Open Monday through Saturday 7:00 am to 9:00 pm • Sunday 8:00 am to 9:00 pm

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Philadelphia's Italian (Latin, Asian) Market

Just for the next few days I'll leave the slide show up so everyone can enjoy. Why did no one tell me? Really, get yourself to Philadelphia. Details to follow......

By the way, there are actually pictures of the market in addition to those of the best kitchen store on the planet!

A good day to call in an order....

Our panini specials today is Parmesan Tuna Salad and the Pesto Caprese - pesto, mozzarella, provolone, roasted red peppers and marinated artichoke hearts.

The soups today are Split Pea (vegan) and Roasted Red Pepper.

Don't forget you can phone in an order and avoid the line! When you come in to pick up, just stop by the magazine/newspaper rack on the left and let the staff know you phoned in an order. Better still, use fetchfood.com, order and pay online, then just grab & go!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

And the whole gang was there....

Our panini specials today is Parmesan Tuna Salad and the Pesto Caprese - pesto, mozzarella, provolone, roasted red peppers and marinated artichoke hearts.

The soups today are Gazpacho! (vegan) and Roasted Red Pepper.

Yesterday I made a quick trip to Easton to have dinner with my Mother, brothers, niece and nephews. We had a very nice dinner at Plaza Tapatia, a locally owned Mexican restaurant. My mother, Charles (#1 brother) and Riley had the Carnitas featuring chunks of delicately seasoned pork and served with rice, beans and tortillas. It smelled fabulous and I had ever intention of snagging a hunk off of Riley's plate but my Grilled Vegetable Fijita distracted me! It was cooked perfectly and tasted out of this world. My plate came piled high with grilled tomatoes, squash, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and who knows what else. William (#2 brother) had one of the many Combination Plates. And I believe Alex had an Enchilada (which the staff graciously modified to suit her rather discriminating tastes).

That leaves Jimmy. Jimmy had chicken fingers and fries. So he's not much of a foodie, but he's a damn fine artist.

Plaza Tapatia is on Route 50 so you'll go right past it on your way to Ocean City (they also have locations in Ocean City, Chestertown, Salisbury and Cambridge). Cut out of work early one Friday, head to the beach and stop in for lunch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All things sheep....

Our panini special today is a Falafel Sandwich - fresh falafel stuffed in a sub roll with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and tahini dressing and the Pesto Caprese - pesto, mozzarella, provolone, roasted red peppers and marinated artichoke hearts.

The soup today is Gazpacho!

This weekend is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and before you go poo-pooing the sheep and wool festival let me tell you why everyone should put it on their calendar. Part 4-H Fair and part gourmet grazing, MDS&W has something for everyone. Grilled meats and fresh cheeses, toasted nuts, pretzels and other fair fare scent the air. The food is the best of its kind. Then there are the animals. Who know there were so many types of sheep? And of course alpacas (a cousin of the llama), goats and rabbits. There's a woman who sits and spins right off of the back of her rabbits! Then there are the sheep dogs and the herding contest. It's really quit amazing.

There is no shortage of yarn;wool; and knitting, spinning and weaving equipment for sale, as well as farm equipment for those raising livestock.

Toss in live music, the Sheep to Shawl contest (literally! Teams shear, card, spin and weave a shawl), a beautiful pastoral setting and great shopping and I think you'll agree there is something for everyone.

Did I mention it is free? Bring the kids (leave the dog at home).

Now for your morning entertainment, I give you Extreme Sheep Herding. (It takes about a minute to get to the "good part".) Really, the things that amuse me.....sometimes it's quite embarrassing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gazpacho comes early

Our panini special today is the Spicy Jack - turkey, a very spicy pepper colby cheese, grilled red onions and a bit of tiger sauce and the Pesto Caprese - pesto, mozzarella, provolone, roasted red peppers and marinated artichoke hearts.

Soups are Gazpacho! and the U.S. Senate Bean Soup - white beans and country ham ("fresh" from Smithfield country!)

In recognition of the unseasonably warm weather, we are busting out the gazpacho early this year. So what's the big fuss about cold tomato soup? That was my initial reaction too. Michael came up with this recipe from the Andalusian region of Spain that absolutely will knock your socks off. Somewhere between chunky salad and vegetable soup, it is crisp, fresh and positively radiates good health. It is a huge cafe favorite and if you haven't given it a try please do. Consider having a cup as your sandwich side. Of course, as always, you can just ask to try a bite.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everyone is at the party but me :-(

Our panini special today is the Spicy Jack - turkey, a very spicy pepper colby cheese, grilled red onions and a bit of tiger sauce.

