OPEN HAND PASTA
I heard about Open Hand Pasta and Provisions few months ago but I finally had a chance to shop for their fresh pasta and sauces at Waverly Farmers Market this weekend (they are there every other Saturday.) I bought two kinds of pasta — fiorintini (pictured above) and duck cappelletti — and three sauces — tomato basil, kale pesto and lamb + pork ragu. I’m getting a little tired of my own pasta sauces, so it was nice to get a few to try.
Follow Open Hand Pasta on Instagram and Facebook to see where they sell and more about the chef/owner, John. It seems, like many new small food businesses, Open Hand was a total pivot (instead of opening an actual restaurant in DC) and we are the lucky recipients. Man, it was cold at the market yesterday morning, but I’m so glad I went. Great to meet John and see his beautiful work.
ps. They also offer online cooking classes and deliver home cooking kits in the DC area!
THE MILTON INN
By now, you have probably heard that the Foreman Wolf Group is taking over The Milton Inn in Sparks. This is huge. Like hugely exciting. Also exciting is the fact that Petit Louis Exec Chef (and Baltimorean) Chris Scanga will be running the kitchen. We chatted briefly by email a few weeks ago and needless to say he is stoked. And ready. I sat down with him six years ago for my chef series with Baltimore Fishbowl and when I saw him at Louie a few months ago after an amazing outdoor dinner, we joked that we should do it again since so much has changed. I really like Chef Scanga. He’s young, but very experienced and driven — it’s fun watching this generation of chefs come up. I am so happy for Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. This project is really a once in a lifetime thing. Much like Petit Louis took over where Morgan Millard had operated on Roland Avenue for years and years, they will bring something new to a Baltimore institution.
Read more about it here.
Chef Scanga photo by Scott Suchman
THE BULLSEYE SRIRACHA
A very good old friend of mine emailed me last week to recommend that I try Bullseye, a Szechuan pop-up at R. House. This particular friend is not on social media and has had (and cooked) her fair share of great food over the years, so coming from her (especially being uninfluenced by the whole food IG thing) I knew it would be good. And, man, it really is. I got the pork Szechuan noodles and mushroom + quinoa dumplings. Both were excellent. I am planning to go back for scallion pancakes (one of my favorite things) and I’m pretty sure I will be ordering the Chili Oil Pork Dumplings: Pork dumplings covered in house made chili oil and black vinegar. GIMME.
I had the chance to talk with Chef Taylor when I picked up my order, what a nice person he is. Go check them out. Thanks for the heads up, Sara!
Maybe you’ve seen them at farmers markets or at The Corner Pantry or Gundalow Gourmet…or now at what seems like a lot of retail locations. Or maybe you’ve had Cane Collective’s talented partners’ drinks around Baltimore. Ezra Allen and Aaron Joseph have been a big part of the Baltimore cocktail scene for several years and Cane Collective is their new business venture, along with partner Clinton Jackson. Extremely versatile and approachable (and not too sweet!), these drink mixers are very well crafted. I have had almost all of them and I have to say, not a miss in the bunch. My favorites are the Guava Tiki, Southside and newest flavor Smoked Pepper Paloma, which I enjoyed last night with a splash of tequila. Honestly, if you don’t want to add alcohol to these, they are very refreshing and tasty on their own. Highly recommend picking some up. Check them out online to see where to shop and on Instagram for the latest news.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE TAKEOUT
(and some I am excited to try)
Mona’s Super Noodle — Because this is Baltimore, a friend of a friend of a friend told me that Mona makes fantastic noodle dishes, pho and more (per Facebook, opening in February in Hampden in the Nori space.)
Pho Bac — When I asked my friend Steve Chu of Ekiben about good pho in the city, he immediately recommended Pho Bac and said that I need to try the Bun Bo Hue — spicy lemongrass beef noodle soup with beef brisket, tendon, Vietnamese ham, and pork knuckle. Will be ordering soon!
Toki Tako — Korean BBQ-inspired ‘tacos’ served in shells or lettuces. I am very excited about this project. Owners Liz and Ken also run The Local Fry, which is very good. Opens 1/27 at the Rotunda. Check out Lauren Cohen’s article for Baltimore Magazine.
I asked for recs via Instagram for places (and specific dishes) that people have been loving via takeout.
Chiyo — “All the rolls.”
Heritage Kitchen — Arroz Caldo (pictured above: ginger scented rice porridge, roasted chicken, marinated tofu), Chicken and Short Rib Adobo (the garlic pea shoots that come with it are insane), Shrimp & Pork Belly Laing.
Cindy Lou’s Fish House — Biscuits, fried green tomatoes, rockfish bites, shrimp and grits, fried chicken. COCKTAILS. (Okay, so, that was everything I have personally had there, it is so good and the patio view is unbelievable.)
