Little Italy in Stevensville, MD.

Hi Y’all,

Did you know that Little Italy existed in Stevensville, MD. ?  the tiniest town on the Eastern Shore right after the bay bridge, with the tiniest Post Office building I have ever seen in my entire life:

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Sherry told me a while back that she had found the best Italian restaurant in this tiniest little town, a friend of hers had told her about it when she used to live in that area and been a fan ever since.

This blog is actually overdue as we cheated, and went there before, but pigged out on all the food so quickly that no pictures were taken (sorry!), but we promised ourselves to go back soon and give it the credit it deserved.

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I found out on a Tuesday evening that my husband was going to the ball game with a vendor of his the following evening. Of course, I asked my partner in crime Sherry if she was doing anything that night since I had a hall pass. Being the woman after my own heart I know she is, she didn’t hesitate and suggested that we go to Rustico (http://www.rusticoonline.com/). I never experience dinner there so I figured it would be such a treat for the both of us.

We got there around 6pm,  it was a little chilly but the sky was bright blue. Only wusses would sit inside. Besides, to help our case, there was a firepit calling our name. Since we own every joint we go to, we decided to completely rearrange the outside seating furniture to make sure that our table would be the closest to the firepit. Don’t they know the Hungry Women were in town, doesn’t matter how tiny the town is.

We specifically asked for Jesse, the best waitress in the whole wide world. The reason we asked for her, is because the day we were pigs the first time we were there  (and didn’t take pictures remember?) she was a trooper and answered every single ones of our every needs.
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We even moved from where we were and followed the sun to the front porch, which looks like this:

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DO NOT GET ANY IDEAS! THIS PORCH BELONGS TO THE HUNGRY WOMEN. We are actually seriously considering putting a chrome name plate right on the wall there, to make sure that everyone knows that this is our spot. Of course, we can lend it to you when we are not there, but you will have to make sure to ask the staff if we around first.

Jesse proceeds to let us know that on Monday and Wednesday’s, they offer half price bottle of wine, all evening, throughout the entire restaurant and wine bar : that means THE WHOLE WINE LIST WAS HALF PRICE, get it???

So what do we get??:

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Yes sir, for $84 a bottle, we paid $42 ! for any connoisseur of Amarone, you know that is a steal. 2 Glasses of Amarone, firepit, you would think life can’t get any better than this.

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Well it did, because she brought this home made fresh warm baguette and the fruitiest, heaviest, flavorful olive oil with this hint of yumminess herbs (whatever they were)

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I mean seriously, look at that picture again, and tell me you are not drooling right now! (because Sherry and I are as we are writing this!!!!!!)

Jesse offered the special du jour:

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I personally never had Zucchini blossoms before, never did Sherry. Since we are the adventurous kind, we of course had to try it (with a little of help from our dear waitress who kept raving about it).

This is what Zucchini Blossoms with crabmeat, ricotta cheese and fresh herbs, flash fried in a light tempura looks like:

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And just like that, it was gone.

Sherry has always been addicted to the Insalata Mediterranean (field greens, marinated mushrooms, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, caper berries and artichoke hearts topped with feta cheese and their house made mustard vinaigrette). I wasn’t in the mood for a salad as I was already putting all of my efforts and concentration into the main courses as it was extremely tough to decide. However, she ordered it, and of course, I was forced to eat it with her, because it looks so horrendous:

 

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After finishing this (soooo) refreshing dish, and enjoying our wonderful forty two dollars Amarone, and while enjoying this beautiful early evening, I looked at Sherry and said: “I wish Nathan was right here serenading me with his guitar”, because quite frankly, that was the only thing that was missing. For those who don’t know, Nathan is this wonderful and talented musician, who also happens to be Sherry’s son. And out of the blue, this happened:
20150513_185711I am not kidding, as I was saying that, across the street, these 2 exceptional musicians came out from that house, and started to practice on their front porch!  Now why the hell didn’t I ask for a million dollars! Or play the lottery for that matter!

Her voice was angelic, and exactly what was missing to make this evening just perfect. You can’t make that shit up!

Jesse came back, and proceeds to tell us that the band across the street practice there quiet often, and that there will also be some live entertainment inside around 8pm (Keri Glorioso, very soulful voice that we heard before at Two Rivers in Pasadena). What a treat!

As far as the entrees, because the Hungry Women still had to eat, I had the Cavatelli Pugliese (cavatelli pasta sauteed with italian sausage, fresh tomatoes, arugula and garlic topped with ricatta salata, I know there is a lot of cheese on top):

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Sherry had the Crespelle di Mare (house made savory crepes stuffed with shrimps, scallops, jumbo lump crabmeat and spinach, with bechamel sauce served with plum tomato relish):

20150513_192104Honestly, we couldn’t decide which one was the best as they were both fabulous

However, before going in, we had to settle with Jesse because she couldn’t serve at the bar, so she brought us the bill:

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DID YOU SEE THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I swear I should have asked for a million dollar that night…. Well instead of the million dollars, we got the Executive Chef Antonello Marangi! He came to see the Hungry Women and even got a picture with Sherry:

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We finished the wine (sniff) and decided to go in to list to Keri and perhaps, entertain the thought of having desserts. There is a reason why I put an s at the end of dessert. You see, we had a very stressful evening, if you read carefully, desserts spelled backwards is stressed, we had to get some. The choice was made for us.

As stressed as we were, we asked for the Panna Cotta (Italian for cooked cream, their citrus version of panna cotta is made with vanilla beans, lemon zest and orange zest, served with creme inglese and berries):

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I know it is already half eaten, consider yourself lucky that you even got a picture at all. I remember that we placed the order for the “stress”, I asked for 2 of them, Sherry yelled at me and said “2?? are you out of mind??”, trust me, she ate hers without a guilt.

You add to that another wonderful voice:

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I think we can say that we hit the jackpot after all.

As always, stay hungry my friends!

