Vespa1's Profile

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Burratta in Balto City

That's a tough one given the cheese's fragility and lack of demand in our area. I would suggest that you mail-order it directly from a larger-market cheese shop (DiBruno Brothers or Murray's) and have it shipped overnight. There is a farm in Vermont that makes a very nice version which is the one available at Murray's (http://www.maplebrookvt.com)

Best Feta Baltimore

Feta comes in many varieties* so you might just want to call the restaurant and find out which brand they use.

*Sheep, cow, goat, cow & goat, All 3, Greek, Bulgarian, Israeli, French, US, etc...

Veal brats

Not sure when you'll be stopping by but just a heads-up- Binkert's is closed on Thursdays.

Third time's a charm? [Guilty Pleasures]

Any filled donuts from Graul's Market in Hereford (they're as big as your head!)
Royal Farm Stores Ham, Egg and Cheese breakfast sandwich (fresh, not one off the rack)
Royal Farm Stores Western Fries
Hot dog from Mike's Hot Dogs in front of the Home Depot on Perring Parkway

Baltimore: Looking for the Grit and Soul of the City

baltoellen- One thing I've noticed about snoball ice over the years is that snoball stands have been slowly converting to a different type of ice machine; the dreaded horizontal model (this abomination: http://www.snowballcone.com/SnoWizard...) This puppy is the one that made good ice (http://www.snowballcone.com/Koldkiss-...). But after just reading the product description for this machine, I'm worried about the future of snoballs; "We have changed the shaving blades for a finer ice shave." d:^ (

Pizza in Baltimore

Thanks for the correction on the oven, Pizzablogger :^ )

Baltimore: Looking for the Grit and Soul of the City

Baltimore: Looking for the Grit and Soul of the City

Yes, that's it! It's by no means a complete map of all the snowball stands but it shows plenty of them. Thanks for finding it!

Pizza in Baltimore

Not a slice place but a new pizza spot just opened in Bare Hills (north of Mt. Washington on Falls Road). It's called Earth, Wood and Fire (http://www.earthwoodfire.com/). They just opened a few weeks ago and they feature an all wood-fired menu. My wife and I had a Margherita and Bianco ($13 and $12 per 10" pie) and they were both very, very good! Crust was flavorful and crisp with a touch of chewiness. Far and away the best pizza I've had in a while.

They also have a pretty good beer list ($$-$$$) and a so-so wine list along with a selection of burgers and appitizers. Despite only being open a short time the place was packed by 6:00 pm on a Sunday. Service was great and non-intrusive even though our server was in training.

On a side note there's an Olive Oil and Vinegar shop opening next door. The space is still empty aside from a stack of 5L fusti's on the floor.

Baltimore: Looking for the Grit and Soul of the City

Here's some stuff you might like to read:
http://www2.citypaper.com/bob/story.a...
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/537232

I seem to remember someone trying to make a google map of all the snowballs stands in the Baltimore area but I can't find it now. If you're on facebook do a search on "snowballs" as a bunch of places now have facebook pages.

Baltimore: Looking for the Grit and Soul of the City

Jeff,
You're definately going to need to get an Egg Custard snowball with marshmallow (ask them to put it in the middle). Doesn't get much more "Baltimore" than that. Second choice for flavor would be "Skylight". I'm not going to recommend a snowball stand, though. If Baltimoreans argue about anything as much as who makes the best crabcake, it's where to get the best snowball.

Cheese Afficionado--not just a chip lover

Thanks to the guys at charmcitycheesemongers, I don't have to :^ )

Ahh, blue cheeses:
1. Colston Bassett Stilton- made in England with pasteurized cow's milk. THE Stilton. The same dairy makes a raw milk version of this cheese and calls it "Stichelton" as Robin Joy mentioned above. Interestingly enough Stichelton cannot be called "Stilton" because of AOC-type laws in the UK which govern that real "Stilton" must be made with pasteurized milk.
2. Forme de Ambert- French blue from the Auvergne region but outside the AOC of Blue d'Auvergne. Both are mellow and creamy.
3. Bayley Hazen Blue- another great cheese from Jasper Hill Farm.
4. Roaring 40's Blue- made in Tasmania by King Island Dairy. Sweet, creamy and an incredible partner with a sparkling wines. Yeah, sparkling wines; go figure.
5. Rogue Creamery- located in Oregon. They make several blue-veined cheeses and they are all very good. Their Rogue River Blue is arguably the best and they make a really nice smoked blue cheese that is smoked over hazelnut shells.
6. Valdeon- a mixed milk blue from Spain. This one will put hair on your chest.
7. Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue- a fairly attainable blue made in Wisconsin by a larger, industrial producer. Proof that large America cheese makers can make something really good. All of their cheeses are pretty good, actually, and they won't break the bank.

