Event stylist and graphic designer Jennifer Walter, of Fold Invites, invited Baltimore STYLE into her lovely Baltimore County home for the holidays. Check out her delightful array of decorations—and get a few tips for decking your own halls this season. (Hint: it’s all about pops of color and personal details.)
Photography by David Stuck
The Give Corps team in their Charles Village office in Miller’s Court, an urban oasis for teachers and nonprofits.
What do you get when you mix cutting-edge technology, time-tested business strategy and a passionate desire to change the world? Enter Give Corps, a Charles Village-based start-up dedicated to turning Millennials and other folks with not-so-deep pockets into philanthropists.
Founded by Jamie McDonald, a former managing director and co-head of private equity coverage at Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown for 16 years, Give Corps represents McDonald’s long-awaited opportunity to use her business acumen to impact the community in a profound way.
“It’s the culmination of all my life experiences—a way to bring together my previous career with my entrepreneurial spirit and live my passion,” she says.
After leaving Deutsche Bank in 2008, McDonald served as capital campaign chair for one of her favorite nonprofits, The Center for Urban Families. During the campaign, she became convinced of the Internet’s power as a tool for philanthropy and community engagement, especially for young adults.
“We all saw what happened in the 2008 presidential campaign. Not only did the Obama camp engage large numbers of young people online, but they also got people of modest means to donate. These people gave because they wanted to be part of a movement,” she says.
Give Corps utilizes a “give to get” model to entice young, socially conscious citizens to contribute to causes such as homelessness, hunger, education, health care, animal rights and the environment. Donors can make one-time gifts, purchase a “givecard” for a friend or create a Giving Account where they pledge to donate a certain amount—as low as $3 a month—to their cause(s) of choice.
To date, more than 225 nonprofits have benefited from the generosity of more than 7,000 Baltimoreans, who have made 11,000 donations serving more than 50,000 of our neighbors in need.
The site provides immediate gratification for donors who can see, for example, that their $15 donation to a children’s literacy organization will pay for craft supplies for a month or that a $35 donation provides an environmental organization enough trash bags to remove up to 2,500 pounds of trash from a local stream.
“The beauty of the website’s technology is that it provides a personalized experience that values donors of all levels,” says new CEO Vince Talbert, who was a founder of Bill Me Later and most recently a V.P. with eBay/PayPal. “The giver feels special, can see the impact of their gift and can connect with other givers and their community.”
As an added incentive, each time users make a donation, they get to select a reward in the form of a special offer or discount from one of Give Corps’ merchant partners, such as South Moon Under, Taharka Brothers and Charm City Run.
“It’s a perk for donors—and also a way for us to help drive traffic to civic-minded businesses,” says Peter Jackson, vice president of merchant and nonprofit relationships who serves as the “face” of Give Corps around Charm City. His primary role is to extend the brand beyond cyberspace by hosting networking happy hours, fundraising marathons and other events that encourage the Give Corps community to connect in real life.
That can help maximize results for organizations such as Moveable Feast, a Baltimore nonprofit that provides meals and other services to homebound people living with HIV/AIDS. Give Corps fundraisers who participated in the charity’s annual Ride for the Feast bike ride raised almost $50,000—in addition to more than $15,000 that was raised through smaller projects online.
“I love helping the nonprofits maximize their impact,” says Jackson. “It’s great to be part of a rapidly changing company that’s involved with doing good in Baltimore. Especially now, I feel like there’s a lot of energy bubbling up. The city has problems but there are lots of creative solutions.”
“The idea that you don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist really resonates with people and with our organization,” adds Ted Blankenship, Moveable Feast’s director of development, who describes Give Corps as a low-cost, low-effort way to raise awareness and funds from Generation Y donors. “Give Corps has allowed us to market ourselves to a population we might otherwise not have been able to reach. Our investment has been hugely successful.”
Yes, Give Corps is a for-profit company—something McDonald equates to the likes of Starbucks and TOMS Shoes which also have socially conscious business models.
“When I thought of how to change the world, I wanted to hire the best people who shared my passion,” says McDonald. “I wanted to give equity to employees so they could share in the good things that happen for our company—and I wanted them to stick around. Often times, when you work for a nonprofit, you have to keep leaving one job for another because that’s the only way you can increase your salary.”
Give Corps earns profits by charging organizations 4 percent of donations collected through the site. The company’s newest revenue generator is Give Corps Pro, a turnkey software program that helps organizations create customized fundraising portals. It’s proving especially popular with colleges hoping to engage recent graduates.
“We have 12 software clients—six colleges and six other types of nonprofits,” says McDonald. “We’re really flying now.”
Speaking of flying, the Give Corps staff is feverishly working to prepare for Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3—the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“Our goal is to make Baltimore the givingest city per capita in America,” says McDonald, whose business will serve as a convening marketing partner for the national event. “We’re hoping to raise $5 million dollars in a single day. It’s ambitious, but I have a good feeling.
I have my rose-colored glasses on.”
Photographed by Nemo Niemann at The 13th Floor in the Historic Belvedere
LUCK be a… knock-out statement with a media mix of textures. Cashmere intarsia-knit boyfriend sweater by Autumn Cashmere, at Nordstrom, Towson, and The Red Garter, Pikesville. Faux-fur bomber jacket at Octavia, Cross Keys Village. Leather jeans and iridescent clutch bag, both by Halston Heritage, at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys. Studded leather fingerless gloves by Michael Kors, at Nordstrom. Vintage rhinestone paste earrings at Bijoux Inspired Jewels, Green Spring Station.
LUCK be a… dose of modern color blocking, set off by rich neutrals. Wool and silk blend coat by Etro, and black iridescent slim pants by True Royal, both at Ruth Shaw, Cross Keys. Detachable crystal fox cuffs by Debbie Swartz for Mano Swartz Furs, Green Spring Station. Gold-plated, button-drop earrings by Robert Lee Morris at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys. Hammered gold ring at L’Apparenza, Mt. Washington. Velvet box bag, from The Cromwell Blake Vintage Collection, at Love Me Two Times, Wyndhurst Station.
LUCK be a… menswear look done HER way! Metallic jacquard-print tuxedo jacket by Diane von Furstenberg at Urban Chic, Harbor East, and Nordstrom, Towson. Stretch wool tuxedo pants by Vince at L’Apparenza, Mount Washington. Patent-leather oxfords by Enzo Angiolini at Nordstrom, Towson. Gold metal French cuff bracelet at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys.
LUCK be a… one-of-a-kind vintage treasure that you won’t see on anyone else. Circa 1970 iridescent silk-brocade maxi dress, from The Cromwell Blake Collection, at Love Me Two Times, Wyndhurst Station. Cashmere opera-length, fingerless gloves at Jill Andrews Gowns, Hampden. Bold gold cuff from Jones & Jones. Aubergine suede booties by Dolce Vita, at Nordstrom. Detachable, multicolor fur neck-piece by Debbie Swartz, at Mano Swartz Furs, at Green Spring Station.
LUCK be a… tailored knit suit as cozy as your favorite PJs. Textured boucle, cotton-blend seamed blazer and matching sweatpants by Rag & Bone, at Nordstrom, Towson. Bug-print resin cuffs at Octavia, Cross Keys. Cat collar at Dogma, Mount Washington.
*As luck would have it, this gorgeous, sweet kitty called Rosie is currently up for adoption at the Maryland SPCA.
LUCK be a… luxe coat that makes an artistic statement. Lightweight wool-boucle coat with cashmere embroidered detail designed by Ella Pritsker of Ella Moda Custom Couture, Timonium. Embossed leather belt at Ruth Shaw. Embellished gold cuffs and gold-plated drop earrings, both at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys. Over- the-knee leather boots by Stuart Weitzman at Matava Shoes, Green Spring Station. Alligator skin handbag, from the Cromwell Blake Vintage Collection, at Vogue Revisited, Roland Park.
The Art of Fashion: Abstract “live event painting” by fine artist Patricia Bennett, http://www.patriciabennettstudio.com.
LUCK be a… new take on the classic LBD. Fit-and-flare, neoprene shift dress with a godet paneled skirt and back lacing detail by Tracy Reese at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys. Cerulean blue cashmere-blend blazer by Akris, at Nordstrom, Towson. Pewter hoop earrings and “bones” cuff, both by Martha Rotten, at Paradiso, Hampden.
Beauty Buzz: For a festive berry-stained pout, try No Worries’ Lipstick Gloss in “Mula,” exclusively at No Worries Salon & Cosmetics, Towson.
See and Be Chic: All dressed up but nowhere to go? Follow the fashion crowd to The 13th Floor at The Belvedere, where the festive menu and chic ambience set the scene for an unforgettable view of Charm City. All profits from every 13th Floor-customized bottle of champagne goes to benefit pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins.
Digital Imaging: Nemo Niemann. Model: Caroline Reddy/Fenton Moon Media, NYC. Cat: Rosie/MD SPCA. Hair & Makeup: Karen Panoch/Wilhelmina Creative, Miami. Fashion & Set Styling Assistant: Victoria Adinolfi. Photo Assistant: Tom Snyder. Photo crew food catered by the 13th Floor. Special thanks to: Averil Christens-Barry at Truffles Catering & Belvedere Restaurant Group; cat handler Kate Creamer from the MD SPCA, and live event artist Patricia Bennett.
In less than an hour’s drive, you could be gazing at some of the most iconic paintings of all time at the Phillips Collection (aka America’s original museum of modern art, founded in 1921). Van Gogh Repetitions is the Phillips’ first-ever exhibition dedicated to the ear-slicing master’s work, including landscapes and portraits borrowed from the world’s most renowned Van Gogh collections, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and more. The 35-piece exhibit includes several examples of the Post-Impressionist’s “repetitions,” a term coined by the artist to describe his process of creating multiple versions of his own works, along with those of other artists such as Gauguin, Daumier, and Rembrandt. Van Gogh once said of his work, “One must spoil as many canvases as one succeeds.” Of course, today, we consider them all masterpieces. Through Jan. 26, 2014, http://www.phillipscollection.org.
As if Savvy didn’t have enough temptations in Harbor East, along comes a new place to put the Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens to shame. Interior decorator Katie DeStefano’s Curiosity is a feast for the senses—all of them. From the breathtaking gold-leaf celestial maps by Christopher Wilcox to the food products by Bellocq Tea Atelier to the porcelain flower diffusers by Giardino di Fiori to the colorful enamel Gecko bracelets by Fornash (an O-List pick), it’s impossible not to find something you like. And with prices ranging from five bucks to $5,000, there’s a gift for everyone on your list. Savvy is particularly taken with the handstitched tea towels from Catstudio’s Geography Collection, silk-screened with maps from around the world; little beauties that satisfy both her frivolous and practical sides. 1000 Lancaster, entrance on S. Exeter, 410-727-6262, http://www.curiosityforthehome.com
The other day I was meandering through a department store when a purse caught my eye. I picked it up, slung it over my shoulder and then caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
I recoiled in horror: It was an old lady’s bag.
I all but flung it back onto the shelf as if an errant spider had landed on my arm.
So this is how it happens, I thought. Not with a bang, but with a whimper, one innocent purse purchase at a time. Next thing you know my candy dishes will start spontaneously filling with Caramel Nips and my pockets with crumpled Kleenex. I’ll start buying “slacks” and insisting on wrapping up the contents of restaurant bread baskets to take home from my early bird dinners.
I have just celebrated my 45th birthday. I am, by any reasonable definition, solidly, inescapably middle-aged. I have all of the trappings of a full-fledged grown-up: I own a home. I pay taxes. I (mostly) remember to floss and get a yearly mammogram. I was just written a prescription for progressive lenses and have come to terms with the fact that I will never win a Nobel Prize or an Olympic medal. I realized not long ago that I am no longer a contemporary of the contestants on shows like American Idol, but rather of their parents, those, those—middle-aged people!—who hover in the wings. And so it goes. Whimpers, not bangs.
And yet, despite the fact that I find gray strands on my head with alarming regularity, my overwhelming response to all of this is a feeling of indignant incredulity. THIS CAN’T REALLY BE HAPPENING! I’M STILL JUST A KID!
I know exactly when it started. I was in my late 20s, still single and living in an apartment in D.C.’s Dupont Circle. A dear friend and her new husband had just bought their first home together, a gleaming, sturdy Colonial in a tree-filled Howard County suburb. They had grown-up furniture and a spare bedroom and a lawn mower. They invited me over for dinner one night not long after they moved in and as we sat in the kitchen, lingering over post-dinner coffee, I burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” my friends asked.
“I keep waiting for the parents to come home,” I confessed.
As the last of five children, being young has always been a central part of my identity. “So you’re the baby!” people would say knowingly when they met me. Being the youngest had weight. It meant something about my place in and view of the world. But it also meant that I spent my childhood with my nose pressed against the metaphorical glass, inpatiently watching as my four older brothers got to navigate the sophisticated life waters ahead. The eldest was bar mitzvahed when I was still in diapers; he left for college just before I started second grade.
I came to believe that only age conferred privilege and credibility. I longed to be older, to cast off my youth like an albatross. I wanted to hurry through and get to the next thing, the next phase, the next milestone, just as I had watched my brothers before me. I couldn’t wait to finally arrive and be handed the keys to the kingdom of adulthood. But like a dog perpetually chasing its tail, it never seemed to dawn on me that I would never, ever catch up to them, and if I didn’t take the time to enjoy things while they were happening, that I’d miss out.
I was also the child of older parents. Their 1940s high school yearbooks seemed as quaintly old-fashioned to me as if they’d been born in Colonial times. Their taste in music never evolved much past the Big Band era. But that somehow only solidified their Grownup ™ status to me. They’d been around. They knew the ropes.
Even now that I’m a parent myself, I still can’t shake that impostor feeling, still can’t wait to legitimately arrive. Where? I’m not sure. But surely my kids can’t really think I’m a grown-up? I still have no idea how to change a tire or what the Federal Reserve does, exactly. The workings of the boiler
remain a total mystery, and I’m fuzzy at best on my world history.
And yet, there’s my 1980s high school yearbook. It may not be in black and white, but it looks unmistakably, almost comically dated. The ’80s station I often listen to in the car plays songs that are just as old as Tommy Dorsey’s were when I was in elementary school. My pre-Internet childhood seems as unimaginable to my kids as my parents’ pre-television ones did to me. I have no clue what kinds of clothes teenage girls think are cool anymore. More whimpers. No bangs. It just kind of…happens.
But then my 9-year-old looks up from his book and asks, “Mom, what does ‘mum’s the word’ mean?” and I know I can answer with total confidence. I know how to drive a car and order books online. I can make dinner magically appear on the table and clean clothes emerge from the tangle in the hamper. I’ve been around. I know the ropes.
Not long ago, my 6-year-old was home sick. I mopped his feverish brow and rubbed his back. And then something came out of my mouth that I remembered my own mother saying to me. They were the words that always made me feel better, because grown-ups always knew what to do.
“Don’t worry. Mama’s going to take care of you,” I heard myself murmuring reassuringly.
I saw the way my son relaxed in response. He doesn’t need to know that I sometimes feel like I’m making it up as I go along. I realized that my mother probably did, too, and her mother before her. And maybe that’s the most grown-up realization of all.
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”
Photography by Justin Tsucalas
B—A Bolton Hill Bistro, Bolton Hill
Training: Studied at L’Academie de Cuisine. Worked with chef Bob Kincead at Colvin Run Tavern.
Favorite holiday food: Anything that goes with a big glass of Bordeaux.
“Step one: pour nice glass of red. Take your time. Plan accordingly. Don’t stress out, it’s just cooking. Guests always love what you make.”
Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs with Country Jalapeno Cheddar Grits
Yields 10-15 appetizer portions
10 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
1⁄4 cup garlic, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 bottle red wine (preferably cabernet sauvignon)
6-10 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dry
1 large onion, diced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 quarts veal stock or beef broth
For the ribs:
Add salt and pepper to flour to season. Then season all ribs and with salt and pepper being careful to season all sides. Then dredge seasoned ribs in seasoned flour.
Heat skillet over medium to high heat. Add enough oil to topcoat bottom of hot skillet and sear all sides of ribs until brown (add more oil, if needed, during searing process). In Dutch oven or large pot with lid cook thyme, celery, garlic, carrot and onion until they soften and begin to release liquid. Arrange ribs on top of vegetables. Combine wine and stock and pour over ribs.
Place in Dutch oven at 235 degrees for 10-12 hours. (Alternatively, recipe can be cooked in a Crock-Pot on low temperature for 6-8 hours.)
Let cool to room temperature and carefully remove ribs (they will be fragile).
(Note: Can be frozen until needed. Let thaw in refrigerator. Reheat in oven at 350 degrees with beef stock.)
For the grits:
Milk (amount as directed on box of grits)
Cheddar cheese (to taste)
Jalapeno, chopped (to taste)
Butter (to taste)
Follow directions on box using half water and half milk. Cook until desired consistency. Finish with chopped jalapenos, cheddar cheese and butter to taste.
Towson Tavern, Towson
Training: Honors student at Baltimore International College. Studied abroad in Ireland.
Favorite holiday food: Classic—turkey, spiral cut ham, creamed corn, creamed spinach.
“This salad is a twist on a classic. I add apricots for sweetness and crisp-fry the shiitake to add a little crunch in every bite.”
Warm Spinach Salad
Yields 1 salad
4 ounces fresh baby spinach
2 ounces apricot/bacon vinaigrette
1 ounce red onion, slivered
1 hard-boiled egg, diced
1 ounce Crispy Fried Shiitake Mushroom
For the vinaigrette:
6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, diced
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces brown sugar
½ cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
¾ cup orange juice
1 ounce balsamic vinegar
1 ounce whole grain mustard
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Place the bacon in a cold stockpot and cook on medium-high heat. Once the bacon has just started to crisp, add the shallots and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and apricots, and then stir for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and place into a blender or food processor. Blend until it becomes a smooth purée.
For the mushrooms:
2 cups vegetable oil
1 ounce shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
Place vegetable oil into a medium stockpot and heat on medium-high heat. Julienne the shiitake mushroom caps and place into the hot oil. Let cook until they begin to shrink and become crispy. Once crisp remove from the hot oil and toss with a small amount of salt and pepper.
For assembling the salad: In a large mixing bowl toss the spinach with the warm dressing and place into a salad bowl. Top the salad with the slivered red onion, hardboiled egg and finish with the crispy fried shiitake mushroom and serve.
Sascha’s 527 Cafe, Mount Vernon
Training: Self-taught with inspiration from her mother—a world traveler who wouldn’t hesitate to march into a kitchen in Portugal and learn what the chef was doing.
Favorite holiday food: Magret de canard. The French ducks are leaner than ours. Everything in France is skinnier—like the women. The ducks follow suit.
“Treat your guests to something people don’t often eat—something rich and delicious, like duck.”
Duck Breast with Cherry and Port Wine Sauce
8 boneless duck breasts
½ cup dried cherries
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 cup of port wine
2cups fresh (or frozen) black cherries
Zest of 1 orange
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Score the skin of the duck breast in diamond fashion. Try not to score down to the breast meat.
Heat port wine over low heat until warm. Add ½ cup dried cherries and allow to steep.
Season duck breast liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
In a large skillet over medium heat place the duck breasts skin side down. Sear the breasts until the skin is golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 2 minutes. Place the seared duck breasts in a baking dish skin side up and put them in oven. (Can be done in advance. Before serving, remove duck from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.)
Bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes for medium to medium rare. Remove, tent with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes.
Pour off most of the duck fat. (Hint: reserve duck fat for other dishes.) Place some of the duck fat into a skillet, over medium heat. Add shallots and ginger and sauté until translucent. Pour in port, orange juice and the stock, picking up any bits from the sauté pan. Add orange zest and fresh cherries to pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until sauce reduces. Smash some of the fresh cherries to thicken. Add dried cherries.
Slice duck breast on diagonal and nap with sauce.
Training: Dishwasher (”and it was not cool”). Then McCafferty’s in Baltimore.
Favorite holiday food: Food is sentimental. It reminds me of my my mother and grandmother—the good feelings of my formative years. My family were hunters and watermen and would always have wild game like venison, goose and duck.
“This recipe is Maryland. It represents the Bay. It’s home to me. The kale is a nod to our Southern roots. And the sweet potatoes are sweet. It’s the holidays!”
Oyster, Sweet Potato and Kale Gratin with Rye Whiskey
1 pint shucked oysters, reserve liquor
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 cup rye whiskey
Salt and pepper
1 1⁄2 cups sweet potato, cubed and cooked
1 cup kale, julienned and blanched
2 pinches fresh grated nutmeg
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
2 cups potato roll crumbs, toasted
Begin by sautéing onion and garlic in butter over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir often until flour smells nutty and is light brown in color. Next, add whiskey, cream, milk and oyster liquor. Stir until thick and season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. (Don’t hesitate to be generous with the black pepper. It brings out great flavors in the rye.)
Gently fold in the sweet potatoes and kale and chill the whole mix for a couple of hours.
Remove from refrigerator and spoon mixture into a 3-quart gratin dish or a couple of pie plates. Nestle the oysters in the cream (the more the merrier) and top with potato breadcrumbs. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with green onions and parsley.
Victoria Gastro Pub, Columbia
Training: Baltimore International College. Working internship in Ireland. Graduated with Le Grande Diplome from London’s
Le Cordon Bleu.
Favorite holiday foods: Fall and winter ingredients: pears, apples, figs, pumpkins, root vegetables, beets, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
“Keep it simple! Don’t over-design the menu, which creates unnecessary stress.”
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Cider
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces shallots
4 ounces pancetta, diced
4 ounces chicken stock
4 ounces apple cider
1 tablespoon butter, cold
Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and sauté until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the same pan and sauté until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cider. Simmer until the Brussels sprouts have a light glaze, about 3 minutes. Whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sotto Sopra, Mount Vernon
Training: French Culinary Institute in New York
Favorite holiday food: My grandmother makes the best whoppie pies. If we didn’t have them at Christmas, my whole family would be upset. We’d throw the turkey out the window.
“Make your desserts ahead of time. Some chefs swear they taste better the next day.”
Frozen Eggnog with Cinnamon Cream Filled Gingerbread Cookies
For the gingerbread cookies
(Yields about 8-10 cookies)
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup molasses syrup
5 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and set the oven racks in the middle. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Next add in the molasses and vanilla.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add into the butter/syrup mixture in two batches, mixing only long enough to incorporate the flour.
Roll out on a floured surface, cut into desired gingerbread shape and place onto cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees until the edges are lightly golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside to cool as you are making the filling.
For the cinnamon cream filling:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup spiced rum
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered sugar. Next add in the egg white. Then add in the remaining ingredients and beat until all are incorporated. Sandwich using the cooled gingerbread cookies.
For eggnog ice cream:
2½ cups whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup egg yolks
1⁄3 cup ground nutmeg
½ cup dark rum
Using a large metal or plastic bowl, fill half way with ice and water. Set aside for later.
In a sauce pot, bring to a boil the milk, cream, rum and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Once the liquid is to a boil, pour
1 cup into the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Whisk quickly to prevent the yolks from scrambling. Return liquid to the pot with the remaining cream/milk and cook for
1 minute, while whisking constantly.
Remove from the heat and immediately place into a container. Set the container in larger bowl with water and ice. Let cool for 1-2 hours. Process in an ice cream machine.
Place the eggnog ice cream in a blender and add a little milk. Blend together until the consistency of a thick milkshake is achieved. Pour into a glass and set the sandwiched cookies next to the glass. Enjoy!
Ryan Travers and Josh Bosstick
Of Love & Regret, Canton
Training: Bosstick’s dad owned a liquor store. Josh trained at Grano Emporio and Wine Market Bistro. Travers and his wife owned a small beer bar in Brunswick, Maine.
Favorite holiday spirit: This dynamic bar-tending duo concocts all their craft cocktail recipes together—and both say scotch is their go-to holiday drink.
“This is like a holiday dinner in a drink—using scotch as the backbone with cardamom and cinnamon flavors. Topped off with the crème brûlee as dessert.”
Fireside Chats with Charles MacLean
Makes 1 cocktail
1½ ounces Glenrothes Select Reserve
1½ ounces Velvet Falernum
¾ ounce Cardamaro
¾ ounce Becherovka
Shaken over rocks with egg white until foamy. Use bar spoon to layer froth on top. Lightly torch froth with crème brûlee torch to caramelize. Top with freshly shaved cinnamon.
Champagne is synonymous with the holidays, from cheerful gatherings with family and friends to bubbly toasts at midnight on New Years Eve. This drink is a delightful, low sugar interpretation of the classic French 75. Fresh pressed or organic pear juice adds color, texture and charm (given the cocktail’s title) while Dorothy Parker gin is the perfect botanical spirit for the season.
1 oz organic or fresh pressed pear juice
1 oz Dorothy Parker gin
3 oz Brut Champagne
Juice from 1/4 small lemon
Thinly sliced ripe pear
Combine gin, pear juice and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled champagne flute. Fill flute with champagne. Garnish with a twist of lemon and pear slice.
By Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres, Harbor East and founder of Tend for a Cause.
Forget the North Pole, foodies. Your holiday present will arrive courtesy of the East Pole, a sensational new restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Coming right on the heels of a successful three-year run at the hip Fat Radish (on the Lower East side), chef Nicholas Wilber is now serving his fresh produce-driven fare to the posh set who come to the sleek, minimalist space to enjoy his famous Scotch egg, grilled cheese with pickles and other creative comfort foods. Even if you opt for the far-too-sensible steamed-veggie Macro Plate, consider sharing the “adult” ice cream sundae scattered with Pimm’s-soaked cherries for dessert. Let’s face it: after battling the crowds (and Christmas elves) at Bloomies, you deserve a sugar buzz before hopping on the Bolt bus to to Bawlmer. http://www.theeastpolenyc. com. —S.E.
Bottega is modeled on a place Adrien Aeschliman managed in the Mugello Valley in Tuscany that he describes as “a workman’s lunch trattoria.” Though “it was an ugly restaurant,” he says, people drove from Florence and Bologna to eat there. “I took the name and I’m trying to copy what they had.”
Aeschliman moved with his family to Europe when he was 7, and he’s lived in France, Italy, Switzerland and England, returning to the U.S. to attend college (“I went to six”), finishing up at Queens College in New York City. Along the way, he worked at plenty of restaurants, though none in the fine dining category.
Aeschliman’s rustic boutique BYOB in Station North manages to feel upscale but organic—the kind of place where you can linger with friends for a two-hour dinner without feeling rushed. (That’s saying something for a 16-seat hot spot.)
Describing the restaurant as Tuscan influenced “is a way to avoid saying we’re seasonal and farm-to-table,” explains Aeschliman. “Tuscany has four seasons and the food traditions follow them.”
A Day in the Life. Aeschliman recruited brother-in-law Sandy Smith, who interned at Woodberry Kitchen, as his chef, but he still does a lot of the cooking. “In the mornings, I’m in the back trying to figure out what the menu is,” he says. “We make ragus about once a week and we’re closed Monday and Tuesday so that’s when we do most of the sauces.”
Food Turn-ons. Pasta specials change every few days and have included ravioli with butternut squash and butter sage sauce, and pappardelle with boar ragu and juniper berries. There’s a smoked goose and scarlet frill appetizer on mustard greens dressed with preserved cherry mostarda. Another crowd-pleaser is malfatti —which means “badly made”—essentially ravioli filling without the pasta.
Adventurous Eats. “I’ve spent a lot of time deboning rabbits lately,” adds Aeschliman, who says most people who order rabbit at Bottega are eating it for the first time. “I stuffed them with sage and ham, tied them and roasted them off.”
Décor. Much of the interior materials come from a barn and cottage in Harpers Ferry. Aeschliman found the condemned property on Craigslist and got to it before the local fire department could incinerate it as a drill. The bentwood chairs are a mix of original turnof- the-century Thonet café chairs and reproductions rescued from a “cheesy old lounge in Detroit.”
Drinks & Dessert. “I’m not looking to get a liquor license,” says Aeschliman, who grew up drinking only water and wine. He’s in the process of courting a pastry chef, but has made a salted caramel chocolate pie borrowed from the Williamsburg, Brooklyn restaurant Marlow and Sons. “I used to live right above them,” he says. “We’d go down and get pie every night.” 1729 Maryland Ave., 443-708-5709, http://www.bottega1729.com
Before opening By Degrees Café, a decidedly not-too-schmancy 47-seat eatery in a renovated industrial space between Harbor East and Little Italy, Omar Semidey (who has been schooled by some of the country’s top chefs) did his homework. “We took a look at the market to see what other restaurants in the neighborhood were doing,” he says. “But then we changed it—only by a few degrees.” Get it? This subtle shift in the culinary landscape translates into a pared-down, reasonably priced menu of “simple foods with a twist,” according to the chef/owner, who has also worked at The Wine Market and Fleet Street Kitchen. For example, Semidey’s butternut squash soup has a touch of curry and his BLT is made with apple-wood smoked bacon, fresh greens, cherry tomatoes and tarragon aioli on a baguette. Naturally, the lunchbox specials have already become popular with the Legg Mason and Laureate set. For those sometimes-necessary “liquid lunches” (or dinners), there’s a small but well-edited beer and wine list, too. No dress code, no reservations—and free parking. (A welcome treat downtown.) 415 S. Central Ave, http://www.bydegreescafe.com
Pies get a lot of love around the holidays, and rightly so. But as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to a quick and easy dish that’s heavy on the “wow” factor, a good tart can’t be beat. Plus, because it doesn’t have a pasty topping like pie, you can eat twice as much. (At least that’s what I tell myself.)
The Ember Day tart is based on a medieval recipe for a fast-day meatless tart of cheese, onions and parsley. It’s quite rich—and I promise you won’t feel as if you’re fasting after you’ve had a slice! Don’t skimp on the saffron; that’s what makes this dish truly special.
For the leek and potato tart, I took inspiration from the British dish of creamed leeks and added a touch of tarragon. Potatoes and leeks are a classic combination, and they work beautifully here on the crunchy, buttery puff pastry crust.
