Knights in shining armor. White horses. Fair maidens. All the magnificent trappings of a bygone era come to life at Medieval Times, where ironclad knights clash for the title of King's Champion in front of a wide-eyed audience that peppers the battlefield with cheers and jeers between bites of a four-course dinner. Each two-hour tournament channels the pageantry and spectacle of 11th-century Spain, pitting six competitors against each other inside a spacious, sand-filled arena for the honor of earning the title of champion and the favor of the royal court. A spirited musical score infuses epic onslaughts with an extra dose of tension as adversaries joust atop stallions, deflect ferocious blows, and slice through suits forged of authentic junk mail. To further immerse guests in the fairy tale, Medieval Times encourages each guest to declare their allegiance by cheering loudly for the knight in their corner.
Like royal guests centuries ago, spectators bask in the revelry while feasting upon a finger-friendly bill of fare without the aid of utensils or the "choo-choo" sounds of parents. The four-course feast includes a tomato-bisque soup starter, oven-roasted chicken with a garlic-bread side, single spare rib, and an herb-basted potato. Servers periodically fill patrons? goblets with soda or water, which adults can supplement with purchases from a full-service bar. Meals conclude with the castle's sweet pastry dessert.
Even though Portuguese explorers couldn't pronounce the Swahili name for the African bird's eye chili—pili-pili—the sailors fully embraced its flavor shortly after landing in the region known today as Mozambique. Intrigued by the small, fiery pepper, they combined it with aromatic doses of herbs, garlic, and lemon to create the first peri-peri sauce. That sauce eventually became a wildly popular marinade for poultry, and the tasty concoction made its way to South Africa over the next several centuries. There, in 1987, two friends decided to honor this culinary legacy by founding the first Nando's Peri-Peri restaurant. The eatery continued to remain true to its South African roots, even while expanding to encompass locations in 24 countries across four continents.
Beginning with fresh chickens that never see the inside of a kitchen freezer, the chefs furtively marinate the birds in a secret peri-peri sauce for 24 hours before grilling them over an open flame. Diners dictate the heat level of their order, requesting that the grilled chicken arrive relatively mild or that wings be slathered with even more incendiary spices. The succulent chicken can be plated with hearty side dishes—such as Portuguese-style rice with herbs and peppers or peas with mint—or served in the form of a sandwich, wrap, or pita. To complement the menus' African flavors, Nando's worldwide locations collectively feature more than 4,000 pieces of African artwork.
Since its first event in 2008, the Chesapeake Bay Wine Festival has steadily added to its multisensory feast of libations, food, and live sounds. Originally conceived to highlight Maryland's wines, beers, and local delicacies, the festival now brings wines from around the world to its bayside location. White tents shield tasters from rain, sunburn, and any curious fish who might try to leap into their goblets. Each year, the festival benefits an array of community- and family-focused organizations.
Since 1933, servers and entertainers at Blob's Park have led crowds in authentic bouts of stein hoisting and singing over platters of delicious German cuisine. A hefty beer list stocks gatherings with a frothy selection of delicious libations, with familiar, neighborly domestics, such as a Yuengling lager, or exotic German imports, such as the Augustiner Edelstoff. Authentic German entrees sneak up and bear hug taste buds with savory servings of Nurnberger weisswurst and sauerkraut or schweinschnitzel, a dish of breaded pork loin with cranberry and tomato salad. In addition to dishing out sudsy brews and appetizing meals, Blob's Park treats lederhosen-laden guests to musical acts such as the folksy accordion waltzes of Leon Umberger & The Rheinlanders or the energetic shows of The Hubcaps, which celebrate the sounds of roots rock as well as Aerosmith's little-known back catalog of polka hits.
Adam Greenberg refers to himself as “the world's pickiest eater,” which may explain Bagels 'n Grinds’ distinctive take on the celebrated baked good. Greenberg’s self-professed culinary perfectionism led him to create a secret 10-step bagel recipe that involves a colossal water-purification system, visible to patrons through a glass wall. With scientific precision and occasional mad-scientist cackles, the newly opened shop's staffers create 16 types of bagels that manage the tricky balance of crisp surfaces and soft insides.
Patrons can smear their bagels with low-fat, housemade cream cheeses infused with ingredients such as strawberries or lox, or opt for one of the café’s other creations, such as Bagnini sandwiches topped with piles of meat or marinated portobello mushrooms. Water from the café's purification system also goes into free-trade organic coffees and three different iced-coffee brews. Custom salads incorporate gourmet ingredients such as hormone-free chicken, candied walnuts, or toasted-parmesan crisps, while six distinctive soups are served in cups or bagel bowls. Non-edible amenities inside the new shop include free Internet access, a semi-private conference area, an 18-foot coffee bar, outdoor patio, and flat-screen TVs.
With 30-years of restaurant experience, Sam Louie, Mai Dragon's owner, describes his restaurant's menu of Chinese dishes as big, "almost like a book." There's truly no shortage of options when it comes to popular favorites, from sweet and sour pork and kung pao chicken to shrimp fried rice and beef lo mein. Vegetarian options also abound and include spicy ma-po tofu and crispy, deep-fried eggplant.
The other main attraction is the expansive sushi bar, where three expert chefs, including a 12-year veteran from Domo, slice and dice fresh fish into immaculate specialty rolls made with tamaki rice and sashimi. The fiery, tuna temptation roll incorporates pepper tuna and spicy tuna with avocado and hot sauce, while the Maryland maki focuses on fresh crab meat, avocado, scallop, and fish egg. It's almost a shame to dig into a helping of seared salmon, since its delicate presentation looks like a modern work of art or an ancient sculpture if the Greeks had been more into raw fish.