Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Club: Rocket to Venus

Our book club went to Rocket to Venus in Hampden a few weeks ago to discuss John Waters' Role Models. We were hoping to see John, but he was there two nights before and we missed him. I'm on his tail. I swear, one day, I will run into him and try not to jump up and down. We always pair our book with a restaurant that fits the book. Everyone and their brother has seen John Waters at Rocket but me. I'm starting to take it personally.

Cheryl ordered fried pickles for the table. They were so good and way better than the okra of my childhood.

Lane ordered chicken and waffles. The syrup threw me.

There was a gravy over the waffle. I wasn't brave enough to try it.

I had the burger and fries. Horrible photo but a seriously wonderful burger. Seriously, I hate to even say this but it is way better than the one at Woodberry and Bluegrass. I had to send the first one back it back it was so raw, but round two was perfectly cooked, medium rare, the bun was so soft and the flavor was amazing.

EAS at Let the Tide Pull Your Dreams Ashore suggested I try the Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly Dessert at Rocket. The sandwich is dipped in pancake batter, deep fried and smothered in caramel, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. I mean seriously? Our group was game.

We devoured it. I'm so glad we had a group willing to try such unique culinary treats.

I look forward to book club every month. It is wonderful visiting with such interesting women.

Two in the group are preggers.

Sweet Susan started the book club years ago. I lucked out meeting Katie and getting invited to join. We are all pretty serious readers but also honest if we don't read. This book was such a trip and only a few got through the whole book.

Lane, me, Susan and Cheryl all bonded last spring at our book club retreat on the shore while dying laughing over our sock monkey making extravaganza. We have a great retreat each year.

I have a little girl crush on Lane. She is my hippy soul sister.

Cheryl was so sweet and brought her coffee table book Weird Maryland that featured a section on John Waters. It was a fun discussion and a wonderful meal.

I was coveting Talley's fun fedora on the way out.

Thank you Susan for letting me join Our Book Club Has No Name. It is one of the highlights of my month. To all the ladies I get to see monthly, you rock!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tasty Town: Georgia

Thanks to Wendy and Twist of Lime for organizing the Your Town Tasty Treat swap. She paired us with other bloggers and people all over the country to swap out regional treats. We were to spend no more than $20.00 on a gift box that should arrive by Valentine's Day. I received this fun box on V-day from Bridget who is from Atlanta but went to school in Savannah, Georgia. She sent a cute Christmas card with the 12 days of Georgia and a box full of southern treats.

This cookbook was my favorite part of the whole gift and is an absolute riot.

I went to Miss PittyPat's Porch in Atlanta during a conference once. Bad idea. Way too touristy but hilarious non-the-less. These cream scones look pretty easy and have to be good.

There were pralines, a fruit cake, pear preserves, shrimp dip, a sassy apron and pamphlets for Savannah. E. was a little upset there were no peach preserves. He's a purest.

We shared the pralines at a dinner party this weekend. So sweet and delicious.

She packed the Braswell's Preserves in a koozie. Brilliant.

I'll look forward to trying this dip when it gets a little bit warmer outside.

The fruit cake is still in the fridge.

The same week my wonderful godmother sent me a box of old photographs from when I was The Bug. It was the best Valentine I could have ever received!!! Momma has called me The Bug since I was bitty and Mac is The Boss. There are pictures of them, dad's parents and even Dana Buchman from way back in the day in Memphis.

This is a photo of our kitten Boo Rufus up a tree. I wasn't even in the picture yet. Absolutely so cute and so little. I had never seen a photo of him this young.

I love this one with me and my Granddaddy on his birthday getting a new golf bag. He was a scratch golfer.

I've never seen this one with me and my uncle Johnny either. He was so handsome even with that crazy stash! Not sure why the photos turned red.

It was such a great package of memories that I will cherish.

I sent Bridget this Tasty Town Treat box from Baltimore and had the best time at Eddie's getting all the treats.

Utz are from PA but the crab seasoning is so classically Baltimore.

Berger Cookies, of course.

Everyone needs a little Old Bay seasoning. I love to add it to french fries and of course my favorite Gertie's crab cake.

