Thursday, January 04, 2007

Post #100 - Time to Review!

Phew! I can't believe this is my 100th post on the Baltimore Snacker, formerly the Charm City Snacker (I think the new name has a better ring). I have been posting since September of 2006, and have really picked up the pace since that first meager post. Looking back at it, it looks as if the scope of this website has indeed changed, from merely relating my eating experiences around town to recipes tried, websites from other foodies (etc.), and even YouTube and food-related community service! But the unifying thread through them all is food. I'm surprised I don't weigh more than I do (though this past holiday is forcing me back to the gym, eh, next week). With all this good eatin', it gets difficult!

To commemorate this century-mark post, a review of my favorite food experiences of 2006, whether I have posted about 'em or not. This list and the categories on it are not exclusive, so don't get irritated that I left anyone or anything out. I also have a day job, after all.

This list is highly subjective, and a little long (so I go light on my explanations for why I like 'em so much). For brevity's sake, I'm mostly talking about food I ate in 2006. And you don't have to read it all - in fact, just enjoy skimming! Feel free to critique these selections and add your own. Enjoy!

Best...

American food -
City Cafe. This Mt. Vernon staple is across from Eddie's of Mt. Vernon and not far from the Hippo Bar. They have some decent burgers, and a friend of mine tells me their burgers are half priced on Mondays. Can somebody verify? Alonso's on Cold Spring has massive 1 lb burgers, though I haven't been there in years.

Latino food (not including tapas) -
Chevy's. Yeah, I know. There are better places. Don Pablo's is fabulous, and for authentic Mexican food, try out the Tortillería Sinaloa on Eastern Avenue, which has divine tacos. But I didn't get out to these places in '06 - and writing about them makes me want to head for them soon! Nino Taco, on the other hand, is worth avoiding unless you think Mexican food is supposed to taste like Italian food (I am thinking more of the Lansdowne location than the Randallstown one; most people are impressed, but I am not).

Spanish/Tapas -
Tapas Teatro. Ah, the first place I ever blogged about. Always packed, and once you try their food, it's easy to see why. The Jaleo in DC is pretty good, too.

European (not including Italian or Deli/Bagel) -
Café Anglais. The British bristle at being called Europeans, but c'mon, they are! And Café Anglais in Frederick has some tasty English food. The fish and chips I enjoyed much more than the meat pies (go to England if you want the best ones; the little express mini-mart Benjys has yummy Cornish pasties), But Café Anglais also has good quiche and crème brûlée. For good crepes, try Sofi's Crepes between the Everyman Theatre and the Charles, or the Crêpe du Jour in Mt. Washington.

Italian - Chiapparelli's. Had some delicious mussels here. This is a great family place. But then again, all of the restaurants in Little Italy are great family places. Café di Roma has some good sweets and gelati. If I remember correctly, it was where I watched Team Italia win the World Cup, and where I saw the "now-famous-even-among-soccer-hating-Americans" head butt of Italian player Marco Materazzi, a footballer that turned out to be much more obnoxious than Zinédine Zidane, the French superstar that felled him.

Deli/Bagel - Sam's Bagels. Particularly the one in Catonsville. Great bagels, great service, great bagel sandwiches. And great prices.

Middle Eastern - Kabob Hut. This Persian hole-in-the-wall in Towson may be lacking in decor, but it more than makes up for it in its tasty food. My favorite has to be the shawerma, whehter it's beef or lamb. The more expensive Carlyle Club is also excellent, but you can't beat the price with the Kabob Hut!

Asian (South Asian) - Oh my, here's an embarrassment of riches! Not only do I have all the delicious Indian food of the area to tackle, I also have to contend with Nepalese and Afghan! For Afghan, the Helmand is great. For Indian or Nepalese, I go for Mughal Garden of Mt. Vernon, hands down.

Asian (Southeast Asian) - There is a lot of good Thai in the area, especially Thai Landing. But the best, I think, is Vietnamese. Try the Saigon Remembered next time you go see a film at the Senator.