Lastly, look up the American Cheese Society. Each year they have a big convention and cheese competition (this year it's in Raleigh; Aug. 1st -4th) and their website has lists of the winners from past years. The competition covers almost ALL cultured milk products, even butter and yogurt. While attending the convention is pricey, anyone can buy a ticket to the "Festival of Cheese" which occurs this year on Saturday August 4th. A $50 ticket buys you into the biggest cheese orgy you could imagine. Take a notebook and Lipitor.

Cheese Afficionado--not just a chip lover

Robin,
You would be surprised at how many cheeses from Great Britain are available in the US, thanks mainly to Neal's Yard Dairy. Just this week I picked up a piece of Beenleigh Blue and the same shop also had Hawe's Wensleydale. Both were around $35 US per pound. American cheesemaking has come a long way in the last 10 years, much like America's craft brewing industry.

Cheese Afficionado--not just a chip lover

Just remembered this very important thing to tell you: good cheese is expensive. Very expensive if you think of it by its price per pound. Be prepared to see prices in the $15-$30 per pound range. But think about it this way, you're only going to get a few ounces of each cheese at a time and even the most expensive cheeses work out to between $6-$8 per piece which isn't that bad.

Just realized I forgot blue cheeses, I'll get back to you on that a little later today.

Cheese Afficionado--not just a chip lover

Wow. Where to start...

First, I'll recommend some books so you are able to get a handle on what types of things you'll want to look for as well as tasting notes on some really desirable cheeses.

1. "The Cheese Primer" by Steve Jenkins.
2. All 3 books by Max McCalman but If you get just one, get "Cheese: The Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best".
3. "The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese" by Jeffery Roberts.

-Actually, make sure you get Max McCalman's book before you go to the cheese shop.

Now, where to buy. In Baltimore you need to go to charm city cheesemongers (http://charmcitycheesemongers.wordpre...). Wegman's and Whole Foods are good, too and the Whole Foods downtown has generally had a slightly more interesting selection. In Annapolis try Tastings Gourmet. I haven't been there but I've heard good things about it. I'll second Alkapal's recommendation for Arrowine, in Arlington, too. If you get down that way, you might as well make a day of it and go to Arrowine, Dean and Deluca and Cowgirl Creamery. Maybe even throw in Cheesetique down in Del Ray, too.

For a really good cream cheese try Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, MI. Yeah, you have to mail order it but it's great!

My favorite cheese-that's easy, it's "the cheese I haven't tasted yet". OK, that's not helpful but here are some that I really like that are good "gateway" cheeses for someone just getting started with cheese:

In the "Brie" family
1. Brie de Nangis- made in France by Rouzaire. Not all Brie is created equal and this one is very good when it has ripened all the way to the middle. Rouzaire makes several Brie-style cheeses and they are all very good.
2. Moses Sleeper- Made in Vermont by Jasper Hill Farm. Everything Jasper Hill makes is world-class. http://www.cellarsatjasperhill.com/
3. Robiola Bosina- A small, square cheese from Piedmonte, Italy. Robiola is kind of a broad category and they are generally made with a combination of cow, sheep and/or goat milk and are all small cheeses with an edible, thin, white rind.
4. Herve Mons Camembert- you can usually find this one at Whole Foods. Herve Mons is a French affineur and cheeses that bear his name are all fantastic.

Soft Cow's Milk cheeses:
1. Taleggio- funky, in the same family as Limburger. Don't let the smell fool you. Remember this about smells and cheese. If it smells like manure or an old sock it's OK but if it smells like ammonia it's never OK.
2. Winnemere- A seasonal cheese from Jasper Hill farm. it comes wrapped in a band of spruce bark and tastes slightly of bacon
3. Ardrahan- Another funky cheese but this one is from County Cork, Ireland. A good piece tastes a little like peanuts.

Soft Goat's milk cheeses:
1. Humboldt Fog- made by Cypress Grove Chevre in California.
2. Loire Valley goat cheeses- this region is very well known for small format goat cheeses. Some of my favorites are Clochette (shaped like a bell), Valencay (looks like a pyramid with its point chopped off) and Selles Sur Cher (a little disc-shaped cheese). The Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. makes a couple of cheeses in the same style and they are all good. Their fresh chevre is very good, too, and Trader Joe's always has the best price on it.
3. Cherry Glen Farm- made right here in Maryland. They are all excellent.

