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Baltimore Diner
Baltimore restaurant news as well as Maryland eats, drinks and cooking
Blaze Pizza opens on Friday in Laurel with free pizza

The third Maryland location of Blaze Fast Fire'd Pizza will open Friday in Laurel, and to celebrate, the restaurant is offering free 11-inch pizzas from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. to anyone who follows Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Founded in Irvine, Calif. in August 2012, Blaze features a "build-your-own-pizza" assembly line format. The chain is expanding across the country and now operates restaurants in 14 states and the District of Columbia, according to information provided by the company. The Maryland Blaze Pizza locations will be operated by AMPAL Group, a franchise group led by franchisee Amit Patel.

The first Maryland location opened this August at Montgomery Mall, and a second location opened in College Park in October. The Laurel Blaze Pizza is at the new Town Centre at 14708 Baltimore Ave. For more information call 301-483-3324 or go to blazepizza.com.

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A round-up of this year's local interest food and dining books

Here are some of the local-interest cookbooks that got our attention this year. Consider them for holiday giving, or as a gift to yourself.

"Baltimore Chef's Table: Extraordinary Recipes from Charm City and the Surrounding Counties"  ($24.95, Globe Pequot Press) by Kathy Wielech Patterson and Neal Patterson.

Published this summer and beautifully illustrated with photographs by Kevin Maher, the book has more than 80 recipes for the home cook contributed by some of Baltimore’s best restaurant chefs. There’s a gorgeous Rhode Island quahog chowder from Eric Houseknecht of Thames Street Oyster House, a chilled lobster salad from Tom Devine of Linwood’s and, really worth a book of its own, a crab cake recipe from Nancy Longo of Pierpoint. The Pattersons, who maintain the witty and informative Minx Eats food and dining blog, are also the authors of “Food Lovers’ Guide to Baltimore.” Well researched and well organized, their new book is a beauty.

"Seafood Lover's Chesapeake Bay: Restaurants,...

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For Sunday's farmers' market finale, a Spike Gjerde demo

The 37th season of the Baltimore Farmer's Market & Bazaar is Sunday, from 7 a.m. to noon, approximately. The last day is always a nice one for strolling around and saying farewell to your favorite vendors.

But there is plenty to stock up on, including produce, meats, dairy, eggs and preserves. We saw loads of beautiful Christmas wreaths last Sunday, both plain and decorated.

On Sunday, Woodberry Kitchen's Spike Gjerde will prepare a dish of "Cheddar-y, Creamy, Garlic-y Baked Greens" near the entrance of the market's west (smaller) lot on Holliday Street.

Gjerde's demonstration is from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

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Nepal House and Ryleigh's Oyster set for Mount Vernon openings

Nepal House will open Sunday in the Mount Vernon space that housed the Indian restaurant Mughal Garden. The new restaurant is owned by Prem Raja Mahat, who has managed, operated and owned various restaurants featuring other cuisines of Indian, Nepalese and other regions of South Asia.

Mahat, a native of Nepal, is also a folk singer. A 2003 profile of Mahat on National Public Radio told listeners, "Think of him as Bob Dylan of Katmandu... or Elvis of the Himalayas."

Mahat said he will be singing at Nepal House, mostly on weekend nights.

Nepal House is at 918 N. Charles St. For information, call 410-547-0001.

• Ryleigh's Oyster Mount Vernon will open Tuesday in the Cathedral Street space across from Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall where Mari Luna closed back in January.

Brian McComas, who owns and operates the original Ryleigh's in Federal Hill and a second, Ryleigh's Hunt Valley, on Padonia Road, said he has made extensive renovations to the property, which was once home to...

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Birroteca owner to take over American Visionary Art Museum space

The owner of Birroteca will take over the restaurant space at the American Visionary Art Museum, which has been closed since the June departure of Mr. Rain's Fun House.

Robbin Haas said that he will open a restaurant named Encantada at AVAM in the first quarter of 2015.

The cuisine will be vegetable-focused, Haas said. But Encantada will not be a vegetarian or vegan restaurant.

"We are going to build the plates around vegetables. Not that there won't be any meat because there will be," Haas said. "People are starting to eat more this way."

The restaurant's name, a Spanish expression similar to the English phrases "enchanted" and "charmed," works on multiple levels, Haas said.

The word "enchantment" kept popping up in his readings about AVAM and visionary art, and before moving to Baltimore he lived for seven years in Guatemala, which has been called "the land of enchantment," Haas said.

Baltimore, of course, is Charm City.

"What more appropriate name could there be?" Haas said.

Before...

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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dining in Baltimore

Christmas Day dining in Baltimore remains quiet, and our list of openings remains mostly static from year to year.

In fact, our list of places open this year looks almost exactly like the list we had last year. The only new additions to the Christmas Day list are two restaurants at the new Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

There are considerably more dining options for Christmas Eve, which we've listed below the Christmas Day options.

For the most part, we've confined the Christmas Day list to restaurants that are opening before 5 p.m.

They include:

Eichenkranz (611 Fagley St., 410-563-7577) will be open again on Christmas Day, from 8:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. The German restaurant in Brewers Hill serves what may be the currently longest-running Christmas dinner in the Baltimore area.

Sotto Sopra (405 N. Charles St., 410-625-0534, sottosoprainc.com) is open, as it always is, on Christmas Day from noon to 10 p.m.

Wit

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