Soups are the U.S. Senate Bean Soup - white beans and country ham ("fresh" from Smithfield country!), as well as Veggie Chili and Chili Con Carne.

The first Spring Fair I can remember when it hasn't rained (of course the day's not out yet) and I'm in the kitchen fixing lunch for 60 voracious teenagers. I thought we had a mountain of food, clearly more than was needed, then Michael reminded me these were teenage boys. Ah yes, I remembered my brother Jonathan's appetite and doubled the number of meatballs and mac & cheese. He didn't eat a bowl of cereal or even a large bowl of cereal. He ate a box of cereal. Now to be fair to Jonathan, the boy was burning fuel. Not only was he a growing boy, but it was not unusual for him to bike 50 miles.

Today it is our pleasure to be fixing lunch for Mentoring Male Teens in the Hood, a 501(c)3 organization that mentors young men between the ages of 8 and 18. One of our very regular customers brought this group to our attention, and I encourage you to visit their website and see if this isn't something you would like to support as well. Money is always needed, but time and talents are also critical to mentoring organization.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Fair Weekend!

Today's Sandwich Specials are Pesto Caprese Panino with pesto, tomato and mozzarella and Pulled Pork Barbeque Sandwich.

Soups on are Chili Con Carne and Veggie Chili.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Very happy to be back!















Today's Specials are Pesto Caprese Panino with pesto, tomato and smoked mozzarella, Pulled Pork Barbeque Sandwich with Cole Slaw, Broccoli Spinach Soup (vegan) and Chili Con Carne and Veggie Chili.

I've got some running around and cafe shopping to do this morning and will be in the cafe this afternoon. These are pictures of the Roanoke City Market that didn't make it here during my time away. The market runs 7 days a week year around, but this time of year it is dominated by plant stands, crafts and meat because the local growing season isn't underway yet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yet another reason to visit Virginia

Today's Specials are Pulled Pork Barbeque Sandwich with Cole Slaw, Broccoli Spinach Soup (vegan) and Tomato Basil (vegetarian) soup.

Do you know anyone in Harrisonburg, Virginia or for that matter anyone in the south western corner of the state? Thinking about James Madison University for grad school? I grew up in the area and now have yet another reason to look forward to going home.



















On the way back from Roanoke, my friend and I stopped by to see a mutual pal and the three of us ventured out into the pouring rain for lunch at Little Grill Collective. The Little Grill has been a restaurant since the 1930's and worker owned since June 2003.

To just call The Little Grill Collective a worker owner restaurant would be selling it short. It is clearly a vital member of the community, a social hub and a music/entertainment venue. Maybe the day was making me a bit romantic, but this place felt alive. Alive like some rock in outer space that Bones and Kirk discover was sentient after accidentally killing some of its young. The Little Grill practically breaths.















Their menu is an eclectic mix - from a local organic hamburger to BBQ tempeh to Chicken Burritos. And the pancakes! Buttermilk, Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Banana Walnut, Buckwheat, Blue Monkeys (can't believe I didn't find out what this is), Vegan Flax Jacks and a whole list of "add-ons".















I had the Felafel Sandwich and my companions had the Chicken Burrito and the BBQ Tempeh, all of which were presented beautifully and tasted delicious. The very nice owner/worker who waited on us graciously allowed me to poke about with a camera (I almost tried to get into the kitchen, but decided to save that adventure for another time).

On Tuesdays they have an all you can eat night, every Wednesday there is a guest chef (and I hear they pull from a lot of Peace Corps volunteers so Wednesday often become international cuisine night), Thursday is breakfast for dinner night and on Friday Down-Home night is all about the south - chicken, catfish, vegan ribs, cornbread and more....

I seriously can't imagine ever driving by Harrisonburg again without stopping by the Little Grill. The large variety of homemade healthy foods with an emphasis on supporting other local businesses and farmers makes the Little Grill part of Carma's Cafe's extended restaurant family. It's a genuine place really trying to do the right thing in their little corner of the world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesdays Specials

The very popular Pesto Caprese Panini - slathered with homemade pesto, mozzarella cheese and tomato grilled on ciabatta sub roll.

The soups are Tomato Basil Soup and Portobello Soup (vegetarian).

