Restaurant weeks come and go. Already this year, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County and Annapolis have mounted successful winter dining promotions. Frederick is wrapping up its winter restaurant week Sunday.
Talbot County is up next. Some two dozen restaurants, clustered mostly in Easton, Oxford and St. Michaels, will be offering fixed-price, two-course lunch ($20.11) and three-course dinner menus ($30.11) March 20-27. Participating restaurants include a few I've written about lately — the Robert Morris Inn and Brasserie Brightwell — and others I've been wanting to go down and try.
What distinguishes this year's Talbot County's restaurant week is its glamorous March 27 closing event at the Tidewater Inn. "An Evening with Julie and Julia" will feature a pair of best-selling food writers, Julie Powell and Amanda Hesser. Powell is the author of "Julie & Julia, My Year of Cooking Dangerously," which later became a movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (as Julie Powell). Hesser (who has a cameo role playing herself in the movie) is a longtime staffer at The New York Times, where she created the Food Diary and Recipe Redux columns.
The Talbot County connection: Amanda Hesser's sister, Rhonda Hesser Thomson, is a board member of Eventful Giving, the newly formed charitable organization behind the March 27 event; Thomson asked her sister, and her sister asked her pal, Julie Powell. Simple as that.
The March 27 event includes a five-course dinner featuring 11 dishes inspired by recipes from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and Amanda Hesser's "The Essential New York Times Cookbook Recipes," which will be prepared by Talbot County chefs, with all food donated by the participating restaurants. Before dinner is a screening of "Julie & Julia," followed by a question-and-answer session with Hesser and Powell.
The evening is a benefit for three Talbot County food banks.
"We wanted to put on an event for that would benefit the people of Talbot County who couldn't participate in restaurant week," said Ted Albrecht, the chairman of the closing event. "Chefs jumped at the chance to help us. They just said, 'Tell us what you need.'"
Albrecht, a native of Ida Grove, Iowa, who settled in Easton about 15 years ago, dates the county's dining renaissance to the arrival of the Stephen Mangasarian's bygone restaurant, Columbia. Its success, Albrecht thinks, encouraged the establishment of other forward-thinking restaurants. Albrecht's favorite these days: Out of the Fire in Easton. Mangasarian, incidentally, will soon be opening a new restaurant, Banning's Tavern, in the old Legal Spirits and Seafood location.
Other Talbot County Restaurant Week activities include a March 20 kickoff event at the Oaks Waterfront Inn and a March 26 reception and book-signing event with Hesser and Powell at Academy Art Museum in Easton.
Information about the March 26 book-signing event is available at 410-822-2787, academeyartmuseum.org. Information about the other Talbot County restaurant week activities and events is available at talbotdining.com.
Frederick finishes You have until Sunday to get to Frederick for its second annual winter restaurant week. About 20 restaurants are participating in the dining promotion, which features fixed-price two- and three-course menus for lunch ($10.11 and $20.11) and dinner ($20.11 and $30.11).
Information about Frederick Restaurant week is available at frederickrestaurantweek.com
Hooray for Hollywood Diner The Hollywood Diner reopened Friday and had a grand opening on Saturday. The diner's new operator and head chef is Cheryl Townsend, who ran the Red Springs Cafe on Calvert Street. She told me that the first day was crazy. "We're a table-service restaurant, but we had so many carryout orders." Call ahead if you can.
The Hollywood Diner presents Red Springs Cafe (its official name) will feature diner favorites alongside Townsend's Southern and soul-food and Caribbean fare. The diner remains a collaborator with the Chesapeake Center for Youth Development.
The diner is at 400 E. Saratoga St. Call 410-528-1322 or go to redspringscafe.com.