Ellicott City Farmers Market on Tonge Row has the perfect taste for summer

It's the most wonderful time of the year for folks who love good food. I've been watching our neighbors, Andie and Rob, painstakingly tend their vegetable garden through all kinds of weather, and against deer looking for a convenient buffet.

Their hard work has paid off, as a visit to their patch showed me recently. First, they have amazing sunflowers — these plants must be 8 feet tall, with huge flower faces. Andie told me she mistakenly planted the seeds in the wrong direction — she wanted the flowers to face the house instead of toward the back of the lot. A little gardening humor, folks.

Their other crops include heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, radishes and peas. I enjoyed a heirloom cherry tomato, still warm from the sun and fresh off the vine. A perfect taste of summer.

Our neighbors on the other side, Toni and George, also have green thumbs and have shared some lovely heirloom tomatoes with us. I'm partial to the purple Cherokee, and a slice of that transformed a standard hamburger. We are grateful to our friends for sharing their bounty. We can accent the dishes — we have a thriving herb garden, mostly safe from the deer (they preferred our day lilies.)

If all this food talk makes you hungry, well, you must visit the Ellicott City Farmers Market at Tonge Row Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., to select from its bountiful fresh produce. We always buy more than we should but we always make good use of what we buy.

And, if you want someone else to cook all this great stuff for you, you are in luck as Howard County Restaurant Weeks are in full swing. The theme of Farm 2 Table is perfectly exemplified by Portalli's special menu. They are offering three courses for $30.11, mostly fresh and local.

For example, first courses include a caprese salad with local tomatoes or flatbread topped with local peaches. One entrée offering is Treuth's NY strip steak. Treuth's is my go-to butcher shop in Oella. And for dessert you could choose panna cotta with local strawberries or sorbet with local blackberries. Isn't summer grand? The other historic district restaurant participating in the event is Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant, who feature bounty from Fernand Tersiguel's own garden.

Howard County Fair

It's time to put away your ipods and tune into the live fiddle music — yes, the Howard County Fair is back again, Aug. 6-13. This is such a wonderful family event. My friends at the Howard County Historical Society tell me that they will again be sponsoring a booth in the large exhibition building, and the truly excellent news is that this space is now air conditioned.

So, you can linger at the exhibits at your leisure in real comfort. The Historical Society has also shared the exciting news that their newest publication, "Images of America: Howard County", with more than 200 historical photos of people, places and events in our county, is available for order right now. Members save 20 percent by ordering before Aug. 22; nonmembers save 10 percent. Call the society at 410-750-0370 or visit them at the fair.

The Past With Pastry

Hey, I didn't make that one up — it's the name of the newest history tour on Main Street, and a yummy sounding tour it is. Sponsored by the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation, this literary tour of the town will be held at Tea on the Tiber Friday, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. Enjoy a fresh scone, a scoop of ice cream and a beverage, at $25, while a costumed guide talks about famous people who have visited our little village, including such luminaries as H.L. Mencken, Davey Crockett and Robert E. Lee.

For information, call 410-247-9252. This event is part of the First Friday celebration sponsored by the Ellicott City Business Association. Participating shops and restaurants stay open from 5 p.m. until at least 9 p.m. and offer specials, discounts and sidewalk sales — and the temperatures go down in the evening.

Jazz duo

Shakespeare might be over for now, but the Patapsco Female Institute rocks on. They are offering a free concert Aug. 12 at 7 p.m., sponsored by Edy's Grand Ice Cream. The show features the Traveling Bands jazz duo of Tom Legand and Sara Jones. Sounds like a great way to spend a Friday evening. And then on Saturday evenings, you can head over to the Wine Bin for their latest al fresco film offerings, also free. "Casablanca" is the feature Saturday, Aug. 6, followed by the R-rated "The Blues Brothers" Aug. 13.

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