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Restaurant Review – Nickel Taphouse

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Recently, I visited Nickel Taphouse, in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.  Several restaurants have come and gone at this site, but Nickel Taphouse seems to be here to stay. For one, Nickel Taphouse seems to adjust their menu to cater to the pallets of their clientele. When they first opened, the first item I tried on the menu that made me want to visit Nickel Taphouse again was, of all things, the Sweet & Spicy Crispy Chick Peas.  It is listed as a snack and is meant to be shared with the table.  The first time that I had these crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside chick peas, I used them as a garnishment in their beef chili. Although a little spicy, I enjoyed the burst of flavor that made me want more.

On this occasion, I decided to drop by for Happy Hour, which is served only at the bar. I got a Shirley Temple, which is my drink of choice, particularly at Nickel Taphouse, made with macerated fresh cherries.  My mom and sister got the Classic Mussels, which were swimming in a well- seasoned beer sauce and a good buy at $4 a bowl. Leaving nothing to waste, I scooped up some of the broth into the mussel shell and slurped it up along with the mussel.

I ordered my go-to Sweet & Spicy Crispy Chick Peas and added Deviled Eggs & Bacon Jam.  I really do not know why I ordered the deviled eggs in the first place, considering that I have never been much of a fan of this food.  I suppose that evening that I wanted to take a walk on the wild side and try something new and different for me.  I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone to try these deviled eggs because they are one of the tastiest treats I have ever had.  I believe – by what I taste – that there is wasabi in the whipped egg yolk mixture that gives it a spicy aromatic flavor.  The bacon jam adds a sweet tone that brightens up all of the flavors of the cooked exterior egg.   These deviled eggs are like a boat loaded with precious and delicious cargo. It is so good, and paired with the chick peas, they together made a great (and economical) meal for me that night.

Nickel Taphouse is quickly becoming the restaurant to visit in Mt. Washington and I would highly recommend that you take a trip to the area.  They open at 4:00 pm Monday – Friday and they open for brunch at 11:30 am on Saturday and Sunday, so prepare accordingly!  For more information on Nickel Taphouse, visit: http://nickeltaphouse.com/

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Restaurant Review – The Oregon Grille

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

A few weeks ago, I visited The Oregon Grille in Cockeysville, Maryland. Known for its equestrian roots, The Grille sports an array of historical photographs of previous Preakness races.  In case you are not familiar, Preakness is a horse race that happens every year in May on the Pimlico racing station in Baltimore.  Both equestrian lovers and Baltimoreans who are looking to have a fun time attend Preakness because of the high energy and rush of adrenaline that comes through attending this race.

While The Grille’s ambiance says “classic,” the food is very current and reflective of the current food trends. The greatest of these trends is bringing food from one culture together with food from another. The term we now use is fusion cuisine.  This was most evident in my appetizer: a grilled lobster spring roll.  This dish had many tantalizing flavors that together made for a fresh seafood and refreshing vegetable delight.

Given that we went for brunch, I had to try something that, on another day, I might not be able to get.  And so, I decided on the French Toast. I know, I know, I have already blogged about French toast at another restaurant.  However, this one was completely different. On one hand, the ingredients were evidently the classics: bread dipped in eggs milk, sugar and cinnamon. On the other hand, the bread was not the traditional slice of white bread.  Instead, they used brioche bread, topped with lightly sautéed berries.  Pouring premium maple syrup on this roll dissolved the berries and turned the whole topping into a jam.  Because the syrup  landed on the top portion of the roll, it did not penetrate until I made the first cut.  Without getting soggy, the bread soaked up the sweet syrup, which made for a delectable morsel.  I have had many French toast dishes in my day, but I would have to say that this is definitely at the top of my list!

Also, I tried the Black Truffle Mac & Cheese.  I have always enjoyed the earthy and savory flavor of black truffle.  I’ve put black truffle oil on fries.  Also, I have sautéed vegetables in truffle oil and added parmesan cheese to make a warm and very aromatic dish.  However, I have never had this oil on mac & cheese.  The flavors were very mild – but, nevertheless, delicious and, again, a reflection of today’s innovative cuisine. For a Black Truffle Mac & Cheese recipe, click here.  This recipe is from celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck, and it makes for a great dish at any time of the day.

