Sausage, Plus



Well, by now everyone should have had plenty of time to make that kielbasa I furnished a recipe for. How’d it turn out?

You haven’t gotten around to it yet? If you’re still  looking for the meat grinder with the medium die, don’t give up. Possibly you haven’t used it for a while. It could be in the back of that hall closet, behind the tennis rackets. Or, you may have decided  to bag the whole idea. There’s always a steak lurking out there somewhere.


Do you prefer scallops? Scallops are not native to Frederick County, of course, but the surprise of finding pulled pork hidden in coconut-saffron vermicelli, topped by diver scallops, has Frederick County written all over it. It was a favorite dish of Francis Scott Key, and inspired him to write the National Anthem. (I just made that up).

Scallops 2

Anyway, it’s one of the best versions of scallops I’ve ever tried, and it’s a nightly feature at Firestone’s Culinary Tavern.

As for Farm to Fork Week, it ends on Sunday, September 2nd. Don’t worry, though, there will always be a meal waiting for you in Frederick!



Here’s to good food!



Farm to Fork (2)


One of the things you can do with the meat of this beautiful pig is make kielbasa, a sausage that originated in Poland, but can be found on tables everywhere, particularly throughout Slavic countries, There are no doubt many different versions of this dish, but here is the one used by our chef, Dave Rusk:


  •  4 lbs. pork shoulder, cubed
  •  1 lb.  pork back (fat) cubed
  •  1 Tbsp chopped oregano
  •  1 Tbsp crushed black pepper
  •  2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  •  1 bulb garlic, peeled
  •  2 Tbsp black strap molasses
  •  1 tsp Instacure #1
  •  5 tsp kosher salt
  •  1/2 cup ice
  •  sheep casings, about 3 feet


  1.  Mix the meat, fat, and seasonings by hand (meat should be as cold as possible).
  2.  Grind the meat mixture with a medium die plate.
  3. Once all the meat is ground, add the ice to the grinder and it will push out excess meat.
  4.  Stuff the sausage in the casings.*
  5.  Cold smoke the sausage for about 30 minutes, using hickory wood chips.
  6.  Dunk the sausage in an ice bath to give it a smooth appearance and prevent wrinkles.
  7. Grill or broil…..enjoy!

*You can portion it by pinching sections off, twisting then cutting, or smoke the sausage as one big link.

keilbasa 2

The Mixture


Grillin’ ready


Ready to eat!

In this case, the kielbasa is served with house-made fettuccine, shaved fennel, okra, sun-dried tomatoes, and a lemon-caper jus. The wine is a 2012 Elk Run Vineyard (MD) Chardonnay. It’s delicious!

Here’s to good food (from Farm to Fork Frederick )!







Farm to Fork


Friday, August 22nd, through Monday, September 1st we are celebrating “Farm to Fork Frederick.”

What’s that, you say?

Well, it’s the  annual organized collaboration between local restaurants and Frederick County farmers and vintners,  bringing locally-sourced products to restaurant patrons throughout the county. Firestone’s Culinary Tavern is one of the participating restaurants. Integrated into our usual menu will be dishes featuring many locally-produced products.

It’s not as if we don’t use some of those products throughout the year. It’s simply an opportunity to highlight that fact, and to capture some of the products when they’re at their best.

Frederick’s agricultural traditions, of course, go back much further than its restaurant traditions. It has always been a farming community, but in the last 20 years or so  Frederick County, and particularly the City of Frederick, have become known for the excellence and diversity of their cuisine.  Not everything that may appear on our tables can be found locally, but many things can, and that’s what this is all about.


Some of the tomatoes and zucchini picked at Firestone Farm


Jason Brusky from Pineline Poultry and Meats in Boonsboro delivers 196 pounds of chops, pork belly, etc

chef at work

Chef Dave Rusk: “Some disassembly required.”


Hams, pork belly, tenderloin waiting for preparation

These pictures do not display the most romantic part of the farm to fork process, but a necessary one. It’s important to realize that this pig has been treated humanely throughout its life. It’s destiny was always going to be a restaurant kitchen. There was no chance it was going to grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer! We treat it in the restaurant with respect.

Through the week I will be featuring some of the finished products, as we celebrate our agricultural heritage.

Here’s to good food!








Old-Fashioned Fun


Frederick, Maryland straddles a timeline that runs from the 18th century into the present day. Surrounded by shopping malls and fast food operations, the center of this city of some 65,000 persons (“The Historic District”) has held fast against being caught up in urban renewal. That’s not to say it has stagnated. To the contrary, downtown is alive and well because of the energy that many of its citizens put into it. Special and unique events go on year around. Last weekend there was an example of one of them.

 watchin' the clock

Speed Trap?

