New Win Long – Eldersburg, MD – May 2020

Prior to the shutdown, I had been craving Chinese food. A lot of the stores temporarily closed down, so I had to wait as those cravings continued. I have been trying to keep an eye on a couple of local places that I’ve enjoyed visiting, so I was happy when I discovered that one of them had recently re-opened.

New Win Long is just a few miles from home. They aren’t delivering right now, so I waited until I was able to make my way over there, which happened to be this past Friday night after work.

I decided to order two items. I went with the Vegetable Spring Rolls and the Sesame Chicken. I ate both spring rolls and they were fantastic. There was a nice, crunchy exterior and a juicy shredded veggie interior. I added a little duck sauce and hot mustard, and my appetizer was gone before I knew it.

Next was the sesame chicken. The image above was only half the order. New Win Long offers very generous portions at a great price. The rice was sticky and moist, not dry at all. The chicken pieces were huge chunks, and very meaty. They had a slightly crisp exterior, but were nice and juicy on the inside. The flavor of the sauce was incredible. The broccoli absorbed the flavor of the sauce, which made it taste much better. The entire meal was great, and I’m glad they are back open and the quality of their food is still great. The leftovers were still delicious. It’s easy to start the weekend on a positive note when you have great food like this!

A Weekend of Appreciation for the Local Small Businesses

This past weekend, I went to quite a few of the local small businesses. These were all local to me, either in Sykesville or Eldersburg. There are other places I considered visiting, but last weekend involved the implementation of the face covering requirements here in Maryland, so I wanted to limit my interactions.

I was able to make a few basic masks for myself, which were better than using the bandana with an ever loosening knot. I purchased some socks and some gauze pads, cut the socks lengthwise, cut some earholes and used some safety pins to hold in the gauze pads. I’ll be trying those out next weekend, just to see how they hold up to the elements.

More importantly, on to the food.

My weekend started on Friday morning. As part of my new routine, I go to Kismet Cafe. They open at 6 AM, so I get there as close to opening as possible. There are no other people there, I can get my food and have plenty of time to eat before I start working. This past Friday, I ordered a Kismeccino, which is always good. I also ordered an egg and cheese sandwich on an asiago bagel, which was a really good way to start the morning.

When my work day ended on Friday, I decided to make the short trip to Big Belly Deli. I ordered the Rachel, which is turkey, Cole slaw, Swiss cheese, and thousand island on their toasted sourdough bread. Absolutely delicious. I would like to say that I can’t believe that I ate the whole thing, but I do it every time. It’s too good to stop eating.

The thing that made me really happy was that they were also selling loaves of their sourdough. This picture is taken from my house on one of my cutting boards, it’s not how it was handed over to me. I used this bread for the onion dip I made on Saturday night, and I used it a few times since then. It is a really good bread, so I’m glad that they had some loaves available.

I did not stop on Friday, though. I went out Saturday just before noon, and had two places that I wanted to visit if they were open and not too busy.

The first stop was at Smoky’s BBQ. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to get prior to walking in the door, but when I saw beef ends on the menu, I knew that I had to get that. They give you a choice of barbecue sauce, and I went with mild. The beef ends had nice flavor, but they also had really good texture. They weren’t too hard to bite into and weren’t too chewy. They were the right consistency and the smoky flavor of the meat worked well with the barbecue sauce. I had some of it for lunch on Saturday night, but left the rest for a sandwich to be made later. I knew that I would be making the onion dip on Saturday night, and had the idea to make a sandwich with the sourdough bread, the beef ends, and the onion dip.

After picking up the food at Smoky’s, I stopped off at Dandelion Bakery. It’s really close to my house, so it was on the way. They had window service and there was no line. I was able to park right in front and ordered a chocolate chip cookie. They run out of things fast, so I was fortunate to get them while I could. These are really good chocolate chip cookies. They are nice and soft on the inside, and they use a good chocolate. It was a great dessert!

When Sunday came around, I was able to make the sandwich I had been dreaming up. It was a perfect sandwich for the weekend. I had the bread from Big Belly Deli, the beef ends from Smoky’s BBQ and my homemade onion dip. This sandwich worked out much better than expected. I toasted the bread a little and heated up the beef ends, but kept the onion dip cold. The flavors all came together really well.

I have a feeling I might be ordering delivery this week, but I’ll want it to be something local (either local small business, or local small franchise). I don’t know what the weekend will hold for me. I know how my Friday morning will start, but I’m not sure about the rest of the week. I will just have to see how things go.

Full disclosure: my initial title for this post was going to be Living La Vida Local, but I think quite a few people would probably be rolling their eyes at that. Stay positive!

