Monday, April 20, 2009

Slow Food Menu at Great Sage

This week is an excellent to time to visit Great Sage, the gourmet vegetarian and organic restaurant in Clarksville. You can raise your consciousness, celebrate Spring, and investigate alternative eating approaches all at once...or just go and enjoy a fine tasting meal.

The Slow Food Baltimore group sponsors an "Eat in Season Challenge" to local chefs, and this week (April 21 - 26) Great Sage's chef Russell Svoboda answers the call. The chef offers a $27 three-course prix fixe dinner menu that looks mighty good. Don't know much about Slow Food? Check out more at SlowfoodUSA or Wikipedia.

Also, tonight (April 20), the restaurant offers a six-course raw foods dinner and lecture for $40. Reservations required; call the restaurant at 443.535.9400 for more details.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Catonsville Restaurant Week

Next week is a good time to travel up Frederick Avenue to try out some of Catonsville's finest food during their Restaurant Week, April 21-26. The week kicks off with a Taste of Catonsville reception and tasting on Monday, April 20.

Catonsville's Restaurant Week kicks off on Monday, April 20, with The Taste of Catonsville, a night to sample the best of the town all in one spot. The event will be held at the Rolling Road Golf Club from 5:00 - 7:30 pm. Tickets are $35 in advance (until 5pm Sunday) or $45 at the door.

The Taste of Catonsville event kicks off the town's ReDiscover Catonsville Restaurant Week from April 21-26. Eighteen Catonsville restaurants are participating, offering coupons (available here in a .pdf) for discounts of 20% or more on meals.

See full post on

Now Posting on

I've decided to broaden my blogging horizons a bit and have begun posting on as a Baltimore Restaurant News contributor. I'm taking this step as a way to reach a wider audience and tackle a larger dining community.

The model is an interesting one, gathering a whole array of local bloggers and others to offer an alternative local news source. It's not perfect, but it stands a chance of getting better, and I decided to get on board now rather than wait. I hope you'll find information of interest to you in both of my blogs, and find other things you like on

I will continue to write this Live in Howard County blog, focusing on events, restaurants, shopping and more within Howard County. You'll see some content that overlaps both blogs, but I'll try not to be too repetitive. Please bear with me as I find my footing. And any suggestions or recommendations for either blog are always welcome.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In my web wanderings I just came across the site and wanted to pass it along. It's got nothing to do specifically with Howard County, but my, what a wonderful foodie site.

"Founded on the idea that we eat first with our eyes," is the theme of the site. It's an innovative and fun way to find interesting recipes, blogs and other websites. Perfect for the days when you crave a little culinary inspiration or just want to figure out what to make for dinner. Plus, it's just a beautiful site to wander around. Enjoy.

Have any other favorite foodie sites to recommend?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vesuvio Italian Bistro

Vesuvio Italian Bistro is in the former location of the Lucerna Grill, near the Glenwood Library and Community Center. It's a friendly place for a decent Italian lunch or dinner in western Howard County. It's been under the current ownership for perhaps a year and has an informal, neighborhood vibe.

There's no web site at the moment, but the menu is a collection of Italian bistro standards, centered around pasta dishes or entrees of chicken, veal or shellfish. Two dishes have kept me coming back. The Shrimp Fiorentina appetizer, with large shrimp, fresh spinach and garlic smothered with mozzarella, is plenty to share. The Pollo Pinali chicken breast with pine nuts, artichoke hearts, basil and lemon over capellini is distinctive.

Prices at dinner, with most dishes in the $14-18 range, strike me as a little steep for an everyday kind of place. The lunch menu, which is basically the entire menu in slightly smaller portions with a selection of sub sandwiches also available, is more reasonable. I'd like Vesuvio even more if the lunch menu was available all day.

Vesuvio Italian Bistro
2465 State Rt. 97
Glenwood, MD 21738
Phone: 410-489-6001

Vesuvio Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ranazul and Other HoCo Restaurant Blogs

Ranazul, the fine tapas restaurant in Maple Lawn, has started up a blog that holds promise for its patrons and readers.  The blog is a good way to highlight special events, new dishes, and in the case of Ranazul, featured artists in its gallery space.  Plus the Ranazul blog looks nice.  

