Since some of you have asked here are my top five places to buy wine in and around Frederick. Since I work downtown, I primarily shop around the city area so there may be some worthy stores in farther flung locales that I am not aware of. In order of preference:
1. The Frederick Wine House. I like this place because of its love of wine is apparent from the moment you walk in. They have a friendly, knowledgable staff that often has tasted the wine you are interested and can steer you towards what you want. I trust them so much that when pressed for time I just walk in, tell them what I am eating for dinner that night and how much I want to spend. They hand me a bottle, I pay for it and walk out the door confident that I am going to have a great wine. I also like that they make a terrific effort with their frequent tastings, and their live video tastings with winemakers. Guy the beer guy is an encyclopaedia of beer as well. All this helps to make it my go-to place and favorite store in Frederick.
2. Spirit Shoppe. They have, arguably, the best wine and beer selection in Frederick so that’s why I list it here. They have depth from all around the world and their selection of bargain priced wines is worth exploring and changes frequently. If you read about something in a magazine and want it this store is your best chance for finding it around here. What I don’t like is that their service is sub par. I have been going very regularly for 21 years and can count on one hand the number of times I have been asked if I need help. The people that work there spend 95% of their time behind the counter and I have no confidence that they have any knowledge about wine.
3. Viniferous. Since my first review of this store I have been back many times. I have found the owner to be enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They may not have the breadth of selection of numbers one or two but they have a nice quirky collection of wines that you do not see anywhere else. I also like that they have everything from super expensive wines right down to the lower end. I never walk out of there empty handed. They have an active Facebook page that gives notice of their tastings and specials. As a postscript ranking this was a tough one. I hemmed and hawed whether they should be second or third on this list. I’m still not sure. Maybe just call it a tie for second?
4. Westridge Liquors. (No web site that I am aware of) Good selection but with indifferent, liquor store service attitude. Pricing in line with 1,2 and 3. Never seen sale here. On the plus side they have great depth in French wines.
5. Old Farm Liquors. While this place may lack the depth of some of the places above they do have some off beat selections and by far the best pricing out of all of the stores listed here. They have good sales from time to time. They also have the largest selection of prosecco in the area. If I need half a dozen bottles of prosecco or cava for a party this is the place I go.
In anticipation of the impending changes (on July 1st I believe?) in the alcohol laws are two new ”farm breweries” in Frederick County that are slated to open soon: Frey’s Brewing Company and Milkhouse Brewery. Exciting times. Ever so often the legislature actually does something good. I look forward to their opening and as soon as possible I shall visit them and report back here. Maybe I can get a sneak preview on one: Milkhouse Brewery is on Stillpoint Farm which is where FirkinFest, the grand finale to Frederick Beer Week , is being held.
This past legislative session saw some changes in the laws which will be of interest to readers:
Corkage: The practice of bringing your own bottle of wine to a restaurant to drink is commonly known as corkage. Up until now this has been illegal in Maryland (in fact I believe that Volt got into a bit of trouble last year for allowing this). As of July 1st, 2012 patrons of Maryland restaurants will now be permitted to bring that special bottle when they dine with a couple of conditions: the restaurant must allow it and have a permit to do so from the local liquor board, the wine must be consumed with a meal, and the wine is not available for sale on the restaurant’s wine list. As an aside the last condition should be honored simply as a matter of proper etiquette law or no law.
Middletown Wine Festival: A bill passed the legislature that allows a wine festival to be held within the municipal boundaries of the town for no more than two, one-day festival per year.
Packing Heat: Lastly I’m sure you will all feel better and safer that the Legislature will now allow Frederick County’s alcoholic beverage inspector(s) to carry firearms in the course of their duties. I predict that a SWAT team will not be far behind.
Anyone at the festival? I’d love some reports. Post them in the comments. I’ve never made it as this is always the crazy season for my wife so there’s a period of a week or two when I’m a single parent.
Just noticed that the Volt blog was updated with some information and pictures on the new diner project that they are working on. Interesting transition from car dealership to diner. Blog entry here.
Just wanted to say that I’ve been on an Asian kick lately. In the space of a week I have eaten at both Lucky Corner and Sumittra. I’ve reviewed Sumittra before and found it to be excellent. I been back at least half a dozen times since that review and it has never disappointed. It has become our go to Thai place in Frederick (Sorry Thai Rice!). However, this was the first time that I had been to Lucky Corner and I had to wonder what took me so long. I sampled the chicken Pho, mango chicken, veggie egg noodles and veggie hot pot. I don’t have time to do a full review, but the food was uniformly delicious, the menu was filled with dozens of things I would have been happy to try, and the service was perfect. I’m curious as to how it stacks up to the other two Vietnamese restaurants in Frederick? Comments anyone?
There are all sorts of boozy events coming up:
Toast to Frederick wine festival- April 21st and 22nd at the Frederick fairgrounds
The Maryland Craft Beer Festival at the Frederick fairgrounds. May 12th from noon to six.
Frederick Beer Week- May 12-19th. Events all over the Frederick area.
Wine in The Woods- May 19 and 20th at Merriweather Post Pavillion.