Mo’s Cafe – Eldersburg, MD – 03/21/20

When my errands for the day were complete and I finished up some of my grocery shopping, I decided to try and grab some local food for lunch. I made my way over to Mo’s Cafe, which is still open for carry out only. I usually go there for a breakfast of chipped beef on toast, but I wanted to try lunch.

After reading through the menu a couple of times and narrowing my top choices, I finally decided on getting a Grecian burger. I enjoy Feta cheese and Greek seasonings, so I thought this would be a good one to try. And I was right. The burger patty was nice and flavorful. The outside was nice and crisp, and the inside was cooked to perfection. There were some bites where you could taste the freshness of the meat. The feta was extra crumbly, so in addition to the nice flavor, it also had a smooth consistency with each bite. I would have enjoyed more of the seasoning, but that’s just me. There was plenty on there, and it was really good, which is why I wanted more. The bun held together well, down to the last bite. This was a big burger, and it comes with fries (but I opted out, since I knew I would end up eating them all). Definitely a continuation of a day with positive experiences.

The food at Mo’s Cafe is made to order. Mo is always in the back cooking, and his passion for cooking good food always shines through. I was talking with one of the other patrons (at a proper social distance, mind you), and he said that he had ordered the Philly Cheese Steak, which he feels is the best in the area. So now I have something to try the next time I go back there. I won’t be able to go during the week (they close at 4PM every day, so I’ll still be working), but as long as they remain open during the weekends, I can make another trip back there to try the Philly Cheese Steak, or one of the other great options, depending on my mood.

It was nice to see Mo again and his positive attitude and outlook made my day even better!

Kismet Cafe – Eldersburg, MD – 3/20/20

Since I’ve been trying to support local small businesses this week, I thought I would make my way over to Kismet Cafe for breakfast and a coffee drink. I’ve gotten back into the habit of making my own four days a week, so having a treat day works. Kismet Cafe opens at 6AM, so I made sure to head down there when they were opened, and then I had time to quickly have breakfast at home before I started my work day.

I decided to do something a little different for breakfast this morning. When I’ve gotten food from Kismet Cafe before, I would only get a toasted bagel with cream cheese. I ordered a sunrise sandwich with egg, sausage, and cheddar cheese on a Challah bagel. I really like the Challah bagel, and the texture was perfect for this sandwich. The sausage had a really nice flavor. The eggs had great consistency. Not too hard and not too fluffy. The melted cheese gave it the extra little oomph. A great start to the morning, and a breakfast sandwich I will order again.

I also ordered a peanut butter mocha Kismeccino. This is a frozen coffee drink, and it was made right. It was a bit too dark and foggy to take a picture in front of the sign at the store, so I took one with one of my wall decorations inside my house.

When I walked into the store, they let me know that they were really appreciative that I stopped in. The positive feelings that they had made the start of my day great. The food and coffee drink made it even better!

Smoky’s BBQ – Eldersburg, MD – 3/19/20

Tonight I was able to go out again after work to try and support the local small businesses. I’ve written about Smoky’s BBQ before and have been several times since, but haven’t been keeping up with writing about them.

As was the case yesterday, I made sure that my health was in order before venturing outside. It was much warmer than I would have preferred, and tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter. We were supposed to be having rain today, but it hasn’t happened yet, so my window of opportunity to get some dinner was there.

There are always plenty of good options, but today I was in the mood for a combo sandwich. I had half pit ham and half pit turkey. I added tiger sauce and mustard, and then had a side of Cole slaw. This Cole slaw was awesome. All of the flavors came together well, and the consistency was perfect. I wish I had gotten more than just one, but maybe I’ll just venture out again next week if they are still open.

The sandwich itself was fantastic as well. The ham and turkey are sliced thin and are very easy to bite through. The pit cooking gives them a nice, smoky flavor as well. The tiger sauce was strong. Some of those bites of horseradish really got to me, but it was well worth it. The sandwich roll held together really well, and the flavor helped to enhance the flavors of the meat and the tiger sauce. I really enjoyed my dinner and look forward to making my way back there sooner rather than later.

Hope everyone is staying safe and staying positive!

Creamed Chipped Beef over Toast – Mo’s Cafe – Eldersburg, MD

I continued my weekend of good eating with a nice breakfast at Mo’s Cafe in Eldersburg, Maryland. I’ve been there a few times, and I’ve gotten the Creamed Chipped Beef over Toast with a side of Home fries before, so I already knew that I would be getting some good food.

Eating this dish brings me back to my younger days. My dad would make us creamed chipped beef on toast every so often, and it was always good. I remember being at the grocery store with my mom and sisters and seeing those glass jars of chipped beef. So having a meal that brings back fond memories is always a positive for me.

