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April 25, 2010

'Spoons' supplies restaurant-tour scoop

OystersI had the chance to tour what were described as Baltimore's "most sustainable" restaurants the other day. So did Spoons, a longtime Dining@Large lurker who sent me this guest post. I didn't actually meet Spoons on the tour, but I welcome her report. Like Spoons, I enjoyed the chance to hear from chefs about their efforts to serve sustainable foods --  not to mention the chance to sample some of those foods. I'll have more to add about the tour in posts of my own later this week. But for now, here's Spoons. LV. 

First Stop: Woodberry Kitchen
Chef-owner Spike Gjerde gave us a tour of the future in sustainable cooking by showing off his almost finished canning and preserving kitchen, which included a walk-in room for the house-made charcuterie. Spike talked excitedly about how he will be able to use house-canned Maryland tomatoes and other local produce in winter dishes. He and his wife, Amy, generously served our group of thirty-five people a sit-down lunch of the following:

Sparkling Wine – Cava
Asparagus with sauce gribiche
Mixed green salad with vinaigrette made from pickling brine
House-corned beef tongue with sauerkraut
Three types of local, farmed oysters
Ham and Cheese mini-sandwiches with Great Kids Farm microgreens 
Cheeses: Firefly Farms goat cheese, Darlington aged cheddar

Second Stop: The Dogwood
Chef Owner Galen Sampson spoke about The Dogwood’s commitment to using locally grown ingredients and somewhat apologized that the growing season is just getting started. He said the temporary closure of The Dogwood on 36th Street allowed them to restructure and refocus their commitment to their social mission of helping ex-offenders learn the cooking trade in his kitchen. He shared that some former participants were now employed at Woodberry, Alizee Boutique Bistro and Wine Bar, and The Black Olive. He expects to open the front house café for lunch very soon. He generously served the group a sit down refreshment of:

Asparagus (grown in VA) prepared with Chapel's Country Creamery cheese and local watercress

Third Stop: Gertrude’s at the BMA
Chef Owner John Shields warmly greeted our group and talked about how he worked for a time as a chef in Berkley, Calif., and how because of the climate there that region is able to eat locally all year round. He shared that it was natural for him to bring that philosophy back home to Maryland when he opened Gertrude’s, named in honor of his grandmother who taught him how to cook.  John prepared appetizers for our group made from Lucie Snodgrass’ cookbook, "Dishing Up Maryland," and explained how Marvesta Shrimp Farm on the Eastern Shore figured out how to offer fresh, healthy, sustainable shrimp through innovative techniques which do not rely on using hormones or antibiotics in the water.  John generously offered the group on the patio of the BMA gardens:

Arugla pesto served with crackers
Asparagus frittata using locally gathered eggs
Shrimp pate (from Marvesta Farms) with crackers
Boordy Petit Cabernet
Boordy Riesling

Fourth Stop: Clementine
Owner-Chef Winston Blick and wife Cristin Dadant seated us Thanksgiving style all in a row. Cristin explained their philosophy for using locally grown foods when they are able and Clementine’s passion for making their own charcuterie, sauces and desserts. She shared that restaurants often struggle to deal with kitchen waste and leftovers and let us know they were solving that problem by recycling it to the neighborhood compost program run by Hamilton Crop Circle.  Cristin also shared with us her excitement about the upcoming Good Life Thursdays taking place at Boordy Vineyards, which will offer organic and locally sustainable products in addition to featuring live music, happy hour, and grilled burgers and will begin June 10. Clementine kindly fed us with:

House-made chicken liver pate infused with honey on fresh bread
House-made dried cured sausage called Sassy Salt with mustard
Fresh green salad featuring Easter Egg Radishes from Real Food Farm

Final Stop: Real Food Farm
Real Food Farm is located at Clifton Park on land owned by the city and is a non-profit supported by Civic Works (Baltimore’s urban service corp.) and Safe Healing Foundation. A representative of Real Food Farm explained the growing methods of the three Hoop Houses currently on site and constructed in October 2009 which are used to educate students by allowing teachers to integrate math, science and English with active lessons on soil and food. They are also used for after-school programs to teach entrepreneurial skills. The program will eventually support itself as they sell the produce to local restaurants and residents in the area.  We were shown the pear, paw paw, and persimmon trees (six to eight of each) that were recently planted as part of a larger vision in which they do not intend to farm in traditional “grid style” but by creating an edible landscape through which the community can stroll.  

This was the first time that Baltimore Green Works and the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance arranged for The Local is as Local does – Food Tour.  The event sold out quickly at $25 per person. The fee covered the cost to pay for the bus but all time, food and beverages were donated by the restaurants. The organizers of the event were thrilled with the turn out and while it was scheduled to coincide with Earth Day recognized that had they scheduled it a few weeks later would have been better able to feature more locally grown foods. The very enthusiastic inaugural group suggested that it be offered at least four times a year to coincide with the seasons. Most likely future tours will feature other restaurants and growing centers that are just as ardent about supporting local grown foods and sustainability.

Woodberry Kitchen oyster. Sun photo by Lloyd Fox
Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:54 PM | | Comments (2)


Wonderful post, Spoons!! I am so excited to follow the progress of Real Food Farm.

Locally gathered eggs, huh? I just had a flash of seeing people hunting for eggs along the shrubbery on Charles Street.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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