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My fave photo lately
Here's my favorite photo I've taken lately. This was the BEST drink (highly crushable but way too expensive for more than one) at the Red Fox Inn  & Tavern in Middleburg, VA. The Thoroughbred: bourbon, Aperol, honey syrup, lemon, bitters. Yum. More on my trip a little further into this issue. ps. This is my 60th newletter!
Popular DC-based meal delivery expands to Baltimore
That top photo was the result of two hours of clearing out, repacking, organizing my fridge. I had been planning to do this chore, as I had just gotten home from the farmers market and also had a delivery coming the following day from Vegetable + Butcher. I actually started this little (okay, big) project after an unopened glass bottle of cranberry juice fell off the kitchen counter, exploding everywhere. That's one mess I won't soon forget!

The folks at Vegetable + Butcher DMd me via Instagram about a month ago wondering if I'd like to collaborate on a social media trade of sorts. I've never really done a ton of business collabs but the more I looked into Vegetable + Butcher, the more I wanted to try it. I am now getting to know the people behind V+B (it's small and DC-based) and I really like them. It may sounds simplistic but I'm impressed with how human they make their company feel.

So, they sent me a few lunches, dinners, snacks and beverages. The sturdy chilled bag came right to my apartment door – which is not always easy for folks – and the delivery was on-time and smooth. Everything they make is gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free, which is so great for me as I continue to navigate a new way of eating this last year and a half. The meals that are perfectly portioned (thank you, I need that) that are satisfying for sure. Light, nourishing and filling all at once. And the tonics (juices) and snack bites definitely saved me from less healthy options I might usually reach for – yay! The vanilla cashew apricot bites were my favorite.

As much as I like to cook and actually have time and skills to make it happen, it's nice to have V+B in my back pocket. There will definitely be times when I need a little break or when I see something really good on their menu. I've got my eye on the Jamaican curry chicken thights w/ coconut rice + jerk spiced lentils. Yum. 
This would also be a nice thing to give to new parents, your busiest friend, people who just don't love cooking, that neighbor who always has your back...anyone who'd love some good food in their fridge. 

What else that is exciting is that I pitched the V+B folks to consult with them to help get them acclimated to Baltimore. They agreed and I'm diving in! As they begin to deliver here, I will help them navigate the people, neighborhoods and lots more. Yay.

Wood-fired goodness out Route 70
In my last newsletter, I told you that this place was opening soon and now you can go!
My friend Kathleen and I had such a great meal and experience at Manina – sister restaurant to The Bluebird Cocktail Bar – out Route 70 in Urbana a few weeks ago. Everything is made in-house, all the cooking is wood-fired, using locally sourced organic ingredients. Loved sitting at the bar and seeing all of the local beer, wine and spirits, too.

It took us about 50 minutes from North Baltimore. There's lots of outdoor seating, too. Really nicely done, Paul and team!

Here's what we shared:

focaccia, crunchy bread sticks, bacon fat cornbread, sunflower butter

little gem lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, marinated sweet onion, purple bell pepper, croutons, sardine & garlic dressing

organic local flour, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, hand-stretched mozzarella, basil

two ages of house cured coppa, athena cantalope, flowering basil, GA olive oil

SWORDFISH TARTARE (a gift from the kitchen and by far my favorite thing)
peach, jalapeno, PA soy sauce, MD sesame, crostini

Tell your friends who live out that way. Definitely worth a drive from Baltimore or DC.

Rotisserie Chicken and Seasonal Sides
I stopped by Chachi's earlier this week to pickup takeout for supper and MAN, so good. Chachi's is a new food venture from husband + wife team, Stephanie and Karl Diehn. Karl was the opening exec chef at Dylan's and cooked there for four years. Stephanie has worked at some Baltimore favorites like Clavel, WC Harlan and Woodberry Kitchen. They're in Larder's former space in the Fadensonnen courtyard. And, FYI, Larder is still going, just in a different way – they're hosting classes, dinners and more. Make sure you're following them on IG, good stuff happening. 

The opening menu at Chachi's is purposefully small and that's so smart on their part – master things and add them to the menu as you go. I wish more places took this approach...go slow. I understand the eagerness to have the menu be bigger in order to please more people. But in general, I like small menus because you can see what they do well and what they'd like for you to eat. As a diner, decisiveness signals confidence to me. 