All the dishes that I had at The Oregon Grille had something traditional and something contemporary, yet the wonderful tastes remained intact. I would highly recommend that you visit this restaurant, whether it be for Sunday brunch, happy hour or dinner.  For more on The Oregon Grille, visit: http://www.theoregongrille.com.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Restaurant Review – Jake’s Grill

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Recently, I visited a barbecue and pit beef shop called Jake’s Grill.  I call it a shop because, although they have a small eating area, most people take their food to go.  My family discovered this restaurant only a few months ago while we were driving up Falls Road toward Hunt Valley in Lutherville, Maryland.  Although it looks like a little vintage house, the tremendous smoking barrel grill that emitted the most delicious aromas on the front dirt area was a dead give-a-way that this was more than a family grill.

Many people say that Jake’s Grill has the best barbecue in Baltimore.  On Yelp, Jake’s Grill has an astounding five stars and on Urbanspoon it gets a rating of 4.5.  It is the barbecue and pit beef go-to place for the locals and foodies alike, and one sandwich could easily feed three people!

This visit I get what I normally order: a thinly sliced chicken sandwich for $6.50.  I take two condiment sized containers of their house barbecue sauce and two containers of their Tiger sauce.  If you are not familiar with Tiger sauce, it is a sauce that blends together horseradish, mayo and some other ingredients that make for a sinus clearing delicious sauce.  I should know – I put an entire container on my sandwich, forgetting the potency of the horseradish in the sauce. This sauce adds a special zing to any barbecue dish and I enjoy its unique taste. The chicken breast had a definite smoky flavor that was especially apparent by the charred edges of the chicken, but it remained moist and tender.  The barbecue sauce seems to have its own smoky flavor, which further intensifies the flavor of smoky goodness. The Tiger sauce brightens up the flavors and makes the sandwich sing!

In the past, I have gotten their ribs, and, as side order mac & cheese and greens.  The ribs fall off the bone as you bite into the tender meat. The flavor is also spot on and tastes as if it they first tenderized, then slow cooked the meat while occasionally basting the ribs to infuse the flavor.  The mac & cheese elicits the feeling of winter holidays and traditional comfort food.  The mac & cheese is creamy and the noodles are cooked to perfection.  The collard greens are juicy, packed with flavor and – like everything else on the menu – it tastes as though someone took hours to cook it properly and slowly to get the best results.  My experience at Jake’s Grill is always one that makes me feel as though they are the originators of the term “slow food.”  These guys undoubtably take pride in their food and the taste is just one indication that they want to serve the very best food.

Jake’s Grill may be a “no frills” kind of place, but the taste, quality and volume of the food really makes it stand out. To add to the overall experience, Jake’s gives their patrons a carnation to say “Thank You.” In response, we will continue to show our appreciation for their great food by stopping by for Jake’s amazing barbecue!

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Guest Post: 8 amazing professional tips for handling food

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

When handling food it’s very easy to pass on an infection by not following basic safety guidelines. Every year there are reports that restaurants have closed as a result of salmonella or other food infections being transmitted to their customers. Here are eight tips that you should always bear in mind when handling food.

  1. Wear gloves when preparing food

Professionals always wear gloves when preparing fresh food and there’s no reason why a domestic cook can’t employ this regime. These essential hygiene products are easy to source, and companies like Brosch Direct cater for commercial and domestic customers.

  1. Wash your hands

It might seem obvious but washing hands cuts down on the transmission of disease. In 2014 the prestigious chef Heston Blumenthal had to close his London restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel as a result of an outbreak of Norovirus amongst his customers. The industry safety magazine, Food Safety News said that Blumenthals’ staff were ‘told to wash their hands more often’ as a result of the outbreak.

  1. Prevention is always better than cure

Over 500,000 annual cases of food poisoning are reported every year in the UK. The NHS website recommends that work surfaces should be washed both before and after preparing food. This routine must be adhered to if you’re preparing raw meat, eggs, fish and vegetables.

  1. Store your meals

Those who cook food well in advance of mealtimes should always ensure that the meal is cooled and then stored in the fridge or freezer. Leaving a cooked meal hanging about in the kitchen will only encourage bacteria.

  1. Separate chopping boards are essential

Invest in some chopping boards so that you can use a specific one for meat, and then use another one for vegetables and another for fish. This will cut down on any risk of cross contamination. All raw food contains some form of bacteria.

  1. Keep organised

Chef Gordon Ramsay suggests that an organised kitchen will help you keep the food preparation and cooking environment clean. On his Channel 4 website Ramsay advises that you get in touch with your local environmental health officer for advice and guidance.

