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Best fries in the biz at Petit Louis
An underrated (almost secret?) cut you should try
Look at that price!
I added some mushrooms just like my mom. 
Yep. Ate it right off the cutting board.
Yesterday, I went shopping at JBGB's for a steak. I will often buy steaks from Liberty Delight at the Waverly Market (usually ribeye or NY Strip) and keep them in the freezer. Well, that hasn't happened lately and I was craving a steak. But just a small cut, which is often hard to find. I asked about some less expensive cuts they'd recommend that would save me money and also satisfy my craving for something tender and flavorful. I was happy to be introduced to the Denver cut, a new cut to me. (Thanks, Faith, the excellent counter staff person!) The Denver cut is from the Chuck -- kind of shoulder and neck-adjacent. And as I'm talking with Faith about the steaks, one of JBGB's talented butchers, James, comes out and says he's about to cut some fresh Denver steaks and if I can wait a few, he'll take care of it. YES, I will wait. I've known James several years now, he knows his stuff and is just the nicest. And when I went to pay, the steak only cost me $5.76. Half pound steak, perfect size for me. Much like Parts & Labor (JBGB's predecessor) introduced me to cuts like tri tip, coulotte and bavette years ago, I love that JBGB's taught me something new. I will keep buying this cut. I mean, less than $6.00 for dinner? Done. When I cooked it, I simply pan seared it, but you could also reverse sear it - that's my very favorite way to cook a steak, as it comes out very evenly cooked and at exactly the temperature you want.

When shopping for meat, shop at the best places and be sure to ask questions. As long as I've been learning and writing about food and drinks, cooking, all of it...I have always asked a MILLION questions. My bartender friends know this about me. (Sorry, friends, haha.) I want to know how people create. What is their process like? What are they trying to make and how did it work, or not? This is their profession and you should engage with them -- that's the best part. Ask all your questions. I'm often asked where to buy the best of lots of things -- meats, seafood, pasta. Whatever it is, there is a person whose job (and passion) that thing is. They are your people. Ask your questions. The good ones will want to not just sell you the thing they make, but they'll also make sure it's what you need. I love that part. 

Man, I have learned so much by asking questions. That's how I learned about reverse searing, mastering beef tartare and so much more. But chefs (and butchers and bartenders for that matter) are not gods on Netflix. They are regular people who work really, really hard. In some ways, television and subsequently, social media, made food much more accessible. For me personally, I learned to cook a little later in life, thanks to Ina Garten and the folks on America's Test Kitchen. And I often learn something from an episode of Top Chef. But, the other side of that coin is "chef culture", which I don't think helps chefs much at all. To me, it raises expectations and puts a lot of pressure on people who are simply doing something they love to do.

That was a longer story than "you should buy this steak" but I felt like I wanted to say more. That happens sometimes. 

You can do this.
I was craving lobster (lately I'm liking it more) so I ordered a tail and a claw instead of more oysters.
God bless Thames Street Oyster House.
Anywhey You Want It: goat cheese washed Bertha's Revenge gin, cocchi, Salers Gentaine, everything bagel spice tincture, cocktail onion – a weird and wonderful drink at Dutch Courage.
Dutch Courage's coulotte steak, served with celery root purée, roasted parsnip gremolota and black walnut butter. This was very good!
Solo dates. Lately, I've been hitting up my favorite bars and restaurants in my favorite hoods. Solo means your chances of snagging a bar seat are way better. If I make a point to go to Fell's Point, there's a good chance I'll stop in a Thames Street Oyster House, Nanami or Peter's Inn. I still miss Lobo. A lot. 

Fell's Point is the place I recommend most for people entertaining out-of-town guests. It's quirky, yet classic, historic and charming and there are lots of places to choose from for casual dining and drinking. You can also get fancy at the Pendry if that's your style. Anytime I get to walk on cobblestones makes me happy – feels like home. 

On this weekend's outing, after a quick stop into Thames Street, I headed uptown to another favorite place — Dutch Courage — and had a fantastic dining experience. There's something very special about the mix of people working there and sitting at the bar and watching them work together was such a pleasure. Everyone is NICE and KIND and there's no cool kid pretense. I've been there many times but I'm pretty sure this visit was the best yet.

I just added three categories to the dining guide on my website, one of which is places to have dinner solo at a bar. So, without really intending to, my Saturday night was a test run of a few places that made the list. Other new categories are Baked Deliciousness (breads, pastries, etc) and A Nice Weekday Lunch. I hope you'll check out the whole list — and as you read it, do me a favor and create your own Please Never Ever Close list of bars and restaurants in Baltimore City and then make sure you go. 

Hope you don't mind another newsletter only a week after the latest one, but I felt inspired.

REMINDER: All past newsletters are available on my website HERE

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Thank you so much,

xo - 


Amy Langrehr
Charm City Cook
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