Towson, MD: Review of Mo’s Seafood

If there is one restaurant Baltimore is known for it is Mo’s Seafood. recently the popular restaurant has opened a new location in Towson, MD complete with a tiki bar.  Unfortunately,  I didn’t get to enjoy it during the winter.  But it has a nice warm decor and environment.

Spending my  holiday in Maryland,  I had to have my Maryland fix of crab cake.  Well,  I settled for crab balls.  And confess,  I  didn’t have them fried I had them broiled.   With a few days after Christmas, I was calorie conscious.  To compliment my crab balls, I had hard cider along with it. Maryland is a real bar town.  I learned this from 13 years o living their starting in college.  if you’re doing the tourist thing, I suggest checking out the location in downtown Baltimore.  The Towson location is open from 10 AM to 2 AM.


Mo's Seafood on Urbanspoon

MCCN visits Dessert Fantasies in Baltimore

While on a trip to my old college town of Baltimore  which has as changed  in 20 years, my friend took me to Dessert Fantasies owned by Tosha.  You can’t miss this striking row house with the bright .pink wall accent  wall.   Once inside I caught a glimpse of  a photo locall news anchor Karen Parks on the wall. Tosha admitted that Karen has patronized several times.  I got a chance to interview her about her humble beginnings and current success.

imageMCCN(CRYSTAL):   What made you decide to open a cupcake business?

Tosha: I was baking at home I was not intending this as a business but it happened and I grew out of my space. I waned to expand my clientele so I decided to look for a shop.

MCCN(CRYSTAL): what were you doing previously vocationally?

Tosha:  I’ve worked for Macy’s in merchandising.

MCCN(CRYSTAL):  your favorites what is your signature?

Tosha:  The salted caramel cupcake.

MCCN(CRYSTAL): salted caramel is that the one you started at home?

Tosha:  Actually no, I didn’t even make cupcakes.  thanks I did not like cupcakes at all.  I started to grow and customers started to ask for smaller cakes to their take orders everything was customized.  anything special to you at the time I do not have specialty flavors until I actually open the shop.

MCCN(CRYSTAL): How was the transition from cake to cupcake? I feel like I can taste the difference in cakes and cupcakes.

Tosha:  Actually wasn’t much of a difference for me .  I use the same recipe for my cakes for the cupcakes.  it was a bit of a challenge when I started making cupcakes I started trying different flavors just to sample them out to see if I even like them at all as a cupcake versus a cake.

MCCN(CRYSTAL):  If some was to narrow it down to try three of your cupcakes, I know it is hard to choose but what should they try?

Tosha:  I would say chocolate, salted caramel, and strawberry cheesecake.

MCCN(CRYSTAL): Thank you
for taking the time to do this unexpected interview.


Location:  1433 E. Fort Ave Baltimore MD 21230

Dessert Fantasies on Urbanspoon

Westlake VIllage: Review of Lure Fish House

crab cakes from Lure

There are two locations for Lure Fish House including one in the Camarillo and another in Westlake Village.  The decor differs in each location the one in Camarillo with dark wood and the one in Westlake Village with lighter grey hues for walls and white.  If you’re looking for a great date night location this one is for you.  from ambiance to food Lure is sure to be a hit

Lure was a suggestion from my foodie extraordinaire friend Christine.  she has good taste and often I find myself following her was a group of four of us went to dinner. Christine insisted that we try the crab cakes. admit there among the better crab cakes that I’ve had in the Los Angeles area but I lived in Maryland for 13 years so I know a really good crab cake..I ordered the ahi tuna with a wasabi sauce.  it was paired with sauteed spinach and a potato cake. I was extremely pleased with my dinner other dining companions ordered steak and lobster ravioli as well as a seafood soup.  The average menu item was at least $13.00 for more.

Lure Fish House on Urbanspoon

Peru: Recipe for Papa a la Huancaína

10262178_744512732293468_1356980109194298924_nPapa a la Huancaína is a Peruvian salad with boiled potatoes in a spicy, creamy sauce. It is an appetizer that I first got an opportunity to taste when my sister(mi hermana) from church brought it one Sunday afternoon and then my second time was at a holiday party.  See the recipe.  -Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

Click for Recipe

Christmas in the Philippines


known for gorgeous Parols ( Christmas lanterns), Tarlac province comes alive Photo Credit Wikipedia


Christmas in the Philippines, one of two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia (the other one being East Timor), is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar. The country has earned the distinction of celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols are heard as early as September and the season lasting up until Epiphany.

World’s Longest Christmas Season

The Philippines has earned the distinction of celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season. Although faint traces of the coming Christmas arise beginning from early September, it is traditionally ushered in by the nine-day dawn Masses that start on Dec. 16. Known as the Misas de Aguinaldo (Gift Masses) or Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass) in the traditional Spanish. These Masses are more popularly known in Tagalog as the Simbang Gabi. Christmas Eve on December 24 is the much-anticipated “noche buena” — the traditional Christmas feast after the midnight mass. Family members dine together on traditional noche buena fare, which includes the quéso de bóla (“ball cheese”, usually edam cheese) and jamón (Christmas ham). Usually, aside from the already legal holidays which are Rizal Day (December 30) and New Year’s Eve (December 31), other days in close proximity such as Christmas Eve (December 24), Niños Innocentes (December 28), and the Epiphany (traditionally, January 6) are also declared as non-working days. In Asia, Christmas is also the liveliest in the Philippines, since the country is one of the few predominantly Christian nation in the continent besides Russia, East Timor, Georgia and Armenia.