  1. Fridges should be kept spotless

Try to give your fridge a good clean at least once a week. Wipe up any spillages instantly. It’s a good idea to have a rotating system in your fridge and freezer so that products are date ordered, and it’s also important to store raw meat separately on the lowest shelf in your fridge.

  1. Cook your food well

Always make sure that your food reaches a piping hot temperature before serving. Chicken should never be pink, and pork products should also be well cooked.
This doesn’t have to mean that your meat will be tough, and if you steam or cook it slowly you can be confident that it will always taste delicious. You should always ensure that if you are using frozen chicken or pork that it has been defrosted thoroughly before you start to cook it.

Cooking should be fun. As long as you observe these food handling tips, you’ll still be able to create wonderful meals without the worry that you may be compromising the health of your family and friends.

About the Author: Jessica Foreman is a Durham University graduate specializing in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university. She is currently looking towards starting her Masters in Mobile and Personal Communications as well as broadening her horizons through travelling, first stop being Thailand.

Restaurant Review – Mari Luna

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

This week I went to Mari Luna.  There are two locations, one has the subtitle of Mexican Grill while the other is referred to as the Latin Grill.   Although their names would not indicate that there is a particular difference between the two Mari Luna restaurants, there is a significant difference: the menu.  Mari Luna: the Mexican Grill opened first, and it specializes in traditional Mexican dishes like empanadas and enchiladas while Mari Luna: the Latin Grill focuses on Peruvian dishes like paella and well-seasoned baked chicken.  Although both restaurants are great restaurants in their own right, my personal favorite is the Mexican Grill.

I have been a patron of Mari Luna: the Mexican Grill for the last few years.  It is located on Reisterstown Road – a main street in Pikesville, just over the Baltimore City border. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can expect a wait, but on weekdays it is calm enough so that you can enjoy a relaxed dining experience.

Of course, what is best about Mari Luna is the food.  I have gotten several items on the menu throughout the years.  I enjoy the enchiladas, made from fresh corn tortillas and I get the homemade red sauce.  It is a fantastic dish, but I was feeling in the mood for something that had a bright flavor, so I ordered the ceviche.

The ceviche is actually an appetizer that is meant to be shared with a table of about four.  I enjoyed this as my main course.  In case you are not familiar with ceviche, it is a dish that combines a variety of seafood such as calamari, shrimp and tilapia, cooked by marinating it in a citrus, like lime.  Thin slices of iceberg lettuce are mixed into the ceviche with sweet red peppers.  The ingredients are simple, but a definite palate pleaser. I use my tortilla chips like a spoon to get every last drop of the tangy citrus sauce and seafood.  I had about half of my ceviche so that I  could save room for dessert.

It is almost like a tradition for my family to get a particular dessert on the Mari Luna menu: the Sopapilla.  This is one of the simplest desserts ever. It is fried dough triangles tossed in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with honey.  It is served with a scoop of ice-cream. The fried dough comes out piping hot and the dough puffs up leaving the center hollow.  I particularly enjoy biting open the fried dough and then stuffing it with a scoop of ice-cream.  The contrast of the ice cold ice-cream and the hot fried dough and honey makes for a perfect dessert.

As always, my experience at Mari Luna: Mexican Grill was exceptional.  If I had a Mexican grandmother, I would imagine that her food would taste something like the food served at Mari Luna.  For more on Mari Luna, visit: http://www.mariluna.com.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Guest Post: Tips To Help Food Retailers Increase Sales

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Although they are quite different channels of distribution, brick and mortar, ecommerce and wholesale retailers can increase their sales by using the same methods. We are going to look at ways of achieving an increase in sales, which can be utilized by all three types of retailer.

Develop Relationships

Once you’ve got customers through the door, you want to start developing a relationship with them straight away. Yes, this applies to brick and mortar shops, but also to ecommerce stores and wholesalers. Make the entire shopping process as pleasurable as possible – for brick and mortar, make sure your store is clean and well-presented and your staff find the right balance between pushy and helpful; if you’re an ecommerce retailer, make sure your website has a simple, easy to navigate design and a checkout process with as little steps as possible; and if you’re a wholesaler, make sure the sales process is easy and uncomplicated.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once a visitor has been transformed into a customer, it’s essential that you try and develop that relationship further to ensure that they become a loyal repeat customer. This is especially important for wholesalers who tend to have fewer customers than other retailers, which makes increasing sales to current customers in the distribution network a key element in sales effectiveness.