I think this is a good trend for other restaurants to consider.  Lots of establishments have email lists and maybe a newsletter.  But a blog offers a medium to post information that has a longer shelf life, you don't have to be a subscriber, and it's available "on demand."  Blogs are generally more informal and easier to update than regular websites, and they're a great place to help establish the personality of a restaurant.

A couple of other Howard County restaurants have blogs that I know of, including Sushi Sono and Tersiguel's.  The Tersiguel's site in particular offers an insight into its chef, Michel Tersiguel, and others at the restaurant.  I think it's a nice touch, especially for independently owned and operated establishments with family roots and a positive story.  A restaurant blog can be an effective place to tell that story and build a little bit deeper relationship with customers.  I'd like to see more of them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hyperlocal Journalism for Howard County

Interesting article in the NY Times about hyperlocal journalism and a handful of new sites. With the large-scale newspaper business model disintegrating, it's an open question how people will get information about local events, shops and services. Local bloggers will likely be part of the answer, which is part of why I started this blog, but it sure would help to have a credible aggregator to help separate the wheat from the chaff and bundle local information in a useful manner.

The NY Times article mentions several new sites, most of which don't operate in our area yet. One that does is, and I went ahead and joined it to include my content. I can't tell yet if this is really a useful site, but it seems to be on an interesting track by letting you zoom into towns and zip codes to see local blogs and news. So far I've found you can focus on Ellicott City or Columbia in Howard County, and get a somewhat different set of articles. There are also categories for Restaurants and other topics, but it's not yet clear to me how these categories are populated.

Another variant I've run across lately is which has sites for different metro areas, including Baltimore. It's a slight step up in content and breadth, but it attempts to cover the whole Baltimore area, not just communities in Howard County. Nevertheless, I'll keep my eye on it and am considering supplying content.

And then there's the home-grown favorite, HocoBlogs, which aggregates a number of us local bloggers in Howard County. This is already a very useful site and I recommend it for regular residents and newcomers alike. The question is how it will compete in the long run with larger mega-sites. That's the question everyone's trying to answer. For now, vote with your eyes and your clicks.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gardening Centers in Howard County

I'm not much of a gardener, but I know it's time to get my lawn and garden ready for the growing season. There are lots of places in the county to get gardening supplies and plants, including every grocery and hardware store, it seems, but which ones are the best? Fortunately, my neighbor is pretty much a pro and has lived in the county for a long time. Here's what she's recommended to me.

You can start at the River Hill Garden Center on Route 108 in Clarksville. This once cozy little shop has morphed into a home and garden superstore, with a broad selection of plants, garden supplies, indoor/outdoor furniture, home decorations and even a pretty good selection of greeting cards. You can probably find everything you need there, and it's fun to find things you don't need, but sometimes you pay more for the all-in-one convenience. Still, it's a great place to wander for your wish list, then comparison shop elsewhere if you have the time.

For trees, shrubs and perennials, my neighbor and I are fans of Sun Nursery on Bushy Park Road in Woodbine. They have a great selection, a knowledgeable, helpful staff, volume discounts and a good warranty on plants. I've also used them for landscaping design and was pleased with the service and results.

For annuals, we trek over to Frank's Produce and Greenhouses at 6686 Old Waterloo Road in Elkridge (phone 410-799-4566; no website I can find), more or less behind the Costco shopping center. They have a wonderful array of annuals in flats or hanging baskets, and they're also good for produce later in the year. Walking through their Quonset hut greenhouses and wishing I had such a green thumb is a welcome springtime ritual.

Outside the county, the Burtonsville branch of regional powerhouse Meadows Farms often has good deals on plants. Stadler Nurseries in Laytonsville is also excellent (and has a very informative web site). Stadler runs a spring and fall sale on trees (just missed the spring one, sorry) that includes free delivery and planting.

So now it's time to get to work. If only someone could come up with a garden that would weed itself...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

PastaBlitz To Go Open in Glenwood

The sign has been up for a long time, but the PastaBlitz To Go is now open on Route 97 in Glenwood. That's good news for pizza and pasta lovers in western Howard County (like me, for one). A cousin of the PastaBlitz in Clarksville (and two in Laurel), the Glenwood location has a few tables and chairs, but it's basically a carry-out operation. It's got a full menu (10Mb .pdf) of Italian favorites available for lunch or dinner.