 

Aida and Sherry! THE Hungry Women…

Pears in the Eastern Shore, who knew?

I don’t know about you, but we all want to shoot that Groundhog in the head. I know we didn’t get it as bad as the folks in Boston, but here in Balmore hon, we light weight, and we hate winter.

So we decided to give you some comic relief.

Back in late October 2014, I received a magazine at home that I am not subscribed to; called something like Coastal Style Magazine or something like that. While flipping through the pages, an ad caught my attention: there was an article about a Bed & Breakfast Restaurant in Easton called Bartlett Pear Inn, which was apparently Zagat Rated and in the Washingtonian Magazine as one of the top 25 restaurants.

Well damn, I don’t pretend to know every restaurants out there, but how come I have never heard of this place?? I immediately called my partner in crime and shared with Sherry my discovery. She never heard of it either! It screamed road trip right there! We have been passing through Easton many times over while going downy Ocean Hon, it really never occurred to us to swing by Historic Easton.

God Bless Open Table, we made a reservation for Friday November the 14th.

Needless to say that from October till that date, we were counting the days. We have been on their website on numerous occasions, and drooled many times over the menu items. That is what we call foreplay.

The day arrived, it was cold and rainy, we were so anxious to get there that we got there a little too early. Our reservations were at 8pm, we go there around 7pm. The obvious thing to do was to have a cocktail somewhere else and we chose the Tide Water Inn.

First of all, let us begin by saying that we are actually not sure if it was a November Easton thing, or just an Easton thing, but apparently pears are everywhere, in the drinks, in the food, we are still not quite sure what that is all about. But since pears were the theme, it was obvious that we should choose a pear drink, I got the Pear of the Dog (Pear vodka, St Germain, white cranberry juice), Sherry had the Barry French Martini (Gin, raspberry puree, fresh lemon and sparkling wine). Okay, you guys are probably asking yourselves, why is the French one not getting the French drink? Well duh, I am French, I don’t need to get a French drink, however,  my drink did contain St. Germain which is a French liquor, so there. We both agreed that my drink was better anyway.

Satiated, we decided it was time to venture out and reach our final destination.

Don’t they say that first impressions count? Well, let me tell you, as soon as you enter the Bartlett Pear Inn, beautiful old house, there is a cozy bar with a fire-place on the left hand side, very inviting, and the dining room on the right hand side. Once we announced ourselves (we were still early) and were given the choice to wait a bit at the bar, they didn’t have to ask twice.

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We sat right at the bar, near the fireplace, Eric was the bartender.

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He was making some kind of concoction with warm pear compote looking texture and was adding that to a drink. I honestly don’t remember what the drink was, but it smelled so good that the entire room was filled with that scent. We were presented with the wine list right away, and the first thing that caught my eye was a 2006 Saint Emilion Grand Cru. Well hell. We are way beyond the foreplay now. That was sex in a bottle (Sherry’s words) 69 shades of ruby.

We get escorted to our table by the lovely Lauren:

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I honestly think that we got the best table of the entire room. It looked like a Victorian turret, very intimate.

We noticed that the ceiling had this sound proof tiles (it is a bed and breakfast after all, people might try to get some sleep upstairs), there was lovely jazzy music playing.

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We, of course, introduced ourselves to Lauren as the Hungry Women, she gave us a little history of the place, and then she brought us butter.

She brought us BUTTER with Hawaiian sea salt on top.

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Let me repeat one more time: she brought us THE BUTTER.

After tasting that butter (in the meantime we did get introduced to our waitress named Kelsey, but they brought us THE BUTTER), we kind of threw away the bread (which was a really good baguette), and proceeded to eat THE BUTTER by itself with that damn Hawaiian salt.

Please meet Kelsey by the way (sorry Kelsey, you brought us BUTTER):

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When Kelsey came back and asked us how we were doing, we told her that we wanted to meet the cow that produced THE BUTTER and kiss her on the lips (or on the udders) and wanted to know where we could buy THE BUTTER. She went back to the kitchen and asked the question, came back and told us that it was shipped directly from NYC. Well hell, it looks like we needed to make a trip to NYC just for THE BUTTER, but we couldn’t possibly wait that long, so we asked if they had extra of THE BUTTER in their kitchen and we could buy some from them. She came back from the kitchen with a pound of THE BUTTER. We proudly put the BUTTER in our purse. And we didn’t even start dinner yet!

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We decided on the Chef Tasting Menu, which was a really good deal: $65 a piece for 5 courses.

Kelsey brought us the first dish: Octopus Garden: Grilled baby Sepia with curry-kaffir lime ice cream, Rigleigh Gardens mixed greens, squid ink tuile.

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If you are like me, you probably already read this description at least 3 times, and it still doesn’t make sense. I know that Tuile in French means Tile, and that is all I could make out of the description besides the curry and the mixed greens. Well don’t sweat it and take our word for it, it is divine, unusual, very creative and absolutely delicious.

Next course was the provident Farms Butternut Squash Soup: spice Pecans, Cinnamon Chantilly Cream, Maple Glazed Carrots.

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Okay: for all those who knows me, the C word is in there, well I didn’t even taste it. I am not going to elaborate on the dish and only show you what this dish did to Sherry, which is the highest culinary praise in her world:

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The Third Course was The Burgundy Truffle Mushroom Pappardelle: Truffle Shavings, Chapel Country Creamery “Talbot Reserve”  Mushroom Fricasse.

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Since we talking about 69 shades of ruby, let’s get a step further and say that we both orgasmed as the same time. I think that there was not enough shades out there to be able to count them all. Do you know that 1 truffle cost $100 a piece? They shaved the fresh truffle right on top of the parpadelle. Now, that is the best food porn ever.

Kelsey comes back and announce that she is going to bring us a palate cleanser which is not on the menu.  She brings an Apple Sauce Gelato with Meringue and Crushed Almonds.

