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The D.C. Food Rag

Having recently moved to D.C. to attend culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, I am now focused on the D.C. food and dining scene. I have created a new blog – The D.C. Food Rag – to chronicle my new foodie adventures.

Check it out –  dcfoodrag.wordpress.com

You can also follow my blog’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

Thanks for reading!

As I packed up my apartment a few weeks ago, preparing for my move to D.C., I struggled with how to say goodbye to Baltimore. Finally, it hit me – crab cakes. It’s what this city does best, so why not?

Faidley’s at Lexington Market and G &M Restaurant have long since held reputations for having the best crab cake in Baltimore. Last year, Baltimore magazine voted Faidley’s over G&M for the best crab cake in the city, but for the most part, the two restaurants have passed the award back and forth each year.

My task? To find the truth out for myself.

My first stop on this crab cake quest was Faidley’s. This was my first visit to Lexington Market as well. Faidley’s is in its own space, separated from the rest of the indoor market. Lexington Market, with its produce, fish and meat stands, bakeries, delis and random knick-knack stands is quintessentially Baltimore. The Berger cookie, a local favorite, even has its own stand.

I ordered my crab cake at Faidley’s, which also sells fresh seafood, taking in my surroundings. A large sign reading, “Baltimore’s Best Crab Cake” hung over the cashier. With tables for standing scattered about, tourists and locals enjoyed their crab cakes.

Crab cakes are never an inexpensive meal, so I was not fazed by the $12 I paid for my cake. This crab cake was a beautiful golden brown with copious lumps of meat. The presentation was fitting – the crab cake placed a Styrofoam plate and garnished with lettuce, tomato and saltine crackers.

Instantly the rich, buttery flavor of the lump crab screamed out to me. There was barely any filler, just whatever necessary to hold the cake together. Combined with a Natty Bo, this was Baltimore’s finest.

G&M was last, but certainly not least. Located in Linthicum Heights, the restaurant is a bit out of the city. As opposed to Faidley’s stand-up experience, G&M is more of a traditional sit-down restaurant. With a spacious, open dining room, it is also more of a family environment than Faidley’s.

Crab cakes at G&M are offered as a platter ($16.95 for a single cake, $24.50 for a double), which includes two sides and a small house salad. I ordered the single, choosing green beans and a baked potato as my sides.

My first thought when I saw G&M’s crabcake – thank god I didn’t order two of these! This cake was absolutely enormous, larger than Faidleys’. It was so large that it even had its own plate.

G&M’s crab cake was more lightly fried than the golden brown cake at Faidley’s. In addition, the incredible amount of lump meat in this cake made it more of a crab “blob.” In terms of the amount of meat, G&M takes the prize. In terms of presentation of the actual cake, I’d say Faidley’s was more aesthetically pleasing.

G&M’s crab cake packed more flavor than Faidley’s, which in my opinion was maybe broiled a tad too long. This cake was mouth-wateringly buttery and moist. Like Faidleys, there was very little filler.

The sides were also perfect complements, something I had missed at Faidley’s. The French fries I had ordered on the side (I didn’t mention them because they were so unremarkable) were unfortunately soggy and limp.

All in all, there were pros and cons with both crab cakes, but if I had to choose, I’d go with G&M. Combined with the restaurant’s atmosphere, the tasty sides and the perfectly broiled lump meat, this place takes the “crab” cake.

G&M Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Faidley Seafood on Urbanspoon

I first heard about this place through one of the hostesses I worked with at Miss Shirley’s in the Inner Harbor. She described it as “the best Vietnamese food in Baltimore.” Considering that I’ve never been able to find a Vietnamese place in the city, I was more than eager to try Mekong Delta.

Located near the corner of Saratoga Street and Cathedral Street, the restaurant blended into its surrounding row houses. Inside, children’s drawings displayed along the walls, a fish tank filled with brightly colored tropical fish and the open kitchen no more than a few feet away from my table made for a warm and inviting atmosphere.

I immediately directed my attention on the menu to pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup usually with beef or chicken. In addition to pho, I also had heard that the summer rolls were not to be passed up.

The summer roll was quite possibly the largest roll I’d ever seen. For $3.95, not only do you get one roll, but you get TWO. This is almost a meal in itself. The rolls, filled with tender beef, cilantro and rice noodles and wrapped in rice paper looked freshly made. The peanut dipping sauce was also the perfect accompaniment to these tasty rolls.

