Saturday, December 20, 2014

Johnny's Bistro on Main & Bean Hollow - Historic Ellicott City, MD

Located in the heart of Ellicott City's historic district, Johnny's Bistro on Main is a quaint eatery that serves traditional favorites with a creative twist.  

The restaurant, named after owner and managing partner Johnny Breidenbach, serves rustic sandwiches, paninis, tapas, innovative salads and gourmet pizza "with a creative touch."

I was joined by Gracie on this culinary adventure. We both decided to order a sandwich from "Between the Bread" selections listed on the menu that arrived with skinny fries and a pickle. 

The "It's a Wrap" caught my eye - a grilled Tuscan chicken, fresh mozzarella, sliced proscuitto, mescaline greens, roasted red peppers, herbs and garlic aioli ($9.99).  The saltiness of the proscuitto and seasoned, tender chicken combined with the fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers packed a nice a one-two punch of flavors in my mouth. The ingredients were extremely fresh. I would have preferred less garlic aioli but that's just my preference.  Next time I will ask for the spread on the side.
It's a Wrap 

California Dreaming
Gracie ordered the California Dreaming sandwich - roasted turkey with apple wood bacon, guacamole, lettuce and tomato served on rustic herbed ciabatta ($9.99). It was a hit with Gracie who decided to opt out of the bacon slices. I took a bite and agree. The bread was outrageously good. I could have eaten just the bread and been one happy Dude. 

Creme Brûlée 

For dessert, the "Freshly Made Creme Brûlée with Vanilla Bean" ($5.99) was calling our names from the "Sweet Temptations" menu. We gave it a shot.   Although it was a small portion and we were full from the sandwiches, it was so well made with fresh ingredients and so tasty that we didn't leave a morel.

We continued our evening in historic Ellicott City by walking around the downtown area admiring the antique stores and restaurants all dressed up in Christmas fashion. We stopped into a nearby coffee house (we both have a passion for coffee) called Bean Hollow Coffee and Connections - a cozy vegetarian and vegan coffeehouse/restaurant that serves a ridiculous variety of coffee all day long (up to 10 pm except on Sundays) along with a selection of food including desserts, sandwiches and salads (last order taken at 9:30 pm).

Gracie was filled with mucho happiness from her coffee 

Bean Hollow dressed in its holiday finery

Gracie ordered the Americano- a full-bodied espresso shot poured into a cup of hot water. This coffee keeps the integrity of the espresso taste without the strength of a regular, unadulterated espresso shot. I ordered the triple Americano (an americano with three espresso shots).

Bean Hollow was a terrific place to end our historic Ellicott City journey.

Before the night ended, we took a ride to the Christmas house in the near-by Beaverbrook neighborhood in Columbia, MD to visit the Christmas house at 5034 Durham Rd. 

It looked exactly how I remembered the house - just spectacular with what's reported to be over 200,000 lights.  I think Gracie was impressed too. 

Sadly, we learned from the people we met walking around the Christmas display that this is the LAST year the house will have a big show for the holiday. Read more about the house here  I highly recommend you visit this Christmas light display before it shines no more.

- Charles 

Johnny's Bistro on Main on Urbanspoon

Bean Hollow Roastery & Espresso on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Galway Bay Irish Pub & City Dock Cafe - Downtown Annapolis, MD

I traveled to Annapolis recently to meet my friend Gracie who recommended we eat at Galway Irish Pub. 
Located in the historic area on Maryland Avenue, the restaurant is only blocks away from the Governor's mansion, State House and the Annapolis waterfront.

Our waiter Shane was terrific. He offered several suggestions that turned out to be fantastic.

Gracie ordered a traditional Irish speciality, the Shepard's pie -  ground beef sirloin cooked in a casserole with onion, peas, and carrot, topped with mashed potatoes.

Here's what Gracie had to say about the dish, "mmmonmMMMMMmmmMMMmm tasty." The complexity of flavors from the fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes, tender beef, and fresh vegetables make one sinful pie. We both thought the presentation was awesome too.

Gracie is full of abundant joy from her pie
The antique bookshelf and brick
wall gave the restaurant
 a traditional and cozy feel 

I ordered the Grilled Chicken & Irish Bacon sandwich - a breast of chicken charbroiled, topped with a grilled strip of Irish Bacon and melted cheddar, served on a toasted Amoroso roll. This was my first time trying Irish Bacon and OHHHH BOY was it delicious.

