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The Dish

Follow the smoke to the Naptown barBAYq

This weekend brings the third annual Naptown barBAYq Contest and Music Festival to the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds. This two-day fundraising event is organized by the Parole Rotary Club and has expanded to include two days of music as well as a large field of barbeque competitors with names like Que and a Half Men and Aporkalypse Now. Last year’s event raised $30,000 for local charities.

Asparagus specials are popping up, but to celebrate 20 years, Bay Weekly serves cake

May is National Asparagus Month.         This perennial spring vegetable is one of the first harvests of the season and a favorite on menus. A distant cousin of the lily, asparagus takes some dedication to cultivate, about three years before your first crop. But once it takes, the stalks can grow up to four inches in one day. If your green thumb hasn’t stretched to asparagus, you’ll find the stalky green popping up all over — in farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants.

Distilling Sloop Betty, a 40-year first

New and seasonal favorites bring flavor to spring

I grew up in a bucolic part of northern Delaware near the Brandywine River Valley, dubbed Chateau Country for its lush countryside riddled with duPont estates, rolling hills and horse farms. Greenville is the town center, just down the road from Nemours and Hagley Museum, the estate and gunpowder mill that was the beginning of the duPont dynasty. My father’s family has been part of the community for many generations, though we plowed a different path than the duPonts.

Brussels sprouts on pizza … Soft-shell crab on an Old Bay waffle

I admit to food biases. Some foods I have no interest in wasting calories on: sweet potatoes (even the trendy fried version), liver and onions (I get nauseous thinking about it) and fois gras (there’s that liver again). So when I was invited to try two new dishes at California Pizza Kitchen at the Westfield Mall, you’ve gotta give me credit for venturing outside of my comfort zone for two of my least favorite foods: Brussels sprouts and beets.

Irish loaves and burning socks

This Sunday is the day to celebrate your Irish roots or embrace the Irish heritage and culture through food, drink and jigs. Some find their Irish thru green beer and shots of Jameson’s whiskey (which often helps with the jigs). A traditional favorite is slow-roasted corned beef and cabbage.

New owners for Happy Harbor in Deale; La Bella Italia spices up Friendship

Restaurants come and go, reinvent themselves and get make-overs. Change is ongoing, which keeps us on our toes and piques our foodie interest.     The end of February saw the changing of the guard at the classic Deale roadhouse The Happy Harbor. Recent owner Shelley Daniels sold the business to Rochester, NY, native Tony Hite.

Taste your way around town Monday, February 25 through Sunday, March 3

It’s time to hit the gym and pull on the Spanx as Annapolis Restaurant Week begins Monday, February 25. Diners have a week to visit 39 restaurants, enjoy a variety of menus and taste a myriad of flavors. It’s an adventure in the local culinary arts.
Tuesday, February 12 is Fat Tuesday, better known by its French equivalent Mardi Gras, the gluttonous celebration before the lean days of lent begin on Ash Wednesday.     New Orleans has cornered the market on Mardi Gras with parades, revelry and delicious Cajun comfort food. But Chesapeake Country won’t be left out of the party.

While Americans bask in the afterglow of a diverted dive off the fiscal cliff, the restaurant business faces its toughest quarter of the year from January through March. It’s always a challenge to lure diners out in the cold winter months. Adding to the disincentives are smaller paychecks thanks the elimination of the two percent payroll tax, post-holiday malaise and three months with only one food-centered holiday (Valentine’s Day, the second-most popular restaurant holiday behind Mothers Day).