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March 30, 2010

Top Ten wood-infused foods

Wedding cakeThe idea for today's Top Ten Tuesday list comes, once again, from Dining@Large reader Alexander D. Mitchell IV. Just the idea, mind you, not the list itself.

So if you don't like it, please don't blame him. I'll take the fall this week.

Easy to say, since I think this list isn't likely to generate controversy like last week's. Then again, I didn't expect a light little riff on beets, arugula and health care would set so many people off. So who knows?

Maybe a radical anti-logging group like Earth First! will get after me for this one.

Top Ten wood-infused foods

No. 1: Wood-fired pizza

No. 2: Hickory-smoked ribs

No. 3: Smoked salmon

No. 4: Smoked salt

No. 5: Wedding cakes

Strange but true: If you want to make a wedding cake -- I've had two spectacular failures and one success -- you'll have to get over the weirdness of wood in cake. After producing two leaning towers of cake, I learned that you need to impale the confection with long, thin dowels similar to chopsticks. They support the cake by holding up the next layer, which sits on cardboard cake circle. (All the structural stuff gets hidden by icing.) Otherwise, the cake looks like that tower in Pisa, without the old-world charm. 

No. 6: Cedar-planked salmon

No. 7: Oaky wines

No. 8: Oaked beers

No. 9: Prosciutto and melon

It's nothing without the toothpick

No. 10: Peanut butter-birdseed pine cones

Try hanging that outside for the birds without the cone


Wedding cake by Sugar Bakers in Catonsville. Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:26 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Speaking of oaked beers, the Loose Cannon from an oak barrell at this weekend's Real Ale and BBQ festival at Heavy Seas brewery was absolutely fantastic.

I use plastic straws, not wood dowels, in wedding cakes. Just as strong, faster, cleaner, and cheaper.

If beer counts as food, then smoked porter would be on my list. The Alaskan brewery in Juneau makes the best I've had; unfortunately, it's a bit hard to find (read: impossible) on this coast. Stone brewery from San Diego makes one that is also pretty good and, thankfully, available locally.

Smoked turkey...

There is a place in PA that Owl recommended, its called Godshalls and their boneless smoked turkey breasts are quite good.

How can you have Oak wine, and Oak Beer but not mention Whiskey (Scotch, Bourbon, Irish, & Tennessee)? They are all aged in various types of Oak, and like wine get significant flavor from the Oak.

FYI you can buy lovely smoked sea salt (and other smoked spices at Neopol Savory Smokery in Belvedere Square. Although they do sell out quite often.

It occurs to me that last week I was so happily fressing a smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen in Montreal that I never stopped to ask if they use wood. One taste and you'll immediately understand why Schwartz's is included on Montreal maps as if it were a monument or a museum. I would not/could not maintain a 98% vegetarian lifestyle if I lived there (captcha is on point with on blitz). Somewhat hilariously, there's a Hebrew gravestone business directly across the street.

Club sandwich.

You know, the toothpick with the warning flag?

That wedding cake is beautiful! Is that from a local bakery? If so, please post the information. Thank you!

Good point. It's Sugar Bakers in Catonsville. I'll add that to the photo credit above. LV

I was excited but scared at the thought of a wood smoked wedding cake, disappointed that it was just the dowells. Anyone have ideas on how to make a cake with background smoked flavor? Maybe Neopol would smoke the flour?

My last birthday cake had a smoky flavor. It's getting smokier every year.


As a civil engineer I have to question your claim that hollow plastic straws are "just as strong" as wood dowels. While the tensile strength might be close the bending, shear and compression strength are a fraction of a wood dowel.

The straws don't have to be as strong as wood dowels, just strong enough to do the job.

I must be overlooking it, because no way the "I-love-bacon" blog accumulated this many comments without someone mentioning the applewood-smoked obvious!

Hal, I agree. However, her post says the straws are "just as strong" not that they are strong enough to do the job.

Real s'mores over a camp fire.
[or a hot dog]

Oak chardonnay.

Bra1nchild just reminded me. Back a few centuries ago, when I was a kid at summer camp, we'd hook a marshmallow on a twig and hold it over a camp fire til it was charred on the outside, gooey on the inside. Then we'd get more marshmallows and keep going til the fire burnt out.

Barbecued anything if done properly.

I make some rocking grilled eggplant pizzas with cherry wood chips. Also roasted eggs and potatoes over oak chips work well, too. ( mind the eggs.. there's a fine 2 minute window between done and "exploded")

EEL, you may be right about the strength of the straws, but just try sucking the extra frosting off a wooden dowel.

EEL, I suppose technically you are correct, but I've done wedding cakes stacked six high using straws. Bedside all the other reasons I cited for using straws, it's always way more difficult to cut the dowels exactly the same size. The last thing you want is tilting layers.

Black walnut cake--
served at a strategy luncheon of Teabaggers in a downtown Washington restaurant. They cause a commotion when they ask for separate checks. Then a couple of Obama's people come in and perceive that they are waiting what seems an inordinate amount of time to get seated, even though they have told the hostess that all of their party is present. Words are exchanged. A fight breaks out after somebody lightly touches the server and the police are called. Some skinheads working in the kitchen come running in wielding frying pans. Everybody ends up needing health care. QED.

Cleatus my man where u been.

I was unavoidably detained, LL.

Glad to see you here.

(And lest anyone accuse me of racism: in my last post, the words "Obama's people" could be any color, as could the teabaggers, the skin heads, or the server. It's an equal opportunity fantasy.)

Welcome back, Cleatus--you have been missed.

Dahlink. What's the emoticon for a big hug?

((( ))))

Yeah! First RiE, and now Cleatus!! Now if we can only get a few others to come back!

(group hug--even OMG)

Let topic drift reign.


Speaking of topic drift ... my Captcha is estonian which. Which what who?

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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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