Say hello to Hot Stuff, debuting here and now

Hot Stuff

Eats: dining reviews, Table Talk

January 01, 2004|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Happy New Year! And new column. Welcome to Hot Stuff.

Our aim: to keep you up on what's hot and happening in B-more. If there's a new spot in town to eat or drink, we'll let you know. Sizzling soirees? We'll tell you about 'em. Who's who and where they go, trends, trendoids and celebrity spottings. We hope you'll find it all here in Hot Stuff. So, let's get this party started. ...

Holiday highs and lows

Leave it to taboo-tipping filmmaker John Waters to come up with a unique holiday greeting. This year, his is a lovely tree ornament - a plastic ball with "Season's Greetings - John Waters" printed on the outside, and a 2-inch black plastic bug (a cockroach?) inside. Just kinda warms your heart.

Then there was the seventh annual Tour de Dundalk. Think sightseeing bus tour with a hint of John Waters. Plus beer. A gang of folks including magazine editor Brian Lawrence, PR pro Greg Harris and the Smithsonian's Julia Forbes put it together for their friends every year. Brian, who edits Style mag, says about 30 to 40 fun-seekers meet at Canton Square. There, a bus packed with beer and snacks picks them up for a three-hour tour of holiday decor displays in Dundalk.

"There's no prescribed route. If a street looks promising, we go," Brian says. Dundalk native Mary Sapeta Helfrick provides a running commentary on the sights. Some of the big crowd pleasers: lighted creches, with the occasional Grinch or Snoopy added to the mix.

Brian also tells us (what he remembers, anyway) about another intriguing holiday bash - this one most definitely not involving motor vehicles. The 12 Shots of Christmas (as named by its organizers, a group of Federal Hill neighbors including co-host and financial advisor David Berger) was a progressive cocktail party that began at one house, then traveled on to three more. At each stop, guests were offered three holiday-themed shots - Mistletoe Martini, anyone? - along with other nourishment. We understand everyone started out on foot, but who knows how people actually made their way to house No. 4? Luckily, most guests live close enough by to crawl home.

Cookie monsters

The invite for local TV legend Rudy Miller's annual cookie exchange party had a little addendum at the bottom this year: "Come on, guys, make your own cookies this year!"

Miller, now a marketing maven, has been throwing this party for a good decade now. But guests, she gripes, have gotten increasingly lazy, bringing bakery-bought cookies - or worse, boxed! One guest once tried to pass off some Girl Scout Thin Mints as her entry. (Of course, not all those who do bake are adept in the kitchen; one particularly inedible batch ended up being tossed around like discs.)

Still, Rudy tries to make sure things don't get overly serious.

"The first year, I had everyone bring their recipes, too. But that was too much work. I don't think I'd know how to organize a real cookie party." Besides, she says: "It's way more about the company than it is about the cookies."

Swap 'til you drop

And speaking of exchanges, Bolton Hill resident and attorney Sally Gold threw her annual Bad Holiday Present Party this past weekend. Instead of heading to the mall to trade in unwanted gifts, Sally's lucky invitees can bring as many rejects as they wish to her house - as long as they leave with precisely the same number of someone else's.

Among this year's hot items - a Punching Rabbi toy ("Fighting for Wisdom for 3,000 Years") and a feng shui book on love. Among the pithy advice offered therein: "If you buy a house from a divorced couple, make sure you clean it really well."

Most everything brought to the party found a happy new owner, Sally says, with a few exceptions, including a glass sculpture of a dog chasing a cat chasing a bird up a hat rack. But even that will find a new home - in the artwork of Timmie Daugherty, who creates sculptures out of found objects.

"There were even some people who left the party with more than they came with," Sally exults. But no good deed goes unpunished: They're sure to be invited back next year, she says.

Coming attractions

And before we go, some New Year's tidings from the food front:

Looks as if 2004 has at least a few hot new eateries in store for Baltimore. Restaurant mogul Steve de Castro - he of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Eurasian Harbor and Babalu Grill - is about to add a new player to his lineup. Look for Blue Sea Grill (fine dining, fresh seafood) to open around February where Red Coral used to be. And there are whispers that chef Cindy Wolf and hubby Tony Foreman of Charleston/Petit Louis fame have a new place in the works. Stay tuned. ...

To submit tips, ideas and possible items for Hot Stuff, send e-mail to or fax to 410-675-3451.

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