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A Foodie Birthday

Aug 16, 2011 08:17PM ● By Anonymous
We started on Friday with brunch at The Back Porch Cafe, located on the water in Annapolis. Executive Chef Karen Williams won Best Chef in 2011, while owner Ken Upton won the award in 2010 -- so you know you're going to get some good food here. I've been lucky enough to have a few long conversations with Ken about food and the Annapolis restaurant scene, and I really think his viewpoint is spot on. 

It was really difficult to decide what to order (I honestly wanted breakfast, but we arrived too late), but I decided on the crab quesadilla, served with a mesclun salad. 

After brunch, we spent some time shopping, and then met up with a group of people from the magazine for happy hour at the new Red Red Wine Bar on Main Street. Joining me was Lindsay K, the web content specialist, Karly K., the events editor, Alexandra B., the publisher's assistant, Edna H., an intern, and Tiffany S., in accounting, plus a lot of significant others -- Thanks, guys, for making the trip! It was my first time at the new Main Street bar, and my husband and I were impressed by the decor and a little overwhelmed by the number of wine choices. He ordered a flight of Sauvignon Blanc, whereas I decided I wanted to celebrate with a glass of Prosecco. What I really enjoyed about the bar was that they were willing to give you a sample of any wine on the menu before you ordered a glass. I almost ordered a sparkling rose wine, which would have been a bad choice for me. (It was too sweet for my palate).

But we're indecisive folk, and after a couple of drinks, we wanted to head on out to another spot -- the weather was nice, so we though outdoor dining would be perfect. Our group walked up to Sly Fox Pub on Church Circle and enjoyed their great happy hour specials. ($5 cocktails!) Edna and I both tried their margaritas, and my husband and I shared an order of crab dip. 

After our group split up around 7 p.m., my husband and I headed home. But first we stopped at Goodie's Cafe, one of our new Crofton finds. From the outside, this little place that advertises both its subs and Chinese food doesn't look like much. However, we have worked our way through most of Crofton's Chinese/Asian food places, and with the exception of Pan Asia, this is our absolute favorite. I always order the Shrimp Mei Fun, and as usual, it was delicious. 

On Saturday, my actual birthday, we got up early and headed over the Bay Bridge to Cambridge -- the traffic wasn't too bad, surprisingly! Here, we were destined for the Seafood Feast-I-Val, an all-you-can-eat event featuring blue crabs, corn on the cob, watermelon, barbecue chicken, Maryland crab soup, fried fish, clam strips, fries, and hot dogs. I feel full just reading about that. 

We spent the afternoon with my in-laws, including my adorable 1-year-old niece, Brooklyn. I particularly enjoy the crab's claws, so my husband and mother-in-law were incredibly nice and kept tossing the claws my way. I also LOVE clams, fried or steams, so I dished on my fair share of crab strips. Layton's Chance winery out of Vienna in Dorchester County was there as well, and my lovely father-in-law bought me a bottle of red wine to go along with my meal. The view over the Choptank from Sailwinds Park was great, and the weather held up -- even though it started to spit from the sky at the very end.

However, I've saved the best for last.

After the Feast-I-Val, we drove up to Oxford, a small town that I have never visited before. Our destination was the Oxford Inn, where we were spending the night. The Inn was picturesque, with a large porch and a beautiful view, and incredibly friendly staff, including Lisa MacDougal and Dan Zimbelman, who had invited us down.

We started with a drink in Pope's Tavern, the onsite dining room and bar. Dan and Lisa recently acquired a traditional English black taxi cab, which they've dubbed the Pope's Mobile. They use it to pick up guests from the marina and other point around town, but they just took us for a spin to show us a bit of the town of Oxford.

They've even created a cocktail named after it, The Black Cab -- and I won't even tell you how many of those I indulged in that night (Hey, it was my birthday!) It's an infusion of blackberry gin, blackberry tea, lemon, and creme de cassis. It's fruity without being sweet and way too easy to drink too many.

We moved to the dining room for dinner, where everything on the menu looked amazing. I started with a BLT chopped salad, a special of the day that Lisa says people are begging to be returned to the regular menu -- and I can see way. Wedges of iceberg lettuce are coated in an amazing creamy dressing and topped with cherry tomato halves, crumbled bacon, and blue cheese. David tried the tuna tartare appetizer, which he also loved -- a hint of spice and fresh tuna -- yum! 

For my entree, I went with pasta (my favorite) -- a linguine with clams. It was rich and delicious, but I just couldn't finish it all. I did manage to down the fresh steamed clams, though! David choose the filet mignon with asparagus and a savory potato cannoli, which is just one of the cool things Lisa does in the kitchen.

I wasn't going to have dessert, as I was so full, but the server pointed out that it was my birthday. Who am I to argue with such logic? I ordered the creme brulee, which was creamy and decadent. 

We ended the evening on the porch with a bottle of wine, chatting with Lisa and Dan and a handful of other guests, enjoying the perfect Eastern Shore evening. Life couldn't get any better. 

We headed home the next day, and I wasn't planning on cooking much after all the food we had eaten over the weekend. However, I found myself creating a boneless pork ribs in spicy tomato sauce dish that I served over Amish-made pasta that I purchased when we stopped at one of the farmer's markets on Route 50 on the way home. Come back tomorrow for that recipe -- it was fantastic.

A big thanks to the restaurants, friends, and food that made my birthday weekend so great!