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Baltimore Diner
Baltimore restaurant news as well as Maryland eats, drinks and cooking
News from Pete's Grille, Maggie's Farm and more

Pete’s Grille has announced the date for its annual pancake-eating contest.

The contest will begin promptly at 7 a.m. on Nov. 21. Those interested in participating in the amateurs-only contest can start signing up at the restaurant on Nov. 3, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

But it's not too soon to start training for the contest, in which participants eat as many pancakes as they can in one hour. There is a $500 prize for the winners of the men's and women's division

The all-time men's record, according to owner David Stahl, is 18 pancakes. The women's record is 14 pancakes.

Pete's Grille is at 3130 Greenmount Ave. For more information call 410-467-7698 or go to facebook.com/petesgrille.

 • Maggie's Farm (4341 Harford Road, 410-254-2376, maggiesfarmmd.com) is hosting 'Sters and Spirits, a benefit oyster feast on Oct. 30.  The evening event will feature local oysters by the dozen and half-dozen as well as wine and beer specials and craft cocktails. Chef Andrew Weinzirl is...

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Mekong Delta relocating to Charles Towers

Mekong Delta will relocate from its original Saratoga Street location to Charles Towers downtown -- about a three-minute walk from its old space.

The announcement, which appeared Wednesday on the Twitter feed of the Historic Charles Street Association, will be good news for fans of the Vietnamese restaurant, which has been closed since the middle of June.

According to Historic Charles Street, a non-profit organization that promotes and markets businesses on Charles Street, Mekong Delta will open within three weeks in the EATS food court at Charles Towers, 222 N. Charles St.

Mekong Delta's owners, wife and husband Tuyen Vo and Luan Nguyen, could not be reached for immediate comment.

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Pellegrino's new role, Acconcia to Bookmakers

Leaves are falling, and chefs are changing.

Sarah Acconcia is the new executive chef at Bookmakers. Acconcia, whose last day as executive chef at Le Garage in Hampden was Saturday, officially started at Bookmakers on Tuesday and has begun the process of revamping the menu at the Cross Street lounge, according to owner Ryan Perlberg.

Meanwile, over in Fells Point, Jerry Pellegrino has stepped away from the stove at Waterfront Kitchen.

Pellegrino, the ebullient co-host of the long-running "Radio Kitchen" program on WYPR, has essentially returned to the advisory role he started with at the Fells Point restaurant. When Waterfront Kitchen opened in 2011, the executive chef was Levi Briggs.

Pellegrino said that he agreed to take over the kitchen when Briggs left suddenly in early 2013. "That's how it started," Pellegrino said. "I slid in there. And I stayed."

Pellegrino said he will now shift his focus to organizing and hosting the restaurant's special events, which include cooking classes...

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From Chocolatea owners, a ramen cafe for Belvedere Square

The owners of Chocolatea in Tuscany-Canterbury are set to open a ramen cafe in Belvedere Square’s main market building. EJJI, which is pronounced “edgy,” will serve traditional Japanese ramen and its Malaysian cousin, the noodle soup called laksa, which typically has a curry coconut broth.

EJJI will also offer a small menu of traditional Malaysian cuisine like roti canai, a type of flatbread, and coconut rice bowls flavored with things like beef curry and spicy eggplant. The cafe will also serve a selection of beer and sake.

Chocolatea, a cafe specializing in tea and chocolate, opened in the Ambassador Apartments in 2006. A few years later, the owners, Oscar Lee and his uncle, Jonathan Vong, added a few Malaysian dishes, inspired from family recipes, to a lunch menu of salads, wraps and sandwiches. Among the most popular of those dishes was a chicken laksa.

EJJI, which is scheduled to open Sunday, will follow the market’s hours of operation, which are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through...

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Baltimore bacon wars return to Federal Hill

Mother's Federal Hill will host the third annual Charm City Bacon Wars on Oct. 25. The friendly competition determines which participating Baltimore bar or restaurant makes the best bacon dish.

The winner of the first bacon wars, held in 2012 at Mother's, was Pure Wine Cafe of Ellicott City, according to Mother's spokeswoman Colleen K. Broersma. The winner of the second bacon wars, which were again hosted by Mother's, was Mother's, for its bacon "tots." "I don't like when the host of an event wins " Broersma said. "But Mother's won in a landslide."

Tickets for the event are $20 and include bacon samples from each participating restaurant, drink specials and voting privileges. Each ticket holder will vote on his or her favorite three dishes. 

Broersma said that there is room in the event for a few more participants. Interested restaurants and bars should contact her at Mother's for information. Restaurants signed up so far include Brewer's Cask, The Rowhouse Grille, Sweet Caroline's,...

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Pumpkins, everywhere, in Baltimore restaurants

When did the pumpkin turn into such a laughingstock?

You can’t turn on the TV without someone making a stupid pumpkin-spice latte joke. A recent feature on the social media site Buzzfeed was a horrifying gallery of “16 Pumpkin Spice Products That Don’t Exist And Should Never Exist,” including pumpkin-spice toothpaste, nasal spray and deodorant.

But it’s really not pumpkin we’ve all grown weary of. It’s pumpkin-spice, a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice, traditionally used in the flavoring of pumpkin pies but now used to flavor everything from, yes, lattes, to Greek yogurt.

"I have not been a fan of pumpkin for a long time," said Josh Hershkovitz, owner and chef at Hersh’s in South Baltimore. “But it was really pumpkin pie flavor I didn’t like."

Hershkovitz said that pumpkin has a similar flavor profile to other winter squashes, popular varieties like acorn and butternut, that have become standard main ingredients in savory home recipes likes soups and casseroles.

"The...

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