Category Archives: Food and Entertainment

La Cuchara works out its kinks with stellar customer service

My family and I dined at a new restaurant called La Cuchara last night. When I walked through the door, I immediately smelled the wood-burning oven and knew that something special was cooking.

The restaurant serves food typical of the Basque region of Northern Spain and Southern France. It was their first day open, but clearly the word was out as the restaurant was teeming with excitement.

Tasty manchego and caramelized onion snack
Tasty manchego and caramelized onion snack – Image from La Cuchara

Our pintxos and drinks came out in decent time. We had manchego with caramelized onions, anchovy with peppers and onions, and patatas gravas for our snacks.

Patatas gravas
Patatas gravas – Image from La Cuchara

Then the wait began. We were having such a good time that we didn’t realize we hadn’t received our entrees. It had been about 45 minutes since we finished our snacks.  My husband began looking for our server, Gavin. Soon the manager, Ryan,  came over to apologize and tell us the entrees were on the house. Sweet! Poor Gavin was in a frenzy, but we were good about it. It was the restaurant’s first day open and it wasn’t his fault.

My husband and I had grilled sea bream with carrots and capers, my son had a lamb shank, which he tried to eat like a cave man, and my daughter had grilled chicken with a salad.

For dessert, we chose sorbet, churros, chocolate cake and leche frita. Again, they were nowhere to be found. I guess the staff figured they needed to save face and comped our entire meal. That’s stellar customer service!

The food was delicious and service turned out perfect. But doesn’t it have to be with competitors, such as Woodberry Kitchen and Birroteca nearby?

Marni and Peter
Marni with Ryan, the awesome manager of La Cuchara Baltimore

Big thanks to Ryan, the awesome manager who took care of us. His customer service ROCKS!

La Cuchara is located in the Meadow Mill area of Baltimore.

My latest obsession…Plated

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to make your life easier. Recently, I discovered a meal delivery website called Plated that features chef-designed recipes delivered fresh to your door. During my research, I discovered that Mark Cuban backed Plated on Shark Tank, one of my favorite shows. I had to check this company out.

Plated delivery box
Hello there!

I was so excited to receive my first delivery on Friday. The box came with lots of messages on the outside, such as Fresh Ingredients, Easy Recipes and Cook Something Extraordinary. This one is my favorite:

Message on the box
Inspires my inner chef!

As I unpacked the fresh ingredients, even my son was curious about the meal in the box.

Unpacking our Plated delivery
What has my mother ordered now?

My package came with three recipes to satisfy my family’s varied dietary preferences (My husband and I are pescetarians, the kids still eat meat). I organized the neat packages of ingredients according to each card (the recipes are on the back) to ensure nothing was missing. Plated does not provide staple items, such as salt, pepper, and olive oil. Therefore, you MUST read through the recipe before you begin cooking to make sure you have your staple ingredients.

Ingredients for Za'atar Chicken recipe
Za’atar Chicken with Spinach and Feta Twice-Baked Potatoes
Ingredients for Ginger Trout
Ginger Trout with Miso Butter, Sweet Potatoes, and Snow Peas
Ingredients for Spaghetti with Pan Roasted Artichokes, Garlic, and Lemon
Fresh Spaghetti with Pan Roasted Artichokes, Garlic, and Lemon

I made Za’atar Chicken with Spinach and Feta Twice-Baked Potatoes for my kids on Friday. Not a typical dish for kids, but mine have mature palates. They enjoyed this dish very much. The potatoes were very tasty.

Finished Za'atar Chicken recipe
Dinner is served!

Last night I made Ginger Trout with Miso Butter, Sweet Potatoes and Snow Peas. The sweet potatoes were an interesting touch to this dish. I never would have paired them with snow peas, but the textures and flavors worked well together. image

So far, the recipes are easy to follow and the dishes are delicious. At $12 per plate (some cost up to $30 per plate), the recipes I received are probably expensive on a regular basis for the average family. But when I think about the food I waste from buying a whole container of miso versus the few ounces I needed for my recipe, it’s a savings when I couple that with the delicious taste and convenience.

Have you ever ordered from Plated? If not, use my Plated referral link to order your plates today. You won’t be disappointed!

If you have ordered from Plated, please share your experience with me. What are your favorite dishes?

Happy plating!

What’s for dinner?

Yesterday, I asked my kids what they wanted for dinner and my daughter said chicken piccata. At 12 years old, the extent of my chicken knowledge was fried or baked. Even though it was a week night, I caved in and made my favorite chicken piccata recipe from Williams Sonoma. Unfortunately, I lost my lemon between the market and home. No matter, the sauce turned out great without it (I added garlic and extra capers). I even threw in some homemade mashed potatoes because, let’s face it, mashed potatoes are great with everything.

Giving thanks

I had a bit of anxiety when I learned my Thanksgiving dinner for 20 would turn into an overflowing house with 37 people in it. I was worried about having enough space and food, and if people would enjoy themselves. I have to continuously remind myself that even when things don’t go as I plan, things can still turn out amazing because all that’s important is being in the company of family and friends. I had an amazing Thanksgiving with lots of good food and laughter (mostly from everyone watching me try to dance like Michael Jackson). What I was most thankful for was that my grandson could share his Thanksgiving with his great, great grandmother. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

Tastes of India

I love Indian food. The colors, the spices and the tastes are why it’s one of my favorite ethnic foods. I’m serving Indian food at a party I’m hosting Saturday. I tested a recipe tonight for a dish I’ve never made before – aloo gobi – and it turned out perfect! I’ll post more pictures of my dishes on Saturday as my Recipe of the Week, but I’m so excited about how my dish turned out, I couldn’t resist posting a picture. Anytime my kids approve of a dish, I know I have a winner.

Four is the New Eight

My friend, Kelly, and I attended a 50th birthday party yesterday. When she asked me to go with her, I was all in. Free food. Free drinks. A night away from the family. I was pretty amped up until the hammer dropped. The party was from 4-8, which meant I’d get home around the same time I would’ve left the house in my single, no kids days. *sigh*

Nonetheless, I donned a sophisticated black dress, stillettos, and we headed out. It was a pretty awesome party. The birthday boy, Teddy Douglas, is in the music industry, so a lot of the music played sent me down memory lane of my time on the Baltimore club scene. Hearing Baltimore club favorites, such as Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman” and “100% Pure Love,” made me feel like I was at The Paradox again.

I had to remind myself the hours don’t make a party fun. I make it fun! The people I meet make it fun. The live band, deejay, and delicious crab dip didn’t hurt either. I even discovered yet another cabernet sauvignon to fall in love with and it all happened before 8.