Adding value and being able to communicate that value to customers is an important element of increasing sales to existing customers; however, relationship management is also very important in this regard. By focusing on developing and maintaining strong relationships with current customers, sales representatives can use those existing customer contacts to sell more products.

Increase Marketing Activity

There’s only so much that existing customers can do to help boost sales. No matter how valuable a wholesaler is to its customers or how strong their relationships are, their existing customers will eventually reach capacity for purchasing a wholesaler’s products. This means that adding new customers to the existing customer base is crucial to improve the effectiveness of sales. By demonstrating the value of a wholesaler over its competition, a company can attempt to draw customers away from its competitors.

An obvious way to do this is to increase and improve where possible your marketing activity. Ensure that meticulous research, planning, test marketing and monitoring are carried out to help maximize those sales. Thorough research is required to understand which messages will really capture your target audience’s attention, and test-runs of marketing campaigns will ensure that you don’t blow your entire budget on something that’s not going to be effective. Using measureable methods such as social media, coupons and codes, or monitoring website traffic are great ways of checking to see if what you’re doing is working.

Diversify Range of Products

It might be time to start thinking about introducing some new products or services to help grow your business, especially if you’re an older company. Think about what kind of products your target customers are buying but you aren’t selling that you could realistically make and market and generate profit by doing so – it may be that you need to replace some of your old products with updated ones or entirely new ones.

Review Pricing Strategy

Find out what your competition is charging for similar goods and services and raise or lower your prices accordingly: lowering prices can increase revenues to make up for lower margins, while increasing your prices can create a higher perceived value to your consumers and increase your margins. Remember: sales revenue is driven by the price of the products sold multiplied by the number of products sold, which means that sales effectiveness can be increased not just by selling more products, but also by raising prices. The more value you are able to add for its customers, the greater the price you can charge your customers.

How inventory management can help

Both retail and wholesale food operators should be using inventory management software to help make their business run more efficiently. Features can vary from system to system, but most inventory management software will offer the following benefits:

Live Updates

Because the software is running in real time, it is constantly syncing your orders and inventories, so you always know exactly where you stand, reducing the likelihood that you will make mistakes when filling in orders. This is especially helpful if you sell on more than one channel – for example if you’re using Amazon, eBay and a webstore – as it will stop you overselling and disappointing your customers.

Barcode Technology

This is a massive timesaver because you don’t need to spend time inputting long strings of numbers, you simply scan the barcode and all the product info is available from your inventory – the name, price and description for the product are all tied to that number. This will help save you time, reduce errors and increase sales

Reports and Forecasting

Because it has access to all your order history, the inventory management software can produce accurate sales reports on things like profit and how well certain brands are selling. This is great because it means you can forecast your future sales and restock your inventory accordingly.

Retailers can find innovative ways to increase their sales, but the key is to market your product effectively to bring in new customers and develop relationships with them so that they remain loyal and continue to use your services.

About the Author: Appah Prince is a Marketing Manager at Veeqo: Veeqo is a one stop to manage orders, products, inventory, shipping for merchants who sell on marketplaces such as ebay, Amazon, etc.

Restaurant Review – El Quijote and Doughnut Plant

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Last weekend was special in that it was the time in which we celebrate mothers.  More like a weekend than a day’s celebration, Mother’s Day is a time in which we celebrate all that mothers have done and all that they mean to a family.  My family’s celebration of Mother’s Day took me and my family from Baltimore to New York, first to New York City on Friday, then to Upstate New York, where my aunt lives and where my grandmother, who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, would meet us on Saturday.

On Friday, we did some Mother’s Day shopping and that evening we dined at a restaurant called El Quijote in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York.  El Quijote opened in 1930 and has been serving traditional Spanish dishes like paella and seafood dishes for the last 85 years.  The appearance of El Quijote, both on the outside and the inside, is unassuming; however, don’t be fooled by the external appearance – the food is truly to be rivaled.

There was one slight indicator of the food: everyone in my party noticed silver pots at a table next to us.  We collectively assumed that the pots contained mussels or some food that took up a lot of space.  Little did we know that everyone gets a full plate of food in addition to a pot containing at least two additional servings of food. I have never experienced this at a restaurant, and having large food portions is definitely what sets El Quijote apart from other restaurants.

I ordered the namesake El Quijote entrée Chicken Quijote. The dish came with several pieces of chickens with a red sauce that had full pieces of roasted garlic cloves.  The chicken was tender and fell apart as soon as I placed my fork in it.  The garlic cloves were just like butter, as I spread it on crispy pieces of bread.  I was only able to eat one piece of chicken because we had already eaten Camarones Ajillo Shrimp in Garlic Sauce for an appetizer.  There were so many tantalizing flavors, I was hardly able to stop at a few pieces of shrimp and a piece of chicken. Nevertheless, my stomach told me “save the rest for later.”  And so, I did.