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Girl, you can come and clean my palate anytime you’d like.

The 4th course was The Pan Seared Rhode Island Sea Scallops: Fried Panisse (don’t let your mind go in the gutter, because if I actually say that word, that would be how it would sound coming from me); which is a chickpea flour cake from the South of France (no freaking idea what that is), Chesapeake Organics Parsnip Puree, Provident Farms Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts, Cranberry Reduction.

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It is so pretty, so good, and we are officially out of shades.

And they had to finish us off with the Jurgielewicz (can’t pronounce it sorry) Duck Breast Cassoulet: Duck Confit, Stonehouse Farm Braised Pork Belly, Inn Cured Guanciale Great Northern Bean Ragout, Mirepoix Vegetables.

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I don’t know what to say. We are known as being afflicted with CanardVinitis (see previous blog) needing a support group. If there is duck, there is life or hope or something but you can be sure that the hungry women will have the duck. And we had it in all of its splendor.

By the time all was said and done (and eaten), with butter still packed in our purses, we did get introduced to all the staff members including the Chefs because we realized that we actually closed the joint!

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The coolest story ever was the staff gets fed every day around 5pm to experience the menu that will be served! Now I want to work there!

Overall. This was a phenomenal experience, we bragged about it ever since to everyone we know but never got to actually write this blog until now.

We decided to go back towards the end of January and take our friend Brenda there for her anniversary weekend. To our disappointment, the second experience wasn’t nearly as good as the first one. We always look for consistency when we blog about our culinary experiences, Granted we shared our experience with the staff, they apologized and did try to make up for it but it really didn’t come close to the November visit. If they are Zagat rated and listed in the Washingtonian Magazine, we have to believe that they deserve another chance. We would be willing to try it again.

So the question is, which one of you readers would like to come with the Hungry Women for our next Easton visit?
As always, Stay Hungry and until next time!

 

Aida and Sherry

 

Mecklenburg 1

West Virginia, Moonshine, stinkbugs and fried chicken….

Hello Y’all!

 

We are back!!!!!!!!!! Sorry for the long delay in writing but it has been one busy summer!

Sherry and I went to Hagerstown, MD on Friday night to spend the weekend with our dear friend Brenda. Going to Brenda’s is like going to a Bed and Breakfast or Grandma’s house, her house is the cutest, the view of the mountains is breathtaking. This weekend weather was fabulous, crisp mornings and warm days.

A friend of mine has told me about a distillery in WVA, called the Bloomery Plantation in Charles Town that apparently makes the best Limoncello. Like Sherry would say, “we’ve been fixing to go there for a while”, being in Hagerstown for the weekend, made sense to make the trip. And while we were at it, why not hitting the little towns in between?

Saturday morning, after going to Brenda’s friend little farm up the street and petting the cutest donkeys ever and some gorgeous horses, we went down on Route 66 and stopped at Shepherdstown, WV.

For a tiny little town, I was surprised how crowded it was! White Betty (my Ford Explorer) has a fat ass and had a hard time finding a spot but eventually redeemed herself and parked with no help from me (yes, it parked itself, Brenda has never seen that before, almost thought that the car was possessed, I love that feature, love the look of people’s face more).

I forgot to mention that we started the morning off with bagels, smoked salmon, sliced red onions, cream cheese and capers around 10am before going anywhere, accompanied of course, with Bloody Mary’s (Karen: this combination always reminds me of you! We missed you Girl!).

By the time we got to Shepherdstown (around 12:30pm), I have to admit: I was famished.

Brenda wanted to take us to the Bavarian Inn Restaurant for lunch, as it was one of her favorite spot to go to with her late husband; but we decided to take a little walk in town first.

On the main street, there was a sign in front of a wine shop saying wine tasting, we rushed inside like we have never seen wine before. It did say on the sign that it would start at 1pm, it was 12:40pm. Who reads signs fully anyway? They got us at wine tasting.

Disappointed, we got out of that store as fast as we got in, and Brenda saw the Mecklenburg Inn (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mecklenburg-Inn/160669058133?sk=info&ref=page_internal ).

She said: “Girls! We need to get in there, and while I have a moment to myself first in the ladies room, you have got to go all the way in and see the back of it!”.

Sherry and I went in, and it felt like we traveled from WV to Key West in a second, because that’s what that backyard reminded me off. Never in a million year would I have expected to see such a cool spot in this little pub out back.

Here are some pictures:

 

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(Don’t we look cute!)

Like Brenda would say: “Isn’t that dear??????”

Brenda went in to see if we could get a drink menu of some sort, She stormed out of the place, and say: “ Giiiiiiiiiiiiirls! Guess what they have on tap?????????????????????? Southern Tier Pumking!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Since they don’t serve you out back, we went back in to order our beer. The guy behind the bar (not sure if he was the owner), once we told him what we wanted, looked at all three of us and says: “I gotta tell ya, it’s pretty strong beer, it’s like 2 beers in one, just gotta warn ya”, I could have sworn that Brenda told him something like “can we have 2 beers each please?”. We took our beverages and went back outside. I am not a beer drinker, never been, I would have a cold one once in a while if I have no good wine choice, but I got to tell you, that stuff is GOOD.

I had to remind the girls that we are going to have to put food in our stomach very soon, especially after that beer. We sat there for almost an hour, made conversation with a regular that was sitting there, he told us about the famous cat that used to hang out there all the time, (poor kitty passed away about 8 months ago, his name was BK (stands for Best Kitty) and used to drink water out of a glass (Karen, doesn’t this remind you of another kitty?? Gotta be a yellow cat thing)). While we were sitting, I noticed that there was an iron piece of art that was supporting the big branch of the tree we were under. The piece of art represented little dudes climbing up to get to the top of the tree, one of them was peeing, of course, that’s the one Brenda is holding:

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It’s time for food, we were even considering getting a burger from where we were but decided to go to this place that Brenda kept telling us about, the Bavarian Inn (http://www.bavarianinnwv.com/index.php) which was only about 6 to 7 minutes from where we were. I offered walking, they wanted White Betty to take us there, they won.

