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.

Cinghiale – Rome in Baltimore!

Buongiorno Y’all!!

The Hungry Women had the great pleasure of dining at Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman’s restaurant, Cinghiale, in Baltimore this week. (The name means “wild boar” in Italian, in case you were wondering.) My friends, Aida and Jessica and myself started off with bellinis al fresco. It was a nice evening so we sat outside and pretended we were in Rome at some very swank eatery.

We decided to go inside for dinner because the decor and opulence are just too hard to resist. This restaurant is simply gorgeous!

Side note: Take a look at the hallway that leads to the bathrooms, then inside the bathrooms:

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Having been fortunate enough to visit Italy twice in my life, I have to say that Cinghiale really feels like a fine hotel/restaurant in Rome. Let’s talk about food, shall we? Since all of the Hungry Women love cheese and wine, we decided to go with a selection of 3 cheeses. First, the la tur, a tangy blend of sheep, cow and goat’s milk…excellent! Second, we chose the canestrato from Campania…a firm sheep’s mild cheese with hints of hay and hazelnuts. Jessica paired that with some fresh peaches…loved that! The third cheese was a creamy Gorgonzola gran riserva…. My oh my! We chose a Rosso di Montalcino, Il Poggione to accompany the cheese course and also the Chef’s selection of assorted cured meats.

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By now, we were moving into the part of the meal where the oohing and aahing are in full swing. We have been waiting with bated breath for several months to order the grilled foie gras. I cannot express how much in love I am with this! Aida ordered the pan seared foie gras “saltimbocca” with crispy parmigiano. I have to say that hers was even better than mine.  Jessica had the big eye tuna with razor clams and sea urchin….fabulous!

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On to the primi course. I chose the risotto with chanterelles and parmigiano. I am pretty sure I saw God! (He looks a lot like Chef Marucci). We all agreed that this was a triumph! Jessica had the Yukon potato gnocchi with roasted tomatoes, peppers, arugula, zucchini and smoked ricotta…lovely. Aida ordered grilled duck with huckleberries, crispy polenta and chanterelles, That little corn cake really went nicely with the dish…delicious!

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The second bottle of wine was a 2000 Fontodi “case via” Syrah. Not to sound pretentious, but this lush, velvety, chewy wine was served with too much  of a chill. We all agreed to decant it and let it open up and come to a warmer temp. We asked the wine steward why it was being served so cold and he explained that the cellar is kept at 50-55 degrees. The Rosso di Montalcino was fine at the cooler temp but this Syrah definitely tasted better once we decanted and waited. We loved the bouquet….smoky, leathery, deep. On another note, their wine list is probably one of the most extensive list I have ever seen!

We were satiated but we HAD to try 2 desserts. We chose Gianduja Torta with hazelnuts, chocolate and salted caramel gelato. WE ADORE SALT AND CARAMEL!!! I have to tell you that the vanilla panna cotta with thyme roasted peaches and blueberry sorbetto was so light and creamy, I believe we heard angels singing. I was transported to the Sistine Chapel. This is food nirvana. Espressos followed……

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We had taken a trip to Italy with no jet lag, food coma notwithstanding. We can’t wait to return. Until then, we urge you to indulge in the sensuous dining experience that is Cinghiale. Buonasera.

As always, stay hungry!

Sherry, Aida and Jessica

Victoria’s Fancy Foods – Gourmet grocery shop fashioned after the shops of Paris.

Morning Y’all!

A lot of folks think that this blog is about restaurants, WRONG! it is about good food in general, whether it is in stores, my friends kitchens or my own, bakeries, or restaurants.

I moved in the Severna Park/Pasadena area a year ago. My husband and I used to live in Essex, MD.

One of the main reasons why we decided to move was because there is close to -nothing- in Essex when it comes to food. There are not a lot of choices of good restaurants, grocery stores, etc..

I love cooking, and I have been blessed to have been surrounded by friends that enjoy it as much as I do.