The chicken breast was tender with just a tid bit of charcoal for flavor. Although this sandwich combination is not unique, somehow this Irish Pub found a way to make it standout. Maybe its the salty Irish bacon. Or the sharp cheddar cheese. But it was great.  The steak fries just made the entire dish sing with their hot, crisp outside and tender, soft inside.
After enjoying a great dinner, we continued the evening with a walk around downtown Annapolis admiring the stores and restaurants all dressed up for Christmas. We stopped into a nearby coffeehouse, City Dock Cafe, where one of Gracie's friend Haley was working.
City Dock Coffee dressed in its holiday finery 
City Dock Coffee is a quaint, cozy coffeehouse located near the bottom of Maryland Avenue.
The Powerhouse coffee

Since I had a long drive home at night, Haley recommended the Powerhouse coffee - coffee mixed with three espresso shots. It was slightly bitter but packed a powerful punch. Without a doubt, the drink did help me stay focused and alert my whole ride home.

Garcie ordered the Americano - a full-bodied espresso shot poured into a cup of hot water. This coffee keeps the integrity of the espresso taste without the strength of a regular, unadulterated espresso shot.

City Dock Cafe was the perfect spot to end a fun night. The staff was friendly and the coffees well mixed and tasty.

Thanks to Gracie for showing me around historic Annapolis.
The Americano 

Galway Bay Irish Restaurant on Urbanspoon

City Dock Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#futurechefs Twitter party TONIGHT at 8 p.m.

Tonight we are participating in a Twitter party at 8 p.m for the newly released book FutureChefs by author Ramin Ganeshram and would like to invite you to join us.

Why? A few months ago, veteran journalist and trained chef Ramin contacted us about this amazing book she was writing about young foodies and chefs and wanted to know if we'd like to be included in the book.

We were truly honored to be asked and humbled to be included among so many illustrious future chefs.

Printed by Rodale Inc., publisher of the "Eat This Not That" book series, "Mens Fitness", and "Runner's" magazines,  the FutureChefs book highlights 150 recipes from the kitchens of young cooks all over the world.

Our story appears on page 126 and our recipe on page 127. The recipe, Vegetable-Parmesan Crusted Flounder was inspired by a dish our Grandma Alberta makes. She got the idea for it on a trip to Sicily, Italy many years ago.

Not only does the book have awesome recipes but it features the stories of students from around the world who are making a name for themselves in the food business.

13-year old Mia Alessi of Parkton, Maryland developed her own line of cake mixes under the name "Bratty Crocker".

Haile Thomas of Tuscon Arizona who at 13 years old has been the guest of the First Lady at the State of the Union, a guest on the Food Network, and created a charity that helps kids be healthier through cooking classes.

Alessandra Peters from the United Kingdom is a 15 year old known as the Food Intolerant Teen for her Foodie Teen website that chronicles her vegan adventures.

And there's so many more FutureChef stories and recipes to talk about. The book is available at and Whole Foods stores.

So join us tonight for our FutureChef Twitter party using the hashtag #futurechefs.

Charles and I hope to see you at the #futurechefs Twitter party!


2014 MOBBIES results

The Baltimore Sun's 2014 MOBBIES (Maryland's Best Blog awards) results are in!

2 Dudes Who Loves Food was awarded:

Best Suburban Blog - 3rd place
Best Food Blog - 4rd place 
 Best Facebook Page - 4th place

We REALLY appreciate all the people who voted for us.  It's still pretty neat that people actually read our blog posts. It means the world to us.

A special shout out to our HoCo blogging community and teachers Mrs. Bagley, Madame Doff, Mr. Barrett, Mr Pauller, Ms. McDonough  principal Haffets, for always encouraging and supporting our food adventures.

Also, a big thank you to our friends and family who often come along for the ride with our crazy food shenanigans.

Last but not least, congratulations to fellow bloggers  and MOBBIES winners HowChow, Village Green/Town Squared, HoCo Connect, The 53, HoCo Maryland, Lisbeth Eats, AnnieRie Unplugged, Three Beans on a String and The Unmanly Chef  (who took home the big kahuna - 1st place Best Food Blog).

With much appreciation,
Thomas and Charles 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's MOBBIES time again....

The Baltimore Sun's annual MOBBIES (Maryland's Outstanding Blogs) 
award competition has announced its 2014 nominees. 

Here's the exciting news, we've been nominated in three categories:

Best Food Blog
Best Facebook Page
Best Suburban Blog
vote for my blog in the mobbies early and often
We're VERY honored to be nominated - especially among such
awesome nominees as

 HowChow and HoCoBlogs in the Community

Village Green/Town Squared

HoCo Connect, The 53,

HoCo Maryland, Lisbeth Eats,

AnnieRie Unplugged, Three Beans on a String and The Unmanly Chef

You can vote once a day through Nov. 13 (only 5 days left).
Click on the MOBBIES logo above to vote.

