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Friday, July 8th will mark the first annual Baltimore food truck rally! When I first heard the news, I couldn’t have been more excited. I have been following the food truck craze since they started popping up around Hopkins’ campus last semester. 

The Gathering, as it is called, will take place around the intersection of Central and Eastern Avenue, from 5-10 PM. Baltimore’s favorite trucks will be in attendance – Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon, Creperie Breizh, Gypsy Queen Cafe, Miss Shirley’s, Souper Freak, IcedGems, and two newcomers, GrrChe and The Silver Platter.

From viewing its Facebook page, The Silver Platter (which already parks at Central and Eastern everyday) offers delicacies such as lobster rolls and pit beef. I can’t wait to try it! GrrChe serves up gourmet grilled cheeses – a new contender for Grilled Cheese and Co.?

Proceeds from The Gathering will go to the There Goes My Hero Foundation, which aids Leukemia patients and their families. Check out bmorefoodtrucks.com for updates and information regarding the event.

Being an avid fan of Tapas Teatro, it is hard for me to ever go elsewhere for tapas. However, Baltimore magazine’s annual best restaurants issue recently listed the Fells Point establishment as one of the city’s top tapas places, immediately piquing my interest. Although I don’t alway rely on the magazine’s reviews, I’ve found that they’re usually pretty accurate. So, why not give Tapas Adela a try?

The Fells Point restaurant, located on the corner of Broadway and Thames, is appealing from the outside, fitting into the surrounding colonial-esque architecture of the neighborhood. It was a nice night, so all of the outside tables were full. Inside the restaurant, the low-lighting and red-painted walls make for a dramatic setting.

Tapas Adela is smaller and a bit quieter than Tapas Teatro, but just as tasty. I was drawn to the sangria, which has always been one of my favorite Spanish drinks. Tapas Adela offers red, white and champagne sangria, available by the glass or pitcher.

The menu is divided into Verduras (vegetables), Mariscos (fish) and Carnes (meats). We started off with the Plato de Comenzar, a charcuterie and cheese plate. At the same time, we enjoyed a basket of the restaurant’s thin, crispy bread covered with melted Manchego cheese and a light tomato sauce.

Next, we ordered the Albondigas, lamb and beef meatballs. To accompany, we ordered the Croquettes de Queso, filled with Manchego cheese (you can never have too much Manchego) The savory combination of the meatballs with the croquettes was incredible.

Another tapas plate that stuck out was the Calamari Fritos, with lemon saffron aioli. Watch out for the jalapenos, they’re spicy! Next time, I will try the Fabada Asturiana, a stew of Chorizo, blood sausage, Pancetta and white beans.

Tapas Adela is a solid restaurant that stands alongside Tapas Teatro, Pazo and Mezze in Baltimore. However, the hardest part about eating tapas is that I never know quite how to order. For me, it takes several visits to find the best flavors and combinations on the menu, which is fine with me. All the more reason to come back!

Tapas Adela on Urbanspoon

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time in D.C. searching for an apartment for next year (I’m moving there for culinary school at l’Academie de Cuisine in the Fall). I’ve been focusing on the Woodley Park, upper Connecticut Avenue areas to give me a shorter commute in the morning to the school in Gaithersburg.

Walking around the city, one of the first thing I’ve noticed is the abundancy of food trucks. All over city squares, parks and busy streets – D.C. food trucks are hot right now. D.C. not only offers trucks similar to Baltimore’s, such as Curbside Cupcake, but also many that are quite unique.

While walking past the McPherson Square metro stop, I spotted a conspicuous yellow and blue truck parked along K street at Franklin Park. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that Sang on Wheels, specializes in cuisine from Laos, from Southeast Asia. I’m not familiar with Laotian cuisine, so I was interested to see what this food truck had to offer.

Sang on Wheels boasts BBQ lamb, a skewer of lamb meatballs, Drunken Noodles, a Thai dish made with noodles, chilis and basil, and many other options. A combo meal comes with fried rice and a drink as well. I regret not giving the truck a try while I was in D.C. for the day.

A great resource I have found for D.C. food trucks is a website called The StrEATS, which uses a Google map to show the whereabouts of the trucks. In addition to Sang on Wheels, also around Franklin Park is Basil Thyme, a homemade pasta truck, Dangerously Delicious Pies (which is based in Baltimore), Sauca, a truck featuring cuisines from all over the world and The Rolling Ficelle, a baguette sandwich truck.

The selection blows my mind. I can’t wait to sample every truck when I am living in the city next year!

(Image borrowed from sangonwheels.com)

My travels to Cleveland, Ohio bring me to Melt Bar and Grilled, a well-known gourmet grilled cheese restaurant. Open since 2006, owner and chef Matt Fish aims to bring “comfort food dressed up” to his customers – much like Grilled Cheese and Co. aims to do in Baltimore.

What’s better, one of my favorite foodies Adam Richman visited the restaurant on his show, “Man Versus Food.” He took on (and emerged victorious) the Melt Challenge – a massive grilled cheese featuring 13 different cheeses, three slices of bread, french fries and slaw. That’s over five pounds of food. Doesn’t sound that difficult.

