Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Random Bites: December Edition

I haven't had a lot of time (damn, do I type that a lot) to write about places I've been eating at lately.  A few brief notes about what I've been eating outside of my kitchen, apart from the quick rush to the local Wawa, Wegman's or Harris Teeter.

* Heavy Seas Ale House (Little Italy) - I love brewpubs.  It's why I head first thing to the Dogfish one every time I hit up Rehoboth Beach.  Baltimore has a few good ones as well.  The Heavy Seas Ale House in Little Italy was able to seat me relatively quickly (then again, I typically go to these places by myself, so I can come and go as I please).  Most every ARRRRRR'-tinged beer that Heavy Seas currently has is on tap.  I had the very nicely hoppy Loose Cannon American Hop3 IPA (7.5% ABV) with my hamburger: the juicy Heavy Seas Burger & Fries ($13) covered in onion straws (or "peg legs").  Somewhat surprising was the Earl Grey Crème Brûlée ($7) with delicious spice cookies.  Hoppy beers, juicy burgers and crème brûlée are three of the things I like to eat / drink the most.  Even more convenient: Heavy Seas is right across from the Little Italy parking garage - the one that costs $3 to park.

* Birroteca (Hampden, hon) - A new but very atypical Italian restaurant in Hampden, along Clipper Mill Road with ample parking, is Birroteca (City Paper story here).  The place touts its "Craft Beer, Wine and Artisan Pizza" and I'm sure it excels in all of these, but it has much more as I found out this past weekend.  Especially of note: Birroteca is a restaurant that features local foods when they can, something I am planning to do more in my kitchen in the new year.  They have lots of craft brews (no Bud or Miller, or at least that I could tell.  I wasn't looking for that), and I got there Friday evening while Evolution Craft Brews were still offered for happy hour prices (score!).  They also have several other area craft brews, including the aforementioned Heavy Seas.  The beer I enjoyed the most was the one that was not offered at happy hour prices, the Evolution Lot #6 DIPA ($7.50, with the rest of the Evolutions half off at just $3).  Again, I like the hoppy beers. Along with that I got a bevy of finger foods: bread with olive oil and sea salt ($2), a bowl of olives ($3) and my main dish, the salumi and cheese plate (three choices for $11 - I had the chef choose).   The best part was that I got there while there was still seating at the bar, so no waiting for a table for me!  That's another plus to flying solo.

* Nando's Peri-Peri (Pentagon Row, Arlington, VA, and various locations in the DC area) - I've not been to Nando's before, though I see it often when I'm in the DC/NoVA area.  The Johannesburg (yes, South Africa)-based Mozambican-Portuguese hot chicken chain has several stores in the DC area, and apparently one is opening near the UB campus up our way (H/T: MinxEats' Kathy Patterson).  I'm not sure if this is the area's first South African chain (probably is),, but it's definitely the first Mozambican-Portuguese-themed restaurant.  For those of us not in the know: Nando's specializes in chicken, ranging from lime to extra hot.  You can order anything from a quarter breast-wing or leg-thigh to a whole chicken, and various sides.  I got the quarter leg-thigh, hot - one shy of their hottest possible temp - plus two sides (about $9), in this case fries with "Nando" spices and garlic bread made from a thick, soft Portuguese roll.  While the chicken was not unbearably hot for me, it was indeed hot, and people who don't like "hot" food will probably want something a bit less picante.

* R&R Taquería (Elkridge/Jessup) - For the recent turning of the b'ak'tun - the alleged End Of The World (TM) that everyone but the Maya were up in arms about (because, of course, the Maya never said the world was going to end) - I wanted cochinita pibil.  Without the time, the mood or the finances to make my own right now, I sought it locally, and found it at R&R Taquería, in a Shell station at the intersection of US 1 and MD 175 in Jessup/Elkridge.  You will wait a while to get your food, simply because the line is long.  It's some good food (they've even been on the Guy Fieri Happy Time Annoying Show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives), and while it's easier to find good Mexican food in the Baltimore area than it used to be, it's still a relative rarity.  You can order whole platters or simple tacos.  I went for the latter - two of their cochinita pibil and one barbacoa lamb taco (yes, I admit I saw it on the little video clip of R&R from the DDD show).  Each was delicious: the barbacoa lamb was juicy and the cochinita pibil was hot.  Actually, the hottest I've ever had it.  Certainly hotter than that Nando's Peri-Peri hot chicken.  And of course they make no secret about why: it's flavored with habanero peppers.  I've lost many a battle with the habanero.  It burned for a while but actually left a nice feeling in the mouth for a while after I was done with the tacos.


theminx said...

So Nando's food was hot - but did it taste good?

John said...

I forgot to say that, didn't I? :\ I'll put it this way: I'd eat there again, but I wouldn't go out of my way to.