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September 18, 2009

Rehabbing with bison, truffles and trout



Robert of Cross Keys is back, with a new guest post, a new category for his posts (you can now go back and read his earlier posts by clicking on "Free Market Fridays" under the categories to the right) and best of all, with ruminations on, well, you'll see. Here's Robert. EL

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to excise the demons from my trip to Jacksonville, meaning I’ve been trying to get the rail gin and fried conch fritters out of my system.

I started my rehab at Boordy’s Vineyard, where I went to a late summer, outdoor happy hour that features their wines along with local foods. ...

For my meal I went with a bison burger and bison sausage.  I don’t think they were the same animal.  The burger was wonderful.  It was cooked medium rare, had the rich meat flavor of bison, and was served on a fresh focaccia roll.   The sausage was somewhere between strange and gamy, and it didn’t come on a roll of any distinction.

With my meat products in hand, I went over to the wine barn.  Unfortunately, the lines weren’t moving.  To my right I had some kid in cargo shorts swirling his plastic cup of samples as he tried to distinguish the nuance of Jazz Berry and Tango Peach.  To my left was Jimmy the Greek yelling into his cell phone that he wanted $100 on Carolina.  Hmmm, considering the game that night was South Carolina vs. North Carolina State I am left to wonder the attention to detail of his bookie.  I am also left to wonder if this bookie is accepting any new clients.

After dinner and drinks my wife brought up dessert.  Inside the wine cellar chocolates were being sold.  I said we shouldn’t.  She said we should just look.  Now five miles from Boordy’s is the Baltimore County Animal Shelter, and five years ago my wife suggested we go there and just look at the dogs.  That’s how we got Mr. Jefferson, so needless to say when we just looked at the chocolates I ended up buying a large box of truffles.

Speaking of Mr. Jefferson, he accompanied the wife and me to the Homestead in Virginia.   I’m not sure what level of decadence is marked by the taking of a dog to a resort, but I think it is somewhere between Nero and Caligula.

Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.  So I took advantage of all the Homestead had to offer.  Of course, that means that I had to try all the local specialties, and at the Homestead that means trout.  I had it with brown butter, grapes and almonds.  I had it fried with remoulade sauce.  I had it sautéed with fresh herbs.  I had no idea how good trout can be.

Trout is generally not seen on menus in the Baltimore area.  It never really caught on in this area.  Trout is fished all over Maryland, but it doesn’t have the cultural attraction of, say, rockfish or even croaker.  I’m not sure why this is.  Perhaps the Bay trumps all in this state, and there is no room at the table for fresh water fish.  Maybe the difficulty of fishing for trout, what with special stamps and limited seasons, makes the fish inaccessible to not only fishermen but diners as well.

Trout might just need an ideal beverage pairing before it can take hold in this area.  I’m not sure what that is, but I bet it is not rail gin.  

(Photo of Mr. Jefferson courtesy of RoCK)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:48 AM | | Comments (16)


But we have Lake Trout.

I love "Free Market Fridays". Perfect.

So did you ever get to try any of the wine? What did you think of it? I've never been to any of these local vineyards. Are you allowed to buy a case of wine there?

I love trout and catfish which are both hard to find on many menus. I get it at Cracker Barrel.

Notable -- I second that. The catfish at Cracker Barrel is pretty darn good!!!

Well, first, let me give the credit to the name "Free Market Friday's" to Owlie. It was his idea.

Second, the wines at Boordy are a mixed bag. They are much better than some of the North Carolina wines I've had that taste like they came out of a juice box, but I can't say that I go out of my way to stock my wine rack with their product.

I normally get the Riesling from Boordy. It's crips and slightly sweet, but not candy sweet.

I'm not a huge fan of their reds.

I also think that their dessert wines, like their Port or Sweet Riesling, are over priced.

As for Trout and Catfish, you'll definitely see the later on menus around here. Catfish is pretty common, but the only place I've seen trout in Baltimore lately is, oddly, on the seasonal menu at Roy's. Don't get me wrong, Roy's does a nice pecan trout, but I have no idea why that is offered at a Hawaiian restaurant.

Filbert, if you haven't been to any of the local vineyards, I suggest you attend the Maryland Wine Festival this weekend (Sept. 19 and 20) at the Carroll County Farm Museum; if you have never been before. I believe most vineyards from the state are represented and you can pick up information about their vineyard and when you can visit. On a side note, I volunteer there every year so I can get free admission to the festival :)

Mari Luna has excellent trout. Try either a light red or heavier white. Victory Pilsner would be really good too. Since it is BYOB take some of each.

I love trout. One of my favourite fish. Can get it anywhere else, but, come to think of it, haven't seen it anywhere here. No freshwater fish at all.

No wonder Garrett Co. and the folks out that way think we ignore them.

Nice to see a pic of Mr. Jefferson. Give him a cuddle for me, eh?

The Rocky Gap Resort in Allegany County (which isn't quite in the same league as a Homestead or a Greenbriar) had a pet-friendly policy a few years ago. I took my own dog there for a weekend. He enjoyed the nature trails, but, being unfamiliar with hotel rooms, he earned every penny of the room cleaning fee. Rocky Gap has since gotten rid of the pet policy; I guess they don't think dogs will be compatible with slots.

Currently there is no developer for slots at Rocky Gap. The only bidder had their proposal declared nonresponsive. I think you gave the reason for the change in policy with the line "he earned every penny of the room cleaning fee."

EEL, while the Rocky Gap slots process is currently dormant, I'd think that hope still springs eternal with the Rocky Gap proprietors and/or operators that somebody will step forward with a better bid in the near future (even if the current gaming climate isn't terribly promising).

As for the room cleaning charge, you can bet that I was so mortified by any accident that I took great pains to clean it up myself, before housekeeping arrived. After all, I had to sleep in the room in the meantime with what was then still a puppy. (The puppy's shedding on the bedspread did have to be left for housekeeping's vacuuming.)

For the record, Rocky Gap dropped its pet policy in August 2007, a good two years after I had been there with the puppy. (They did honor existing pet reservations through October 31, 2007.)

Rocky Gap was one of my favorite camping spots until the resort was built. Nearby Green Ridge is very nice, but sometimes we wanted to camp where there are facilities. I hope slots don't come to Rocky Gap, the area is beautiful and doesn't need that area to be clogged with busloads of people wanting to pull a few handles.

As for catfish, y'all need to come down here. Its everywhere.

I think Rocky Gap is one of the better locations for gambling in the state. It has easy access and good visibility. The problem is that slots alone are probably not enough. It's time for table games, or perhaps dog racing or Jai alai.

I see where PA is moving on to table games. DE will have table games and sports betting. As usual MD is a day late and a dollar short. Consider also that nearly a year after the voters approved the amendment to the constitution no slots licenses have been issued.

Hmmm ... I would have pegged hmpstd as a cat person.

RoCK, I mostly agree with your opinion of Boordy wines. I've found that the Seyval Blanc is a nice white that's not too sweet. Occasionally, when the stars are aligned and growing conditions are "just perfect," they make a Petite Cabernet that's lush, dark, and full of dark fruits. What I'd love to find made locally is a Rose--NOT a blush, mind you, but an honest-to-God intense, fruity-but-not-sweet, Rose wine. Does any local winery make one?

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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