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Archive for April, 2007

What I like to eat in Baltimore:

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1. fries with old bay from CVP (with a Yeungling to wash them down)
2. veggie supreme pizza from Hopkins Deli (the sauce is spicy and it is so good)
3. eggplant parm sub from Hopkins Deli
4. the Melting Pot
5. Pazo
6. crepes from Sofi’s Crepes
7. the portabella sandwich from the Saturday Farmer’s Market (SO GOOD!)
if you can think of any more places, feel free to add them by leaving a comment!

Anyway- about three of those places. The picture above shows Elana and Lisa holding a fresh crepe that we just got from Sofi’s.

I love Sofi’s (I used to work there and think it was the most fun and best job I ever, ever had- fun people, making food all day… what could be better?) Anyway, we went this past weekend and built our own crepe- gruyere, spinach, tomatoes, avocados. Always fresh ingredients, and you should go there, not only for the food but also for the decor! Orange and blue walls, warm lighting, and a shimmering mass of keys setting off one wall, cool rotating art- and always great music (the people who work behind the counter choose what to play). When I worked there, I really liked making crepes for myself with egg, cheddar, tomatoes, avocado, and pepper (and hot sauce). My favorite sweet one was first the Apple Crisp- apples, caramel, cinnamon, and graham cracker crumbs (but I would add granola as well) but then I began to really love the Bananarama- bananas, granola, honey, and peanut-butter- not only is it a great dessert or breakfast or snack, with proper crunch, but it has all these healthy, natural ingredients! So- go to Sofi’s, and say hi from me!

The Goat Cheese Bruschetta from Pazo. This is my favorite dish there (I am so lame, but the goat cheese is so soft and warm and the onion is round and sweetly plump and glossy and caramelized, the bread so crispy- it is a wonder not only for tastebuds, but texture-wise..) so a picture of it (after we attacked it):

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We ordered a bunch of stuff- but here are some other pictures I remembered to take – we got the Goat Cheese Agnolotti, which was a fresh ravioli, perfectly cooked, with earthy mushrooms setting off the al dente pasta and creamy cheese.

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and we got some strawberry sorbet, which was refreshing end to the meal!

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The last item I’m going to post about is the Portabella Pita from the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Baltimore.

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This pita sandwich is soooo amazing. There’s always a long line, and as you wait, smoke from the grilling of the marinated sweet onions and portabella strips gets in your eyes. But then it’s your turn and the guy behind the table asks, Everything? and you respond, yes! Everything, with a little bit of hot sauce! So he takes the pita, which is wrapped in tin foil, opens it with his tongs, stuffs in some lettuce (not iceberg but a darker variety), adds some grilled onions, stuffs the grilled portabella strips in there, adds more green onion and lettuce, sprinkles it all with this super-tasty spice mixture, dumps a handful of feta, and drizzles on the hot sauce till you tell him to stop. This sandwich is juicy and savory- the onions are a little added sweetness, and the hotsauce adds the kick. But the Mushroom people are only around in the summertime- which is sad. The past two weekends in Baltimore, they weren’t there. But I’m going to visit again, because it’s been way too long since I’ve bitten into this superb sandwich.

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Maria and I had dinner at La Esquina tonight. We got these really tasty margaritas, which I guess were worth the $8. Then we ordered two dishes to share: the Quesadilla de Huitlacoche, a quesadilla filled with Mexican truffle, roasted corn, epazole (an herb), mushrooms, and cheese) and the Aguacate con Queso, a sandwich that was stuffed with avocado, red onion, cheese, black beans, lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo, and came with a side of salad and potato chips. YUM! The quesadilla was good but nothing spectacular- I didn’t see any corn and didn’t taste much besides the cheese and mushrooms (still good things to taste) but the “traditional Mexican street sandwich,” served on a crusty wedge of bread, was full of garlic and the sharp onion and cheese and avocado deliciousness! A picture of the sandwich (whenever I hear “street food” I immediately love it…)

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And a few nights ago, I went back to Zen Palate for the second time, with my cousin who was visiting from India. While he claimed that the food was “bland,” I think it’s really flavorful, healthy, and reasonably priced. Zen Palate serves a variety of fare- mainly Asian-influenced foods, like burgers, sandwiches, salads, pasta, and veggie medleys. Oh, and they are a vegetarian restaurant, which rocks- they have a ton of great fake meat and I never wonder if I am tasting the flavor chicken stock in a delicious soup or something. We got the Tex Mex Moo Shoo, which is kidney beans, barley, and soy protein (it’s actually really good) in a spinach tortilla, served with this really yummy guac and a side salad of carrot peanut cole slaw.

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Oh, and it comes with two crunchy spring rolls, so the meal feels very complete. It’s in Union Sq, so central-ish and convenient and the waiters are very sweet.