Asian (East Asian, not including sushi) - I have to admit, the best Chinese I have had this past year has all been outside the Maryland-DC region. The best I have had, hands down, is the East Corner Wonton in Manhattan, NY's Chinatown. Salt-baked chicken and roast duck with egg on rice for only $4!? Yum! A bit more expensive was the great duck I had last week at Aroma, in London, UK's Chinatown. Great duck in plum sauce. But I must admit, the pan-Asian bento boxes at Jasmine Asian Bistro are impressive and filling!

Asian (sushi) - Chiu's Sushi. This is my favorite Japanese place, and I have fallen in love with their sushi, their sashimi, and their service. And their tempura ice cream. Minato also has good sushi.

African (Sub-Saharan) - Meskerem on 18th St. in Washington, DC has such good and filling Ethiopian food, I left not wanting for Ethiopian again for a long time the last time I visited. Fortunately, I got over that. That's why I've been happily going to Dukem down on Maryland Avenue.

Australian / Pacific - I don't know of any in the area (no, Outback does not count), but if you do, please let me know.

Maryland food - Another embarrassment of riches. What to choose from? Crabs? Crab cakes? Oysters? I'll go with crab cakes. There must be a reason why G&M's of Linthicum is considered the best in the area. Their crab cakes are light on the cake and heavy on the crab.

Variety in Their Menu - Zodiac. I'm never sure what I will order because they have so many different things on their menu. Many things work; some do not (avoid their puny duck sandwich, but happily indulge in a personal pizza or a burger). Lots of veggie, vegan and quickly-made (for the theatre crowd) dishes.

Favorite Bar-Restaurant - Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon. Beautiful atmosphere and tasty food while you sip martinis and down pints o' beer. Perfect place to catch up with a friend. I love this place!

Favorite Restaurant in DC - Again, I tip my hat to Meskerem.

Favorite above the Mason-Dixon line (excluding New York) - Aoi. This sushi restaurant on Philly's Walnut Street has a memorable, $15 bento box that really hit the spot.

Favorite in New Yawk - Basilica. I visited this place a few months ago, and it has a wonderful, $18 fixed meal that is perfect before a night on and off Broadway. Ridiculously crowded, so its reputation precedes itself.

Favorite below the Potomac, y'all - I haven't ventured to Virginia or parts south lately, but the place I am most hoping to visit this upcoming year has to be the Lady and Sons, Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah, GA. I may or may not be venturing to Georgia, but if I do, I am so there! I hope.

Favorites of the Left Coast (SoCal) - There are so many places I go to again and again when I visit Southern California, there are too many to mention. Three of my favorite restaurants to go to again? They are all in SoCal's Inland Empire, if for some odd reason you ever find yourself out there: Onami of West Covina, which has the at-first ominous distinction of being an all you can eat sushi buffet. But it's good and I still have never gotten sick off it; the Castaway of San Bernardino, the best Sunday brunch that side of the Mississippi; and the Casa Maya of Mentone, a restaurant specializing not just in Mexican but specifically Maya cuisine (take that, Mel Gibson).

Favorite across the Pond (London) - I loved so many of the restaurants I visited in London. But my favorite was, in fact, a chain. Wagamama is, sadly, not in the US yet. But it is bringing its ramen and its soba and its many different and wonderous preparations of noodles to our shores soon. Only problem: the only location to open anytime soon is in Boston. Oh well.

Cookie - The Berger Cookie. Does that really need any explanation?

Grocery (Not that expensive) - Trader Joe's. They have great, healthy food, and it's really not that expensive, compared to, say...

Grocery (Yeah, expensive) - Whole Foods. They also have great food and a great buffet. But yeah, it's pricey to shop there.

Fast Food - Del Taco. There is no Del Taco on the East Coast. This delicious alternative to Taco Hell has only gotten as far east as Michigan. So when I visit sunny SoCal, the first place I have to go is here. 69 cents for a chicken taco or taco carbón. The best in our area? Wendy's.