That place is truly amazing, architecture of all the buildings are postcards worthy, infinity pool that drops right in the Potomac, I am kicking myself for not taking any pictures! That’s what happens when I am hungry, my stomach takes over all of my other senses and all I kept thinking about was FOOD and a nice glass of wine (mind you, we already had a bloody Mary and “2 in 1” beer but who’s counting).

At least I found a nice picture on their website:

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We get seated in a very formal dining room, menu arrived, so did the wine list, bread basket came shortly after with whipped butter (was gone very quickly, I guess I wasn’t the only one starving). We had to get food first, I saw Country Style Pate in the menu, of course we had to get it, we also ordered the Bavarian Sausage Appetizer, Brenda ordered what she apparently always order there: the Avocado filled with Shrimp and Crabmeat salad. Once we got the ordering out of the way, it was time to concentrate on the vino. There was an interesting half bottle of Red Blend Chateau Musar 2004 from Lebanon that sounded interesting. I never had Lebanon wine before, but since we couldn’t get a tasting, we ordered a bottle of 2012 Cote du Rhone, Syrah instead. Then we realized they had outside sitting (we didn’t know!) and asked to be moved. They were kind enough to even let us pick our table! (well there was only one available but we picked it :) ).

The food arrived, the pate was D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. so were the sausages. Brenda’s salad was pretty good too but I was on a meat mission until I saw that Vegetarian Portabello burger in the menu with Boursin cheese, sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. But then, the girls saw The Kaese Spaetzle which is sautéed german noodles with gruyere cheese, black forest ham and asparagus. We started to fight (nicely) on which one to get. We all won because we got both (hey, we not pigs, we took some home).

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And just like that, the wine bottle was gone, our bellies were full, and it is now just about 3:30pm.

My friend Becky who volunteers at that Distillery I was talking about earlier was only going to be there from 2pm to 4:30pm, I texted her to let her know we were on the way. The trip was only supposed to be about 30 min and White Betty would take us there.

Thirty minute later, we were at the Bloomery Plantation Distillery in Charles Town, WVA (http://bloomerysweetshine.com/). What an interesting place I must say. It looks like a cabin in the woods (well it is) and I couldn’t help noticing that the first thing I got greeted by was the stink bugs. THEY WERE EVERYWHERE! Now you all already know that I don’t do well with flying bugs, and when a couple of them landed on Brenda’s hair, it was time to get inside (no one wants to witness my reaction if one of those suckers land on my head, besides, they’d never find their way out, that’s probably what scares me the most).

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It’s a tiny place inside, with one bathroom. As soon as we entered, we got greeted by the staff (the bar was already filled with about 20 folks waiting to get their shine on) and Brenda had to use the ladies room. They were trying to get everyone’s attention as they were going to make a quick presentation for everyone. Brenda (inside the bathroom) yelled from within “WAIT FOR ME!”, everyone busted out laughing (she didn’t realize that –everyone- would hear her). The presentation consists of presenting the different “sweetshines” that would get presented to us as tasting so that you can make an educated decision on which one to buy. The tasting is FREE, you just tip towards the end.

Because the room was already full, we decided to go outside in the back as they had outdoor sitting and you could get the tasting brought to you by one of the staff member. Wait, let me rephrase, the girls wanted to go outside, I just followed along knowing what was waiting for me outside (nasty bugs). The outside wall was covered with them and the reason why I don’t have any pictures is because I was too busy watching all of them, making sure that I had enough time to dodge if any of them came my way.

In any case, we got to taste all of the 9 different sweetshines (one of them was a special and wasn’t on the list). Our favorite was the Cremma Lemma, we also liked the Black Walnut and the Chocolate Raspberry. We got of course a bottle of each.

The only picture I got of this place was this one, taken by Sherry, because Brenda really liked that chair:

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That was such a neat place. We were all surprised on how popular it was, being in the middle of nowhere. Becky sat with us for a little while and was telling us the history of the establishment, on how much fun she is having in helping them out, and she comes from Pikesville to get there!

A two men band started to play around 6pm, that is when we decided it was time to go :), we gave them a chance until about 6:30pm and went back to White Betty.

I punched Brenda’s home address in my GPS so that White Betty would tell us exactly how to get out of there to get back to Hagerstown. If we wanted to stop again along the way, we could.

Once back on the main road, my GPS told me that I had to take a right, while Brenda kept telling me that I should really take a left. I wasn’t about to trust Brenda at this point (I don’t have to list all of the alcoholic beverages that were consumed throughout the day) and I made the decision that it was best to let White Betty decide where we should go. Brenda wouldn’t let go about the Left thing, so I finally yelled and said “Brenda! I got this!”.

I took my right like I was told, and ended up in a corn field. We all were in tears for a good 15 minutes. I couldn’t breathe because I was laughing that hard and had to get out of the car. Brenda took a picture of that precious moment. I got it alright.

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Note to self: next time I am going on a road trip with these girls, I must take some Depends with me.

Once we were able to finally gather ourselves (White Betty, you failed me!), we turned around and took that Left that Brenda kept telling us about and back on the highway we were.

Brenda mentioned stopping by Harpers Ferry WVA on the way back; while Sherry and I got only one thing on our mind: FRIED CHICKEN.

Where could we find good ole country fried chicken in the area? Sherry got on her phone and started to talk to Siri. Well, Siri doesn’t know squat because all she kept saying “Here is what I found for fat chicken”. Must be Sherry’s accent.

We decided to stop there: http://www.bonniesattheredbyrd.com/ (they also have a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bonnies-at-the-Red-Byrd/133241270050150 )

Brenda mentioned this place in Keedysville MD and that since it is a family restaurant, they must have fried chicken. Sherry called (we had to be sure), and they claim on the phone that they had the best fried chicken around. The other good thing is that we are going to pass right by it on the way home.