Food Traditions

For Filipinos, Christmas Eve (“Bisperas ng Pasko”/Spanish: Vísperas de la Navidad) on December 24 is celebrated with the Midnight Mass, and immediately after, the much-anticipated Noche Buena – the traditional Christmas Eve feast. Family members dine together around 12 midnight on traditional Nochebuena fare, which includes: queso de bola (Spanish: “ball of cheese”; this is actually edam cheese), “Tsokolate” (a hot chocolate drink made from cacao and traditionally from crushed peanuts which add a pleasant grittiness and nutty flavor*.) and jamón (Christmas ham). Some would also open presents at this time.


*Source Wikepedia

*-Definition of Tsokolate-Desserts come first

Corona del Mar, CA: Five Crowns for Christmas Dining

-1This year’s Christmas Eve dinner at Five Crowns will inevitably reach capacity as have most years in the past. Local families, alum guests and new faces will fill the English-inspired tavern to celebrate the holidays with the ones they love and indulge in a culinary experience to remember. The Christmas Eve menu boasts the Lawry’s Restaurants group’s signature Prime Ribs of Beef dinner prepared traditionally with au jus, Yorkshire pudding, organic whipped cream horseradish and choice of sides. Additional main course options include the classic Filet Mignon with a truffled Bordelaise, Scottish Salmon, Australian Lamb Sirloin, Linguini with kale “Bolognese,” and the coveted pan roasted Christmas Goose with sweet potato gratin, bread stuffing and goose demi.

“It’s amazing to see our patrons stand in line before we open to make a reservation for Christmas Eve dinner,” commented Corporate Executive Chef and Vice President, Ryan O’Melveny Wilson. “It’s a family tradition that my grandfather started almost 50 years ago and to see it continue and thrive today is truly inspiring.”

For those more interested in dining at home during the holidays, Five Crowns’ Executive Chef, Steve King, will create your holiday dinner to-go with just 48 hours notice. Guests can pick up a complete Roasted Prime Rib of Beef Au Jus dinner with all of the classic accompaniments with simple cooking and reheating instructions to enjoy the seasonal tradition at home.

Also through the holidays, Five Crowns adjacent gastropub, SideDoor, will play host to Sunday Sessions Brunch. New brunch menu items include Continental Pastries with lemon curd and marmalade, Malted Waffles, and Green Eggs and Ham Benedict alongside continuing favorite dishes the SideDoor Avocado Mash, Chicken Pot Pie, and Fish ‘n Chips. Brunch is served against the soundtrack of DJs spinning records 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. every Sunday.


Throughout the years, generations of loyal customers have returned again and again to celebrate special occasions at Five Crowns and this holiday season the tradition continues.

Five Crowns was established in 1965 and is a member of the Lawry’s family of fine-dining restaurants, which includes Lawry’s The Prime Rib with locations in Beverly Hills, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Hong Kong and the Tam O’Shanter in Los Angeles.  Lawry’s Carvery, with locations in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, and at L.A. LIVE, Los Angeles, represents the company’s unique quick-service concept. SideDoor is the group’s gastropub concept with locations in Corona del Mar and Chicago. The Corona del Mar location is housed within the historic Five Crowns building.


Five Crowns and SideDoor are located at 3801 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, CA, 92625. Valet parking is available. For more information visit and

The Neely’s Creamed Collard Greens

Creamed collard greens

A few years I got the opportunity to interview Patrick and Gina Neely of the Food Network and we talked about a variety of things.  Among the recipes mentioned, was creamed collard greens.  I tried this recipe and it has been a winner for me. It puts a spin on the classic African American preparation of collards and gives a robust earthy taste to what would be the typical creamed spinach.


4 bunches collard greens, tough stems and ribs removed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large shallots, minced
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Click for Directions

See MCCN Editor’s Interview with the Neely’s. 

A Dashing of Christmas Card History

Sir Henry Cole started the custom of sending Christmas Cards in 1843. A Civil Servant based in the U.K., Cole developed theChristmas Card Histor holiday card idea with a friend, John Horsley. The two men designed the first card depicting people helping the poor and a family enjoying a large Christmas Dinner.

The first Christmas Cards sold for 1 shilling each. Those cards are now very rare and very valuable. The cards were first sent via the Public Post Office and gained popularity when printing methods improved and postage dropped.

Christmas Cards made their way to the United States during the late 1840’s. It wasn’t until 1875 when Germany’s Louis Prang began the mass production of cards, that everyone in the United States (besides the rich) was able to participate in exchanging seasonal greetings.

Early Christmas cards featured Nativity Scenes, flowers, children, and plants. Modern day cards are now very creative with tunes, 3-D pop-ups, and anything you can imagine. The popularity of Christmas Cards may never go away, but during the 2013 Christmas Season, the world was hit with a new phenomenon: The Viral Christmas Greeting Video.

For more information on the origin of Christmas Cards check out