Saturday, July 31, 2010

Howard County Shopping Odyssey

I set out this afternoon to fill a prescription and ended up with a bag of empanadas, and that's why I love Howard County. I walked into the Target at Long Gate and was immediately greeted with good news.

The idea of being able to get my Target shopping and grocery shopping done all at once is something I have been looking forward to for a very long time. While I was waiting for my prescription, I was wandering the aisles (always dangerous) and remembered that I needed a new 12" frying pan. But I was disappointed in what I found at Target, nothing seemed to be decent enough quality to justify the price. So after I finished at the pharmacy, I headed down Route 1 to see what I could find at Sysco, the restaurant supply store.

Too bad I forgot they close early on Saturday and it was almost 4pm. But since I was there, I decided to wander through the flea market and maybe grab something to eat. Sadly, the flea market was closing up too with most of the stalls already covered in tarps and the food court in the process of shutting down, watched over by My Little Militia Melanie.

Since we were already on Route 1 and had run out of coffee this morning, we headed over to MOM's to grab a bag of Zeke's but when we got

there, we realized we were far too hungry to go inside a grocery store so we headed around the corner to Pollo Fuego to eat our body weight in plantains and some chicken too. Stuffed full of Peruvian poultry goodness, we were able to get out of MOM's with just the bare necessities; coffee, half and half, and garlic powder.

As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I remembered reading on HowChow that the Latin market across the street sold frozen empanadas. I haven't had a decent empanada since Produce Galore went out of business so I have been eager to get over there. I wandered around, looking through all the freezer cases but no empanadas. I resigned myself to the terrible fate of buying fresh-baked empanadas and having to eat them immediately and ordered a bunch from the really friendly employee at the counter. I asked her about the frozen ones and she explained they keep them in the back, you just have to ask. Good to know for next time. I got the chicken, beef, ham and cheese, and spinach flavor so I will know which ones to stock the freezer with.

Bonus: they had a flavor of Goya soda I had never seen before.It smells like Worchester sauce but it really does taste like carbonated sangria, which is to say it tastes really good.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Remembrance of Restaurants Past

I finally made it to Bon Fresco and while enjoying an excellent Italian sandwich I couldn't help but think of my favorite sandwich of all time, The Giacomo, from the now closed Italian grocery and deli Giacomo's that used to be back by T-Bonz in Ellicott City. I've tried to reproduce this sandwich at home but somehow I never get it right. It's a combination of Italian deli meats (prosciutto and salami and something else), a layer of ricotta, and sliced green olives on focaccia. The first time I went there, I made the mistake of commenting out loud how odd that sandwich sounded and the owner convinced me to give it a try, promising if it wasn't the best sandwich I ever ate, he would give me any other sandwich on the menu for free the next time I came in. I never got to take him up on that because I never ordered any other sandwich.

That got me to thinking about other dishes I loved at restaurants that are now history. Back in the late 80s, there was a restaurant downtown called Café Park Plaza. They had a dish on the menu called Shrimp Angel that was basically a bowl of garlic and wine sauce with big shrimps in it. It may have been an appetizer and that was all to it. It might have been an entrée and come with pasta. I really don't remember because I always ate it the same way; scooped up with big hunks of fresh bread. I couldn't name one other thing they had on the menu and we ate there at least once a month for over a year.

Right down the street from Café Park Plaza was another icon in the Baltimore restaurant scene in the 80s, Gampy's. Now you can get a Monte Cristo sandwich at just about any diner but I have never found one that compares to my memory of theirs. Ham, cheese, fried, jam on the side; perfection. I think they put crack in it. There's no other explanation for what made it so good.

Then there were the kosher dogs and western fries at the Homewood Deli in Charles Village. Royal Farm Stores western fries come close but always seem to fall just a little short of my memory. There was a bakery that shared space with the deli that made the most amazing pinwheel cookies. I think I have tried at least a dozen pinwheel cookie recipes and none taste like those did. I can't seem to get them as flat and dense. Mine always puff up too much.

Of all the food you've eaten that is now gone forever, what do you miss the most?

NOTE: Recipes will return when Baltimore is no longer hotter than the surface of the sun and it's cool enough to cook again in my little house without air conditioning.