About 7:30pm, we get in their parking lot.

This is what the place looks like:

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The inside was very cozy, mason jars decorating the walls, felt like an old fashion diner but definitely not a chain. You just stepped in someone’s kitchen in WVA  :) The waitresses were very friendly, and this cute one Nicole asked us if we were the ones that called about the fried chicken (Hmm, I wonder what gave that away, we must be looking like out of Towner’s. We thought we were blending pretty good so far..):

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She proceed to tell us that she is the one that answered the phone, and proud to tell us again that they had the best fried chicken in town. So we all had Fried chicken, mash potatoes, green beans with pork, and macaroni and cheese because if you are going to be bad, you need to be bad all the way.

BEST FRIED CHICKEN EVER!

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I am not sure what was the best highlight of this place, the fact that Brenda and Sherry got the senior citizen discount (2 pieces of chicken dinner for $6.99 with sides), or that it was indeed THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN I EVER HAD. Get this: Every Wednesday, they have all you can eat Fried Chicken. I know where to get my craving next time, don’t care how many miles I drive to get it (yeah, it is that good, and I wish I could have a piece right now as I type this because it is that good). Nicole even brought us a crab cake towards the end as a surprise for us to try (SO GOOD!). I guess she liked us! We are pretty funny :)

It’s almost 8:15pm, we are all exhausted, Sherry and I have a migraine because we laughed too hard all day long (I googled it, laughing too hard can absolutely give you a headache, I guess everything needs to be in moderation, screw it, it was worth it).

What a fun day this was. I never ceased to be amazed with how many wonderful places you can find right in your backyard. America is such a melting pot. I feel blessed to be able to have these experience as much as I can, and to be even more blessed to have wonderful friends that I can share these experiences with.

Stay Hungry Y’all! I promise we’ll check back in soon!

Aida

You Had Me at Foie Gras

Bonjour Y’all!

This winter has been a tough one for the Hungry Women! We don’t much care for cold and snow so we have had to resort to food for our comfort. Surprise! Surprise! Last Friday evening we had a friend who was visiting from Hagerstown. On the spur of the moment, we decided to jump in Aida’s SUV and take our friend to Vin 909 in Annapolis. This is one of our favorite spots and we wanted a respite from the winter. We were not disappointed. First of all, this is one charming little  Eastport house…almost like going to Grandma’s.

There are no reservations, so you take your chances. We had some prosecco, our friend had a Southern Tier oatmeal stout (so good!) and we waited for about 20 minutes for a table. We settled in and began to read the menu. There are always seasonal items and new discoveries and we love to try anything with foie gras on it. So, when our server, Melissa, told us about the pizza special which had Hudson Valley foie gras, black garlic and prosciutto on it, a collective groan of approval was heard all over the restaurant. We exclaimed, “you had me at foie gras”! The thin crust pizzas are all exceptional. In particular, The Rockstar is always a winner. Again, the Hudson Valley foie gras, black summer truffles, black garlic, figs, fontina and taleggio cheeses make this pizza a delight! The mozzarella cheese is made fresh daily. The vegetables come from a farm on the Eastern shore called Groundworks Farm. Truly fresh ingredients make ALL the difference. This is evident in the salads served here. We had a fresh baby arugula, local goat chèvre, fried shallots and prosciutto with white balsamic vinaigrette salad that was excellent. This plate represents what was left of the salad:

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Our friend chose the special which was a delicate sturgeon fish served on top of a delectable hash which had many complex flavors. Aida, being the foodie that she is, identified coriander, much to everyone including our server’s amazement! If I am not mistaken, it was after that I saw Aida tearing up over how insane our food had been all evening! If licking the plate is a compliment, and you all know I am famous for such behavior, then Aida shedding a tear is an accolade of the highest order. The Hungry Women take all of this very seriously.

My son, Nate, also got in on the fun. He had the idea to take 2 of the pizzas and make a sandwich out of them. This is a creative bunch so we all thought that was an excellent idea.

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On to dessert. Let me say that the Chocolate pot de creme is to die for! I get it every time. We also had butterscotch pudding…..beautiful! My husband had a blood orange curd served in half of an orange that took me back to Italy! To top it off, we ordered a French press coffee that complimented our sweets.

Our server, Melissa, our new best food friend, graciously brought us a coconut gelato which we promptly dipped in our French press coffee. Because that was so tasty, we started dipping our other desserts in the coffee! Dipping and sopping, 2 very technical terms, are a huge part of any dining experience when you are with the Hungry Women.

Melissa ended up sitting with us and telling us her fave eateries in both DC and Baltimore. We have added her to our list of like minded “Hungry Women”. She gets us. She loves food and wine and fresh ingredients. Dining is a shared experience. Food creates friendships and memories. Vin 909 had us a foie gras.

Stay warm. New food adventures await us in the Spring.

Sherry

The Capital Grille – Baltimore –

Happy 2014!!

Man am I glad the Holidays are finally over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Holidays season because to me, it is about being around people you love and usually in tandem with great food and wine (and usually followed with unwelcome extra pounds).

January usually follows for most folks with New Year resolutions that are in most cases about eating healthier, exercising more, losing weight, counting your calories, being nicer etc…

I have to admit, when I used to live overseas, being Vegetarian or Vegan was something I never heard of (no offense to all of my Vegan and Vegetarian friends). Whether it is for health reasons, or by choice, I do admire people that fit in that category. Speaking for myself, I know for a fact that I could never be in the V category. As a matter of fact, if my doctor called me up today after my yearly physical, and told me: Aida: as of today, you can no longer eat any kind of meat or you will die. My response would be: Off me NOW. This will just never happen as I love meat too much. It might sound offensive to some, knowing that I am truly an animal lover, but yeah, I love me some good steaks (and duck fat).

