Just saw in the Frederick News Post that the County Liquor Board approved a wine and beer license for a new wine store. The board’s minutes are not yet posted on their website, but the paper reports that the store will be named Viniculture and will be located at 20 North Market Street. It seems like the downtown wine market is really getting saturated. Right now you have the dedicated wine stores Viniferous, Shab Row Bistro wine shop and Spin the Bottle within a few block radius. There are also several other establishments that sell wine: Firestones Market, Classic Cigars and Goodies and Juliets market come to mind.
PS Been to Spin the Bottle twice and really liked it. Review coming soon.
Two spirit oriented events coming up fast:
Friday May 3rd: Bourbon 101. A tasting featuring small-batch bourbons. This is part of the Frederick First Friday celebration. I had no idea this existed. If you check out their web page you can see they have a whole series of spirits tastings lined up for 2013. I’d love to try the Bourbon one, but can’t make it on such short notice. But scotch in September and rum in October? I’m there.
Saturday May 4th is the 2013 Cigar and Whiskey Night to benefit Pry House Museum and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. More information HERE
As of the time I write this there is a bill waiting to be signed by the Governor that would allow Maryland’s breweries to allow customers who come for tours to purchase beer at the brewery. It is my understanding that this would include growlers. To be more specific this new law, which if signed, goes into effect July 1st would allow holders of Class 5 brewer licenses to sell beer for on-site consumption. As the law stands now these licensees can only offer six 3-ounce samples to tour participants. They can also currently sell beer for off-site drinking.
This is a great development and sure to help the craft brewing industry in Maryland. I knew if I waited long enough the legislature would finally pass something good. After this session I need a drink.
Just had a delightful lunch at Acacia courtesy of Frederick restaurant week. For those of you whose experience with this establishment has been limited to looking at the small area visible from the sidewalk on Market Street you should know that Acacia is truly a lovely space. You will also be surprised by how large it is. Tastefully decorated in muted, contemporary tones, the space continues back through two more separate dining areas and culminates in a beautiful courtyard. The food is contemporary American mixed with Asian influences. I know the term fusion has become a clichéd term in food circles, but Acacia does it well and does it authentically. I also really liked that they try to use all local and natural meats. Their menu states they use all natural pork products from Dorsey’s Meats of Woodsboro and local grass fed beef from Hedgeapple Farm of Buckeystown. There was also at least one vegetarian option for each course of the restaurant week menu.
Since this was restaurant week the worst part of the meal was having to choose only two courses out of appetizer, entrée and dessert. I opted for the appetizer/entrée option and started with the seared brussels sprouts. Wonderfully charred with just the right amount of salt and oil they were spectacular. I would have been satisfied to stop right there. Bravely, however I soldiered on with the Kung Pao chicken. The menu describes this dish as :”natural raised chicken stir fry, spicy hoisin glaze, peanuts, jasmine rice, black sesame-pea shoot salad.” It was perfectly spicy with delicious bits of chicken in a savory brown sauce. I also sampled the Jagerschnitzel- wonderfully crispy breaded pork tenderloin. The red cabbage marmalade was a terrific accompaniment to this dish.
Any food blogger can take a picture of the dish before you eat it. The remains of my Kung Pao chicken
I would also be remiss without mentioning that they had an excellent and varied wine list. Also available were nearly two dozen wines by the glass. I had a the top-notch Dr Loosen Reisling. It was great with the appetizer, but completely overpowered by the spice in the chicken. The negatives? First I thought the service was a trifle slow. The only complaint with the food was the pre-appetizer bread they served. Both I and my companion thought that it was not as fresh as it should be.
Overall I give Acacia high marks. It certainly is in the top tier of dining in Frederick . The ambiance is quite romantic and it would be a wonderful place to take a date. I plan on going back and enjoying the patio area once the weather warms up. I would also like to visit the bar one afternoon- their collection of scotches looks excellent.
Just a reminder in honor of Frederick’s restaurant week that the master list of my restaurant reviews can be found on FredList HERE. Please feel free to leave feedback!
Is nearly upon us! It will be March 4th through 10th. 22 local restaurants are offering prix fixe, multi course lunch and dinner menus. Full details HERE. I plan on hitting a couple, how about you?
I’ve been meaning to review this place for a long time. There’s something about Firestone’s that seems to slide under my radar, and it really shouldn’t and I can’t give no good reason why it does. Perhaps its just my radar is off? It has certainly had its’ share of accolades: Firestone’s is one of the few Frederick area restaurants to hold a Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence. Not only that but they’ve done it for eight consecutive years! It is consistently mentioned in the top restaurants in Frederick Magazine’s annual awards. Anyway on a recent afternoon I went there with two friends for lunch. The first thing that strikes you is the space: it has a beautiful old feel. Lots of dark wood and brick. Large two-story windows overlooking Market street prevent the space from feeling too dark. The bar is a masterpiece of woodwork. There are tables on the bar level and on a mezzanine level that overlooks the bar level. The whole effect is making the place feel cozy and inviting in an old-fashioned way without the slightest hint of cliché or kitsch.
