Seeing the City through a Newbie’s Eyes

amazon fish

At the beginning of the year I set out to achieve four goals for 2017. (If you missed it, you can read about it here.) Recently, I met one of those goals — Travel (around town) — in the most interesting of ways.

Last Friday, I received an alert on my phone from Couchsurfers: Jonathan has requested to stay with you. Seeing as my weekend was pretty empty and I had the room, I enthusiastically hit the “Yes” button. What happened next was not having a person crash on my couch, but even better. I made a new friend and gained a new perspective on the place I call home.

If you really want to fall back in love with Baltimore, then show around an out-of-towner.

jellies

The first place that Jonathan and I hit up was the National Aquarium. One of the city’s jewels, we decided to take advantage of the Fridays after Five deal and enjoy the underwater world without having to get soaked. (It was already raining, so staying dry was a bonus.)

Now, I will say that I am biased when it comes to visiting the Aquarium because I work there on occasion. But due to a pesky broken ankle that’s made walking a literal pain, I haven’t been back in six months. There is something about seeing a familiar place with a person who has never been there, which allows you to notice things that you may not have noticed — and get points of view on things you have always wondered. (For instance, Jonathan being an Aussie native, enjoyed the Australia exhibit and was delighted to get to see the archer fish being fed. Although, when you get to watch fish spit water to knock crickets out of the air, it’s hard to be disappointed!)

It also shows you that, even when you live on the other side of the world, some things are universal — like getting your picture taken at the bubble tubes, something I’ve seen every visitor do at least once. We spent a good two hours wandering the Aquarium, so Jonathan was able to see Maryland rockfish, sturgeon and horseshoe crabs. He appreciated all of that, since he wasn’t able to hit Ocean City on this trip.

20160328_204748

Jonathan really wanted to know about the city as well as the animals. He already knew to grab a crab cake, try Old Bay with fries and buy a box of Berger cookies. I figured we could make some of it happen that night.

crab dog

He wanted to get a real Bmore feel, but had to be at an event in an hour. I knew that if he wanted local Maryland beer and seafood, the best place close by was none other than my fave, Heavy Seas Alehouse.

Our awesome waitress helped Jonathan choose between the oyster poor boy sandwich, crab dog and crab cake sandwich — gotta go crab cake, man! I went with my own tried and true dinner of a foot long crab dog. We swapped stories of our homes while dining on lots of crab cakes, crab dip, Old Bay and beer. Just like a normal Bmore night, right? Well, with one Aussie twist: Jonathan brought Tim Tams from the land down under, so we swapped those in for dessert instead of searching for Berger cookies.

(By the way, tipping your waitress with an additional Tim Tam surprise is totally worth it!)

tim tams

Over the next few days, I wasn’t able to physically show Jonathan around (jobs are pesky like that). Instead, I steered him towards Hampden for some great music and dinner at The Food Market. And he enjoyed his crab cake so much, he hit up the Papermoon Diner for a crab melt. Before he left, he bought his own box of Berger cookies to take home. Rumor has it, his coworkers thought they were delicious.

I’m hoping that Jonathan and I cross paths again on the travel trail. And I must tell you, having grown up on crab cakes and Old Bay it was fun to watch someone experience the flavors for the first time. I was a little jealous! So if you ever get the chance to take someone around town, I say do it! You won’t regret it!

After all, what could ‘B’ more adventurous?

heavy seas

 

Sushi Outside the City: A New Place for your Raw Bar

Rainbow Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll.jpg

Rainbow Roll & Spicy Tuna Roll: Sushi Staples

I’m just going to come clean: I’m addicted to sushi.

Hopelessly, shamelessly, happily addicted to the rice buffered, seaweed wrapped, pastel colored circles of taste explosion. There is never a time when I don’t crave the intricate flavor dance that is a sushi roll. Luckily for me, there are no shortages of places to go to feed this joyful addiction.

There is a new kid behind the sushi bar: Ooki Sushi in Owings Mills. (I know, it’s outside of Bmore, but food is an adventure right?) All I can say is that if you find yourself wandering around the area you must give this place a try.

