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Monday, July 28, 2014

Bikers need to "share the paths"

  We see signs like the ones above alerting drivers to share the road with bikers.  Bikers don't stand a chance in collisions with cars.   Now it is time for bikers to return the favor with pedestrians on our Columbia paths.

      I have blogged before on aggressive bikers on Columbia's paths.  Last week I had another incident with a biker that is disturbing.  A biker went by me with no warning and brushed me with the biker's handlebars.  I had just moved to the left to avoid a hole in the path and that put me into the biker's path.  When the biker went by a walker in front of me he called out to the biker that they had passed him going too fast.  The biker stopped and said "that's why they call it a 'bike' path."  Now the really surprising fact --it was a young woman!  I guess I have become accustomed to guys riding aggressively on our paths but have always admired the courteousness of women bikers.
     I am not sure how many of the CA employees responsible for maintaining the paths are recreational users of the paths on a regular basis.  I know that some are.  What I would suggest is that the paths can be made safer for shared use by looking at a few changes.  The first is signs that remind bikers of the shared use of the paths.

    Second, some signs with speed limits for areas where there is reduced vision around blind corners like the one below.

    Finally, having some painted center lines on some of our wider, heavily used paths might help keep users separated.

     I know that no one change will necessarily make a difference but the paths should be evaluated for safety as shared use.

    One hundred years ago today World War I started when Austria declared war on Serbia.  To understand how this war started the best book is Barbara Tuchman's "Guns of August."   Well worth a summer read to see the parallels to today's world.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Secolari's and Zoe's Kitchen in Columbia Mall

     This past Wednesday I had a chance to see the new additions to the Columbia Mall that have been opening recently.  The picture above shows the area that has been developed behind what used to be an open area behind the old LL Bean store.  The additions bring some interesting stores and eating establishments to the Mall.

    The "human like" sculptures are an interesting feature of the new area and maybe a little strange for my taste.

   Maggiano's Italian restaurant is open and from the description on their website:
".... specializes in Italian-American cuisine served in a warm & friendly atmosphere. We are open daily for lunch & dinner and offer a convenient carryout service as well as delivery. Maggiano’s menu features both classic & contemporary Italian-American recipes including homemade pastas, signature salads, prime steaks, fresh fish, regular chef specials & specialty desserts, accompanied by a large selection of wines & specialty drinks. The food is made from scratch daily & served in a welcoming environment. Family style service or individual entrees are available."

    The reason for my visit to the new area was to attend the blog party at Secolari's.  This a specialty shop featuring vinegars, honey, olive oils and pastas.  I remember a simpler time when you used just regular olive oil and red wine vinegar on salads.  After a visit to Secolari I realize how limited this was.  The flavored vinegars  and olive oil selections are amazing.  This is especially true for the balsamic vinegar choices.  I have blogged before on good balsamic vinegars and Secolari will make sure you never use the grocery store balsamics again.

   After much tasting of the different balsamics I chose the dark raspberry balsamic shown above.  The dark cherry was a close second.  The best thing about these balsamics is that they go well drizzled over fruit or the hit of the night ----chocolate cake.  The sample the store provided of the raspberry balsamic over a piece of chocolate cake was an amazing taste!  I couldn't have imagined blending the two before but now I can't wait to give my family the new experience.

     As you can see the choices shown above of different flavored honeys gave us something sweet to taste.  My favorite was the lavender honey.  The habanero had a kick the built up slowly.

    The olive oils shown above had a wide variety of blendings with the basil one probably the most popular.

    Although we didn't have a sampling of the pastas at the store I am sure that they would go well in any pasta dish that you wanted to make for a special occasion.

     Finally Zoe's Kitchen, also new in this new area of the Mall has some great offerings.  The hummus shown above that they served at the blog party was the best hummus I have ever had.  Zoe's will definitely be a place I will go back to try.  Below is their menu.


Friday, July 25, 2014

STEM Education Center opens to public

    The picture above gives you some sense of the large crowd that eagerly awaited the opening of the new Savage Library and STEM Education Center on Tuesday.

  Local officials like Howard County Council member Jen Terrasa 

and County Executive Ken Ulman spoke about how the new Library was created. 

Library President and CEO Valerie Gross welcomed everyone to the opening.

With the assistance of some of the younger members of the crowd the ribbon was cut.

The rush was on to see the new library.

The comment of "it is totally different" was frequently heard.

     With the County's effort for healthy snacks and drinks the lounge area featured many healthy choices.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

2014 Howard County Restaurant Week

   We are once again in the middle of the Howard County Restaurant Week.  The summer restaurant weeks have recently been having promoting locally grown foods.  The list of restaurants is here.   Some are featuring lunch and some dinner menus.  Most are the old standards of our restaurant weeks.
     One of new choices are the Highland Inn with its menu below:

Three Course Dinner for $35.14
First Course
Please Select (1) One
Filet Tartare
Smoked Mascarpone / Egg Yolk Vinaigrette / Malt / Radish / Housemade Potato Chips
Warm Summer Peach
Watercress / Foie Gras / Hazelnuts / Duck Bacon / Saba / Feta
Goat Cheese / Watermelon Vinaigrette / Cherries
Tomato Gazpacho
Lump Crab / Crème Fraiche / Herbs

Please Select (1) One
Murrays Farm Chicken (PA)
Asparagus / Chicken Fried Soft Boiled Egg / Roasted Potatoes / Chicken Jus
Pan Seared Cod
Zucchini / Tomatoes / Gnudi / Piquillo Pepper Ricotta / Kale Pesto
Creekstone Tri-Tip
10oz. Cut / Soubise / Chimmichurri / Oyster Mushroom / Pickled Onion
Vegetarian Zucchini “Crab Cake”
(Entrée Does Not Include Any Crab Product)
Sweet Corn Puree / Fingerling Potatoes / Smoked Tomato Jam 

Please Select (1) One
Crème Brulee
Bread Pudding
Strawberries / Rhubarb

       The other new one is Petit Louis Bistro with its menu below:
Crispy Eggplant Napoléon, Tomato, Chèvre, Pistou

Grilled Yellowfin Tuna, Mâche, Onion, Poached Egg,
Potato, Niçoise Olive, Haricots Verts, Roasted Tomato...

Zucchini Olive Oil Cake, Goat’s Milk Orange Parfait, 
Raspberry Marmalade.

Each serving comes with a wine pairing for and additional cost.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blog Party tonight at Secolari Artisan Oils and Vinegars in the Columbia Mall

    Tonight's blog party is a little different in that it is not at a local restaurant.  Having been at Secolari's once or twice and purchased a couple of their vinegars I can say that it is a store that is unique.

Not being at a restaurant doesn't mean there won't be anything to munch on as food will be provided by Zoe's Kitchen, an next door neighbor.

  Information on the event is here.