Review: Katana Sushi

14/05/14 0 COMMENTS

Around lunchtime yesterday I heard my stomach growl. That may sound pretty standard to most, but this time my empty stomach rumbled specific orders: “Feed me sushi, great sushi.” Luckily, Katana Sushi in Elkridge was very close by.

At the time I arrived, there were plenty of available tables and the dim lighting accompanied by decorative hanging lanterns provided a peaceful atmosphere. Following the hostess to our table I was quickly distracted by a very large and beautiful fish tank, hosting an abundance of brightly-colored fish and sea creatures.

I was greeted by a very friendly and hospitable server who was very helpful throughout the dining experience. While sushi is typically not known to be the cheapest of eats, Katana provided a lunch special for a fantastic price. For around $13 I received a house salad, and three rolls. The veggies in the salad were satisfyingly crisp and topped with a dollop of a tangy, bright orange-colored dressing (I wasn’t brave enough to use the chopsticks for this part of the meal!).

The rolls offered in the special were simple, but nonetheless, tasty, fresh and filling. When the plate of food arrived, you could tell that the chefs took their time with the appearance of the food, as each roll was displayed in a unique pattern. The Philly Roll was filled with tender, smoked salmon and just enough cream cheese to create that perfect texture. I really enjoyed the sweetness of the Eel and Avocado Roll, it was topped with a dark glaze and was definitely a favorite. While I’m not big on spicy foods, I gave the Spicy Tuna Roll a try and was not disappointed. It was topped with toasted sesame seeds that gave it a crunch similar to that of tempura. The service was so spot-on that I felt as if my glass of water magically refilled itself the entire meal while I was immersed in the food in front of me and good company I came with.

When all that was left of the platter was a small dab of wasabi, the waitress returned and asked we were interested in one last roll. I couldn’t help but think back to the Chef Specialty menu that I glanced at earlier and ended up choosing the Volcano Roll. Although a bit pricey, it was worth every penny. When the roll arrived, simply put, I was speechless. This thing was a pure work of art and equally as delicious as it was visually appealing. Six pieces of deep-fried sushi were arranged in a star shape and a bed of crumpled tempura and kani salad (shredded crab stick) filled the space in-between. The roll itself was stuffed with spicy tuna, eel, avocado and cream cheese. Each piece was so intimidating in size that I had no choice but to carefully slice each one in half with my chopsticks like a sushi surgeon; needless to say, this was no problem.

Between their atmosphere, friendly service, cleanliness and out-of-this-world sushi, Katana was a real treat and offered some of the best rolls I have had in a long time for a great price.

Silopanna 2012

08/08/12 0 COMMENTS

Though the record-breaking heat seems to be telling us otherwise, summer is winding down rather quickly. While planning with friends and family how to spend the next couple weeks, there is an event right around the corner that will allow you to dance, sing, and sweat out those end-of-summer blues; Silopanna Music Festival.

Hailed as Annapolis’s largest music festival, the event will be taking place this Saturday, August 11 in the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds. Headlining this year will be Cake, Citizen Cope and G. Love & Special Sauce, among 17 other fantastic acts. Styles ranging anywhere from blues, to rock, to singer-songwriter will have the crowd stomping, swaying, and singing along. A number of the performers, Pasadena and Jimmie’s Chicken Shack to name a few, are proud Maryland natives themselves.

Great music in a bustling city seems like something almost everyone would enjoy, but last year, a certain lady stood in the way of the first-ever Silopanna festivities; Hurricane Irene. Feat not music-lovers, because this year’s event will be rain or shine.

Come hungry because gourmet food trucks out of Washington D.C. will be vending an assortment of rocking food; Cajun, pizza, empanadas, crab & lobster rolls and a favorite summer treat craved by all; ice cream.

The first act goes on at 11 a.m. and the music will not cease for close to 12 hours! The festival is open to all ages and regular-priced tickets are available for $59.50. Tickets and a full set list are available through the following link: http://tickets.silopannafest.com

On the day of the event, they will be available for $75. VIP tickets are also available online for $195. Exclusive amenities will include preferred parking, access to a shaded tent, complimentary beer and wine, a dinner buffet and private bathrooms. (Will be sold for $250 on the day of the event).

Don’t miss out on the Bud Light Happy Hour! From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., ice-cold BL drafts will be sold for a mere $3.

Proceeds from the tickets will benefit the Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships as well as temporary, emergency relief for musicians in the area due to sickness or injury.

With a great location, a fantastic variety of musicians and more, it’s easy to see why Silopanna is the largest music festival in Annapolis; spell it backwards and find out.

