Dan Rodricks

Dan Rodricks: Free with your subscription, some savvy suggestions and random recommendations | COMMENTARY

The 8th Annual Charm City Django Jazz Fest is scheduled for Mar. 24-26 at An die Musik, 409 N. Charles Street.

Submitted forthwith: A few random recommendations and suggestions from Sun readers, from savvy friends and from the small notebook I keep in the glove compartment.

Dining recommendation from Sun reader Bob Mayes: The Silver Queen Cafe, 5429 Harford Road, in Hamilton. “Tonight’s blackened rainbow trout with sides of sweet potato/apple hash and braised greens inspired me to reach out to you,” Mayes wrote on Feb. 9. “I highly recommend this amazing dish while still on the menu.” I checked. It is.


Breakfast recommendation: Anything on the menu at Lost In the 50′s Diner, just up a block from the Silver Queen, at 5512 Harford Road. The Greek omelet is superb, best I ever had.

Entertainment recommendation: The 8th Annual Charm City Django Jazz Fest, Baltimore’s annual tribute to legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, coming up Mar. 24-26 at An die Musik, 409 N. Charles St. Ticket information at


Civic suggestion from reader Robert Chertkof: Baltimore should have an annual citizenship award, and the first Citizen of the Year trophy should go to Graham Peck. “Graham is an elite marathon runner,” Chertkof wrote last month. “He does conditioning runs around the Inner Harbor. He carries a grabber and a plastic bag and picks up trash he sees while running. He keeps detailed logs of what he picks up. At the end of the year he posts his results on Facebook.” I checked. Peck reported filling 365 bags of trash for the second year in a row, and that included hundreds of plastic soda and water bottles, and litter from the customers of 32 fast food restaurant chains.

Eco-suggestion: Stop buying bottled water. Get a metal or reusable plastic water bottle, if you don’t have one — and believe me, you have one somewhere in your house or car — and refill it. Also, if you find water boring, give it a dash of sugar-free Crystal Light pink lemonade mix. As the label says, it has “natural flavor with other natural flavor.”

Wildlife recommendation: Looking ahead to spring — not hard to do, the way this winter’s going around here — you will want to see the herring and shad run in Deer Creek in Harford County. These fish swim all the way to Darlington from the Atlantic Ocean, the least we can do is stand there and appreciate them. Polarized sunglasses help. From downtown Darlington, take Stafford Road into Susquehanna State Park and park by the bridge near the Stafford Flint Furnace, then hike along the stream, find a spot you like, stand there and gawk. It’s just like bird-watching, except you’re looking down, not up, looking for fish, not birds. If you see herons in the stream or eagles overhead, you’re likely to see a school of fish. If not, you’re still in a lovely place and shall be mesmerized by the creek. When exactly to go? Drop me a line in April. I usually get good recon on this from a guy named Noah up the road.

Streaming suggestion: “A Futile and Stupid Gesture,” a Netflix film from 2018 about the co-founder of National Lampoon magazine, the late Doug Kenney. It’s appropriately a wild, sometimes vulgar biopic that — agreeing here with critic David Sims of The Atlantic — just skims the surface of Kenney’s appeal as a creator of comedy. (His credits also include the hit films, “Animal House” and “Caddyshack.”) It might seem too frenetic to reach any depth, but the film opens a barrel of memories about the 1970s and the sensation that Kenney (played by Will Forte) created with his partner from his Harvard days, Henry Beard (played by Domhnall Gleeson, who had the title role in “The Patient” miniseries on Hulu). It also illuminates the path, long dark, from National Lampoon to the birth of “Saturday Night Live.”

Eats and drinks in Baltimore recommended by the respected members of my monthly breakfast group:

Wet City Brewing, 223 W. Chase St. (“A really cool atmosphere, very good beer, creative cocktails and good food, including one of the best smash burgers in the city.”)

Heritage Kitchen in Whitehall Mill, 3300 Clipper Mill Road (“A Filipino-inspired menu, great shrimp and pork dishes.”)

Michael’s Steak and Lobster House, 6209 Eastern Ave. (“It’s the last remaining old-time steak house, a true treasure.”)


Croustille Cafe French Bakery, 1404 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville (“They bake beautiful things there, including a kind of ‘humpback’ croissant. It’s light and airy, with an unusually high peak at the center, and a crusty finish. It’s also one of the largest croissants I’ve ever seen.”)

Kitchen suggestion: If you cook with cast iron skillets, do not wash them with soap and water; you’ll wash away the seasoned quality of the iron. If you hear someone say that modern soaps are not as harsh as they used to be, don’t believe them. If you have good iron pans that have become seasoned with use, hot water and a good scrub is all they need. I dry mine and rub them with a little oil before putting them away. The same is true of old, stained baking sheets. The baked-on patina might not look great, but it provides a certain something to meats or vegetables. I recently ran two commercial-grade baking sheets through my oven’s self-cleaning cycle — Better Homes & Gardens said it was OK to do so — and they came out looking like new. But I lost je ne sais quoi in the process, and it will be years before I get it back.