I'm on my way to the Market and will post some pictures later. One of the really cool things about the City Market in Roanoke is that is runs seven days a week year around. Many of the vendors are local artists and craftspeople, as well as meat producers, cheese makers and of course vegetable and fruit growers. Last time I visited I came home with locally produced Cinnamon Sage bath soap, framed photographs of local landmarks and some fabulous salt-cured ham.

I'll let you know what I find today. Who knows, maybe I'll find something for you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday soups are on!

Sounds like the weather in Baltimore is making it a soup and sandwich kind of day. We have Tomato Pilaf vegan and Roasted Butternut vegetarian.

"It's all a matter of perspective" is a cliche that deserves to be taken seriously. Not to get too far out on the existential limb, but our most basic human and intellectual capacity is the ability to define our own reality. What you believe to be true, is.

When Michael and I were building the Cafe neither of us had the financial resources we knew it would take to get the ball rolling, but we had such a strong vision of the future and were so confident in it's viability those resources made themselves available. The 19th century poet, novelist and natural philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you." Something like 95% of restaurants fail in their first year. One could say we were naive. Optimistic would be another perfectly accurate label. Other adjectives such as foolhardy, rash, impulsive and harebrained may also apply.

I believe we created the cafe simply by commiting to a very specific vision and believing it to already be true. The challange is to imagine the future while dealing with day-to-day maintenence and that, my friends, is one of the reasons I'm out here in the mountains recharging my spiritual batteries, as it were.















The morning broke with that crisp freshness the air has after a rain and I took a walk around the hotel. Both of these pictures were taken at exactly the same spot, the difference only a matter of changing the angle by a couple of degrees. A good illustration on the power of perspective.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From the road.....

After driving all night and spending some quality time with a dear friend, I've arrived in Roanoke, Virginia in the heart of the New River Valley. Spring is well underway here with plum blossoms providing a riot of color along I-81. It took four separate stops this morning to find coffee and breakfast. We finally decided to "divide & conquer" having breakfast at a truck stop and picking up coffee from a local roaster Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea (it seems they may be having some trouble with their website. Sorry there is no link.). A very respectable four shot red eye finally set my day on the right path. Thanks to the very nice staff for allowing me to photograph inside of the coffeehouse.

This week I'm away from the Cafe getting some rather tedious paperwork done for the Baltimore City Health Department, the infamous HACCP Plan. See how hard I'm working?

In an effort to maintain some balance I also packed a bit of work-related reading and healthy munchies (ignore the knitting bags! really, where did they come from?).

I've pretty much stranded myself in this hotel room, but why don't you enjoy a walking tour of Downtown Roanoke? In the mean time, and with all due respect to the locals, don't feel too bad for me. I'm having a great time and the best coffee in town is right at hand.....

Carma Has Flown the Coop

Carma is not a big fan of eggs. Her business partner, Michael (that's me), however, loves eggs. Furthermore, it's national egg week. So we're celebrating eggs, and we have some good eggs here. We get our eggs from Springfield Farms. I've visited the farm and it is beautiful. The hens live outside for the most part and have lots of room to play. So among other things our specials today include Scrambeled Eggs and Egg Salad on Health Toast. Our soups are Tomato Pilaf vegan and Roasted Butternut vegetarian.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Welcome Alumni


It's Alumni Weekend at JHU, the sun is out and the cafe is hoppin'. Honestly, I'm sorry I won't be around to enjoy the people watching this weekend.

In the soup kettle is a tomato, black bean, rice soup I'm calling Tomato Pilaf Soup (vegan). This one is gestating in the pot, so although it's not finished the smell is already very promising. Just a wee bit of Green Lentil with Coconut Milk (vegan) is also still available.

The Mediterranean Tuna Salad panino is a cold, stuffed sandwich with mesclun. By the way, you can also order the Vineyard Chicken Salad and Mediterranean Tuna Salad on a bed of dressed salad greens if you are avoiding bread.

Over the past year or so the Cafe has done catering for a small dinner party for four to conference lunches for 200, but we also have made a batch of cookies for a teacher to take to her class and a whole strata so visiting guests could have breakfast and still enjoy the company of their host.
Yesterday a customer came in and ordered a whole Leek and Smoked Mozzarella Frittata and a loaf of Pumpkin Bread.

I really appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to engage with our customers on this more personal level. It gives me a type of creative outlet that cooking for the cafe can't as the food is frequently "off the menu" and specific to the event or customer's special needs.