Bloom announced that they will be shuttering their Walkersville store in February.
Just goes to show you how stupid the State’s liquor laws are: Comptroller Blasts County For Illegal Liquor Purchase
Great article about Black Ankle vineyards here. It’s only part one. I look forward to the second part and to see how she answers the question a lot of us, including me, have asked: are Black Ankle wines worth the price?
Also someone (or someones) else liked the Knob Hall Chambourcin as much as I did. It won the top award at the American Wine Society’s Annual National Conference in a competition of the top varieties and wines of the Maryland and New Jersey region. Article here.
Word is that Lunchbox opens tomorrow. I will stop by next week and let you know. Anyone care to post any of their impressions in the comments?
Yesterday I was in a foul mood. I was a grumpy parent, a crabby spouse and a surly boss. Not quite as bad as Kevin Spacey in Swimming With Sharks (favorite clip here) but pretty close. I’m not sure what my deal was, by when I woke up this morning I was filled with the Thanksgiving spirit. Truly I have so much to be grateful for on this the eve of my favorite holiday. A day oriented towards family, food, drink and gratitude. What’s not to like? So happy Thanksgiving to all. Dinner for 15 at stately Fred Manor tomorrow!
This past weekend I had an opportunity to visit Knob Hall Winery. Located in North Western Washington County, the owner, Dick Seibert, has taken 30 acres of his 200 acre family farm and planted a number of different varieties of grape. The tasting room is situated in an 1860′s post and beam barn. I have a thing for old barns so I loved to look at the woodwork. However, I will have to admit it was quite rustic. Currently they have plans to renovate and update the tasting area though.
Quite frankly I do not care what the tasting area looks like as long as the wine is good. I did get to taste all of Knob Hall Winery’s current releases. As usual with my Maryland wine tasting adventures I am always pleasantly surprised, uncovering wines that can hold their own against others from better known areas. My two favorites were their Chambourcin and their semi-dry rose. The rose was only slightly sweet and had nice fruit and acidity. The Chambourcin was full bodied and very interesting, with lots of sour red fruit and hints of earth and leather. It is unusual to see a single varietal made from Chambourcin, a fairly obscure grape, and I was excited to try it. Defintely worth a trip and bringing home a bottle or two as well.
Knob Hall Winery is located at 14108 St. Paul Road in Clear Spring, Maryland. Their phone number is 301-842-2777.
The third thursday in November is tomorrow and that means beaujolais nouveau. Loyal reader(s) will know my conflicted feelings on the issue. As usual I will sample some and let you know. I am not aware of any special festivities planned for the Frederick area. Anyone have any news?
Previous thoughts on this event for 2010, 2009, 2008, more 2008, and 2007.
Word is that the team of Voltaggio and Staples are opening a new restaurant in early December on Carroll Creek. From the description its going to have to be on one side or another of the Wine Kitchen. It will serve sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts in a casual setting. Here is the website. Not much to see right now.
UPDATE: Hadn’t seen this when I wrote the above entry, but Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post has a more in-depth article here. BV is going to be busy next year! He also reports on some major changes at Volt:
Come January, Voltaggio plans to introduce some significant changes at his flagship restaurant. Volt will dispense with its a la carte menu and offer instead a four-course list for $80 that will completely change at the start of each month. Lunch service will be cut back to Saturday and Sunday, a move that will help Voltaggio and his team “push Volt to the next level” — finetune dishes, prepare additional canapés, re-write those menus — since the kitchen space will be free weekdays.
Did you know that Frederick had beer trail? I didn’t. Here is the article from the Downtown Frederick Partnership. With the exception of Roast House Pub I’ve hiked the whole trail, however I’m not sure I agree with all the listings. Certainly Flying Dog, Barley & Hops and Brewer’s Alley deserve to be on there. What about the others? Does simply serving good beer warrant inclusion? Let me know.
The Senate’s bipartisan plan to shore up the postal service’s shaky finances includes a provision to allow the USPS to ship wine and beer. Currently only UPS and FedEx do so. Sen. Lieberman is quoted as saying the plan would pull the mail service ”back from the brink of bankruptcy.” Alcohol has certainly saved me from the brink a few times so why not the mail?
Full article here.
Is this the future of the USPS?
Wherein I break my own rule and review a chain restaurant. I know this does not really fit my criteria of a chain: there is one Wine Kitchen in Leesburg and they opened one in Frederick last month. If you have been paying attention to my twitter feed you would know this review was coming. First impressions were very good: the space is tastefully decorated in what I’d call semi-modern style with lots of wood and metal. Plenty of tables overlook Carroll Creek and in the other direction the open kitchen. There also was a private room which looked like it could easily seat twenty or so. When I was there is was still under construction.
The food was very good. I started with the butternut squash soup which turned out to be the highlight of my meal. Rich creamy soup with fried goat cheese balls and a drizzle of olive oil. I came close to licking the bowl on that one. I also sampled the sheep’s milk agnilotti, the heritage pork belly and the Border Springs Farm lamb flatbread. All three of which were delicious. I cannot stand overcooked pasta and I am happy to report that the agnilotti was cooked perfectly. The pork belly had a nicely crisped exterior and a juicy inside. The menu is not huge, but there is plenty to choose from.