It’s Saturday afternoon in Frederick and soon it will be race time.  Frederick, known as the “City of Clustered Spires” because of all the church steeples that decorate the cityscape, is holding the annual “Clustered Spires High Wheel Race.” For one hour, about 30 bikers will cruise at high speed around several city blocks. The winner will be the one who completes the most laps. I think it’s amazing that these men and women, of all ages, can even stay upright on these old-fashioned two-wheelers, not to mention pedal them at top speed for an hour. They do, though. The competition is friendly but intense. The riders uniforms are colorful and sometimes quirky, ranging from jockey silks, to old-fashioned shirts and ties, to more traditional athletic gear. The enthusiasm of the crowd is high.

ready riders

Ready Riders

What’s this got to do with food? Nothing. But the race brings hundreds of spectators downtown, and they all get hungry and thirsty. My restaurant and market sit inside the course, and we sell lots of water and lemonade in the market while the race is on, and after it’s over what else are you going to do but get a snack, or do a little shopping and hang around for dinner? Everybody wins!

All this doesn’t happen automatically, of course, and a lot of credit must go to the folks who do the organizing. Having fun and doing good business is a great combination.

Here’s to food and fun!


A Trip to the Table


Tonight I had a quiet “downhome ” dinner at home. Nothing fancy….a chicken sausage, some artichoke and lemon tagliatelle pasta, and a bit of zucchini. I grated a bit of parmagiano-reggiano cheese on the pasta, and spiced up the sausage with some cheddar ale mustard. Washed it down with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

I got to thinking about the roads all those products had traveled to get to a table on a farm in Middletown, Maryland. The sausage came from Brooklyn, New York, by way of Firestone’s Market on Market in Frederick, Maryland. The pasta started in Denver, Colorado, and I bought it at a market in Portland, Maine. The zucchini was home-grown in my back yard, the cheese came from Italy, and the mustard was another Maine product.  The wine got here from New Zealand, also by way of Firestone’s Market.

dinner 2


the seeker


I can’t help but think how amazing it is that we can benefit from the movement of these wonderful products around the world. I think about how many people there are in that chain The missing factor, of course, is that everyone doesn’t benefit equally. There are too many hungry people. Maybe someday that will change.

Here’s to good food, for everyone!












“99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer….”

At Firestone’s Culinary Tavern we pride ourselves on the quality of our food. From sourcing the ingredients, to the preparation in the kitchen, to the final plating, Chef Dave Rusk takes great pride in putting dishes on the table that exceed our customers expectations.

That being said, it’s clear that about half our sales are of the liquid variety, and we take that seriously too. Manager Chris Tereyla has put together a wine list that reflects broad choices and prices, and has been recognized for its quality by The Wine Spectator.  We’re proud of that. Our wines have enhanced many a brunch, lunch or dinner. But we also know that much of the jolly ambience that prevails after dinner, and on special days such as St. Patrick’s Day, is generated by our beer department.

We like to claim that we have the biggest selection of bottled beers and ales in Frederick County. That hasn’t been verified by audit, but I’ll stick with the story. I reviewed our beer and ale sales from July and early August and found that we sold 122 different brands of beer and ale by the bottle. Some are brewed practically next door, and some thousands of miles away. One of them actually comes from my nephew Adam’s Firestone & Walker brewery in California.

I remember from my college days having a choice of about four brands, often sold by the quart. What more could we need?  A fancy night on the town might find a Heineken’s added to the list. Tastes, even among the college crowd (over 21, of course) are a lot more sophisticated these days.

To encourage folks to experiment with different brands, we started an Ale & Lager Club a few years ago. To become a member, you have  to try 70 different ones (not all on the same night!). The bartenders keep a log of who buys what.Those who make it get their name on a special plaque by the door, and some other assorted perks. So far, we’ve had over 1,000 candidates sign up, and 46 now have their name on that plaque. I signed up myself, but I’m only about halfway there.

beer club

Our Beer Drinkers Wall of Honor

Apart from just enjoying the brews, pairing beers and ales with food has become quite trendy these days ( a far cry from “gimmee a cold one!”). We have put together a few special events just for that purpose, and no doubt there will be more to come. It’s been a lot of fun.





This is a take on scallops that is amazingly good, though it sounds unusual. Executive Chef Dave Rusk  at Firestone’s Culinary Tavern combined seared “diver” scallops  with coconut/saffron vermicelli loaded with bits of pulled pork, and dressed the dish up with fire-roasted cherry tomatoes and scallions. A truly wonderful combination of flavors and textures.

I had a glass of New Zealand  sauvignon blanc with mine.

Here’s to good food!