Eating Out

I spent the weekend doing a lot of eating. This is pretty typical of my day-to-day (I’m always thinking about my next meal). This weekend involved visitors, though, so it was particularly special.

My friend K came up from Bethesda on Friday night for dinner. We went to Sascha’s 527 Cafe, which ended up being not as good as I’d hoped (and Yelp reviews predicted). I got a couple of small plates and finished none of them. Not that the food was that bad, but the flavors were too saturated in general. The pork belly with ramen noodles was caramely and too sweet to finish (though the belly was great on its own), the gazpacho was a bit too syrupy sweet (a strange flavor for gazpacho in the first place), and the grilled Caesar salad included the bottom end of the head of romaine, which was too thick to eat. I had a well balanced cocktail–something with gin, strawberries, cava, and I think elderflower liqueur. But I don’t see myself rushing back here anytime soon.

After K headed back home, Kevin and I went out for a little late-night snack. We stopped in at Of Love & Regret for a beer, then walked toward Jack’s Bistro for something to eat. On the way, we passed Mike McGovern’s, a bar in a former rowhouse that’s in the middle of a bunch of occupied rowhouses in Canton. Kevin had passed it a couple of times before and had never gone, so we stopped in. We ordered cans of Natty Boh ($4 total–I laughed out loud at how cheap it was) and hung out at the bar, which was comfortably filled with people (and two of their dogs!) who were clearly regulars. We got into conversation with a guy in the military whose wife lived in Germany for a few more weeks, and he told us they’d just had a baby.

Kevin strikes up conversations with at least one person every place we go. They always end with a handshake and an exchange of names. We were at Crate & Barrel on Saturday afternoon to look at duvet covers–jeez, could that sound any worse?–and this couple came up to us when we were looking at the drinking glasses. They asked us if we’d just moved, and then we chatted for ten minutes about where we lived, what we did for a living, etc. Then, the dude asked Kevin for his number so we could all hang out sometime. It was the fucking weirdest encounter. He actually called Kevin on Sunday and left a message asking him to call them back–they had a question for us. We’re convinced they’re going to ask us if we’re swingers or something. Stay tuned for the outcome.

H came up from DC on Saturday night. Kevin and I took her to Hamilton Tavern for the best burger I’ve ever eaten, plus some local Baltimore ambiance. We started with a savory peach tart, which was like nothing I’d ever tasted: phyllo crust topped caramelized onions, peaches, and walnuts, with a pillow of whipped goat cheese and a generous drizzle of basil pistou. Completely unique. The burger lived up to our previous experiences with it–cooked perfectly medium rare as requested, juicy, beefy, and coarsely ground for a delicate texture. Both Kevin and H chose the Boh-battered o’s as their side, which come thick, super crispy, and with a side of garlic dipping sauce (make sure to ask for it). I deviated from my usual order and went with the pork shoulder served with collard greens and a three-bean salad. Aside from the pork being a little dry, the flavors were excellent, particularly when it came to the collards. It’s rare to find collards that aren’t overly vinegary or too ham-heavy.

H and I were kind of tired, but once back in Fells, we wandered into and out of a couple of bars before deciding to have a drink at 1919. It reminded me so much of a bar I went to with friends in Austin, with live bluegrass, country-looking older couples dancing, and a bar strung with colored lights and all manner of paraphernalia.

The next morning, H and I got up early for a Sunday to check out the Baltimore Farmers’ Market under the Jones Falls Expressway. This was the absolute best farmers’ market either of us had ever been to–what must have been 30 farms, plus lots of artisanal food producers with samples of cheese, granola, even hard cider. We sampled fresh green beans, varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peaches, plums, hummus, salsa, jam, and lemonade. We went home with heirloom cherry tomatoes, green beans that tasted so sweet and crisp when raw, an eggplant, farm-fresh eggs, six ears of sweet white corn, and a homemade popsicle a piece. For lunch, I had a piece of toasted sourdough with goat cheese, some sliced heirloom cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of lemon olive oil and sprinkle of coarse sea salt I’d gotten from my recent Food52 Quarterly box, and a few grinds of black pepper. Perfect.

Kevin and I snacked throughout the day. I roasted the corn on the cob in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then cut off the kernels and used them in a chipotle corn soup topped with sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest that we had for dinner. (I used this recipe, but I roasted the corn instead of grilled.) Along with an Indiana Jones movie and a strawberry-basil yogurt popsicle I’d made earlier in the day, it was a lazy and comforting way to end the weekend.

Before bed, Kevin and I were still hungry, so around 9:30 we sauteed some asparagus and topped with goat cheese and poached eggs.

It’s no wonder I gained a pound or two this weekend. I’m going to hot vinyasa after work tonight.

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