Dive into the Annapolis Maritime Museum

17/07/12 0 COMMENTS

At 4 a.m. on a cold winter morning, men and women, black and white, all gathered together for one unsegregated purpose; shucking the oysters of the Chesapeake Bay. This may have been almost a century ago, but the inspirational gospel songs sung by these people still echo through the McNasby Oyster packing plant; now known to the public as the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

Founded in 1986, the museum’s staff and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that the community and its visitors of all ages are educated in the history of Annapolis’ maritime heritage as well as the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay.

“This is not your typical ‘Smithsonian’ type of museum, its focus is very programmatic,” said Jeff Holland, executive director, as he discussed the limited space of the building. “Our programs here are a vibrant focal point for community engagement.”

Those who simply know Annapolis for its sailing and shopping will truly be enlightened as they experience the variety of interactive exhibits featured inside, as well as outside off of the pier. The current exhibit, Oysters on the Half Shell, showcases the importance of the oysters, the industry and the hardworking people who made the booming business possible. Sadly, the industry has slowed down significantly over time.

The docks that sit behind the museum were once a prosperous and profitable market place. In the 60s and 70s, McNasby’s son William Jr. (who eventually took over the company) would tally the bushels of oysters being brought in. At that time in history, it was common to see men selling 100 bushels, a rate that is simply impossible now. Holland noted that now, even eight bushels would be hard to accumulate in a day’s work, as we are left with only 1 percent of the historic oyster population. Problems like pollution, disease and overharvesting have created the severe change. The staff is active in the Oyster Recovery Partnership, which helps stabilize the population through sanctuaries and planting spat (oyster larvae).

Despite this harsh impact, the museum hosts a tank containing a living oyster reef. The water inside is surprisingly clear, as the cleaning is done by the oysters themselves! Holland commented that a single oyster can filter an entire bathtub’s worth of water. The tank is custom-designed, and its C-shaped arch allows children (and anyone small enough!) to immerse themselves in the habitat of one of the bay’s most cherished creatures.

The exhibit also features a large-scale oyster (for a closer look at their fascinating anatomy), actual equipment used for packing and processing, and the V-shaped deadrise boat Miss Lonesome. Kids are encouraged to climb aboard the workboat and learn how the watermen once tonged oysters off of this very vessel.

Oysters on the Half Shell may primarily celebrate the impact that these critters had on the past of Annapolis, but the legacy of the business is still very much alive in the city.

“Just the other day a woman came in here to see the museum and was pointing at many of these photographs, identifying people that she knew,” Holland said. “It’s fun seeing what information some of our visitors share back with us. Some of those watermen still live in the area today.”

The Buchanan Bay Room is a multipurpose area in the back of the museum, primarily used as an art exhibit. The staff replaces its photographs and paintings every six to eight weeks with new exhibits, which all showcase the work of local artists. It is also used as a classroom, lecture hall and concert hall. Last year the museum connected 2,237 kids with the culture of the bay through their educational programs.

While walking outside on the pier, guests may notice signs instructing them not to loiter, fish or crab. The staff at the museum instructs their visitors to do the opposite; ignore them and enjoy the splendor of the Chesapeake Bay! Throughout the year, visitors are encouraged to canoe, kayak, fish, crab and sightsee as this location provides an excellent view of the gleaming Chesapeake at the mouth of the Severn River.

Tied to the wooden docks of the museum are a number of boats with incredible history behind them. One particular boat, the Stanley Norman, a skipjack built in 1902, is truly one-of-a-kind. Known for their large triangular sails, the boats were used for oyster dredging. Attaching a motor to these vessels was prohibited by law,so watermen would sometimes attach pushboats to better mobilize the ships. Holland stated that 100 years ago, there were around 1000 skipjacks. Now there is said to be between merely six and eight, the Stanley Norman being one of them!
Inside and out, the Annapolis Maritime Museum is a treasure chest full of interactive history, education and fun, waiting to be opened by visitors, locals and maritime enthusiasts alike.

Through their conservation efforts, tours, educational programs and concerts, the staff’s passion for the bay and getting the community involved is clearly evident.

Make sure you don’t miss out on a Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse tour this year; the next is Saturday, July 28. For more information on the tours check out:
http://www.visit-annapolis.org/all-aboard-first-annual-thomas-point-shoal-lighthouse-tour-of-the-summer/

Four-legged fun: Pet-friendly locations

29/06/12 0 COMMENTS

Despite all biological differences, our pets are special and when they join us for a stroll around the beautiful city, they deserve to experience and enjoy the pleasures of Annapolis as well. The following pet-friendly businesses couldn’t agree more; they welcome the company of your furry friend.