The food is what I’d call classic American. On the day I visited I sampled the pulled smoked pork shoulder sandwich, the grilled free range chicken breast sandwich and the smokey grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato. They were all quite good. If I had to pick my least favorite it would have been the chicken. I was a trifle bland and overcooked. The accompanying sides were excellent. You had the option of fries, but also a pasta (orzo) salad (really good) and a cucumber-vidalia onion salad (also excellent). Unfortunately after two Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ales I was too full to sample anything else, and also completely useless for the remainder of the afternoon.
And speaking of drinks the drink selection was top-notch: They have something like eighty beers and a constantly rotating selection of drafts. Also as expected from a Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence winner a great wine list. About 20 of those wines are available by the glass. I was also happy to see that nestled amongst the world spanning list they have a Maryland wine or two. Wine prices were decent.
Overall a place I have been to before and will continue to visit in the future. A great place to take guests since there really is something for everyone on the menu (vegetarian options as well). Next time I think I’d like to go back and sit at the bar and sample some of their wines and appetizers.
Firestone’s Culinary Tavern. 105 North Market Street, Frederick, Maryland
The direct shipping laws can be confusing. Here is a great article that lists some of the clubs that will ship to Maryland. I’m surprised that there are 32 of them. Way more than I expected as I had researched this some time ago and not found any. Wish I had seen this in time for Christmas! Oh well there is always next year.
Wine Clubs That Ship to Maryland
Just saw that Moxie, the lovely bakery way up on North Market Street has closed. Their location so far away from the downtown center had to hurt it.
It has been a little over a year since I reviewed the Wine Kitchen in Frederick. I am happy to report that having eaten lunch there this week they are as strong as ever. I sampled the beet salad, butternut soup, fish and chips and curry chicken salad sandwich. All were very good. On the drinking front their flights of wine have changed, they’ve added flights of whiskey and bourbon and their cocktails are delicious. I especially liked the Sparkling Good Time (cava, lillet rose and orange bitters). My companion had two Vida Locas -their version of a margarita .
A really gorgeous photo essay from the Baltimore Sun about harvest time at Black Ankle Vineyards. I have a renewed appreciation for quality photography since I have been playing around with my new camera. Much harder than it looks.
Unintentionally it seems to have become beer week here at the blog. Continuing in the theme the Beer Institute released some new data that indicates Marylander’s of legal age consumed 23.3 gallons of beer per year. This puts us 47th in the country. You think with all the quality breweries we have it would be higher. It makes you wonder if Marylander’s are more temperate or if there is some other alcoholic beverage of choice. Bringing up the rear was New Jersey, New York and last, Connecticut. The highest in the nation? New Hampshire with 44.2 gallons per capita.
You can see the data HERE.
I have updated my FredList page with a master list of most of the restaurant reviews that I have done here over the years. Check it out.
Little old Frederick is now big enough to boast two Cuban restaurants, which I have ignored long enough. I decided to dip my toe into the world of Cuban cuisine by starting at Sabor De Cuba, located at 9 East Patrick Street in downtown Frederick. Let me first digress by saying I don’t have much experience with Cuban cuisine, so is Sabor authentic? I really can’t tell you that. Is is good? The answer to that is a qualified yes. Like any restaurant it had its pluses and minuses. The restaurant is tastefully decorated in muted beige, white and brown tones and projects a casual atmosphere. When I was there the noise level was on the low average side. On the walls hang photographs of the classic 50′s cars that Cuba is known for. There is a small bar in the center. My one complaint? You can probably guess if you are a regular reader: the TV above the bar which was on. A pet peeve of mine. In a sports bar? Sure. But in a restaurant, not appropriate.
The service was attentive and timely. As we were seated the waiter noticed a crumb or two on the table that we had not seen. He immediately apologized and corrected the mistake. We started off with a mojito. Sabor had an interesting twist; the mint was pulverized into small flecks in the cocktail. However, I am sorry to say that I was disappointed in the mojito. I found it to be way too sweet, which overpowered the lime and completely obscured any mint flavor. At $8 a pop I’d give it a pass. Hope springs eternal so I would be willing to give the Cuba Libre a try. Alas my sobriety was required so I limited myself to one cocktail. While we are on drinks I was disappointed by the wine selection which was listed on the menu as simply Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio etc. That is usually a warning sign to me and a source of great frustration. Why more smaller restaurants don’t just list a few specific wines is beyond me.