The toast was really good. It was very light and almost fluffy. It wasn’t a dry, rough toast. It had a nice crunch to the outside, but in between there was a light texture with really good flavor. The chipped beef was really good. Not all chipped beef is the same. Some have more of a jerky like texture. This had more flavor to it and a softer texture. It was a more tender chipped beef than I’m used to, and I enjoyed it. The sauce had a nice consistency and was seasoned well. I could see the specks of pepper in there, but it wasn’t overwhelming. It actually provided a nice balance to the cream sauce. The home fries were also good. They had a nice texture and good flavor, but they were definitely the side dish.

This dish will fill you up, and it is worth it. The flavors stayed with me for a couple of hours, and I was still in a happy place with the satisfaction of eating this meal. Staying positive is always easy when you eat this well!

New Experiences with Fond Food Memories

Hello, old friend. I’ve missed you.

I read an article over the weekend about the McRib coming back to McDonald’s in a limited time run. The last time it was out, I could not find it in my area, so I was happy to see it was at my local McDonald’s. Some people really like the McRib. Some people have a strong dislike for the McRib. I happen to really like it. I don’t remember when I first ate one, but I always like them. Now that they are out on a limited run (both in time and location), I will take advantage of having them available near me.

When I opened the sandwich, it had a familiar look to me. It is still a big sandwich, and they definitely put in a good amount of barbecue sauce.

Just wanted to give a side view here. There are multiple components to this sandwich. The bun, the pork, the barbecue sauce, the onions, and the pickles. I am not usually a fan of pickles (unless they are in a Cuban sandwich), so I had mine without. But if you like pickles, then go for it. The bun works really well for this sandwich. It doesn’t get soggy, disintegrate, or fall apart while eating. The flavor provides a nice balance for the barbecue sauce. The texture of the pork works – similar to biting through a boneless rib. There is a nice pork flavor to the meat, and the barbecue sauce complements it well. The onions are a bit underrated. These are thicker sliced onions, so you get more of the bite of the onion flavor when you eat this. It wouldn’t have the same effect if they used diced onions. All combined, this brought back some fond memories of the McRib. And since it will be around for a limited time, I will be going back again (and again) before they are gone.

If the Shamrock Shake were around at McDonald’s, I would have gotten that to drink. Instead, I decided to try a milkshake at Wawa. I ordered the chocolate mint cookies and cream milkshake. It was a thick shake and had good texture. The mint flavor was a little less than I would prefer. It was a good shake, but I like their coffee drinks better.

I also made a stop at TJ Maxx. There is one that is not too far from where I live, but I never visited it. I’m glad that I went there yesterday. I purchased two things from there.

The Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Mint squares are really good. They are not the same as York Peppermint Patties, which I also enjoy. The mint filling is gooey, so this is pretty much a one bite square for me. Fortunately, I have a big enough mouth for that. But if you require multiple bites, the filling might spill out, so be careful.

I’ve had Tortuga Rum Cakes before. They are good as a once or twice a year indulgence. I have never seen bite size cakes before, though. And these truly are bite sized cakes. The cake is moist and light. There is a distinct rum flavor, which is the trademark. So this really does hit the mark in terms of capturing the essence of flavor of the big Rum Cake into a small bite-sized portion. I was very happy with these purchases!

I am happy that the old favorites were still good and the new twist on old favorites were also good. Positive experiences definitely helped make yesterday a good day!

Kismet Cafe – Eldersburg, MD

This morning I took a short drive to another place that I frequent, Kismet Cafe. I have always just gone there for a coffee drink, but today I decided to try one of their bagels as well. The last couple of times I went there, I noticed some of their cream cheese flavors, which is what made me decide to try them.

I’m not the biggest fan of bagels. I will get them every so often, but it’s not normally a food I crave. When I walked into Kismet Cafe this morning, I knew the coffee drink I would be getting: Pumpkin Spice Kismeccino Frozen Coffee. I perused the bagel options and one definitely stood out for me: Challah bagel. So I ordered that, toasted and then had to decide on the cream cheese. There were some good options, but it was ultimately between garlic herb and bacon horseradish scallion. I opted for the garlic herb today, but might try the other one in the future.

The Kismeccino was a good coffee drink. The flavor blend of the pumpkin was nice and the overall consistency was good, with just a little iciness to it. The bagel was really good. The outside had a nice crispness to it, and the inside was very light and not too chewy. It was not like the bagels that I’m used to eating. The garlic herb cream cheese was also really good. There was a definite flavor explosion, but it was not so overpowering that I couldn’t enjoy the bagel. I will get this cream cheese again, but I will also try the bacon horseradish scallion (if they have it).

