Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meet JapaDog: My newest Superhero

An admitted (Anthony) Bourdainophile, when I knew we were headed to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver actual event tickets were not the only thing on my mind (although ice hockey was definitely up there). The local eateries of this foodie town were just as much a priority. After we took in the Canada-Germany quarterfinal match, we cheerfully trudged through the rain on a mission to find all those delicacies that you can't find at home: bubble tea, poutine and street meat.

Street Meat: Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm referring to any variety of meat sold by a street vendor. This includes hot dogs, sausages, kebab, steak sandwiches, meat-on-a-stick, etc. (Most vendors now have vegetarian options as well.)

On my Top Ten List of city street meat, Vancouver's JapaDog is currently up, up and away my favorite! The city-tailored variations of Japanese hot dogs at the corner of Burrard and Smithe have real "special sauces" like Okonimiyaki, Plum, Teriyaki and Soy. (Sorry McDonald's Big Mac.) We sampled the Spicy Cheese Terimayo: a jalapeno and cheese smokie with seaweed, teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayo; and Okonomi: the coveted Kurobuta ("most valuable" Berkshire pork) with fried cabbage, Bonito flakes, Japanese mayo and special Okonomiyaki sauce. The play of sweet and spicy, softness and crunch, and smokiness and honeyed meant that I did not share and there were no crumbs left.

My advice: if you're in Vancouver, take a stroll and look for the red JapaDog umbrellas and realize that line for two blocks is well worth the wait. And for such gourmet, cheap eats ($6.25 or less/dog), remember to tip your Superhero vendors!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Printmaking 101: Designed for Kindergarteners!

These past two weeks in February have been a blizzard (pun intended, of course) of activity for me here in Charm City, USA. In addition to starting those indie craft show applications, shoveling the car out of a four foot snow drift, shoveling it out again and trying to balance Mr. illegible ink and our three amazing animals, I also squeezed in time to teach a printmaking residency in Lena Costa's kindergarten classroom at Southwest Baltimore Charter School for three days. (Fortunately, the first day of Snowtorious B.I.G. hit about 30 minutes after I cleaned the classroom up on our last day together.)

How did I get hooked up with Ms. Lena's classroom? I am participating this year in a really interesting program called the "Teaching Artist Institute" (TAI). TAI is a joint project between Young Audiences of MD/Arts for Learning, the Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance, and the Maryland State Arts Council. The Institute is a professional development program for trained artists who perform and conduct workshops in schools, and entails one-on-one coaching from master teaching artists and a curriculum specialist; opportunities to field-test their work in a classroom with institute staff, peer artists and teachers observing and providing feedback.

Ms. Lena and I were lucky enough to be recently interview by Aaron Henkin for wypr's The Signal. You can hear the interview (about 14 minutes) discussing the TAI program and how the artist and teacher collaborated over the last couple months at wypr: : The Signal, airdate 02.19.10 (2010-02-18). Spoiler alert: I am really excited about getting invited back to Ms. Lena's classroom next year. A blizzard couldn't stop me from returning!

Friday, February 19, 2010

No Joke: It's Serious Pie

Anyone who knows me well, knows that the phrase, "Let them eat cake" doesn't really apply to my culinary taste buds. It is all about the pie! (We didn't even cut - or serve - the cake at our wedding reception - we sliced into Mom's coconut cream pie and never looked back.) Which is why after landing in Seattle yesterday, I was very excited to hear about Tom Douglas' restaurant, Serious Pie. We frequented many of his other restaurants while we lived in Seattle but as luck would have it, this one opened up after we moved across the country.

Serious Pie is no joke. As soon as you open the door to this small pizzeria, you are overwhelmed with the delicious smell of perfectly baked crust. This is a bread-lover's pizza pie. A bread lover who is also infatuated with house-cured meats and artisan cheeses. In no time at all, we had a pitcher of beer and piping hot pizzas. Served on a cutting board (this is no small pie), the roasted yellowfoot mushroom with truffle cheese pie melted into my mouth. We also sampled the yukon gold potato, rosemary and pecorino pie, house salumi, caramelized onions and sardenga pie, and the penn cove clams, house pancetta and lemon thyme pie. I think we repeatedly used the words balanced, flavorful, gourmet (without those gourmet prices), pungent, savory, rich and ridiculously awesome.

(Note: Serious Pie is a small space with long wooden, communal tables. They do not accept reservations so plan to get there early or plan to wait patiently. The staff was extremely pleasant, explaining the wait time and taking our cell phone so we could head over to another Tom Douglas restaurant, The Dahlia Lounge, and sit comfortably at their bar. The Dahlia Lounge also serves the second best coconut cream pie in the country. Mom's is still my favorite!)

Also a bonus for all my bacon-obsessed friends:
1. Another reason to love Tom Douglas is his BACONOPOLIS - an annual event where attendees can indulging their inner pork desires by eating 10 different bacon dishes.

2. Rumor on the street is that Bakon Vodka may be coming to the mid-Atlantic region in the next few months. (I got to taste it at a local Seattle bar last night and it will not disappoint.) If it does make it to Baltimore shelves, you can be sure I will be hosting illegible ink's own Baconopolis!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Top Ten NEW Print Ideas for 2010

The craft shows will be in full swing in April and I've got to get carving. Sticking loosely with a Top Ten list, this is a list of my new illegible ink print ideas for 2010. (Ideas are listed in alphabetical order - thus, the word "loosely.") But I need your help! Leave a comment with your favorite idea (or a new idea) and win a limited edition illegible ink card set (value of $20). Winner will be chosen at random on 03/01/10.

1. Amaryllis
2. Bicycle (or perhaps a tricycle)
3. Butterflies (similar to the sea shells series of prints)
4. Dinosaurs (similar to the alphabet series of prints including allosaurus, ankylosaurus, brontosaurus, stegasaurus and tyrannosaurus)
5. Football
6. Fish (also similar to the alphabet series)
7. Jellyfish
8. Orange Tabby (this one is non-negotiable; a print dedicated to my sweet Hoppers)
9. Rhino
10. Wagon (designed for my soon-to-be-new nephew: the little red wagon that could)

Thank you and good luck!
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