Archive for the tag “PSTC”

Bites in Baltimore! Who am I kidding? BINGING in Baltimore! #PSTC

I flew out to Baltimore last week to attend my third PSTC (Pressure Sensitive Tape Council) conference.  It’s not a large conference, but a very focused industry event.

I found myself getting to know new colleagues from a sister company, spending lots of quality time with key customers, and bonding with newer colleagues from my own company.  In all, it was a great week (and I normally loathe being away for almost a week – especially while having a senior dog (and having recently said goodbye to my other senior dog)).

On my first evening in Baltimore, I met two new colleagues from Arkema Coating Resins for dinner.  I immediately knew Pat (the planner of the evening) and I would get along.  He promised me “a good restaurant”!  😉  Keith, a technical guy and I also hit it off quite quickly – lots of common interests! It’s awesome to feel such a natural connection with guys I had never met, and who live in NJ and NC, respectively.  Yet, we are now “family”!

We met at the cocktail hour reception at PSTC (quite literally one hour, folks…so we weren’t staying long). We walked several blocks over to Kona Grill and immediately realized we were in a good spot for a seafood dinner!  Here is the menu.

We were hungry, so we knew we wanted appetizers.  Pat chose the Shrimp Diablo (diablo sauce, danish bleu, bleu cheese sauce), and then Keith turned the second option over to Robbie, our server.  He chose the chicken + shrimp lettuce wraps (bibb lettuce, cucumber salad, spicy sesame vinaigrette).  Both appetizers were delicious, and we devoured every last bite!  IMG_2049IMG_2050

 

Robbie charmed me immediately with his great sense of humor (stepping back to “reset” as he flubbed when describing the evening’s special (which Pat ordered)).  I can definitely appreciate someone who can laugh at himself and who can also recover so nicely after a minor “trip up”.

It didn’t hurt that Robbie brought me a glass of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay to compliment the appetizers and entree as well! 🙂

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The entree he chose for me was the Snapper topped with crab meat, served with couscous and asparagus. Normally, couscous doesn’t seem like an interesting side, but Kona’s couscous had really good flavor and texture to it! Delicious!

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And, my colleagues had equally delicious, and beautifully plated dishes as well!

In addition to having a very pleasant server who was quite open-minded and excited about “She Ordered What?”, I had good quality time to get to know my new colleagues and to chat about both business and personal interests.

On Wednesday, we decided to have a casual evening and walk over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to watch the O’s take on the Toronto Blue Jays.  I had never been to Camden Yards, so I was excited to check that ballpark off the bucket list of venues to visit!  If you haven’t been, you’ll see that it’s beautifully situated in the heart of the city and the brickwork makes it an absolutely beautiful area!

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The view from my hotel room! Thank you, Hilton Baltimore!

Of course, it was a hot dog and beer kind of night. No fancy dining while watching America’s pastime!  And, the Orioles won 6-1 that evening, so it made the local experience all the better!

Thursday, however, was a different story.  I was totally set on going to my hotel room for the evening to write meeting notes, but my colleagues convinced me to venture out for dinner at a restaurant an industry contact recommended – The Fork & Wrench.  It’s perfectly described as a “boutique dive bar”, and founded by Cyrus Keefer, (associated with that well-known James Beard foundation!).

The Fork & Wrench is an eclectic and charming space!

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The staff all greeted us warmly, and at ~6:30 on a Thursday night, we were able to grab a table for four with no problem.  Well, except the fact that we were all still reeling from one of the worst cab rides I’ve ever experienced.  To the driver of cab number 90 in Baltimore: I will NEVER get into your vehicle again! It was so bad I took a picture AND tweeted about this dangerous ride!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

I have a strong stomach, but all four of us wanted to bail multiple times during this 2 mile / 35 minute cab ride!!!

A quick glance at the menu, and I knew everything would be wonderful.  My colleague was really trying hard to “move out of her comfort zone”, so she was quite impressed when she saw me hand my blog card to our server, Greg.  He read it, and was totally up for the task!  The only question he asked me was how hungry I was.  Answer: pretty darned hungry!

The meal started with fresh bread and salted butter (delicious!).

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Then came fried oysters, served with a glass of Simonnet Febvre Brut Rosé .

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For good measure, I took a picture of all of the appetizers on our table.

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You’ll see smoked Beef Tongue with tostones, aji marmalade & cilantro crema on the right, and Ssamjang Glazed Pork Belly with green papaya relish, kimchi purée & Bibb lettuce on the left (the colleague who stepped out of her comfort zone – and thoroughly enjoyed her appetizer!).

I teased Greg that he gave me a clue about my entrée when he set down a serrated knife.

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For my entree, Greg was not the person to serve me, so I wasn’t sure if I should claim the dish that was presented or not!  After all, this was a surprise!

When I mentioned that it “might” be my dinner, the server sat the plate down and then excitedly told me that everyone in the kitchen saw the blog card and thought it was such a cool idea!  I have to admit that I got pretty excited by that response as well!

