Winner of four dining Awards for 2009 in Howard Magazine, including Best Bar Food and Best Late Night Dining, Victoria Gastro Pub puts a gourmet spin on traditional pub cuisine. Chef Joe Krywucki’s menu draws on fresh, seasonal ingredients—including herbs grown right outside the restaurant—to hit diners with a flavor tornado, providing a mix of comfort and creativity. Begin with the Duck-Fat Fries, which can be served by the bucket, alongside the Roasted Garlic Aioli ($7), or partnered with their duck confit, gruyere cheese, and duck gravy to make poutine ($8 small, $12 large). More substantial fare includes the official sandwich of Flemish royalty, Lobster Grilled Cheese ($16), a duo of beef that pairs braised beef short rib with a petite filet and cheddar potato gratin and broccolini ($19), as well as the "Mushroom & Swiss" Snake River Farms Kobe burger with gruyere cheese and caramelized onions, and served with smoked paprika fries ($13, $15 with truffle cheese).
Armed with 20 years of experience, the brewmasters at Mr. Steve's Homebrew and Wine Supplies help amateur boozesmiths notch the proper equipment and wisdom to craft homemade beer and wine. Bring beer dreams to foamy fruition with the Brewer Best kit (a $75 value), which includes the containers, tubes, and other necessary gewgaws, but excludes bottles and patience. A variety of ingredient kits (a $40 value) can facilitate the production of about 50 bottles of beer in a wide range of flavors and species, including standbys such as irish stout and brown ale or seasonals such as Summer Delight. Alternately, find a way to fill up empty water balloons with a winemaking equipment kit (a $115 value) and ingredient kit (a $100 value). The kit enables budding vintners to produce about 30 bottles of riesling, pinot grigio, cabernet sauvignon, or myriad other varieties.
Harford Vineyard and Winery caters to oenophiles of all stripes, creating limited productions of carefully crafted reds and whites. A trip through the rolling hills that surround the winery could culminate in a sampling of Harford's off-dry vidal, silken merlot, or a sweet blend of vidal grapes and ripe peaches. Visitors can also pick the vintners' minds for tips on winemaking, wine tasting, and telling the difference between wine and melted purple crayons.
Underneath the same big, country sky that blankets Frederick County's dairy farms and horse ranches, the winery building at Elk Run Vineyards, built in 1756, overlooks rolling hills that were originally a land grant to Lord Baltimore from the King of England. Though this land has seen many uses, today Fred and Carol Wilson and Neill Bassford tend its soil to produce a range of Gold, Double Gold, and Best of Maryland award-winning wines such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and Cold Friday chardonnay. Winemakers craft these libations using a blend of contemporary equipment and Old-World winemaking techniques. They harvest grapes from plots planted in schist and shale soil designed to follow sustainable agricultural practices.
Though many vintners refer to their winemaking techniques as "old country," those of the Loews are older than most. The family's first forays into the drinkable craft began in the 19th century, in an area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known as Galicia, now part of Ukraine. There, they brewed honey wines and distributed them throughout Europe. The Loews continued in the business well into the 20th century, but their enterprise was disrupted by the outbreak of World War II. The Loew name wouldn't appear on another bottle until nearly a half-century later, in a vineyard an ocean away.
The modern iteration of Loew Vineyards was established in 1982, and today stretches across 37 lush acres in Frederick County. Here, the gravelly soil sprouts flavorful grapes ideal for both red and white wines. The Loews tend to the vines throughout the year, harvesting the grapes in the fall and pruning them and fitting leaves with tiny mittens in the winter. Their crops are transformed into more than a dozen varieties of wine, ranging from the citrus-y, semi-sweet Serendipity to a balanced Cabernet Franc. The family even bottles a honey wine in a nod to their European past.
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