Perched on a hill overlooking northern Baltimore County's scenic valleys, Royal Rabbit Vineyards typically provides guests pleasing views throughout the year. It isn't until late spring and summer, however, that the landscape begins to change: heavy green and purple orbs crop up along 4 acres of climbing grapevines. By fall, the heavy, ripened grapes are ready for harvest—later on they’ll be turned into the winery’s award-winning wines or used as low-impact marbles. The small winery lies along the Piedmont Wine Trail and Mason-Dixie Wine Trail, which connects more than 20 small, family-owned wineries in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
In keeping with the Royal Rabbit Vineyards motto—"Treat yourself royally"—many of the wines have royal titles, including a cabernet franc blend dubbed “the duke.” Wine labels display a kingly rabbit holding a golden chalice.
In 1983, "Beefalo" Bob DiMartino began a small-scale catering operation built around no-frills, classic recipes of pit-roasted barbecue, growing his business to include a carry-out joint, sports bar, and even an upscale banquet hall. Bob's process is simple: slow cooking beef, ham, turkey, slabs of ribs and morsels of pork and chicken over smoking hickory fires and not cutting corners with gas jets or heat vision. The sports bar garnishes these backyard-style feasts with plates of oysters, lump crab cakes, and strip steak, as well as sports games on 20 big-screen TVs and rivers of cold beer.
True to its roots as a catering outfit, Beefalo Bob's supplies parties of up to 10,000 with bull roasts, crab feasts, and roasted pigs, as well as rentals of tents, tables, and moon bounces. Fancy occasions find a home in the 250-person Reflections Hall, decked out with chandeliers, DJs, a fireplace, hints of sparkly gold, and a wide-open hardwood dance floor.
Forty varieties of bourbon and 60 beer draughts flow freely from taps into souvenir glasses, slaking thirsty throats with unlimited sips as guests tear through smoky meat concoctions at the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival's tasting stations. Once stuffed with ribs, brisket, and sausage, attendees can retire to the tasting theater to take in a seminar from pit masters and gourmet chefs on preparing fine barbecue or brewing stellar bourbon. Live rock, blues, and bluegrass bands set the airwaves quivering from the main stage with wailing tunes or announcements drawn in barbecue sauce. A cigar tent provides a smoky haven for puffing on fine tobacco products, and big-screen TVs beam the latest sports action directly into eyeballs.
Helmed by chef Jim Benson, Eleven Courses’ multifaceted team of chefs, artists, and organizers embraces the art of the party with elegant catering and event services ranging from in-home tastings to multicourse wedding feasts. Top-notch chefs curate nuanced tasting menus as well as wine and artisan-beer tastings that tease out the complementary tastes of bacon and beer or wine and truffles.
In addition to keeping kitchens alive and cooking, Jim’s team also handles the whys and wherefores of event planning. Resident visual artists contribute to cake and floral designs, and professional planners orchestrate happenings ranging from weddings and business meetings to black-tie fantasy-baseball drafts. Eleven Courses' staff members hone their skills at a range of regional events such as the Capital Bacon and Beer Bash, the Baltimore Bridal Show, the National Harbor Wine and Food Festival, and the 3rd Anniversary Hippodrome Foodie Experience with Andrew Zimmerman of Travel Channel fame. Eleven Courses has been featured on WTTG FOX 5 and WBAL 11.
Herb & Soul chefs B. Taylor and David Thomas operate under a simple mantra with several implications. When they say their mission is to "feed the soul," they mean that their fried chicken, short ribs, and Georgia bread pudding are more than just items on the menu—they’re nourishing reminders of the home-cooked meals of childhood.
They also mean that they do their best to foster long-standing relationships with local farmers and stock their small, down-home establishment with organic produce, grass-fed meats, and sustainably sourced fish. Herb & Soul's support of sustainable agriculture benefits the environment as well, since the restaurant converts its waste into compost and recycles its oil on the kitchen’s slip 'n' slide.
A store created by wine lovers, for wine lovers, and built on a cemetery that only buried wine lovers, DiWine Spirits stocks a large selection of wines from national and international producers. Inside the well-designed store, vine enthusiasts will find themselves surrounded by an array of choices including introductory quaffs such as 2006 Calma Rioja ($10.99) and Cat Amongst the Pigeons Riesling ($9.99), as well as experienced-palate-pleasing 2008 Benmarco malbecs and chardonnays from the Scott Family Estate (both $16.99). Via France’s special long-range bottle trebuchet, champagne a la Maxime Godet Premier ($24.99) delights palates with special bubbles. All prices listed are sale prices and may be subject to change.