The Food Market — “Amish soft pretzels always, always”, Fast Food Market (weekend special), spaghetti and crab meatballs, lamb chops and crispy lobster fingers. “I love ordering from The Food Market because we all can use some comfort right now.”
Chuck’s Trading Post — Wednesday burger special, “every burger is fantastic.”
Nihao — Peking duck, Grand Marnier shrimp, fried rice, cocktails (non-alc, too!)
Orto – Friday pasta club, chicken parm for two “and make sure you get an extra Caesar”, “just order the whole menu.” The Cacio e Pepe is my go to.
Dylan’s — “The menu is so tight that everything on it is really, really good.” Burger and fries, Caesar salad, kale salad, shucked raw oysters, fried oyster sandwich, killer drinks.
Ethel’s Creole Kitchen — “Consistently my favorite.”
Foraged — “We order everything.” “I mean, just order anything on the menu, it’s that good.”
Mizu Sushi — “The 3-roll lunch special is such a good deal.”
The Helmand — Kaddo Borwani (pumpkin), Banjan Borwani (eggplant), chicken kabobs, Dwopiaza lamb
The Prime Rib — “The best takeout, what a treat. Get prime rib (obviously), potato skins, mashed potatoes and you have to get martinis.They come in pouches like Capri Suns!” Also, I have to add that their cheeseburger is one of the best I’ve ever had and it’s on the takeout menu.
Petit Louis — Cucumber salad, friseé salad, whole roasted chicken, eggplant napoleon, steak frites, steak au poivre, extra fries always. The whole menu.
Papermoon Diner — “I love the Spring Egg: potato cake, prosciutto and spinach tossed in olive oil served with 2 over-medium eggs and hollandaise.” (omg, that sounds good!)
Thai Street — Soups, noodles, Khai Soi, spring rolls, crab fried rice
Annabel Lee — Grilled tuna panini
Mt. Everest — Saag Paneer, Chana Masala with naan
Snake Hill — Three mentions of their wings!
Bullseye — Scallion pancakes, Szechuan pork, “OMG, any dumplings they make”
The Local Fry — “Tofu Bahn Mi, Asada fries. So good.” I also LOVE their dry rubbed wings in a many flavors and I love that you can order all flats! (team flats over here.)
Isabella’s — “Best Italian Cold Cut in the City!”
Souvlaki — Pantzarokeftedes (beet wrap), Bifteki with Greek fries
Hersh’s — Crispy chicken sandwich, Caesar salad, Americano pie, crostini, wings, carbonara — “Literally everything is good here.”
Sobo Cafe — Ranch garden salad, short rib, salmon, mussels, spicy feta, mac ‘n cheese
Well Crafted Kitchen — “We love all of their pizzas and the family style salads. Best people, too.”
Clavel — Margaritas, all the tacos, burritos. “For real, everything is good here.”
Sushi Sizka — Pingpong roll, spicy salmon roll, Caribbean roll
Fuisine — “Get the short rib toast!”
Koko’s — Crab cakes and wings
Alma — “Arepas are the best.”
Jasa Kabob — Curry and vegetable samosas
Paulie Gee’s — “Their Wednesday wood-fired special is great. It’s 2 pizzas for $22 or 4 pizzas for $44.”
The Tilted Row — “Pasta dishes and Andy’s Mac ‘n cheese, a carryover from his days at Donna’s in Charles Village!”
Wet City — “The Bahn Mi Dog, Ribeye Cheesesteak, Hot Chicken Sandwich — plus amazing beers in crowlers.”
Kitsch Cafe — “Incredible breakfast sandwiches. Plus, when you order a “Givewich”, it goes to someone who needs a meal.”
Ekiben — Neighborhood Bird, tempura broccoli, tofu brah, shrimp snacks, tons of creative and delicious collaborations. And you can also “Buy a Hero a Bun” for a healthcare worker if you’d like to help folks on the front lines.
Ramen Utsuke — “Consistently excellent ramen.”
BRD — “Such a good lunch!”
Le Comptoir Du Vin — “We love their sandwiches and the lentils.” I have to add that I could absolutely eat their chicken liver pâté on sourdough once a week.
This week’s recipe is not really a recipe. It’s booze in a pan that goes in your freezer. So, clear out all that frozen Trader Joe’s for this week’s dinners so you have room to stash this. It is SO FLIPPING GOOD. Thanks, Amy and Chip Mortimer for this gem.
• 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 your meals via the restaurant directly, please avoid apps that charge the restaurant up to 40%. And, picking up your food in person gives you a chance to say hello and thank the owner and staff in person. We all can use a lift., huh?
• tip as much as you can on your takeout
• buy merch, gift cards, etc
• Venmo your favorite server
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 much more timely content on IG.
Lastly, will you please share this newsletter?
The more people who order takeout and shop locally for food, etc…the better!
ps. If you are receiving this newsletter via a forward from a friend, here is how to signup.
I LOVE YOU, BALTIMORE.