The Afghan-style pumpkin tartlet with yogurt dressing is my homage to the kaddo borwani at The Helmand. The sweet pumpkin and the tangy, garlicky yogurt play well together—and it’s a fun pumpkin presentation that you don’t normally see at the typical Western holiday table.
Finally, the sweet and spicy pear torte isn’t technically a tart at all, as it’s more cake-y and made with nut flour, but why split hairs? After all, a pear tart by any other name would taste as sweet.
Unpretentious. That’s what the owners of Tavern on the Hill, who prefer to be known by their first names—Steve and Lee—had in mind when they opened their new bar/restaurant in Mount Vernon. “This neighborhood is kind of fancy and we wanted a place that was more laid back. Everyone feels comfortable here,” says Steve.
Chef Tim Engle’s menu includes basic tavern fare like the Three’s Company—an overstuffed sandwich with corned beef, turkey and roast beef—along with eight kinds of hot dogs, beautiful burgers and entrees ranging from barbecued brisket with veggies and roasted potatoes to N.Y. strip steak with blue cheese cream sauce. Bonus: they also serve breakfast all day.
Looking exclusively to imbibe? Ask award-winning bartender Jeff Levy for your Whiskey Loyalty Program punch card to keep tabs on your consumption. The 11th whiskey is on the house! 900 Cathedral St., 410-230-5400, http://www.tavernonthehillmtvernon.com
The old song says “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” but in our consumer culture, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas before Labor Day. So by the time the bleak midwinter rolls around, one might’ve had just about all the tidings of comfort and joy they can stand.
The pop psychology holds that Christmas is a “stressful” time. (Perhaps you need a hug?) And it’s not merely Mall Mom Goes Commando Over Last Tickle Me Elmo Doll. Or the cherished seasonal custom of dueling religious symbols—the crèche versus the menorah—like festive fisticuffs. Or the dreadful Christmas movies. (If there’s a hell, its denizens are watching “Home Alone 4” on a loop.) The season is inescapable.
I once went to have an MRI at Christmastime. When the nurses put the headphones on me, there was some sort of malfunction. I listened to Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” for 40 minutes. This does not bring out the good will in men.
These days, my family is trying to reduce the stress of the season. We still put up a Christmas tree, but I am under court order never to buy anything for my wife or daughter. (I’ve made some mistakes.) So now, my crowning achievement is not sending Christmas cards.
My wife’s handwriting is illegible. Most of the cards she would send (always late) would be returned as undeliverable. (Little problem with the address book, too.) So now we send cards on a triage basis. Guilt cards. If someone sends us a card, we send one back. No question about it, we’re getting fewer Christmas cards. And we’re sending fewer, too.
The Internet and the price of stamps sounded the death knell for season’s greetings. A first-class stamp is now 46 cents. A Christmas card costs maybe $2. Well, as they say, do the math. You can get quite a nice bottle of Glenmorangie for the price of a couple of dozen cards and have yourself a merry little Christmas, too.
Last year it was nigh impossible to even buy a Christmas stamp. At the little post office I go to the clerks just shrugged. The old people I heard asking for Christmas stamps seemed genuinely crestfallen. Eventually, the Christmas stamps appeared—in April! (Isn’t that in “Ernest Saves Christmas”?)
During the yuletide gay, most of the cards I now get are form letters from wise men—stockbrokers, lawyers and insurance agents. They speak to the real meaning of the holiday understood by Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge. Money. These men do not, as the bumper sticker puts it, “Keep the Christ in Christmas.” They NEVER use the word Christmas on anything. Season’s Greetings! Happy Holidays!
But we do still get the occasional unctuous Christmas letter, which surely will survive the demise of the Christmas card. Hell, it may survive Christianity. That’s simply because the Christmas letter is not about Christmas but about the sender of the letter. It’s a chance to boast, brag and bray. Many are illustrated now, too.
People you see every day rarely send Christmas letters—largely because such missives are tissues of half-truths (all the children are geniuses), wild embellishments, (exotic foreign travel), outright lies (“we bought Nantucket”), falsehoods (son early decision at Yale but going to Sweet Pea State, it’s a family tradition) and fabrications (inventive explanations as to why someone lost or changed jobs).
I can’t wait for these letters to arrive every year. I sit before a roaring fire and read every word, every lie and every fabrication and falsehood. They speak to the real meaning of the season today.
As a person with no more religion than my old cat, I would point out to the theology scholars following along at home that this holiday is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ not Matty Mattel—or your old college roommate’s 14th grandchild (a violin prodigy, you know). But I still love these letters. To me, they’re a lot like the story of Christmas itself.
God bless us everyone.
It’s no secret that Savvy is a vintage hound as well as a relentless Baltimore booster, so how could she resist a shop that combines retro chic with local business support? Viva is an online retailer and pop-up shop that has the rage for all things “Mad Men” covered. Emerald green bombshell dress? Check. Floral-embroidered pin-up sweater? Check. Vintage-inspired coffee-table books? Check. And, of course, polka dots, stripes and leopard prints galore. Though Savvy blanches at the acres of ink that festoon modern-day gals, she knows that others beg to differ, so she would be remiss if she didn’t mention the tattoo-inspired clothing and home goods as well. (Those go over particularly well when the shop pops up at Charm City Roller Girls bouts). Did we mention they serve sizes 2 to 4X? http://www.vivacharmcity.com
Although his former flames may wish he remained silenced, John Mayer’s fans are thrilled that he’s fully recovered from throat surgeries and headed back to the Baltimore to promote his newest album, Paradise Valley—which, by the way, features a duet with on/off/on girlfriend and fellow musical heavyweight (yes, it hurts us a little to use that phrase) Katy Perry. As much as we like to mock Mayer for his “douchebaggery” (a noun we made up exclusively for the roguishly handsome singer/songwriter), the guy can write a song. And as every dude-in-a-band we’ve ever dated loves to remind us, “He’s one of the greatest guitar players of our generation, you know?” Yes, we know. We’ll be crying in the front row when Mayer sings “Shadow Days” on Dec. 14 at Baltimore Arena. Bring us a tissue—or a 32-ounce beer, won’t you? Tickets, $45-$75. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Join the brainy madmen of MythBusters for a debaucherous evening of debunking as show co-hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage share behind-the-scenes scoop, roll mind-blowing footage and bring fans onstage for live experiments. Don’t miss the chance to channel your inner Dr. Strangelove on Dec. 13 at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $40-$125. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Like beehive hairdos, steamed crabs and John Waters, painted screens scream Baltimore. Although the art form originated in Victorian England, for the past 100 years painted screens have adorned Charm City’s beloved rowhouses—and nobody knows (and loves) them better than Elaine Eff. Join the curator, filmmaker, folklorist and author for a discussion of her new book “The Painted Screens of Baltimore: An Urban Folk Art Revealed” at the Ivy Bookshop on Dec. 18, 8:30 p.m. 6080 Falls Road, http://www.theivybookshop.com.
TEN HUNKS OF CHRISTMAS
We’re Under the Influence of Straight No Chaser, 10 adorable men who decided to go pro after forming an a cappella group at Indiana University back in 1996. The Warblers from “Glee” have nothing on these guys, whose new album boasts guest performances by Cee Lo Green, Jason Mraz and the great Paul McCartney among others. Dec. 12 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $49-$139. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com —P.W.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks? The legendary Harlem Globetrotters return to Baltimore Arena for two shows on their “Fans Rule” Tour—incorporating special fan-chosen rules into the act. Watch for the Hot Hand Jersey, Two Ball Basketball and a fantastic Trick Shot Challenge that will have you cheering in your seat. Dec. 28 at Baltimore Arena. Tickets, $15-$117. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com —P.W.
SUGAR PLUM PERFECTION
Unleash your tiny dancer when The Nutcracker comes to the Lyric for four performances featuring 120 students from Baltimore School for the Arts. The ballet showcases the BSO conducted by maestro Andrew Grams (a 1995 BSA alum) and a backdrop designed by current MICA students. Dec. 20-22 at
the Lyric. Tickets, $30-$60. 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org —P.W.
We’d bet our tiara that Queen Elizabeth didn’t make Kate Middleton sleep on a stack of mattresses atop a tiny pea to prove she was worthy of royalty. But Prince Erik’s mystery girl has to do just that—and other hilarious tasks in Pumpkin Theatre’s enchanting production of The Princess & The Pea. Dec. 14-22. Tickets $14-$16. http://www.pumpkintheatre.com —Meredith Jacobs
THE ART OF GIVING
Creative types won’t want to miss Maryland Art Place’s first-ever Under $500 Art Sale on Dec. 13. Mingle with local artists, enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres and listen to holiday choral groups while you shop for curated treasures likely worth far more than their sticker price. Tickets, $40-$50. http://www.mdartplace.org —M.J.
Soulful Symphony adds sleigh bells and African drums to its 75-piece symphony orchestra’s holiday musical production, including a rarely heard adaption of Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite” featuring two dancers from the acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem. Dec. 14 at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $25-$250. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com —P.W.
Although Evil Hate Monkey has been kidnapped (literally, he’s performing with a bunch of Aussie boylesque stars during an 8-week run in Hamburg, Germany), Trixie Little is still ready to play—at the Creative Alliance, that is. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a virgin attendee, you’re certain to be amazed, astounded and aroused by the 9th annual Holiday Spectac-u-thon. This year, Baltimore’s own Trixie will be joined by emcee Murray Hill and the French horn trio Tres Horny in an outrageous showcase of trapeze, striptease, acrobatics and physical comedy. Merry Christmas! Dec. 19-21. Tickets, $20-$25. http://www.creativealliance.org —S.E.
The all-new stage adaptation of the classic 1954 movie White Christmas arrives in Baltimore with extra Irving Berlin songs, gorgeous sets and a talented cast who can tap-dance their hearts out. Dec. 3-8 at the Hippodrome. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com —P.W.
The consequences of war and the enormity of the military’s reach are felt through quiet moments away from combat in An-My Lê’s powerful color and black-and-white images in her Front Room exhibit at the BMA. Though the artist is a Vietnam War refugee who was airlifted out of Saigon in 1975 at age 15, she neither celebrates nor condemns the subjects of her work, but invites viewers to come to their own conclusions. Through Feb. 23. http://www.artbma.org. —J.B.
THREE UNWISE MEN
Playwright Lyle Kessler’s powerful and darkly humorous tale of the role of family, love, nurturing and the lack thereof comes to Fells Point Corner Theatre in Orphans—described by Entertainment Weekly as “a vibrant exploration of masculinity.” The play follows the bungled kidnapping of a mysterious businessman, which leads to explosive ramifications for a violent petty thief, his emotionally fragile brother and their supposed victim. Through Dec. 8. Tickets, $15-$20. http://www.fpct.org —M.J.
Not since Mike Myers starred on “SNL” have Sprockets been so much fun. Hop over to Port Discovery’s Holiday Springs & Sprockets exhibit, featuring large-scale, mechanical sculptures created from recycled materials by renowned artist Steve Gerberich. We’re talking eight life-sized flying reindeer lifted by motor-driven exercise bicycles, a candy cane assembly plant driven by an early 20th-century vertical drill press, and a fully automated cookie workshop. Finally, a place where you can encourage your kids to push a button and see what happens. Through Jan. 26. http://www.portdiscovery.org —J.B.
Call it “contorting to the Christmas classics” as aerialists, jugglers and strongmen do their thing to the accompaniment of favorite holiday songs performed by the BSO. Fans of all ages are certain to flip for Cirque Musica’s Holiday Cirque—a daring exhibition of beauty, talent and strength. Dec. 11-15 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $19-$84. 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org —M.J.
Here at STYLE, we’re snobby about country. (No red Solo cups, thank you.) That’s why we love the versatile Country Devils. This local ensemble is quite a sight to see live, where their infectious energy can turn any venue into a bona fide hoedown.
In the studio, the band’s songwriting shines brightly—punctuated by Mike Beresh’s gorgeous lyrics, which effortlessly weave humor with heartbreak. On their new release The Quick and the Don’t Get Any, the band’s instrumentation of guitar, banjo, mandolin, upright bass, pedal steel guitar and harmonica gel perfectly to create a rootsy/rock soundscape that has become our go-to record for fall road trips.
Standout tracks include “Lenny and Honey” (about Lenny Bruce and his wife, Honey Harlow, who hailed from Baltimore) and the twangy, trumpet-infused “County Employee” about a gal who “ain’t got no babies/she got lots of friends.” But the album’s highest achievement comes from “Beatlemania vs Gun Control”—a rare political turn for the band, which will leave you feeling haunted even as you hum along.
DOWNLOAD THIS: If you’re a fan of Whiskeytown, Old 97‘s and Wilco—or keep vintage copies of No Depression on your bedside table. —Jessica Bizik and Marc Shapiro
WOB is with us. Opening its doors in mid-October, McHenry Row’s new World of Beer offers barstoolexplorers 50 rotating taps, one cask and more than 500 bottle choices, backed up by solid pub fare and a compact wine list for the hopless among us.
Settling in at the long, L-shaped dark wood bar or a nearby hightop, you’ll find a Red Bull-infused staff happy to pour you samples—and almost as knowledgeable about the extensive offerings as they think they are. With a large sheltered patio, a pocket stage for live music and plentiful but silent flat-screens, WOB draws an eclectic crowd on weeknights before shifting into “broverdrive” for the weekend.
Being WOB and not NOB (Nation, natch), the draft options run more toward international standard bearers than exotic domestics, but the draft lineup changes daily and will undoubtedly evolve over time. For now, though, there’s no Boh in WOB. It’s a new world in Locust Point. 1724 Whetstone Way, 410-752-2337, http://www.wobusa.com
Forget a White Christmas, Savvy dreams of easy, results guaranteed holiday shopping. And nobody does it better than the fun-time gals at With Gratitude, a perfectly edited little gift shop in Stoneleigh. Ladies, stop in to fill out your wish list (and check it twice), then send in your significant other for “Chug & Charge” (Dec. 10 from 4-8 p.m.) to pick up the loot—and enjoy a few brews with a bunch of other affable blokes. Just brilliant. 6907 York Road, 410-377-6100, http://www.shopwithgratitude.com
The passing of the late lamented Joanna Gray Shoes left a sad spot in The Shops at Stevenson Village. Until the charming Liza Byrd moved in. Clothes for women, children and men, along with jewelry and home accessories fill this bright little boutique. The Camilla Shirt in earthy paisley channels the Swinging ‘60s, while the Jasmine Party Dresses in black or gold are pure 21stcentury sparkle. You can even get matching mother-daughter frocks based on American Girl dolls. (Yes, that includes an outfit for the doll.) For the gents, there are brilliantly patterned ties—something Savvy thinks fashion-shy men could use more of. The Shops in Stevenson Village, 410-215-2525, http://www.lizabyrd.com
What’s better than watching “I Love Lucy” reruns on TV Land? I Love Lucy Live on Stage, natch. Take a trip down memory lane with this behind-the-scenes Broadway comedy where you’ll become a member of the Desilu Playhouse studio audience during the filming of two of the most memorable episodes from the sitcom’s 1952 season. The robust cast includes strong performances by leads playing the Ricardos and the Mertzes (who steal the show, by the way), an affable announcer and even a seven-piece band that backs up “Ricky” at the Tropicana Nightclub. It’s time to Babalu, baby! Dec. 26-29 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Merriam Theater. Tickets, $25-$75. http://www.kimmelcenter.org. —S.E.
Convinced that Little Italy is the perfect place to spark a cultural and culinary renaissance, Cyd Wolf, her (authentically Tuscan!) husband/executive chef Germano Fabiani and their new artistic director Donald Kennedy are setting the neighborhood aflame with their “new” restaurant in the space formerly known as Germano’s Trattoria.
Now dubbed Germano’s Piattini (small plates) the contemporary Italian kitchen and bar is serving up little dishes with big flavor. Think Tartufo (truffle) Pizza, Carciofi Fritti (long stem artichokes fried in prosecco batter) and Polpo in Tre Modi (octopus three ways). Wolf notes that the menu includes many gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian offerings—and the facility is entirely nut-free. Well, except for some of the entertainers—ranging from jazz, opera and bluegrass musicians to Broadway and theater performers—who bring their creative talents to the adjoining cabaret. Also entertaining: the pasta-making demonstrations, where students of all ages can eat what they make for lunch. 300 S. High St, 410-752-4515, http://www.germanospiattini.com
When contractor Dave Tobash decided to open The Chasseur, it wasn’t so much the food that inspired him—but fixing an eyesore. “I wanted to turn something ugly into something beautiful,” says the Canton resident, who never cared for the design of Adam’s Eve, the Foster Avenue spot he purchased and refurbished last summer.
Fiancée Natalie diFrancesco, however, has food service in her blood. “I was conceived in a restaurant!” she says with a laugh, noting that she grew up waitressing in her family’s Italian restaurant in Frederick. “I had just one condition before we opened,” she says. “I told Dave, ‘We have to get Mike!’”
That’s bartender Mike Zabora, a familiar (bearded) face in Canton and Fells Point, who comes with a happy legion of regulars who’ve followed him from One Eyed Mike’s to Hummers—and now to The Chasseur. The restaurant is named after the most successful merchant ship during the War of 1812 (aka The Pride of Baltimore).
“My ancestors were longshoremen and carpenters—and our whole crew here has working-class roots. ” says Zabora, flashing his custom Maryland Flag tattoo. “We want to honor people who work hard for a living.”
1. The Menu: The Chasseur is charting the right course with a well-edited mix of apps (think: tuna tartare tacos and sloppy Joe sliders) paired with cholesterol-be-damned entrees, such as buttermilk fried chicken and sour beef and dumplings. Fancy something fancier? The pan-roasted Atlantic salmon with spinach, farro risotto and maple-tomato gastrique is slap-somebody-worthy.
2. The Chef: Sean Praglowski, formerly of Blue Hill Tavern, prides himself on using the finest, freshest ingredients to create The Chasseur’s signature comfort food dishes. “I like to keep it playful, with familiar meals that have been made in kitchens for years, but add my own twist.”
3. The Perks: Being neighborhood-centric is key to owner Tobash’s goal of becoming “the kind of place locals will come three or four times a week.” Wednesday is Stoop Night, where the crew delivers treats (like watermelon-feta-prosciutto skewers) to their Canton neighbors. Also popular with the locals: the Sunday Night Supper menu, featuring specially priced, family-style fare—perfect for roommates, double dates and couples with kids.
4. The Drinks: Thematically named craft cocktails range from sweet to spicy, including the Canon Fuse made with Three Olives mango vodka, tequila, fresh lime, orange juice, sriracha and sliced jalapeno.
5. The Scene: From the custom Vespas parked outside to the indie-darling soundtrack featuring Arcade Fire and the XX, The Chasseur is cool enough to stroke your “I’m a sophisticated city dweller” ego, but “corner bar” enough so you’ll feel comfortable wearing a suit or scrubs. Bonus: the square bar encourages fraternization. Hipsters and prepsters sharing plates? Yep, we’ve seen it. 3328 Foster Avenue, 410-327-6984 http://www.thechausseur.com.
Family meal traditions are wonderful things, but I think it’s fun to mix it up every now and then. After all, even the most delicious Thanksgiving turkey recipe can get a bit boring year after year. I’m not suggesting you abandon your beloved bird altogether, but why not be a bit adventurous this holiday?
I first had wild boar in Krakow, Poland, and instantly fell in love with its rich, nutty flavor—a cross between roast beef and pork. Here I’ve paired this hearty game meat with a fruity port wine jus. And for an incredible leftover meal, make a simple wild boar ragù: Shred the remaining boar meat and add it, along with canned tomatoes, back into the remaining jus and simmer on low for hours. Serve over pappardelle pasta. Rabbit isn’t a common protein on American tables, and that’s a shame. It’s plentiful, affordable and, when cooked correctly, buttery, moist and tender. Try it with my rich sage and pork stuffing and a classic mustard sauce.
The Guinea hen legs, slowly poached in butter, are herby, slightly salty mouthfuls of rich dark meat, and go perfectly with the tart cranberry cherry gastrique.
And finally, something for vegetarians. All too often, our herbivorous friends and family members get stuck eating a series of side dishes at holiday meals, but not so if you serve this sweet potato, caramelized onion and raclette galette—essentially a free-form tart. You also can serve a wedge as a great side for any rich game meat.
Not quite ready to abandon the Thanksgiving turkey altogether? Try one or more of these dishes alongside it this year.
Why should your mani-pedi be rushed and take place in a little corner off to the side, as if it were an afterthought? Or, if it’s the main attraction, why should it be in a space swirling with headache-inducing fumes? Jasmine Simms thinks it shouldn’t. That’s why she opened Scrub Nail Boutique. Exclusively devoted to manicures and pedicures, Scrub is an airy, elegant, luxurious salon on the second floor of a classic rowhouse in Fells Point. It features gel polish only—no acrylics—and is 100 percent fume-free. Whether you want a classic pale neutral or more Goth deep navy, Scrub can set you up—and give your legs a rubdown with fancy organic masks and exfoliants. Complimentary tea, coffee, water and Diet Coke (there have to be some concessions to the real world!) add to the air of relaxation. And they have memberships available to ensure you keep your nails and tootsies in tiptop shape. 722 S. Broadway, Fells Point, http://www.scrubnailboutique.com
Be cool, it’s time to dab on some Sex Panther and tune up the jazz flute because the Channel 4 Evening News Team is back in “Anchorman: The Exhibit,” opening Nov. 14 at the Newseum. In partnership with Paramount Pictures, the exhibit features props, costumes and footage from the 2004 smash comedy. Pose for photos at the KVWN-TV anchor desk and film your own “Anchorman”-themed TV spot at one of the “Be a TV Reporter” stations. (Just don’t drink any scotchy scotch scotch before your segment.) You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about the history of news teams (both fictional and real) just in time for the release of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” in December. Through Aug. 31, 2014 http://www.newseum.org
Insider’s Tip: After exploring the 250,000-square-foot interactive news museum, head up the street to Mike Isabella’s Graffiato restaurant (graffiatodc.com) for the most amazing charred octopus this side of San Diego.
Volunteers for The 6th Branch (T6B) are creating an urban farm in Oliver, a neighborhood once considered one of Baltimore’s toughest.
Once upon a time, in a place called Oliver, a band of urban warriors came together and brought hope to a neighborhood that others had left for dead. Organized by a group of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan called The 6th Branch (T6B), in cooperation with local residents and partner organizations, they dedicated themselves to revitalizing one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country.
Oliver first made national news in 2002, when the Dawson family of Oliver, were murdered by area drug dealers who firebombed their home in retaliation for their efforts to alert police to drug dealing in the neighborhood. Later, the East Baltimore neighborhood gained further notoriety when it was portrayed as the poverty-stricken, crime-ridden open-air drug market on the HBO series “The Wire.”
In 2010, veterans Rich Blake, Dennis Robinson and Gregory Lamberson founded T6B, a nonprofit where vets like themselves could use the organizational and leadership skills they learned in the military to solve domestic problems.
“We wanted to prove we could make aggressive change by using the skills we had developed in the service,” Blake explains. “I don’t need people to thank me for my service. I don’t want a bunch of money or tickets to the baseball game. The best way to honor veterans is to take advantage of their skills.”
After a few false starts, T6B got up to speed in spring 2011 when Blake, a Pat Tillman Scholar, received a call from the Tillman Foundation asking him and Robinson, also a Tillman Scholar, for help with a community service day. The Tillman Foundation helped T6B assemble 200 volunteers to carry out a tough mission: a major cleanup in Oliver. By the end of the day, volunteers had removed 5 tons of garbage, painted a mural, weeded, mulched and landscaped. In addition, T6B had formed a partnership with Earl Johnson, a community activist and part-owner of Come Home Baltimore, a local green-building company in Oliver. The two organizations vowed to continue their work in the neighborhood—and Operation Oliver was born.
Although Blake now lives in Seattle where he works as an Army psychologist, he continues to be involved with T6B. Currently he serves as its board chair, while staff and volunteers in Baltimore carry out and build on the work he and the co-founders began.
Marine Dave Landymore, T6B’s executive director, has picked up where Blake and the other vets left off. A formidable leader, Landymore has the quiet confidence and warm demeanor that motivates others for any challenge.
T6B Executive Director Dave Landymore (right) and volunteers compost.
“We consider everything in the neighborhood within our scope,” says Landymore, who lives in Hampden but plans to move to Oliver soon. “Military vets have already chosen to serve—and when they are discharged that drive doesn’t go away. We can’t remedy every social malady in Oliver, but we roll up our sleeves and do as much as we can.”
Two years after T6B first spearheaded revitalization efforts, the neighborhood is no longer the Oliver of “The Wire.” Yes, there are some boarded-up homes, but many of the brick rowhouses are nicely renovated. Although there are empty lots where homes once stood, they are neatly mowed and garbage-free. Attractive signs advertising new “green” homes for sale are posted, and a large mural on North Bond Street reads “Root for Tomorrow.”
Perhaps most significantly, violent crime has decreased dramatically in Oliver over the past two years. “Since we’ve come to the neighborhood the city has taken more of an interest in what’s happening in Oliver,” says Jeremy Johnson, a veteran who handles public relations for T6B. “They have worked to reduce the amount of drug traffic. In the first year alone, we saw violent crime dropping. Crimes like petty theft increased but violent crime went down. You take what you can get. In the first six months of this year, there has been only one homicide in Oliver.”
Sunday at the Farm Stand
A recent Sunday afternoon finds Landymore and a large group of volunteers near the corner of North Bond and Hoffman streets gearing up for one of the organization’s most impactful programs, the weekly Oliver Farm Stand. Soon, a long line of residents will cue up in front of the stand to collect a weekly supply of fruits and vegetables. Some folks are already in line, while others picnic on blankets or sit on lawn chairs socializing. Children are everywhere.
The stand’s purpose is to provide free fresh produce to members of the community living in a so-called food desert, where healthy foods are harder to access. The food is delivered to Oliver courtesy
of T6B’s partner organization, Gather Baltimore, led by urban farmer and part-time teacher, Arthur Morgan. Gather Baltimore is a volunteer-based program that collects vegetables, fruit and bread that would otherwise be thrown away from local retail stores and farmers markets for distribution to meal programs, faith communities and others in need.
One of Oliver’s youngest residents quenches his thirst with some fresh watermelon.
“The fact that people are throwing out beautiful food while others are going hungry is one of the great absurdities of modern life,” says Andreas “Spilly” Spiliadis, who lives in nearby Arcadia where he farms the nearly quarter-acre he owns. Spiliadis, who plans to run for mayor of Baltimore in the next election, says that if he’s elected, he will confront the issue of hunger in Baltimore. “Food and food oppression is one of the least talked about and most important issues today.”
At about 1 p.m., Arthur Morgan’s truck arrives, and volunteers get to work. Some help Morgan, easily recognizable by his long white beard, to unload the large bins full of lettuce, kale, collard greens, red peppers, squash, zucchini, eggplant, cantaloupe and watermelon. Others pack grocery bags full of the fruit and veggies.
“On a slow week about 250 families take advantage of the food stand,” says Landymore. “On a busy week, it’s more like 500.”
While some people tend the farm stand, others mulch, plant and compost in the 20,000-square-foot lot behind it. Eventually, Operation Oliver volunteers plan to fill the entire lot with fresh produce farmed by members of the community. According to Noah Smock, a T6B board member who serves as its director of development, the farm should be ready for planting by late fall—and by March it will be fully functional.
Arthur Allen, 55, a longtime Oliver resident, has been helping out at the farm stand for several weeks. He believes the stand is teaching kids and young adults the importance of good nutrition.
“People have gotten away from vegetables. Older people like my parents—they’re 70 and 80—know about the importance of eating vegetables,” he says. “My father had a garden. Especially in the black culture, youngsters tend to eat junk food. Most of them don’t even realize peanuts and potatoes come from the ground.”
At a recent day of service, volunteers led by Briony Evans Hynson and Vincent Purcell take a break, while volunteers paint a balance beam made from a tree trunk for Oliver’s Bethel Street Playscape.
Afghanistan veteran and T6B board member Nick Culbertson and his wife, Kim, are hoping to reverse that trend with a grant-funded project that provides onsite nutrition education for Oliver residents. Every Sunday, while residents pick up their weekly produce, the Culbertsons and their “assistant” (7-year-old Oliver resident Ariana Mondowney) set up shop nearby. At their booth, residents can receive nutritional information and recipes, watch cooking demonstrations by local chefs and get new ideas for preparing some of the more unusual vegetables being distributed.
“We noticed people wouldn’t take the things they didn’t know what to do with,” says Nick. “So we thought it would be useful to show them.”
Kim, a chemistry teacher in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and Dulaney High School, plans to put together a book of the recipes they’ve been collecting from their work in Oliver. “We want to name the recipes after the people in the neighborhood,” she says.
A Joyful Word
Jacquilene Anderson, 52, has always prided herself on being a good neighbor. She has been volunteering with Operation Oliver since the beginning. Nowadays, she works at the farm stand—calling numbers, like at a deli counter, so the food can be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Most of the time, I associate with the elderly, give them a joyful word, ask if they need something from the store. They give me words of wisdom—and recipes,” says Anderson, who admits she was once a part of the crime that almost destroyed Oliver. “Way back when, I was on drugs. I used and sold, but that’s the past. God turned me around and I’m much better.”
Anderson has noticed improvements in the neighborhood, too. “Now there are police on the corners and people are less fearful,” she says, adding that she likes to share her cautionary tale with younger residents whom she hopes will choose the right life path.
That includes Jessica Carter, 21, who regularly volunteers with Operation Oliver. “I help spread the word about the farm stand to young friends like me who don’t have enough [resources] to buy healthy food,” says Carter.
It’s hard to imagine this tiny, soft-spoken woman dressed in a tank top and psychedelic pants running around the neighborhood with gun-toting drug dealers. But dealing was a former way of life for the single mom of a 3-year-old daughter. She attributes her new outlook to community service—and particularly to Earl Johnson, who runs the neighborhood’s mentoring program.
Johnson, 32, who moved to Oliver with his wife in 2010, says the area is full of twenty-somethings who have lost their way. Formerly a T6B board member, Johnson is still active with the group. Unintimidated by the drug dealers, Johnson has been known to sit outside with his laptop signing up youngsters for volunteer jobs.
