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April 11, 2010

Seeking chestnuts, scoring eggplant Parm

DiPasquale'sAn urgent, if improbable, need for vacuum-packed chestnuts first led me to DiPasquale's Italian Market, a happy discovery that came to mind yesterday when I passed along news of the coming Highlandtown Wine Festival.

I was making a batch of chestnut soup to be photographed for The Sun's food section just before Christmas, following a recipe from Cindy Wolf.

The recipe was simple enough, but the Charleston chef clearly had access to better fresh chestnuts than I.

Wolf had warned me that if the chestnuts weren't fresh, they'd turn hard during roasting and wouldn't puree properly in the soup. Sure enough, the ones I'd bought -- at Whole Foods, no less -- came out of the oven like rocks.

Turns out that as much as we associate chestnuts with Christmas, they're reaching the tail end of their season by then. And most retailers don't store them in refrigerated cases, even though that's recommended. Wolf had suggested buying canned or vacuum-packed chestnuts if I couldn't find really fresh ones.

And so the frenzied search -- the soup had to be photographed the next day -- was on. Trinacria, the west side Italian deli I love and often frequent, didn't have them. Nor did lots of other places I called. But DiPasquale's, which I came across online, had them in stock.

The catch was that the deli was in Highlandtown, a pretty good hike from my house in Southwest Baltimore. (I've since learned they have a location in Towson.) Worried about getting that soup done on time, I was annoyed by the long schlep.

That faded once I walked in the door. DiPasquale's had all kinds of olive oils, breads, olives, produce, prepared foods and -- oh, yeah! -- vacuum-packed chestnuts. There was so much to look at, I could have forgotten the nuts. I purchased an eggplant Parmesan sub along with my chestnuts.

I'd meant to eat the sub at home, but I wanted to try just a bite when I got in the car. It was gone before I started my engine.

Funny, but the drive back home didn't seem that long.


DiPasquale's Towson location. Sun photo by Amy Davis

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 7:14 AM | | Comments (3)


It is hard not to be happy every time one goes to DiPasquale's. Their bread is divine and makes their sandwiches stand out. I always leave with more than I intended to buy.

I saw some vacuum-packed chestnuts at Wegman's just the other day.

I'm pretty sure that their second location is Mastellone's, in the 7200 block of Harford Road in Parkville.

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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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