It turns out that I was served the Leg of Lamb served over stewed white beans, baby carrots & wild ramp salsa verde. Extremely tender meat and really nice flavor! I felt like it was a reasonably healthy dish as well – lots of veggies and no heavy cream sauce. That makes up for all of the gorging, right?

I couldn’t possibly finish it all, but I wanted to!  And, it turns out that I didn’t need that serrated knife – the meat was that tender!

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Although I was overly full, Greg had already decided that I needed to try dessert as well.  I mentioned on Instagram that I (jokingly) thought I found my soulmate in Greg.  He picked the dessert that had immediately caught my eye.  The “Creamsicle” Gooey Butter Cake with blood orange curd, orange sherbet.  Y’all know how much I love a citrus dessert!

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But, let me tell you that the butter cake was the absolute BOMB.  I wasn’t hungry any longer, but I would have licked that plate clean if it were socially acceptable!

On the way out, I stopped in the Ladies’ room, and I even felt compelled to take photos there. Such a charming space!

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It’s no wonder Baltimore is called “Charm City”.  Everyone I met was very pleasant, our servers Robbie and Greg were both charming men, and the spaces and places we visited had unique charm and character.

Now, time to get back to healthy eating and exercise!  No more binging!

I hope you enjoyed my recap of my visit to Baltimore as much as I enjoyed the visit!

Cheers!

Ker

Best meal of the week! Le Foret – New Orleans, LA

Last week, I started my new job. I spent one day in the office before flying out to New Orleans for the PSTC conference. Five days in New Orleans…I planned on gaining several pounds in my first week! 😀

I’m going to break this trip into a couple of posts. This one, which features my favorite meal from the week, and another one (to be written later) to highlight some of the other meals I had. Le Foret just seemed to warrant its own post. It was a really special meal.

This particular dinner was one that all of the Bostik employees who were in town attended. A team dinner, if you will. And, what a team! Such a wonderful cast of characters! The most welcoming bunch, and really funny folks. We shared a lot of laughs, and the team downloaded a lot of info to me! Wow – my brain hurt!

Le Foret is on Camp Street, directly across from the Sheraton (site of the conference). We walked into this building that possessed so much character and charm and were directed to our table. I was the rose between two French thorns (just teasing…they’re not thorny at all!), which meant that the choosing of the wine fell to the gentlemen to each side of me. Benoit, on my left, ultimately, and graciously, took on the task! He ordered a bottle of Chateau Tour Coutelin (2007) and a bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay (2011) for the table.

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When asked whether I’d like red or white wine (red is typically my preference), I advised our server that I would have her choose my dinner and that she should choose the appropriate wine to compliment her meal choice.  A couple of my coworkers were already quite familiar with the card I hand over to servers – and they were very supportive of the concept!  When our server poured the wine, I was served the Chardonnay.

The chef then had our server present us with a carrot-fennel bisque with a rabbit pate sandwich. As Nicolas (the gent to my right that evening) said, it was quite good and just enough to make us hungry!

How cute is the rabbit pate sandwich?

How cute is the rabbit pate sandwich?

Once everyone had ordered, we had animated conversation for a bit. Then…the meals were served. Here is a snapshot of everyone else’s meal (thank you to my new coworkers for being so accommodating about my obnoxious need to photograph meals for this blog). Mine was the last meal delivered, so you won’t see my surprise just yet.

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When my meal was delivered, I was presented with the soft shelled crab dish. I have had soft-shelled crab before, and I was not impressed. So, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it. In this case, I would have missed out! It was really delicious – fantastic flavor (especially in the breading and the corn & shrimp salsa). I’m glad that I was treated to a seafood dish, but not a standard one. I didn’t quite finish it, but that’s because I was saving room for dessert (for the first and last time that week).

Soft-shelled crab.

Soft-shelled crab.

This dish is not featured on the winter menu still posted online, so I can’t do it total justice in providing a full description (shame on me for not taking a photo of the menu!). Trust me – it was GOOD!

Once the dessert menu was presented, I found that I couldn’t resist ordering the one that caught my eye.

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No, I did not turn my dessert order over to the server. For the record, when my coworker inquired about a couple of desserts, our server did not hesitate to acknowledge that the chocolate truffle cake is much better than the toffee tart. I, however, had my heart set on the coconut cream cake.

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coconut cream cake

Let me just say, folks…I have a new found love, and it’s called “orange caramel sauce”. It was a perfect complement to the light cake and coconut. I shared a bite with one of my coworkers (kudos to him for only having one bite), and he agreed…this was heavenly! I’m planning to have my former coworker, Katie of Katie’s Adventures in the Kitchen, try to recreate this! It was seriously THAT GOOD!! !

Everyone at our table thoroughly enjoyed his/her meal at Le Foret. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re in New Orleans and are looking for a great dining experience. There are four floors (and a rooftop, I believe) to explore and enjoy. Please stop by if you’re in Nola.

What’s your favorite place to dine in New Orleans?

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