“Thanks to Earl, now I can help change things by helping others,” says Carter. “It’s much better than spending my life in Central Booking.”
A Safe Space for Oliver’s Kids
Once known as Murder Alley, Oliver’s Bethel Street Playscape has become a place for neighborhood children to do what comes naturally.
Pioneered by Briony Evans Hynson, 32, when she was a fellow for MICA’s Social Design Master’s Program, the project began with a simple experiment.
Hynson put up a single tire swing and a tetherball set in a vacant lot just to see what would happen. What she learned?
If you build it, they will come.
“A $20 investment transformed this place from destitute to hopeful,” says the 6-foot redhead, now deputy director at Baltimore’s Neighborhood Design Center.
When she first started her work on the subsequent playscape, Hynson says she’s certain local residents wondered, “Who is that crazy lady out here every day?” But gradually, neighborhood kids and their parents started coming by to help.
“On one of our first volunteer days, we were building bike ramps. Within five minutes, kids were out here telling us, ‘Do it this way, not that way,’” she says. “On another day in early spring, I saw about 40 people out here—and it wasn’t even a sunny day. That’s when I realized it was a success.”
In February, the Bethel Street Playscape inherited a large jungle gym shaped like a dinosaur that became available when the city decommissioned one of its playgrounds. With the help of Baltimore’s
Department of Parks and Recreation and volunteers from Operation Oliver, the dinosaur was installed on the property, which is still a work in progress. The playscape also has blackboards and climbing structures made of electrical wire spools salvaged from recycling facilities.
Last year, Dave Landymore was walking through the playground and discovered a note taped to a piece of plywood that was stuck in the ground. It said: Come and join our football team. We be out every day. Come at 3 to 6:30. We are the Baltimore Lightning on Oliver and Bethel. You will see our field goal.
In response, Hynson and the volunteers put in yard-lines on the sidewalks so the kids could play football. And now, volunteers from Stevenson University travel downtown to coach the kids every Friday afternoon.
What Brings Them to Oliver
At 63, Lynn Heneson jokes she’s “far and away the oldest member of T6B. I’m older than s__t,” she tells fellow volunteer Pam Gladden, as the two women share a laugh. That doesn’t stop Heneson, a
retired speechwriter for the Department of Health and Human Services, from traveling almost an hour from her home in D.C. to help Operation Oliver with some of its most strenuous tasks. A native
Baltimorean, Heneson says she “doesn’t have the same feeling for D.C.” that she has for Baltimore—even though she has lived there for 30 years.
“Oliver was the ancestral neighborhood for my family. I have deep roots here,” she says. “There’s just this friendliness in Baltimore that isn’t in D.C. I’ve met great people and I feel like I’m doing something to help.”
Stephanie Region, T6B’s director of engagement, says Operation Oliver helps residents to see there is hope for the neighborhood. “They already have strength. Everyone knows each other and there is longevity in the neighborhood. People here have cared for their own streets and kept up their homes,” says the civilian volunteer who heard about T6B through Black is the New Green, a social media-based, environmentally focused organization she founded in 2010. “If you make things nicer, people want to keep it that way.”
Still, Region admits that when T6B first began work in the neighborhood there was a certain amount of distrust from the residents. She believes the organization has been successful because it hasn’t imposed its agenda on the people of Oliver. “It’s about showing people we care about them, but not telling them what they need. Even though I’m not a resident, I spend time in the community and really get to know them.”
Kelvin Holliday, 48, who works for the Department of Justice, moved to Oliver three years ago. A native Baltimorean, Holliday knew the neighborhood’s reputation. “Years ago, this neighborhood was notorious for its murder rate. I used to duck coming through here when I was a kid.” Yet Holliday felt convinced that Oliver was heading toward a renaissance. Since moving in he’s seen positive changes. “I see people taking ownership and having pride. When the farm stand started, people were so happy and excited. It’s rewarding to give blessings to others.”
Benefits for Vets and Volunteers
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Operation Oliver also makes a significant impact on the men and women who volunteer here.
After being discharged from the U.S. Navy because he admitted he was gay, Jeremy Johnson, figured his connection with the military was over. “A few months after I was kicked out, I dumped my
uniforms,” he says. “It was like an acknowledgment that I’d never wear them again. For 10 years, I was taught to take great care of my uniforms and there I was throwing them away.”
Although Johnson was no longer allowed to serve, he was discharged honorably, and able to return to school at Community College of Baltimore County with funding from the military. When a friend invited him to attend a conference for millennial vets in Los Angeles, he was less than enthusiastic. But since he needed service learning credits for a class, he decided to attend. It was there he met
T6B co-founder Dennis Robinson—who, along with other T6B members, eventually persuaded him to join their efforts.
“Even though my military career was over, that didn’t change the fact that I was a vet,” explains Johnson. “I’m not sure exactly when or how it came up that I was gay, but no one seemed to care. Being part of T6B helped me reconcile my vet identity.” (So much so that Johnson became the nation’s first serviceman to re-enlist after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.)
“Had I not hooked up with a group of people who gave me a positive outlook on the military, I wouldn’t have been as quick to re-enlist,” says Johnson. “It really helped me to get over my bitterness.”
Pat Young, 30, a lifelong Catonsville resident, found his way to Operation Oliver through the Veterans Art Program, another T6B partner organization. Now T6B’s director of strategic partnerships (and a 2014 Democratic candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates), the Marine who served two tours in Iraq admits that transitioning to civilian life was hard—but community service can help.
“When you’re in the military, you have a sense of purpose and worth. Afterward, there’s a sense that something is missing,” says Young, who also founded a veterans’ advocacy group at Towson University. “I believe my work at Towson and T6B has kept me away from depression.”
Civilian board member John Schratwieser, an arts lobbyist, learned about T6B on a fateful day. He met Jeremy Johnson and Pat Young at a performance of “The Telling Project,” a compilation of stories about vets, and returned home to learn that his cousin who had served in the Air Force for 25 years had taken his own life.
“He definitely had post-traumatic stress symptoms,” says Schratwieser, who took his cousin’s suicide as an impetus to get involved with T6B—a decision he credits for helping him develop a strong connection to Baltimore in the first year after relocating here. “What I think is so spectacular about this program are these vets,” says Schratwieser. “Not being one of them, I am continually trying to match their level of commitment to the community. The concept of the sixth branch of military service speaks volumes about the potential of these individuals—and the city we live in.”
Meaghan & Shane Carpenter
Meaghan & Shane Carpenter
[ Hex ferments ]
“She won me over with food,” says Shane Carpenter, photographer-turned-food alchemist, as he fondly remembers a certain goulash his wife, Meaghan, made when they were students at MICA.
“I have a strong German background,” explains Meaghan with a laugh. Which may explain the kraut.
The Carpenters have built their business, HEX Ferments, around fermented food—sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha tea. Meaghan first learned about this ancient means of accessing beneficial probiotics and nutrients while working as a vegan salad chef as an undergrad.
Digestive issues compelled her to begin fermenting foods herself.
“There’s a whole range of bacteria our bodies need to have better immune function, metabolism, digestive and brain function,” Meaghan explains. “Topping a hamburger with a fermented food, such as sauerkraut, helps your body digest food and make nutrients more bio-available.”
The Carpenters mix cabbage with high mineral salt that causes the vegetable to break down—allowing various bacteria to proliferate and die until just the right flavor and texture is achieved. Not a job for the impatient, the fermentation process can take weeks or even months.
Afterward, the couple layers local seasonal vegetables to the cabbage base—transforming it into creative concoctions, such as garlic kraut with Brandywine tomatoes—which will soon be sold in their first retail space in Belvedere Square Market. Other fermented favorites include pickled okra and ginger soda—all great to consume during cold and flu season.
“We see ourselves as good witches leaning over bubbling pots of fermenting vegetables and kombucha teas,” explains Meaghan, who says the hex symbol connotes protective powers in Pennsylvania Dutch folklore.
“We bottle up all that goodness and give it to people—and it’s the most amazing, magical thing.”
Marie Stratton & Katie Horn
Marie Stratton & Katie Horn
[ Kinderhook Snacks ]
Thanks to more than $13,000 raised in a Kickstarter campaign, Marie Stratton and Katie Horn have a new commercial kitchen in a carriage house near WYPR for their Kinderhook Snacks company. Which means they no longer have to pull all-nighters, baking in rented kitchens after all the restaurants in town close down.
“There are plenty of funny stories when you’re completely delirious,” says Stratton. “Like when we’re packaging and falling asleep—putting the stickers on upside down or on the bottom.”
If everything goes according to plan, the two will soon be working full time making coconut honey macaroons, salted chocolate chip cookies, Parmesan bacon crackers, black pepper shortbread, ginger cookies and candied walnuts.
“We’re on that trajectory,” says Horn of their grand plan. “The business is making money at this point and we have a plan to grow. We will be launching mail order this month, so people can make a one-time purchase or buy a subscription plan. It’s like a CSA or snack-of-the-month club.”
The environmentally minded duo composts out of their kitchen, recycles as much as possible (including delivering in boxes the ingredients came in) and sources locally from Vann Spices, the Herb and Farm Alliance and local egg providers whenever possible.
“As a small company, we have a lot of flexibility to be purposeful in the ingredients we choose,” explains Horn, who says they’ll remain committed to sustainability—and fun—even as the company grows.
“We were just reminiscing about the time when making a hundred bags of snacks was a big deal—and now we’re averaging 500 each week,” says Stratton.
“People always laugh when we tell them we have a snack company,” adds Horn. “It’s just a fun thing. Everybody loves to snack.”
[ Mobtown Meat Snacks ]
Two winters ago, Evan Siple bought a dehydrator on a whim. “I didn’t want to dehydrate fruit, so I thought I’d try jerky,” he explains. When friends told him it was so good they’d buy it, Siple thought: What the hell? Jerky is a multibillion-dollar industry!
“It’s tied in part to the Paleo diet,” Siple says of the snack’s recent rise in popularity. But we’re not talking about gas station jerky here. Instead, think locally sourced, farm-raised beef from Monkton flavored with Old Bay, chili lime, teriyaki, curry, Jamaican jerk and black pepper crust. In other words, this jerky tastes like sirloin steak.
Siple calls on his biology degree from St. Mary’s College and experiences in labs from Johns Hopkins to the Carnegie Institute (where he studied muscle regeneration) to make his jerky healthier using natural sources like pineapple juice to tenderize, cure, flavor and change the color of the meat. “People have been doing this for eons, but it satisfies the scientist in my brain,” he says, noting that all his jerky is low-fat, low-sodium and has a long shelf life. “It’s protein on the go.”
Working out of Ostrowski’s sausage kitchen in Fells Point, he cuts all the meat by hand and has upgraded to an industrial-sized dehydrator that turns 125 pounds of meat into 63 pounds of jerky—several of which end up traveling to Europe when his “PhD friends” visit their homelands. “If only I had a smuggler,” he notes wistfully.
Siple’s sense of humor extends to his business’ website, where you can find custom T-shirts dedicated to Baltimore’s best mustaches (hello, Frank Zappa!) and gift cards with cheeky salutations like “Happy Bar Mitzvah—have some meat.”
Jinji & Guy Fraser
Jinji & Guy Fraser
[ Pure Chocolate by Jjinji ]
What if we told you there was a food that’s delicious, reduces cholesterol, makes your skin glow—and revs your sex drive? Now, what if we said that food was chocolate? That’s the premise behind Pure Chocolate by Jinji, the small batch producer and beauty brand founded by holistic health coach Jinji Fraser.
“True raw cacao contains more antioxidants than green tea, red wine and blueberries combined,” says Fraser, who adds beauty-boosting “super” ingredients such as raspberry, figs and Brazil nuts to make her unique chocolate bark. “Brazil nuts offer the highest source of selenium in nature—great for hair growth.”
Pure Chocolate’s founder discovered these sweet facts by attending workshops on raw chocolate and even took a trip to South America to see a real cacao pod and to ensure the chocolate she sells is produced in a humane and environmentally friendly way.
“It was remarkable,” she says of the natural process, which includes roasting the pods in the sun for a week to maintain health benefits. Unlike mainstream chocolatiers, Fraser sweetens her product with coconut and lucuma rather than refined sugar.
Fraser’s father Guy, retired from his career managing military construction projects, is her business partner. In addition to handling logistics, the elder Fraser serves as chief taste-tester.
“I can eat chocolate from morning until night,” he says. (Which means his daughter needs to keep a tight control of inventory.) Dad’s favorite flavors? Milk and Honey Café, made with espresso beans, and Beam, made with lavender, honey, ginger and walnut.
“It may look like traditional chocolate, but it has a taste you can appreciate as being from hand rather than machine,” he says. “People can actually taste the caring.”
[ Haute Mess Kitchen ]
Kristin Zissel still isn’t sure why she accepted the challenge to create a six-course tasting menu for 16 guests at “a cute little wine store” in her Cedarcroft neighborhood. A self-proclaimed “frequent flyer” at the shop, she would sometimes share her homemade food with the owners, which is why they turned to her when their caterer for a special event fell through. “It was obstacle-course cooking,” says the marketing gal turned accidental caterer. “Sear lamb chops at home; heat them in a stranger’s apartment above the shop; repeat.”
Zissel soon found herself fielding more offers including a wedding, but catering didn’t jibe with the new mom’s lifestyle. “I love food, but I don’t want restaurant hours—or restaurant stress,” she says.
When reviewing her favorite recipes, she kept coming back to the one her husband loves the most—her barbecue sauce. “I don’t even think I was making ribs correctly. They weren’t smoked, didn’t hit a grill. But it was the bourbon-based sauce everyone seemed to love.”
So she decided to sell it. Since May, Zissel’s Haute Mess Kitchen has sold more than 1,000 jars of her Bourbon Bath whiskey barbecue sauce and dry rubs (Steak Candy, Off the Hook Island and Chicken Scratch).
Zissel believes her products gives wannabe chefs who frequent specialty stores and farmers markets an easy way to kick up their meals a notch (or two).
“You don’t go to the trouble of buying grass-fed beef to dump artificial preservatives on it,” she says, noting that working in small batches allows her to use premium bourbon in her sauce. “If it was mass produced, I’d have to downgrade or switch to extract.”
You can find Zissel’s products on the Haute Mess website, along with local boutiques Su Casa and Milk and Honey, and at the Towson Farmers Market in season.
[ Woot! Granola ]
Whenever Gail Fishman texts her daughter Sasha asking about her day, it’s always a good sign if she replies “Woot!”
“It’s a big gaming phrase used by young people to mean good or happy,” says Fishman. (According to Urban Dictionary, “woot!” is the abbreviation of “wow, loot!” said by players of Dungeons and Dragons.) “And since Sasha was the one who encouraged me to make my granola, it seemed like the perfect name for the business.”
Fishman played with the recipes for several months to achieve one that was healthy and delicious. She increased nuts, seeds and dried fruits, decreased grain, added oodles of crystallized ginger and decreased sweeteners and oils. Without the usual “batter” of oil, sugar and oat flour, her granola is more of a mix—best eaten with a spoon or, better yet, by the handful.
The former museum exhibition developer, who has worked for the Smithsonian, the Holocaust Museum and the Contemporary in Baltimore, first began serving her granola to party guests in her Guilford home, along with a glass of wine and plate of cheese. People would ask for batches here and there. But things really took off when she delivered a bag of Woot! to her friend, Irena Stein, owner of Baltimore’s Azafran and Alkimia cafes.
“She said she had never tasted anything like it,” says Fishman, adding that Stein offered to test-sell the granola in her restaurants—and taught her professional kitchen practices. “Pretty soon, people started emailing me asking for more.”
Woot! also has become a fan favorite at the Union Graze farmers market in Hampden and an ecommerce site is in the works.
Meanwhile, granola continues to be a family affair. Everyone chops, Sasha, 18, designed the logo and Leah, 16, is a natural at sales. Architect husband, Jonathan, helps with packaging. “He puts the labels on perfectly,” Fishman says with a smile.
Angie and James Hale
Angie and James Hale
[ Hale’s Homemade ]
Call it a “Laverne and Shirley” moment, but when Angie and James Hale donned hairnets to watch the first batch of their Hale’s Homemade salsa roll off the line at their new co-packer in Randallstown, the only word that came to mind was “awesome,” said in unison.
This is the next step in the life of a small-batch producer. Once the product becomes too in-demand to be made completely by hand, the recipe is given to a company with capacity to make larger quantities.
“We’re not talking Tostitos, 17,000-jars-per-minute-type quantities,” says James. Rather each batch of “Hale Yeah it’s Mild!” and “Holy Hale it’s Hot!” salsas are mixed in 300 gallon kettles, bottled into 1,700 jars, packed into 150 cases and then stored in the Hales’ basement. On the weekends the couple packs up their minivan and delivers to local stores, which—big announcement—now includes Whole Foods.
The couple, who started crafting their own salsa for home-cooked Mexican dinners, believe it’s the consistency of the ingredients in their otherwise fairly simple recipe that makes their salsa muy bueno.
“Our tomatoes go through a fine grind,” says James. “With every ingredient ground to the same size, the full impact of the flavors is tasted in each bite.”
“A lot of salsas are on the smoky side,” adds Angie. “Ours is purely tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeños, hot sauce.”
Up next: a super-hot formula called “Hotter than Hale”—and raising their 6-month-old daughter, Hannah Marie, who already has a onesie with the company logo.
Says proud mom Angie: “She’s employee of the month!”
[ Charm City Cook ]
Growing up in rural Baltimore County, the only girl in a family of five boys, Amy Langrehr literally had to grab for food. “As a kid, food wasn’t something I thought about,” says the alumni director at Friends School of Baltimore. “You just ate because you had to have dinner.”
Her 40th birthday trip to a friend’s home in Paris changed all that. During a drive to Burgundy, they stopped for a rustic French country lunch and her friend’s husband took photos of the food. (This was
before Instagram, mind you.) Eating, drinking and photographing her way through France left Langrehr with a hunger for more.
Today she lives her life in a sustainable way—buying local produce and even raising chickens in her backyard downtown. In this way, she is also carrying on the traditions of her grandparents.
“My grandmother was a cook who just made things up as she went along,” says Langrehr, whose grandparents ran Country Home in Harford County. “Homeless people would come off the train tracks and would work at my grandparents’ farm and stay overnight. Everything my grandmother made—buttermilk, cheese and butchered meats, anything they ate—they raised on the farm.”
The first recipe Langrehr created completely from scratch turned into her signature product: Charm City Cook salted caramel brownies available at Ma Petite Shoe in Hampden. “They will also be on the menu at Paulie Gee’s pizza when it opens later this winter” she says.
Or just visit Langrehr’s food blog and e-commerce site, where you can find her brownies (“Only available in twos, because they’re too good to eat just one,” she says) with jams and salted caramel sauce coming soon.
The little spit of Chestnut just around the corner from The Avenue in Hampden is blossoming, with the new child-ren’s store Mono Azul (Blue Monkey) now in the mix. Named after a resort in Costa Rica, where owner Dominique Croke often travels, the little shop is stocked with both new and consignment children’s clothing for ages newborn through 10. Why people spend gobs of money on clothes that the wee ones grow out of in five minutes will always be a mystery to Savvy. Especially when they can come here and get adorable red snowsuits with leopard print by Rothschild for $35 (sold for lots more on Rue La La), denim jeans by DKNY and items by Baby Gap and The Chidren’s Place. Don’t miss the darling little handmade sheep soaps and sparkly nail polish, which should keep your daughter occupied while your son is riding the blinking, talking green triceratops just inside the door. 3528 Chestnut Ave, Hampden, http://www.monoazulboutique.com
If you’re anything like me you spent many Sunday evenings this summer rooting for Rodney Henry, founder of Dangerously Delicious Pies, as he fought his way to the finale of “The Next Food Network Star.” While his (brilliant) idea for a TV pilot—turning world-famous restaurants’ top dishes into a pie—didn’t get picked up, I decided to accept his challenge…with a twist. This is my version of Henry’s top-selling, Berger cookie-infused “Baltimore Bomb” pie, presented cocktail style.
2 oz Chopin Dorda Double Chocolate liqueur
1⁄2 oz RumChata Cream Liqueur
2 oz half and half
2 drops of organic Almond Extract
A Berger cookie
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice and shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail or martini glass and garnish with half a Berger cookie.
—Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres in Harbor East, and founder of Tend for a Cause.
One sip and you’ll know: Ransom’s WhipperSnapper Oregon Spirit Whiskey is definitely not your father’s Old Grand-Dad. Aged in French pinot noir barrels, distilled not just from corn but also from proximately plentiful northwestern barley, and created using techniques borrowed from the worlds of bourbon, Scotch, Irish whiskey and corenwyn (a Dutch spirit), it’s just one example of the brave, new always-American spirits enlivening Whiskey Wednesdays at Johnny’s in Roland Park.
This biweekly boozebration offers four half-ounce sampling pours, along with two substantial appetizers and a presentation by a rotating cast of “spirits specialists” borrowed from Johnny’s sister stores Bin 604 and Bin 201.
Grab a banquette or bar stool, prime your palate with the apps and take all the time you like to chat with the presenter when he personally delivers your whiskeys. Looking around the warmly appointed
basement bar and dining area, you’ll see a surprising diversity of tasters, including plenty of women and more than a few Hampden hipsters making the reverse commute up Roland Avenue. Whatever their politics, they clearly concur that when it comes to whiskey, American exceptionalism is alive and well. Cost: $25. 4800 Roland Ave., 410-773-0777, http://www.johnnys downstairs.com
When one successful boutique is good, how can two not be better? That’s how Savvy sees the women’s clothing and accessories boîte Brightside, which has launched a satellite store from the mother ship in Federal Hill into the orbit of Fells Point. Offerings are just as cheeky as ever, with tattoo-inspired prints by the L.A.-based UNIF (fancy a Day of the Dead sweater?) and a leather-blocked dress by Lucca Couture, along with more traditionally feminine attire such as floral miniskirts by MinkPink and dresses by BB Dakota. Though the shop definitely boasts a younger vibe, Savvy isn’t too old to appreciate the so-called “offensive” T-shirts, which have been selling like hotcakes. (Sorry, hon, language too naughty to reprint here.) Bonus: everything is under $100. 732 S. Broadway, Fells Point, http://www.brightsidebaltimore.com
Don’t worry. Be happy—drumming with Beatwell’s Jordan Goodman.
HE’S GOT THE BEAT.
Ever since he was a little (drummer) boy, Jordan Goodman knew that drumming made him feel fantastic. But it wasn’t until grad school that the professional drummer with a master’s degree in clinical psychology discovered the science behind his natural high. “Group drumming alters biology at the genetic and cellular levels,” says the certified health rhythms facilitator. Translation: drumming decreases stress and improves functioning of the immune system.
Goodman has seen this firsthand in his work with populations as diverse as emotionally disturbed kids, schizophrenic adults, college students, seniors and preschoolers. He has seen drumming work better than talk therapy and even medication to calm angry teens—and create unity among disgruntled professionals in the workplace.
Tell that to your accounting department!
What’s more, Goodman says, “Effects are immediate and it’s a cost-effective, non-invasive alternative to conventional interventions.”
That’s why he created Beatwell, a therapeutic and educational drumming practice in Owings Mills. To get into the act, schedule an individual or group session with Goodman at his private home
studio, where he also trains others to facilitate drum circles and will soon be licensed to provide psychotherapy. Or invite him to your next company retreat or your own home. Oh, you can just take regular-old drum lessons, too. Prices starting at $50 per hour. 443-803-2588, http://www.beat-well.com
If you’re looking to sweat (to the oldies or otherwise), try Cardio-Fit Drumming at Universal Fitness in Overlea. Classes combine “drumming” on a fitness ball with aerobic and muscle-building movements like squats, jumps and dance steps. “You know when you see a band? It’s always the drummer who sweats the most,” says Patrick Leonard. Cost: $5 per class. 6809 Belair Road, 410-668-6060, overlea
Kitchen trends come and go, but the best ones have a practical edge that endures. In late fall, when the approaching holidays present the best reason in the calendar for renovating, kitchen design gets a little sharper. We’ve combed the region for a few new kitchens that infuse utilitarian ideas with fresh style. Each responds to its owner’s dream of having a special place to cook and spend family time. We think they have staying power.
Before hurricane damage forced Annapolis architect Wayne Good to remodel his cottage on St. George Island in St. Mary’s County, he was a passionate cook with a secret ambition to have a restaurant-grade kitchen. He met the challenge of building it inside a corner of the 750-square-foot house by combining high-tech culinary industry materials and original wood the local waterman
recycled to build the place 100 years ago.
His first step: think outside the kitchen triangle of range, fridge, sink. “I wanted a big cooking area so I got the fridge and oven out of the way in a separate pantry,” he says. The real work takes place at a six-burner cooktop against a wall spanned by an 11-foot-long copper hood and backsplash. Stainless steel open shelving topped with stainless prep surfacing flanks the cooktop. “I have an antique Italian copper and tin skillet that inspired the mix of metals,” says Good.
A 3-foot-long stainless steel sink and backsplash hanging off the adjacent wall incorporates a dishwasher drawer and connects to an espresso center with lower shelves holding all Good’s basic clear glassware and white dishes. The recess for a drainboard beside the sink is deep enough to wash oysters and vegetables. The center dining table is an antique drafting table that Good topped with a slab of Carrara marble and rigged to raise higher for use in prep, baking and candy making.
Size: 157 square feet
Building materials: Original heart pine flooring. New board-and-batten walls; Smith & Orwig, 410-275-2339.
Countertops, sink and shelving: Custom-fabricated stainless steel, http://www.custommetalsofvirginia.com
Copper hood: Fabricated by Smith & Orwig.
Storage: Open shelving “to see and use everything,” says Good. “With cabinets, you forget what you own.”
Lighting: Bare 75-watt light bulbs plus LED built-ins for under the copper hood; over-sink wall mounts, restoration http://www.hardware.com
Island: Antique cast-iron drafting table with new 500 pound Carrara marble top. Eames wire chairs, http://www.hermanmiller.com
Cooktop and griddle: Viking, http://www.vikingrange.com
Trish Houck of Kitchen Concepts helped a Guilford couple renovate this 1920s-era kitchen based on their wish to have a sofa in the room. “Comfort was really important,” says the wife and mother of two, whose input on every design choice resulted in a totally personalized space for her family.
Architect Laura Thomas’ family room addition paved the way by integrating kitchen and gathering functions into a single room—drawing inspiration from an ’80s concept of the kitchen as the living room in which you cook.
“After Johnny Grey designed the unfitted kitchen for Smallbone in the U.K., furniture-like cabinets became a mainstay of kitchen design in the States,” says Houck, who came in after Thomas to add both function and style. “Appliances disappeared behind panels, and kitchens became a place to spend much more than mealtimes.”
This kitchen takes Smallbone’s prototype in a new direction. Instead of mixing cabinet colors and styles for a look that grew over time, its woodwork is streamlined and painted a single, soothing color to unify the big room.
The wife who knew she’d tire of a trendy look wanted a simple backdrop with clean-lined mouldings, a subtle interplay of tones and no over-island pendant lighting obscuring the family room view. “Our kitchen is such a lively place, I needed the serenity of simplicity,” she says. “Gray is great because I can change the look with the accent colors of different linens, flowers and holiday decorations. It always feels fresh.”
Size: 600 square feet, including family room
Flooring: Travertine stone with thin grout line for a museum-floor look.
Cabinet color: Houck’s stock color, “Weimaraner,” to match the floor tile.
Cabinet style: Flat-panel with beaded inset, popular in the 1920s butler’s pantry.
Countertops and backsplash: Statuary marble and white subway tile.
Island: Curved for ease of conversation. “Onda” kitchen stools from Design within Reach, http://www.dwr.com
Lighting: In place of pendants, Leucos “Ony” low-voltage down lights with Murano glass trim, http://www.leucosusa.com
Range: Six-burner, http://www.subzero-wolf.com
Designer: Trish Houck, Kitchen Concepts, http://www.trishhouckkitchens.com
Designer Lauren Hurlbrink has a cardinal rule when it comes to her clients’ kitchens: Don’t be afraid to remodel to keep pace with a growing family. She used the same philosophy when upgrading the galley kitchen of her own 1913 Ruxton home 10 years ago when her three children were all under the age of 6. And she revamped it this year because the fridge couldn’t handle the demands of their now-teenage appetites. Instead of indulging in a grand makeover, she retained the kitchen’s sound working layout and concentrated on getting a new look with some cost-saving changes.
“I started by gutting the island to add two refrigerator drawers and an icemaker,” she says. “The slab of granite I found for the new countertop is an eye-catching room focus.” She economized by retaining the perimeter’s Corian countertops and developing a new gray-and-yellow color palette. Gray, “the new neutral,” is a foil for the “positive” yellow she introduced as a lacquered finish on the breakfast room walls. She extended this yellow punctuation to the back walls of cabinets and new chair upholstery.
Hurlbrink saved on cabinet replacement by changing out door styles and hardware. She replaced brushed nickel plumbing fixtures with livelier chrome and brought in more chrome sparkle with new over-island lanterns and a drum-shade chandelier in the breakfast room. Finally, she discovered a round breakfast table was a better fit than her rectangular model to accommodate their odd number of five family members.
Size: 330 square feet; breakfast room, 187 square feet
Flooring: No rugs underfoot; original bare wood for a streamlined look that’s easy-care.
Paint colors: Breakfast room walls, “Van Gogh Yellow” (2070), Fine Paints of Europe. Kitchen walls, “Stonington Gray” (hc-170), Benjamin Moore. Island, “Benjamin Moore Gray” (2121-10).
New cabinet door fronts: Mix of Shaker flat-panel on island and glass neo-classical mullions on opposite cabinets.