So keep us mind when the in-laws are coming to town, you have a Princess Party sleep over or you want to impress a certain friend with your culinary skills (because I won't tell if you don't!).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The sun, the sun!

Today I am making our Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk (vegan). There is also a bit of Sausage Corn Chowder (which Michael gave an enthusiastic two thumbs up and believe me, that doesn't happen every day).

Mediterranean Tuna Salad is also in the works. My tuna salad, although it does contain some mayonnaise, is packed with great flavor from the addition of olive tapanade, crunchy celery, capers, chianti wine vinegar and Italian herbs.

Have you seen the five day forecast?! Looks like a beautiful weekend is heading our way. A note to the Saturday morning crowd (yeh, you know who you are). I will be out of town for the next few days so Michael will be at the helm this weekend - but don't get used to it! You know how I love the Saturday vibe. No doubt he is already planning and plotting some yummy breakfast/brunch treats.

As for me, tomorrow I'm heading to southwestern Virginia - Natural Bridge and Roanoke to be exact. Several days of cafe-related paperwork (no doubt sometime in the next week you will hear my HAACP rant) piggybacking on a roadtrip with a very old buddy. Actually, buddy is my age, but we've known each other forever.

Anyway, I've got my laptop and digital camera packed, as well as a french press and pound of coffee all packed. We'll see if I can't stir up something interesting to report.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday's Soups

I am making a big pot of Sausage Corn Chowder that will be finished in time for lunch. We also have Pumpkin Black Bean Soup (vegan).

The weather is frightful, but the days of a comforting bowl of hot soup are coming to end. Rather than bemoan the weather celebrate the opportunity to have a hearty bowl of soup and maybe a cafe sandwich.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I've been found out!

Ha, the joke's on me. I had a crazy busy morning and did not get around to posting our specials. I told myself no one would even notice. But much to my delight, someone just called the cafe to find out our specials and mentioned there was no post for today.

So thank you, mystery reader. It's nice to know someone is out there.

A little late....

Today's soups are Matzo Ball and African Peanut (vegetarian). And as for panini, The Virginian - ham, turkey, havarti & dijon; The TCB - turkey, cranberry & brie; The Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, brie and honey; and the Veggie Rocket have all been added to the regular menu.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Everything's soggy but our spirits!

Wow, that's some icky morning. It's a good day to get some Homemade Matzo Ball Soup or, for that matter, African Peanut Soup (vegetarian) or Vegetable Chili with cracked wheat (vegan).

For breakfast we have a French Toast with Cinnamon & Raisins (and a wee splash of brandy) and both a savory and sweet Matzo Brie. The savory is made with fresh herbs and served with a salad; the sweet is cinnamon raisin and is served with apple slices and honey.

Today's panino is Pesto Caprese Panino - pesto, mozzarella, provolone, roasted red pepper, and artichokes.

The staff at the Cafe has also stirred up an latte inspired by the Cadbury Cream Egg® with white chocolate, dark chocolate and caramel.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday to you

Today at the Cafe we have African Peanut Soup (vegetarian) and Cracked Vegetable Chili (vegan).

The panini is Pesto Caprese Panino - pesto, mozzarella, provolone, roasted red pepper, and artichokes.

The staff at the Cafe has also stirred up an latte inspired by the Cadbury Cream Egg® with white chocolate, dark chocolate and caramel.

There are also several specials for folks celebrating Passover. Although please remember our kitchen is not kosher.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tasty treats for the tribe

Today at the Cafe we have Aaron's Broccoli Cheddar Soup (vegetarian) and Portabello Mushroom Soup (vegetarian). And another soup is on the way......it just hasn't made itself known to me yet. When it does I'll update this post. And in the kettle is Cracked Vegetable Chili - made with lots of veggies, beans and cracked wheat.

Panini include The Virginian - turkey, ham, havarti & dijon mustard, The Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, honey & brie and the new Veggie Rocket.

And for our customers observing Passover I made a Matzo Brie with fresh herbs which is served with a mesclun salad with a shallot vinaigrette. There are also bags of Matzo Munch in a basket on the counter for your sweet tooth. It's caramel brittle and chocolate coated matzo and it is seriously yummy. You better snatch it up before the goyim find out how good it is! Please remember these are for people who celebrate Passover as part of their cultural heritage. Although the food itself is traditional Passover fare, my kitchen is not kosher.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday Specials

Today at the Cafe we have Roasted Butternut Squash Soup oops! Aaron's Broccoli Cheddar Soup (vegetarian) and Portabello Mushroom Soup (vegetarian).

