The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Ellicott City Edition.

Three years ago, a sweet little girl entered the world: Stella Ave. In celebration of her birthday, I packed my bag and hopped in the car on Saturday morning. Destination: Ellicott City, a small town on the outskirts of Baltimore, and home to three of my favorite people on this planet.

John and Michelle had made dinner reservations for all of us at a The White Oak Tavern, a restaurant that celebrates local, hand-crafted food and beers. They had been raving about the burger at this joint, so I had made up my mind about my dinner selection before we even got there. The White Oak burger came topped with porter-glazed carmelized onions, “special sauce,” arugula, aged white cheddar and two thick pieces of bacon. John opted for the blackened catfish and shrimp, served with seared polenta cakes and sauteed greens. It tasted just as good as it looked. Michelle went with a perfectly light and summery strawberry salad. (Side note: The mac and cheese was so good. Stella wasn’t a huge fan, but the three of us found ourselves stealing bites off of her plate a few times. Oops.)

With stomachs full of delicious food, we headed home and called it a pretty early night. We’re old. Leave us alone. On Sunday afternoon, the whole family gathered around the pool to eat, drink, laugh and celebrate the birthday girl. I mean – come on – have you ever seen someone so cute?

After her cake had been cut, the gifts had been opened and I had said my goodbyes to my family, I hopped back in my car to return to Pittsburgh. Hailey was hosting a Memorial Day BBQ, and two of my best friends were in town from Colorado. The day turned into night and before I knew it, I was wrapping up another weekend full of so many of the best people.

To the people that I don’t see nearly enough: I’ll never get enough of you. I’ll always smile big when I see you (and maybe shed a tear or two), and be heartbroken when I leave you. That’s the price of loving and knowing people in more than one place.

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