Countertops: Corian “Platinum” http://www.corian.com
Backsplash: Silver Cloud granite, Universal Marble & Granite Inc., http://www.umgrocks.net
Lighting: Recessed at perimeter, chrome chandelier with drum shade; over-island lanterns from http://www.circalighting.com
Cooktop: Six-burner Thermador
Designer: Lauren Hurlbrink, http://www.laurenhurlbrink.com
Salvador Dalí once claimed “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” Whether the surrealist master used hallucinogenic drugs remains a debate for the ages, but you’re guaranteed to get a cultural contact high when viewing The Surrealists: Works from the Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This profound gathering of 40 of the most celebrated Surrealist artists—also including Joan Miró, Man Ray and Max Ernst among others—explores the movement’s place in history through paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings and prints, plus examples of the many art and literary publications central to the surrealist exchange. Come get lost in the hyper-real, oft-disturbing, fantastical images central to the most cohesive and long-lasting—yet equally idiosyncratic and varied—art movement of the 20th-century. Nov. 3-March 2. http://www.philamuseum.org
Bigmouth Strikes Again
Like a “light that never goes out” Johnny Marr’s perennial sex appeal and legendary guitar playing shine as bright as ever. While sometimes overshadowed by the brooding, mononymous Morrissey (lead singers always do that) Marr actually founded The Smiths when he was just an 18-year-old lad from Manchester—and he was the impetus behind synthesizing his reclusive friend’s poetic lyrics with his own guitar-driven riffs into one of the finest pop songwriting collaborations of the 20th century. In the decades since the Smiths broke up, Marr has enjoyed a successful career playing with other bands—from the Pretenders to Modest Mouse—and he recently partnered with composer Hans Zimmer on the “Inception” film soundtrack. Last year, NME magazine awarded Marr with its Godlike Genius Award. (We’re not worthy!)
This month, he stops by Rams Head Live! to support his new (ridiculously brilliant) solo album, “The Messenger.” We’re so there. Sunday, Nov. 17. Tickets, $25, http://www.ramsheadlive.com
Oh What a Night
Step aside, One Direction! “Jersey Boys” is coming back to Baltimore. The Tony and Grammy award-winning musical tells the story of America’s original boy band, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons—
a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks who became one of the biggest pop sensations of all time. They wrote their own ditties, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide—all before hitting the big three-oh. Nov. 12-24 at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $25-$110, http://www.ticketmaster.com
John Logan’s 2009 Tony Award-winning play about 1960s abstract expressionist Mark Rothko will have you pondering heavy topics like human relationships, the creative process and artistic integrity, as it places you in the mind and studio of the renowned painter. Does selling art have to mean selling out? That question is at the heart of Red, directed by Donald Hicken and starring Bruce Randolph Nelson, two men whose names are synonymous with theater in Baltimore. Nov. 6-Dec. 8 at Everyman Theatre. Tickets, $32-$60, http://www.everymantheatre. org —Simone Ellin
La Lumière Fantastique: Brittany Shines in Baltimore features work by 65 talented (and lucky!) MICA artists created during and after their residencies in beautiful Brittany, France. Paintings and photographs displayed in the gallery are hung floor-to-ceiling in French salon style, an installation practice that originated in late 17th-century Paris. Ooh la la! Nov. 9–Dec. 1 at the Graduate Studio Center: Sheila & Richard Riggs and Leidy galleries, 131 W. North Ave. http://www.mica.edu —S.E.
Baltimore’s newest performing arts festival is back for year two—and promises to be bigger and better than ever. The now five-day Charm City Fringe Festival brings together some of the city’s most talented actors, directors, dancers, burlesque and performance artists for a week of local arts on steroids. Based in the city’s Station North Arts & Entertainment District (which gets cooler by the minute), this year’s expanded program includes “Please Don’t Beat Me Up” a one-man show by comedian and storyteller Adam Ruben of The Food Network’s “The Food Detectives” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Also on the program: “The Tramp’s New World” by Rob Jansen, “T Minus 5” by Playwrights Group of Baltimore and “The Sound of Smoke” by Nicholas Horan. Though each play is unique, all three share a common theme—the end of the world as we know it. Nov. 6-10. http://www.charmcityfringe.com —S.E.
Even one of the ugliest wars in American history can’t stop the holiday spirit from coming to life in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel’s acclaimed musical, A Civil War Christmas. Theater-goers (especially history buffs and Abe Lincoln fans) seeking something meatier than the typical Christmas schlock won’t be disappointed by this moving depiction of a war-torn nation striving to find peace and good will despite the death and hardship that surrounds them. Nov. 19- Dec. 22 at Centerstage. Tickets, $19-$59. http://www.centerstage.org —P.W.
It’s hard to believe many of Zelda’s fans are now 30-something parents who fight with their kids about playing too many video games. But audiences of all ages will delight in the eagerly awaited The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses Second Quest—the sequel to last year’s sold-out performance by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The multimedia presentation combines symphonically arranged music from the iconic game franchise with video projections from the actual Nintendo game. Attendees are encouraged to dress up like their favorite Hyrule characters for the one-night-only show at the Meyerhoff. Thursday, Nov. 21. Tickets, $33-$103, http://www.bsomusic.org —S.E.
ART OF NATURE
Fine artist and cabinetmaker J Michael Chandler, who last exhibited in Baltimore in 2008, will be back in town with a treasure-trove of new artwork. Known for his masterful landscapes and his affinity for the natural world, Chandler’s most recent work reflects an evolving interest in more abstract paintings and built mixed-media works. Musician Brian Eno (of Roxy Music) is a collaborator and a fan! Opening reception, Nov. 9 at Bismark & Wilson Gallery in Fells Point, with showings by appointment only through Jan. 31. 1760 Bank St. 410-675-8959. http://www.jmichaelchandler.com. —S.E.
WHAT A CROCK!
The new exhibition at the
Walters will take you back—and we mean way back—to ancient Egypt and the Greco-Roman period. Egypt’s Mysterious Book of the Faiyum provides museum visitors a rare opportunity (the first in 150 years) to view large portions of this gorgeously illustrated manuscript together in one exhibition. “Egypt’s Mysterious Book” is displayed along with statues, jewelry and ritual objects that tell the tale of Sobek, the crocodile god who brings sun to the Faiyum. Through Jan. 6. Tickets, $6-$10. http://www.thewalters.org —P.W.
You think your neighbors are crazy? You ain’t seen (or heard) nothin’ yet. Join Concert Artists of Baltimore for the family-friendly musical dramatization, Beethoven Lives Upstairs. Based on a children’s book by Barbara Nichol, the show tells the story of a young Viennese boy named Christoph who is trying to make sense of his eccentric, but musically gifted new neighbor—a deaf man named Ludwig. Definitely an octave up from the usual kids’ fare. Sunday Nov. 17 at The Gordon Center for Performing Arts. Tickets, $20, http://www.cabalto.org —S.E.
If you like your fruitcake with extra nuts, put Elf the Musical on your “nice” list this holiday season. Based on the beloved flick starring Will Ferrell, the stage adaptation adds a zippy score, goofy dance numbers and some savvy new jokes that will keep adults engaged while the kiddos guffaw over the general goofballery of it all. We love the introduction of the far more curmudgeon-y Santa Claus, who complains in the opening number (“Happy All the Time”), When they sing until they’re blueish, Santa wishes he were Jewish. Need a visual? On Broadway, the Old St. Nick was played by Wayne Knight—that’s Newman of “Seinfeld” fame. Nov. 22-24 at the Lyric. Tickets, $49-$69. http://www.ticketmaster.com —J.B.
Based on a book by George Furth, with music and lyrics by the one and only Stephen Sondheim, Company was nominated for a record-breaking 14 Tony Awards when it premiered on Broadway in 1970—and won six of them. Instead of a linear plot, the first “concept” musical comprises a series of vignettes about five not-so-happy (read: normal) couples, but the stories and songs still resonate today. What better place to see this groundbreaking musical than Baltimore’s Vaga-bond Players, America’s oldest continuous little theater? Through Nov. 17. Tickets, $10-$22. http://www.vagabondplayers.org —S.E.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without this annual favorite. Benefiting Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Festival of Trees is a three-day winter wonderland featuring fairyland forests, ginger- bread towns and toy train gardens—paired with a full schedule of family-friendly entertainment, including megastars Milkshake. Don’t miss the nice assortment of gift vendors where you can shop for a cause. Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Tickets, $7-$13. http://www.festivaloftrees. http://www.kennedykrieger.org —S.E.
Whether you believe in the Loch Ness monster or not, Black Box: Gerard Byrne will entertain and fascinate you. Through photographs, film and video, the Dublin-born artist explores the ways in which human beings choose to see what they want to see. Through Feb. 16 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Free with admission. http://www.artbma.org —S.E.
MUM’S THE WORD
Maryland Science Center is the last stop on the North American tour for Mummies of the World: Beyond King Tut, an awesomely eerie exhibition including never-before-seen mummies and artifacts from Asia, South America, Europe, Oceania and yes, ancient Egypt. You’ll meet mummies (former people!) like the 6,500-year-old Detmold Child from Peru; the Orlovits, a family of mummies from 18th- century Hungary; and Baron von Holtz, a 17th-century nobleman from Germany. If that’s not cool enough, Marc Corwin, president of the company that created the exhibition, is a Baltimore guy who used to be a rock promoter in town. Through Jan. 20. Tickets, $20-$26. http://www.mdsci.org —P.W.
There’s a fine line between a has-been and a classic—and we dare say the Gin Blossoms fall in the latter category. We can fondly remember blasting “Found Out About You” in the car, as we chased down real-life “New Miserable Experience(s)” in the mid-90s. Can’t wait to relive those angst-ridden days when the Arizona foursome hits Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on Nov. 19. Two shows, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets, $45. http://www.ramsheadonstage.com —J.B.
At long last, Towson’s fine winers and diners have something to celebrate. Ever since Vin closed its doors several years ago, locals looking for an upscale culinary experience in the ‘hood had few options. Enter Oyster Bay Grille at Towson Circle. Owned by longtime Baltimore restaurateurs—brothers Nick and John Daskalakis and Spyros Stavrakas—the tavern-style fare includes flavorful, localized appetizers and seafood specialties (think: Maryland crab beignets with tomato bacon jam, arugula and pickled fennel), along with meaty masterpieces (the espresso crusted filet is delish). A beautiful new raw bar serves at least three oyster varietals daily—not to mention 20 perfectly chilled wines poured from the largest Cruvinet wine system in Maryland. For adventurous carnivores, try the roasted marrow bone with sweet potato apple hash and sweet and sour apple cider reduction. “We are one of only a handful of restaurants in town with a marrow offering. It’s my favorite dish on the menu,” says chef Chris Vocci. 1 E. Joppa Road, Towson, 443-275-7026, http://www.oysterbaygrille.com
Savvy has long lamented the loss of the dear-departed American Dime Museum, repository of all things weird, wonderful and sometimes downright creepy. So imagine her delight to discover a kind of reincarnation in Hampden. Called Bazaar (love the play on words), this little shop of homey horrors is like a 19th-century gentleman’s curio cabinet. Greg Hatem says that he and co-owner Brian Henry take pride in offering items that are not only odd but also educational. Take the Lucite Specimens, for example: embedded in them are colorful insects, a frog’s heart, a fiddler crab—even a four-leaf clover. Or the Lantern Fly Shadow Box with a Pyrops Pyrorhyncha inside. The bleached Springbok Skulls will surely remind people of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings of the American Southwest. And the sequined Voodoo Flag will bring bling to any décor. 3534 Chestnut Ave, Hampden, http://www.bazaarbaltimore.com
A couple of months into her new venture as head chef and chief Ball-jar-washer of the new Oliver Speck’s Eats and Drinks in Harbor East, Jesse Sandlin is feeling pretty good. “We’ve been getting busier and busier,” she says. The barbecue restaurant, named after Sandlin’s pet Juliana pig, opened in midsummer after the former “Top Chef” contestant shuttered Vino Rosina (her previous restaurant in the same space) for just a couple of weeks. While the décor hasn’t changed much—crowd-friendly communal tables have replaced room dividers, opening up the main dining area—the menu has burst an artery.
The predecessor’s fussy small plates have burgeoned into platters of pulled pork, smoked ribs and bison pastrami; plus, the requisite sides, from mashed ‘taters to country grits.
Sandlin and bar manager Alec Franklin also have brought the cocktail menu up to snuff. The chef put some apple cider in the kitchen smoker to create a smoky ice cube for their autumn Bulleit-Proof Apples cocktail made with Bulleit Rye and fresh lemon juice.
Look for prix fixe Sunday suppers throughout the winter. 507 S. Exeter St., 410-528-8600. http://www.oliverspecks.com
Sweet Caroline’s—the latest farm-to-table, American-with-a-twist bistro and tavern—came to Baltimore by way of Ocean City. Ashley Fowler and husband John “Jay” Ferrari, former owners of the Bamboo Restaurant and Tiki Bar on the boardwalk, moved to Locust Point to take over the sweet little spot previously known as Pazza Luna. While the vibe is family friendly and relaxed, on the right night, you can catch a full fish presentation that rivals some of the finest restaurants in town. Creative casual fare includes a to-die-for crab guacamole, pineapple mango pork and a few seasonal delights such as flavorful chili and a salad topped with pumpkin brittle—plus burgers and paninis for lunch and a Sunday brunch menu. Libations range from the signature Black Jack Martini, made with Jack Daniel’s and blackberry puree, and to Love the Game pinot noir, created by Dana Hoiles, wife of former O’s catcher Chris Hoiles. During the baseball season, don’t be surprised to run into a few professional sluggers in the house. (“Manny is obsessed with our sliders,” says Fowler.) 1401 E. Clement St., 410-244-1401
My own children aside, I am—how shall we say?—not so good with the care of living things.
Take plants, for instance. I’ve always been genuinely mystified by the way some people can tease something beautiful and alive out of nothing more than a mound of dirt. I’ve never had any such luck making anything in the garden thrive. Houseplants begin to wither the moment they cross my threshold.
And while it is a nearly radioactive confession at a time when books about the life-changing, soul-enhancing power of dog ownership regularly top the best-seller list, I’ll just go ahead and say it:
I’ve never been much of an animal person.
We had cats growing up and I liked them fine, despite being slightly traumatized by a bad scratching when I was 6 or 7. Sure, I had the requisite Weekly Reader posters of painfully cute baskets full of kittens festooning the walls of my childhood bedroom. And yes, I cried buckets when our last cat, Figaro, met an untimely end from feline leukemia.
But whatever that thing is that makes animals really resonate with certain people, that really touches them somewhere deep, deep inside? Yeah. I’ve never had that. At all.
I have such a paralyzing fish phobia that I’ve lived in Baltimore for 12 years and have never once stepped foot inside the National Aquarium. That magical thing that supposedly draws little girls to horses? Never happened to me. I never wanted to take home the class gerbil or rescue a bird with a broken wing. Never cried over the treatment of seals.
And dogs? I’ve always been more wary of them than anything, in large part because my father had been bitten by a neighborhood stray as a little boy, forcing him to endure a series of painful rabies shots. Wherever we went as a family, dogs were always dutifully whisked away in deference to my father’s apprehension. Seeing your otherwise unflappable dad be so obviously rattled has a way of staying with you.
One of my childhood best friends had a ferocious sheepdog that couldn’t be around anyone unfamiliar. I remember watching from a safe distance as her father would struggle to put him in the basement whenever I came over to play. He would bark furiously and writhe like a bucking racehorse being forced into the starting gate. Why would you choose to have such a thing in your house? ON PURPOSE? I wondered.
And then there were my brother Eric’s two cats, Bruno and Ivan. To say they were eccentric wouldn’t quite be doing them justice. I distinctly remember the few times I was left alone in his tiny New York City apartment with them. It’s not that I was afraid of them because, well, I’m an adult human being and they were two…cats. But it always made me uneasy to be with them. In retrospect, I think that was because I didn’t quite know what to expect, didn’t instinctively know the parameters. Are they allowed to jump on the windowsill like that or is that dangerous? Are they allowed to eat plant leaves? Why was Bruno making that noise? Is that normal? Am I supposed to be doing something? What if they get out? And so on and so on.
In one of those paradigm-changing life epiphanies, it recently dawned on me: it was that very feeling—that left-alone-with-erratic-cats feeling—that I found so difficult about the baby stage with my children. I never quite felt like I had a clear sense of the parameters. They would do things—in Alec’s case, quite literally eat plant leaves—and I would perpetually be on edge. Is that supposed to happen? Is that bad? Did I just scar them for life? Hungry? Tired? Sick? Cold? Diaper?
However trying it was, that phase is now mercifully long behind us. My boys are 6 and 9, happily ensconced in elementary school. The parameters have become much clearer. They tell me when they’re hungry and excuse themselves when they need to use the bathroom. They don’t eat plant leaves any more that I know of. They can actually play unsupervised for hours. So why do I bring all this up now?
Because, naturally, they want a dog. Oh no, but they reeeeeeeaaally want a dog, you see. They neeeeed a dog.
And here I sit, squarely on the line between “That is really just beyond my comfort zone” and “This is one of those times I should put aside what I want for the good of my children.” (Noted for the record: I stifled my substantial discomfort and took care of two carnival goldfish for three whole days before they met their untimely ends.)
As much as my boys swear on a stack of Bibles they will take care of said dog, who are we kidding? I know full well it will be me out there walking Fido in blizzards and rainstorms, adding vet appointments and Petco missions onto the comically overloaded plates I already spin.
I know, I know, the dog will change me. I’ll fall in love. My Grinchy, dog-resisting heart will grow three sizes. It will be the best thing we’ve ever done for our family. But I’m not ashamed to say I’m scared. Scared that just when I’ve finally gotten a semblance of control back over the chaos of life with two small kids, it will be wrested away again, this time by a baby with four legs and fur.
And so our putative dog beckons, like a mythical challenge. Will I force myself to master a new set of unfamiliar parameters and embrace life as a dog person? I’ve countered with the offer of a cat. I’m hoping we can meet in the middle.
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”
My parents disapproved of new things. Why would we need new things? What’s wrong with old things? That was their mantra. This was especially true in the matter of foodstuffs. Dining. Cooking. Eating. Experimentation in the kitchen was not tolerated. It was a kind of culinary heresy, an unnatural act, unwholesome, the sort of thing spoken of in Leviticus.
This rule applied to restaurants as well. We never went anywhere new. Why take a chance? The same tepid steak- houses and genteel, shabby comfort food emporiums were permanent in rotation. Nothing new. Ever.
I vexed them for long years by attempting to bring new dining ideas into their lives. Indian food. Bad idea. Kung Pao chicken. Very bad idea. Pad Thai. Very, very bad idea. My mother would have had to be put in a restraining jacket to get her into an Indian restaurant. My parents resisted conversion. They had seen arugula but believed this to be some sort of gardening prank. My parents thought arugula was a scalp disorder and pesto was insect repellent. Like “Pest-O.” Their home remained a shrine to iceberg lettuce all the days of their lives.
Now my grown daughter bedevils me with new ideas. And I am my parents. She lives in New York City, but she makes errands of mercy to Baltimore. And when she returns home it is to proselytize about healthy foods I might not know about, so that I might live forever. That’s how kale entered my life.
My parents would not have approved of kale. What’s wrong with spinach? Kale looks like a weed. It reminds me of the venerable New Yorker cartoon where the reluctant child diner says “I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.” That’s me.
I have now been given to understand that kale is the healthiest food one can eat. It cures cancer (that’s the great standard of American quackery) and eliminates erectile dysfunction, cellulite, baldness and the heartbreak of psoriasis. It lowers cholesterol, promotes regularity—and allows the consumer to see in the dark and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Last time my daughter was here she was pushing a kale drink. She called me from the juice bar in Belvedere Square to see if I might fancy a kale shake. Not in this life, thank you. Kale does nothing for me. And I was cheered to read in The New York Times that the French as a nation resist it, too. Vive la France!
I hadn’t really come to terms with kale when quinoa arrived. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has officially declared 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa.” Betcha didn’t know that? Well, get with the program, pilgrim. Eternal life awaits you. (When’s the International Year of the Bacon Cheeseburger?)
Quinoa is a grain from South America that looks like the stuff we fed the bunny that came to stay with us during summer vacation when my daughter was in kindergarten.
Some folks call quinoa “the super food.” These are folks who are really, really hungry, I think. The word quinoa is pre-Colombian and it means “the stuff we fed the bunny that came to stay with us during summer vacation.” It’s shorter in that language.
Apparently quinoa was the food that made the Incan Empire the Incan Empire, the largest pre-Colombian empire! Who knew? Alas, it was not enough to fend off the conquistadors. Francisco Pizarro was a red meat eater, I believe. But that’s another story, as they say.
Naturally, Americans have missed the boat on quinoa and kale. We could become the world’s greatest quinoa and kale producing nation. But we lag behind now. Scientists say we are producing only enough quinoa to feed 170 hipsters in Portland, Ore. That just won’t do. We are totally dependent on foreign quinoa! Surprised? The quinoa producing nations are toying with us. They can set the price of quinoa and we have to pay. It’s as simple as that. (And that’s why everything costs so much at Whole Foods!)
My daughter keeps assuring me that kale and quinoa are “among the world’s healthiest foods.” Says who? Folks who sell kale and quinoa. What do I look like an Inca?
What could be more delicious than James Bond’s Daniel Craig starring with his real-life wife, actress Rachel Weisz in Harold Pinter’s juicy masterpiece Betrayal?
Directed by 10-time Tony Award-winner Mike Nichols (who also won an Oscar for “The Graduate”), “Betrayal” tells the tale of a marriage unfolding as the wife’s long- time affair with her husband’s best friend comes to light. Rafe Spall—you may recognize him as the writer/narrator in the film adaptation of “Life of Pi”—plays the other man in this bizarre love triangle. At the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, through Jan. 5. betrayal http://www.broadway.com
Following “Betrayal’s” run, the Barrymore Theatre will be home to the powerful revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, Diahann Carroll and Broadway superstar Anika Noni Rose. The extraordinarily talented Washington will step into the role first performed by Sir Sidney Poitier as Carroll graces the Broadway stage for the first time in more than 30 years. March 8 through June 15, http://www.broadway.com
Photographs by David Stuck
“The idea” says Marianne Kresevich, “is to push all the air to the edges.” Her fingers—nails blunt and unfussy—press into the pizza dough on the cool marble counter. The tiny air bubbles comply, traveling in the direction of her gentle massage or simply giving up with a slight exhale. Kresevich continues her prodding until the diameter is 12 inches (yes, size matters here), dresses the pie with a scoop of tomato sauce, soft fresh cheese and flat basil leaves, and slides it into the 800-plus-degree wood-fired oven. Once the pizza is cooked—90 seconds later—the rim will be puffed with hollow air bubbles and the bottom will be leopard-spotted with black char marks from the hot oven floor.
The dough, about 260 grams per ball, was made with special flour from Italy. The tomatoes are macerated San Marzanos (also imported) and the cheese is blobs of creamy mozzarella made that afternoon in the restaurant.
The sleek scene at Verde, where they recently added brunch offerings to their menu.
Kresevich and her husband and business partner, Ed Bosco, opened Verde (http://www.verdepizza.com) in Canton a little over a year ago, but only after doing their homework. The couple—he a former commodities trader, she a software consultant who still works on projects for Fortune 500 companies—has set about to create an authentic Neapolitan pie, one that lives up to standards set by the Vera Pizza Napolitana (VPN), an association founded in 1984 to enforce strict guidelines for the real deal.
The Caputo double-zero flour, the special tomatoes, the fresh mozzarella—even the counter surface, which must be natural stone—along with the size, the heat and the cook time are all set down by the VPN. The Verde owners, who apprenticed with Roberto Caporuscio, owner of the famed Keste in Manhattan, take these mandates very seriously.
The result, unsurprisingly, is iconic. It’s the pizza from “Eat, Pray, Love,” when Julia Roberts orders a pie oozing goopy mozzarella and bright tomatoes that seem to throb atop the wafer-thin crust. If Verde had been around when I saw that movie, I would have made a beeline here to mimic her gluttony—as I’m sure plenty of folks did to Pizzeria da Michele in Naples, the spot Elizabeth Gilbert described in the book that became the movie.
Verde and a handful of other newish joints notwithstanding, Baltimore is a pizza greenhorn. We don’t have a hometown style like New York, Chicago or New Haven. But in the past few years—eight to be exact—the pizza here has gotten decidedly more sexy. It’s more sophisticated, dressed in imported attire, or authentic homespuns, and yes, it’s quite a bit thinner.
Matthew’s crab pie: backfin crabmeat, a blend of hand-grated mozzarella and imported reggianito cheeses topped with caramelized onions and Old Bay seasoning.
For years, what Baltimore knew about pizza, beyond delivery chains, was cornered by Matthew’s (http://www.matthewspizza.com), which opened in 1943 and until recently claimed pretty much all the accolades and “best of” awards available here. The pizzeria’s customers included not only its Highlandtown neighbors, but well-heeled adventurers from the north, who chewed on the thick, airy crust before or after performances at the Creative Alliance across the street.
In the early years, says Chris Maler, who purchased Matthew’s from a family friend 18 years ago, Matthew’s didn’t even call itself pizza. “It was tomato pie,” he says. “It was crust with tomato sauce. If people wanted cheese, they’d grate some on top.”
The Matthew’s crust is a variation on deep dish, crispy on the outside and airy inside—perhaps owing to the “minuscule” amount of lard (according to Maler) in the recipe. The cheese is a thick blanket of grated mozzarella, and at least one of Matthew’s most popular pies has no tomatoes.
The crab pie, loaded with lump crab-meat slathered in cheese, was developed by a friend of Maler’s, Bill Hughes, who now owns Barracudas in Locust Point. Hughes was a chef at Pimlico and was in the middle of overseeing food for the Preakness throngs when Maler called for advice. “I told him I’m trying to make crab pizza,” Maler recounts. “He tells me, ‘I don’t have time for this,’ and then he says, ‘take your white pizza, put crab on it and throw a little Old Bay on top.’ It took him 10 seconds to come up with it.”
The flag pizza at Joe Squared: crushed tomato, roasted garlic cream and pesto sauce—split in thirds.
Thinning down: Joe Squared and Iggies
In 2005, Joe Edwardson opened a pizza place on the unlikely corner of Maryland and North avenues. His pies created a bit of a sensation in Baltimore—a town that, while already on its way to food-fetishdom, still mostly experienced pizza as a stack of cardboard boxes at kids’ birthday parties. The crusts at Joe Squared (http://www.joesquared.com) are thin, almost crackly and pies have innovative toppings like eggs—their yolks still jiggling—Granny Smith apples and herbs that chef/owner Edwardson grows on the roof. Plus they are square. The vibe, however, is not—with a cool (rotating) assortment of local art on the walls and live bands playing nightly.
The corn flour-based, gluten-free pizza at Iggies.
At about the same time, a storefront on Calvert Street in Mount Vernon strung twinkle lights on the trees outside, graciously placed water bowls for dogs on the sidewalk and started serving up small, thin-crusted pizza with such add-ons as delicately sliced sopressata, duck confit and pistachio pesto. These elegant pies—created assembly line-style in the airy, no-frills, BYOB Iggies (http://www.iggiespizza.com) —quickly became a favorite in the neighborhood and among patrons of nearby Centerstage.
Both restaurants use the special Caputo double-zero flour specified by the Neapolitan gurus, but in other ways they diverge from the VPN standards. Joe Squared uses a mix of provolone and mozzarella cheese—Ohio-style, Edwardson calls it. And the dough is pressed through a “dough sheeter,” two silicone rollers that the restaurant also uses for pasta. “We used to use it to crush sugarcane for mojitos,” Edwardson says. “But someone got their hand stuck in there so we stopped.”
Two years after opening, Joe’s invested in a coal oven, and became the first restaurant in Baltimore to sell pies baked on a 900-degree floor fired by anthracite coal—a uniquely American approach that dates to early Italian immigrants’ response to the crippling price of wood. The crust crackles and splits in the heat, which leaves blackened spots on the bottom and brittle charred edges.
Iggies is more conscientious of the Neapolitan style, using San Marzano tomatoes, housemade mozzarella and a variety of toppings—both seasonal and far-flung. The restaurant even uses distilled water, says Peter Wood, who runs the place with his wife, owner Lisa Heckman. “We don’t like the inconsistencies in the city water,” he explains. “After a big rain-storm, the dough isn’t as smooth.” He pauses. “Yes, it’s geeky.”
Pizzas are cooked in a gas oven with a ceramic interior at about 700 degrees; it takes about three minutes to achieve the crisp Iggies crust.
Harbor Feast: Bagby and Chazz
Blake Smith opened Bagby Pizza (http://www.bagbypizza.com) in Harbor East after doing some market research. “About 98 percent of America eats pizza on a regular basis,” Smith says. “It’s the best option for getting people to come through the door [of a new restaurant]. I figured, let’s do pizza and do it well.” Smith visited a few pizza spots around Maryland and, he says, “found that most of the places I went to that were mob scenes were offering thin crust.”
He and Kyle Gillies a local chef who had cooked a bit for Smith’s father, David, owner of Sinclair Broadcasting, as well as in a few local restaurants (he has since moved to Los Angeles), opened a smallish place in the former furniture factory in 2009. Bagby puts out a thin-crust pie made with Neapolitan-style, double-zero flour and baked in a gas-fired brick oven between 550 and 600 degrees. Bagby dough, like Joe Squared’s is sent through rollers before being formed into pies, and the resulting crust is more crackly around the edges than the puffy Neapolitan. The seasoned sauce is made in-house from California tomatoes, and like the Bagby Group’s other restaurants, the pizza place relies heavily on the Smiths’ farm in the county for fresh produce.
Bagby Pizza had barely carved its niche as the only thin-crust pizza in the newly chic neighborhood when movie star Chazz Palminteri thundered into a space the size of Columbus Circle station just a block down the street, promising an experience reminiscent of his own Bronx upbringing. The restaurant’s name, after all, is Chazz: A Bronx Original (http://www.chazzbronxoriginal.com).
While the coal-fired oven at Chazz promises something authentic, chef-partner Sergio Vitale is hesitant to lay claim to a New York pie. Chazz’s “Bronx” pizza, he says, is a contrivance—designed to trigger memory more than adhere to a definition.
He calls Chazz pizza a hybrid, thin-crusted but not limp in the center. The slices are foldable and can be eaten with one hand—a characteristic often associated with New York pizza. The cheese is burrata mozzarella, made with cream, and there’s a thin layer of unadulterated tomato sauce. Pizza, says Vitale, “is highly subjective,” and even New Yorkers may not agree on the definition of their hometown pie (see sidebar). Even so, he says, “When you ask a New Yorker what their favorite pie is, invariably it will be from a coal-fired joint.”