Panini include The Virginian - turkey, ham, havarti & dijon mustard, The Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, honey & brie and the new Veggie Rocket.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday Specials

Today at the Cafe we have Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (vegetarian), which I haven't had yet, but several members of the staff have commented on how tasty it is (specifically the spicing) and Potato Leek Soup (not vegetarian). I'm also making our version of Delmonico's Portabello Mushroom Soup (vegetarian).

Panini include The Virginian - turkey, ham, havarti & dijon mustard, The Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, honey & brie and the new Veggie Rocket.

Monday, April 6, 2009

ITube, YouTube, WeTube

Today at the Cafe we have Potato Leek Soup (not vegetarian) and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (vegetarian)

The TCB - turkey, cranberry & brie, The Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, honey & brie and the new Veggie Rocket.

Okay, so it's a worn-out, forgone conclusion that you can find anything on the internet. But I'd like to give props to the people who make so much available at virtually no charge. In many cases, these same people teach classes, sell magazines, author books and still they "donate" materials that could (and are) income generating for them.

America's Test Kitchen, publisher of Cook's Illustrated magazine, a number of cookbooks and the eponymous public television series, have a website that is partially "members only". But when I googled "blueberry scone recipe" I found a YouTube video if an ATK Blueberry Scone segment. And how convenient to be able to pause, click over to my recipe software and take down the recipe!

This past fall I attended a class taught by Cat Bordhi at Stitches East. Cat is well known teacher and author and I was thrilled to get into her class (and pay $150 for the daylong seminar on sock archetecture. My geekiness will be the subject of another post.). Cat has made a series of videos to compliment her book New Pathways for Sock Knitters. Many of these videos are straight technique tutorials and do not require the book to be valuable to knitters.

My favorite animation, which I had seen only two or three times at arthouse-style theaters, is available on You Tube. If you haven't seen it before, please check out The Dot & the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathmatics.

I was too young to appreciate the signifigance of space flight when the first moon landing occured on 1969, but even if I had it wouldn't have been accompanied by a Tristan Garner remix of Give Love. Or how about the Beatles first appearance in America on The Ed Sullivan Show!

And of course there is this. Hey not everything has to be Spielberg or Dostievski.....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

No time to chat....

..spring has sprung and there's baking to do!

This morning we have Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake, Cinnamon French Toast Casserole and Broccoli Cheddar Strata.

Our soups today are Creamy Tomato Basil (vegetarian) and Classic Potato Leek (not vegetarian).

The Veggie Meatball Rocket continues to get rave reviews (even from the meat eaters!), The Virginian - turkey, ham, havarti & dijon and the Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apples, brie and honey grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April showers......

Today's soups are Creamy Tomato Basil (vegetarian) and Cauliflower Pistachio (vegan).

Panino specials are the new Veggie Meatball Rocket, The TCB - turkey, cranberry and brie and Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, honey and brie grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The man who invented tiramisu

I'm taking the day off and heading down to Piedigrotta for coffee, homemade Italian pastry and some cafe paperwork (okay, and maybe some knitting too). The owner/chef Carminantonio invented Tiramisu, seriously. Check out their media page.

Today's soup is Cauliflower Pistachio (vegetarian). We also still have African Peanut Soup (vegan).

For sandwich specials we have a The TCB - turkey, cranberry and brie, Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, honey and brie grilled on a ciabatta sub roll and the new Veggie Meatball Rocket is also available.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Strengths and Greater Strengths

Today's soup is Cauliflower Pistachio and to tell you how good it is - someone bought a quart this morning at 7:30 am before it was even started! Brad is a big fan of the CP and purchases it in quantity every time it's on the menu. We also still have African Peanut Soup - I am so tickled that you guys have really taken to this.

For sandwich specials we have a Mediterranian Tuna Salad - a traditional tuna salad made with olive tapanade, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, Italian herbs and mayonnaise. The TCB - turkey, cranberry and brie and Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, honey and brie grilled on a ciabatta sub roll is also available.

Yesterday I was talking to a customer about the African Peanut Soup and referred to it as "one of Michael's soups" and she asked if there were certain soups that each of us made. In general, people are always curious about the soups. I think that is partially because we make them from scratch and have gotten a bit of a reputation for having really good soups and that we serve a broad range from comfort food to the more exotic.

I'll pick up on this subject later. Right now I have to see a man about a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Plan. Sounds like fun, huh?