Firm Cow's milk cheeses:
1. Cheddars- Cabot Clothbound, Fiscalini Farmstead, Montgomery's. The first 2 are American Cheddars and Montgomery's (made in England) is considered by many to be the world's best.
2. Comte-Look for the Marcel Petit Comte at Wegmans. It's awesome. I'd recommend buying a piece of it along with a piece of the cheapest Comte or Gruyere they have and taste them side-by-side.
3. Pleasant Ridge Reserve- Made in Wisconsin. It's won more awards than I've had hot dinners.

Firm Sheep's Milk Cheeses:
1. Abbaye de Belloc- One of many sheep's milk cheeses made in the Pyrenees but this one in particular is really good. You can always get it at Wegman's but make sure you ask them to cut you a fresh piece. They will if you ask them to.
2. Manchego- from La MAncha, Spain. They only get interesting after they've been aged at least 6 months
3. Italian Pecorino- Either Pecorino Toscano or Pecorino Sardo. The Pecorino Sardo is a little bit funkier

Firm Goat's milk cheeses:
1. Midnight Moon- a Dutch goat's milk Gouda sold in the US by Cypress Grove Chevre. Sweet and nutty. Serve it to someone who hates goat's milk cheeses.
2. Mt. St. Francis- Made by Capriole Farm in Indiana. Nutty and just a little bit funky.
3. Garrotxa- From Catalunya, Spain. Mellow and nutty.

Hard Cheeses:
1. Parmigiano Reggiano- It's not just for pasta.
2. Well-aged Gouda- This stuff turns into gold when it's been aged 3 years or more. The Beemster XO at Wegman's is very good. There is also a 3yr. Gouda made in the Netherlands that turns up there from time to time. You'll probably be able to find the 3 yr. version at Whole Foods.

That should get you started ;^ )

Food Lover's Guide to Baltimore

For cheese- charm city cheesemongers
http://charmcitycheesemongers.wordpre...

Where to buy ramps?

I picked some up the other day at Wegman's, of all places.

Food Lover's Guide to Baltimore

I'm surprised at how little "bagel" you actually get at Gregg's. The holes in those things keep getting bigger.

Food Lover's Guide to Baltimore

Mastellone is owned by Joe DiPasquale now as far as I know. I've heard various rumors over the years as to the relationship Joe has with his family in Highlandtown but I am fairly certain that they are completely separate entities.

DiPasquales in Highlandtown; I've only been once. It was last September and I was looking for fresh figs; they didn't have any. Figs. They had all the Danish Fontina you could ever want, though.

And your Dad and brother are correct, Mastellone's makes mean cold cut. As I've heard Trinacria does. And maybe my point is this, there are lots of good Italian Cold Cuts, but no good Italian Markets.

You're right, Eataly is a poor example because it's so completely over-the-top but I think you can see what I'm getting at. The proliferation of mediocrity dumbs-down authenticity to the point where "authentic" becomes un-sellable and what we end up with is a sandwich shop and not an authentic Italian deli/market.
And I raise this point because on its website, Trinacria touts itself as "Baltimore's Premier Authentic Italian Market and Deli".

Food Lover's Guide to Baltimore

That's a tough one because there seems to be a formula that the Italian Deli's that I've visited in Baltimore follow and it goes someting like this: Son of Italy + (Volpi + Boar's Head) + bad Mozarella + Vaccaro's Cannoli = Authentic Italian.

Mastellone was pretty good back in the old days (though I may be blinded by nostalgia) but even they suffered a bit because of "the formula". They did have very good, daily-made Mozzarella. When Ace and TIm left to go to Ceriello I was pretty bummed but at least you could still get Tim's Mozarella. I've only been back to Mastellone once since Joe took over and it looked to me like things stayed the same. I liked that Mastellone had an Italian cheese selection that went beyond Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Provolone. The litte dry salami's were good and they made a good sandwich, too.

Il Scalino was quite good while it lasted. Rocco had a good selection of sundry items I had not seen in other Italian deli's and a nice cheese selection to boot. I miss going there to buy Crucolo.

What it comes down to is product selection and the folks who own and buy for these deli's are not selling genuine, quality Italian foods; they're selling comfort and nostalgia. That's why people like going to Trinacria. They go there so they can get a giant sandwich for next to nothing and marvel at the monumental Fusti. People are not going to these places to get "authentic" Italian foods. Heck, Whole Foods, and Fresh Market have a better selection of real Italian foods than any deli I've been to in Baltimore. And why do they have better products? Because they have good, knowledgable buyers who understand that "Italian food" extends beyond the New York/ New Jersey Sicilian model.