Located in a strip mall by a Giant and a gym, you wouldn’t think it’s much from the outside – but trust me – this is a place to surprise a date on a Friday night.

ooki sushi.jpg

Ooki Sushi, complete with mounted fish

The inside gives a super modern vibe with textured walls, changing light displays, and a color palette that’s easy on the eyes. Whether you want an intimate booth for a date, a high top table for a causal girls’ night out, or the sushi bar to cut it up with the chef, the waitstaff will have you comfortable and covered.

This isn’t one of those places that’s dimly lit so you can’t read the menu or see your food. It’s bright, inviting and with a six page menu of traditional favorites and chef specialties, there’s no worry about running out of rolls to order.

Ordering might actually be the most difficult thing you do once you arrive! (Although pricing may help – while it’s not extreme in expense, it’s not your cheap eats either.)

 

philly roll dragon roll yellowtail and scallion roll.jpg

Philly, Green Dragon and Yellow Tail and Scallion Rolls

Staying with tried and true favorites for my first trip, I have to say they did not disappoint. The rolls were the perfect size, steering away from the gargantuan monstrosities that you sometimes encounter or the tiny morsels that leave you wondering if you ate anything. Where sauce was used, like in the Spicy Tuna Roll, it never overwhelmed the fish. Each roll allowed you to taste the flavor notes of each ingredient and blended together to give you the perfect sushi eating experience. I highly recommend the Yellowtail Scallion roll, the perfect pairing of light fish flavor and tangy onion family goodness.

pork dumplings

Pork Dumplings

Not in the mood for raw fish? There are other plates for your discerning taste. The pork dumplings were a favorite of mine. Light, sweet, with a great accompanying sauce. It’s the perfect plate to share… or order seconds and thirds!

I’ll definitely be back for a new round of rolls – and maybe desserts (there are bear shaped chocolates that I’m keen on trying). When you check this place out, let me know what you think! And leave me your sushi suggestions – I’m always looking for a new place to roll up and try.

What could B more fresh?

Ooki Sushi of Owings Mills.jpg

9944 Reisterstown Road, Owing Mills MD

 

 

For the Return of Books: Upcoming Fundraiser for The Book Thing

20160405_165901.jpg

Just a few (and I mean few) of the free books I’ve collected from The Book Thing

If you haven’t heard our beautiful and glorious The Book Thing is in need of help and support. March 5 was the last day it was able to open it’s doors because of a fire that destroyed much of the building and the free books.

Yes, for those of you not in the know, The Book Thing was a wonderful place where you could go and take a book or a million books all for free. Basically, if the Disney’s Beast had known about this place he’d have bought it for Belle instead of giving her a silly small library.

Baltimore is rallying around our beloved book exchange and events have been taking place to help raise funds for the not-for-profit. The newest one will be held at Clavel on April 11, 2016. Below you’ll find the link for the event as well as the description from the Facebook page.

What could ‘B’more giving?

Book Thing Benefit at Clavel

On the morning of March 2nd, Baltimore’s Book Thing suffered a catastrophic fire which destroyed portions of their roof, garage door, and large collection of free books for the public.

Lane Harlan (WC Harlan, Clavel) and Doug Atwell (Rye) are joining forces to create a special evening-long happy hour to benefit our beloved community institution.

Doug and Lane will be joining the Clavel bar staff and offering 2 literary themed cocktails from a satellite bar on the patio.

Clavel will donate 50% of the drink sales both inside and outside to the Book Thing’s restoration fund. Join us Monday April 11th from 8pm – midnite to support the Book Thing in their efforts to rebuild.

Monday, April 11 at 8:00 pm – 12:00 am

Clavel

225 W, 23rd Street Baltimore 21211

Treat Yo Self to Cider

20160213_142250.jpg

It may be cold outside, but you can warm up your insides easily at MillStone Cellars. It’s their Treat Yourself Weekend and they mean it!

Honestly, there’s no better way to start your Valentine’s Day or celebrate Galentine’s Day. Cancel your afternoon plans, pack some light snacks and your palette, and head to Monkton’s local cider mill. There you’ll be treated to tastings of their seasonal varieties as well as classic favorites, like the popular Farmgate.  After you’ve found your favorite beverage join a free tour, you just might be inspired to try your hand at the craft. Or you can see what’s available on draft while you admire art from local talent.

