Thursday, May 28, 2009
Hand crafted premium chocolates, pastries and more (including those addictive European Macaroons). What's not to love? If you're a choco-phile, like myself, there is nothing better than a simple espresso laced dark chocolate truffle, rolled in cocao powder, and because Cacao makes these in small batches by hand, you won't find any fresher. They use 100% cocao butter for a truly rich experience.
Truffles can be purchased in several gift box options and the prices are very reasonable. It's the perfect house gift when you don't want to bring the obligatory bottle of wine and better still, you can pick up something for your own selfish indulgences!
Cacao Fine European Chocolates
7129 Bethesda Ln
Bethesda, MD 20814
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I was hesitant to stop in so early after their opening and especially after reading the some of the early reviews on Yelp, but I am happy to report that Blue Dolphin met my expectations and I anticipate, in time, will become a Anne Arundel County favorite.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Carlos and U2
Patrick and U2
Caffe Lil' Italy, Espresso and Sfogliatelle
Cafe Vittoria, Interior
Gourmet Dumpling House, Assorted Dim Sum Dumplings
Al Dente Restaurant, Angela our server giving John hell for not finishing his vegetables.
Al Dente Restaurant, Chicken Umberto
Union Oyster House, Lobster Roll Sandwich
Daily Catch, Mini Cannolis
Al Dente Restaurant, Housemade Gnocchi al Pesto
Daily Catch, Squid Ink Linguini with Anchovie Butter and Grilled Shrimp
Reginas Pizzeria, Margherita Pizza
Daily Catch, Calamari Platter
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Oh Joy, Oh Bliss, Oh Happy Day! The Awe Shack, an Afghani Kabob restaurant has opened. If you live in Crofton, you should be dancing a little happy dance of joy right now.
We stopped in this past Saturday, their first night, but the kitchen was having some difficulty, so we decided to come back Monday night. Sure glad we did!
We started with the Aushak (the name Awe Shack is a play on this appetizer specialty), delicious Afghan dumplings filled with mint and herbs and topped with yogurt and a spicy sirloin ragout. The dish is exceptional, my only complaint, since they use paper and plastic products, the dumplings stuck to the paper plate a bit.
We also shared the Fried Pumpkin. If you go... this is a must. Tender chunks of baby pumpkin, caramelized and fried then topped with a dollop of the spicy sirloin ragout and yogurt. It's a real treat.
The show stoppers, though, are the kabobs themselves. We had the chicken kabobs. Big, meaty, juicy chunks of white meat chicken, that's spiced and grilled then topped with sumac and served with a slighty spicy cilantro yogurt chutney. You may choose to have basmati rice, brown rice or the Kabuli rice. Get the Kabuli! Basmati rice studded with caramelized carrots and raisins. yummo! The kabobs also come with a small chopped salad and of course, fresh from the oven flat bread.
The staff is delightful. They are excited to be open and very eager to please.
This is a fantastic addition to the local dining scene and my guess is that they will work out any kinks they are experiencing in short order and become a staple for casual dining in Gambrills, Crofton, Bowie area.
The Awe Shack
Crofton Princess Center
2510 Conway Road, Suite 101
Gambrills, MD 21054
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Ok, so if you want to feel like a complete, totally insensitive American jerk, go see "Slumdog Millionaire" followed by an 8:30 reservation at O'Leary's seafood.
If the food wasn't so damn good, the guilt could be overwhelming.
So, it is with the humblest of apologies to Salim, Latika and Jamal that I tell you how fantastic our dinner at O'Leary's this past Saturday was.
Steven, Carlos and myself just made our 8:30 reservation after hurridley rushing from the theatre. We were welcomed warmly and escorted to our table nestled gently in the corner. We had a charming bayside view which gave way to the twinkly lights of boats moored in Eastport and over to Annapolis.
We started with three appetizers. Seared Scallops over Mushroom Polenta, Lobster Cappuccino and the Grilled Romaine Salad. The scallops were perfectly seared with an aggressive crust giving way to a tender opaque center over the creamy polenta. The grilled romaine was nice but I don't know that I would order it again. The Lobster Cappuccino, however, I will order each and everytime I visit O'Leary's. A deep rich Lobster bisque topped with a generous dollop of Lobster foam and served with a spoon of Lobster Ceviche. Our lovely server told us to stir in the ceviche and enjoy. Indeed we did.
O'Leary's is a seafood house and the chef clearly knows his way around a fish or two. For entrees, we had the crab cakes, which are baked rather than broiled or fried, the Sea Bass and the Crispy Grouper.
Crab Cakes: Extraordinary. No filler, all jumbo lump crab meat with a simple beurre blanc and a nice roasted root vegetable hash.
Crispy Grouper: Extraordinary. Simple seasoned grouper battered and flash fried at an ultra high temp, sealing in all the juicy goodness of the fish and creating an almost impossibly crisp exterior which was light and greaseless. It was served over a Succotash and a very simple sauce.
Sea Bass: Holy Moly! One large simple generous piece of bass, seasoned with nothing more than salt, pepper and olive oil, oven roasted and served over candied brussels sprouts with crisp pancetta lardons and a saffron rice gallette. The rich and sweet brussells sprouts mixed with the salty, fatty pancetta was the perfect foil for the luscious and creamy bass.