As if El Quijote weren’t enough, it turns out that the absolute best doughnut shop ever – called Doughnut Plant – is just a few buildings down from El Quijote.  Doughnut Plant has a variety of unique doughnut flavors like rose petal, hazelnut chocolate and crème brûlée. I ordered my favorites: a chocolate doughnut, which has rich dark chocolate drizzled on a yeast doughnut and a crème brûlée doughnut, which is filled with fresh crème brûlée and topped with a crystalized caramel sauce.  Both are conflations that make for the absolute best desserts.

If you are ever in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, I would highly recommend that you visit El Quijote and Doughnut Plant. One provides old world charm and traditional Spanish flavors  while the other will give you American sweetness at its best.  Until next time, don’t stop eating!

Find out more about Doughnut Plant by visiting: http://doughnutplant.com/. To find out more about El Quijote, visit: www.elquijoterestaurant.com/.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Restaurant Review – Broadway Diner

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

This week’s featured restaurant on the Foodem blog, I refer to as “The Diner” because I go frequently and the food is so delicious that it trumps all other diners. “The Diner” – short for Broadway Diner – has been featured on its fair share of food shows and articles.  The menu is extensive and there is truly something for everyone.  “The Diner” serves breakfast all day, it is open 24/7, and the portions are generous.  The food is delectable and tastes as though the chef wanted to make something special, just for you.

It’s hard to go to “The Diner” and not get two things: seafood bisque and tasty bread filled with cream cheese that is topped with sesame seeds.  The seafood bisque is just served from Friday to Sunday and is absolutely out of this world good.  Dipping slices of the bread into the bisque is even better. The cream cheese has a slightly sweet undertone and the cream from the bisque and texture of the big lumps of seafood make a flavorfully and texturally balanced dish.

Just as delicious is the house balsamic vinaigrette.  This dressing makes any salad tenfold better.  I got the Greek Salad, which came with fresh and crispy lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and pita bread.  I poured the dressing over the entirety of the salad and made sure that there was also enough on the plate so that I could sop the dressing up with the pita bread, making miniature vegetable gyros. Although I did not get fries, when I do, I use the balsamic dressing as a dipping sauce.  The balsamic vinaigrette has a tangy, creamy, and sweet flavor that is so distinct and so good.

Another dish that at least one member of my party usually gets is the Broadway Festival. This is a dish that was featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and the recipe is shared on the Diner’s website.  Scallops, shrimp, lobster tails and mussels are sautéed with a special tomato based sauce, which is then added to perfectly cooked pasta.  The owner of the restaurant, George Kavourakis, came up with this recipe and, though the recipe is shared online, it is still one of the most ordered dishes at “The Diner.”

On this visit, I did not get a dessert, however what we usually get is the  Baklava Cheesecake. The Baklava Cheesecake consists of a large slice of cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of authentic baklava, drizzled with honey.  I usually take this home because I am stuffed. In this case – having had the seafood bisque, cream cheese bread and a large salad – I could not even begin to think about dessert.

My experience, as always, was enjoyable.  There is always enough food to take home and the food is always satisfying.  “The Diner” does have the ambiance of a diner, with a mini juke or game box at each booth, but the food is truly above and beyond.  To find out more about Broadway Diner, visit http://www.broadwaydiner1.com.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Restaurant Review – Earth, Wood and Fire

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

I didn’t realize just how much I liked food until I began blogging on restaurants for Foodem.  Yes, I have always watched the Food Network; but no, I infrequently cook – mainly because my repertoire consists only of sautéed vegetables and omelets. Then again, I have always enjoyed eating food – some good for me, and some not so much. In high school, my favorite was a Snicker’s Ice-cream bar.  By college, I was more likely to enjoy a bowl of green beans topped with marinara sauce. Now, I’m somewhere in between.  I suppose that I’ve always liked food – wholesome or not so much – and this experience has allowed me to share that delight with others.

Recently, I had dinner at Earth, Wood and Fire, on Falls Road in Baltimore.  This restaurant has become a neighborhood favorite that offers burgers, meatball subs, and other tasty dishes.  They are best known for their pizzas – a food that lends itself well to family style dining.  In addition to a regular crust, a whole wheat crust is an option that is especially good for those of us who try to eat well.  Additionally, their pizzas are coal fired, which gives each slice a crispy crust and bubbly, stringy cheese.