On to the food. Honestly I believe we made a mistake. No one with me was extremely hungry and we did not order any appetizers. I have since heard from several people that the empanadas are one of their best items on the menu. We went straight to the entrees. The first thing that struck me when the food came was how monochromatic it was: everything on all three plates were shades of brown, with some white and black thrown in. But, as they say, the proof is in the eating. The Ropa Vieja (pulled flank steak) was good. The conji (cuban rice) and plantains were flavorful. The Pollo al la Plancha was excellent and by far the best out of everything I sampled. The dish consisted of a breast of chicken, pounded flat and marinated in citrus. The citrus flavors really came through. The pollo was accompanied with some white rice and black beans which were underwhelming. The plantains were also pounded flat and fried, but I found them to be rather tough and chewy. The final dish sampled was the picadillo (cuban chili), which was also good, but very mildly spiced.
VERDICT: The food was good and different. The prices were average. Not a bargain but not what I’d consider expensive either. I am intrigued by this cuisine and there is also plenty more I’d be happy to sample on a return visit.. How does it stack up to the other Cuban restaurant in town? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Check out Jan’s comments. They are very helpful. As I mentioned I really have no baseline to determine the authenticity of their cuisine. All I can say is what I like.
The official grand opening of JoJo’s Restaurant and Tap House was this past weekend. They had a soft opening a couple of weeks ago. Occupying the space formerly known as Patrick’s Pub I wish them the best of success and will check it out. Anyone go and have any first impressions?
The festival season seems to be upon us. Brunswick’s second annual Wine and Chocolate Walk is set for September 22nd. I poked around their website and it looks like a lot of fun. Check out the wine list here.
The Maryland Wine Festival is this weekend at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, MD. Thirty seven Maryland wineries will be pouring over 250 wines. This will be the 29th annual festival.
Recently the 2012 Governor’s Cup presented its annual awards for the best wines in Maryland. Hearty congratulations go out to the following local wineries who won best in class:
Best Off-Dry: Frederick Cellars • Trail’s End 2011
Best Sweet: Linganore Winecellars • Traminette 2011
Best Port: Black Ankle Vineyards • Terra Dulce II
Best Mead: Orchid Cellar • Archer
The following Frederick County wines won gold medals: Black Ankle Vineyards • Crumbling Rock 2009; Black Ankle Vineyards • Terra Dulce II; Frederick Cellars • Trail’s End 2011;Linganore Winecellars • Indulgence 2010;Linganore Winecellars • Traminette 2011;Orchid Cellar • Archer.
These were awarded silver medals: Black Ankle Vineyards Bedlam 2011 and Leaf Stone Syrah 2008; Catoctin Breeze Vineyard Dolce Vita and Honey Moon; Elk Run Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Merlot 2010 and Pinot Noir 2010; Linganore Winecellars Chambourcin 2007, Skipjack 2011 and Sweet Chessie 2011; Orchid Cellar Merlot 2010.
The following Frederick County wines were awarded bronze medals: Black Ankle Vineyards V.G.V. 2011; Catoctin Breeze Vineyard Amber NV; Distillery Lane Ciderworks Jefferson 2011; Elk Run Vineyards Syrah 2010; Linganore Winecellars Abisso 2007, Effervescence 2010 and Plum 2010.
An awesome showing by our county! If you aren’t trying local wines and visiting the wineries you are missing out on a great experience and, well, you are just a fool!
Vinotrip has a nice review of Orchid Cellar, local makers of fine mead. I really have to get there one day!!
CarterQue BBQ and Grilling in Mt Airy got a very favorable review in today’s Washington Post. Kudos to them. I’ve never been but the sweet and tangy black raspberry sauce they talk about makes me want to go in the worst way. Anybody ever been and care to comment?
Also Firestone’s Culinary Tavern had a fire early Monday morning and will be closed for a few days.
Well actually some of them already do. But they are anomalies or grandfathered in. The vast majority cannot. Most people really do not give this much of a thought, but the application for a liquor store above the new Columbia Wegmans has really brought this issue to the forefront lately. Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws does a great job of summarizing the controversy here. The money quote “Why do package good stores have any greater right to have their business protected than a five and dime? We have a capitalist marketplace. In every other industry, they have to deal with the competition. The booksellers have to deal with Amazon, Blockbuster has to deal with Netflix. Why do customers have to lose out?”
I believe that any store should be able to get a liquor license. Heck I should be able to get it shipped on the internet to my home. What do you think? I know a lot of people, especially in the southwestern part of our county, go to the Leesburg Wegmans or Costco. Wouldn’t Maryland rather have those tax dollars as well?
Grocery stores seeking way around alcohol sales ban. I have mixed feelings about this. Comments anyone? I do admit that I stop at the Leesburg Costco from time to time to get wine.
Good op-ed piece in the Sun on this issue by Adam Borden president of MBBWL.
And finally on Monday I posted about the best rose I have had in ages. Well it seems that I am not the only one who feels this way. In today’s wine column in the Washington Post Dave McIntyre gives the Alexander Valley Vineyards Dry Rose of Sangiovese the highest rating out of all the rose he reviewed. Refined palate or just plebeian tastes? I know which theory I’m going with.
Filed under Booze, Stores, Wine
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.