Guacamole Game Day Tostadas

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Yvette with http://www.muybuenocookbook.com/ shares how to make traditional and authentic guacamole with Avocados from Mexico in a molcajete served on tortilla chips for your next party or game-watching get-together.  Guacamole recipe video will be view after short intro video.

Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

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November 2011 was the beginning of a new era in Baltimore, Maryland — the era of the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore  being a functioning part of the leisure and commercial landscape of the harbor-famed city. With Four Seasons’ arrival, there was definitely a lot of expectations of grandeur, glamour, and posh resorting. It’s nothing the Four Seasons isn’t used to because it has created and branded itself to be “the standard” in the hospitality industry. Four Seasons has 86 locations in 35 cities around the world, and undoubtedly growing. So naturally, with the opening of its Baltimore location, the Multi Cultural Cooking Network wanted to know what makes the Baltimore location so different. We talked with the General Manager, Julien Carralero of the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore to find out more.

Carralero, looking every bit the part of a handsome, charming General Manager, came to greet MCCN in the exquisite fine-art adorned, marble floored-lobby. He quickly took us upstairs to one of the meeting rooms. On the way addressing employees with a warm-hearted smile and salutations, and occasionally doling out instruction. The meeting room where we set up has a view that makes you feel like the harbor is just steps away. That’s part of the Four Seasons’ strategy. Location! Location! Location!  Even on a dreary day the view is beautiful, as nothing separates the hotel from its harbor location.  As we set up video equipment, Caralero is moving chairs around, asking about our lighting, and making sure MCCN has everything we need. Hmmmh! Could this be part of Four Seasons’ culture of hospitality? Carralero explains that Four Seasons calls it “The Golden Rule,” which every employee is expected to utilize, treating each customers with respect. We like it! We really like it.

The first question we posed to the GM was why Baltimore was chosen as a location for Four Seasons; after all, to the south there is the Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C., and to the north there is a Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. Caralerro explains, “Baltimore was a destination that was chosen by Four Seasons because it was the right time for us to come to a city that keeps growing and developing. It’s a city that is strategically very well located between Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York. The Northern Corridor has quite a bit of traffic….we believe that Baltimore is a city that has growth ahead that is positive.” Adding,”Granted the actual state of the economy is still very difficult.”The Four Seasons began building in 2007 but because of the state of the economy the process was delayed, but you won’t find any evidence of cutting corners in the Harbor East location, according to Carralero. “When it comes down to Four Seasons, we didn’t compromise anything. When it comes down to the actual features that go into rooms, that go into the restaurants, the designs, nothing was really compromised from the standpoint that you have technology in the rooms; you have decorum; the quality of the furnishings—nothing was replaced or reduced.” The owners, Harbor East and H&S Bakery, wouldn’t have it any other way. Carralero explains, “I think they believe that to create a product and to launch it, you should have the same continuity when it comes down to the actual specifications.”

….relax in the deep-soaking bath in the hotel’s marble bathrooms.

So back to that technology. Some of it is absolutely mind-blowing. On MCCN’s guided tour of the property we went into several suites which include the latest in Bose home-theatre system technology. You don’t have to miss a thing when you relax in the deep-soaking bath in the hotel’s marble bathrooms; just turn on the LCD television in the bathroom mirror. Yes, in the bathroom mirror.

On top of technology, is pure luxury, especially for the suite-life. Features and amenities include: carpeting that is 70-percent marina_room1wool, a stone-clad built- in fireplace, balconies overlooking the harbor or with a spectacular city view, custom chandeliers, full-size refrigerators, dishwashers, dining areas, which seat eight, 55 inch and 40 inch-LCD televisions for the bedroom and living areas. The list goes on and on when you choose any one of their suites from the Executive to the top of the line Presidential and Royal suites. However you don’t have to have a suite to enjoy a taste of the good life. Standard rooms are not so standard, with LCD screen or plasma televisions, wall-to-wall windows allowing natural light throughout the guest room. There are also impeccable water-side and city-views of  Fells Point, Little Italy and Harbor East (Pictured to the right is standard guest room with King bed. This room has a view of the marina).

