Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Great Tastes: The Rest of the Story

by Erin and Xani

Well we've kept all five of our readers in suspense for long enough - it is time to reveal who our new CELEBRITY friend is!

It's Michael from season 2 of Top Chef!!

Remember?!?! Loved him.

Mike was a special guest celebrity at the Great Tastes event, where he judged an omelet contest (note: I bet BCD Dad could have kicked all their butts) and had an hour-long session where he made some hors d'oeuvres. BUT, we will get to how we met him in a moment...

So, after our panel discussion, we mixed and mingled a bit, and then headed home to rest up for the next phase of the evening: dinner. One of the Great Tastes "special events" was a special four-course dinner at Da Mimmo's, a fancy restaurant in Little Italy, where it was promised that some of the food celebs from earlier in the day would be there. The BCD parents thought the dinner would be fun so we bought tickets.

After a few minutes hanging in the lounge enjoying a cocktail or two (props to Xani for remembering the most complicated drink order ever: one champagne cocktail, one Johnny Walker Black, on the rocks, with a twist, one sweet vermouth on the rocks, one Tom Collins, and one Hendricks [no, make that Bombay Sapphire] martini, extra-dry, up, with a twist, olives on the side-- and props to the bartender for getting it right!) we headed to the upstairs dining room to start the meal...

The advertisement for the dinner said there were 30 spots available, but there were only about twelve of us in total (in other words, the BCD family comprised half of the entire dining party). As promised, Michael from Top Chef was there with his buddy Danny, along with Barrie Lynn, The Cheese Impresario, and Greg Nevins of Moorea Marketing, organizer of Great Tastes. Xani bravely took the seat next to Mike, and that kicked off our new friendship!

Before we talk more about Mike, let's discuss the meal itself, shall we? The first course was Penne Amatriciana, which was al dente pasta in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and proscuitto. This was our favorite dish - the sauce was very flavorful without being too heavy, and the pasta was very al dente! Some may say it was undercooked, but we (especially Xani) enjoyed the bite left in the pasta. Also note, the wait staff poured white white wine during the first and second courses, and red during the third. And when we say poured, we mean poured! And that is why all the pictures are so blurry!

Next up was a salad of greens, apples, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and yummy garlic bread pieces instead of croutons.

Next came the main course, a t-bone veal chop. Oh wait, not a veal chop, veal CHOPS. Yes, PLURAL (they claim it was one chop butterflied, we're not so sure). The point is it was HUMONGOUS. It was really bordering on ridiculous/obscene. (Dad's theory was that they were expecting more people so they just doubled up the portions.) The veal was very tasty, though, and good for leftovers (they happily offered doggie bags).

The dessert was a zabaglione (Italian egg custard) with strawberries, which was kinda boring. Also, they did not offer coffee, which we thought was a bit tacky for all the money we were spending there. They did, however, bring us large portions of limoncello, which is so delicious but so strong! Just what we needed after all that wine...

Overall the food was fine, but not over-the-top amazing. This begs the question: where can we get good Italian food in Little Italy? We welcome your recommendations.

Anyway, the little issues in the meal were overshadowed by the lovely conversation we were having around the table. We talked with Mike about food (of course), his time on Top Chef, his friends from the show (including Ilan - hot!), and big name chefs he got to meet while on the show, including our idol, Anthony Bourdain. We talked about places we've eaten, dishes we've made, and our traditional Sunday dinners (Mike wants an invite!).

We learned that it was Mike's first visit to Baltimore, and that, on the advice of a cabbie, he had gone out partying in Federal Hill the night before (which he likened to Bourbon Street in New Orleans - not too far off if you ask us). When we heard this, we immediately felt that we could show him a hipper, cooler, more diverse and interesting side of Charm City, so after dinner we took him to none other than The Brewer's Art. We've talked about Brewer's on the blog before but it's worth mentioning again how cool this place is - they brew their own (extremely strong) Belgian beers, they have the best Belgian-style fries in Baltimore, and the place is filled with a diverse crowd ranging from hipsters to lawyers to librarians.

Xani and Mike enjoying some fine Belgian beer at Brewer's

We happened to run into a bunch of folks we knew there, which ended up being doubly cool: Mike could obviously tell how super-popular we are, and our friends thought we were awesome for hanging out with a celebrity! Strangely enough, we promised him a diverse Baltimore, but everyone we introduced him to was either a lawyer or a law student! Ah well...

It was a great evening with our new friend, and we are so excited to have met him. We love celebrities - they are so fierce!

Happy celeb hob-nobbing,

E & X

P.S. A big shout-out to Baltimore Metromix for covering this event, and namechecking BCD! Here we are in the slide show, pictures 26 and 28!


  1. The dinner sounds delish! I love chops of all varieties...I am so sad I missed it. But enough about the food. You girls are total CELEBS! I'm surprised I didn't see you on the Daily 10 on E! I'm so happy that you've been launched into foodie SUPERSTARDOM. Congrats on being so fierce!

  2. i am confident that in the near future some very excited bloggers will be writing about their incredible opportunity to hang out with the BCD girls. any day now! when are you seeing mike again?? can i come??

    as for the Little Italy question, we had my dad's rehearsal dinner last summer at Ciao Bella, and the food was excellent, authentic enough to impress a really tough crowd of second-generation italians who grew up with homemade pasta 4 nights a week! even better, the owner, Tony Gambino, is a hoot. straight outta the Sopranos, smoked cigars and drank scotch with the wedding party at the bar until the wee hours and caused some awesome wedding day hangovers. what more could you want? that place seems to be the real deal. check it.

  3. YAY! Can't wait to hear more about it.

  4. wow, I am related to celebrities now. Gonna totally start dropping your names now.

  5. Way cool!Who will you meet next in the world of food blogger stardom? We want to know!

  6. My husband and I went to Boccaccio for Valentine's Day and were pleasantly surprised by both the charming old-fashionedness of the place AND the modern chef in the kitchen. And the prices weren't unreasonable.

    We also like Della Notte, but they can get a little spendy.

    I think Da Mimmo used to be Tom Selleck's favorite restaurant in town.


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