Dancin’ In The Street


The normally quiet crossing at Church Street and North Market was buzzing with activity last Saturday during Frederick’s annual In The Street Festival. A series of groups….  gymnasts, acrobats, dancers, and drummers kept the crowd entertained, as one part of the overall festivities. An early rain may have dampened the streets, but didn’t dampen the festive spirit.


Great dancing


The beat goes on


Walkin’ the street


A sale

The early rain made for a slow start, but as the weather improved during the afternoon, so did our sales. Kim, Kathy, Gill and Chef Dave Rusk all stayed busy in our sidewalk tent. It was a close race as to the best seller. Possibly the pastrami sandwich won out because that has become a very popular item on our regular menu, but the pork belly with pico de gallo on a corn pancake, and the marinated chopped steak sandwich also did very well. Complements to the chef!

This was our 16th appearance at In The Street, and the menu always changes slightly. Pulled pork barbecue has always been a favorite. One year we served homemade sno-cones; another time homemade doughnuts. Another time it was bratwurst. Last year we tried fish tacos. As to beverages, you have to guess what the weather will be to decide between hot apple cider and cold sodas. This year we settled on bottled water.

Two other things for sure: first, no alcoholic beverages are allowed outside (in the early days of In The Street they were, and that proved to be not a good idea); second, there are plenty of alcoholic beverages inside, and they selll very well, particularly after the official event closes down at 5:00!

It’s an event everybody enjoys, but those on the working side of it all are pretty glad it only comes once a year!

On to 2015!


















Party “In The Street”


Once a year, downtown Frederick turns into a giant carnival.This Saturday, September 13th, a big stretch of North Market Street and adjacent cross streets will be closed to vehicle traffic, open to pedestrians only from 11AM to 5PM, and everyone will be in a party mood.. It’s a party that’s been going on every year since 1983.

More than 50,000 people are expected to be on hand to enjoy the festivities, which begin with the traditional “Market Street Mile” races for various age groups and categories of runners.

in the street

The street is lined by attractions of all sorts, including booths set up by restaurants, most of them just outside their downtown locations, selling  specialties of all kinds. Firestone’s Culinary Tavern will be one of them, for the sixteenth straight year. This year we have an especially tasty and interesting menu, created by Executive Chef Dave Rusk, as follows:

  • Beer-braised pork belly, with pico de gallo and queso blanco, on a corn pancake (blini).

Pork belly

The Pork Belly

  • House-made pastrami sandwich, on sourdough bread, with whole grain mustard, Swiss cheese, and Bermuda onions. A favorite in the restaurant
  • Steak sandwich, with provolone cheese, sautéed onions, hot cherry peppers, and horseradish aoli, on roti bread.


Steak sandwich

  • Picnic lunch, with white cheddar cheese, grapes,  and baguette slices.
  • Bottled water
  • Chips

If you’re close to Frederick, come on down! The weather is supposed to be OK, there will be plenty of food and music and other interesting attractions, and it will be a lot of fun!

Here’s to good food!


Dog Days of Summer



The first Saturday of every month in downtown Frederick we celebrate what is cleverly know as “First Saturday.” Each month  has a theme. For example, in June it was sidewalk art, and in February it will be ice sculptures.  Appropriately, on the first Saturday in September the theme is “Dog Days of Summer.” Dog owners are invited to bring their pets (on a leash) to parade around downtown and, if they wish, to have them in costume.

Even the store owners get in the spirit of it, as Kathy Wasley shows us here:

dog face

Dogs of all shapes and sizes bring their owners out to join in the fun….and it is fun, although from the standpoint of the shop owners the dogs don’t actually do much shopping. At Firestone’s Market on Market we will, however, have water for them outside, and little doggy treats inside. We’ll have samples of something for the owners, too!

water break

Water Break

For the dogs’ owners and friends, we will be sampling Catoctin Popcorn Company’s products, which include Kettle Corn, Caramel Kettle Corn, and both Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie Kettle Corn. Hey, the dogs can’t have all the fun!

Of course, we will also have our usual wide selection of wine and beer, cheese, specialty foods and gifts. Come on down and join the fun!

little dog

Big dog

All sizes


And here’s something for humans to nibble on!

Enjoy First Saturday!





The small farm I live on in Middletown, Maryland came complete with a first-class chicken house. I’ve lived on the farm for about 35 years, and although I’ve had to do some repairs and improvements to the chicken house over the years, the structure itself has been hanging in there for many more years than that (it was not touched by a major fire that almost destroyed my house about 30 years ago).


Chicken house

Shortly after the fire I decided if had a chicken house I might as well have some chickens. I started with a scraggly little bunch a friend helped me collect, and as time passed I made a habit of ordering a dozen “starter pullets” every other year or so, generally keeping the population between six (as some would die off) and eighteen (as a new batch would arrive). Only one year did I have a disaster, as some murderous varmint (never identified) invaded one night and I found every one of the chickens dead the next morning. It’s hard to get emotional about chickens, but I couldn’t help but cry.

Generally speaking, I don’t get attached to the chickens. I don’t give them names or think of them as friends or pets. I do talk to them, though, when I wade into their pen in the morning to feed snd water them, and they do cackle back at me in their own chicken-like way. They will stand still for a little pat on the back.

The gang                                                                                                            The gang 

hen                                                                                               Surveying her domain


 The product


Taking care of chickens is not hard, but requires consistency. I am out there every morning to make sure they have plenty of feed and water. In the summertime I turn a fan on to move the air around and keep the indoor pen a little cooler. In the winter, a heat lamp helps keep them a bit warmer and, particularly helps keep their water from freezing. Wintertime is the hardest, because sometimes you must chip away the ice and, of course, put up with the miserable cold yourself.

The reward? During their peak years, each chicken will produce an average of one beautiful brown egg a day, leading to six or seven dozen a week from the flock.. As a bachelor living alone, that’s a lot more eggs than I can use! I can’t sell them, by regulation, even though they’re wonderful eggs, but I find where they can be used and give them away, and anytime I feel like an omelet I can have one. All this is not financially rewarding, of course, but I do get satisfaction out of it, and enjoy showing off these fine birds when kids visit.

Anybody need some eggs? Let me know.

Here’s to good food,



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!