Thanks to our team members, vendors, venues, partners and community we have once again been voted Baltimore’s Best in the 2023 Baltimore Sun Readers’ Choice Awards. We appreciate all of you who voted for us and are honored to be at the top of your list! It is truly a team effort and we are forever grateful to all of the people who help us along the way.
Coming off of the joy of that win, we discovered that we were once again nominated for Baltimore Style 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards along with many of our esteemed partners. Voting is open now through mid-October and we would love your continued support. Click here to vote for Classic and all of your Baltimore favorites.
Eatomology – Food Word Play
Occasionally poetic, often amusing and sometimes logical, we offer a taste of what we have gathered while investigating the who, what and why of food names.
Smushi is a new word in the food lexicon. Created by The Royal Smushi Café in Copenhagen, smushi is smørrebrød inspired by Japanese sushi. The bite sized, open-faced sandwiches still incorporate all the ingredients and flavors expected by the rule-following Danes but with smaller portions that mirror Japanese design and allow the diner a wider variety of flavors and tastes.
Red-Eye Gravy hailing from the southern states, combines country ham drippings and black coffee. The most common story about the origin of its name derives from its appearance in a bowl since it looks like an eye staring back at you. More colorful tales pin the name on President Andrew Jackson who insisted his tipsy cook make the gravy as red as his bloodshot eyes.
Strozzapreti, this ancient pasta’s real homeland is cited as Emilia-Romagna, but it manifests in different forms all through Italy. Its name translates as priest strangler or choker and reflects an anti-clerical zeitgeist in the mid-16th century. The stories about the alarming name are abundant; a common one ends with a gluttonous priest choking from overindulging on a meal of the long, hand rolled pasta.
Swamp Cabbage’s reputation is saved by its better-known name, hearts of palm. The cores of the stems of the Florida palm (Sabal palmetto or cabbage palm) grow in, you guessed it, Florida’s swamps and are considered a delicacy by many. Not breaking news to the Native Americans who lived in this area, it was a staple of the Seminole and Miccosukee diet.
Eton Mess is said to have arrived in the 1920’s when a strawberry pavlova made for a cricket match at Eton College was smashed by a Labrador Retriever. Messy as it was, it was still delicious and enjoyed by all. The name stuck. Since a very similar dish was served to Queen Victoria almost thirty years earlier there is reason to suspect that there is a lot more to this story, but wherever it came from, it remains a crowd pleaser in all circles.
A recent visit to Illinois included a breakfast stop at Kasama, a bakery and modern Filipino restaurant in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood of Chicago. A patient line forms long before it opens at 9 AM. Several nights a week the restaurant is open for a Filipino inspired 13 course tasting menu and it has been honored as the world’s first Filipino Michelin-Starred restaurant. But in the morning hours, the restaurant is a laid-back popular breakfast spot and it does not disappoint.
The traditional menu features fried eggs, rice and longanisa sausage; and of course one should consider an order of lumpia: the iconic pork eggroll with sweet chili sauce. But it was the finely crafted baked goods which called out to us that morning. Our absolute favorite was the ube and huckleberry Basque cake with the stenciled sun from the Philippine flag. This rendition of Gateau Basque was simple perfection. A close second was Kasama’s black truffle croissant with Delice de Bourgogne cheese and honey. Cheese, honey and truffle are great combinations. Add that to a buttery, crisp, flaky, well executed croissant and voila, a star is born. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to try the whole menu but we did manage small tastes of the ube and coconut ensaymada (a sweet brioche), the black sesame coconut macaroon, and the apple butter and raclette cheese croissant. All exceptional.
Their beverage menu is as thoughtful as the culinary selections. We stuck with the well-balanced coffee from Dark Matter, a local roastery but the adventuresome could order drip coffee with calmansi, a native Southeast Asian citrus fruit or an ube latte with coconut sap.