Their specialty is rotisserie chicken and it's available in 1/4, 1/2 and whole portions. I got the 1/2 chicken with schmaltz potatoes and fancy slaw. You get to choose sauces to go with your chicken and I got the house ranch and green anchovy. The ranch was so good! Lots of dill going on in there. Liked it more than I usually like ranch. Next time, I will try the spicy fish sauce option. Whatever you do, get the schmatz potatoes. 


Now open in Kenilworth
Whether you want to pick up dinner, treat yourself to some ridiculously good chocolate chip cookies or maybe add a new cookbook to your collection, you gotta go to see my friends at Gundalow Gourmet & Design at their new (second) location at the Shops at Kenilworth. Their main catering kitchen is there (peek behind the register) so you will see lots of delicious food in the refrigerated case made fresh daily – plus the frozen section has everything from Grateful Pizza, those cookies!, soups, enchiladas, mac and cheese and lots more. Grab and go, stock your freezer. And, I highly recommend letting Dana and her crew create one of their beautiful cheese and charcuterie platters for your next soiree – or you own little sofa party. 

And get yourself a slice and a birch beer at Italian Gardens while you're there. Duh

Photos courtesy of Gundalow
Chef Ashish Alfred breathing new life into an historic space
I'm very, very excited about this! Chef Ashish Alfred (Duck Duck Goose, etc) group is reopening the historic (kinda secret) bar downstairs in the Admiral Fell Inn. I've only been inside twice but both times I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Fell's Point is my favorite Baltimore neighborhood.

Chef Alfred and his team are currently giving the space a re-do and it's opening soon. One really great thing? The original and much loved bartender Steve will be behind the bar. The fact that old and new can coexist feels good. I like that a lot. Can't wait to sit at that bar.
They are now on Instagram. (Thanks to Chris Richards of CoHere for the photos.)
A weekend in Virginia horse country
I love my little getaways! 

Last weekend, I stayed in a horse barn (for real!) in The Plains, Virginia – just outside Middleburg – and it was so quiet and lovely. Just what I needed. So nice to be away! If you are looking for a small, efficient Airbnb in the heart of Virginia horse country (Fauquier Co) I highly recommend the one where I stayed. 
HERE is the listing. More to come on a future blog post. 

Also, since I love driving smaller roads, the drive along Route 15 was a dream. On the way down, I saw two places to stop by on my way home: Farmer John's Market and Lucketts Country Store, both are just north of downtown Leesburg. Two great stops! ps. I was in childhood food memory heaven when I saw those watermelons at the farm stand. Fact: I enjoyed the farm stand more than the actual shopping!
For when the craving hits
I was a bit skeptical when I saw this product – Pho Broth Bomb – at Whole Foods (I am a sucker for smart-looking packaging), but then I asked around a bit and found that a few friends liked it, so I gave it a go. It's a great weeknight helper for those nights when you'd like to have something comforting like pho but don't have the time (or for me, you have no intention of making your own pho broth). I loved making myself a big bowl of soup the other night, fall is coming! It's basically 1 TBSP of broth bomb to 1 cup of hot water. For my first try, I used noodles that I had in the freezer, but then later, I bought plain dry ramen noodles to use and stocked up on all of my favorite toppings. I also picked up Acid League's plant-based Caesar dressing and Shiso ramen broth. Definitely recommend trying all three. 
Now open in Locust Point
The Local Oyster opened their second location in Locust Point this weekend. Partners Nick Schauman, Patrick Hudson and Zack Mills of True Chesapeake Oyster Co have created a beautiful new space at the corner of Lawrence and Fort, just across the street from Anthem House. On the menu, you'll see favorites like Zack's Caesar with fried oyster croutons and crab mac and cheese, Nick's crab cake and different kinds of roasted oysters (we liked the imperial style) and pastry chef Kathleen's Smith Island Cake was a perfect end to our meal. Oh, and I tried my first cucumber crush and it was a nice alternative to the usual citrus ones – but I do have to say that to me, a classic orange crush is mighty hard to beat. There is also an upstairs bar. Go!

ps. Ekiben is opening a third location across the street and I will keep you posted as I hear more about their opening date. 

When I don't want to cook
Rice + whatever I've got! That's pretty much my go to lately. When I'm tired, want a small(ish) meal that'll fill me up.

My things to use:
Trader Joe's frozen jasmine rice (cooks perfectly in three minutes)
Limes (for zesting)
Sesame oil

The top photo is rice topped with spicy marinated shiso leaves from Kim at Broth & Stone, a small Korean kitchen project based in Hampden. Check out her kimchi CSA!