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Mercadito is tiny but totally worth it. We started with a three guacamole sampler and goodness, was it good.
1. traditional guacamole
2. guacamole made with mango, jicama, and chili chipotle
3. guacamole made with pineapple, tomatillo, chile habanero, and mint
Sounds like a good appetizer, right? right! Then I got cactus tacos, Waqas got fish tacos, and I got excited so I ordered another appetizer- the Queso Fundido:

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Which is baked oaxaca, (a cheese), smoked gouda and machego cheeses with wild mushrooms, and small soft corn tortillas and a bowl of smoky salsa on the side. Ah! So good.
And here are a picture of my tacos, which were good to try- but I don’t think I’d order them again. Cactus has an interesting texture-minimal flavor combination- but not so much my style. But take a look-

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These sexy things were called Napolitos and contained: grilled cactus, caramelized onions, chipotle-tomatillo salsa, and cheese.
Mercadito is far east, but the walk there is through lovely neighborhoods: Ave B b/w 11 & 12 streets.

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Spring Street Natural is ALWAYS good. You should go there. They have these awesome, fresh salads full of goodies like juicy strips of portabella and creamy avocados and goat cheese and RED ONIONS! And they dress them really well- the dressings complement, never intrude.

I went and got the Taco Salad (so did Karen- so it’s double taco!):

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And Susan got the Portabella Mushroom Salad which was just so good I was regretting my Taco Salad decision:

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Go! And I work around the corner so then come say hi to me and bring me a cookie. Thanks.

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Before you get excited, I need to warn you- I’m talking about Pizza Pie here, not cinnamony apple pie or tart peach cobbler or strawberry rhubarb deliciousness. BUT! This place is still fun… so go!

Pie by the Pound features $1 PBRs and about 20 different pizza varieties ready for you to pick from the counter.

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Their whole deal is that they charge “by the pound” instead of charging by the slice- soo if you want just a taste of the Greek Salad pizza but a whole slice of the Mushroom, you can do it. We got those two, plus one with sauce and capers, which was SO GOOD, and one with cubed tomatoes and mozzarella, basil, and olive oil, which is apparently their most popular one- though I later read online that their eggplant is supposed to be really yum. Oh well, next time. Anyway, the beer is cheap, the pizza can add up, the decor is nice bright orange and white, and it’s fun to try new pizzas!

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I never thought I’d be satisfied eating Indian food at a restaurant in America- until I went to Tamarind Restaurant for lunch.

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Above is Bhel, a traditionally Gujarati dish that is usually messy in preparation and on the plate. Mumra (puffed rice i.e. rice krispies), a green garlic chutney, a sweet and sour tamarind chutney, coriander, etc.,- it’s all mixed up in a bowl and served in heaping portions. Bhel is a delicacy and mostly everyone loves it (I can’t eat it- when I was eight, my mom forced me to eat a gigantic plateful of it before I was allowed to go play with my friends – I’ve never been able to stomach it since). I am assuming the bhel was good at Tamarind since everything else was excellent.

For appetizers, we got this amazingly i-haven’t-had-tandoori-paneer-this-good-america-not-even-once,-ever Amristsari Seekh-
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basically Tandoori panner but the proper way- crispy and masala’ed on the outside, and wonderfully creamy on the inside, like real fresh paneer- which is so rare in America, where paneer is typically chewy and gross. Tomatoes and onions were also cooked on the grill along with the paneer and provided the perfect, wetter counterpart to this tasty and creamy appetizer. Oh, and the chutney rocked.

We also ordered Hara Bhara Kababs (green kabobs?) as an appetizer.
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I had Hara Bhara Kababs in Bombay once, at a rooftop cafe- but these were phenomenally better. These spinach and cheese patties had a rich, forest green depth of color that seemed to pervade the flavor and make it so delicious! and green! They tasted healthy while also being slightly sinful- after all, they were cheese patties.

For our entrees, we ordered Bhagery Baingan- Japanese eggplant cooked in a peanut, sesame seed, and coconut sauce; Tamarind’s Shiitake- sauteed jumbo Shiitake mushrooms with mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves; and Nargisi Kofta- finely chopped lotus root dumplings with homemade cheese in a saffron onion sauce. (pictured clockwise below):
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The eggplant I liked, but didn’t love. But the next two were so good – mushrooms in Indian food is so rare! And there they were, plump and juicy and a little gritty with the mustard seeds! Fantastic. And if that description of the Nargisi Kofta didn’t make you want to eat it off the screen- LOTUS dumplings, CHEESE, SAFFRON sauce- these are all such evocative and luxurious words- and to be EATING them? It tasted heavenly. This dish was fragrant and satisfying at the same time. Go to Tamarind, to eat this dish.

For dessert, we got Kulfi- an Indian version of ice cream that is creamier than American ice cream because it is solid, frozen milk- unlike American ice cream, which is whipped to add air. Anyway, a plain, common Indian dessert- but what a pretty presentation (and taste):

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A little raspberry swirl and fresh honey cone never hurt no one…

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