While grocery shopping is a burden for some, I personally LOVE grocery shopping because I see it as an adventure. I prefer grocery shopping than any other type of shopping, any day of the week. When I used to live in Essex, my choices in grocery store were: Mars, Shoppers, Geresbeck’s, and Aldi, and that was it. Guess what the closest store to my house was?? Aldi ! I went to that store -once- because I had to make an emergency run as I needed something for my dinner that night.  After I parked the car, I was on my way in and there was a bodyguard at the entrance that fiercely looked at me and made it clear that I needed to turn around. Yep, a giant disgusting cockroach was right in front of the entrance, staring at me, daring me to make a move. I have a phobia of bugs. Needless to say that I can’t tell you what the store look like inside. Off to Mars I went that day (could have been literal since I flew back to my car after the sight of that disgusting thing).

My friend Yvette who has been living in Severna Park for years had told me numerous times about this place she goes to called Victoria’s Fancy foods and that I needed to check it out at some point. Never really made it there since I wasn’t living close to that area.. Until I moved here…….

I checked Victoria’s website (http://victoriasfancyfoods.com/) and the front page  caught my attention immediately:

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“Local clean foods and fine crafted wine”…..then it says “Our gourmet grocery shop is fashioned after the shops of Paris with wooden floors and chalkboard signs.”

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (this was me jumping up and down, cartwheel and all..).

Then it says this: “We take pride in every item we offer to you.” I had to check it out and let me tell you that everything in that description does check out. Why didn’t I move in this area years ago???????????? Between all the restaurants I am discovering, Hawthorne Bakery and Victoria’s, I am not home sick anymore!

Please allow me to introduce you to this lovely lady, Victoria Stagmer, proud owner of this gourmet store:

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Victoria is another hard working, dedicated and passionate woman I have the honor to know. She takes customer service to an entire new level and she knows her stuff (and top of it all, she is a certified wine specialist 🙂 ). She told me once that there is nothing in her store that she hasn’t tried. Remember this on her website:  “We take pride in every item we offer to you.”?

So let me recap, she offers gourmet food (from fresh pasta to olive oil, from crackers to jams, teas, coffee, spices, cheeses, bread….) and Wine from all over.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (yep, I did it again).

Let me take a second and talk about the bread. She gets frozen bread from a bakery in New Jersey (except for the sourdough which is authentic sourdough from LaBrea bakery in San Fransisco): olive bread, rosemary bread, whole grain (my personal favorite because it honestly taste like candy and it’s good for you!) regular bread (and I may be forgetting some). You take it home, you let it thaw for a bit, and stick it in the oven for 15 min at 380 degrees. Voila! fresh awesome bread coming straight out of the oven like you baked it (well you did). Slice it, add to that this wonderful Saint Angel Cheese she carries (that thing can’t just be triple creme, because triple means 3, I would guess a 100!) and top it with nice bottle of wine. That’s dinner for me right there.

She would also give me stuff to sample at home so that she can make a decision on whether she should carry it in her store or not. First of all, I feel very special that she values my opinion, second, I love trying new food! (Victoria: the truffle couscous is amazing!!!!! I tried it last night and it is phenomenal!! carry carry carry!).

I can’t tell you how many times I would call her up and ask her if she could bake a loaf of bread for me and that I would pick it up on my way home from work.  I double dog dare you to tell me that you can do that at any other store! She would also give me suggestions for wine pairing depending on what I am having for dinner. Talk about customer service!

Did I mention that I love that store? (and Victoria of course!).

Also, Victoria’s Fancy Foods has an opportunity to relocate into a larger space. She is obligated to her lease in the current location until February 2015 and actively looking for a business that would be interested in sub-letting this space. If you know of anyone, please have them get contact her!!!

Listen people! Go to her store, Follow her on Facebook, on Twitter, sign up for her newsletter, I am personally following this woman everywhere she goes! (sounds like stalking I know..).

So Get Fancy, Get local! and I can guarantee you that you would love that store as much as I do!

Stay hungry friends!

Aida.

 

 

 

Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pastry – A taste of France in Severna Park, MD

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Question of the day: Do you know what I use to miss the most from where I grew up??