If one of the shared ingredients of really good pizza is the high-gluten flour, it’s easy to see why making a really good gluten-free pizza can be a challenge. Peter Wood doesn’t even try. The gluten-free offering at Iggies is made with corn flour and water, flattened into a pie that doesn’t rise—more tortilla or cornmeal cracker than pizza.
Sergio Vitale at Chazz wanted to have a gluten-free option for the beautiful people who stroll Harbor East, but didn’t want any fuss—or the cross-contamination that can come with mixing gluten-free dough from scratch in a wheat-flour-dusted kitchen. So Chazz uses pre-made dough with a kind of slimy texture on the tongue and not much flavor (sorry, Sergio).
Verde purchases expensive bags of gluten-free Caputo flour called Fiore Glut (an 11-pound bucket of the stuff costs about $70 on Amazon) made from rice, corn, soy, potato flour and sugar. Other pizzerias don’t want to spend the money—especially with a process that requires a two- to three-day rise—when it’s hard to anticipate how many gluten-free pies will be sold. For my palate, Verde’s gluten-free option is the only pie that would satisfy a craving for real pizza. They also serve gluten-free beer and flourless cake—which has brought at least one customer to actual tears. “She kept saying, ‘I can’t believe I can have a pizza and beer with my boyfriend,’” says owner Marianne Kresevich.
Pizza Town: Birroteca, Hersh’s, Earth Wood and Fire
Recently, a friend, who relies on me to keep her apprised of the go-to restaurants of the moment, suggested dinner on a Friday night. “If you’re OK with pizza,” I told her. I was researching this story on a tight deadline and every carb counted. She hesitated. “Why would anyone want to use up a good weekend night on the town by eating pizza?” she wanted to know. Had she never been to Birroteca (http://www.bmorebirrocteca.com)? I wondered.
When Robbin Haas put the rustic wooden sign outside of the old stone building on Clipper Road, he listed pizza and beer. The crowded gravel parking lot makes the place, stuck in the midst of light industrial buildings and construction sites, look more roadhouse than restaurant, but inside is a whole ’nother story. For one thing, the place is packed. For another, pizza, while not an afterthought, represents only about a third of the restaurant’s food sales—a supporting player on the menu of what Haas calls “rustic Italian cooking.”
Even so, Birroteca’s pies, cooked in an electric 700-plus-degree oven and brought to the table (or your stool at the bar) atop an elevated pizza stand, are thin-crusted and topped with a variety of enticing ingredients. The most popular is duck confit with fig jam and a goose egg, charmingly called the “duck, duck, goose.” While it’s made with the ubiquitous Caputo double-zero flour, the dough would raise eyebrows among VPN judges; ingredients also include honey and white wine, for a slightly caramelized, crunchy crust.
Hersh’s uovo pizza: housemade mozzarella, garlic, olives, red onion and egg.
Hersh’s Pizza and Drinks (http://www.hershspizza. com) is another obvious pizza-on-the-town option. The spot, in the South Baltimore neighborhood known as Riverside, was opened by Josh and Stephanie Hershkovitz in 2012. The industrious sibling business partners adhere to the Neapolitan standards with the correct oven and cook time, the proper flour, San Marzano tomatoes and housemade mozzarella. And there’s more. “We make just about everything here,” says Stephanie.
The restaurant makes its own pasta and cheese, tomato sauce, sausage and much of the bread. The “Drinks” part includes such hipster concoctions as fig-infused bourbon, cucumber-infused vodka and grenadine made on-site with fresh pomegranates. The place is crowded with the 20- and 30-something urbanites who populate the outer fringes of Federal Hill as well as folks from farther out, who arrive harried from circling the block in search of parking. Some of Hersh’s customers may be seeking the vera pizza, but probably not everyone.
Earth Wood & Fire
As Baltimore has become more accustomed to these artisanal pies, it only makes sense that the thin-crust style would expand to more suburban settings. Earth Wood & Fire’s (http://www.earthwoodfire.com) niche seems to fall somewhere between the goopy stuff of chains and that favored by geeky VPN adherents.
Mark Hofmann, head chef and co-owner, had a 3-ton coal oven shipped from Bellingham, Wash., to make “the first coal-fired pizza in Baltimore County,” he says. Hofman makes the dough from unbleached high-gluten General Mills All Trumps flour with scientific precision.
The restaurant has a bar with windows overlooking Falls Road and Princeton Sports across the way—and the airy space, with simple tables and booths along the wall, is well designed for families or groups heading home after a sports practice or game. Hofman, former general manager of Tark’s Grill, started the place with a couple of buddies from the financial world. Their goal is to expand to become a chain; stay tuned for location numero due (keep your eye on Bel Air).
Verde is also a prototype for a chain, according to its owners. Kresevich and Bosco purchased the building on South Montford and put plenty of time and money into it. The floors are glistening penny tiles, the booths and tables made from reclaimed wood—some from an old church the couple rehabbed in Chicago. The dovetailed concrete panels that clad the booths, stained a soft grass green, were made by an artist whose work Kresevich admired at a yoga studio. Everything here is conscientiously selected, from the menu of Italian beer and wines to the imported serrated pizza knives.
The two moved to Baltimore with their young daughter five years ago. Kresevich had been here on an assignment with Laureate Education and liked what she saw. “I could see the revival of the city going on,” she says. “We saw it happen in Chicago, but Chicago was already there.” Baltimore reminded Kresevich of her native Seattle, still in the nascent stages of a revival when she left in the 1980s. Baltimore, the two decided, still had a ways to go in its renaissance. And in its pizza.
FOLD IT LIKE BECKHAM >>
I’m not sure fold-ability was the key quality for a New York pizza before comedian Jon Stewart famously chided Donald Trump for eating a slice with a knife and fork. (The offending incident happened when the billionaire was showing Sarah Palin around Manhattan.)
To me, New York pizza is the greasy slices from the place on Broadway around the corner from my upper West Side apartment. Cut from a pie the size of a wagon wheel, the slice, my 7-year-old niece sagely observed, was big enough to use as a blanket for my then-infant daughter. In our retelling of the story, though, we actually did use the slice to swaddle the baby.
New York pizza is highly subjective. To older natives of the city, it’s thin-crust and coal-fired from classic places like John’s, Lombardi’s and Patsy’s. To younger transplants, it’s the ubiquitous slice, ordered up at any one of the dozens of Ray’s Original storefronts, sprinkled liberally with oregano, red pepper flakes and garlic powder and eaten while strolling down the street. This is where the folding properties become essential.
Kelly Beckham will soon come out of hiding as the Pizza Blogger to open Paulie Gee’s. He’s managed to enlist the famous Greenpoint, Brooklyn joint of the same name as a partner in bringing their version of Neapolitan pizza to Hampden.
Beckham has studied pizza far and wide and has his favorites—in Baltimore, one is Johnny Rad’s (http://www.johnnyrads.com) —just north of Fells Point, where we met for this story), but he’s open-minded. Even bad pizza, he says, “is like bad sex: it’s still kinda good.”
Beckham, who travels to pizza places with a stopwatch to check cooking times, helped me to wrap my head—though not my now-teenage daughter—around all the pizza styles out there.
New York style
“New York is arguably the most ambiguous style,” says Beckham. It may be that, like the city itself, it’s different for everyone. I’ve noticed that anyone who has lived in New York, for any length of time, believes passionately that their take on the city is the only one possible. Even so, most would agree that New York pizza has thin (yet stiff) foldable crust, seasoned tomato sauce and a layer of mozzarella cheese that extends to the edges of the slice. Most grab-and-go New York pizzas are cooked on a gas-deck oven, says Beckham. These pies cook in 10 to 12 minutes—a long time compared to the standards of coal-baked and Neapolitan pies.
While most people equate the Windy City with deep-dish pie, there’s also a style with a crackery crust, says Beckham. “It’s usually cut into squares and called a tavern or party style pizza.” Contrary to popular belief, the deep-dish style doesn’t have a thick crust, just high edges. Chicago-style deep dish can be found at Pizzeria Uno in the Inner Harbor and at Barfly’s in Locust Point.
Thick-crusted Matthew’s pizza is more Greek than Chicago, says Beckham. Its crust is thick, but airy, and it cooks for more than 30 minutes.
Ideal characteristics of Neapolitan pies are laid down by the Vera Pizza Napolitan (VPN). Crusts are made with fine-ground, high-gluten double zero flour topped with sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes with a touch of salt, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Baltimore’s Neapolitan outfits include Verde, Hersh’s and the soon-to-open Paulie Gee’s (expected to arrive in Hampden this winter).
Pillowy crusts and often rectangular shape characterize the pies named for this southern Italian province, according to Beckham.
Roman-style pizza shares some characteristics with New York pizza, says Beckham. It has a thin crust, crispier than the Neapolitan, and is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven for six to eight minutes. The pizza at Birroteca, he says, resembles the Roman.
Beckham holds up a slice of Johnny Rad’s pie. It shares characteristics with our established definition of New York pie—mainly, it’s foldable. It’s layered with simple tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella, along with slices of fatty, salty sopressata. Skateboards and skater memorabilia hang on the walls of the place, and the large windows on Eastern Avenue have been opened wide on this warm autumn day. We can hear the pings from vintage arcade games being played in the back of the restaurant as we sip Union Craft Brewery Co. Duckpin Pale Ale from cans. Yup, this is Baltimore.
Served hot or cold.
The essentials of Autumn are so well summarized in this cocktail, from the crispy snap of the ginger beer to the fullness of body in the unfiltered apple juice. I enjoy serving it over ice—especially on those evenings when Indian summer sneaks up on us in Baltimore. But it’s also wonderful served warm straight out of a crockpot. Tailgate, anyone? We’ve provided recipes for both preparations below.
Maryland Apple Orchard
2oz Bulleit bourbon
2oz Martinelli’s unfiltered apple juice
4oz Saranac ginger beer
In a Collins glass half full with ice, combine Bulleit bourbon and apple juice then stir gently. Add ginger beer and garnish with a fresh apple slice and fresh grated cinnamon or cinnamon stick to taste.
Maryland Apple Orchard
(crockpot build, makes twelve 8-ounce servings)
One 750ml Bulleit bourbon
28 oz Martinelli’s unfiltered apple juice
Four 12oz bottles Saranac ginger beer
Combine apple juice and ginger beer in crock pot with three medium thinly sliced Gala or Ginger Gold Maryland apples. Heat on the lowest simmer setting for 2 hours, do not allow to boil. Just before serving turn on high for 10 minutes and add Bulleit bourbon. Serve in a small mug with fresh grated cinnamon or cinnamon stick to taste.
YOUR MIXOLOGIST: Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres in Harbor East, and founder of Tend for a Cause—an organization that raises money for local charities through creative cocktail parties and arts events.
A group of self-proclaimed “whippersnappers” meet up for hula hooping at Patterson Park.
The first rule of Baltimore Fit Club is to talk about Baltimore Fit Club—especially on http://www.Meetup.com, a social networking site that helps like-minded locals find each other and plan events. Founded in January 2013, BFC is a club for anyone interested in leading an active lifestyle. Whether it’s playing basketball or soccer, biking the BWI Trail or walking to benefit charity, fitness enthusiasts of all levels can find a group of committed workout buddies by simply showing up and sweating. As an added benefit, Meetup organizers and fellow members often post supportive notes on each other’s profiles between exercise dates.
There are dozens more Meetups springing up around Charm City, from happy hikers to dedicated runners and oodles of yogis. Baltimore Yoga Village frequently hosts a mixed-level hatha Meetup complete with live chanting and music.
One of the most unique groups? Baltimore’s Playground, devoted to the lost art of recess (think four square, freeze tag and double dutch), hosts regular hula hooping sessions in Patterson Park. Here’s a chance to reconnect with your inner child and work that core at the same time. As a reward for your hard work, these “kids” often grab drinks when play time is over. http://www.meetup.com
Get in your best fighting shape ever—even if you’re just fighting gravity—at Knockout Fitness in Federal Hill, where trainers lead wannabe Mayweathers through boxing combos on heavy bags, footwork sessions and conditioning drills meant for a champ. Monster tire flipping anyone? The club offers Boxfit (a hybrid of kickboxing and circuit training), Boxing 101, Spartan Training, a Legs/Core class and even Kids Boxing. This fall, check out the special women’s self-defense session, nutrition workshops and a six-week boot camp. You’ll be a knockout in no time! First class is free. Single class, $15. Monthly memberships begin at $65. 1108 Light Street, 443-703-9260, http://www.knockoutfitnessmd.com
A clean slate. Savvy will take any opportunity to try that, especially if it involves pretty, feminine things. Doubly so if she can assuage her credit-card conscience by doing a good deed with her purchase. Voilà Fresh! Boutique in its brand new location, the Festival at Woodholme in Pikesville. Owner Heidi Slacum’s airy, elegant shop, with its dancy, dangling chandeliers and zebra-patterned rugs, is a fashion maven’s dream. Styles by designers not seen elsewhere in Baltimore, such as ready-to-wear by the L.A.-favored Piper Gore and silk peplum dresses by White Suede share space with leather goods by the British SW3 and embellished, draped dresses from the Italian Denny Rose. Throw in some Jungle Chic jewelry by Lionette, custom-made for Fresh!, and handmade baubles by local artist Rachel Mulherin, and your fall outfit is complete. Even better, Slacum regularly hosts events that benefit local charities. 1809 Reistertown Road, 410-602-1102
Anyone who has tried to reproduce an old family recipe knows it’s not so easy to bring back a beloved institution like The Chesapeake Restaurant without inviting comparisons. The Baltimore establishment on North Charles Street first opened in 1933 and closed a decade or so after its heyday in 1987. Happily, the new Chesapeake, which opened in June, seems to have found the right combination of ingredients.
Fundamental to the success of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District’s new restaurant is a clear vision of what the 21st-century Chesapeake is and is not. “Almost everything is different—and that’s purposeful,” says its operating manager Elizabeth Tackett. “There are no white tablecloths and dress is unpretentious.”
Executive chef Jordan Miller takes pride in the fact that the new Chesapeake is a spot where you can feel comfortable ordering a plate of foie gras and washing it down with a Natty Boh.
That said, the new owners—Ernst and Dana Valery and Mauro Daigle and Annie Baum-Stein—also have taken care to pay their respects to the “old” Chesapeake in a few significant ways. On Throwback Thursdays, for example, the restaurant serves classic cocktails and recipes from the original menu.
1. The Food: “Jordan never saw a fish he didn’t know what to do with,” says Tackett, chuckling about the chef’s penchant for seafood. Signature dishes include shrimp and grits made with house-cured bacon, smoked tomato broth and wild mushrooms. Scallops with edamame succotash is another favorite. Health nuts rave about the Chesapeake vegan burger.
2. The Turn-On: Hang out at the raw bar with official shuck chef, Will Burris, who will shuck your oysters while you watch. How’s that for an aphrodisiac? Most nights, the bar boasts three varietals.
3.The Scene: More casual and contained than its sprawling predecessor, The Chesapeake now has a hip neighborhood vibe, in part inspired by Valery’s desire to help revitalize the district. (He was a real estate developer long before he became a restaurateur.) We’re talking chocolate leather booths, high tops and an enormous white marble bar, where folks can stop in for a pre-movie drink before heading to The Charles. For a quieter setting, ask to be seated in the dining room, which seats 30 and is available for private parties.
4. The Drinks: Signature cocktails include the Walker-Haslinger made from London dry gin, dry vermouth, orange, rosemary and Jerry Thomas bitters and the best-selling “Feels Real” cocktail, which uses local berries, rum, maraschino, thyme and sparkling wine.
5. The Happy Ending: In-house pastry chef Janae Aiken is fast becoming famous for her moresophisticated take on the coconut snowball, a classic Chesapeake dessert. Aiken’s version is made from triple coconut cake with dark chocolate ganache and house-made cocoa sorbet and toasted coconut.
Savvy admits that she becomes unstitched (if not unhinged) by a misbegotten outfit, and in these United States such outfits are aplenty. Casual wear in particular is a sinner. Whether it’s a sloppy fit, a crude slogan or a just plain ugly ensemble, she must avert her eyes. Can’t a guy go for comfort and looks? Enter Unstitched Utilities, a new line of men’s footwear—and bless their socks. Run by a crew of Jersey Boys, one of whom, Mark Kane, is originally from Pikesville, it’s now being carried by Ma Petite Shoe in Hampden. And is it ever fab. Made out of practically indestructible (and vegan) Tyvek—the same material in those FedEx packets—the cool, colorful styles almost make Savvy wish her feet were a size 10. (Women’s line available at http://www.unstitchedutilities.com.) Ma Petite Shoe, 832 W. 36th St., Hampden, 410-235-3442.
Remember the general stores of yesteryear? Savvy does. Well, OK, maybe she’s remembering the general stores of old TV westerns, but she does remember five-and-dimes. They were handy places, long gone and long lamented. Enter Randy and Steve’s: The New General Store in Ellicott City. Recently renovated from the historic Yates Market, the new place is spiffed up and decked out in gourmet trappings. You can still get fancy versions of staples such as laundry detergent and stationery, but co-owner Randy Neely says the new focus is on food and giftables. Peruse locally made spreads and honeys, pick up an old-fashioned shaving kit, or outfit your home with darling décor. Be sure to grab a gourmet sandwich from the in-shop deli before you depart. 8249 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-461-5840. http://www.randyandsteves.com
Hold on to your love handles, Baltimoreans; it’s time to make the cronuts. Created by French patissier Dominique Ansel in NYC, the sumptuous croissant-doughnut hybrid has inspired around-the-block lines, exorbitant craigslist sales (up to $100 for a single cronut) and countless imitators.
Less than a month after the hysteria-inducing delicacy debuted, Charm City’s own Gertrude’s restaurant added “Croi-nuts” to the menu for a brief run. Despite pastry chef Doug Wetzel’s earnest attempt to make the dessert his own—after all, his Croi-nuts looked more like giant Munchkins (“Look, Ma! No holes!”)—he received an official cease-and-desist letter from Ansel’s attorney and decided it just wasn’t worth the dessert drama.
But you can still score your cronut fix in Federal Hill where two restaurants continue to throw caution to the trademark wind. Regi’s is going philosophical with its “WhyNots”—sliced cronuts filled with seasonal fruits and served atop a layer of vanilla custard ($5 each).
The Rowhouse Grille’s basic $5 Rownut is stuffed with vanilla cream and coated with salted caramel sauce. For $7.50, you can enjoy a cronut filled with lemon gelato or
another served s’mores style with chocolate sauce, graham crackers and marshmallows.
Belly up to the KitBar and enjoy other piquant portmanteaus at the new Stone’s Cove restaurant in Owings Mills. A mashup of “kitchen” and “bar,” the space is comprised of raised, bar-like seating encircling the open kitchen, where diners can watch as Chef-Tenders (Chefs+Bartenders) prepare their eats and drinks. Kick off the meal with a selection of AppeTapas (Appetizers+Tapas), like chipotle lobster salad served in black sesame waffle cones or upside-down meatloaf cupcakes with a base of creamy mashed potatoes, followed by the spicy Devil’s Kissed Torchiette Pasta or tequila glazed tilapia. A well-edited selection of salads, sandwiches and flatbreads round out the menu, along with a few sweet DessertOpps. (OK, we just made that one up.) 10997 Owings Mills Blvd., 410-205-7258, http://www.stonescove.com
David and Laura Alima may have traveled the world—from Vermont to Vietnam—taste-testing ice cream flavors before opening The Charmery in Hampden, but many of their flavors have a decidedly down-home feel. We’re talking Maryland Mud, Zeke’s Coffee, Lemon Stick Sorbet and, of course, Berger Cookies and Cream. After trying out many variations with Old Bay, including an Old Bay Dark Chocolate that made David wince, he landed on Old Bay Caramel, which is one of their best sellers. “The greatest comment I’ve gotten so far is it’s
disturbingly delicious,” he says.
The couple makes their ice cream daily using locally sourced fruit and cream they bring in from Trickling Springs Creamery in Pennsylvania. What they don’t use—any artificial flavors or colors. (“The pistachio is green-ish,” says David, who studied at Frozen Dessert Institute in St. Louis.)
The current menu also includes shakes, sundaes, floats, homemade sodas and even vegan sorbets. But stay tuned for signature hot chocolate, fresh whipped cream and exotically flavored marshmallows to arrive well in time for the lights on 34th Street. 801 W. 36th St., 410-814-0493, http://www.thecharmery.com
— MARISSA HILL DUNN
For many years, I didn’t care much for oysters. Or so I thought. It’s not like I gave them much of a chance. I would wrinkle my nose at the sight of their quivering bodies on the half shell in preference for what were, to me, less offensive shellfish—scallops, crabs, lobsters, mussels. But like so many food aversions, it turns out it was all in my head, as I happily discovered on a recent trip to New Orleans.
My gateway oyster dish was the absinthe oyster dome at the iconic Commander’s Palace restaurant. Topped with puff pastry—the “dome” —it’s an incredibly rich and balanced dish of bacon, cream, artichokes, just a whiff of absinthe, and a whole mess of plump and juicy Gulf oysters. After tasting that, I was fully on board Team Oyster. Now I’ll eat them broiled, grilled, fried or raw.
My Herbsaint Oyster Stew is inspired by that incredible dish I had at Commander’s Palace. Instead of absinthe, however, I use the more mellow, anise-flavored liquor Herbsaint, and to lighten things up a bit I substitute milk for heavy cream, which I thicken with a roux. The broiled garlicky oysters are a direct re-creation—as far as my memory serves—of another dish I had in New Orleans: the famous grilled oysters at Drago’s. Here the oysters are smothered in garlic butter and cheese and grilled over an open flame. The fire shoots up and licks the shells as the butter drips down into the heat; in my less flammable version the oysters are broiled in the oven.
The spicy oyster and Andouille sausage spaghetti is a fun departure from spaghetti and meatballs, and you’ll find that the leftover Creole seasoning is great on just about everything. Finally, the BOLT sandwich—bacon, oyster, lettuce and tomato— was inspired by a fried oyster and pork belly sandwich my husband had at John Besh’s Borgne restaurant. It does something I never thought possible: improve on the BLT.
Let’s just say if we were Gil in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” we would have lingered a little longer. Fortunately, starting in October, we need only drive to Philly to be transported back in time to the City of Lights
during the roaring 1920s, when the great French modernist Fernand Léger (1881-1955) played a leading role in redefining the practice of painting by bringing it into active engagement with the urban landscape and modern mass media.
Leger’s “The City” (1919), seen above, is a cornerstone of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection and a landmark in the history of modern art. Using this pivotal painting as a jumping off point, “Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis” will showcase 120 works exploring complexity and excitement of the urban jungle. Look for a core group of the artist’s own paintings, along with film projections, theater designs, architectural models and advertising by Leger’s contemporaries ranging from Cassandre and Le Corbusier to Piet Mondrian and Man Ray. Oct. 14-Jan 5, philamuseum.org.
I think it was the North Pole party that sent me over the edge.
Browsing through the pages of a popular blog, I came across a post recounting a Christmas party the blogger had thrown for her not-quite-5-year-old daughter, all documented with gorgeous, magazine-worthy photography.
A gleaming red-and-white runner led the way to the front door. There was a “reindeer food bar,” in which the pajama-clad little girls could fill Mason jars charmingly decorated with red-and-green twine with a variety of goodies to leave Santa’s reindeer, including glitter and “flying powder,” all of them neatly labeled on printed cardstock. There was a scavenger hunt through the neighborhood to find items Santa had misplaced, like a pocket watch and a mug. The mom had even arranged for the girls to have an elf sighting, after which they retired, wide-eyed, back to the house for impossibly adorable cookies and milk, served—naturally—in twine-bedecked, old-fashioned glass bottles with brightly striped red-and-white straws. Each child took home a favor: a bottle of homemade peppermint-scented “pillow spray” meant to ensure sweet dreams.
It was magical and beautiful. So obviously, my immediate reaction was to roll my eyes and groan. I think I may have even said “Oh, give me a break!” out loud.
I suppose overachieving, craft-monger parents have always existed. But in this fishbowl age, when we have the opportunity to broadcast our every parenting effort at the touch of a button, I have had just about enough of trying to keep up with them.
Me? I’m not so crafty, to put it mildly. I walk into a craft store and get completely overwhelmed and ill at ease. I feel like there’s a whole universe of craftiness for which I’m missing the decoder ring. I immediately wonder how people know what you’re supposed to do with all of those things: hot glue guns and artificial flowers and brightly colored sheets of foam. And don’t even get me started on the scrapbook aisle, for which I require almost an entire bottle of Xanax.
For nearly 36 perfectly good years, my failings in the craft arena had few real-world implications. Yes, yes, I might have saved some money on my wedding if I’d made my own sugared fruit centerpieces and topiary place card holders, but…whatever.
And then I became a mother, and learned that being un-crafty puts you at a serious disadvantage. The crafty moms are like the popular cheerleaders or the go-getter student government presidents, shaming you with their picture-perfect Facebook feeds—the Taj Mahals built out of Popsicle sticks and the birthday parties more carefully orchestrated than a black-tie affair.
My children, on the other hand, don’t do much with Popsicle sticks except eat Popsicles. We don’t document the first and last days of school with a neatly lettered chalkboard sign and then post the results to Instagram. I buy my kids’ teachers uninspired gift cards instead of assembling baskets filled with an array of cutesy presents linked by a common theme. The cupcakes I baked for the third-grade end of the year party in June were in muffin papers decorated with snowmen.
Though I like to joke that my parenting memoir will be titled “MacGyver Mom: Making It Up As You Go Along,” I still can’t decide whether to celebrate my slightly slacker-ish stance or whether on some deeper level, I’m flat out envious of the moms with their perfect playrooms and whimsical nurseries, their sun-dappled apple picking outings and their perfectly organized pool bags. (Yes, there was actually an entire blog post devoted to the latter.) Even though I’m well aware it’s a highly edited view, I have to confess that the window social media provides into other people’s parenting sometimes makes me want to up my game. Do the moms posting pictures of trips to the art museum in between baking bread and making their own Play-Doh ever feel the urge to plop the kids in front of “Phineas and Ferb” and play some online Scrabble? Not that I’ve, um, ever done that, of course. I’m asking for a friend.
But I’m also deeply suspicious of what parenting for an audience can mean. At what point do you make peppermint dream spray for your daughter’s 5-year-old friends because you really, really, really enjoy making peppermint dream spray, and at what point do you make peppermint dream spray because you have a blog on which you can show other adults that you made peppermint dream spray for your daughter’s 5-year-old friends? Has the social media tail begun wagging the parenting dog? If you make an adorable party favor and there’s no blog to post it on, does it make a sound?
I can say with great confidence that the contents of my kids’ lunchboxes will never be featured on anyone’s blog. Photos of their Halloween costumes will not be “repinned,” nor will anyone ever “like” images of their tornado of a bedroom. But my children feel loved and secure and, most nights, they fall asleep fulfilled and content. I take comfort in believing that, ultimately, it’s what matters most. Even if sometimes, they are the only two people who know.
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”
The minute I grasp the drumsticks—the percussion variety, not turkey—I am hooked. My inner rock star springs to life and I’m tapping everything in sight. I am not alone. Everyone is tapping right along with me and the class hasn’t even started.
When it does, this band of strangers morphs into a rhythmic ensemble worthy of a spot in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Our instructor shouts rapid-fire orders with the intensity of a drill sergeant. “TAP TO THE LEFT! TO THE RIGHT! FRONT! BEHIND! ON THE FLOOR! OVERHEAD!” We follow her lead and pound the sticks on our “drums.” Well, they’re not really drums. Our instruments are large exercise balls anchored to stands so they won’t budge. Between thumps, we perform jumping jacks or other high-intensity cardio moves. Pulsating sounds, plenty of laughter and lots of sweat fill the hour.
Before my friend Linda and I arrived at The Lodge at Woodloch, a destination spa in Howley, Pa., we’d never heard of drumming for fitness. In fact, when we see it on the activity schedule, we give it thumbs down. We figure it’s a form of spiritual drumming and we want a workout. But after eavesdropping on another guest raving about the class, we decide to give it a shot.
Our four-day getaway is filled with pleasant surprises from the get-go. After a 4½ hour drive we step into the lobby where three chakra bowls displayed on a hand-carved wooden base greet us. I pick up a gong and mindlessly circle the rim of each bowl and produce tranquilizing sounds. Guests pass by—some wearing hiking boots, others spa slippers. All wear contented grins.
Our arrival time wasn’t ideal. Lunch was ending and we figured we’d have to settle for a cereal bar. Instead, an on-the-ball receptionist said before I utter one word, “Don’t waste time checking in. Go have lunch.”
We devour shrimp and pasta in silence, overwhelmed by the killer views through the dining room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. We watch a lone deer munch his lunch in the dense forest, while catching a glimpse of the resort’s 15-acre lake through the trees.
My last visit to the Poconos 20 years ago was nothing like this. (A tacky in-room bathtub shaped like a champagne glass was the highlight.) Fortunately, times—and tubs—have changed. Here I feel like I’m a guest at a friend’s private estate.
With just 57 tastefully decorated rooms on 150 wooded acres, the setting is cozy and idyllic. Every area—guest rooms, fitness rooms and sitting areas—boasts panoramic views. The lodge’s six fireplaces are all flanked by handsome leather furniture, ideal retreats for our mid-morning and afternoon breaks. And whenever we’re in the mood to nosh, coffee, tea, fresh fruit, nuts and snacks are always within reach. (That’s a benefit since we work up a healthy appetite during back-to-back fitness adventures each morning.)
“They’re better than any aerobics class,” says a young woman when describing the Ballet Barre and Bollywood Belly Dancing classes. She neglects to tell us how difficult they are. In ballet, I’m the clumsy Black Swan as I struggle with my demi-plies and arabesques. The best part is moving to beautiful classical music.