The luxury continues outside where you’ll really feel like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle and landed in a secluded palatial resort. Grab a chaise and find a place to relax  right near the harbor. Take a swim in the hotel’s outdoor shimmering pool, which appears to disappear right into the bay. Lounge and linger on the wet deck. Even in the winter, you can take spa1advantage of the hot tub, or warm yourself by the outside fireplace. Will people really use these amenities in the winter? Our sources say, “yes, they will.”

From the wet deck, you can make your way to get a European-style luxury spa. Make no mistake, the 10, 200 square feet spa is a destination its own right. With 11 spa rooms and an extensive menu of spa therapies, relaxation is imminent.

“So far the partnership with Michael Mina is going very well…”

Now, we couldn’t leave you without telling you about the dining options at Four Seasons. Already, getting loads of attention is the celebrity chef-powered  restaurant, Wit & Wisdom, A Tavern by Michael Mina. This is the second collaboration between Four Seasons and Michael Mina, the first being Bourbon Steak, located at the Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC. General Manager, Julien Carralera describes Mina saying, “He is a person that is very creative and he cares tremendously about innovation and the concept of doing something that is light, fast-paced and giving good food at a competitve price. So far the partnership with Michael Mina is going very well and I hope will continue to go well not just here in Baltimore.” Headed by Executive chef Benjamin Lambert, Wit & Wisdom’s menu  offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving modern tavern food with Eastern Seabord sensibilities and some distinctly Baltimore fare.

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The hotel has a strong committment to work with local providers and local farmers, working within the state and the region to supply necessary resources from meat, to butter to preserves and more.  Carralera emphasizes, “We want our employees to be able to discuss the menu, recommend the menu and promote that specific menu.” He adds, “I think sometimes there are hotels and restaurants that open and they offer some generic menus, when I think the regional profile is very important.”

Also on the premises is LAMILL COFFEE, is an European-styled cafe which offers specialty beverages, pastries, sandwiches,lamill_coffee1 paninis and array of sweet treats. LAMILL has one location on the west coast, but this is the shop’s first venture on the east coast. What a way to lay down roots! And just when you thought you had nothing left to experience when it came to coffee shops, Carralera assures that LAMILL is a different experience, saying, “The culture of coffee is present throughout many cities, but I think the culture of quality coffee that is brewed right there, from the grinding process to the brewing process that is done à la minute, is something that hopefully people in the city and around Baltimore will value.”

Still more dining options are available, including a Japanese Izakaya-style restaurant called Pabu (opening in February of 2012). Pabu will be designed with bamboo ceilings and crafted solid wood tabletops. The restaurant overlooks the harbor with a sushi bar seating 60, serving a variety of sakes and Asian beers as well as small plates. If you just want to enjoy the wet deck and stay close to the hotel’s shimmering pool, you can also grab a bite to eat at the Pool Bar and Grill.

“We don’t take business for granted. We fight hard to get it and we fight hard to keep it…”

Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore is in the process of creating a list for potential buyers for their upcoming residences and they have been booking weddings long before the hotel doors actually opened. Then there are the banquets, the meetings and the stack of donation requests that have local businesses and nonprofits on pins and needles. With so much going for them, they still don’t rest on their name alone. Carralera admits the weight of the Four Seasons’ name in the local community where people know people who have used Four Seasons’ products in other locations does help. “That’s where the mystique of the name is very strong and the powerful delivery of the force’s name is very strong, but we’re only as strong as today as far as our performance. We don’t take business for granted. We fight hard to get it and we fight hard to keep it, and at the same time we want to have people come back to us.”

article by Monica Johnson

Click here to view the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore’s website

Would You Eat Burger King’s Black Cheeseburger?

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1410361078-would-you-eat-burger-king-black-cheeseburger-kuro-2By Kate Taylor:

You’ve heard of a Black Angus burger.

Burger King’s latest creation isn’t that.