End the afternoon with some sweets from Charlottetown Farm. Chocolate truffles, fudge, and cheesecake – all made with goat milk. Don’t worry, if you want more savory flavors they have cheeses as well and either way you won’t be disappointed. (I have the cheesecake in my fridge to prove it! Well, the part I didn’t already eat that is.)

20160213_151401.jpg

The Treat Yourself Weekend fun continues today from 12 – 5 pm. I recommend going early as the place fills up quick and who wants to wait in line for cider? Happy tasting!

What could be more indulgent?

20160213_144145.jpg

Resolve to Bmore in 2016

2016

Welcome to 2016 Baltimore!

As you wake up from your New Years partying and debate whether or not to make resolutions, allow me to offer one suggestion:

Make this the year you get out and really enjoy the charm of Charm City.

With all that Baltimore has going on throughout the year, it will be the easiest resolution you ever keep. And to get you started here are some recommendations of things to do in and around Baltimore in 2016.

What could ‘B’ more easy?

January: Start off the year right by trying a new restaurant during Baltimore’s Restaurant Week. From January 22-31, enjoy fantastic meals from the area’s best dining establishments. Sure, you could go to an old favorite – but stretch your tastebuds this month!

February: Get your craft on at the 2016 American Craft Council Show. Need a purse made out of old blazers? Giant balloon dog statues? Hand crafted wallets? All that and more is here for your perusal. Trust me, it’s entertainment for the eyes – and there’s beer and wine to whet your whistle (and loosen your wallet).

March: Tap into your Irish roots (whether real or adopted for the day) and enjoy the Baltimore St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Looking for something a little more adult? Swing by one of the many Irish bars for authentic food, music, and instant friends. My picks? Ryan’s Daughter, The Poitin Still, or James Joyce.

April: April showers gives a great excuse to stay indoors I know. But instead of setting up camp on the couch with the Netflix, make a date to spend indoors in a different place. Find your muse at The Walters Art Museum. Surround yourself with water and finned friends at The National Aquarium. And if you must spend the gray days with a movie, head over to The Charles  and try a flick of a different genre.

May: Memorial Day weekend means the official opening of beach season. Before heading down the ocean, detour to The Book Thing to grab yourself a trunk load of free beach reads.

July: Fireworks, Bar-b-Q’s, and steamed crabs. Add a night under and with the stars at Bengies drive-in theatre. Get there early to grab a front row “seat” and watch up to three flicks for the price of one!

August:  See what it means to cowboy up at J Bar W Ranch. With bull riding, barrel racing, and surprise audience participation events like “Cowboy Poker,” you’ll feel like you took a trip to the wild west.

September: Couldn’t make it to the ranch? Well, country living will come to you at the 35th Annual Maryland State Fair. Where else can you watch a sheep show, ride a ferris wheel, and chow down on cakes of the crab and funnel varieties all in one night?

October:  The month of goodies for all ages: candy for the kids and beer the older trick-or-treaters. Celebrate Octoberfest at The Baltimore Craft Beer Festival. Or bring your pints and grab a turkey leg at the Maryland Rennfest.

November:  With the year winding down it may be time to enjoy some live music. See bands before they make their big break at Ottobar, take in a show at The Lyric, or hit up a local bar like The Horse You Came In On.

December: You say you’re going to do it every year, so make this the year you walk the lighted path that is The Miracle on 34th Street. There’s no better way to end the year!

Baltimore: One of Thrillist’s Underrated Food Cities of 2015!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Baltimore, MD An Underrated Food City

We made the list! Thrillist just posted their list of The 7 Most Underrated Food Cities of 2015 and delicious Baltimore was given the number one spot! (Okay, so it’s alphabetical, but still!) And from one hometown food lover to another I’d say they got this one completely right.

Take a look at the write up for our city. See if you’ve been to any of the mentioned eateries or make a note to visit somewhere new next time you’re in town. And maybe check out one of the other six cities, you know if you’re feeling adventurous.

What could ‘B’ more great?!?