Junk Food - Nong Shim's Kimchi-Flavored Ramen Noodle Bowl. I can't get enough of that kimchi stuff.

Bar or Pub - The Little Havana in Federal Hill has $3 pints of beer and some great food, particularly their blackened crabcake.

Bar or Pub (Irish) - The James Joyce Pub by the Harbor is great for a pint of Guinness, and is a beautiful place to eat. They were the ones that came up with that great Guinness float they had at Baltimore City's Irish Festival.

Bar or Pub (gay/lesbian) - The Hippo does have a fun atmosphere if you want to catch a drag peformance. Personally though, I don't like the Grand Central. Go there if you really like having people not talk to you all evening.

Drink (non-alcoholic) - A Thai tie - the Thai iced tea at both Thai Landing and Jasmine Asian Bistro.

Drink (alcoholic) - Guinness. Have you figured that out yet?

Foodie Website (excluding local blogs) - I just love Jolene Sugarbaker and her Trailer Park Queen website! The Amateur Gourmet is still a fave, too. Hats off to
Chowhound.com, too (newly revamped, mind you), which is always a pleaser. Note I am not including blogs from local posters - I just love all y'all's blogs too much to choose! So I guess that's a cop out :)

Most successful recipe -
My quick vanilla-chocolate fudge, a mass-produced version of Domino's quick nut fudge and quick vanilla nut fudge recipes, sans the nuts (nuts in fudge? Eww.)

Worst...

Restaurant - Grill Art Cafe of Hampden. I ate here after Honfest this past year with some friends who were selling photos they took (they are awesome photographers. Anyway...). The food and the service was terrible. It was bad enough that they took forever to get us our food. but the restaurant, which I concede was understaffed, was also nearly empty. I had a practically inedible roasted garlic soup which was grainy and tasted like I imagine pus would taste. Oh, and it was cold. I don't remember the entrée I ordered next; I left before I could eat very much of it. I think it's closed now.

Failed recipe - Remember the wonderful fudge recipe I mentioned above? The one that failed miserably was the one I made before it, a microwave brown sugar fudge that turned out more like hard toffee. I should've gotten a clue when I saw the words "microwave" and "fudge" in the same recipe title.

Most average
...

Eating experience
- Wegman's Asian Buffet. Sounds faboo, no? Yes! Tastes faboo? No. But it doesn't suck, either, so all I can say is: eh, it's edible. New Asia Carry-Out in Arbutus comes a close second (again, Asian food, but that is merely a coincidence), for their not-so-great orange chicken but their always-wonderful egg rolls.

PHEW!

That's it! Anything to add, please feel free to. Hope you liked these as much as I liked 'em! Next, stay tuned for another fondly-reminisced restaurant from Londontown.

5 comments:

Dan said...

Great list and I'll have to add some of these to my "must go" book. I'm a big fan of Tapas Teatro and G&M, though I thought the crabcakes at Faidley's in Lex Market were better but not by much. If you're looking for great greek food at an even greater price I highly recommend Samos on Oldham Street. Went there last night and had the Tour of Samos dinner which came out to a ridiculous $25 per person (with tip!) for salad, appetizers, and a mountain of perfectly done greek dishes.

Our New Year's Day visit to Saigon Remembered was squashed but I think we're going to try and get there over the weekend.

Any Given Tuesday said...

I made my 100th post pretty recently too, and just like you I started in September. Congrats! Here's to 100 more.

Baltmore Snacker said...

Thanks y'all! And congrats on your 100th, AGT. Dan, I will have to seek out Samos soon. Sounds like a great place! Faidley's was an easy choice, though I didn't get out there this year. It's on my dance card for this year.

Baltmore Snacker said...

Dan, it looks like I accidentally rejected your second post. Thanks for the upcoming mention; I will be doing the same :)

Hoodlum said...

There is an Australian place called Boomrang listed on the Charles St. map available at BACVA, but they never answer their phone, so they may be out of business.