PastaBlitz To Go
2490 Route 97
Glenwood, MD 21738
Phone: 410-489-5800

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blossoms of Hope Cherrybration Events

In just a few short years, the Blossoms of Hope campaign's Cherrybration Days have bloomed (sorry, couldn't resist) into one of Howard County's signature annual events. This year's edition has more events than ever under the Cherrybration Days banner.

Blossoms of Hope started in 2003 as a cherry tree planting promotion by the Howard County Department of Tourism with the thought of pulling visitors in from the Washington DC Cherry Blossom festival. From the start, however, Blossoms of Hope was also linked with breast cancer awareness and that combination has made it something special. To date, more than 1,300 Kwanzan cherry trees have been planted in parks, public places, alongside roadways and in private developments throughout the county. And, more than $50,000 has been raised for the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center of the Howard County General Hospital. I'm proud to say I was an early donor of a tree at the Western Regional Park. Each year the trees are growing more lovely and adding a touch of grace to the county.

This year's celebration is larger and more diverse than ever, spilling over into May. The Cherrybration Days web site has all the details on the key events, including Pink Plate Specials at local restaurants, a Pink Greens golf tournament on April 20, the Lanterns of Hope parade on April 24, the Howard Life Festival and triathalon on April 26, and much more. Please take the time to learn more about these events and find a way to support at least a few of them if you can.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Dining Options in Howard County

Who's open and who's not for Easter dinner in Columbia? Where to find an Easter brunch in Ellicott City? We've got the scoop.

Easter Brunch
  • Alexandra's Restaurant at the Turf Valley Resort has a special Easter Brunch (menu .pdf) from 11:00 am - 6:00 pm. Adults $30.95, kids 4 - 12 $15.95, kids under 4 free. Reservations required.

  • The Crab Shanty has an Easter Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet featuring unlimited champagne, bloody mary's, omelette station, carving station, steamed shrimp, beef tenderloin and much more. 11:00 am - 1:30 pm, $19.95, kids 12 and under for $8.95. Reservations recommended.

  • Donna's of Columbia is offering a special prix fixe Easter Brunch menu for $17.50 from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. Reservations recommended.

  • UPDATE: Jordan's Steakhouse is offering a special Easter Brunch menu from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm. Reservations recommended.

  • The Turf Valley Resort offers an Easter Buffet in its Waterford Ballroom (menu .pdf) from 12:00 noon - 4:00 pm. Adults $27.95, kids 4 - 12 $14.95, kids under 4 free. Reservations required.
  • Victoria Gastro Pub opens an hour early for Easter Brunch, featuring special items like smoked salmon Benedict, leg of lamb and raspberry bellinis in addition to its regular menu. 9:00 am - 2:00 pm. Reservations recommended.

  • The Waterside Restaurant in the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel has a special Easter Buffet (menu .pdf) from 11:00 am - 7:00 pm. Adults $30.95, kids 5 - 10 $14.95, kids under 5 free. Reservations required.

  • NOTE: These are places that have notified us they're serving Special Easter Brunches. Also check out our regular listing of Saturday and Sunday Brunches for other restaurants that may be open Easter Sunday. Contact the restaurant first to make sure.
Easter Dinner
  • Donna's of Columbia is offering a special prix fixe Easter Dinner menu for $29.50 from 3:00 pm. Reservations recommended.

  • UPDATE: Jordan's Steakhouse serves its dinner menu with Easter specials from 2:30 - 7:00 pm. Reservations recommended.
  • Tersiguel's serves its dinner menu with Easter specials all day from 11:30 am - 7:30 pm. Reservations recommended.
  • Victoria Gastro Pub serves its dinner menu along with specials including a crab and avocado parfait, leg of lamb and spicy mary's from 2:00 pm. Reservations recommended.
Closed for Easter
  • Aida Bistro is closed on Easter Sunday (and all Sundays with its new Spring hours).
  • The Elkridge Furnace Inn will be closed for Easter Sunday, but you can order an Easter Dinner To Go (menu .pdf). Orders must be placed by Wed. 4/8.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Arts: Wilde Lake photo

A recent shot of Wilde Lake courtesy of Michael Oberman (ozoni11). Enjoy the beginnings of Spring.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Shopping, Art and Craft Events for April '09

Here are some Shopping, Arts and Craft Events to help you get ready for Spring. Support your local shops and crafters!