Our pastry chefs at The Classic Catering People have also been creating elevated breakfast pastries with international and local flavors. Similar to our Chicago breakfast, our chefs love using ube, coconut and guava while still paying homage to the tried-and-true favorites such as chocolate, key lime and summer’s stone fruits (such as cherries, peaches and Italian plums). Since we do not have a traditional storefront, nor want our guests waiting in line, and these masterpieces are too good not to share, we will be opening for a few Pop-Up Pastry Days in late August and early September. First up: Ube-Coconut Brioche Rolls, Peaches & Cream Berliner Donuts, and Double Chocolate Craquelin. Please look for Instagram, Facebook and email notices for the upcoming dates. WARNING: You will be clambering for more!
*Footnote for fans of The Bear; Kasama is the first stop on Sydney’s food tour!*
From Our Library, Harriet’s Pick: Breakfast: The Cookbook by Emily Elyse Miller
Breakfast: The Cookbook by Emily Elyse Miller is neither new nor cutting edge, but it is an ambitious undertaking by a passionate practitioner of the morning meal and dedicated researcher. Miller is a food and travel writer who has organized walking breakfast tours and founded the Breakfast Club, an international gathering of creatives and the curious to exchange ideas and to start the day with far ranging flavors. She spent three years traveling, investigating and conversing about breakfast around the world to then whittle down a thousand options into four hundred tested recipes. I rediscovered the book when I was searching for non-egg-based breakfast possibilities. I don’t enjoy eggs for breakfast and traveling abroad has introduced me to many delicious alternatives, like miso soup, quinoa salad, fava bean stew, and guava & cheese empanadas. Miller offers recipes for some of these and many more. In addition to chapters on eggs, cereals, pancakes and toast, there are chapters focused on soups, rice and noodles, fried and stuffed fritters, (donuts, and tamales) as well as drinks and fruits. The meat and fish chapter opens with bacon “the quintessential breakfast protein in the United States” and quickly moves on to other beloved international favorites like bubble and squeak and Jamaican ackee & saltfish. There is a lovely assortment of baked goods: Italian cornetti, Portuguese egg tarts, and morning glory muffins. The international bread section might be my favorite as it features flatbread with za’atar, Chinese steamed buns and Brazilian cheese bread. The recipes are uncomplicated for the most part, although there are some ingredients that may be more challenging to find. Interspersed throughout the book are personal essays on breakfasts experienced in different chef’s and food writer’s home countries. Harumi Kurihara shares memories of the favorite dishes that her mother made for their breakfast including sesame miso soup, dried horse mackerel and homemade pickles; as well as their spring tradition of adding a few Japanese peppers into the miso soup, elevating it to a taste beyond description. Reem Kassis lovingly describes the ever-present bread dipped in za’atar and olive oil, Manoella Buffara writes about the importance of cassava in the Brazilian breakfast, and Fredrik Berselius fondly remembers his Nordic early childhood breakfast of crunchy textured and sweet and sour flavored broken flatbread pieces in a bowl of fermented milk sweetened with castor sugar. For those that wish to travel beyond a Benedict there is a lot of new ground to explore in Miller’s compendium.
From our Kitchen: Blueberry French Toast Casserole
Chef Rob Gonzalez
A Sunday morning favorite at the Gonzalez house (and for every holiday except Passover), this French toast casserole is a family tradition. Now passed onto his grandson who loves to help.
He doesn’t let it stop with blueberries, though that is the family’s first choice! They’ve also made banana and cinnamon apple so feel free to let this dish top your recipe file throughout all seasons.
1 quart heavy cream
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
8 slices brioche bread, cubed
1 pint fresh blueberries
cinnamon sugar & maple syrup to taste
Preheat oven to 300. Mix heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla together to create the custard. Layer cubed brioche and blueberries in greased 13×9 pan. Pour custard over brioche and blueberries.Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and set. Serve with maple syrup and cinnamon sugar as desired. Click here to print the recipe.
August 1, 2023
August 2023: The Morning Report