Monday, June 30, 2008

Koffee Therapy - we all need it

Coolest new coffee discovery - Koffee Therapy.

Since Sundays are my coffee-and-a-newspaper mornings, I've been salivating over this super hip coffee shop in Mt. Vernon, silently willing them to offer Sunday hours. And imagine my glee as I was stalking the store yesterday and found it to be open! They now have summer Sunday hours, opening at 11:00am.

Parked myself at the front outdoor table with a croissant and coffee, and when the sun chased me indoors, I curled up on the black vinyl couch for 2 more hours of reading. The atmosphere is SoHo chic and retains all the original charms of this historic rowhome, like wide plank hardwood floors, giant windows, a fireplace and elaborate tin ceilings.

So check it out, especially on Sundays so they'll keep hours for me! Great venue for local artists or exhibits. Wireless internet. And major plus - an entire back terrace for outdoor, private seating! Jackpot!

Cooking with Wimbledon

It's a fond memory of mine - having Wimbledon on in the background and smelling my mom's homemade miracles wafting from the kitchen. Cheering on Andre Agassi and licking dough from beaters.

So yesterday, with storms coming and going and highlights from week 1 of Wimbledon making a steady, ping, ping, ping in the background, I set about being a kitchen goddess. (At least by MY definition of a kitchen goddess. It's open for debate).

Using fresh produce from the Waverly Market, I made mom's homemade squash casserole with onions, cheese and cashews, tomato and cucumber salad in sugar/vinegar, roasted red potatoes, and zucchini bread, complete with grated zucchini stripped with my own vegetable peeler. The 4-hour fiasco was so therapeutic! Rarely do I have spend this much time cooking. I realized the following stars need to align for me to launch into cooking mode:
  1. I need to be completely alone.
  2. The weather needs to be crummy so I don't feel bad about being inside.
  3. Wimbledon needs to be on, or some other marathon event with consistent sound.

I left Joe a somewhat friendly reminder to NOT dive into all my hard-earned goodies when he got home post-call from the hospital. After all that effort, I want each bite savored in my presence. Is that too much to ask? I've even held off, only sampling the zucchini bread. (And yes, it was amazing! Thanks mom!). Tonight will be the true taste test with a little Spumante thrown in for style. Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Waverly Market + Shakespeare = Great potential

I usually visit only the Sunday farmer's market under I-83, but I was anxious for a farmer's market today, so I made my first pilgrimage to Waverly Market on 32nd. Apparently this is the original Baltimore farmer's market, and people always sing its praises - even those who frequent the I-83 market. I needed to see what all the fuss was about.

True to form, I missed Barclay Street and had to drive around in search of a clear street sign. Waverly Market was a lot more organized than I-83 market. Neat white tents lined up in rows and seemingly fewer people. Unlike I-83, there were no vendors preparing food to order. It was all produce for sale.

I was so excited to see the first Maryland tomatoes! What a beautiful sight, all red and delicious. I was going through tomato withdrawal. I walked away with an aching shoulder from lugging around a full bag of veggies. But that's a pain I'm happy to endure :)

We're heading to the Shakespeare Summer Festival tonight at Evergreen Museum, and I've turned my morning purchases into delightful tapas for light snacking at the show. It's too hot to eat anything heavy, so fresh, simply prepared produce is a great compromise. We're off!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lima beans to the rescue

In preparation for a fun dinner tonight at VIN, I fell back on the simple, yet addictive, lima beans with fake butter for lunch today. Nothing special about this recipe. Boiled the frozen limas last night and re-heated today, then dribbled fake butter over top. They're like heaven. But be warned. I have yet to meet a colleague who hasn't looked at my plate in disgust. Ugh. Veggie novices.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Outdoor dining means more than two bistro sets

Another gorgeous evening last night and what to do about dinner? On nights like that, it should be illegal to eat indoors. So we headed to Bicycle, which we know has a back patio for dining. Arrived at 8pm and heard the couple in front of us ask for an outdoor table. Hostess said, "Last outdoor seating was at 7:30."

So we step up to the hostess and in my sweetest voice, I beg nicely for an outside table. Again, "Last seating was at 7:30." Seriously, people? We could see the empty tables, and the night was still young!

So Joe and I, having our hearts set on a outdoor table, head out the front door and start commiserating with the couple in front of us who were also shot down. Where can you go in Baltimore and know that there are more than 3 tiny bistro sets for outdoor diners? I can count them on both hands.

Turns out, this couple only knew of places we'd already been to for outdoor dining, so Joe convinced me to fall back on our tried and true Wine Market. God bless the Wine Market who never lets us down. (Even on Monday nights when the rest of city closes up shop and we gastronomically deprived souls wander the streets for hours.)

Recognizing these two kids as another fun-loving couple, we lead them from Bicycle to the Wine Market where we went out on a limb and asked them to be our dinner dates. Why not? (The actual conversation in front of the Wine Market hostess was indeed a bit awkward, but we stumbled through it). They said yes, and so began the next 2 hours of new friends, great sangria, and outdoor bliss.

Two things I love about the Wine Market: 1) They are open on Mondays. I can't say this enough, people. And it's half price wine night. Need other reasons? 2) They always have sangria. Good people.

I'm a sucker for their fried green tomatoes to start, and I will ALWAYS order them. The southern girl in me would die a tiny death if I passed them over. Then I got the vegetarian special for an entree. All book-ended by lovely red glasses of sangria.

Our new friends, Steve and Kelly, turned out to share similar passions for liquid refreshment as Joe and I. Kelly works at Grand Cru in Belvedere Square and has since taught herself there's more to red wine than Merlot. Steve is a bartender at Ryan's Daughter in Belvedere Square and quite the renaissance beer man. For two kids still hanging on to the twilight years of college, we were impressed with the sophistication of their beverage choices.

We shut the place down, as usual. Parting with outdoor real estate is tough :)