Dining:

Harry Browne’s, at 66 State Circle , happily serves you and your dog on their outside patio. So before you head there for breakfast, lunch or dinner, don’t forget the leash!

Lemongrass, on 167 West St,  is another popular location for locals and tourists alike to bring their pups. “We have a big grass lot that’s perfect for guests that bring their dogs. Everyone that works here is both enlightened and entertained when they stroll in,” said Emma deZries, hostess at Lemongrass. “In my two years working here, I’ve learned that locals love two things; dogs and sailing.”

Other doggy-friendly dining options include Fado Irish Pub, Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen and Reynolds Tavern.

Hotels:
You don’t have to leave your dog home when you’re booked at the Loews Annapolis Hotel. Their “Loves Pets” program allows up to two pets in your room and includes a complimentary water, placemat and exclusive pet menu from room service. Your dog won’t want to leave when they smell the best part of the deal; biscuits! All of this comes for the low price of $25. Reserve your pet-friendly room today by calling 410-263-7777.

The Westin Annapolis Hotel doesn’t discriminate against man’s best friend. Their welcome kit that they offer to guests includes treats, toys, bowls, a comfy bed and they even get a sign for the door to let everyone know they are inside being pampered! Call today at  410-972-4300.

Don’t forget about Residence Inn Annapolis, State House Inn and Annapolis Accommodations.

Shop Stops:
The fun-loving owners of Mary & Blanche, found at 188 Main St, encourage the company of your dog or cat. So come inside for an enlightening shopping experience and a treat for your pet to show them both you and the city of Annapolis care!

Paws Pet Boutique are not timid about their love for dogs. The boutique features a gourmet bakery for your pup, fresh water for those panting tongues, a welcoming treat and a huge variety of toys. So make 64 State Circle a tradition whenever you bring your companion along for a shopping spree.

East Street Gallery, Brown Eyed Girl Surf Shop, Annapolis Pottery and Wild Bird Center of Annapolis also all welcome you as well as your pet.

All aboard: first annual Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse tour of the summer

28/06/12 2 COMMENTS

As guests anxiously peer over the side railings, they notice fishermen tirelessly working under the blazing sun as they catch enormous stripers that wriggle in defeat. They feel like children again as they explore the area and notice strange markings chiseled into a pile of rocks; what they are observing are the signatures of the men who once manned this beautiful and significant lighthouse.

No matter one’s age, summers should include at least one memorable adventure. What could be better than a boat ride on a beautiful summer day, an intimate group size and a tour of the last screw-pile lighthouse in its original location? This Saturday, June 30, marks the first of many tours of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse held by the Annapolis Maritime Museum. The three-hour fun begins with a 30-minute boat ride which departs from the museum. Participants will then be led on an engaging tour of the lighthouse where they will be informed on topics ranging from the lifestyles of the past lighthouse keepers to the explanation of how the rest of this specific type of lighthouse came to be destroyed. The tour ends with another 30-minute boat ride back to the museum, where guests enjoy the splendor of the Chesapeake Bay.

Model of Thomas Point Shoal displayed in Annapolis Maritime Museum


The Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, built in 1875, was once one of 42 unique screw-piles, but due to flowing masses of ice, their vulnerable structures took heavy hits and their bases were destroyed. The name screw-pile comes from the 42 foot long poles that the structure rests on, which are corkscrewed manually into the sandy bottom below. They do not resemble what one would typically imagine when they hear the word “lighthouse”; they are smaller and resemble more of a shack than a tall, tower-like structure. Its operations became automated in 1986, but nonetheless it is still an aid to navigators on the waters of the Chesapeake.

Museum Director Jeff Holland recounts his times at the lighthouse on the docks behind the museum.

In 2004 the Annapolis Maritime Museum became one of four partners to adopt the lighthouse. They also have joined the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society for the purpose of protecting and restoring such a marvelous structure. Currently, the Thomas Point Shoal uses solar panels on its roof. Now the structure is open to public for educational purposes, sailing enthusiasts, and overall curiosity. This is the sixth year of the tours and last year over 600 guests had this enlightening opportunity.

So don’t waste your time and reserve your spot today as there is a limited 18-passenger capacity for each tour. All tours run at three separate times: 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. Tickets are $70 and can be reserved by calling the museum at 410-295-0104. The other tours will be held on July 7, July 28, August 11, August 18 and September 6, all at the same time periods listed above.
It’s exciting and meaningful events like this that really celebrate the spirit and history of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay.

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