Baltimore Sun’s BEST party in 2 weeks

Perking up at the coffee bar


Good news: The good-coffee bandwagon just keeps rolling along. Latest to hop on board is Stouffer's Harborplace Hotel, which has just opened the Coffee Bar at Stouffer in the lobby. Stouffer will be serving coffee from Starbucks, the Seattle, Wash., company that helped make that city a coffee lover's paradise with coffee bars on every corner.

Stouffer's baristas, or servers, will be trained by Starbucks to turn out such coffee beverages as espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte, and caffe almond mocha. There will also be hot tea, bottled waters and Italian sodas. Along with your morning coffee, you can have freshly baked pastry -- muffins, croissants, breakfast bread, biscotti -- prepared by Stouffer's Windows pastry chef Marshall Rosenthal.

Stouffer is at 202 E. Pratt St. The coffee bar will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (410) 547-1200.

Carolina Cooking on York Road

Baltimore has a second Carolina Cooking, the family-style, all-you-can eat Southern home cooking restaurant, at 5815 York Road. (The first one is at 5511 Baltimore National Pike.) The restaurant features ribs, fried chicken, shrimp and lasagna, as well as a buffet-style salad bar and buffet-style dessert bar. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For information, call (410) 435-4885.

Cook an oyster; win a contest

If the world is your oyster, you might think about entering an original recipe for the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival's 14th Annual National Oyster Cook-Off. Twelve finalists will compete in the cook-off Oct. 15, in Leonardtown. Prizes range from $100 to ** $1,000. There are four categories for recipes: hors d'oeuvres, soups and stews, main dishes, and outdoor cookery/salad. Deadline for entries is Aug. 1. For a list of rules, write to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Md. 21401. Or call Noreen L. Eberly at (410) 841-5820.

Pineapple salsa cuts the mustard

Every month, it seems, "belongs" to a particular food -- and July is the domain of the hot dog, according to the Deli/Prepared Meats Committee of the National Live Stock & Meat Board. Folks in the United States eat 16 billion hot dogs every year, or about 66 hot dogs per person. Five million of them are sold between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Hot dogs are served at ball parks and on space-shuttle missions; Franklin D. Roosevelt once served hot dogs and beer to England's King George VI. If you're tired of your usual toppings, try this: Combine 1 can well-drained crushed pineapple with 1/2 cup prepared salsa. Prepare hot dogs; place in bun and top with 2 tablespoons pineapple salsa, plus 4 halved cucumber slices.

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