Belly dancing brings a change of tune—and mood. Grown women in colorful coin-trimmed sarongs gyrate, grind and giggle. For a moment I fear I’ll wind up on YouTube. But we all quickly release our inhibitions and get into the groove. Since the classes wake up muscles that have long been dormant, each afternoon we head to the therapeutic hydro-massage “water wall” where the force of the cascading hot water massages our aching bodies. Later on, at the spa, our biggest decision is whether to get massaged, oiled or scrubbed. Sometimes, we simply take refuge in the Whisper Lounge where sssssssshhh is the only sound allowed.
At night, the dining room is filled with a mix of couples enjoying a romantic getaway, gal pals like us and singles enjoying a book or martini (or both). While menu choices are diverse and healthful, the chef doesn’t get hung up on calories. The kitchen is dessert-friendly, too. Our scrumptious chocolate cake is “petite” but no diet police would approve it. The chef’s philosophy seems to be, don’t deprive. Eat less.
We leave for home two unwound women whose stresses have shrunk to the size of a whirlpool—if only for four glorious days. But I can still be caught belly dancing around my kitchen from time to time.
The Lodge at Woodloch, 866-953-8500, thelodgeatwoodloch.com. Rates from $299 per person, per night.
Floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the great outdoors at TREE, The Lodge at Woodloch’s award-winning signature restaurant. Seasonal menus feature naturally raised meat and fish, plus fresh herbs and vegetables grown in the chef’s garden. Artfully prepared selections range from roasted rack of boar with gorgonzola polenta to herb-crusted mahi -mahi. Menus acknowledge dietary concerns with several gluten-free and vegan choices. There is a full bar and well-stocked wine cellar. The chef also offers cooking classes using ingredients from his garden located a few steps from the resort’s front door.
Things to Do
Woodloch’s fitness classes range from mellow meditation, Pilates and restorative yoga to Zumba, Aqua Boot Camp and Cardio Cocktail. (Sorry, no alcohol served.) Additional activities include golf, fly fishing, hiking, birding, wine tastings and arts programs. All fitness levels welcome.
It’s our fourth morning in Peru and we’re en route to Aguascalientes, the bedroom suburb for tourists visiting Machu Picchu. Everybody is psyched—this Inca ruin ranks No. 1 in TripAdvisor’s 2013 Travelers’ Choice awards—and even the train ride to get there is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, chugging along the edge of a whitewater stream that plunges through the Sacred Valley.
Our glass-domed railcar is equipped with pairs of double seats and tables. At one end, a party is in progress. Twenty-four seventh-graders from Roland Park Elementary Middle and Deer Park Middle Magnet School in Randallstown play cards, gossip and pass around bottles of electric yellow Inca Kola. They huddle over their phones, flipping through the photos they’ve taken so far—on the surfing beach in Lima, in the freaky bone yard of the San Francisco catacombs, posed atop the labyrinthine ruins of Saqsayhuaman, pronounced “sexy woman,” to their unending hilarity. Others are yelping about the X-rated images spied on the pre-Colombian pottery in the Museo Larco, an aspect glossed over by the docent.
Our Education First Tour director, Lucho Lazarte, who looks like a Peruvian Mark Wahlberg, balances on the arm of a seat, peering at his cards. The kids shout over each other to teach him the rules of Library, a card game that has followed us from one hotel to the next like floating craps.
The other end of the car holds a less raucous contingent—three 30-something teachers who are the trip’s chaperones, six parents, one grandparent and the lead teacher’s mother as well as her best friend. The chaperones nap in preparation for another long day of herding, head-counting, hushing and admonishing.
We other grown-ups are in a gray area—and not just in terms of hair color. We can, say, order a beer with dinner, or leave the hotel without permission. On the other hand, we have no power or responsibilities. In fact, as part of the herd, we are just as subject to counting, commanding and scolding as the kids.
My reaction to this—eye-rolling, muttering and worse— has moved my daughter to comment, “You would not make a good middle schooler, Mom.”
Ah, well, I didn’t then and I wouldn’t now. Nonetheless, I am enjoying myself. Before the trip, I’d met just one of the other parents, and felt shy at first. But by now we are a congenial group, knowing which of us has a good sense of direction, which has first-aid skills, which knows only how to order a pisco sour (me). I expected only to hang out with my daughter Jane and her two best friends, but I’ve made some new connections among the kids, as well.
In fact, the most fun part of the trip for me is getting to know a few 13-year-olds who have for years been just names in Jane’s stories. For example, every morning when I come down to the breakfast room at the crack of dawn, I find one person already there. It is Duncan Parke, who had a recent star turn as Captain Hook in the school play and still regularly bellows his songs. He is the earliest-rising young person I have ever met and one of the most enterprising, having earned almost all the $3,000 fee for the trip himself. He has an amazing memory, instantly supplying names, facts and figures from our itinerary as I write in my journal. My daughter’s description of him—“a 40-year-old in a seventh-grader’s body”—now makes perfect sense.
Another rather brilliant child, Mercedes Thompson, has been feeling homesick and cranky on and off, so hearing me refer to our hotel in Cusco as a “freezing hellhole” and the dinner we were served as “chicken-flavored cat food” created an immediate bond between us. Whenever she needs someone to kvetch with, she just finds me.
I sit with the other parents on the train, sipping coffee, passing around a book about Machu Picchu and musing over the joys of traveling with the kids on a school tour. “It seems like the ideal way to travel with a 12- or 13-year-old,” comments Larry Brody, father of Rebecca and a geneticist with the National Institutes of Health. “You get to share the experiences and the sights, but they also get to peel off and be with their friends. I honestly don’t think it would be as much fun one-on-one.”
He doesn’t get any argument on that from Deer Park mom Debbie Briscoe, who is reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” on her Kindle, while her intrepid mother, Thelma Brookes, plays word games on the iPad. Down the car, her quiet grandson Brandon is engrossed by the hooting, hollering, fussing and flirting raging around him.
“How you guys doin?” asks Lucho, ambling down the aisle to check on his older charges. It is a brave question. In the three days since we landed in Lima, Lucho has won us over with his patience regarding everything from hotel deficiencies and altitude sickness to misplaced iPhones and sudden conversions to vegetarianism (could have been the roast guinea pig, a Peruvian specialty).
While I would have imagined that unruly kids would give him more trouble than grown-ups, he confides that it’s the opposite. Kids are used to following instructions; adults are accustomed to doing whatever they want. In fact, the only person he’s ever ejected from a tour for bad behavior was an adult. Though he does recall once having to shove a pair of drunken 17-year-olds into a cold shower.
As we pull into town, we see a chilling sight: a half-mile-long line of people winding up from the ticket office. Mudslides in the mountains have closed Machu Picchu for two days prior, and now a frightening number of tourists are backed up, hoping to make it in under the 2,500 visitor/day limit.
Thankfully, as a 10-year veteran of Machu Picchu tourism, Lucho has rearranged some things, called in some favors, dragged us to the bus station in Cusco at 3:30 a.m.—and we’ll be up there straightaway after lunch.
This kind of thing makes you very happy to be on a school tour: your kid is cheering about waking up at 3 a.m. for an adventure rather than wailing because you, who have no expertise or strings to pull, have just explained that the highlight of the trip is canceled.
Machu Picchu was intended to be a royal residence—in fact, we can tell which house was to be the king’s by the location of the single indoor toilet. Our squad learns this from a guide named Hamilton, who speaks excellent English and wears a canvas explorer hat. Hamilton leads us through the maze of chambers, plazas, tombs and temples, offering quirky details at every turn. (Like how the llamas that wander the verdant grounds are natural lawn mowers.) But when the Spanish invaders showed up in the 16th century, he explains, the wily Inca abandoned Machu Picchu; it was lost to the outside world until 1911.
Hamilton shows us the astronomical features of the site, popularized by “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” A group of rocks arranged to indicate the precise moments of the solstices and equinoxes is all the more interesting since we are visiting on June 21—the winter solstice here, the most sacred day of the Inca calendar. It is also sacred to my daughter Jane, who was born on it.
When we arranged the trip I thought this coincidence would make the day unforgettable, as long as she didn’t get sucked up into the sky by the gods or something. But even though she texts her father that Machu Picchu is “by far the most amazing thing I have ever seen,” after we return to the hotel I find her lying on her bed looking tear-stained.
“Are you having a nice birthday?” I ask.
She assures me that she is, but I suspect otherwise. I once celebrated my birthday on a train from Paris to Nice and I know that being somewhere cool on your birthday is not the same as having a party, getting presents and being the center of attention. I try to comfort her without spilling the beans, which unfortunately leads her to believe that a cookie from the shop across the street is going to be the big thrill of her day.
But no. I have secretly discussed the birthday problem with both Lucho and Janell Lewis, the Roland Park social studies teacher who organized the trip. Independently, Jane’s friends Julianne Friedman and Ava Taylor have picked up little gifts in the market, inspiring some of the other kids to do the same.
Which is how Jane’s first teenage birthday ends with a wild dance party in a candlelit cafe with a Peruvian folk band who knew both “Happy Birthday” and “Hey Jude.” There were lots of french fries (there are always lots of french fries in Peru), piles of presents, and a chocolate cake big enough for three girls’ names in M&Ms, as we had learned that the birthdays of two other students also fell during our Peruvian week.
I am not the only grown-up who joins the children in the booty-shaking conga line. Jane’s gift to me is not insisting that I go sit down. Na na na na, na na na na, Hey Jude!
Finally, let me say this. When I told people I was going to Peru this summer with a seventh-grade school tour, I got about the same reaction as when I told people four years ago that I was moving to Baltimore. While I don’t deny Machu Picchu its fame, glory and No. 1 rankings, the best things in life, I find, are underrated.
The Max Brenner Chocolate Bar has arrived in Bethesda. This means every day, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (and midnight on weekends), you can feel like Charlie in your very own factory. There are pancakes with chocolate syrup, pizzas with chocolate sauce, popsicles with chocolate fondue and for those who just need a quick dose— a syringe filled with straight Belgian chocolate. (It’s actually a mini turkey baster that fits right in your purse.) Still not in love? The hot chocolate is served in a “hug mug” that requires two hands. Now that’s sweet. 7263 Woodmont Ave., 301-215-8305, maxbrenner.com
It used to be that buying used clothing was something done but not discussed. But these days, scoring high-end designer items for half the price actually offers a kind of cachet. You’re not only sophisticated—you’re savvy. And, hey, you’re recycling.
Every day, Baltimore’s fashionistas deposit their castoff Chanels, Kate Spades, Balenciagas and Missoni LBDs at local consignment stores where they’re snatched up by other Baltimore fashionistas.
“It’s a win-win,” says Andrea Kaplan, proprietress of Love Me Two Times, a high-end consignment store in Roland Park. The consignor gets rid of the item and earns store credit or cold hard cash without fussing with eBay or waiting in line at the post office. The buyer scores that very same item for far less than retail, and gets instant gratification—no waiting days or weeks for a package to arrive.
Stop by any consignment store and you’ll meet regulars who visit several times a week without fail, dropping off items and buying others. Some women even transport their loot in suitcases—Louis Vuitton suitcases, of course.
So cull your wardrobe and get hunting. We’re confident you’ll bag a bargain.
La Chic owner Mary Anne Barker rings up a customer in her pink fashion haven.
La Chic boutique
Owner: Mary Anne Barker opened La Chic almost three years ago, but she is already savvy about differentiating it from other area stores. She offers free layaway. And she has a “wish list” next to the register where customers note the items they’re searching for: “Birken bag,” “Lilly pants,” “any Chanel bag” and so on. Each week, Barker emails her 1,000 consignors to tell them the in-demand items. More often than not, she makes a match.
Vibe: Pinktastic princess. Barker wants the store to feel more like a new boutique than a consignment shop. There’s an abundance of pink dresses, charming tchotchkes on the wall and lots of (new) wall signs, candles and statement earrings.
On the racks: There’s one rack just for Lilly (this is Mount Washington, after all) and other racks have blouses, dresses and pants from Anthropologie, Bebe, Marc Jacobs and more. Shoes range from Dansko to Prada. Bonus: a men’s rack with vintage and high-end offerings from Hermes, Burberry and others. Many items are barely worn—and all are either current style or true vintage finds.
Typical customer: Girly-girls of all ages—though Barker says men often come in to buy gifts for their wives.
Killer find: Chanel Black Caviar Jumbo 2.55 single flap silver chain handbag—originally, $5,300, sold for $3,100. 5614 Newbury St., 443-869-2247, lachic boutiquemd.com —L.W.
With its “Forever 21”-vibe, Uptown Cheapskate is the go-to place for trendy (and savvy) teens and 20-somethings.
Owner: Uptown may be a national chain, but Timonium manager Rachael Williams says each location is unique. The variety comes from both the taste of the consignors (75 percent of the store’s merchandise comes from customers) and the discretion of the trend-tracking employees. “The buyer-trained staff is really the success of the store,” says Williams.
Vibe: The Top 40 music and high school and college kids milling about make Uptown’s clean, well-organized space feel more like Forever 21 than a consignment boutique.
On the racks: The shelves cater primarily to juniors and young adult guys and girls, with lots of Abercrombie and American Eagle. The stuff is cheap, with most items in the $10 to $15 range.
Typical customer: Teens and 20-somethings, but the clothes will suit anyone with trendy taste (and a reasonably small waist). “We have some hip grannies who come in the store,” Williams says, “and we also get a lot of parents shopping for their kids.”
Killer find: Chloe sunglasses ($70) and a Coach shoulder bag ($29.99). Act fast: luxury items fly out the door before you can say, “Is that a Kate Spade?”1830 York Road, 410-560-5890, http://www.uptowncheapskate.com —Kimberly Uslin
Love Me Two Times
Owner: When Andrea Kaplan opened Love Me Two Times in 2012, much of the inventory came from her own closet. A dedicated fashionista and former contemporary buyer for Octavia in Pikesville, Kaplan is a high priestess whose message is “high fashion at a fraction of the cost.”
Vibe: Sex in (Baltimore) City. Think vintage posters, designer stilettos and evening dresses. “It’s like a party in here,” says Kaplan.
On the racks: High-end contemporary designers such as Chanel, Hermes, Pucci, Tiffany, Missoni, Burberry and Prada.
Kaplan authenticates all items to make sure they’re legit.
Typical customer: A professional gal aged 25 to 55 who loves fashion. Some keep tabs on Kaplan’s Facebook and Twitter feeds to read up on hot items before they disappear.
Killer find: Limited edition Louis Vuitton graffiti mini Alma bag—originally $3,000, priced at $940.
600 Wyndhurst Ave., Suite 102, (410) 323-1070, http://www.lovemetwotimesbaltimore.com —L.W.
Owner: Chris Anderson is not into fashion, and she’s not ashamed to admit it. She bought Vogue Revisited from a family friend in 1993 because she wanted a job that would keep her on her feet—and her consignment store certainly does. At 20 years old, it’s the oldest of the area stores and one of the busiest—on Saturdays, the line for the dressing room is loooong. Anderson has 8,000 active consignors, some of whom send items from out of state.
Vibe: Homey and down to earth. Anderson often brings her dog and there are always plenty of regulars to offer an honest opinion about what you’re trying on.
On the racks: Anderson says she offers “something for everyone”—and it’s true. Want Trina Turk or St. John? They’re here. Want size 10 Danskos, an Old Navy tee or a David Yurman ring? Here, too. Sizes from 0 to 4X.
Typical customer: All ages, races and economic classes rub elbows at the racks.
Killer find: A lavender Michael Kors dress—originally $2,000, priced at $580. 4002 Roland Ave., 410-235-4140, http://www.voguere visited.com —L.W.
Modeled after famous L.A. consignment shops, ReDeux at Wyndhurst Station is filled with Burberry-loving babes.
Owners: Four years ago, Jan Braun and Linda Eisenbrandt opened a pop-up consignment store with plans to run it for one month only. But business was so good they kept on going. Located in Wyndhurst Station, which has become a high-end consignment destination, with Love Me Two Times and Little Lamb nearby, ReDeux does a gangbuster business on Saturdays, when folks (some of whom drive up from D.C.) snatch up the deals.
Vibe: The love child of Talbots and Ann Taylor. The store is airy and uncluttered with well-organized racks.
On the racks: Labels include Burberry, Kate Spade, Lilly Pulitzer and others, with prices ranging from $10 to $3,000. A full rack of designer cashmere sweaters start at $42 and a new high-end room in the back has cotillion gowns, designer suits and couture dresses.
Typical customer: Carpool moms, teens from the nearby private schools and Hopkins professors. D.C. types, too.
Killer find: Pink Ostrich Loro Piana handbag—originally $17,000, priced at $4,500. 5002 Lawndale Ave., 410-323-2140, http://www.redeuxapparel.com —L.W.
Aimee Bracken serves as Form shoppers’ style guru.
Owner: Aimee Bracken opened Form in 2007 after she noticed many of her friends were heading to D.C. or New York to shop at boutiques. The store originally sold only new clothes, but after the recession hit Bracken added designer consignment. Customers loved the more affordable (but just as stylish) clothes and consignment became a dominant presence.
Vibe: A taste of the meatpacking district in Baltimore. With its high industrial ceilings juxtaposed by elegant chandeliers and fuzzy rugs and its well-curated collection, Form fits right in with the Clipper Mill aesthetic.
On the racks: Women’s apparel and accessories both old and new. The designers are mostly what you’d find on the fourth floor of Nordstrom: Milly, Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg and Theory.
Typical customer: Like Bracken, most of Form’s customers are trend current. Most of the shoppers are regulars, too, trusting the tres chic Bracken as their style guru.
Killer find: A beautiful burnt orange Vince shift dress—originally $300, priced at $114. 2002 Clipper Park Road, 410-889-3116, formtheboutique.com —Marisa hill dunn
Owner: After working as the visual display manager at Macy’s for 10 years, Beth Joy turned her love for shopping at consignment stores into a full-time job when she opened Fashion Attic in Fells Point. Her blog, off of the Fashion Attic website, offers a fashion insider’s eye to putting together outfits we can actually wear.
Vibe: Hip thrift shop. You might be overwhelmed at first by the sheer amount of stuff crammed into the store’s two small rooms, but take a breath and dive in. The racks are well-organized.
On the racks: Women’s clothes and accessories from Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Gap, Anne Klein, Talbots, Liz Claiborne, 7 for All Mankind and more.
Typical customer: A 20- to 40-year-old stylish gal. Many come looking for one or two items to amp up their wardrobe and leave with much more.
Killer find: Work or party appropriate pointy-toed Sam Edelman heels for $20.
1926 Fleet St., 410-276-0817, http://www.thefashionattic.com —M.h.d.
Owner: Shopping for the latest trends is easy. Finding items to fit your personal style is not. Ella Rosson opened Last Tango in Pikesville 13 years ago to offer unique and vintage pieces that shoppers won’t find even at top-notch boutiques.
Vibe: The Neiman Marcus that Baltimore lacks. Tall racks stocked with chic suits, full-length mirrors and a wall of Louis Vuitton bags.
On the racks: Clothing, shoes, purses and jewelry. Designers include Armani, Manolo Blahnik and Stuart Weitzman.
Typical customer: A professional woman who works and plays hard. Most are regulars who have a clear sense of personal style.
Killer find: Black vintage Chanel clogs (in perfect condition) for $473. 1017
Reisterstown Road, 410-484-9958 —M.H.D.
Laura Agatstein and Bella Prekalsky’s Better Than New offers everything from Chico’s tees to Gucci gowns.
Better Than New
Owners: Longtime friends Laura Agatstein and Bella Prekalsky began considering consignment after their designer-stuffed closets could no longer accommodate even one more La Perla thong. Dissatisfied with the quality of other resale stores, they opened Better Than New in Towson in June to capture the “ambience and personal touch” of a high-end boutique.
Vibe: Cinderella meets Chanel. The vast array of designer items in the small pink room make it seem almost like a costume shop.
On the racks: A wide variety of women’s clothing and accessories, from basic Chico’s and Ann Taylor tops to Prada shoes and Gucci gowns. While couture pieces are a bit more costly, items generally run $30 to $70.
Typical customer: “Women who shop here generally know designer clothes well and can appreciate the discounts we offer,” says Agatstein.
Killer find: A gray sequined Sue Wong cocktail dress with tags still on—originally $470, priced at $180. 714 York Rd., (410) 821-7999, http://www.betterthannewtowson.com —K.U.
Wear It’s At
Owner: Named “Giving Goddess of the Decade” by the local nonprofit Suited to Succeed, which helps Baltimore-area women transition into the workforce, Wear It’s At owner Stephanie Torrible has more than just a passion for fashion. In addition to decking out local ladies, she donates hundreds of items each week to Suited’s welfare-to-work program.
Vibe: Goodwill and Bloomingdale as BFFs. The perfect combination of thrift shop and boutique, Wear It’s At is a bargain shopper’s haven: spacious, thoughtfully arranged and staffed with a friendly, fashionable staff.
On the racks: The front room of the Reisterstown store is stocked with White House Black Market/ J.Crew-quality clothing and accessories, while the middle section features plus sizes for full-figured fashionistas. A third room features high-end apparel (Gucci, Fendi, Prada), including a designer clearance section.
Typical Customer: Women aged 20 to 50. Some shop the $3 rack and others the couture section, where prices can reach $5,000.
Killer find: The $3 rack has selections from Betsey Johnson and Paper Denim. Also on hand: a brand new Alexander McQueen zipper dress ($150) and a discontinued Chanel tri-fold wallet ($695). 49 Main St., 410-526-2003, wearitsatshop. com. —K.U.
Five Tips for Consigning
1. Identify a store in line with your fashion sense (and budget) and develop a relationship with the owner. Learn which labels and categories the owner accepts. Learn which days consignments are accepted and the maximum and minimum number of items.
2. Study the consignment policy carefully. Consignors typically get 40 to 50 percent of the sale price, though some stores only offer store credit, not cash. Some stores discount every 30 days; some discount only during store-wide sales. Others require the consignor to keep track of the cut-off date and retrieve unsold items.
3. Check the store’s website or call to find out what season is being accepted. Some shops stop accepting summer clothes in June, for example. Other places will store items until the next season.
4. Clean your clothes before you consign them. Some stores also require them to be on hangers.
5. Try negotiating with the owner for a higher percentage of the sale price—or even payment on the spot—if you have a unique or particularly valuable item to consign.
From kids clothes to wedding dresses, these specialty consignment and thrift stores have what you’re after.
Local hipsters stalk vintage prey at Hunting Ground.
If Anthropologie opened a thrift shop, Hunting Ground would be it. Jessica Soulen and Jenna Hattenburg worked in retail for years before opening Hunting Ground in a former church in Hampden. The owners carefully curate their vintage offerings for the artsy set—everything from dresses ($20 to $30) and blazers to L.L. Bean flannels and a Christian Dior jacket ($200)—and offer vintage and new jewelry as well as a great selection of boots and shoes. 3649 Falls Road, 410-243-0789, http://www.shophuntingground.com
For a Good Cause
With its vast selection of women’s, men’s, children’s and babies’ clothing, kitchen apparel and other home décor items, The Wise Penny (5902 York Road., 410-435-3244, http://www.jlbalt.org) is like Target—only everything is “formerly owned.” The shop also boasts a vast collection of designer jeans. Buy them and your butt will look good and you’ll be supporting The Junior League of Baltimore, which has run the store since the 1930s. At Ruth’s Closet in Owings Mills, 100 percent of profits from the department store and designer-brand clothes benefit House of Ruth Maryland. Hot tip: Ruth’s Closet invites community members to donate one special item (furs, boots, jackets, etc.) for its “One Great Thing” event, this year Oct. 10-13. Pick up some fabulous fashions and feel good doing it. 9131 Reisterstown Road, 410-581-9780, http://www.hruth.com/ruths-closet-boutique.asp
Lily Pad is the perfect place for the preppy baby. The store sells girls and boys clothes from infant to size 10, with nearly everything under $30—even an adorable pair of mini baby blue Jack Rogers. 6909 York Road, 410-377-0025, http://www.lilypadoftowson.com. Little Lamb offers clothing for infants to teenagers, with brands like Pied Piper, Talbots and Lilly. The store also sells gently used cradles, headboards, books, room décor—and lacrosse sticks, natch. 5002 Lawndale Ave., 410-433-9086, http://www.littlelambconsignments.com. Kid to Kid in Cockeysville’s is part of a national chain of kids’ consignment shops and stocks gently used gear from onesies to baby strollers. 556 Cranbrook Rd., 410-667-0360, http://www.kidtokid.com/cockeysville
Instead of “something borrowed,” how about something “previously owned”? The Bridal Suite is Baltimore’s only consignment shop with everything a bride needs: gowns, bridesmaids dresses and jewelry. Owners Nolvia Benavides and Karla Rivas took over in June and has stocked her Federal Hill store with everything from the sweetly simple to the elaborately bejeweled by Vera Wang, Maggie Sottero and more. Prices from $100 to $2,000. 1126 S. Charles St., 443-759-5748, the http://www.bridalsuitemd.com. — M.H.D.
I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like, but I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm. My friend, Richard, for example, has little room in his heart—or on his plate—for cooked vegetables. But what if I just slip them in when no one is looking? (Like in that spice cake you liked so much, Richard. No harm, no foul. Right?)
I’ve stashed pureed cauliflower in mashed potatoes, hidden shredded carrots and zucchini in pans of lasagna and mashed edamame into guacamole—and no one has been the wiser. Not only do such antics painlessly up the vegetable quotient of the meal, but they also dilute the calories per serving.
You’ll find lots of clever recipes on the Internet but the basic principles are easy to master. Mildly flavored vegetables such as summer squash, carrots, beets and chard make good stowaways because they don’t upstage the flavor of the main ingredients. Depending on the dish, you can often tuck between 1⁄4 and 3⁄4 of a cup of vegetables per serving into a recipe. For maximal cloaking effect, shred or grate your vegetables finely and avoid obvious contrasts of color. Beets will disappear into chocolate cake, for example, but they’ll be hard to hide in macaroni and cheese.
Lots of parents I know have embraced the stealth vegetable as a way to avoid dinner table drama, and there are entire cookbooks (such as Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious”) dedicated to the art of hiding vegetables in plain sight. These tactics can certainly increase the amount of veggies (and nutrients) your kids consume. Unfortunately, they don’t do a whole lot to improve child-vegetable relations. There’s a lot to be said for raising kids who are willing to eat vegetables that look—and taste—like vegetables. Because, let’s face it, most of the chocolate cake out there in the real world does not contain beets.
On the other hand, even vegetable lovers like me can still struggle to fit five servings into a busy day. Stuffing a handful of spinach into my morning smoothie lets me cross one off before 8 a.m.! In the end, whether you classify vegetables as friends or foes, a few sneaky beets can help you meet your quota. Just remember that vegetables don’t cancel out calories, fat or sugar. Zucchini bread is still dessert—and the squash doesn’t constitute a license to have a second piece.
Monica Reinagel, The Nutrition Diva, is a Baltimore-based licensed nutritionist and professionally trained chef. Her latest book is “Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid and What to Stop Worrying About.”
For many parents of small children, child-rearing offers a chance to relive one’s own childhood, and get it right this time. There’s no better place to begin than with the school project.
The school projects of my childhood were modest affairs, clumsily mixing arts and crafts with a soupcon of “research” (cribbed from the Encyclopedia Britannica, today’s equivalent of Google). Pipe cleaners, the ubiqutous Popsicle stick, Lincoln Logs and Legos may have been involved. The hanging gardens at Nineveh made entirely from sugar cubes? A slab of cardboard festooned with dead leaves? I may have dressed up as a Pilgrim at one point.
There was no parental involvement in any of my school projects. But by the time my daughter got to school, parents stopped just short of hiring Whiting-Turner as consultants and became insanely competitive.
My daughter is grown and I had not, thankfully, been involved in a school project for many, many years. Then a neighbor’s 10-year-old son asked to interview me. He was in the fourth grade and his school project involved a report on one of the 50 states. He chose Maine and naturally wanted to speak with an authority on the Pine Tree State. Everyone from Maine is an authority on Maine. That’s where I came in.
So one winter Sunday I went next door and sat in his family’s kitchen. The line of interrogation was intense. The child had a list of prepared questions like a deposition and the vocabulary of a graduate student. I realized immediately that I was unprepared. But I loaned him a Maine Gazetteer, a map of the state that has a lot of interesting information in it, and wished him well. Then I made the fateful mistake of calling my brother, who lives on an island in Maine.
Brother was a brilliant student. Went to Dartmouth and Columbia. Worked for a Fortune 500 company. He was the smartest boy in the fourth grade and always will be.
I knew he would be just the man for a school project.
The next morning, Brother jumped in his car and drove to Augusta, the state capital. He’s a formidable individual and I am sure that the people he stopped in to see as he made his rounds of various state agencies picking up brochures and graphs and charts thought he was thinking about moving a business to Maine. Maybe even a big business? He was actually working on a fourth-grade school project.
Brother immediately began referring to this as “our school project.” At times he seemed concerned that I was not holding up my end of things. I thought we should let the little boy do this stuff. Lord knows his questions were complex enough. He really didn’t need our help.
Brother had other ideas. He had never met the child. In fact, I am not entirely sure that my brother really likes children. But he loves a school project.
Winter turned into spring and we heard no more about our school project. But then, quite unexpectedly, I received a final copy. Brother and I were cited in the footnotes, authorities on Maine, no less! The kid did a swell job. He didn’t need us after all. (We were a little crestfallen over that.)
A few days after I got my copy, Brother called. His copy had arrived and he was reading it very closely. He was ecstatic!
We loved the title: “Magical Maine.” So true!
We loved the first sentence: “Maine is known for its beautiful scenery and lovely climates. You would be amazed at what you could find there.”
Brother and I have read our copies many times, delighting in every word. Long after this child has forgotten our school project, we will remember.
Alas, I made the mistake of telling Brother that the boy we helped has a little brother who is going to be in the fourth grade this year.
My brother is standing by, awaiting further instructions.
After making a splash in Chicago this spring, the musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s film Big Fish is coming to Broadway. Brimming with heart and imagination (not to mention a multiple Tony Award-winning cast), the larger-than-life show centers on
a traveling salesman father with a knack for telling fantastical tales and a son who has never quite believed them. As the father’s health declines, the two attempt to mend their relationship, taking the audience on a journey from the circus to war to a magical forest, where they meet an extraordinary cast of characters along the way. We have a feeling you’ll be singing “Time Stops” the whole train ride back to Penn Station. Opens Oct. 6, Neil Simon Theatre, neilsimontheatre.com.
