Friday, November 13, 2009

Soups, pasta highlight menu at two Maryland wineries this weekend

Wanted to loop in a couple of events going on at Maryland wineries the next couple of weekends before focusing on what's on tap in P-A. Soup in the Cellar starts tomorrow (Saturday) in the 1830s wine cellar at Boordy Vineyards in Hydes, and coming off several days of rain and chilly temps, the timing couldn't be better.

This event will run from 1 to 5 p.m. the next three Saturdays. In addition to the wine and soups pairings and organic bread, you'll get a tour of the winery, some music, and a chance to toast marshmallows over an open flame cauldron. Expect a choice of the following soups: Southwest Shrimp and Corn Chowder, Tomato Cheddar Bisque, Mulligatawny, and Double Smoked Bacon & Black Lentil Soup. The winery is located 15 minutes north of the Baltimore Beltway.

Over in Frederick County, the already multi-decorated Black Ankle Vineyards has plenty cooking heading into the holidays. The year-old winery that already has produced Maryland's "wine of the year" in 2008 and 2009 Governor's Cup judging will be serving as host of another in a series of wine and dinner pairings at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Chef Paul Dongarra of Dionysus Kitchen will produce a three-course meal including pasta that will pair up with Black Ankle wines. Cost is $35 and $8 for a kid's plate. You can find out more by e-mailing Melissa Schulte at or calling 619.203.8230.

Next weekend the winery will have its chefs on location to answer questions about Thanksgiving foods and the wines that go best with them, plus Maryland-based artesian chocolate company Parfections will be in-house to build customized boxes of truffles for folks wanting to add some sweetness to their dinner table. A unique promotion called Family Photo at the Farm ($25 per session) will take place the day after Thanksgiving.

Owners Ed Boyce and Sarah O'Herron note on their Web site that supplies are dwindling on several of their wines, including their medium-bodied red blend called Passegiata (two cases left), their 2007 white blend called Bedlam (a winner of the 2008 Maryland Winemasters' Choice award, there are four cases left), and their white varietal called Gruner Veltliner (3 cases left of the '08 vintage).

Finally, back to the business of blogging

Forgive the lapse in posts. One week vacation seems to translate in almost two weeks out of pocket with all the work that accumulates.

Wanted to start anew by first thanking those who sent recommendations, etc., to me for our trip to Paris last week. Ate at a couple of the restaurants, saw a few of the suggested sites. I'd go back in a heartbeat. We didn't run into a single case of the rudeness that has long been associated with traveling through France. Whether it's the new climate created by Barack Obama or the fact it was the offseason or just, well, things have changed, I don't know. Maybe the global economic meltdown has softened the edge. But all our questions were politely met with the answers we needed to get where we need to go.

Had two restaurants I wanted to recommend, one with a name I'm still trying to track down. The other was La Varangue in Rue Cler, near the Eiffel Tower. Offered up as a place to go in Rick Steves' Paris book, it's a tiny eatery along a side street that seats around 25 on five or six tables. Philippe Mollay, who ran a French catering shop in the Philly suburbs for three years during the early part of this decade, brings over his chalkboard and reviews all the offerings for the evening in detail. Steves wrote that the cuisine is simple and cheap, and he was right on both counts. Add a thumbs up for the house wine and the chocolate cake, which Phillippe makes. And if you stop by, you might run into Phillippe's daughter, who pitches in as a waitress.

Have plenty of entries to post; some from interviews that go back a few weeks. See if I can't clear my notebook by the end of the weekend.