On this occasion, my group ordered two whole wheat crusted pizzas – one a scampi pizza and the other a traditional pepperoni pizza. The scampi pizza, as the name would imply, has the ingredients of a scampi pasta dish – sumptuous shrimp with pieces of roasted garlic, dollops of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, shreds of provolone and Romano cheese with a sprinkling of olive oil.  The pepperoni pizza is what you would expect from any high quality pizza pie, only the whole wheat crust was a nice added touch.

The whole wheat crust is maybe just a little bit crispier than regular crust, but it does not at all detract from the amazing flavor profile of each pizza. The pepperoni pizza leaves little drops of flavorful oil that can be used as a dipping sauce for the crust. You can do the same with the scampi pizza, only instead of pepperoni oil, it is olive oil macerated with buttery soft roasted garlic.

I would have opted out of getting dessert, had it not been the case that the special, just for that evening, was upside down pineapple cake.  The cake had the consistency and flavor of cornbread.  The pineapple rounds, maraschino cherry and caramel drizzle gave the cake a little added moisture, and a heap of vanilla ice-cream offered a creamy note that paired well with the acidity of the pineapple.  As if the pizza weren’t enough, I really did enjoy the upside down pineapple cake also.

The food is amazing and the service is topnotch.  Earth, Wind and Fire has become a neighborhood favorite and I look forward to visiting again – especially for more pizza!  To find out more about Earth, Wind and Fire, visit www.earthwoodfire.com.

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.

Restaurant Review – Alchemy Modern American Eatery

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

As I made my way to the Avenue, in Hampden – a neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore – I couldn’t help but notice all of the new awnings welcoming customers from all walks of life.  Many of these awnings are welcoming points for restaurants; and these restaurants are made for the foodie inside of all of us.  One of the newer places is Alchemy, a restaurant that is passionate about providing superb and artfully crafted food.

Alchemy is, essentially, the medieval understanding of chemistry that turns base metal into gold.  True to its name, the Alchemy menu transforms simple items into gold on the palate.

My first taste of a full meal at Alchemy was just a few weeks ago for brunch, which is only served on Sundays.  It was precisely this visit that made me want to feature Alchemy in this Foodem blog.  The food was magnificent! Every dish that I saw leaving the kitchen seemed to be like pictures out of a recipe book.  I made a mental note: “the next time that I have a chance, I am definitely coming back to try other items on the menu!” And so, I did; again, for Sunday brunch.  Once again, I had no idea what to order from a menu that has a plethora of delicious sounding items.

Our waiter suggested French Toast or the Baltimore Benedict. The Baltimore Benedict is a classic breakfast dish with a Baltimore twist.  It features poached eggs over ciabatta bread with chunks of tasty lump crab meat and old bay seasoned sausage – all smothered in hollandaise sauce. The French Toast consists of three layers of brioche bread and mascarpone cheese slathered between each layer.  Topped with ripe raspberries, blueberries and black berries, this dish was a winner.  I said to myself, considering the amount of fruit on this dish, it must be healthy…. right? The blend of flavors, from the tartness of the fruit to the sweet tang of the mascarpone – then an aloe syrup that was quickly absorbed by the brioche – the texture was just right, the flavors – spot on.  For a side dish, I got the cheesy grits.  I spooned some cream of crab soup on top of it that I borrowed from my lunch partner.

All in all, the prices are reasonable, considering the excellent service, and quality and quantity of food.  In fact, Alchemy has prix-fixe specials on Tuesdays and Thursday, making it even more affordable to dine there.

One last thing, the menu changes frequently to showcase seasonal foods and several of the regular items on the menu are sourced from Maryland farmers and vendors. I look forward to my next visit to Alchemy, which is sure to be in the very near future.

Footnote: I just learned yesterday that the Alchemy Executive Chef, Michael Matassa, just won the award for the Maryland Chef of the Year through the Restaurant Association of Maryland.  Kudos to him and his team!

About the Author: Amber Royal is the owner and operator of Royal Things, a socially conscious, handcrafted jewelry micro-business that provides a meal to someone in need for every item sold.  In researching how to provide healthy and good tasting meals, she has developed an interest in food, the food industry and how food is sourced.  She is blogging about restaurants to give the Foodem audience a look into the restaurants that serve locally sourced good-tasting food. To learn more, visit www.royalthings,com.