Last meals in Baltimore, part one
Last month you were asked about last meals in Baltimore. We wondered, what would yours be?
It wasn't an idle question. A Dining@Large reader was preparing to leave Baltimore and wanted your suggestions. You gave them. You can read those comments here.
Now, it's really time for the reader to leave for San Francisco.
Here is an account of the reader's last meals in Baltimore, which I will be publishing in two parts.
My Last Meals in Baltimore
To tell you all a bit about me, I have spent most of my life in Baltimore, and despite some hands-on experience in seeing how this city is far from perfect, I love it anyway. I should mention that I’m a medical student and I think my love for food came out of the realization that you have to love things other than medicine, and having dinner reservations gives you a feeling that there is an end to every clinic and call and the knowledge that there is life outside of the hospital. Of course eating well is easier said than done on a medical student schedule and budget, but I am fortunate to have amazing parents and in-laws who’ve contributed greatly to my foodie adventures.
But now my time in Baltimore is drawing to a close, in March I matched to a residency program in San Francisco and I will be headed there in a few short days. While San Francisco is a truly amazing food city, I’ve been thinking about how to best celebrate what’s wonderful about Baltimore as my time here wraps up. So here it is, the story of some of my last meals in Baltimore.
Meal #1: Crabs and Beer It’s What We Do
The beginning of the end of the time in Baltimore really started with my medical school graduation. Months ago my Mom asked me about where I might like to eat to celebrate becoming a doctor. Knowing that I’d have a busy week ahead of me with my own wedding a mere 5 days after graduation, I knew I wanted something low key that did not involve me fitting into yet another dress. So I opted for a classic Baltimore experience, crabs and beer, eaten at my family’s home on top of a sheet of brown paper with the dogs resting at our feet.
We ordered the jumbo size crabs from Conrad’s Crabs on Joppa Road, picked them up, and simply plopped them on the table. For beer, I opted for a Harpoon hefeweizen, yes not local, and the Flying Dog was right next to the Harpoon so feel free to jump on me for that one, but either way this meal was really all about the crabs and what crabs they were. They definitely lived up to their jumbo namesake, were caked with just the right amount of Old Bay and were steaming hot when we cracked into them to reveal that perfect sweet blue crab flavor that I so often seek but rarely seem find these days. We didn’t ask where they were from, I’m guessing not Maryland given the time of year but wherever they were from, Conrad’s clearly knows their product as these crabs were excellent catches.
Meal #2: A Pleasant Evening on Charles Street
My second adventure into eating was a bit more spontaneous. I was attempting to entertain my cousin and let her do the decision-making. The first thing that popped into her head was that she needed a good drink and maybe something tapas like. I had always wanted to go to Tapas Teatro having seen the crowds on many a weekend night but had never been that interested in braving the wait. I figured 8 p.m. on a Wednesday evening might be a bit smoother than a busy weekend and my guess was spot on, we walked right into the last empty table in the house.
We started with a pitcher of the red sangria ($10 in celebration of 10 years of Tapas Teatro). I really enjoyed their Sangria, it was bolder with stronger notes of wine and not nearly as saccharine-ly sweet as some of the sangria renditions that I’ve had lately and I admired that. Our first round of plates was a fried calamari and a mushroom, truffle oil, and garlic flatbread. The calamari were perfectly melt in your mouth tender with just the right amount of light breading. My husband had picked the flatbread, while it had a nice earthy taste to it, and he loved it, it wasn’t my favorite of the night. After those plates followed beer battered vegetables, spicy chicken croquettes, and grilled cumin chicken. I loved the kick in the chicken croquettes and the rich cumin flavor of the grilled chicken as well as the cooling balance of the aiolis accompanying both dishes.
We finished the meal with another round of sangria, a bit of coconut & chocolate chip ice cream, and a pistachio pannacotta. My cousin loudly blurted out at one point that we were there toasting to my upcoming marriage and the staff graciously threw in a piece of flan with a candle on top on the house. The ambiance of the windows opened onto Charles Street, the sangria, the flow of collectively nibbling on the delicious plates of food and the friendly staff all made for a lovely Baltimore evening.
Meal #2.5: The Bar Edition
For a little interlude, I did have a Bachelorette party, the details of which will most assuredly not be posted here but I will mention that this Bachelorette demanded a round at Brewer’s Art. Easily an excellent decision as the brews at Brewer’s never disappoint.