April 1 - 15: Marian Berman at Gallery 44 announces that, in honor of her two daughters getting married within the last 6 months, she's taking 20% off every item in the store until April 15.

April 3 - 5: Get a head start on home remodeling or building projects at the Suburban Maryland Spring Home Show at the Howard County Fairgrounds. Friday from 11 am - 10 pm, Saturday 10 am - 8 pm, and Sunday 10 am - 6 pm. Tickets $9, children under 16 free.

April 4: GreenFest 2009 will be held at the Burrill Galeria of the Howard County Community College from 10:0 am - 4:00 pm. This free, family-friendly event will focus on alternative energy, energy efficiency, water conservation, and water reuse. With over 95 vendors, other "green" themes will also be featured.

April 4-5: Clark's Elioak Farm Spring Opening Weekend. Come pet the new farm animals and wander among the wonderful rescued Enchanted Forest attractions. 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. See their calendar for special weekend events scheduled throughout the Spring and Summer.

April 11: Studio Inspire hosts a special performance event, Movements in the Mix. It includes performances of Modern, Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop, Break Dancing and more styles from Studio Inspire instructors, members and other dance professionals. From 2:30 - 3:30 pm at Slayton House in the Wilde Lake Village Green. Tickets $5 before 4/9, $10 at the door.

April 16: Turf Valley Resort
hosts the Pretty in Pink Champagne Lunch and Fashion Show (flyer .pdf) from 1:00 am - 2:30 pm. This is a Blossoms of Hope Cherrybration Days event. $50 per person, tickets available online here.

April 17: Savage Mill Art Walk from 6:00pm - 8:00 pm featuring local artists and businesses. Wine, snacks and original art.

April 17: Terrapin Adventures holds its Grand Opening Celebration at Savage Mill.

April 18: Howard County Antique Farm Machinery's Consignment Sale
at the Howard County Fairgrounds starting at 9:00 am.
Farm equipment, building supplies, vehicles, golf carts, tools, and lots more variety of antiques and all around good stuff.

April 18: Kids Nearly News Sale at the Howard County Fairgrounds, from 8am - noon. 140 spaces filled with families, crafters and services selling kids stuff. Different families and different stuff than on Sunday. Free admission.

April 19: Kids Nearly News Sale at the Howard County Fairgrounds, from 8am - noon. 140 spaces filled with families, crafters and services selling kids stuff. Different families and different stuff than on Saturday. Free admission.

April 25: The Howard County Arts Council presents its 12th Annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County at the Howard County Center for the Arts featuring a reception, food and Silent Auction from 6 - 8 pm, then presentation of the Howie Awards and Catch a Rising Star performances from 8 - 10 pm. At the Jim Rouse Theater at Wilde Lake High School. Tickets $75 and $50.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Looney's, Maruha and More in The Sun

The Baltimore Sun may be one of America's incredible shrinking newspapers, but there are some interesting local restaurant articles over the last couple of days.

First there was Elizabeth Large's column yesterday highlighting the new Maruha Steakhouse & Sushi Bar in Columbia's Hickory Ridge Village Center. Then there's Richard Gorelick's article on Yakitori One in Baltimore -- a skewers trend I'd love to see come closer to Howard County. Most of Howard County's many Japanese places have basic yakitori chicken or beef, but why not feature a wider variety of healthy seafood and veggie variants?

There is also Sam Sessa's piece today on the crowds at Looney's at Maple Lawn. And Rob Kasper pops in on the new Indian restaurant in nearby Catonsville, Spicy Garden.

The Sun gets smaller and smaller, but it's encouraging to see their coverage of local eateries.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NPR Testing "National Public Restaurants" in Columbia

Demonstrating that an economic downturn is also a breeding ground for new ideas, National Public Radio is considering opening a new chain called National Public Restaurants. The prototype will be right here in Columbia, Maryland.

An inside source tipped me off that NPR is negotiating with Home Depot to take over the empty Expo Design Center in Columbia and plans to convert it into a "thinking person's theme park of food." The 100,000 square foot space would house up to a dozen separate restaurants and food shops based on public radio's most popular programs. Some of the restaurants under consideration include:
  • Morning Edition - an early morning lounge and drive-thru serving lattes, bagels and granola-based products
  • All Things Considered - the flagship dinner destination offering a little bit of everything, in small, digestible portions
  • World Cafe - a combination international eatery and performance space
  • Fresh Air - an organic bistro and oxygen bar
NPR is also in discussions with other public radio stalwarts American Public Radio and Public Radio International to include several of their leading programs in the restaurant theme. Garrison Keillor's Chatterbox Cafe would serve Lutheran comfort food, while This American Lunch will focus on long, leisurely midday repasts made with bitterly ironic root vegetables.

