Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday at the Cafe

Panino Specials:
Roasted Eggplant, Pesto & Mozz
The Torpedo - Spicy Italian Sausage, Pepernata & Provolone

Soups of the Day:
Chili - Vegetarian and Chili Con Carne
Potato Leek (vegetarian)

Saturday Special: Ham and Cheese Biscuits & Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

I am not a morning person. It is an unfortunate coincidence that people want coffee and baked goods first thing in the morning and I am a purveyor of fabulous coffee and outrageous baked goods. Truth is, it only hurts for the first five minutes and by the time I reach the Cafe it's all good.

Monday through Friday I hit the kitchen ready to tackle the morning prep list. Marinate those mushrooms, saute the leeks, what soup should I make today? And the customers are on their way to work or school. Everybody is working on their agenda. Places to go and people to see.

And then there is Saturday.

It is a completely different vibe. Everyone smiles a little bigger, chats a little longer. Rather than lunch with co-workers, folks are meeting their friends, family come in together and lovers are making morning-after doe eyes at each other.

And people eat differently on Saturdays. That is one of the reasons Saturdays are my favorite day at the Cafe. Monday-Friday people stick to "their regular" (whatever that is). On Saturdays the trend is toward something special, different or a little indulgent. Which means I get to cook "off the menu". Sometimes it's a meal special like strata or french toast, but almost always there is a pastry case special guest.

If you are a workday patron make an effort to stop by some Saturday morning - maybe in the spring when the terrace is the social spot of Charles Village. And to my Saturday regulars - remember you can stop in on your way to work, pick up coffee and a muffin and carry a little of that groovy Saturday feel into the office.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Chili Con Carne and a Vegetarian Chili top the menu today. They are getting rave reviews. We also have a vegetarian Potato Leek Soup. The Panino Special is The Torpedo - spicy sausage, peperonata sauce and provolone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Rocket and the Torpedo....

Today's Panino Special is The Torpedo - spicey Italian sausage, Michael's homemade peperonata sauce and aged provolone cheese. Rumor has it there are two pots of chili on the burners - a vegetarian and meat version, but they probably won't be done until this afternoon.

The Meatball Rocket has been on Carma's menu since the early days - a special that developed such a following it's place was made permanent. One day, reflecting on the grilled sausage, pepper & onion sandwich almost exclusively found as street food, Michael expressed a wish that we could do something like that at the Cafe.

The universe soon provided a solution in the form of Peperonata (which unbeknownst too him, he had been making for years). What tomatoes are to marinara, peppers are to peperonata. Slowly cooked for hours, the peppers become a sweet foil for the spicy sausages.

Both of these sandwiches are really "tie" friendly. A hollowed ciabatta stuffed with meat and sauce, they are not prone to dripping!

And while we're on the stuffed sandwich subject, I'd like to give props to DePasquale's in Highlandtown. If you've never been, put it on your list for in-town field trips. On Gough Street since 1914, this neighborhood Italian grocer has a rockin' sandwich bar!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What was i thinking!

If you come sliding into the Cafe today you will find a Barbeque Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Provolone Panino, my new Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (that's a story for another day)and The Slider - a caramel mocha latte that goes down easy!

The powers that be clearly misunderstood my desire for winter weather because ice was not on the menu! Be careful out there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Today's Panino Special is Barbequed Chicked with Carmalized Onions. In the pastry case we have Pear Bread - the perfect thing on a snowy day with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Okay, it's time to 'fess up. I am sick and tired of being taunted by promises of snow. I get my hopes up only to have them dashed by a tease of flurries. Bring it on! I'm ready for a good, old fashion, up-to-my-knees blizzard. And, as a gesture to the universe (or the Great Prankster Wenebojo) I'm cooking up a huge pot of barbequed chicken, making a sausage chowder, making an extra special cookie and... and... and... You should come on over to the Cafe - there is bound to be extra special "snow day" food!

Monday, January 26, 2009

To each their own...

Panino Special Today is The Apple Alexander. Crisp Granny Smith apple, triple cream French brie and honey grilled on ciabatta.

Last night I was invited to a friend's home for Pani Puri - an street food popular in India. You take a small, crispy, hollow "puri" and tap out a hole on one side to create a cup. Then it is filled with any combination of potato, onion, chickpeas, spicy (or sweet) sauce, tamarind, puffed rice, chili-coated peanuts..... well you get the idea. Then the whole thing is popped directly into your mouth and eaten in one bite. It is seriously yummy and just the thing with a cold beer.

Everyone assembles panipuri according to their own preference. I loved the chili peanuts and hid one or two in every bite, but others at the table were clearly avoiding the fiery nuts. Each of us had a unique dining experience. The Monin flavorings at the Cafe offer the same opportunity. Of course you can get an Italian soda or coffee with a shot of Vanilla, but why not try a Coconut Hot Cocoa, Peach Iced Tea, Raspberry Chocolate Milk or a Caramel Frothy Steamer? Shake yourself out of the midwinter doldrums and try something new!

And with a little online research and a trip to the Punjab on 33rd Street, you can host your own Pani Puri party.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Welcome Back!

After an interminable absence, the kids are back! And in addition to buckets of Carma's Icelandic-style yogurt and hot steel-cut oatmeal, today we've got Cinnamon Raisin Bagel French Toast. When I first moved to Baltimore there was a great little bagel place in Pikesville that did a French toast bagel. They would slice the bagel into three thin pieces, give it a quick dunk in egg, fry in on the grill, then serve it up on a flimsy paper place. Sweet, chewy goodness. Our bagels have been soaked in a cinnamon egg bath and baked. And unlike the bagel shop of yesteryear, are served with real Vermont maple syrup.

And as it is a JHU student favorite (and with R-E-S-P-E-C-T to Ms. Franklin), the Panino Special of the Day is our TCB - turkey, cranberry and brie grilled to perfection!

Welcome back. We missed you.