The picture probably gave it away, yes, The pastry!   Aaah, the croissants (plain, chocolate, almonds..), the fruit tarts…

See, I was raised on buttery croissants. That’s is what we had for breakfast (either that or some awesome bread with -real- butter and jam, I emphasize of real butter, not that white crap they serve you in restaurants or what you find in regular grocery stores).

Back in 2001, I was working for an IT company in Pikesville, MD. My supervisor Phyllis (who became a really good friend afterwards) had a birthday coming up. I wanted to do something special for her so I asked one of my co-worker where to find a really good birthday cake. Without hesitation, she told me that Miss Dessert was the best in town and that I wouldn’t be disappointed (I think that was the name, I tried to look them up but couldn’t find them so maybe that place doesn’t exist anymore, it was near Liberty road if I recall).

Anyway, during our lunch break, I asked her if we could go to that bakery and check out what they had. She agreed and off we went.The bakery wasn’t too far from the office so it didn’t take us long to get there. We entered the bakery and there was a display room, with   -very- colorful cakes everywhere: Orange, yellow, blue and all in between. They all looked the same to me, just a different color.

Silly French me, I was convinced that every color was associated with a flavor. For example, yellow would be lemon, blue would be blueberry or some other berry, orange would be orange, you get the picture. I called a salesperson over and pointed to the yellow one ( I happen to like lemon), and I asked  “What is this one?”, he replied: “It’s a yellow cake Ma’am”.

Here is how the conversation went:

Me: “I can see it’s yellow, but what is it?”

Salesperson: “It’s a yellow cake Ma’am”

Me (getting frustrated): “I understand, but what flavor?”

Salesperson: “I don’t know what to tell you Ma’am, it’s a yellow cake”

Me (done with the yellow one, pointing now to the blue one): “So what’s this one?”

Salesperson: “It’s a yellow cake Ma’am”

Me (now looking at my co-worker with the WTF look, and now pointing to the orange one): “and this one?”

Salesperson: “It’s a yellow cake Ma’am”.

Now I am pissed off, either Americans are color blind, or everything is yellow in this country. I was so confused. My co-worker proceeds to explain to me that icing makes the color, but they all taste the same, and that I had to trust her and just pick a color, and that everyone would like it. Not knowing any better, I did pick a yellow, yellow cake, had them write “Happy Birthday Phyllis” on it and off we went. Back to the office, we sneaked in the kitchen, displayed the yellow, yellow cake, lit some candles, brought everyone in, then someone else brought Phyllis afterwards, we sang Happy Birthday, she was touched, we cut the cake, and everyone had a piece, including me. It was horrible. The end. (everyone else seemed to enjoy it though so I guess my co-worker was right by saying that it would be a hit).

And this was the beginning of my disappointment about bakeries in general in the US. I had croissants here and there but couldn’t get satisfied as nothing came close to what I was used to.

My quest began. Throughout the years, I did find some good places, Bonjour French Bakery Cafe on Falls road (http://www.bonjourbakerycafe.com/, very cute place with good espresso and croissants), Patisserie Poupon downtown Baltimore on East Baltimore Street (http://www.patisseriepoupon.net/, I even ordered my wedding cake from there and they speak french! they have fruit tarts to die for).

I thought that Patisserie Poupon was probably as close as I was going to get..Until I had the privilege to meet Jessica Knudsen, Executive Pastry Chef/Owner of Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pastry in Severna Park, MD. I met Jessica a couple of years ago, she was convinced that I had a cheese business (because I always brought Cheese and bread to a party). Her first question to me when we finally had a conversation was where did I import all my cheeses from. My answer was Victoria’s Fancy Foods (http://victoriasfancyfoods.com/, I will be blogging about this place too!), Whole Foods or Wegmans. She thought I was joking, I was actually dead serious. I told her I actually owned an IT Company, she thought that was boring, and that was the beginning of an awesome friendship.

She told me about her job, actually not her job, her passion and started to describe what she does. Jessica is probably one of the most passionate person I have ever met, and it shows,  in every single pieces of arts she makes in that little heaven of hers.

I am happy to report that my quest is over. I found France in Severna Park.  I couldn’t believe it. I had to sample. and I did. Over, and over again. I fell in love!

