market inside Johnny’s in Roland Park. With the success of the Sunday market outside this fall, they thought they’d continue and just move it inside with distanced (you may have to wait a few minutes) shopping. From the look of things when I was there last weekend, it’s already a great success. I got fresh pasta and sauce, canned tomatoes, cheese and more. Open Tues-Sun 11-6pm.
Tapas Teatro – Sangria! And, you get a whole quart of it on Tuesdays for $10. I also love eating lots of different things for dinner, like, you know…tapas style. Not quite as much fun as sitting outside along Charles Street with friends, but still. I ordered takeout last week and got the shrimp with garlic, poached octopus and lump crab and spinach. Getting to see my friend Helmand Karzai when I picked up was an extra treat. He is one of my absolute favorite people in the world. (p.s. I up-cycled the garlic sauce from the shrimp dish in pasta the next night, and that felt like a win.)
The Bluebird Cocktail Room – I love, love, love their smashburger. Also recommend the bottled cocktails, yellow lentil burger, hand-cut fries, By far, my favorite Old Fashioned in Bmore. They were in the process of redoing the adjacent De Kleine Duivel beer bar space late this fall, too, so hopefully that’ll open up once we can be outside again.
Alma Cocina Latina – So, maybe you heard that Alma has moved from the Can Company in Canton to the former Pen & Quill in Station North? Well, they are ready to open whenever city dining does. Wait till you see what Irena and Mark have done with the space — all the plants! And you may also know that they have been working during COVID with the wonderful folks at Mera Kitchen Collective creating roughly 90,000 (!!) meals for those in need here in Baltimore.
Clavel – The best burritos, taco kits, ceviches, other essentials like ripe avocados, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, etc. Plus all the drinks you love! Did you see Lane and Carlos (and his tuna ceviche) featured in Saveur magazine?? Order food and drinks online or from their truck out front. Merch like t-shirts and tote bags, etc, too.
Peter’s Inn – This is the restaurant in Baltimore I have been going to for the longest time. It is in my top 3 (along with The Prime Rib and Petit Louis) and it is like no other place. I mean, you probably know to get the house salad and garlic bread. But did you know that these days, you can also get provisions like butter, sugar, flour, olive oil, ramp vinegar, coffee, bacon, etc? I love the online description of the bacon, “five whole pounds of this fine pig fruit.” OMG.
Orto – First, the best Caesar. They have a very popular weekly pasta club — I just did this two weeks ago and it was fantastic — you get fresh pasta, sauce, etc along with cooking instructions. Plus there’s a Sunday roast menu and their regular takeout has been stellar. I love that Orto has both excellent food and a casual vibe that still feels special. I can’t wait to go back and sit outside with friends. Preferably with their housemade Pompelmocello. (Me: “wait, no, I don’t do shots! Oh, wait…”)
Each week, I will share a recipe with you, too. Below is a link to the recipe for my mom’s crab soup. Also, can we all get a YEAHHHHH?! My mom got her COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. I am so happy. I will still worry, but now maybe a little bit less.
For as long as I can remember, my family has been enjoying this soup. Usually for special family gatherings, since crab meat is expensive. I like making this soup using crab meat I have picked myself, but that’s not everyone’s bag. So you can always use fresh crab meat from a seafood shop — or if it’s the dead of winter, I am a-ok with canned claw meat. I finally had the chance to ask Mom how she makes it and I played around with is until it tasted just like hers.
Grandmom’s Crab Soup
ps. I added a bunch of my favorite simple recipes to my blog. Finally. Thanks, Jess Mayhugh for helping me get my website more organized!
WEBSITE UPDATES COMING
I started Charm City Cook in 2010 and a lot has happened since then! This started with a new interest in cooking and the blog and its content has ebbed and flowed to say the least.
I am in the process of cleaning up the posts, pages, images, etc. Soon, you will be able to find recipes on one page, restaurant news on another and so on. For now, everything is categorized. On a computer, you will see a “Categories” dropdown on the right side of the home page and via mobile, it should appear at the bottom. As I began to look through all of the old blog posts, I was amazed at how many there were! (And, how much better they are now…see, time and experience helps.)
• order takeout for yourself (or even as thank yous for your friends who are healthcare workers and in other key frontline services, or for friends who welcome babies, etc
• give positive reviews on dining sites and social media
• share your favorite takeout meals you’ve had during COVID on your social media channels (it really helps!)
• order meals via the restaurant directly, please avoid apps that charge the restaurant up to 40%
• tip as much as you can on your takeout
• buy merch, gift cards, etc
• Venmo your favorite server
AGAIN FOR THE NEW PEOPLE: For all of you who’ve not yet joined Instagram, now is the time. Most chefs and restaurants are much more active on Instagram than Facebook, so you will see more timely content on IG.
Lastly — this is important — will you please share this newsletter with your friends? The more people who order takeout and shop locally for food, etc…the better!
I LOVE YOU, BALTIMORE.