Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Food, Fiber, and Fun in Frederick on our Fifth

When we moved out of D.C., we knew we'd probably have to look a little harder to find non-chain restaurants. We were right. But laziness prevails, and we've spent a couple of months eating at Waffle House (cheese grits...yum!), Bob Evans (reliable, if uninspiring), and Perkins (where we recently had a very bad experience). And a local place, Barley & Hops, where they brew beer that tastes like watered down Coors Light. Yeah.

So when we found ourselves without a plan on our 5th Anniversary, Chris and I decided to branch out a bit. I should point out that we tend to be pretty casual about these things -- spending tons of money isn't always the answer.

We remembered, a few weeks back, walking past a brew-pub in downtown Frederick, and thinking it looked interesting. Plus, it was near a LYS, Keep Me in Stitches, that I hadn't visited yet ;-)

Of course the yarn store came first. Packed to the brim, Keep Me in Stitches is a friendly store that carries yarn that most of us can actually afford, including many mainstream brands not found at other stores in the area (Berroco, Plymouth, Dale of Norway, etc.).

But don't stop there: You'll also find some local alpaca yarn that's to die for; gorgeous sock yarns, including Claudia Hand Painted Yarns (one of my favorites); and a nice selection of crochet threads and other needlework accoutrements. The store also offers a great selection of past issues of knitting mags. I was happy to find the Fall 2004 issue of Interweave Knits, which I vaguely recall throwing away when clearing out for a move.

Once I had my LYS fix, we moved on to the restaurant: Brewer's Alley. Beer is, of course, of the utmost importance at a restaurant with Brewer in the name. So we both tried a pint. I had the IPA, and Chris had the Winter Wiessen. Both were surprisingly good! Mine was hoppy and bright, and Chris' was smooth and complex. Very nice stuff :-)

We decided to order soup, followed by a wood-fired pizza off the "daily specials" menu, and again, we were surprised. My Butternut Squash soup was creamy and garlicky, rather than traditionally sweet. Chris' gumbo was peppery and packed with shrimp, chicken, sausage, and all the other stuff that makes Cajun cooking so fabulous. Then our pizza arrived.

No ordinary pizza, this. Instead of tomato sauce, the Smokehouse Pizza is covered with BBQ sauce. This initially had me feeling a bit wary, but it boasted a perfect balance of sweet and sour and spicy. Yum. And the toppings, which could have been overdone, were just right...interesting, tender, and spicy. Perhaps most importantly, the crust -- I broke off a piece so I could taste it on its own -- actually had flavor, unlike many pizzas we've encountered.

Completely stuffed, we forged ahead, ordering coffee for both, bread pudding for me, and crème brûlée for Chris. The desserts were almost as good as the pizza -- it's hard, it seems, to find a good pastry chef these days! -- and the coffee was strong and delicious.

All in all, a good day, spent with the man I love -- who was also celebrating his birthday -- filled with yarn and good food. Who could ask for more?


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