The pho was delicious as well. The presentation was aesthetically appealing – a bowl filled with beef broth, slices of tender beef, brocoli, asparagus and cilantro. On the side was a plate piled high with bean sprouts, a topping for pho.

Although it’s a little obscurely located, I highly recommend Mekong Delta for an inexpensive lunch or dinner with great value. It’s definitely one of my new favorite places in Baltimore!

Mekong Delta on Urbanspoon

The Doughy Dog

I first discovered The Doughy Dog, a gourmet hot-dog and doughnut food truck from Glen Burnie, at Artscape this year, and wondered why I’d never seen it around the city. Intrigued, my boyfriend bought a 1/2 pound, all-beef dog with cheddar cheese and chili. It was pretty tasty (watch out Wild Dog Cart?), and I immediately wanted to learn more about this fire engine red food truck.

The Doughy Dog, which parks most days at 7606 Quarterfield Road (outside of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church) in Glen Burnie, is made possible by the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel Country and The Arundel House of Hope, an organization that provides affordable housing to disadvantaged individuals in the area.

As part of a grant from the AFAAC to The Arundel House of Hope, The Doughy Dog specifically employs those who are recently homeless, giving these individuals a chance to earn money and develop job skills. According to its Facebook site, the Doughy Dog has been operating for at least a year.

The gourmet dog menu consists of The Glen Burnie Dog with Chili, Cheese, Onion and Yellow Mustard, The Connecticut Dog with Bacon, Onions, Sweet Pickle Relish, Spicy Brown Mustard and Ketchup, and much more. In addition, doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, coffee and pit beef (Fridays only) are also served.

I really admire what the The Doughy Dog is doing – I was happy to see the truck at Artscape, especially for the purpose of raising awareness for its cause.

Open Tuesday-Saturday 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

Local vegetables, fruits, bakery breads, farm-raised meats are among the products now offered at the Baltimore Food Co-Op, which opened last Thursday to the public. Located on 2800 Sisson Street, right off West 28th Street, the food co-op serves as a kind of “grocery store” supporting local Maryland produce and other organic and natural products.

According to the website, well-known names such as Gunpowder Bison, One Straw Farm, Atwaters, Stone Mill Bakery and more will supply the co-op. In addition, certain national brands such as Annie’s Naturals, Kashi and Simply Organic might make an appearance. Although the co-op is open to everyone, those who join ($100 for a lifetime membership) receive discounts, weekly deals, and opportunities for closer involvement through volunteer positions.

In a class I took during my senior year at Hopkins called “Food Politics,” I learned that one of the best ways to encourage sustainable or organic foods in our communities is through supporting local farmers and their farms. For this reason, I am very excited for the co-op, and plan to check it out as soon as possible!

Open Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Closed Monday)

I just stumbled upon an awesome foodie app for iPhone (not sure if it’s available for Android yet) – it’s called Happy Hour B’MORE. This app offers numerous happy hours and daily specials at bars and restaurants all over the city. On the list are well-known places such as The Dogwood, Cafe Hon, Marie Louise Bistro, Mount Washington Tavern, Talara, Corks and more.

The listed restaurants are organized by lists and also by dropped pins on Google maps. In addition, the numbers for Yellow, Raven and Blue Cab are provided on the app. The “Dispatch” option allows listed restaurants to post daily specials and updates instantly. And best of all, the app is free!

Considering that I’m currently on the budget of a recent college grad, I take full advantage of the happy hour. For that reason, I am a big fan of this app. Check it out!

I know it was over a week ago, but I was able to make it out to The Gathering on July 8th (I unfortunately caught the tail end of it so most of the food was sold out!). I was overwhelmed by the presence of food trucks, nearly more than I had originally expected. In addition to the ones I listed in my previous post, Dangerously Delicious Pies, Curbside Cafe (a burrito truck) and The Wild Dog Cart all made an appearance. I grabbed a delicious bison burger  from The Chowhound, one of the only trucks left that hadn’t run out of food! From the crowds of smiling, satiated festival-goers that I saw, I’d say The Gathering was a huge success and a great way to spotlight Baltimore’s growing food truck scene. Here are a few photos I took from the night:

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