I guess I’ve known Spike Gjerde about eight years now, since a little before the time of Woodberry Kitchen‘s opening in 2007. In my full-time job as alumni director at a local independent school, I was looking for a place to have an alumni gig. My friend Katie Hearn was working for Struever Brothers at the time and was project coordinator for this super cool new redevelopment in Woodberry called Clipper Mill.
Oysters are something most people love or are completely grossed out by. I’m the former. For sure. Love ’em.
My connection to local oysters is through two people, really. First is my friend George Hastings, U.S. National Shucking Champion. And he’s from Baltimore – how great is that? I first met George at First Friday at the Hon Bar in Hampden on one of the very first oyster nights there. Back in the day, the oysters were free and you just tipped the shucker, George. Then it got a little crazy (people seemed to be more excited that they were free vs delicious) and they went to $2.00/plate. George was always so nice to me. Friendly, knowledgeable, extremely skilled.
Last summer, I received a comment on my blog that was so fun. A crew member of House of Cards wrote to say that lots of people on set follow my blog and Instagram. Wait, WHAT DID YOU SAY? I looked the message again. Read it out loud. To myself. Yep, that’s what it says. They know who I am. Well, not exactly, but the writer said he’d been following me and noticed that I spend a lot of time in his neighborhood, Hampden. I wrote back and said that, yes, I have lived in Hampden since 2000 (pre-super coolness, thank you very much) and thanked him for writing me. Since he seemed to not be a total weirdo, we actually made plans to meet up for dinner during summer Restaurant Week. My friend said to me, “You’re breaking the wall? Huh? Why?” I said this person seemed perfectly nice and why not. And um, hellouuu. He does Kevin Spacey’s hair. So, yeah for some reason I thought that made it okay. And funny…this guy, Sean, has become one of my best friends. And as crazy as it sounds, he literally lives around the corner from me in The Hampdens.
Ryleigh’s Oyster will host its eighth annual Oysterfest on Saturday, October 11 and Sunday, October 12 in Baltimore’s historic Federal Hill. Oysterfest is a two-day food and entertainment free festival, centered on the appreciation and preservation of oysters. Proceeds from this great event benefit the Living Classrooms Foundation and the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
Seafood. My favorite…and thankfully, living so close to the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimoreans are lucky to have access to fresh, delicious seafood. To me, sitting in someone’s backyard picking crabs is quintessential Baltimore. Some of my best family memories are definitely the backyard crab feasts. Crabs can be very expensive, so it was always a huge treat to have them – my parents had six kids, so a million other things had to come ahead of buying a bushel of crabs! When I was a teenager, I worked a summer job at a carry out crab house and it was always fun, especially at closing time. The two big questions were: 1) how many crabs will be left over tonight and 2) will I ever get this smell out of my sneakers? (Those Tretorns were NOT allowed in my house. The leftover crabs were…)
So, yes, Baltimore loves its seafood, so it’s fitting that there is now a seafood festival IN the City (#ilovethiscity) and it’s this weekend! The Baltimore Seafood Festival at the Canton Waterfront Park will offer tons and tons of seafood from over twenty local restaurants, drinks, live music by Strykers Posse (reggae band) and Super Bueno (cover band), cooking demos and an area for families with toys, games, face painting and more. The Baltimore Seafood Festival is the only large scale seafood festival in Baltimore City.
LOOK at this list of participating restaurants:
Aaron Joseph, Lead Bartender at Wit & Wisdom is just one of those people. You know, the kind of people you meet and you like right away. And the guy’s got game! Super talented. Creative, always learning. And sometimes, I get to try out drinks he’s “working on” when I visit him at Wit & Wisdom. My favorite is sitting at the bar and having him ask what I’d like. I say “tart.”
And I get this. NBD.
We are so excited to be working with the fine folks at Dooby’s and their new executive chef, Tim Dyson for the second in a series of Baltimore Fishbowl Dinners. This delicious …
Charm City Cook and Baltimore Fishbowl writer Amy Langrehr has come to know a good number of chefs in town since she started writing about food a few years back. In our new series, Chewing the Fat, she’ll interview local top chefs for Baltimore Fishbowl Weekend. First up: Chad Gauss of The Food Market in Hampden.
I first met Chad Gauss via social media. We traded some of my Charm City Cook salted caramel brownies for fresh soft crabs via Instagram. Seriously, that’s how we met. He opened The Food Market in my neighborhood a little over two years ago and it’s been a huge hit since day one. I’m a big fan. As we texted to figure out when and where to do the interview (chefs text, they don’t really email…), we decided not to do it at the restaurant. He texted me: Rofo, 2nd Fl. So, here we sit at the Royal Farms store at 36th & Roland, the scent of fried chicken wafting up the stairs…
Was food a big part of your upbringing?
CG: I ate everything I could get my hands on. I never got up until my plate was cleared, but only to get seconds!
Lots of kids get to choose the meal on their birthday…anything they want (to a point, I suppose…) What would be your ‘birthday meal’ now? What did you ask for when you were a kid? Hey – remember that both of us have moms named Peggy!
CG: I always loved Mexican food. You know, chicken fajitas and all that. Now, I want the most expensive thing I can afford. I like to go big for special occasions like birthdays.
You do a good amount of catering these days. Baltimore can be a pretty traditional food town, especially when it comes to catering. How do you get your catering clients to trust you and go with a little more creative menu?
CG: I like to use ingredients people know and understand. Some want elevated versions of the menu at The Food Market. Some just want really good comfort food. It’s really up to them, they’re the client.
Not a lot of people know you have a new private dining room downstairs. How do you plan to use it? How much does it cost to book it?
CG: We really haven’t marketed it at all and may not since it already has a little following on its own. People are booking it. To get to it, you have to go through the restaurant and the main kitchen, down the stairs, through the office, coolers, storage, etc. It’s definitely behind-the-scenes. Dinner for 12, cooked by me in the space with you and your guests. Cost is $100 per person, inclusive of food, drinks, service. It’s a good deal for what you get.
Photo: Bloom & Nourish
It’s technically still summer…as my melted lip balm in the car told me just yesterday. BUT…fall will be here before we know it.
Fall is the best. A chill in the air, football games, pumpkin everything — and WOW, baseball is still going — here we come post-season! How cool is that? Go O’s! Soon, too, the leaves will start their gorgeous transformation. Fall also brings on heartier cooking – for me, it means lots of roasted veggies, soups, stews and other comfort foods. Go to any local farmers market and you’ll see squash, pumpkins, beans, apples, greens and much more.
At the Waverly Market, I love to visit the bean man, Thomas McCarthy. He’s the quiet, unassuming man with a warm smile who sells the most amazing fresh, shelled black beans, chick peas, butter beans, white beans and more. (His fresh peas in the spring cause long lines and much excitement for nerds like me.) You can make so many great soups using beans – and if you add greens, you add a whole lot of flavor and vitamins, too. I like to make white bean and ham soup. Soups like that are easy to modify based on what you have on hand. I usually try to use fresh beans and rainbow chard – stalks and all. Yummmmm. Also, Cook’s Illustrated’s white chicken chili is a big favorite – and has a nice kick from THREE kinds of hot peppers. Whoa!