Women power Baltimore’s arts community. No offense intended to the numerous men in local arts, but if you take a look around to see the people leading the museums and galleries in
Baltimore, there’s a number of women at the helm.
Baltimore isn’t unusual in this regard—the major art museums in Seattle and Minneapolis are also run by women—but such extensive female leadership still isn’t the norm. In 1994, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight noted that only three women occupied the director’s seat at major American museums. When Washington, D.C.-based art critic Tyler Green revisited the subject for the newspaper in 2006, he observed that “female art museum directors have become commonplace.” And earlier this year the Association of Art Museum Directors tweeted that 43 percent of its members are women.
Of course, leadership is only part of the equal-representation battle. The ongoing American discussion of gender inequality may currently involve “Leaning In” and trying to have it all and fourth-wave feminism and more. But what’s so important about women having leadership roles in the arts is that museums are where we go to remember and rediscover who we are—and what we are capable of imagining and creating as human beings. And, for far too long. that story was overwhelmingly male.
When the Guerrilla Girls began exposing the art world’s sexism and racism in 1985, their creative, insurgent products came armed with statistics that were hard to stomach. One showed a dollar bill—pointing out that women in America earned only two-thirds of what men earned, while women artists earned a mere third of what their male counterparts earned. Worse, at the time, less than 3 percent of the artists in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s modern art collection were women but 83 percent of the nudes were female.
The situation hasn’t changed all that much since then. “Women in leadership positions are critical to help redress gender imbalance in the exhibition of art by women on museum walls,” says Susan Fisher Sterling, director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. “When you look at any museum in any city, you’ll find at least 75 percent, and perhaps almost 90 percent, of the art on the walls is by men—even when it comes to contemporary art. We need to imbue these organizations with a sense that women’s creative contributions are vital to communities. I believe that women leaders will help to make this possible.”
For this feature, Style talked to 10 Baltimore women working in such a capacity. They aren’t the only women doing so, but rather part of an increasingly collaborative network that supports the city’s still-developing arts community.
They’re also part of an under-celebrated legacy. When Anne d’Harnoncourt was named the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1982 she was called the first woman to head a “major” museum, which the New York Times defined as one with an annual budget of more than $25 million. But way back in 1942, curator and art historian Adelyn Breeskin was named director of the Baltimore Museum of Art. Breeskin was born in Baltimore in 1896 and,in 1914 her father, Dr. Alfred Dohme, donated William Sergeant Kendall’s “Mischief” to the museum. She became the BMA’s curator of prints in 1930, during which time she researched and wrote a catalog raisonné of a little-known woman artist by the name of Mary Cassatt.
In an oral history conducted in June 1974 by Paul Cummings of the Archives of American Art, Breeskin said of her appointment: “But don’t forget, I wouldn’t have been made
director then, as a woman, if the men hadn’t been gone during the war.”
Breeskin served as director until 1962—and, under her leadership, the BMA created a works-on-paper collection and negotiated the acquisition of the internationally renowned Cone Collection from sisters Claribel and Etta Cone of Bolton Hill.
In 1960, Breeskin was the commissioner for the American entry at the 30th Venice Biennale. In 1976, she received the Katherine Caffey Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in the Museum Profession. And in 1985, she was awarded a Gold Medal for Exceptional Service from the Smithsonian Institution.
Not bad for somebody promoted merely because there were no men around. —Bret McCabe
Rebecca Hoffberger American Visionary Art Museum
Rebecca Hoffberger, the founding director of the American Visionary Art Museum, has a way of looking at the world that wonders beyond the here and now. When law enforcement searched for suspects of the Boston Marathon bombing, she thought about what their investigative tools could have done in different hands.
“When they were using infrared sensors when looking for the suspect, my first thought was, ‘If that had been everyday police technology in World War II, Anne Frank would have never wrote her diary,’” she says. That promise and peril of technology’s impact on human life guided Hoffberger while curating AVAM’s new show, “Human Souls and Machines: The Coming Singularity” just as her openness to bringing a wide swath of human creativity into AVAM’s orbit has guided the museum since its 1995 inception.
This perspective goes beyond gender.
“I would never do an all-women visionary artist show. Even though I’m very proud and like being a woman, I always want it to be about the big human subjects that we’ve all [experienced],” says Hoffberger, who believes the best museums give people a wider understanding of what’s valuable in life. It’s work she sees Baltimore’s women arts leaders doing every day—opening up the doors to their institutions; finding ways to serve substantial human needs while staying true to their founding missions.
“Creative acts of social justice are the highest performance art and I think we’re really lucky with the crew that’s here in Baltimore,” she says. “If they were all to sprout penises tomorrow, they would be just as wonderful.” —B.M.
Doreen Bolger Baltimore Museum of Art
Most directors of major museums are too busy for the little people. It’s not a character flaw, just simple mathematics. After a full schedule of institutional responsibilities, there’s just no time left. This is why Doreen Bolger, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art since 1998, has earned a reputation hovering somewhere around patron saint.
Bolger is a ubiquitous figure at local art openings and events. No matter what day of the week or time of night, if you attend an art show in Baltimore, chances are good Bolger will be there.
“I am very excited about Baltimore’s artistic community and delighted to be engaged with artists of all disciplines,” says Bolger. “I try to attend arts events and openings all over the city—at colleague arts institutions and organizations like the Creative Alliance, MAP and School 33, but also at less well-known venues in Station North or the Bromo Seltzer Tower Arts & Entertainment District. The artists, curators and gallerists who run these DIY spaces are my art heroes!”
Bolger’s stamina has endeared her to the Baltimore arts community, especially young locals who are stunned to have such an important figure engaging with their work. No surprise, it was also Bolger’s support for the homegrown arts community that influenced the BMA’s decision to make museum admission free all the time—providing greater accessibility for Baltimore’s creative class.
Although she has a number of male and female professional mentors, Bolger cites her maternal grandmother, Emma, as her earliest artistic influence. “She raised two children alone during the Depression working as an AT&T night operator and was an amazing seamstress,” Bolger remembers. “Her apartment was filled with bolts of fabric, rolls of ribbons, and glass jars of beads and buttons. It was she who taught me how to sew, which is the closest I have ever gotten to being artistic myself.” —C.O.
Amy Eva Raehse Goya Contemporary Gallery
“Being unusually small as a child, I was taught not to let other people’s perceptions of what I could or could not do dictate my actions, but rather, let my actions force their response,” says Amy Eva Raehse, who insisted on playing the tuba in elementary school after her music teacher suggested the flute. The 5-foot-tall (in heels) executive director and curator of Goya Contemporary Gallery has continued to defy expectations, transforming a local print atelier into an internationally respected commercial gallery in just over a decade.
Goya’s success comes from an ambitious business and curatorial agenda, as well as a compassionate and ethical business model, which influences all of Raehse’s decisions.
“I’ve had people say they were ‘terrified’ of me until they met me in person and engaged with my softer side,” admits Raehse, who has become a sounding board for artists and arts professionals, especially women. “I think people associate assertive decision-making with being hard-line, when in fact it is just situationally appropriate. There are fewer role models and mentors for women leaders, which is why I always try to help the more emerging versions of myself. Women are under too much scrutiny, and there is little room for error. If I may pass along any advice to another woman, I will.”
Outside the gallery, Raehse’s hobbies defy expectations as well. “When I travel, I always partake in the local cuisine, and try something I deem new or daring that is specific to place, like jumping off a mountainside, night swimming in the ocean or kissing a frog,” she says with a smile. “Yup, I’ve done that!” —C.O.
Deana Haggag The Contemporary
Deana Haggag laughs that it was an “adorably threatening” email that got her noticed by the Contemporary’s Board of Directors, the same board that abruptly closed the museum in spring 2012. That fall Haggag was a second-year graduate student in MICA’s inaugural class of the Curatorial Practice MFA program, created by Contemporary’s founder George Ciscle. And the email—sent to Karen Stults, Contemporary board member and MICA’s community engagement director—went something like this: Dude, what’s going on at the Contemporary? I’m going to be graduating soon and you need to open so you can hire me.
It took Stults a few months to write back, but when she did, she asked Haggag to conduct a semester-long independent study of every Baltimore arts organization—from their missions to operating budgets—and cross-check it against other nomadic organizations around the globe. This detailed rethink of how a building-less, collection-less, project-based museum could function led to Haggag being named the director in June, with an official re-opening slated for 2014 and a lecture series to launch this fall.
“It’s no secret it’s weird that they hired a 26-year-old to run the Contemporary,” says Haggag. But the pressure doesn’t seem to trouble her much, as she feels she has an impressive cadre of mentors in her corner.
“It’s really scary coming up as a woman when you’re in the company of people like Doreen [Bolger] and the Amys [Cavanaugh Royce and Raehse]. But they’ve been great from the get-go. I’m grateful to be able to call on these other women who have a great handle on what they’re doing—and have been doing it incredibly well in a city that doesn’t allow them very many resources to get the job done.” —B.M.
Julia Marciari-Alexander Walters Art Museum
Julia Marciari-Alexander knew the Walters Art Museum was a special place, but she discovered just how special during her hiring process earlier this year. As the mother of
9-year-old twins, she said, ideally, if she were to be offered the position, she would like to start after the school year ended. But the Walters did her one better—asking how she would feel about starting on April 1 and commuting until July, when she could comfortably move her family from San Diego to Baltimore. “For me, that signaled this was an institution that really thought about making the workplace amenable to people with families and [outside] lives they valued,” says Marciari-Alexander.
Since taking over, Marciari-Alexander has started looking at how the Walters can continue its history of presenting its vast collection from so many different periods and a variety of cultures. “The Walters was a leader in environmental museum display in the early 2000s when it reopened Centre Street,” she says. “Ten years on, I think we have a responsibility to reinvigorate and re-engage people with objects they think they know. The worst thing possible would be for someone to say, ‘Oh, the Walters—I went a couple of years ago.’” Like, what could have changed?
Marciari-Alexander believes it’s the museum’s duty to be part of the contemporary art discussion—and re-examining the perm- anent collection is integral to that effort. “When you open your iPhone, it’s all pictures,” she says. “The Walters can use our collections as a foundation for a really interesting conversation about the role of visual arts throughout history. So is the
museum irrelevant? No way. It’s more relevant now than maybe it ever was.” —B.M.
Myrtis Bedolla Galerie Myrtis
“I believe that women are born leaders. And depending on our calling in life, it is expressed in different ways,” says Myrtis Bedolla, founding director of Galerie Myrtis, housed in an elegant Charles Village brownstone since 2006. In addition to representing an impressive roster of artists of national and international acclaim, the eponymously named gallery is the only one in Baltimore to specialize in the work of contemporary African-American artists, including several local artists.
“I have taken a very unorthodox approach to this business, so if there were any obstacles before me, I unknowingly stepped right over them,” says the University of Maryland business administration graduate who has studied art in Niger, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. “I was raised by a father and grandfather who were entrepreneurs, so business ownership is in my blood. They both instilled in me courage and self-confidence from an early age.”
Bedolla sees similar qualities in her contemporaries at other museums and galleries in town—and feels inspired by their desire to serve as role models for the next generation of women leaders in the arts. “Mentors have played a critical role in my growth and development both personally and professionally,” says Bedolla, who cites Washington, D.C.’s Alvah Beander, one of the top appraisers of African and African-American art in the country, and Dr. Leslie King-Hammond, graduate dean emeritus and founding director of the Center for Race and Culture at MICA, as two of her most influential mentors.
The significant role women have played in Bedolla’s career has also become an interesting topic to examine artistically. The gallery’s recent exhibit, “Woman as Color, Light, and Form,” invited 14 artists to challenge the idea of the feminine archetype and explore “the essence of a woman, figuratively, conceptually, and metaphorically.” —C.O.
Laura Amussen Goucher College
Laura Amussen was never meant be a curator, or even an artist. “I was engaged when I was a junior in high school and married in August,” she confides. “Within a few months of my senior year, I dropped out, took my GED and started taking classes at Salt Lake Community College.” Amussen studied nursing and occupational therapy, but after her little brother was killed in a car accident in 1994, she found working with injured patients too difficult. A year later, she moved to Baltimore and began studying art at Towson University.
“I had never been to a museum or gallery and for the most part had no experience making art other than craft projects I made in church,” Amussen acknowledges. “My first few semesters at Towson were difficult. I was 26 years old, sitting next to students who were able to draw and paint effortlessly,” she says. But she kept at it—graduating with several awards under her belt and winning the highly competitive Javits and Jack Kent Cooke scholarships to attend MICA’s Rhinehart School of Sculpture on a full scholarship for her MFA degree. After teaching and exhibiting for several years, she landed the role as director of exhibitions and art collection coordinator at Goucher College.
“I was hesitant, having no experience with curating or running a gallery whatsoever,” she admits. “Fortunately [I had] loads of hands-on experience with installation and working with space, as well as fostering relationships with a variety of artists and gallerists,” says Amussen, whose knack for pairing unusual, compelling and often controversial works has made the
Silber and Rosenberg galleries among the most sought-after exhibition spaces in Baltimore. “[Seven years ago] Allyn Massey, then the chair of the Art and Art History departments, saw my potential and took a chance on me. Now I’m pretty much a one-woman show.” —C.O.
Alex Ebstein Nudashank Gallery
New York was dragging Alex Ebstein down. When the artist, curator and co-founding director of Nudashank Gallery graduated from Goucher College in 2007 she moved to Brooklyn, using her photography portfolio to land a job first at TV Guide and then at Lucky magazine—hopeful that having a job would enable her to rent a studio and work on her own art.
“But I couldn’t afford a studio. I could barely afford my Williamsburg apartment.” she says. “And I wasn’t comfortable feeling out what was going on [in the arts community] at the time. I think everyone was vying for the same opportunities and there wasn’t as much of a DIY scene. People were still feeding into a booming [art] market.”
Ebstein moved back to Baltimore that December, got an artist’s assistant job, and began realizing that while Baltimore had gallery opportunities for artists 30 and over, it had very few options for young artists at the time. “It felt really unacceptable to me that it was hard to be taken seriously outside of school,” she says.
In 2008, she met painter Seth Adelsberger, soon her boyfriend and gallery partner, and after a visit to Art Basel in Miami later that year, they returned inspired and invigorated to open a gallery for their underrepresented contemporaries.
“We wanted Baltimore to be an art scene that’s seen by other artists—that takes work from here and brings it outside, and brings work from outside here,” she says. “And we wanted to take young artists seriously so they would start to see themselves and their work seriously.” —B.M.
Jordan Faye Block Jordan Faye Contemporary
“The word ‘tenacity’ first came to describe me when Baltimore City Paper gave me an award for Best Tenacity in 2007,” says Jordan Faye Block, founder and director of Jordan Faye Contemporary. “Through the years I’ve used this word to remind [myself] how much perseverance you need in the art world, in both running a gallery and in being an artist. You always have to be working and thinking and planning your next move to succeed. You also have to have thick skin. Tenacity means bouncing back from whatever the world throws at you.”
Although she is an artist herself, Block showed an early interest in running art galleries, establishing the PIP Gallery while enrolled as a college student at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire and co-founding Gallery Imperato during grad school at MICA. In 2006, Block launched a new art space called Jordan Faye Contemporary, now located in a Mount Vernon brownstone on Park Avenue.
“I consider myself a curator first and a business person second. I am always curating shows to strengthen the work and working to grow the careers of the artists I represent,” explains Block, who says she’s not surprised so many local arts institutions are run by women.
“My mother gave my sister and I boys’ names, Jordan and Dustin, because she wanted us to have every advantage,” says Block. “But I really don’t see being a woman as a disadvantage in this business, because women naturally see connections and are good communicators.” —C.O.
Amy Cavanaugh Royce Maryland Art Place
‘Maryland Art Place executive director Amy Cavanaugh Royce never suspected she’d end up in arts administration. She grew up surrounded by the arts—her mom is a sculptor and a jeweler, her uncle is a painter, her brother is an illustrator, everyone plays an instrument—and she earned a degree in cello performance. Then in 2003 she joined an organization that wanted to use arts and culture to revitalize the Anacostia corridor in Washington, D.C. Very quickly she began writing grants, overseeing projects and co-founded and ran the Honfleur Gallery for the ARCH Development Corp.
“I consider ARCH my education,” Royce says. “Any success I had I feel I completely earned because I really put in [the] labor and had egg on my face a couple of times.
I learned a lot from the people and community we served—and I learned a lot about economic development and contemporary art.”
She calls it ideal training for her role at MAP, where she wants to help the nonprofit gallery and artists’ resource expand its reach.
“Last year when we had our fall benefit we did a [statewide] invitation. That was my first baby step to try to reach the broader artist population. I would like MAP to be identified as a hub here in Baltimore but also as an organization for the state.”
And she’d really like to help Maryland artists establish and maintain international dialogues. “My goal is to get artists to be exhibited in Europe and seen outside of the U.S.,” she says. “Those are often career-altering moments for artists if you can make it happen.” —C.O.
Photographed in the Contemporary Wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art
Fifteen years ago, landscape designer Jay Stump, president of Spring Valley Landscape Co., was hired to plant five trees in front of Joan and Howard Friedel’s 1918 Guilford home. Instead, with input from Joan, he ended up creating the entire garden, including several sweeping pathways.
Although the home, designed by venerable Baltimore architects Edward L. Palmer Jr. and William D. Lamdin, sits on less than an acre, the curvaceous gardens and pathways give the property the feel of a much larger estate. “Basically the paths were a method of transition through the garden,” says Stump, who created three main interconnecting paths of varying lengths, totaling about 200 feet. “Steppingstone paths make you look down at your feet, walk slowly, then look up at the garden. The paths make these gardens seem larger than they
One path begins at a massive beech tree by the front drive and meanders to the back gardens alongside an English-style cottage garden. There, in the middle of a series of cottage beds, another path slips through a wall of hollies to more garden rooms and a historic surprise: the last of the eight original private greens in Guilford. The 1½-acre common green extends the garden south of the property, connecting it to a neighbor’s yard. Such greens were a signature feature of Frederick Law Olmsted and his sons, who were originally involved in the design and planning of Guilford, Roland Park and other Baltimore neighborhoods.
Pathways also were important elements in Olmsted’s designs, and within the Friedels’ garden they are an organizing feature that link garden rooms and offer a way to stroll leisurely by the plantings. As a bonus, says Joan Friedel, “They make weeding easier, too.”
Another connecting path behind the house leads through two rose-covered arbors and a series of mixed perennial and annual beds to a wide stone terrace filled with Howard Friedel’s orchid collection. Stump created this additional outdoor living and entertaining space off the dining room and den by building a large bluestone terrace with a stone dining room table. A wisteria-covered pergola, vine-entwined columns, a koi pond and water and more large hibiscus and annual-filled containers soften the elegant space, where the Friedels lunch or dine and entertain. “I love to just sit near the upper pond and listen to the waterfall, enjoy the view of the garden and watch the robins playing in the stream,” says Joan.
Behind the terrace, a low stone wall serves as a perfect backdrop for annuals that provide color throughout spring, summer and fall. “The bedding plants change every year,” says Joan. “Jay does not like to repeat himself.” So every year, the color scheme of the thousands of annuals changes—one year it’s maroon and chartreuse, another it’s purple and red or deep blue and pinks. This allows the garden to take on a striking new look each year.
The changing annuals also reinvigorate the paths that the couple, who have lived there 40 years, enjoy side by side on an after-dinner stroll or a solitary ramble. Walking through their garden, Joan says, “We feel that the man upstairs has the most unbelievable palette and that we have our own private world to which we can retreat right in the middle of the city.”
On the Right Path
Jay Stump of Spring Valley Landscape Co. offers five key tips for creating garden pathways.
• Know the function of the path. A walk to the front door of a home should be a minimum of 5 feet wide, so people can walk up to the house side by side, whereas a walk through a garden can be 2 feet wide.
• A solid surface, such as stone or concrete, is easy to maintain and usable in wet weather.
• Steppingstones slow visitors’ walking pace, as they must look to see where the next step is. A solid path creates a faster pace.
• To break up the monotony of a long walk, add a wider rest area where a bench or a small wall can be placed.
• Use a long-lasting base. For a solid surface path, put down 4 to 6 inches of CR-6 crushed stone base material followed by a half-inch of stone dust for leveling, followed by the stones or pavers. Use stone dust instead of sand, because it’s angular in shape and will lock together. Sand is round in shape and will always move.
Design & Plantings: Jay Stump, Spring Valley Landscape Co., 410-902-8890
Pest Management: Carroll Tree Service, 410-998-1100, http://www.carrolltreeservice.com
Tree Removal: Ameritree, 410-893-8733, http://www.ameritreeexpertsmd.com
Irrigation: Automatic Underground Sprinkler System, 301-937-4696
Photography by Justin Tsucalas
After his son was diagnosed with celiac disease, Jon Rowley, who has two other kids, discovered he wasn’t a carrier for the disease by accessing his personal genome report online.
In 2009, David Hale went on a clandestine mission across the border. He took the Metro from his home in Frederick to Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., and picked up a colorful cardboard package from his friend. Later, sitting in his car in a post office parking lot, he unpacked a small test tube, spit into it and sealed the package. Then he walked inside the post office and mailed his sample to 23andMe, a genetic testing company in California.
Four weeks later, Hale, 42, who is adopted and did not know his family medical history, accessed his personal genome report online. It listed his genetic risk for developing diseases, from asthma and high blood pressure to bladder cancer and Parkinson’s, as well as his risk of passing on inherited conditions to any future children and his likely reaction to medications.
But Hale, who works in public health, was more interested in his genealogy than his risk of disease. Having been told he was Native American on his mother’s side, he had worked on reservations and led health projects for tribes. He clicked on the ancestry section of his report first.
“I remember seeing this big graph and it said zero Native American DNA,” he says. “It was a moment of spiritual crisis. It was like somebody yanked the rug out from under what I thought I was.”
This is life-changing information, and yet Hale had to go through a cloak-and-dagger routine to get it. As a Maryland resident, he couldn’t have his 23andMe kit sent to his house. A local regulation and a state law prevent Marylanders from directly accessing their genetic data as it pertains to health. Maryland is one of only two states with such restrictions on 23andMe’s services. (Hence Hale’s trip to D.C.)
“It’s very upsetting,” he says. “If patients [are] more aware of their current conditions, it helps prevent more serious conditions down the road. It’s all about raising the level of knowledge among the public.”
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing—DNA tests that people can take at home—may be the wave of the future. Still in its infancy, the industry is projected to reach more than $230 million by 2018.
At the end of last year, it also became affordable: 23andMe, the company co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, dropped the price of its testing kits to $99. (Tests from other DTC genetics companies, such as vuGene and the Genetic Testing Laboratories, can cost hundreds of dollars or more.)
The price drop came after 23andMe received $50 million in funding. One of the company’s main investors is New Enterprise Associates (NEA), a global investment firm with locations in Chevy Chase and Timonium.
Patrick Chung, partner at NEA and lead investor in 23andMe, says that now that DTC genetic testing is cheaper, “you can see how someday it could be delivered into the hands and pockets of every consumer out there.”
To date, 250,000 people in the United States have sent in their spit for analysis to 23andMe. In return, they can access nearly 250 reports detailing their genetic risk for health conditions, physical traits and drug response. People can share the results with their doctors, and use them to make lifestyle changes and family planning decisions.
With a goal of reaching 1 million customers by year’s end, the 7-year-old 23andMe is pushing toward a future in which DNA testing is common. “Not having your genetic information would be like not having your blood pressure or cholesterol checked,” says Joanna Mountain, the company’s senior director of research. “It [would be] just part of the information that physicians turn to when they are trying to make a diagnosis or help you in a preventive way.”
But for Marylanders, it’s not so easy. State law requires laboratories to be licensed here in order to perform health-related tests, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). New York has a similar law.
There’s also a local regulation that says laboratories cannot perform health-related tests without authorization from a doctor or other medical professional. In short: Maryland consumers can only
access their own genetic information if someone else requests it.
“It may be time to change that,” admits Dr. Laura Herrera, deputy secretary of public health services at the DHMH. Several members of the Maryland General Assembly have shown interest in allowing DTC genetic testing, and new legislation will likely be drafted for the next legislative session in January 2014, she says.
But genetic counselors—a growing group of master’s-trained professionals who specialize in educating people about genetics and performing risk assessments—still have concerns about DTC genetic testing.
Jessica Rispoli Joines, a genetic counselor with the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, says that people can have an emotional reaction to learning they have a greater genetic risk of developing serious health conditions—especially when they can’t do anything about it. “My job is to help the patient process that information and work through some of those emotions that come with getting bad news,” she says.
Joines uses the example of patients who find out they have a greater risk of getting breast cancer. “[There may be] feelings of anxiety or guilt that they may have passed that gene on to their young adult daughters,” she says. So she brainstorms with these patients about the best ways to talk about their results with their families. Hale did feel panicked after finding out he is not Native American. But, he says, he doesn’t regret taking the test. And, after clicking on his health report, he made some lifestyle changes. He began paying for more spacious seats on airplanes in response to his 35.8 percent risk of getting blood clots—more than 20 percent above the average risk. “I don’t want to be the dude who dies on a plane,” he says. A former five-plus-cup-a-day coffee drinker, Hale also cut down to two cups because he is a slow metabolizer of caffeine, which can cause heart attacks. And for other diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, he had the choice of “unlocking” his results. (On the 23andMe website, users must navigate through three or four dialogue boxes that say things like “Are you sure you want to see these results?” According to the company, more than 70 percent of customers unlock their results for at least one test.)
But Joines points that these test results may be misleading or may over- and underestimate a person’s risk for certain diseases. “If it says there is nothing to worry about, they could potentially put too much stock in that result,” she says.
There’s also the potential that the same person may receive different reports from different genetic testing companies. In other words, someone could have an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s with one company and a lower risk with another. “[These companies] are looking at a handful of genes that they’ve chosen to look at,” Joines says. “That’s why, from lab to lab, a person can get a very different risk assessment.” And none of these tests take into account other contributors to disease, like the environment. In her work, Joines addresses environmental factors in her risk assessments and orders single gene analysis tests for one disease at a time, such as breast cancer.
Still, Judy Russell, a New Jersey genealogist with a law degree, says Maryland’s policy amounts to “paternalistic involvement by the government.” Russell’s 23andMe test told her she has a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease and Type II diabetes—results she could easily understand. “We’re reasonably intelligent, educated adults, and none of this is rocket science,” she continues. “Somebody with a Ph.D. in biochemistry who lives in Maryland can’t take this test. How does that make any sense at all?”
Although Maryland may someday allow DTC genetic testing, Herrera says that the state will take precautions to develop legislation that “ensures consumer protections” and addresses “any potential public health impacts.” “We’re doing our homework,” she adds.
For now, Maryland residents are finding that the state regulation and law are somewhat easy, if inconvenient, to get around. Residents can simply have their kits sent to D.C. or to one of the 48 states without restrictions on 23andMe’s services.
That’s exactly what Catharine Robertson, an Internet architect from Baltimore who was adopted, did earlier this year to learn more about her ancestry. She had her kit shipped to a friend in Virginia and received her results weeks later. Other than discovering she is 3 percent Neanderthal— those who want to proclaim their early species DNA can even buy T-shirts to do so—Robertson learned that a friend, also an adoptee who urged her to take the test, is actually a distant relative.
“We share five segments of DNA,” she says. But what that means “is the $54,000 question.” To help understand her results, Robertson joined the “Adoptees” forum on 23andMe, one of the company’s “rabbit hole of forums where people can basically start their own discussion about anything,” she says. Here, Robertson also has learned how she can find more relatives.
Other Marylanders are more interested in the health aspects of 23andMe’s test. Jon Rowley, a Walkersville entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in biotechnology engineering, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, usually a childhood disease, when he was 32. Several men in his family also died from heart disease in their 40s. In 2011, when he wanted to know his risk factors for developing these diseases, Rowley was 39. But what pushed him to send for the $250 test—23andMe’s price at the time—was his son Shai’s diagnosis of celiac disease. Rowley has two other kids and wanted to know if he was a carrier. He had his kit shipped to his mom in Michigan; she mailed it to him in Maryland. He then shipped his sample to 23andMe from a Maryland post office.
In his report, Rowley found out he is not a carrier for celiac disease and has no dramatic cardiovascular risk factors. He also has a lower than average risk for Type I diabetes. “It showed that the Type I diabetes that I got was more environmental, [and] it gives me peace of mind that I won’t pass it on to my kids,” he says.
Doug Nordman of Oahu, Hawaii, a former U.S. Navy trainer, wishes that these tests had been available before he had kids. Nordman’s mother died from breast cancer; his grandfather and father were diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimers’ respectively. He wanted to know the likelihood his 22-year-old daughter would develop the same diseases.
After 23andMe’s price dropped, Nordman had a “spit party” with his wife and daughter in their living room. Several weeks later, he found out he is a carrier for cystic fibrosis. His daughter doesn’t have the disease, but her results showed she is also a carrier.
“Even today, I feel like a little genetic bullet whizzed by my head,” he says. “If I had known that before getting married or having children, I would have been much more informed and would have been able to make a decision about starting a family. It would be nice to know these things before becoming a parent.”
Instead Nordman told his relatives about being a cystic fibrosis carrier, including his cousin-in-law, Camilla Maybee. She is planning on having children within the next five to 10 years. Earlier this year, when they were Colorado residents, Maybee and her husband took the 23andMe test; as of May, the couple was living in Baltimore and still waiting for their reports. “I think it’s good to know what you might pass on,” Maybee says about her potential results.
“I don’t want to accidentally give my child a debilitating illness.”
But Maybee, an Army medical officer for eight years, also had her own reasons for taking the test. In June 2012, nine months after she returned from a yearlong deployment in Iraq, she was diagnosed with severe depression. She wondered why she got this illness while others didn’t. She didn’t find out that depression is in her family history—her grandmother and her aunts had symptoms of it—until this March.
