Monday, July 28, 2008

Restaurant Week!

This week is Restaurant Week around Baltimore. Although I enjoy cooking and dining at home (and do so 360+ days per year!), I plan on taking full advantage of the opportunity to try out a few new places for their three-course, prix fixe menus for $30.08. The first place we decided to try was The Wine Market, located in the up & coming hip neighborhood near Federal Hill, known as SoHa (South Harbor) . The first thing we do at a place called The Wine Market, was choose a wine. With the help of the salesguy, and for an additional $9 corking fee, we found the perfect Chilean Malbec, Terra Andina, for $18. Our $30 dinners were incredible! Beginning with my purple Peruvian vichyssoise w/lemon Chantilly and Mr Festival's salmon tartare served w/ homemade salt & vinegar potato crisps...yum! For entrees I had their roasted rockfish served over rice beans, heirloom cherry tomatoes and asparagus tips w/ charred sweet corn emulsion and corn shoots (although, I hate to admit...I didn't notice these?). Mr. Festival chose the grilled sirloin served with a blackberry demiglace, fennel and bacon gratin, as well as paddy pan squash on the side. For dessert I chose the lavender fig bread pudding w/ amaretto cram and toasted almond toffee crumble (more like a nut brittle...again, yum!) and MF (as I sometimes affectionately refer to Mr Festival) decided to try the hazelnut devils food layer cake w/ a Bing cherry mouse. All the fresh, in-season ingredients were wonderfully combined. Every bite was like having a little party in my mouth. This is definitely a place I see myself coming back to...especially when the weather is nicer (there were storms in the area this evening) to dine on their courtyard patio. And since they offer 15% off wines to go...we picked up another bottle of Terra Andina!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Christmas in July!

Last night I decided to pack a picnic and take the boys to Bel Air's Free Outdoor Movies in Shamrock Park. They were showing 'Elf' starring Will Ferrell. (This happens to be one of my favorite holiday 'classics', right up there with Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carrol & Three Days.) It was a beautiful, cool evening (we actually needed the blanket I brought)...perfect for movie watching. The pre-show entertainment was by Dance Connection and the usual sponsors were there - Chick Fil-A & Smoothie King - as well as the Bel Air Downtown Alliance's $1.00 popcorn bags and a few young entrepreneurs selling ice cold bottled water for a dollar...with a BULLHORN! This is by far one of Bel Air's (if not Harford County's) best deals. The entire evening cost me less than $10. (Last week we three went to see The Dark Night at cost me $62.00 for a matinee showing with sodas, popcorn & Twizzlers!) My only complaint/suggestion for The Alliance is: there needs to be a little more variety with the movies - perhaps keep the every-other-Friday schedule with the kiddie features, but offer romantic comedies, documentaries, or foreign/artsy films in between... something free for everyone, every weekend.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The extreme heat was 'No Problem, Mon'.

On Sunday we attended Linganore Winecellars' Reggae Wine Festival at Berrywine Farms. The weekend long event attracts thousands. Their lovely 230 acre estate, with 60 acres of vineyards, is 39 miles from Baltimore & DC, minutes from the tiny historic town of New Market. (There is even a bus service from College Park available.)
This festival offers something for everyone...great jerk chicken from Jamaica Caterers, breads from Breadhead, (the catfish was a favorite with my husband, who had it for the very 1st time), 2 live bands daily (this year Passion Reggae Band & Image Band), as well as vineyard tours and wine tastings. The air-conditioned tasting bar inside the barn was refreshing and I was very impressed with their recycling effort (more local vineyards should take notice).

In spite of the incredible heat (the thermometer in the sun said 120!) and limited shade - I am definitely bringing a portable canopy next year -we all had a great time. Although it was a little too hot for me to dance, it did not stop a large crown from swaying to that reggae beat. My boys were pretty lazy too, playing cards on the quilt in a little shady spot we managed to find - albeit next to the recycling center. I also did a little shopping in the upper loft of the barn: lots of ethnic inspired art, jewelry, clothing, etc.

Afterwards, we paid a quick visit to downtown New Market, although most stores and attractions were closed by 6pm (NOTE TO NEW MARKET BUSINESS OWNERS: STAY OPEN LONGER HOURS THIS would be well worth your time).
Mealey's Restaurant was opened, although after the heat and the wine, my appetite wasn't where it needed to be, so I plan to come back for their seasonal special, Duck Confit Salad. FYI: Mealey's will be opening its 'brand new' old Tavern by summer's end, so be sure to check it out after next year's festival...just be sure to book a room across the street at the Strawberry Inn!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Me & the boys visit Artscape

ARTSCAPE was a scorcher yesterday - very thankful for the misting tents and Jays Shaved Ice, mango flavored - but always well worth it & and inspiring.

One of our favorites was the Art Cars, of course - the mirrored bus & the one with all those singing fish - performing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody...too funny. (Although my friend's fiance's car was MIA?)

My youngest son loved the interactive visual/performing artists at this years newly opened Heartbreak Cafe, near Penn Station on the Charles Street bridge...lots to see & do there. (Here's a tip for all you moms w/ strollers- use the bathroom inside Penn station, much roomier than the port-o-potties.)

The Organic Food Court was a welcomed addition this year, (along with the recycling centers). The kebabs - via The Helmand - were particularly good (although I am not so sure about the basil, spinach & tomato ice cream?). The Blue Moon on tap was a refreshing treat, but that thing they called a Margherita...was bright green sour mix on ice, for $8!

My favorite artist would have to be the dude, CW Roelle from RI, who makes 2 dimensional pieces look 3 dimensional out of rolls of wire ... amazing!

Other artists that caught my eye: Lolojane's sterling jewelry, (she said she'd make me a custom 'peace' piece...I have to get on that). John Kamerer's veggie & herb photography, (I see him at wine festivals & hate to say...I have a little crush on the old hippie). As well as the earthy Hula-Hoop girl w/ the red dreads and all the African, Indian, and 'green' clothing vendors/designers.

The Charm City Devils performed and, as the lead singer said, they really 'rocked the food court'. Roberta Flack went on at 8:30, but I didn't see any of her because I was there to see...
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- I love Rock-n-Roll, Do Ya Wanna Touch, Crimson & Clover, I Hate Myself for Lovin You - were awesome!!! Joan became famous in the early 70's, as a founding member of The Runaways (Cherry Bomb). They are historically significant for being the very 1st all-girl rock band. Joan turns 50 in September and that chick still rocks a bikini!
(Video of Joan Jett & BH doing Bad Reputation)

Can't wait 'til next year already!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Good Ole Fashioned Cherry Pickin'...

Took the family cherry picking just over the Pennsylvania line at Shaws Orchards. Not exactly a 'festival'...but loads of fun nonetheless. After eating our share raw (Shaws is not an Organic Certified Farm, so please wash thoroughly before consuming), I decided to purchase the 'pitter' they sold there for $20...the best $20 I have spent in a long time! We - the boys loved this little gadget too - pitted about 20 pounds of cherries before freezing some, canning others, and making a giant cherry pie, served after dinner - ala mode, of course.