Check out her website: http://hawthornefinebreakfastpastry.com/ and the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HawthornePastry, and look at all the pictures, especially the last one she posted yesterday:

526390_614532525243678_555129757_nNew Danish, house-made lemon curd filled pastry, baked with a caramelized lemon sugar crust. Topped with fresh strawberries and glazed with hot strawberry jam. Damn you Jessica! I feel like I am getting fat just looking at the pictures! ( I haven’t sampled this one yet, I hope she will get the hint!).

Please know that Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pastry is STRICTLY wholesale, which means that you can’t just go there and pick up what you want. You can however visit any of the places she sells to : http://hawthornefinebreakfastpastry.com/where-to-find-us/.

I personally wished she had one little retail store front, I’d be there every single morning!

So here is my advice for the day:  if any restaurants, caterers or any specialty coffee houses are reading this blog, HIRE HAWTHORNE FINE BREAKFAST PASTRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Probably the best business decision you will ever make!

Stay hungry my friends!

(Man, I am dying for a croissant and a cappuccino just about now….)

Aida

 

 

Beucherts Saloon, 623 Pennsylvania Ave SE Washington DC

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Happy Sunday!

Sorry it took so long to blog about Friday night, but I must confess (appropriate for a Sunday morning 🙂 ), I had to recuperate a bit. We dined and wined so much this week that I felt the need to stay away from food for at least a day and work out a little. I didn’t want to be forced to change the blog name from “wherethehungrywomenat.com” to “fatbrokeandhappy.com”.

In any case, let’s turn the wheel and go back in time to this past Friday evening:

Our dear friend Jessica Knudsen (Executive Chef and owner of Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pasty, http://hawthornefinebreakfastpastry.com/ trust me: we will blog about this!) mentioned Beucherts Saloon a little while after we started this blog and told us it was a MUST GO.  I would go _anywhere_ Jessica recommends, that girl knows her stuff when it comes to food (and wine!).

One thing I would like to point out is their website: http://beuchertssaloon.com/ which is a very fun website to navigate through. They have randoms rules that appears such as Rule # 266 Unattended children will be given espresso and a puppy (my personal favorite). Check it out for yourself when you get a chance.

We had a very nice ride down DC listening to the “Best of Al Jarreau” CD and arrived at Jessica’s place around 6:00pm. After being molested by her 2 wonderful giant dogs for about 15 minutes (lots of kisses), Jessica opened a bottle of 2004 Behrens & Hitchcock “14th of July”. I honestly can say that this was one of the best red wine I have had in a while: a nose of dark fruit and spice, beautiful color, big, think chewy, velvety blend of deliciousness, I didn’t even want to go in the restaurant and wanted to sip on that wine all evening!  See, I like my wine the same way I like my cheese, if it smells like dirty feet, you know you are in for a treat!

What a wonderful start of the evening that was.

We walk down to the restaurant from her house which was a nice little walk (I always enjoyed walking in the middle of DC). The picture I posted above is the entrance of the restaurant. Looks like nothing right??

I loved the way the bar looked:

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They also offer a cork fee for $25 which means that they will open your own wine and decant it for you! Our beautiful waitress Liz should have gotten a warning that the crazy and hungry women were coming over. She kept saying that she didn’t want to be in a picture because she was convinced that she was not photogenic, I think she is darling!

She hang in there the whole evening (trust me, hard to do with our crowd).

We took full advantage of the cork fee offering (I couldn’t get over the difference in color of both wines a Cristom Pinot Noir and Newton Puzzle, yum yum and yum):

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I was the designated driver for the evening, so decided to not have a cocktail to start, the other 4 ladies each chose a different concoction. The winner cocktail was the Beuchert’s 75: Gin, lemon, seasonal herbal syrup and prosecco. I am not a big fan of gin but I have to say this was quite refreshing and delish (what? being the designated driver didn’t mean that I couldn’t take a sip!)

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In the meantime, we ordered the  Charcuterie, Country Pate and Fromages board to start with. I am not going to write too much about that board as we took several pictures through the “process” of enjoying it:

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Absolutely Zero shame in our game, none. We mean business.

