Friday, October 2, 2009

I want more Baltimore!


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Earlier this week my husband, Patrick, had a meeting in Baltimore and I tagged along for the ride. My purpose for being in Charm City was to visit the American Visionary Museum. We arrived in town earlier and randomly drove into the Federal Hill area. I fell in love with this hip area. There were a number of restaurants, coffee shops, Cross Street Market, and an American Apparel which I am not promoting.

We had lunch at Regi’s American Bistro, http://www.regisamericanbistro.com/home.html

which has been open since 1978 but the food tasted fresh and new. I ordered the Club salad which had hard boiled egg, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, chicken, mixed greens, and a balsamic dressing. I thoroughly enjoyed my salad and found it worthy of the $13 price tag. The bacon was the most delicious bacon I think I have ever had. It was smokey, thick, and crisp without being over cooked. Patrick ordered a burger which he enjoyed and was actually served medium rare as requested.

I would love to return to Regi’s as I fell I must try their crab offerings. I am a crab cake aficionado and I see they have gotten some acclaim for their crab cake and cream of crab soup. But that will have to wait till next time as Patrick was off to his meeting and I was on my way to the museum. I dropped Patrick off and found ample parking in front of the museum. I was amazed by the parking meters because a quarter would get you an hour and these meters went up to ten hours.

The American Visionary Art Museum is dedicated to art created by self-taught artists. Before you enter the museum you are confronted with art. The fa├žade of the building displays mosaic work; there is a sculpture garden with masks spilling water from their mouths, a bus that has been covered with mosaic, a balcony that looks like a birds nest and a bird that is almost as tall as the building. I was very glad of all this as you were only allowed to take pictures outside.





The main exhibition area was closed for installation but I was able to keep myself busy looking at their permanent collection. Many of the artists suffered from health problems and experienced hard lives. They created art for themselves, not for money or fame but as a way to express themselves. I was very moved by the art and over joyed that someone has provided a home for these artworks. This museum is a must for every art lover and anyone who wants to be inspired.

We had a 6 o’clock reservation at the Woodberry Kitchen

http://www.woodberrykitchen.com/ so I picked up Patrick and we headed over to Clipper Mill. If I were to move to Baltimore, I would live here. Clipper Mill is a converted Foundry located in Jones Falls Valley between Druid Park, Hampden, and Woodberry. The original Foundry was responsible for casting the columns and brackets that still support the US Capitol dome in D.C. There are many elements of the original Foundry throughout Clipper Park such as metal sprockets and enormous metal turbines.

Clipper Park has apartments, artist studios, business, offices, and our restaurant for the evening. Woodberry Kitchen focuses on farm to table cooking and lists their purveyors on their menu. They use seasonal local sustainable ingredients and organic meats. We started off with the John the Butcher Plate which included a pear chutney, head cheese, chicken terrine, and a delicious sausage. It was so good and I was so hungry that I forgot to photograph the plate.




Patrick ordered the Paella and I the Truck Patch Suckling Pig. I have been wanting to consume a baby pig for quite some time now and had to seize the opportunity. I found Patrick’s Paella delicious and well seasoned with tender octopus and flavorful shrimp.


My Suckling Pig fell short of my expectations. It was served in what amounted to a pool of Minestrone soup with pasta that did not do the pork justice. The pork was served as a reconstructed brick. They took the pulled pork and compressed in into a brick and added the skin back on top. The meat was delicious with a small amount of gristle but the skin was turned to leather. I love crispy fatty pork skin but this could not be cut with a knife and was not worth eating. Maybe in Minestrone soup was required to soften up the pork skin but that defeats the crispy point.

We returned home with 2 slices of pie I had picked up earlier in the day from Dangerously Delicious Pies in Federal Hill. We noticed this place during lunch due to their pie and cross bones logo. I went into the shop around 4:30 before picking up Patrick. The sales woman seemed annoyed that I wanted to purchase pie because she wanted her work day to end. She had to verbally list the pies as there was no menu present and seemed bothered by my questions. They also serve coffee but did not have any iced tea or iced coffee but she offered to pour some coffee over ice for me.

There were your basic pies such as coconut, sweet potato, peach, and you’re your specialty pies like the White Trash Tiramisu and the Baltimore bomb. All of their pies are handmade with fresh ingredients and without preservatives. I used to work for a pie shop in Occoquan and have a pretty good pie pallet. Not to mention that Patrick is a master pie maker. I ordered a slice of peach and a slice of the Baltimore Bomb. The peach pie was not sweet enough and the peaches were bitter but the crust was tasty. Can’t say the same for the Baltimore Bomb, this one was too sweet and the crust was like cardboard. Nice logo but I would not give them a second chance. I can head down to Mom’s Apple Pie in the ‘Quan for excellent pie and friendly service.

Aside from the eating and visiting the museum, I felt good to be in an urban environment. That feeling is hard to come by in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. It reminded me of Philly but cleaner and friendlier for the most part. The streets were as bad as Philly with pot holes and trolley tracks. We were driving around at 5 and did not get stuck in any traffic. I have been fascinated by Baltimore since I was a young girl obsessed with the John Waters film Hairspray. I can see why Baltimore is home to him and wouldn’t mind making a home there for myself someday.

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