In an innovative move, National Public Restaurant menus will not have prices. Instead, diners will be asked to contribute what they believe each meal is worth to them. Annual dining subscriptions and corporate sponsorships will be available. Those who can't make a contribution at the moment will be asked to at least help with the dishes.

Restaurant Events for April '09

There's lots going on in April at area restaurants. Make your plans now for a special night out!

All April, many leading local restaurants are supporting the Blossoms of Hope Pink Plates promotion, donating proceeds to the Claudia Meyer Cancer Resource Center at the Howard County Hospital. Please keep an eye out for the specials at each location.

Mon. 4/6: The Iron Bridge Wine Company hosts its Iron Bridge University session on Food and Wine Pairing Basics. Taste 4-6 wines with a snack included. $30 per person. Reservations required.

Tue. 4/7: The Iron Bridge Wine Company hosts a reprise of its popular Spanish Tapas Wine Dinner (menu .pdf). $80 per person, starts at 6:00 pm. Reservations required.

Wed. 4/8: The Elkridge Furnace Inn hosts an Afternoon Tea. Seatings 11:00 am - 2:30 pm. $26.50 per person. Reservations required.

Wed. 4/8: The Elkridge Furnace Inn will be closed for Easter Sunday, but you can order an Easter Dinner To Go (menu .pdf). Orders must be placed by Wed. 4/8.

Sun. 4/12: Victoria Gastro Pub opens early from 9:00 am for Easter Brunch. Reservations recommended.

Tue. 4/14: Victoria Gastro Pub hosts its Brewer's Alley Beer Dinner at 6:30 pm. Reservations recommended.

Tue. 4/14: The Elkridge Furnace Inn has an Adult Class on Cooking Fish with Chef Dan Wecker from 7:00 - 9:30 pm. $80 per person. Reservations required.

Wed. 4/15: Victoria Gastro Pub hosts its Brewer's Alley Beer Dinner at 6:30 pm. Reservations recommended.

Thu. 4/16: The Elkridge Furnace Inn has a Wine Tasting of Italian Reds from 6:30 - 8:00 pm. $29 per person. Special prix fixe dinner available after for $30. Reservations required.

UPDATE: Sat. 4/18: Tersiguel's presents a Cooking Class with Chef Michel, preparing a five-course meal beginning at 10:00 am. $82.50 per person. Reservations required.

Sun. 4/19: The Iron Bridge Wine Company hosts a very special Titanic Wine Dinner commemorating the 97th anniversary of the legendary voyage. Enjoy a re-creation of the 9-course wine dinner actually served on-board (menu .pdf). $150 per person, starts at 5:00 pm. Reservations required.

Mon. 4/20: The Iron Bridge Wine Company hosts its Iron Bridge University session on French Wines. Taste 4-6 wines with a snack included. $25 per person. Reservations required.

UPDATE: Mon. 4/20: Bistro Blanc hosts a Wine Dinner featuring wines from "The Shark" Greg Norman. Reservations recommended.

Thu. 4/23: The Elkridge Furnace Inn hosts an Afternoon Tea. Seatings 11:00 am - 2:30 pm. $26.50 per person. Reservations required.

UPDATE: Fri. 4/24: Tersiguel's hosts its first Family Night meal at 7:00 pm. Chef Michel Tersiguel will prepare a family style meal, $30 per person, all inclusive and no substitutions. Reservations required.

Tue. 4/28: The Elkridge Furnace Inn has an Adult Cooking Class on Pastry Arts with Executive Pastry Chef Genelle Wecker from 7:00 - 9:30 pm. $80 per person. Reservations required.

Wed. 4/29: The Elkridge Furnace Inn hosts a Murder Mystery Dinner from 7:00 - 10:00 pm. $56 per person. Reservations required.

Sushi Sono is extending its March Madness promotion into April, with 1/3 off a number of popular items at both lunch and dinner. Check out the Sushi Sono blog for more details.