Now, I don't expect Vinny's Deli to have the $$ to hire a sophisticated buyer, but I do expect Vinny to do 5 minutes worth research on the internet to figure out what genuine Italian products are available, where he can get them and from whom. Maybe even visit a "real" Italian deli/market in a first-tier city to see how it should be done (DiBruno Brothers and Eataly come to mind). This is the same thing we expect from our wine shops, right? Given how easy it is to access information about food these days shouldn't expect it from our specialty grocers as well?

Food Lover's Guide to Baltimore

Not to be a basher but Trinacria? Really? It may be an institution but that doesn't make it good. Trinacria may be my own personal "Greatest Baltimore Food Let-Down". It's just another in a long line of mediocre-to-poor versions of an Italian deli/grocery. The giant Fusti of olive oil is the only impressive thing about that place.

Live Crawfish in Baltimore

Give Chef Ed Bloom at Ethel and Ramones a call. He doesn't have them in stock but can point you in the right direction 410-664-2971.

Toss-Northeast Baltimore

I had one of thier Margarita Pizzas (14" Large, $18.00) and I was pretty disappointed. The crust had good flavor and could have benefitted from a few more minutes in the oven, but a crisp crust wouldn't have made the soggy mess I walked away with any better. The tomatoes were sliced, not chopped and because of this all of the liquid in the sliced tomatoes ended up right on top of the pizza. It was so wet that the sauce didn't even stick to the pie. All the toppings pulled off of the crust in the first bite and you were left with a doughy, wet rag of a mess that by now is running down your arm and dripping all over your shirt. I will not be going back any time soon. The other nearby pizza places (mentioned above by gusshane) and Egyptian Pizza @ Belvedere Square are less expensive and consistant. If I do go back, I'm getting a sandwich.

Olive bars in DC?

I can't tell you anything about olive bars but I can tell you a thing or two about olives. Most of the olives I've seen in olive bars are produced be either DeLallo (Fresh Market) or Divina (Wegman's/Whole Foods) and while they are perfectly fine, I would recommend that you look for olives produced by a French company called Barnier Fresh Harvest (available at some, if not all Whole Foods). At Whole Foods at least their ID tag at the olive bar will show "France", "Spain" or sometimes "Tunisia" as the country of origin. One of the things that makes Barnier olives stand apart is that they are not pasteurized before packing and thus they retain a much better texture. I would highly recommend their Picholine and Grand Lucque olives as well as their many olive mixes. Their oil cured olives are sublime! If you like kalamata olives, Divina sells a single-estate Kalamata sold under the name "Messina Estate" and they are the best kalamata's I've tasted.

Venison Sausage & Fat (help)

One thing to consider is that the fat usually used in sausage making is the hard fat from a pig's back which has a very different texture than poultry fat. You might end up with a sausage with a very strange texture. Beef fat may be your best option in the long run. You might want to look for fat from grass-fed cows, though. In my experience fat from grass-fed cows has a much cleaner flavor and mouth-feel compared to standard Suet. Try contacting Springfield Farm in Sparks or Legacy Manor Farm in Boonsboro.

http://legacymanorfarm.com/
http://www.ourspringfieldfarm.com/

Looking for St. Jorge cheese

Cowgirl Creamery may also have a made in America version called St. George made by Matos Dairy in California. It is a very authentic version made by a Portuguese family.

http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/prodin...

Looking for best Asian grocery in Baltimore east of I-83

Rich,
Just found this small article on fish sauce:
http://www.panix.com/~clay/cookbook/b...
Tons of reciepes on this site, too. Go to bottom of page and click "Return to cookbook index"

Looking for best Asian grocery in Baltimore east of I-83

The 3 Crabs fish sauce definately came out on top. I tasted it next to a brand called Tiparos which I think I bought at Wegman's. The 3 Crabs sauce had a greater depth of flavor and was much less salty. 3 Crabs was also 3X the price at $4.50 but still a bargain.

Looking for best Asian grocery in Baltimore east of I-83

It's my first time trying it. I have seen this brand recommended in recipes and on blogs, etc. I'll taste it head-to-head with what ever it is I have now and report back.

Looking for best Asian grocery in Baltimore east of I-83

I liked this place a lot, especially the mystery chest freezers. They had the 2 things I was looking for; Pearl River Bridge soy sauce and 3 Crabs fish sauce. I'll definately be going back.