For desserts we had the Bread Pudding, Carrot Cake and the Coconut Cream cake with Mango Sauce. All were exceptional but I have to say the bread pudding is something transcendant.
I love it when a chef realizes that quality ingredients, cooked properly need nothing more done to them.
Service was delightful. Casual, friendly, suggestive and efficient. All in all a charming restaurant worthy of the high price you will pay to dine there. Next time I go, though, I will try to see a movie that is a little less challenging to my moral compass.
Hmmm... when is the next showing of "He's Just Not that Into You"?
310 Third Street
Sunday 5PM - 9PM
Monday - Thursday 5PM -10PM
Friday and Saturday 5PM - 11PM
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Hosea won this season of Top Chef, by default if you ask me. Not that I don't like the guy...but Top Chef? Seriously?
Stefan's ego got in his way and my beloved Carla let herself get led astray. Oh well... there's always next season.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Kinkeads's is opening an outpost in Annapolis in the recently vacated Philips Seafood location. It will be named Hell Point Seafood, (Hell Point being the original name of the spit of land which is now more commonly known as Annapolis Harbour). The restaurant will feature Annapolis inspired cuisine with the Kinkead's touch and priced about 30% lower than his much revered DC flagship. It's due to open in April!
Crofton is set to experience it's first Afghan Kabob restaurant with the impending opening of Awe Shack, a play on the word Aushuck, the delicious handmade Afghani ravioli. Slated to open doors in early March, we've done a couple of drive by's and they are very close! The menu will feature, Kabobs, of course, (Chicken, Lamb, Beef) and a full compliment of Afghani side dishes including my favorite...fried pumpkin!
It looks like Jose Andres, Spain's answer to Emeril and Washington DC Food God, will finally make good on his promise to take the six seat MiniBar experience big time with a "full scale" restaurant featuring all the avant garde and molecular gastronomy you care to eat. Could this be the American version of Ferran Adria's El Bulli? We'll have to wait a while for the answer, he's only ordered the plans for the restaurant and does not expect an opening until 2010.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
We've been watching with some anticipation for the opening of Punk's at the newly expanded Annapolis Mall, as we are always happy to have another lunch spot at our disposal. This past Wednedsay, Punk's opened quietly.
I had anticipated a simple burger/ sandwich shop with the usual line up of BBQ "this and that". To my surprise and delight, Punk's is so much more.
We were greeted by one of the owners, Jeffrey who helped us to navigate the menu. He explained that the concept of Punk's is to provide fresh, health-minded, and tasty cuisine where everything is made from scratch in their own kitchen or locally sourced by quality food artisans.
The rolls are homemade. The meat is delivered fresh daily from Vande Rose Farms (the same purveyor which supplies to Redwood and Mendocino). They grind their own burger meat. They make their own veggie burgers. They make their own BBQ sauce. They make all the aiolis in house. They make their own pies and cookies.... and it's all good.
Steve and I split sandwiches. We had the Sliced Flat Iron Steak Sandwich with oven roasted Cremini Mushrooms, Grilled red onions and Peppercorn Aioli and the Grilled Vegetable Burger. The Flat Iron Steak was prepared medium rare and completely fork tender. The peppercorn aioli was just enough to coat the freshly baked brioche roll and added a nice bite to the sandwich.
The vegetable burger was a revelation. Meaty and dense with black beans, rice and veg. The house made BBQ sauce is perfect. Not too sweet and the perfect foil for the burger.
For sides we had the white cheddar mac n' cheese and the honey mint seasonal fruit salad. Oh mac n' cheese! A pleasant bite, rich and creamy with a nice crunchy toasted bread crumb topping. The fruit salad had just the right hint of honey, but could have used a little more mint.
For dessert... homemade pecan pie and homemade ice cream sandwich. That pecan pie was perfection. Delicate pie crust and chocked full of pecans in a rich but not too sweet gooey mess. Mmmmmmm. The homemade chocolate cookies were filled with a generous portion of mint chocolate chip ice cream and would have been a show stopper anywhere else if not for the insanely good pecan pie.
On a second visit with our good friends Mick and Carlos, we also sampled the Cheeseburger with Bacon and pepperjack cheese and the grilled chicken skewers. Equally as good as our first visit. They make an insanely good cole slaw with lots of fresh cabbage and pomeroy mustard. It's earthy and rustic and all together scintillating.
Punk's is locally owned but they have visions of grandeur. Essentially the brain child of three Cornell students, who ran the Punk's concept as the senior project and were so successful with it, that they decided to make a go of it for real. If they continue like this we will be seeing much more of them in the future, and they will be seeing much more of me.
P.S. Boylans sodas on tap. Who knew? You gotta love diet Creme soda from a fountain.
Punk's Backyard BBQ Grill
2188 Annapolis Mall
(Directly across from Bank Annapolis on Bestgate Road)
Annapolis, MD 21401
phone: 410 571-7744
fax: 410 571-7724
Sunday — Wednesday 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.
Thursday — Saturday 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.