If I could pick any word to describe our holiday weekend, that word would be rejuvenating*. It was so nice to put in a half-day’s worth of work before the office closed, take care of some errands, and then go out and get some food on Friday afternoon. I was able to hop on the free commuter boat over to Harbor East and then headed eastward to Fell’s Point and it was so nice to feel the harbor breeze on my skin during that short ride. Grabbing a stool just about ten minutes before the kitchen would close for the rest of the afternoon, I quickly put in an order for escargots along with a small platter of oysters and clams. I had considered getting something more substantial, but it had been a hot walk over and the second I bit into one of those Delaware Salts I knew I had made the right decision because it was exactly what I had wanted. Paired with a nice white (and a rose with the escargots) and the latest issue of Cherry Bombe, it was the ideal relaxing late lunch. Incidentally, I also found a bunch of things I wanted to make in that issue, so if you’re at all interested grab it up immediately if not sooner.
Of course, I then wanted something a little more substantial so I made my way over to the new-ish 8Ball Meatball restaurant to try their signature menu item. They keep it really simple in that you choose your meatball, you choose your sauce, and then choose how you want it (four in a bowl of sauce, in a sub, or as a slider). I got three sliders (making the bun optional for two of them) to give both the special of the day and a couple of the regulars a fair shake, and while they were all tasty, the pepperoni meatball was my hands-down favorite from this nosh. (Here’s hoping they make it a permanent addition to the menu soon!) Maybe because it was easier to detect since I was there during a lull, but the place smelled AMAZING. You knew that their sauces were simmering all day and it was heavenly, and I already have plans to take Michael there for a snack sooner rather than later.
Saturday was a bit of a strange one, as my in-laws were hosting some of their Sicilian relatives for a few days and came down to visit us for the day to give them something new to see (as well as check out our new apartment). We took our young cousin under our collective wings while we sent the adults off to the aquarium, and she was very game to come along with us to the Baltimore Herb Festival. I meant to take some photos, but to be honest I was too preoccupied taking it all in and bonding with her over which TV shows she liked to watch (she learned English from watching American TV, which is so damn badass) to take any. Needless to say I came home with a nice little spread of herbs for my indoor garden, but that will be another post.
The rest of the weekend was decidedly low-key, from finally seeing Captain America: Civil War to eating barbecue at Dinosaur to getting brunch at our favorite Cuban spot on the Key Highway. In fact, one of the only strange things that happened was that we didn’t cook all that much; between having guests to going out to eat for late lunches, the only full meal we made was on Monday. Michael really wanted to make fried chicken after hearing that his brother was making some earlier during the weekend, and since I didn’t have a better idea I was all for it. We had some traditional sides like coleslaw dressed in buttermilk, but I made a spin on Franny’s cucumber salad that was amazing. I also did a simple pasta to have for lunches during the work week, but again, that deserves its own post.
For the fried chicken itself, we used Alton Brown’s recipe because we’ve used it many times now and hasn’t failed us yet; even if the breading would get a little over-done because the chicken is still delicious. The cucumber salad is a favorite of ours once it gets warm out* because it’s easy to make and so refreshing, so really you need to try it out the next time you want a side that has substance but isn’t too starchy. I’m sure that Franny’s makes this salad best, but even if you can’t get several varieties of cucumbers from the farmer’s market as they prescribe, it’s still a damn good salad.
Adapted from Franny’s Simple Seasonal Italian
Serves 2-3 as a side
- 1/2 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded and sliced thinly
- 1/2 English cucumber, halved and sliced thinly
- 3 Kirby cucumbers, sliced thinly
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 shallot, sliced thinly
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 basil leaves, torn
- 6 mint leaves, torn
Combine the cucumbers in a bowl, season with the salt and sugar, toss well and let sit in the fridge to chill for 45 minutes. Drain well (but don’t rinse), and then combine the rest of the ingredients, adding a little more salt to taste if desired. Serve immediately.
*I know that this holiday weekend is anything but rejuvenating for those who have lost a loved one in the military, and for my family, friends, loved ones of my friends, and the strangers I’ve never met who have served and continue to serve, thank you so much for your sacrifice and your service.