Best of luck to all the nominees!!!
- Charles and Thomas

Friday, November 7, 2014

Whole Foods Thanksgiving Meals, Nationwide

The Whole Foods Columbia, Maryland store invited local food bloggers to a taste testing party to sample their Thanksgiving meals. 

Our invitation included one guest each, so we asked our Grandma Alberta and Grandpa Charles to join us. 
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a warm welcome by Whole Foods Chef Patrick, Katie Malloy and Mia Hinckle. The cafe was transformed into a private dining area for us with a gigantic table with printed name plates, menus and Fall decorations.

(left to right) Charles, Chef Patrick and Thomas 
Tasting menu  
The Holiday Taste tasting took place in the cafe area overlooking the lake
Before the event started, it was exciting to hang out with some very cool food bloggers including @theunmanlychef, @3beansonastring, @HoCoBlogs co-founder Jesse Newburg and @thebaremidriff and @hudsonandemily.

Then, Chef Patrick introduced the appetizers and the parade of holiday food began.....
Chef Patrick introducing the appetizers 

Coconut shrimp (left) and shrimp dumplings with dipping sauce  

We started with appetizers - a coconut shrimp and a shrimp dumpling with sweet and sour sauce. While the dumpling's thin skin was fork tender filled with a tasty, well seasoned mixture of shrimp filing, the star, for all of us, was the coconut shrimp,  It was a huge, pump shrimp lavishly covered in sweet, coconut flaked coating. The right amount of sweet and salty. We washed down the shrimp appetizers with a sweet apple cider that was another stand out. 

For the first course,  the Organic Triple Squash Soup was "smooth and tasty" with "a very faint hint of cinnamon", the "perfect Fall soup"  The  Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup  had a "strong earthly mushroom flavor." We spilt on which one we liked best - Grandpa and I  liked the Squash Soup and Grandma and Thomas the Mushroom Soup. 
Roasted Free Range Turkey with Gravy, Organic Biscuit & Mushroom Stuffing,
Butternut Sweet Potato Casserole,  Mashed Potatoes,
Cranberry Orange Relish, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, and
Glazed Carrots with Pecans

Then the second course came out - a gigantic plate of mouth-watering Thanksgiving classics.  We all agreed the Organic Biscuit & Mushroom Stuffing was star of the plate. "Much better than regular stuffing"(Grandma) and "biscuit added a depth of flavor and texture" (Grandpa). Both potatoes -  Butternut Sweet Potato Casserole and Mashed Potatoes, were well seasoned with a smooth and silky texture but "had a thinner consistency than we make at home"(Grandpa).

Cranberry Orange Relish was "very good and sweet" (Charles), "not a jelly more of a jam (Grandpa) and "very flavorful with a hint of orange" (Grandma). 
Roasted Brussel Sprouts - "tender, easy to cut" (Thomas), but "needed a bit more seasoning or salt" (Grandpa). 

Roasted Free Range Turkey with Gravy was sliced thicker than we are accustomed to at home but the turkey was "very flavorful" (all of us) and with it lathered in the chunky mushroom gravy it was a real hit. 

Glazed Carrots with Pecans -  although "tasty" (Grandma) and "tender" (Thomas) we would prefer the carrots be a bit more sweet.
Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie 

Grandpa and I are not pumpkin fans, so only we let Thomas and Grandma give the 411 on this Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie - "clever play on the classic pie with the two different layers of pumpkin pie (the top layer a mouse and bottom layer was the classic pumpkin pie custard)" (Thomas) but "the crust was thicker than we preferred" (Grandma).

As the dinner ended, we were stuffed. It felt like Thanksgiving. You know that feeling when, even though you want to eat more because it tastes so good, but you just can't eat another bite. That was us.

When we left we were given "Yum" goodie bags stuffed with 365 (Whole Foods house brand) Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake cookies, daelias Biscuits for Cheese (almond with raisin flavor) and Hammond's Mitchell Sweets (vanilla caramel & marshmallow).

In summary, this was a VERY cool event. It's our first taste testing and hope its not our last.

We decided to incorporate some of the items we tasted into our Thanksgiving meal. We're definitely ordering the coconut shrimp appetizer, organic biscuit and mushroom stuffing, mushroom gravy and pumpkin pie cheesecake cookies.

Check out all of WF Thanksgiving meals here (Columbia store here). There are so many items to choose from including kosher, organic, vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian. WF offers its Thanksgiving items as package dinners (serves 2 people or up to 16 ) or as single servings. From sides, breads, game birds, soups, gravy, relish, cheese platters, pie crusts and even holiday flower arrangements, there is a big selection to choose from.

Thank you Whole Foods. We had a great time.

- Charles