Like Grilled Cheese and Co., Melt offers a menu of gourmet grilled cheeses, such as the Summer Chicken, featuring grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, Havarti cheese and roasted garlic herb dressing and the Lake Erie Monster, with fresh Walleye, American cheese and jalapeno tartar sauce. I kept things simple by ordering the Porky Cheese, featuring honey ham, bacon and Swiss cheese.

Immediately, I noticed that Melt’s sandwiches are not just about the cheese – they emphasize the flavors of the other ingredients as well. The bread on my sandwich was crusty and quite thick, and combined with a large stack of bacon and sliced ham, this was an enormous portion. Even so, the salty, savory flavors of the sandwich coerced me to finish nearly all of it. The peppery fries on the side were a perfect complement. Very tasty.

I get the impression that Grilled Cheese and Co. sticks to a more traditional method than Melt does. For example, in addition to grilled cheeses, Melt also offers an extensive beer and wine menu. There is even a full service bar inside the restaurant. I think this is great – what could be better than grilled cheese and beer? While both restaurants are different, both stick to a similar concept – putting a gourmet twist on a classic American sandwich.

That’s right – Souper Freak, a conspicuously bright red truck has been spotted on Hopkins ground, Fridays from 11a.m.-2p.m. The truck specializes in gourmet soups, salads and sandwiches. I’ve also learned that the soup operator, Irene Smith, is married to the chef who owns Big Bad Wolf House of Barbecue, Scott Smith (this was my FAVORITE Hopkins Spring Fair food vendor). With that said, I know Souper Freak is going to be a hit.

The truck is currently serving soups such as Vegan Thai Carrot and Turkey Chili with Hominy. To accompany, there are options such as a BBQ Chicken Wrap, a Grilled Cheese and a Spinach Salad with Tropical Vinaigrette.

According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun’s Dining@Large, the Souper Freak recently ran into some controversy regarding food truck permits. Apparently finding a place to park is a huge difficulty in the city, and obtaining proper permits is a laborious process. I can only hope Baltimore city is supportive of the recent mobile food trend, as it really adds some variety and character to our food scene.

As I am about to graduate, I find myself becoming quite nostalgic about my time at Hopkins. My freshman year boyfriend once took me on a date to Gertrude’s on a Tuesday night. It was my first visit to the restaurant. I was immediately impressed by the dimly lit, tastefully decorated space inside of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

However, the most pleasant surprise came when the menus arrived. Every Tuesday from 5-9 pm is “Tuesdays with Gertie,” where the restaurant offers a special menu with $12 entrees. It gets better – there is also a great selection of wine for $20 a bottle.

I have immensely enjoyed Gertrude’s for the past four years for several reasons. Having such a nice restaurant so close to campus has been wonderful – whenever my mother visits, we always go to Sunday brunch (we’re fans of the blood orange mimosas)!

However, it is “Tuesdays with Gertie” that sticks out in my head the most. I appreciate how the restaurant reaches out to its surrounding students, many of whom don’t have the budget for a fancy dinner.

Gertrudes doesn’t skimp out on portions for its special menu, either. One of my favorites is the Maryland Panfried Chicken. For $12, this is a great deal. The dish consists of a breast, two drumsticks and a thigh, each covered in a crisp, golden brown breading. Framing the chicken is broccoli and a scoop of mashed potatoes topped with creamy gravy. This makes for a savory, comforting meal that reminds me of home in the South, where Fried Chicken rules the world.

I’ve also had the Salmon alla Bella and the Cornmeal-Encrusted Catfish, both of which are excellent. In the future, I hope to try the Crab Cake Platter, to see how Gertrude’s version measures up (I’m sure it’s great!).

Tonight, I had the opportunity to dine at Gertrude’s, causing me to reflect on my past experiences there. I hope that many Hopkins students take advantage of “Tuesdays with Gertie,” as it’s a one-of-a-kind deal. I encourage you to go if you haven’t before!

Gertrude's on Urbanspoon

Last week, IcedGems celebrated its first birthday, and offered an unbeatable deal in honor of itself – buy one cupcake, and get a second one for free. The truck stopped by Hopkins on Thursday, and without a doubt, my fellow cupcake-loving friend Kit Harris and I were there.

The truck parked outside of Charles Commons near 33rd Street, its pink polka-dots impossible to miss. I selected two cupcakes – Key West and Birthday Cake (in honor of IcedGems!). Key West, essentially “Key Lime Pie in a cupcake,” combines vanilla cake with lime zest buttercream icing. Birthday Cake (pictured below) combines Bourbon buttercream icing with vanilla cake speckled with colored sprinkles.

According to IcedGem’s Facebook site, the bakery is creating special Easter-themed cupcakes in honor of the upcoming holiday – the photo I saw appears to be a chocolate cupcake topped with vanilla icing and a Peep. In addition, look for Easter-themed cake balls and Passover specials such as Matzo brittle.