And, lately I've been rolling simple maki rolls and making onigiri (stuffed rice balls) thanks to one of my favorite Instagram accounts Hip Foodie Mom. Alice's videos are short and easy to follow and the recipes work. For rolling sushi, get this mat – plastic is easier to use and keep clean than bamboo. And here is a really helpful video tutorial via Make Sushi
Indian grocery of my dreams
I've been getting into cooking Indian food at home lately – I love it! It's so versatile and approachable and the flavors can be created with a reasonable number of Indian ingredient staples. And, it can be as spicy (or not) as you'd like. I have a few Indian cookbooks and I'm learning about areas of India and which regions are known for which dishes. My favorite thing to make is a basic tikka masala sauce and I use it with chicken, potatoes and peas over rice. It is THE MOST COMFORTING thing ever. Cooking Indian food can feel overwhelming, so start small and simple. If you can find it online, pick up the cookbook pictured above by Madhur Jaffrey. I met Mrs. Jaffrey's daughter Sakina (the best, funniest, kindest) through friends when she was in Baltimore several years ago filming House of Cards and she recommended this cookbook at a good place to start as to not feel overwhelmed. I have made a handful of things from it and they all were fantastic. 

Once you play around with Indian flavors and read up a little, head to Patel Brothers out on Route 40 in Catonsville. Your head may explode...but it's okay. You'll soon recover and stroll the aisles for whole spices, fresh produce, frozen appetizers, rice, etc. It is super.

And the best part? While you're out that way, you can do more international food shopping at H Mart of course, as well as at the new Global Food. They sell Asian, Latin, Middle Eastern, Indian, American foods and more. It's on Security Boulevard in Woodlawn
A new Thursday food rotation
Have you been to Doug Atwell's new classic cocktail bar, Southpaw, yet? It's my favorite kind of place: easygoing, specific in purpose and very, very good at what they do. Until they start their own food service, they're doing a rotating selection of food pop-ups on Thursdays. Follow them on Instagram to stay in the loopy. I also suggest you hang at Southpaw and watch the Orioles some evening soon – Doug's a big baseball guy.

Photo by J. Victor Elliott for Baltimore Magazine
A new owner, new vision
I first heard about The Scout Guide a few years ago when I was invited to a dinner they were hosting at a local restaurant. That night, I met some really nice people and learned more about the publication which is focused on promoting small businesses in cities all over the country. Fast-forward three years, my friend Kate Beck is the new owner and editor of the Baltimore outpost and she asked me to consider coming on board as a contributor. The Scout Guide is decidedly on the higher end and I wasn't sure where (or if) I fit in with their brand, but decided to go for it – especially since it is a woman-owned venture. The fact that my friend Carmen Brock is also writing for them was a big plus!

One thing I like a lot is that Kate is very focused on creating robust online content, so it'll be dynamic and the features will feel current. And then, it is not simply a beautiful magazine with advertisements, although the physical magazine is really beautiful. I feel like I can bring a different voice and perspective to it. I will be writing about the food and drink scene, a little bit of lifestyle stuff here and there and in general, show The Scout Guide's estabished audience what I love most about our Bmore. 

HERE is my first article, my bio and I hope you will sign up for their newsletter. You can do that online. 
A very special place you need to see
There's a good chance that you may not have heard of TALMAR. I didn't know about it until very recently and now they are one of my consulting clients. TALMAR is a local nonprofit farm situated on Cromwell Bridge Road, right next to Cromwell Valley Park. They offer "an innovative, therapeutic, vocational environment designed particularly for individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions that impact their health and well-being". I hope you will follow them on Instagram and stay tuned for some fun things ahead!

I am helping them get their fundraising and marketing initiatives solidified. They are a really small operation and I have a lot of experience in the nuts and bolts of nonprofit fundraising.
I love that I can be of help, that's such a good feeling. And, no doubt, the people at TALMAR will teach me a lot, too. 

One thing I loved learning the most so far? They have a roadside produce stand Monday-Friday from 4:00-6:00pm and then once the weekend comes, everything that's left is available through the honor system. How do you not love a veggie stand with an honor system? Go check it out. I know I will. 

PLEASE FORWARD this onto your friends who love Baltimore and food.

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Thank you so much,

xo - 


Amy Langrehr
Charm City Cook
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