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Linthicum, Maryland: G&M Restaurant & Lounge

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Broiled Seafood Platter
Broiled Seafood Platter

If you want a real authentic Maryland crab cake minus the extra filler, G&M Restaurant & Lounge will more than amply fill your craving, but it doesn’t stop there. The restaurant has been around for 35 years and is known for its crab cakes.  It also offers an assortment of international fare which takes its guest around the globe in one menu. John, G&M’s long-time manager, told MCCN: “We try to keep everybody happy with all the different cultural selections. We always listen to our customers.”  

 
veal_scallopini
Veal Scallopini Photo by Monica Johnson

 

Located in Linthicum, Maryland, just a few minutes from BWI-Marshall airport, G&M gets a variety of customers. Although it does no advertising, the popularity of the restaurant comes from its word of mouth reputation. The draw is the crab cake business, which ships all over the country, but G&M’s Chef Dimitri Kokoris cooks a variety of dishes including: Italian, Greek, French and American. He has been with the restaurant for about six years. 

On MCCN’s visit we enjoyed a variety of food including the greatly hailed crab cakes. They were huge, meaty, and delicious, but  before the crab cakes came the soup and salad, and boy was the soup something to write home about. I ordered theCream of Crab soup and the server recommended that I sprinkle some Old Bay seasoning  (We are in Maryland!) on what I was already “Mmmh, Mmmh, Mmmh”-ing about.  Not surprisingly, it did kick it up a notch, placing the exclamation point at the end of the Mmmh, Mmmh good!  

Next was the appetizer — fried calamari! It was very simply good. No fancy seasoning, just a pure fresh taste…and with  a squirt of lemon, the enjoyment factor went up even more.  

Review by Monica Johnson

Towson, MD: Review of Kathmandu Kitchen Nepalese and Indian Restaurant

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dumplings

Looking for Nepalese and Indian cuisine? Well, if you are in the Towson area of Maryland, just a block or so from Towson Town Center, Kathmandu Kitchen will serve your desire very nicely. Named after the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu Kitchen opened about eight years ago and since then has, little by little, filled a cultural void that existed in Towson’s dining scene. Of course, seeing the area currently, you would never suspect that the abundant multiculturalism that exists in dining now was simply not present when they opened their doors. In fact, Kathmandu Kitchen was the first restaurant on their block (Allegheny Ave).

owners

Owners, Kiran Pantha and Suundar Rajbhandari are both Nepalese, and they do not bring a generic experience to their guests. Himalayan spices are what differentiates authentic Nepalese cooking from Indian cooking; nevertheless, many dishes are the same. READ MORE

Website: http://mykathmandukitchen.com/

Where: 22 W Allegheny Avenue,
Towson, MD 21204-3915
Phone Number: (410) 847-9595
Fax Number: (410) 847-9141
contact@mykathmandukitchen.com

Global Issue of Skin Bleaching and Risks of Skin Lighteners

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ELLE Magazine lightens Image of Indian Woman for cover.

Skin bleaching is not only a controversial and global practice, but also an old one. The Ancient Egyptians and Greeksused on their skin, as did the Japanese Geishas in recent history. Skin bleaching occurred in medieval Europe,white leadand the European Colonies in Africa and the Caribbean; it was practiced in the United States in the early 1900s. It still exists today in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.People of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, social classes, incomes, and education levels lighten their complexion.

Dominican Baseball Player Sammy Sosa lightened skin.

People bleach their skin for one of several reasons: the skin is perceived to be too dark; preference for light skin, becauselight skin is seen as beautiful; the practice is seen as fashionable, modern and facilitates social mobility; a response to influence; and to attract potential spouses (Blay, 2007; Jablonski, 2006). These reasons have been theorized within peer the frameworks of , , and.self-hate, colorismmis-educationidentitycomplex personhood.  READ MORE from 

Risks of Skin Lighteners- From Web M.D.

One of the most significant risks of using some skin lighteners is the potential exposure to mercury. One study found that nearly 1 out of every 4 skin lighteners made in Asia and sold in the U.S. contained mercury.