I didn’t realize it until it was too late, but they have also started baking pumpkin bagels. I might try one of those in the near future. I already know which specialty cream cheese will be a great complement: honey walnut. So I’ll take a future trip here and know that the food will be worth it. I already knew the coffee drinks were worth the visit, but it’s good to know that I can enjoy their bagels as well.

Stay positive and enjoy the day!

Smoky’s BBQ – Eldersburg, MD – 9.17.19

Smoky’s BBQ is another local place that I frequently visit. I went there today and decided to get the Pit Beef Sandwich with a side of Macaroni and Cheese. I added horseradish and barbecue sauce.

I enjoy all types of barbecue. When I came back to Maryland in 2015, it was the first time I really paid attention to Pit barbecue. It’s a big thing in the Baltimore area, which is probably the reason why I started noticing (I moved about 15 miles West of Baltimore). I’ve been to quite a few Pit barbecue places and will most likely be doing write ups of them at some point. Smoky’s BBQ is close to where I live now, which makes it easier to frequent. They have many different menu items that I’ve tried and enjoyed, so it will be fun to write about the different options. In the Pit barbecue places I’ve been, the meat is cooked over an open pit. With the beef, you have the option of doneness, which is nice. With ham and turkey, you get that nice smoky flavor with the meat.

As far as today’s meal, I decided to order the pit beef sandwich, medium rare, with horseradish and barbecue sauce. I went up to the counter, the asked me what I wanted and how I wanted the meat, and then took the meat off the pit and started slicing. This is a very fresh sandwich. The meat was cooked perfectly. The flavors of the meat and the toppings work perfectly for me. But the thing that makes this sandwich really enjoyable for me is the texture of the beef. I’ve had sliced beef before (pit beef, roast beef, or some variation) and it can be very tough and chewy. This was not the case with today’s sandwich. The meat was easy to bite through, so I didn’t have to pull huge chunks of meat in each bite, and I wasn’t hurting my teeth or jaw to actually chew through the meat. As far as the characteristics I would look for in a good pit beef sandwich, this sandwich met them all.

The macaroni and cheese was a nice side dish. Elbow macaroni with a cheese sauce that was the right consistency and amount. Sometimes you can get too much cheese sauce, where it’s just swimming. Sometimes you can get too little cheese sauce, where it is drier than it should be. Sometimes you can get a cheese sauce that has been cooked at too high a temperature and separated. There are things that can go wrong with macaroni and cheese, but that didn’t happen here. If I were to only order the macaroni and cheese, it would need something extra (tiger sauce, bbq meat, etc.), but as a side it worked well with the pit beef sandwich.

It was an overall pleasant experience and one that I look forward to duplicating again soon.

Enjoying a Quiet Sunday

Today got off to quite a good start. I decided to make my way over to Harvest Inn – located in Eldersburg/Sykesville – for some good, old-fashioned diner food. I grabbed a seat at the counter and ordered biscuits and gravy (sausage gravy) with home fries on the side. The picture is below. The biscuits and gravy is a Sunday only treat, so I felt this would be an opportune time to order it. It did not disappoint. It was as good as usual. The gravy has a nice flavor to it. There are some chunky sausage pieces and the gravy is nice and thick. The biscuits are the right size for the amount of gravy. And the home fries help put it all together nicely (especially when combined with a little of the gravy). The staff that works there is great. They have a real connection with each other as well as with the patrons. The back and forth between them and some of the “regulars” enhances the experience even more.

After that meal, I decided to stop by Starbucks to get the pumpkin Frappuccino. I admit I’m not the biggest Starbucks fan, but enjoy trying their seasonal drinks. There was a little more ice than I prefer, but there was a nice pumpkin flavor to the drink with hints of the spices. The pumpkin flavor wasn’t too overbearing, and the shake of cinnamon on top helped round out the flavors. All in all, it was a good drink. Not the best I’ve had, but still worth it for the season.

A little bit later in the morning, I decided to head over to the Sykesville Farmer’s Market. I enjoy Farmer’s Market season, so I still have a couple of months to go out and have some fun. The Sykesville Farmer’s Market had some nice options. There were 15 or so vendors, some local, some a little more spread out. There was a Mexican grill that was doing fresh breakfast and lunch options. There were a couple of baked goods places, a few fruit and vegetable stands and some liquor booths. Even though I was in and out of there in about 10 minutes, it’s still nice just to experience and see the people.

I’m not sure what the rest of the day has planned for me, but when you get a good start to the day, it helps the time go by in a more enjoyable way.