Which brings me to today’s topic. I usually do not blog about chain restaurants because there is usually nothing unique about it (it’s kind of an Oxymoron I know).

Many many years ago (and we are talking about maybe 9 to 10 years), my husband took me to Capital Grille downtown Baltimore (https://www.thecapitalgrille.com/pages/locations/?id=8023). I was introduced for the first time to a 22 ounces dry aged Delmonico Steak.

Let me start of by giving you a little background: I was born and raised in Lyon, France. Lyon is a city in East Central France, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon was historically known as an important area for the production of silk, but in modern times has developed a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France. As a matter of fact, Paul Bocuse is a highly recognized French Chef based in Lyon who is famous for the high quality of his restaurants and his innovative approaches to cuisine (I have one of his recipe book that I shamelessly stole (with her knowledge) from my friend Linda). The reason why I am telling you all this is because you would think that, after being raised in that kind of environment, it is doubtful that a chain steak place could wow me: WRONG! A medium rare dry aged Delmonico Steak coming out of the Capital Grille kitchen is THE BEST STEAK I EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Now maybe, it was a one time thing. Maybe there is no way this steak can be that good all the time. Well wrong again. My husband and I have been going back there consistently over all these years (went there again last Saturday), and it is still by far, THE BEST STEAK I EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Here is something even more fascinating: How many of you know what is involved in the dry aging process of meat??Please read this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_aging. I always wondered, wouldn’t the meat go bad after that many days???? well wrong, it is apparently all about the temperature, and I have had the great pleasure to see the process first hand this past Saturday at The Capital Grille.

During our dinner, we had the pleasure to have a nice talk with Jamie Heffron, who is the Manager of this fine establishment.

20140104_223218I told Jamie how amazed I was to have such an excellent meal every time I went there, and that I was fascinated by  the whole dry aging process.  About 2 weeks ago, Sherry showed me a video that she had recorded about Barefoot Contessa while she was on vacation to Napa Valley, and visited Tyler Florence, who shared with her his Porterhouse Steak recipe (dry aged of course) cooked in a 1200 degrees broiler and bathed in a bath of clarified butter, sage, thyme and garlic mixture. I shared what I saw that day with Jamie, and he proceeds to tell me, oh! we have a 1800 degrees broiler here, and a whole room with dry aged meat, would you like to see how we do it??? Helloooooooooooo? Have we met?? Are blueberries blue??? Do you tell Noah about a flood (I just learned that expression from my husband! been wanting to use it for a while :) ).

On my feet I was! Let’s go! Jamie introduced me to Matthew Jaffe, Executive Chef Partner there and was going to take Sean and I for a tour!!!!!!

20140104_222527Matthew explained to me how the dry aging process works, and took me to their 39 degrees meat room :). Now I must say, it kind of looks disgusting when you look at it that way, there is nothing appetizing about the way that meat looks, but let me say it again just in case you didn’t pick up on that: BEST STEAK I EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Please allow me to share with you the pictures I took from that room:

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They have their personal butcher that comes in 5 days a week! Can you imagine owning a 1800 degrees broiler?????????????????? Man I would love to be able to cook just one time in their kitchen, which brings me to the next story: Sean sold my cooking abilities to them with such conviction that I might just be allowed to cook my famous prosciutto lamb for Jamie and Matthew to taste. Now wouldn’t that be freaking awesome, to be able to cook for the Manager and the Executive Chef of The Capital Grille??? Stay tuned on that…..I will let you all know if that ever happens.

Now, I had to introduce my partner in crime to this place, since it is after all, THE BEST STEAK I EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

I have been telling Sherry about it for a while now as she has never been there. I just simply told her that it was THE BEST STEAK I EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE and she knows that I am a food snob.

One night, I just kidnapped her and I took her there (she didn’t complain trust me).  We had a fantastic 2005 Margaux (Chateau D’Anglude), Lawrence was our server (he was great), and Sherry was introduced for the first time to the famous 22 ounces Dry Aged Delmonico:

20131226_185847Well there. She asked me if I would think that it would be inappropriate for her to have her way with the bone in such a fine establishment, I simply responded that I would personally be offended if she didn’t. The picture speaks for itself. Sherry my friend, I am proud of you!

So to summarize, I just wanted to make sure that you all got my point: BEST STEAK I EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

BE HEALTHY, AND STAY HUNGRY!! (and go have a Delmonico!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Aida.

Top 10 hungry women favorite foods for 2013!!!!

Drum roll please….

Announcing our top 10 food winners for 2013!
1-frites in duck fat and truffle oil. Grapes Winebar Annapolis (https://www.facebook.com/Grapeswinebarannapolis)

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2-Coq au Vin Les Folies in Annapolis (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Les-Folies/201131288817)

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3-Foie Gras Les Folies in Annapolis
4-Garde Manger Board (charcuterie, pate, grapes, dried apricots, cornichons) Grapes wine bar

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5-Duck Confit Petit Louis in Roland park  (https://www.facebook.com/petitlouisbistro)
6-Popcorn soup with grilled lobster Rose’s Luxury Washington DC (https://www.facebook.com/rosesluxury)

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7-Pickle brined fried chicken Rose’s Luxury
8-Chocolate pot de creme Vin 909 Annapolis (https://www.facebook.com/vin909)

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9-Tunisian pizza Aida’s kitchen, Pasadena, Md. (and no this is not a restaurant!).
10-Lamb with pistachio pesto Aida’s kitchen.

These dishes are in no particular order….all fabulous! We have been so fortunate to find such lovely local food.
Honorable mention also goes to Liquid Assets in Ocean City, Md.,  Woodberry Kitchens in Baltimore, Hawthorne Fine Pastries in Severna Park, Md.
Nothing makes the Hungry Women happier than exceptional food. We will be on a quest in 2014 to discover more incredible places to tell you about.
Merry Christmas and Happy new Year
Sherry

Locolat to Become Hans Pedr’ Kaffe – Oops she did it again!