I haven't tried the Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co, Inc. yet but this packaging was so cute I had to send it too. I also sent her Michele's Granola. A very expensive addiction E. and I can't  seem to break. But it is just so good and made in Maryland. I even sent her fig preserves from Stone Hill Farm. I had a nice bottle return on my Trickling Springs milk jugs so really only went over by $3.00.

I was given these cookies the first week I lived here  as a welcome gift from my mother's best childhood friend. Can you believe she lives just two miles up the street from us in Roland Park? Peggy's mother set up Momma's mother and daddy! She has exquisite taste and I was hooked immediately. Otterbein's cookies are great gifts. I get a tin at work every Christmas from the Maryland Jockey Club. I hope they weren't just dust when they got to Bridget. They are buttery and very crispy.

And finally I had to add a small bag of Mouth Party Sea Salt Caramels. This may have put me a few dollars over budget but I couldn't resist.

Bridget thank you for your wonderful gift box. I've been enjoying the River Street Sweets Glazed Pecans this afternoon. Harriett, thank you with the biggest resounding thank you for the wonderful, old photos. They were the best surprise ever.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bluegrass Client Dinner

During my important work meeting a few weeks ago our second event was held at Bluegrass, a new restaurant in Federal Hill. It was just given two stars by Tom Sietsema in the Washington Post this past week. Read the review here. Tom Sietsema is a pretty tough critic. I have to disagree with him on the bacon jam. I still stand by the fact that it is unique and very tasty. Some of our guests were put off by the name, "bacon jam". Don't you love when your bacon hits the maple syrup on your breakfast plate? Bacon jam has that perfect blend of of salt and sweet. Spread it on crunchy bread and you are set for a great pre-dinner nibble. No need for rehab as Tom suggests.

I arrived early to set up the place cards and Patrick and Jorbie gave me a great tour of the kitchen. 

Chef Ray was prepping the tomato bisque soup. I dig his burlap chef's coat.

We started off downstairs with a charcuterie board that featured home made crackers, Eastern Shore cheeses, picked okra, freshly pickled pickles, pimento cheese and an assortment of cured meats.  

Chef Morrow gave the guests a wonderful tour of the platter.

Everyone moved upstairs to dinner and Jorbie and I had a good chat about the accoustics. It is quite loud with thirty guests upstairs. They are working on the best solution to this. Our guests were howling with laughter and all had such a good time it could have just been us. We had a four course meal with choices. I tried to get photos of all the dishes but missed many. This was the creole tomato bisque and crawfish with house made andouille sausage.

 Mizuna green salad.

I had the Frisse with 90 minute egg. It was a perfectly runny egg that had been cooked in it's shell in a water bath at 125 degrees for 90 minutes. There were bits of bacon, house made croutons and sherry vinaigrette. I can't seem to find the printed menu so my discription may be a little off but the salad was fantastic.

The corn bread was delicious. I love the presentation and sweet cream butter that they brought with it. I had a birds eye view of the room from the bar and they brought me my very own corn bread. I was stuffed from the okra however and could barely make a dent.

The beef carpaccio looked amazing but I reserved my beef choice for my entree.

The lobster ravioli was freshly made by one of the chef's that day. It was so light and the puree of fennel was such a nice touch. The description was Lobster Ravioli, fennel puree, sauce Americaine, pernod emulsion. I couldn't taste the anise but think it was the part that had the foam. That's so Top Chef, don't you think?

I ordered the ribeye with white carrots, creamed spinach and raspberry sauce. It was such a great combination of flavors and the creamed spinach was my absolute favorite. 

Dessert arrived with a choice of banana cream pie or rich chocolate cake on the same plate. I would have lost my job had banana cream pie not been on our menu. Seriously, this was the star of the meal. I brought it home to share with my Charlie. It evoked memories of Hawaii for me once again and brought me virtually to Ted's Bakery on the North Shore of Oahu.

A large slice of apple pie arrived afterwards with a candle for my birthday. The whole room sang for me and I caught the last little bit on video to capture the moment. It was very, very sweet. Charlie also got apple pie as a treat.

Thanks once again Patrick and Jorbie for the wonderful, fun event. I haven't seen our clients have that much fun in a long, long time. You know you are having fun when your board members not only sing the Star Spangled Banner to honor our great city but also harmonize Happy Birthday. I look forward to bringing Eric in to dine so he can have more banana cream pie.