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The Taste: BAROAK in Annapolis delivers a divine muscle recipe

Jun 24, 2016 02:49PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Sandwich with House-Made Bread & Butter Pickles

By Mary Lou Baker

BAROAK Cookhouse & Taproom

Loews Annapolis Hotel
126 West Street, Annapolis
410-295-3225 | baroakannapolis.com

Chef Marcus Donovan

At the festive grand opening of Baroak Cookhouse & Tap Room last year, owner Ted Folkman was the center of attention. Dressed in his chef whites, Folkman roamed the room where he and his team would be serving hotel guests and the general public from morning ’til night. A tall order for an equally tall man who reminded me of a giant teddy bear; Chef Ted is one of those magnetic people who makes friends easily.

I re-connected with him around the first-year anniversary of Baroak—not a simple task as he is still involved with his popular gastro-pub, Granville Moore in D.C., and splits his time between Washington and Annapolis. I have returned to his restaurant numerous times in the past year and am still a big fan of the always-fat-and-fresh mussels that are Baroak’s signature dish.

Here is our recent conversation:

Your restaurant is a welcome addition to the Annapolis dining scene. What brought you here?

My friend and business partner Adam Williamowsky and I had been exploring different areas along the East Coast to do a twist on Granville Moore since early 2010—Charleston, Richmond, Baltimore, Boston. But when we got word about a potential opening in Annapolis with such a prestigious partner as Loews, we jumped on the opportunity. While living in D.C. since 1998, I had traveled to Annapolis more than 100 times and love everything from its unique charm to the overwhelming pride Annapolitans have in their city.

Tell me about Granville Moore, your D.C. restaurant.

Granville Moore is an established culinary and craft beer hot spot since 2007. It has the best jukebox in the city and a feeling that you are being hugged every time you step through the door. It’s cramped; the walls are exposed plaster and brick. It looks like we opened decades ago even though we’ve been open about eight years.

How is Baroak different from Granville Moore? How is it the same?

Baroak is a grown-up version of my D.C. restaurant. The kitchen is a lot bigger so it allows us to expand the menu to include flatbreads, more appetizers and salads, composed entrees, and desserts. The interior feel here at the Loews Annapolis Hotel is more polished than Granville, yet we strive to maintain the same warmth. Chef Maria Evans, who worked with me at Granville for two years, helms the kitchen at Baroak, and has taken that same cooking style and flavor profile that made our other restaurant so popular.

What are the specialties at Baroak? Does your menu change with the seasons?

In addition to the mussels with a choice of various sauces, we have smoked grilled wings, a great steak and cheese sandwich, and, lately, I can’t get away from the burger. Icy Blue provides us with mussels from Prince Edward Island. Our menu changes seasonally plus we offer two to three seasonal specialties every day. And we have a great brick oven that enables us to do super pizzas, half-chickens, fish, veggies—we love it and our patrons love it.

I hear you bested Bobby Flay in a Food Network competition featuring “Moules and Frites.” What recipe won you the honor and when was the competition?

My recipe was Moules Fromage Bleu (Blue Cheese Mussels) back in March 2008 and it aired in July 2008.

Do you have a favorite cookbook and how would you describe your own personal style of cooking.

Cookbooks— anything by Thomas Keller. Style—I don’t have a style, rather more of a philosophy to treat every step of the cooking process as the most important, use the best ingredients, have fun, follow proper techniques, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel—just make it round.

You co-founded D.C. Beer Week and were known for your volunteer work with underprivileged youth. Are you similarly involved with the Annapolis community?

As much as I would love to be more involved with the local community, my other commitments do not allow me to be personally involved. However, I have urged my team to do the same. Chef Maria and Chef Marcus teach classes at The Lighthouse Shelter and our line cook speaks to troubled youth who have had or are overcoming addiction problems.

Your personal faves at Baroak?

My manager Jason Bacci and the staff. Hands down. After that, I would again have to go with the burger.

Jerk Mussels

 

Jerk Mussels

  • 3# PEI mussels, cleaned
  • 1-10 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 oz white wine
  • 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, large dice
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced
  • 2 sprigs, fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch, cilantro
  • Salt to taste

In large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, caramelize peppers, onions, and jalapenos until tender. Add pineapple, jerk seasoning, and thyme; deglaze with wine. Add coconut milk and bring up to a simmer. Add mussels, cover pan, shake pan periodically, approximately 4–5 minutes until mussels open. Serve with bread for dipping.

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Mary Lou Baker is a frequent contributor to What’s Up? Media publications and self-professed gourmand. She has authored numerous culinary articles and recently penned the book Seafood Lover’s Chesapeake Bay: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions.
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