Hello everyone!

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Remember her???? We already blogged about this amazing lady, Jessica Knudsen, owner of Hawthorne Fine Pastries in Severna Park. And yes, she has done it again!Jessica recently acquired Locolat which will soon be named Hans Pedr’ Kaffe.

Before I say anything, check this link out: http://www.zagat.com/b/washington-dc/locolat-to-become-hans-pedr-kaffe. Zagat already has their eyes on her!

At the beginning of this month, Sherry, Marty and myself decided to take a trip down DC to support our friend. We are all already a big fan of her bakery, I knew in advance that it was worth the trip down, besides, she already told us that every Thursday, she offers half price Mussels, it was a Thursday :).

Her shop is located right at the corner of Florida Avenue NW.

This is what the front of her Kaffe looks like: 20131205_174836IT LOOKS AMAZINGLY FRENCH!

We went inside to give our favorite Chef a big hug, she was busy decorating a cake (which looked amazing by the way). When she was done, she gave us all a big hug and gave us a tour of the place. See for yourself:

20131205_16563620131205_16573220131205_17010920131205_17012020131205_17013120131205_17014320131205_17015920131205_170216Drooling yet?

I have to admit, my imagination started to run wild. I have recently become a huge fan of the TV show Breaking bad. For those who seen the show, you will understand my references here (for those who didn’t, Netflix it! best show ever). So here it is: you saw that chocolate machine thingy that runs all day? Well, I brought home that night chocolate truffles (every kind she had) for my husband, because he is a chocolate addict. That stuff was like crack for him and he couldn’t get enough. I promised him that I would make a trip down DC regularly to get him his fix . Then I started to wonder, if I bought a winnebago motorhome, and got that chocolate machine thingy in it, and convinced Jessica somehow to start “cooking” for me , and make little baggies of chocolate crack, I bet we’d make a fortune! I can guarantee you that there are a lot of “addicts” out there just like my husband. But then I thought, she probably won’t go for it, she already run 2 businesses as it is, working maybe 100 hours a week, so the conclusion is irrefutable: I need to clone this woman. (all of these wild thoughts happen in less that 2 minutes, amazing isn’t it??).

Back down to Planet Earth, we were starving. Jessica has been part of our Hungry Women adventures many times, so she knew exactly what Sherry and I would like, and voila! that’s what appeared on our table:

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Everything was amazing, the display the quality, the charcuterie, the cheeses, and the bread.

Marty got the 2lbs Mussels: 20131205_182936Equally as amazing! We were so full, but Jessica decided that we needed to try one of her savory waffle. Sorry, I don’t have a picture of that one because it was gone that quick. Just picture a waffle, with some kind of beef stew on top of it. Honestly, to me, it tasted like Boeuf Bourguignon on top of waffle. Who would have thought that such a combination would be blog worthy????????

Jessica told us that her busiest day is Sunday brunch. We have to go there for Brunch SOON and I cannot wait! (Victoria: I made you a promise and I will keep it, we shall go together :) ).

On another note, I don’t know what you guys do when you are bored, but personally, when I am bored and having nothing productive to do, I like puzzles, mindless games, reading…nothing really fancy.

When Jessica is bored, this is what she does:

20131205_18103220131205_1810471471157_616232805080438_1428848396_n(the last picture is home made marshmallows, if you have never tried homemade marshmallows, please do! you will never ever buy the crap in a bag again).

So I say it again, I need to find a way to clone this woman.

Take a trip down DC, perfect for the Holiday Season!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Aida

Rose’s Luxury – Another unique place in DC

Last week, the hungry women were shopping for Halloween decoration preparing for a big party. And of course, in between errands, what do we talk about in the car?? FOOD and WINE!

We started fantasizing about duck fat and what kind of trouble could we get into …One idea was to make fried chicken with duck fat! Can you imagine? HOME. MADE. FRIED. CHICKEN. FRIED. IN. DUCK. FAT. We absolutely have to try it (Dear Lord: I promise I will go to the gym every day if I we eat this).

Then we started to wonder where in MD could we buy duck fat as the new mission was set.

We all agreed: JESSICA WOULD KNOW! (the same Jessica that owns this fabulous bakery in Severna Park we blogged about previously). So we texted her asking if she had any idea where we could get duck fat locally, She proceeds to tell us that she would have a 5lbs duck fat container dropped at her Bakery by Tuesday.

Well I’d be damned, that woman knows people… it almost sounded like we were doing something illegal.

I tell ya, all over the world, not just in the US, it is not about what you know; it is about who you know. Knowing someone who can deliver a bucket of duck fat within days is Numero UNO on my list at the present time! Now I have someone in my rolodex that can indulge me with duck fat for life (I even told her that I wouldn’t know what I would do without her, her answer was “you’d eat regular fat”, nah I pass, you are stuck with me Missy).

Side note: Did you ever notice that, in the English language, most disease finish with “itis”? appendicitis, arthritis, conjunctivitis, meningitis, etc..

I had to come up with something that describes our disease, been thinking about it for days, came up with some ideas, no of them clicked…Then I mentioned my issue to Jessica. It took her only a couple of hours to come up with this:  CANARDVINITIS!  (Why didn’t I think of that???).

Since we are addicted to canard and vino, Canardvinitis is simply perfect. All the hungry women suffers from it. There is no cure (except for a bucket of duck fat that supposedly can last you for a while, I will let you know…).

So while we were talking to Jessica, she mentioned that she was going to open a bottle of 1994 Saint Emilion and because we have ZERO shame in our game, we simply invited ourselves (Are you kidding me?  Under no circumstances you can put the words Saint and Emilion in the same sentence and expect me not to show up). On top of it, it was Sherry’s anniversary that day and we almost gave no choice to her poor husband. He was going to hang out with the Hungry Women in DC, on his anniversary (told you, zero shame).