It didn’t take us long to make a decision the entrees: Sherry and Daun shared the Dry Aged Strip Steak, Jessica had the Fried Green Tomatoes, Sarah had the 5 spice chicken sausage, I had the grilled lamb loin chops. As far as the sides, Jessica suggested the GPOD French fries, the roasted mushrooms and the white corn grits.

Here is what the entire meal looked like:

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I never liked grits. I think they taste like _nothing_. I _never_ tasted grits that taste better than mashed potatoes! white corn and got cheddar. Nuff’ said. The roasted mushrooms were as delicious as the grits.

The fries. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah the Fries….Jessica warned me and I quote: “Their fries are stupid!” which is a big compliment in her own language. She was right, they were above stupid, despicable yuminess with a creamy mayonnaise with Taragon at the bottom of the dish (I had to ask for a separate container with that sauce), yeah, I am dipper.

I really have no idea what GPOD stands for, if i had to guess, it would say it is God’s Presents Of Deliciousness. We had 2 servings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All of our meals were delicious and so fresh. The highlight of all the entrees was this one:

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This was Sarah’s chicken, looks obscene right?? Well, all I am going to say is this: Sarah’s sausage was enough to satisfy 5 women and some!

Sarah had to excuse herself to go to the Ladies room. We all understood. 🙂

Anyway, down to the desserts (yes, you are all thinking that we are out of our mind after all this decadence, and that gluttony is a sin and bla bla bla).

Descent to hell it is, head first:

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Our least favorite one was the Popsicle (after Sarah’s sausage, I think it might have been a visual thing, we were scared for life after all…).

But we are ladies after all, and when ladies enjoy their meal (dessert is this case), this is what they do when they want to compliment the Chef:

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Speaking of Chef, Jessica and I went to talk to him while he was busy making everyone happy, and I wanted to take a picture of the creator of everything we had the pleasure to sample that night. We didn’t take too much of his time but did mention to him that he was definitely blog worthy!

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Since as usual, we were the loudest in the room, Chef Andrew Markert came over our table and introduced himself to all of us. What a delightful surprise that was!

And what a nice and talented young man. We had a very nice chat, he told us about his background (See the About Section on the Beucherts’ website) and that he actually does everything in the kitchen (including the desserts!). He also changes the menu twice a week.  I seem to remember that the only thing that they do not make in the kitchen is the bread.

The _only_ bad note is the Coffee. DON”T order it, unless you like Chicory because that is what it taste like. Other than that, all the stars for this restaurant and Chef Andrew Markert. We are all big fans and will definitely come back, worth the trip down to DC!

Stay hungry and enjoy your Sunday!

Aida.

Piedigrotta Bakery in Little Italy

Buongiorno y’all! Ever since my friend, Bob Laggini first told me about this gem of an Italian bakery, I have been smitten. Never have I seen such an assortment of lovely baked goods. Antonio and Bruna, the owners of this fine establishment, are as delightful as the pastry. One Saturday morning, Aida, Yvette and I decided to check out this “Willy Wonka- like” shop of baked goods. (Yvette gets credit for that description). We had read that Antonio created the 1st tiramisu in Treviso, near Venice, on Dec. 24, 1969. THIS IS THE BEST TIRAMISU I have ever tasted! It is light, beautifully balanced perfection. Yvette had made an emergency tiramisu run a few days earlier, so we had already tasted that. However, little did we know that Bruna and Antonio make some devilish concoction that looks like a “lobster” made of phyllo and is filled with copious amounts of some sort of custard that should be illegal. You will need a cappuccino with this item.
I have heard on the Food Network, I believe, that “tiramisu” means “pick me up”. This had something to do with ladies of the evening needing something to perk them up as business was done. I must say that we were elevated to new heights by Antonio’s expertise. We asked Bruna if she would come to a party we were having that very night. We want to adopt her as our Italian Nonna.
Discover “La Dolce Vita” in Baltimore’s Little Italy. Check out http://www.piedigrottabakery.com
Sherry
Stay hungry, women!