There are other potential risks of skin lighteners. Those risks can include the following:

  • Prolonged use can contribute to premature aging of skin.
  • Long-term use may increase the risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. Always use sunscreen when using a skin lightener and going out in the sun.
  • Steroids in some skin lighteners may increase risk for skin infections, skin thinning, acne, and poor wound healing.
  • Applying steroids to large areas of skin may put you at risk for health problems related to steroid being absorbed by the body.
  • Hydroquinone may cause unwanted and untreatable skin discoloration.
  • Various bleaching agents, including natural ingredients, can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.

Towson, Maryland-Havana Road Cafe

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Marta Quintana, Owner and Executive Chef of Havana Road Cafe in Towson, MD
Marta Quintana, Owner and Executive Chef of Havana Road Cafe in Towson, MD

Sitting across from Marta Quintana can be a lot to process at one time. She’s a whirlwind of information and she grabs you with her personality. Then you recognize that you are not just talking to the restaurant owner and Executive Chef of Havana Road Cafe, you’re talking to someone who is living the American dream and she’s is very thankful for her father’s courage in securing that dream by bringing her family to America. If you look at the picture on the cafe’s logo, it is a picture, taken by her father, of the road left behind as her family left Cuba. 

 

As proud as she is of being an American, she is also equally proud of her Cuban heritage. Through her restaurant Havana Road Cafe, she hopes to bring awareness, saying, “Havana Road Cafe is not just about food. I was born in Guantanamo but I am  a lot more than Al Qaeda and a naval base! I am food… I am culture… I am beauty. I am everything great that Cuba has to offer.”

Quintana has been cooking for a long time—she even catered her first wedding. She tells the story of how she went to the altar and said “I do” but had to rush back to get everything squared away for the reception. She cooked for family and friends primarily because her career was in corporate America, but it wasn’t until she was laid-off from her V.P. of Marketing job with a pharmaceutical company that she began to take a serious look at cooking as a profession. Thanks to the encouragement of her daughter who made Youtube videos of her cooking, Quintana began to get her second wind.

Havana Road Cafe serves authentic Cuban food, and if you think it seems like your mother is cooking in the kitchen it’s because Quintana’s mother really is cooking in the kitchen. According to Quintana, the recipes are those of her mother and her mother’s mother, and if you know anything about mothers, they want it done right. 

Mojo is a big part of the Cuban culture. Quintana  puts it this way: “Mojo is to Cubans like Old Bay is for crabs.” That descriptions flies very well in Maryland, where Old Bay is king, but essentially it means that it’s integral to Cuban cooking.  It’s citrus, onions,  garlic and extra-virgin olive oil and spices balanced correctly.  You use it to dip your bread,  pour it over salsa, and simmer meat when cooking.    

Havana Road Cafe has a diverse patronage but make no mistake, they are heavily supported by the Latino community. The restaurant is located in a business district in Towson, Maryland and is a few short blocks from Towson University.  

Some patrons of the cafe have a casual acquaintance with Cuban food like Cuban sandwiches via trips to Miami. At Havana Road Cafe, Cuban sandwiches are made by using the whole leg of pork. It is then slow cooked in mojo sauce and dry rub for hours. Quintana adds, “It’s all about the Mojo. So when you bite it, the pork is just silky and smooth and buttery and full of flavors and they fall in love with our Cubans!”  

One of the mistakes that people make when coming to a Cuban restaurant is expecting to be served food similar to the Mexican culture’s. However, Quintana is quick to let you know that Mexican food is great, but it is different from Cuban food in that it’s typically hot while Cuban food is spicy.  

MCCN’s visit included Ropa Vieja, a brisket  simmered in white wine, tomato sauce and Cuban spices, served with black beans, plantains and rice.  Dessert included Cuban Mango Flan. Enjoy this with a shot of Cuban coffee or Cuban con Leche!  

 Marta Quintana has a line of products available at Whole Foods. For more information about her Havana Road sauces and vegan options, see the following link: http://www.havanaroad.com/artisanalfoods.html

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