We got to Jessica’s place, got molested by the wonderful doggies, drank the liquid velvet and went to Dinner. Jessica told us we needed to try this new place called “Rose’s Luxury” on Capitol Hill (http://rosesluxury.com/).

It was 6 of us, no reservations and we were the luckiest people in this entire restaurant: we got to sit front row of heaven’s kitchen, as if you were in front of the stage of your favorite rock band concert. See for yourself:

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Our setup was actually comical, since we were spread apart in one row; we kept getting up from our chair to try other people dishes. Just picture women going back and forth with a spoon in their hand…We are definitely a funny bunch.

We had Vietnamese Pate, herbs and garlic bread (LOVED IT) ; pork sausage, habanero  and lychee salad (LOVED IT TOO!), porcorn soup with grilled lobster, spaghetti with strawberry and ricotta (that was different, I didn’t care of that too much but our friend Sarah loved it!) and the pickled brined fried chicken and trimmings.

2 highlights:

Number one: The popcorn soup with grilled lobster. To all the ladies that were with me that night: please add your comments at the end of this blog because I am speechless on this one. BEST SOUP I EVER HAD. It was almost like eating my crème brulee but in a popcorn soup version of it.

20131012_200842 IMAG0130Notice the group picture? What am I doing? Eating this divine concoction and paying zero attention to the camera…

Number two: the Fried Chicken: I have been on a quest lately to find a place that have an excellent fried chicken (yeah, I am French and I love fried chicken, sue me!). My quest has ended, best fried chicken I have had so far (I almost asked the chef if he ever tried it with duck fat but I didn’t want him to know about it before we tried it ourselves).

I must admit, we were a little disappointed with the desserts as it was the least favorite part of the meal. We tried 3 different ones and we did not care for any of them.  I really hope that Rose’s Luxury reads our blog. I know a fabulous pastry Chef that might be willing to consult (hint hint, wink wink).

Overall, we all agreed, we will most definitely be back!

Leave it up to Jessica to find these unique places. Keep it up Woman!

Stay hungry!

 

Aida.

Grapes Wine Bar of Annapolis – Our new favorite spot..

Greetings fellow hungry women!

Grapes, an intimate wine bar, next to Wine Cellars of Annapolis, is without a doubt, my new favorite place to enjoy a glass of vino and excellent small plates. Recently, my partner in the pursuit of fine food, Aida (the French/Tunisian) and I, stopped by to have a bite to eat.

We ordered the Garde Manger Board which included pâté, assorted charcuterie and several cheeses. The Bufala Italian blue was fabulous! Along with that came a French goat cheese-Chabichou and an Italian pecorino noche. All excellent!

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As you all know, I am a recent foie gras convert, so I tend to order it whenever I see it on a menu.

This particular foie gras came with truffle oil and a berry and honey reduction. It was lovely! 2 orders please!

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However, the crown jewel of this entire food fest was the order of classic bistro frites in duck fat and truffle oil!!!!!! These crispy morsels have been the object of my desire and my dreams since that moment.

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How can anything be so satisfying? The answer is simple…..duck fat. I am convinced that you could fry an old shoe in this liquid gold and it would be a gourmet offering. I was so blown away by these frites that I can’t even remember what wine we had to drink. In fact, I am speechless. So, I will just stop while I am ahead. Go to Grapes. Eat, enjoy.

Sherry

Trattoria Alberto – Best Italian Kept Secret in Glen Burnie, MD

Bonjour Friends!

I have to say: I was hesitant in writing this post as I want to be selfish and keep this place all to myself!

I have heard about Trattoria Alberto through Victoria and Sherry, and they kept telling me how surprisingly good that place was. About 2 weeks ago, Sherry and I went there on a week day, around 5pm, we were the first ones there. When I parked in front of the restaurant, I looked at Sherry and said : ” are you sure that this is it??”. It is located in a small strip mall on Crain Highway, and the store front looks like nothing, it didn’t even look opened! Sherry was confident that I was going to quickly change my mind, she was right.

We only had a couple of appetizers and a nice bottle of wine, it was perfect,

Alberto, the owner and Executive Chef, is an absolute doll (and I just love the way he dresses, the shirt, the tie, dressed pants and tennis shoes!):

20130911_200157Last night, I decided to take my husband there, since he never heard of this place either.

He had the same reaction I did as soon as he parked: “Are you sure this is the place??” LOL, yeah, you wait my dear..

Alberto has a pretty good memory as he immediately recognize me and greeted me warmly (some of you might say, not hard to do, you don’t see this spiky hair that often!).

I adore Alberto! he sings when he speaks. He proceeds to start talking about his menu, and what he got fresh in the kitchen for tonight, with a wonderful Italian accent.

The waiter, Luis, is adorable too, very quite, but very attentive to everything you might need:

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Check out their full menu a thttp://www.trattoriaalberto.com/pasta_veal_homemade_desserts_baltimore.php.

We started out with the Calamari Alla Griglia, or grilled calamari. Sorry folks, no picture on that dish. It was gone before I even got to my phone.

I chose the Linguine Alla Puttanesca for my entree, my husband chose the Vitello Sorrentina. Alberto even added as a side dish for him a cannelloni filled with broccoli and cheese. ALL the pasta they serve are hand made in their kitchen.

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They also have a very good wine list. We actually had a carafe of their Italian house wine for the evening, Cabernet blend which was delicious.

Towards the end of the dinner, we started chatting with Alberto and we asked him how come this place wasn’t more busy, as good as it is. He told us that business has been slow, especially with the Casino being so close and that people prefers to go to the restaurants there.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!!! What would you ever want to chose a chain restaurant over this gem!

Now, as much as I would like to keep this place all to myself, I am willing to share….Please go see Alberto, I promise you that this will be one of the best Italian experience you’ll get, especially in Glen Burnie!!!!

Stay hungry!!!

 

Aida.