Of course, like the name implies this place is about wine. The best way to enjoy this is get one of their flights. These are groupings of three wines, thematically tied together. They come in high quality glassware and each flight was accompanied by a little set of cards explaining the three different wines. I ordered the Italian Renaissance, which was the only flight that had both white and red wine. I had the white (Fuso Verdicchio) with the soup, which made for a terrific pairing. The other two were reds. The only down note was that I felt like the last wine of the flight, the Marabino Noto Nero D’Avola, was a little old and flat tasting. I always have a little bit of a concern about freshness in places that have a lot of wine by the glass available on the menu, yet just keep the partially full bottles out on the counter with the corks stuffed in them. On the plus side there are lots of interesting flights to try: Pinot Evil and a flight of three bubblies caught my eye.
The service was good and the lunch with appetizer, entrée and a flight of wine each came to about $40 each including tip. All of us agreed that it is well worth a return trip. On the way out we noticed a nice set of leather sofa surrounding a fireplace. That would be the spot to while away some time while sampling their wines!!
Not trying to get all paparazzi on you but here is a recent picture of Chef Voltaggio at the West Frederick Farmer’s Market shopping. It’s not my picture so I’ll just link to it.
This serves as a great reminder to get out there before its over! I was there two Saturdays ago and just blown away by the abundance. All the fall glory with some of summer still hanging on as well. This really is the best time of year to go. Among my scores were some amazing apples, my favorite vegetable of all time: brussels sprouts and got a huge bunch of rainbow chard on impulse. Mrs. F displayed her strong knife skills (Shout out to Chef Christine and the Kitchen Studio!) by julienning the leaves and dicing the stems. Sauteed the whole thing in olive oil and served it with a sprinkling of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. Amazing!
This picture does not do it justice!
Just saw that Danielle’s restaurant at Shab Row shut its doors for good. There was some indication they were going to try something different but apparently now they are just plain closed. I remember when the space was occupied by Tauraso’s. It seems to me that local restaurants who are serving higher end ”American” cuisine are having a harder time of it than some other more specialized restaurants. What do you think?
UPDATE 10/26/11: The Frederick News Post is reporting that the restaurant owed more than $353,000 in sales and witholding taxes. Ouch!
Mionetto prosecco frequently pops up on lists of value bubblies. I’ve had it a few times over the years and enjoyed it but it hasn’t been in our regular rotation here at home, which was frustrating since I know its very widely distributed. It turns out it’s just really a matter of going to the right liquor store, and I found it this past week at Old Farm Liquors. It was on sale for $9.99. To be precise, since they make several varieties, I am talking about Mionetto Prosecco Brut D.o.c. I found it to be moderately bubbly, with lots of golden delicious apple flavors with a hint of pear. It winds up with a nice, crisp dry finish. It also had a little bit of champagne-like undertones that elevated it a notch above the usual prosecco. Had it with ham and cheese (Gruyère) crepes and it was excellent.
Got an email from VOLT. They’re having a party at Harry Grove stadium next Tuesday the 18th:
Please join the Voltaggio Brothers for an action packed night at the Harry Grove Stadium
- Home of the Frederick Keys Baseball Team - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 6 -10 p.m.Two of America’s best chefs have joined together in the creation of VOLT ink, a new cookbook by Bryan and Michael Voltaggio… and we are throwing a party to celebrate!
Concession food courtesy of the Voltaggios take on ballpark food. Beverages by Flying Dog Brewery and Brewers Alley. FACKA Double Header (Frederick Adult Co-ed Kickball Association) featuring one regular game and a second All Star Game with the brothers playing on the East
Coast vs the West Coast team. Concert provided by the Regal Beagles Yacht Club Band and the Blatant 80′s. Kids Fun Zone for oodles of fun for the kids.
Entry tickets $8 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Children will need a ticket for entry.
Early release of the book will be on sale for $40 and the brothers will be on hand for signatures.
I’m going to keep an eye on the forecast for Tuesday, but right now it looks decent. You can get tickets by calling 301-815-9939 or clicking here.
The Washington Post did a neat article on Maryland Wine in their food section yesterday. They report a couple of interesting tidbits. First that Maryland wineries are up from 15 in 2000 to 52 today, with 15 additional applications pending. I also liked the information that Black Ankle Vineyards was the first Maryland winery that sought out land (poor, rocky soils on relatively steep slopes) specifically for grape growing rather than planting on a previously owned farm. Exciting times and you as a Frederick County resident are living in the center of Maryland’s wine country.
In scanning the real estate listings in my other life I noticed that Frog Eye Farm; the most excellent pick your own blueberry farm that we have been patronizing over the years is up for sale. I was aware that the owner had been having some health issues. I hope all is well with him and whoever buys it keeps it up. Anyone for blueberry farming? Anyway as a hedge we will be planting a half dozen blueberry bushes on stately Fred Manor just to assure our supply.
In case you are interested the listing for the property can be found here.
UPDATE 4-23-12: The listing link is no longer valid. Anyone have an update on this property?