Maybee says that knowing her genetic predisposition to depression beforehand might have helped her doctors treat her. “It [also] would have helped me sort of understand what was going on,” she adds. “When it comes to my health, I don’t like surprises.”
This fresh, lighter-bodied twist on a traditional mint julep is perfect for Derby days—or for sipping on your porch with friends. The Knob Creek Rye blends particularly well with effervescent drinks, and the sorbet gives a sweet, smooth finish. Serve it up in a punch bowl for entertaining or just in a single glass.
1½ ounces Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
2 ounces soda water
1 heaping tablespoon mint sorbet
Sprig of fresh mint
In a rocks glass, combine rye and soda water over ice. Add the tablespoon of mint sorbet on top and garnish with fresh mint.
Your mixologist: Ginny Lawhorn, Landmark Theatres bartender and founder, Tend for a Cause
After an 11-year run at London’s Dominion Theatre, We Will Rock You, the award-winning musical based on the mega-hits of legendary British band Queen, will open its North American tour here in Baltimore. Set in a future world where originality and creativity are eschewed and rock ’n’ roll is dead, the show asks, “Can a small band of Bohemian rebels help the residents of Planet Mall break free from the chains of conformity?” (Spoiler Alert: We are the Champions.) Oct. 15-20 at The Hippodrome. Tickets, $30-$85. http://www.ticketmaster.com. —Simone Ellin
“[My] personal goal is to become an authority on my hidden-even-from-myself self,” says North Carolina painter Hal Boyd, who returns to the Minas Gallery in Hampden for the second time this fall. Boyd says his dream-like images are strongly influenced by psychoanalysis —and he is ever searching, through his abstract expressionistic work, to find his own version of truth and beauty. “A work of art should be an eye-opener,” he says, which is exactly why we look forward to his latest exhibit. Sept. 20-Nov. 24. http://www.minasgalleryandboutique.com —Marisa Hill Dunn
Baltimore-bred, MICA-educated artist Morris Louis is best known for his groundbreaking work in the Color Field style, which became popular with contemporary artists in the 1950s. “Morris Louis Unveiled” features more than 25 of the artist’s works—including a number of large-scale paintings and rarely seen drawings—along with works on paper by several of his influences, including Klee, Matisse, Miró, Pollock and Picasso. Sept. 8-Feb. 9 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. http://www.artbma.org —M.H.D.
Almost 65 years after it was published, George Orwell’s “1984” is still prescient. In fact, if recent news is any indication, Big Brother is alive and well. (Just ask Edward Snowden.) American Visionary Art Museum’s 19th thematic exhibition, Human, Soul & Machine: The Coming Singularity!, explores the impact of artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, genetics, 3D printing and Big Data on virtually every aspect of human life—through the eyes of 40 visionary artists, futurists and inventors. Oct. 5-Aug. 31. Tickets, $16. http://www.avam.org. —M.H.D.
Jig in the Pig
Die-hard rockers will descend on Pigtown on Sept. 14 for The Shindig, an all-day festival featuring 12 bad-to-the-bone bands, including headliner Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Dropkick Murphys, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Hold Steady—infamous for its bawdy drinking song “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” which appeared on the last episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” With enough mead, we may even venture over to the Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!” side-stage, which promises “rare talent and oddities” galore. Carroll Park. Tickets, $49-$54, http://www.theshindigbaltimore.com —Jessica Bizik
Pearls of Wisdom
Put simply, Eddie Vedder is a god. One of the few rock stars who avoids being a celebrity, the Pearl Jam frontman has been the driving force behind the band’s evolution from Grunge pioneers of the nineties to the prolific, poetic powerhouses they are today. If we were to pull strings to see any show this season, it would be this one. Oct. 27 at Baltimore Arena. Tickets, $70. http://www.ticketmaster.com. — J.B.
Next Big Thing
There may be other 23-year-old singer/songwriters, but only one who can lay claim to the U.K.’s best-selling debut album, a killer Frida Kahlo tattoo and (coming soon) a medical degree in clinical neuroscience. Whether you know Emeli Sandé from her hit single “Next to Me” or her rendition of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” from “The Great Gatsby” soundtrack, years from now, you’ll brag that you saw this Lauryn Hill meets Joni Mitchell chanteuse before everyone knew her name. Oct. 19 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $30-$40, http://www.ticketmaster.com —Meredith Jacobs
Forget “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. Our song of the summer was Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” a primal, percussive anthem for anyone who wants to rise against adversity and jam at the same time. We can’t wait to see the guys who once played Vegas casinos for Taco Bell money bring their alt-rock souls and giant gongs (yes, that’s gongs with a “G”) to Merriweather on Sept. 20. Tickets, $35-$45. http://www.ticketfly.com —J.B.
On his way to becoming one of our all-time favorite writers, David Sedaris worked as an apple picker, an apartment cleaner and one of Santa’s Christmas elves at Macy’s. Lucky for us, the self-deprecating satirist has no problem sharing all of his wacky life experiences with an audience. Head to the Meyerhoff to hear Sedaris vent about his Ya-Ya (a not so endearing Greek grandmother), commiserate over colonoscopies, and discuss in delightful detail the love life of chipmunks and squirrels. Oct. 17. Tickets, $35-$45. http://www.ticketmaster.com —M.H.D.
Sparks & Recreation
“When people get too chummy with me,” says character Ron Swanson in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” “I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care about them.” Get to know the man (actor, Nick Offerman) behind the mustache (even if he doesn’t want to know you) in “American Ham”—a smorgasbord of anecdotes, songs and Offerman’s “Ten Tips for Prosperity”—certain to make for a meaty Wednesday night. Sept. 4 at The Lyric. Tickets, $46, http://www.lyric-operahouse.com. —K.U
Get ‘Em, Tiger
Watch out, Chelsea Handler. Towson University alum Amy Schumer is quickly becoming the next “it” comedienne. With her own Comedy Central show, “Inside Amy Schumer”, and a loyal following (STYLE’s editor-in-chief is obsessed), Schumer dishes about everything from stereotypes to sexting. Don’t let her girl-next-door looks fool you, this will be one raunchy show. Oct. 4 at The Meyerhoff. Tickets, $38, http://www.ticketmaster.com. —M.H.D.
Chains of Love
Submit yourself to fits of laughter with SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody at the Lyric. Called “a hilarious satire of practically every trope in popular culture,” the unauthorized musical pokes fun at E.L. James’ steamy trilogy with witty musical numbers, a naughty striptease and plenty of audience interaction. We swear, it’s whip smart. Oct. 18. Tickets, $38-48, http://www.lyricoperahouse.com —K.U.
“I showed up to a place I’d never been and there was a guy with a drafting board ...”
So begins “Dove Real Beauty Sketches,” the documentary-style online ad campaign that went viral this spring. The guy with the drafting board—a forensic artist hidden behind a curtain—asks a woman to describe her face and sketches her portrait based on her description. Then he draws her again—based on a description provided by a complete stranger.
For all seven women in the ad, the results are shockingly similar: Their self-portraits are less attractive than the stranger-generated portraits. Much less attractive.
Why? “Women are their own worst beauty critics,” Dove tells us. According to its research, only 4 percent of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. Dove wants the other 96 percent to know that their problem isn’t physical—a big nose, a weak chin, a too-round face—but emotional. “We spend a lot of time as women analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite right [about our appearance],” says one of the women in the video. “And we should spend more time appreciating the things we do like.”
In the words of the campaign tagline, “You are more beautiful than you think.” (And buy Dove products.)
Also this spring, researchers in Germany announced the results of the world’s largest study of cosmetic surgery patients. What they discovered, as published in the March 2013 edition of the journal Clinical Psychological Science (which did not go viral), is that “patients demonstrate more enjoyment of life, satisfaction and self-esteem after their physical appearance is surgically altered.” In other words, the more than 8 million cosmetic surgery procedures performed each year make people happier.
Taken together, these two phenomena illustrate our current cultural ambivalence about cosmetic surgery. On the one hand, we know we can be happier if we empower ourselves to believe we already are beautiful—or at least quit focusing on the things we dislike about our appearance. On the other hand, we also know it makes us happy to fix those very things—and every day there are new procedures that allow us to do just that.
So, which is it?
Both, says Dr. Patrick Byrne, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Greenspring Station. When a patient comes to him complaining about a certain feature of her face, he sometimes wants to tell her, “Just don’t focus on it.”
Pretty easy for a man who’s a dead ringer for actor Rob Lowe to say. But in his 12 years performing procedures both at the surgery center and at Hopkins hospital, where he is director of the
Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Byrne has come to understand that what people focus on—and what they don’t—is integral to his work. For some people, says Byrne, a physical flaw or less-than-perfect aspect of their appearance dominates their life while others aren’t bothered. “There’s the objective physical feature and there’s how people experience it,” he says. “They’re not inextricably linked.”
A common type of patient, he says, is a woman with a minuscule bump on her nose who wants it fixed. “You have a nice nose,” he’ll tell her. “Just be happy with it.” But when she can’t be convinced, he’s sympathetic. After all, he says, the desire to improve one’s appearance is less a function of cultural norms or individual vanity than of evolutionary pressure. “We know all the details and measurements that will create the most ‘objectively beautiful’ face,” says Byrne, who notes that the definition of a “beautiful face” is fairly stable from culture to culture. “If I move my patients toward those measurements, a majority of people they encounter will think they’re more attractive. From an evolutionary sense, it means they’re better mates, which means they’ll have a better chance of reproducing and surviving.”
The reason cosmetic surgery is so effective at making people feel better, Byrne believes, is that it typically moves people closer to the universal ideal of beauty, particulary the youth part of that ideal. “Given the evolutionary pressure, which is particularly strong for the face, wanting to look younger is predictable,” he says—especially for women, who undergo 87 percent of cosmetic surgery procedures and 92 percent of “minimally invasive” cosmetic procedures like injections and laser resurfacing, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Janet Paulsen, the fit and healthy 54-year-old general manager of the Green Spring Racquet Club, underwent a face and neck lift last year in order to look as young as she feels in her body and mind. Before her surgery, “I had all this energy, but everyone kept telling me I looked tired,” she says. These days, “People tell me I look bright and refreshed, which is what I wanted. Not, ‘You look different.’”
Paulsen isn’t ashamed to be public about the “work” she had done. “Some people think it’s a stigma,” she says. “I don’t. Sometimes you need a little enhancement. My persona is that I want to look healthy and fit. Besides, [local fitness impresario] Lynne Brick rents from me at the racquet club. I have to look good!”
Byrne is satisfied with Paulsen’s results, but most importantly he’s happy that she’s happy. After all, cosmetic surgery is unique from every other field of medicine in that instead of trying to heal sickness, aesthetic surgeons put “well” people under the knife to make them feel better. And, just as the patient’s particular perspective motivates the surgery, it’s the patient who decides if it’s a success.
Still, like a perfect foil to the scientist in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “The Birthmark,” who obsesses about the small birthmark on his wife’s otherwise lovely face, Byrne is surprisingly reluctant for his loved ones to go under the knife. For years, Byrne’s wife asked him to analyze her face and he always managed to put her off. Finally, one day she cornered him and he rattled off a dozen or so things that are “objectively imperfect” about her face. And yet he’s adamantly against her getting surgery.
“Technically, her face could look better,” says Byrne. “But I don’t want her to change. She’s beautiful as she is.” More beautiful than she thinks.
Like Byrne, when aesthetic surgeon Dr. Larry Lickstein of the Cosmetic Surgery Center of Maryland is at a cocktail party and people ask, “What would you change about my face?” he dodges the question. “Our role is not to tell someone what they need but to listen to them express their needs. The older generation of plastic surgeons diagnosed flaws,” he says. “I don’t want to impose my view on someone. If an 80-year-old woman comes in and wants a tighter neck, I say, ‘You’ll need some work on your jowls, too, to look natural.’ But if she’s not bothered by her heavy eyelids, then I’m not either. If they’re not bothered by something, I can’t fix it.”
Dr. Michael Cohen, Lickstein’s colleague at CSCMD, learned that lesson the hard way early in his career. “A woman came in wanting liposuction for her knees,” he says. “I didn’t think the procedure would get the results she wanted so I turned her down. But I suggested we could do something about her heavy eyelids. She cried. She’d never thought they were a problem.” (But she did ultimately get eyelid surgery from Cohen.)
Lickstein and Cohen, like all of the plastic surgeons interviewed for this article, say the majority of their patients seek cosmetic surgery for some variation on the following: “I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see.” “I want to look as good as I feel.” “I’ve never liked my nose.” Or, in the case of the “Mommy Makeover,” “I’ve had two kids and I don’t like what it did to my breasts and stomach.” There are also some patients who are trying save a marriage—or preparing themselves to go back “on the market” in anticipation of a divorce.
Most patients are realistic and goal-oriented, the doctors say. They’ve identified a problem and are taking a proactive response to solving it, one that takes guts and a willingness to undergo discomfort. As one handout from CSCMD says, “Anyone who has cosmetic surgery has shown they are a person of courage and they may now demand great deeds from themselves. They have given up the excuse called, ‘I’d be afraid to do that.’”
Actually, says Cohen, it’s not fear of going under the knife that keeps people from signing up for cosmetic procedures—it’s the cost. Sure, some injectables can cost less than $1,000—but the results will be relatively minor compared to a face, neck and eyelid lift that runs $15,000.“Some patients have the funds and the interest, and they like an improvement project,” says Cohen. “It’s like if you have a home and you start by redoing one room. And then you get more funds and redo another.”
This was the case for John (not his real name) who lives in Green Spring Valley and says he’s a “frequent shopper” at the offices of plastic surgeon Dr. Ronald Schuster. John is in his 70s and has a “considerably younger” wife, he says. During the past three years, he’s undergone an eyelid lift, a neck lift and a CoolSculpting treatment, a procedure that targets fat in localized areas. For John, it was worth the $15,000 price tag to feel better about his appearance. But, he says, it was not a “game-changer” in the sense that his appearance comprises only one aspect of his happiness.
For Amanda Rice, 32, a parole and probation agent supervising sexual offenders in Baltimore City, cosmetic surgery was a game-changer. In March 2008, she underwent bariatric surgery, shrinking from roughly 300 pounds to 152. The surgery helped her weight-related health problems but left her with loose skin that hung around her midsection, masking the weight loss. So, in 2010 she paid $17,000 to have Cohen perform a “body lift”: a tummy tuck, breast lift and breast implants. “It’s almost like Humpty Dumpty,” she says. “He put me back together again.” Rice says the body lift gave her even more confidence than the bariatric surgery. “I went out and bought a whole bunch of string bikinis and had a good time,” she says. “Even now, I’ve put back on some of the weight, but I still feel confident.”
Some folks are so delighted to be undergoing a tummy tuck that they ask Cohen to take a picture of the skin and fat cut off during the procedure. Then they put the photograph on their refrigerator, a symbol of their “old self.” “I did reconstructive surgery for a long time and now, doing cosmetic surgery, I’ve often asked myself, ‘What are you doing to contribute?’” says Cohen. “But I see every day that if you can make people feel good about themselves, it has a ripple effect on their marriage, their job, their relationships. It has a long-lasting effect. That’s why I’m in this field.”
But there’s a percentage of cosmetic surgery patients who will never be happy. Sometimes it’s because their expectations are unrealistic, like the 70-year-old woman who once showed Lickstein a picture of Nicole Kidman and said, “I want to look like this.” Much to her disappointment, he told her it was impossible. “Some patients think we have magic wands, not scalpels,” he says.
For just that reason, Schuster says he appreciates it when patients bring in photographs. “It lets me really get into their head and see what they want,” says Schuster. “But it’s not just that. If they have an image of a result they want, but their body isn’t going to get there, there’s a disconnect. Then I have to educate them that they’re not going to get that result and instead say, ‘Let’s think about how we can help you.’”
By educate, many doctors mean re-educate. Dr. Randolph Capone, director of the Baltimore Center for Plastic Surgery at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, requires all rhinoplasty patients to attend two hour-long consultation sessions before he schedules them for surgery. The first session involves a discussion, exam and the taking of “before” pictures. At the second session, Capone uses digital imaging to show prospective patients how their “after” pictures are likely to look. “During that session, that’s where I can get a sense about their level of acceptance of improvement versus perfection,” says Capone. “If I can’t get them happy in that session, we’re not going to have a surgical episode together.”
Though many patients arrive with a vision of perfection in mind, says Capone, he’s able to persuade most to have more realistic expectations through the two consultation sessions, and they move on to surgery. Nearly 10 percent of patients aren’t ready to let go of their hopes for perfection, so he sends them away. (Often, he says, they come back in a year or two with more realistic goals.)
Beyond patients with unreal expectations, there are those who present with a defect that doesn’t actually exist. Schuster recently saw a woman who’d had her eyelids done by another local surgeon. “She was bothered by her results and had gone back to him and he’d done a touch-up. She came to see me really being upset at how she looks. She was crying, saying she’s too upset to leave her house,” he says. “When I examined her, she looked good. That tells me her concerns are out of proportion with reality. It’s a difficult situation because you want to help people but you have to recognize that some people you can’t help and you might make it worse.”
Schuster estimates he turns down 2 percent of patients who seek procedures from him. “You have to recognize the red flags and be disciplined about saying no,” he says.
Indeed, if a patient has body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)—a mental illness that affects roughly 1 percent of the population in which a person is obsessed by a perceived defect that doesn’t exist or is unhealthily focused on a minor physical flaw—operating can feed the illness, not cure it.
In April, Capone had what he calls the most difficult consultation of his 15-year career. “This young man who came into my office had had a face-lift at 22. He’d had two rhinoplasties before that. And he had seven silicone implants in his face. He felt like his face-lift wasn’t good and needed revision,” says Capone. “There was no perceptible problem I could see other than an operated-on appearance. My recommendation was he do nothing. But he wouldn’t take that as an answer.”
Capone says the psychological aspect of plastic surgery is what makes it at once so unique and so challenging. “I could do the Michelangelo of rhinoplasty procedures, but it doesn’t matter if the person isn’t going to be happy,” he says. “If you’re a general surgeon and you’re doing an appendectomy, you don’t have to worry about that.”
In the end, maybe the question isn’t whether we should change our bodies to change our minds—as cosmetic surgery does—or focus on changing our minds so we can think we’re beautiful as we already are.
Maybe the real question is why two people with the same nose—or wrinkles, or breasts or eyelids—can feel so differently about them. For one woman, it’s a curse, a defect, a problem to solve. For another, it’s just her nose or skin or eyes.
If we’re being honest, we all want to be that second woman. But, with apologies to the folks at Dove, many of us can’t simply empower ourselves to feel beautiful. So we rely on the knife—to cut and carve—and the injection—to plump and erase—and the laser and the fat-melter and the cellulite destroyer and whatever else gets invented next. Sure, it’s the second best thing. But it works.
Birkin bags may be symbols of wealth and prestige, but, really, why wait up to five years to snare some of that exclusivity? Never fear, ladies—your day to bask in the Birkin sun has arrived: Radcliffe Jewelers in Towson has started a little side business in “previously enjoyed” Birkins (also Chanels and Louis Vuittons). And there’s no wait. Of course, you do have to come up with $8,000 to $30,000, whether it’s for a brown calfskin or a red, pink or blue ostrich. (It’s still far less than new Birkins, which can run $100,000.) Then again, maybe you can do a trade with a bag you already own. Radcliffe president Paul Winicki is up for that. “It’s like the Wild West,” he says. “It’s a new thing in Baltimore and it’s been wildly successful. We’ve made a lot of women very happy.” Towson Town Center, 1st Floor, 410-321-6590.
We’re all ears for the Museum of Modern Art’s first major exhibition of sound art, Soundings: A Contemporary Score. Sixteen contemporary artists present work that ranges from field recordings—of echolocating bats, abandoned buildings in Chernobyl and a sugar factory in Taiwan—to visualizations of inaudible sounds. Aug. 10 to Nov. 3, http://www.moma.org.
And what could be more “surround sound” than an outdoor musical? On July 23, the Public Theater’s venerable Shakespeare in the Park series premieres a musical version of Love’s Labours Lost written by the creators of the hit rock musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” Sexy and irreverent, it promises to be the perfect summer rom-com. Through Aug. 18, http://www.shakespeareinthepark.org.
For a different kind of sensory experience, visit the Guggenheim, where James Turrell’s massive light installation—one of the biggest of his career—transforms Frank Lloyd Wright’s rotunda into an otherworldly “architecture of space created with light.” An artistic visionary and brilliant technician, Turrell is legendary for his Roden Crater Project, an extinct volcano in Arizona that, when complete, will house nearly two dozen of his installations. Through Sept. 25, http://www.guggenheim.org
Bruce Li wants to do for sushi in Baltimore what Bruce Lee did for martial arts. That means creating the kind of dishes that haven’t been seen before in town—elaborate concoctions like his Japanese burrito—shrimp tempura, crabmeat, spicy tuna and avocado wrapped in “soy paper.” Or a lobster roll of baked lobster meat and mozzarella cheese(!) served atop a California roll. “When people think of sushi in Baltimore, I want them to think of Bruce,” he says.
His South Baltimore restaurant, Shoyou Sushi, has been open since late fall, and it’s already found a devoted following of raw fish lovers looking for something a little different. (Just check out the stellar reviews on Yelp!)
The restaurant is a classic hole-in-the wall with just five stools at a sushi bar and three tables. All told the restaurant accommodates just 15 diners. In the kitchen, it’s only Li, a helper on weekends and a single server. On busy Friday or Saturday nights, he sometimes has to turn away takeout orders as the wait can exceed more than an hour. But Li’s not ready to expand yet. “I always dreamed about opening a small restaurant,” he says. “This is perfect.”
1. House special: “A sushi restaurant without good tuna is like the Lakers without Kobe or the Heat without LeBron,” says Li. Three kinds of tuna are presented on the Omakase Special, including white tuna, yellowtail and albacore. (There’s also shrimp, salmon and snaper.)
2. Look sharp: Li honed his knife skills serving fusion sushi at restaurants in Los Angeles, where his brother is also a sushi chef.
3. The chef: Li, 35, was born in South Korea, and helped out in his father’s restaurant as a kid. He moved to Baltimore from Los Angeles a year ago, choosing the city because the water reminded him of his native Busan.
4. All rolled up: Li’s specialties are his creative rolls. The How Dare You Unagi(Eel) Roll combines half an eel atop a bed of California rolls. Dried garlic shavings and the chef’s house-made eel sauce get sprinkled on top, while two octopus suction cups give the eel its “eyes.”
5. Atmosphere: Intimate. You might have better luck ordering takeout on weekend nights than finding a seat, but then you’d miss out on Li’s charming commentary. And remember to BYOB.
Bottom line: Look out, fish, Bruce Li has come to town. 1504 Light St., 410-685-2989 —Joe Sugarman
At 5:47, on the evening of Aug. 17, 2007, my husband made the least surprising announcement in the history of our family.
“It’s a boooooy,” he said. He drew out the last word with a kind of amused resignation. It was a foregone conclusion, really. We had never even settled on a girl’s name for our second child.
That’s because, we are, quite simply, boy people.
I have four older brothers, a fact that has been as formative to my life as few others. Though my father later wryly told me he’d been “hoping for a basketball team,” the long-awaited arrival of the only Mendelsohn girl was such huge news that my brothers went knocking door-to-door through the neighborhood to announce it. My pink booties were hung outside the house like a trophy until they got yellowed from the sun.
Male blood relatives in my family always seemed to outnumber the female ones. (My father only had brothers; his only first cousin was male; and an alarming number of my female ancestors had died young and tragically.)
The lone holdout was my father’s mother, the second of four very close-knit sisters. I desperately romanticized them as a font of femininity—the kind of women who shared needlepoint sampler maxims and brisket recipes—but, in reality, my grandmother was very much one of the boys. She had a fierce love of sports, a killer instinct for picking the ponies at the racetrack. And, according to family legend, she was once rounded up on a paddy wagon for betting on a neighborhood poker game. Refreshingly for a woman of her generation, she relinquished all of the household domestic operations to my grandfather.
Though my brothers weren’t drawn to stereotypically testosterone-loaded activities, I still felt perpetually outnumbered by the sheer fact of their maleness. I was keenly aware that I was always forging a solo path: the lone frilly dress in a sea of coats and ties at every family event, the lone devotee of Louisa May Alcott and Raggedy Ann, the lone coveter of a training bra and pierced ears. Though I did heed the family calling and became a rabid New York Mets fan, I still dreamed of riding a girl’s bike with pink streamers instead of the hand-me-downs I inherited from my brothers.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that when I got the call that my first niece had been born, I was so overcome with excitement and bewilderment that I spilled an entire cup of coffee all over my living room sofa. I simply could not believe there was another member of the girls’ team.
Three years later, I married a man who is one of three brothers and whose parents both have … only brothers. When I was pregnant with our first child, we decided to find out the gender in advance. The next time we wanted to be surprised. (Or “surprised,” as it were.) But our then-2-year-old (boy) was a step ahead of us: he would hear none of this “you’re getting a baby brother or sister” talk, and told everyone quite emphatically that Mommy was having a “little brother named Alec.” I am still convinced there are some people who don’t believe that we really didn’t know.
It is a cardinal rule of modern parenting that we must never suggest that our special snowflakes of children are anything other than exactly as we had hoped.
Let me break that rule momentarily to con- fess that I had really wanted a daughter.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t adore my two boys with every fiber in my being or that they’re lacking in any way. It doesn’t mean I don’t realize what a precious and irreplaceable gift it is to have been able to have two children of either gender.
But it’s also a fact that … I had wanted a biological daughter. Perhaps it was vain or superficial, but I was tired of feeling outnumbered. I was infatuated with the idea of having my DNA pressed into a female vessel, curious what it would feel like to stare into a girl’s face like mine, or to see glimpses of my younger self in a teenage girl’s body.
After Alec was born just shy of my 39th birthday, I grieved a shameful, selfish grief for all the clichés that would never come true. I grieved the ability to dress my mythical daughter (Amelia? Eliza?) in pink ballet leotards. To buy Mary Janes and white tights and prom dresses. To hold tea parties and get manicures and have heart-to-hearts in our pajamas. To be the mother of the bride, rather than the mother of the groom, who is traditionally told to “shut up and wear beige.”
The strange thing is that as I sit here now, almost nine years after becoming a mother, I can still remember that fierce longing I had for a daughter, but I cannot even remotely summon its sting. It has been washed away by the happy reality of mothering the two precious children I was given, who look like boys and dress like boys and—dear God—sometimes smell like boys. Though I did insist they have a play kitchen as toddlers, the intervening years have been a (mostly) blissful parade of Thomas trains and Pokémon and Nerf guns and burp contests and Little League practices that last approximately 12,000 hours.
The concrete joys of what is far outweigh the wistful and impotent fascination with what could have been. The ferocious, mama bear love I feel for my children—my children!—makes superficial trappings like clothes and toys entirely irrelevant. It seems silly to have ever thought it could have gone any other way.
Yes, I am once again outnumbered, but I clearly have the family I was born to have.
I’m driving north on the New Jersey Turnpike, it’s raining and I have approximately 2,000 vintage postcards of Asbury Park, N.J., in the trunk. If it sounds like I’m on a mission, I am.
My father, who grew up in Asbury Park, started collecting these cards late in life as a tribute to his hometown. Dad’s original idea was to display each card next to a present-day snapshot depicting the same scene in town. The goal was to show how great Asbury Park once was, or maybe how far it had fallen. Dad did take some photographs, but he mainly just collected the historical cards, filling binders and shoeboxes by the time he passed away five years ago. They’ve been sitting in my backyard shed since then, and I’ve decided to donate the bulk of them to the Asbury Park Historical Society.
So here I am, racing back to Asbury, where we would visit my grandmother at least once a month from our home in Philadelphia. That was in the ’70s and ’80s, when Asbury, still scarred by the race riots of the late ’60s and a string of corrupt town leaders, looked more like inner city Detroit than the gorgeous Victorian resort it had been through the first half of the 20th century. “Someday, it’ll come back,” my father used to say. And we’d all nod, even as another business would fail on the deteriorating boardwalk, or my grandmother would tell us about another grand bed-and-breakfast hotel transformed into a halfway house.
But as I turn onto Cookman Avenue, the city’s main commercial drag, I can honestly say, “Dad, you were right. Asbury Park is on its way.”
And actually, it has been for the past several years. Finally, New Yorkers started paying attention to some of New Jersey’s last inexpensive seaside property, and the local gay population (overflowing from nearby Ocean Grove) moved in and fixed up those stunning Victorians that surround the town’s three pretty lakes.
These days, Asbury’s downtown is an interesting mix of antique stores, trendy restaurants and art galleries. This is not your typical seaside resort, but something more reminiscent of Brooklyn before the Manhattanites arrived. Or maybe Hampden by the beach.
“Three years ago, you’d be afraid to walk along Cookman Avenue at night,” says Vlado Pisch, who, along with his musician son, runs Sweet Joey, a vintage clothing store that specializes in restoring old blue jeans—and also creating new ones at $350 a pop. “Now there’s a fancy French restaurant opening down the block.”
As I walk along Cookman, I notice the restored Steinbach department store, where my grandmother used to buy my birthday presents. The grande dame went out of business in 1979 and fell victim to arson in the ’80s, but now its upper four floors house loft-style apartments and its ground level contains three restaurants, including a gourmet gelateria and Baca Bar, a trendy spot for cocktails and sushi.
There’s a new art house cinema in town, a glass blowing studio, a “rock ’n’ roll cupcake shop” recently featured on the Food Network and the weirdly wonderful Paranormal Books & Curiosities, which sells “Asbury Park: Back from the Dead” mugs. As I chat with store owners, I can feel their hopeful optimism that this time the revival will stick.
Still, as I make my way to the boardwalk and beach, I’m not as enthusiastic. The boardwalk’s famous Beaux Arts Casino building, where my father worked as a boy running games of Fascination, remains a dilapidated shell, its plans for renovation delayed indefinitely by recession and Superstorm Sandy. At the northern end of the half-mile-long boardwalk, Convention Hall and the Paramount Theatre, where Bruce Springsteen famously rehearses before going out on tour, is still boarded up after the storm, and I see fewer businesses open than on my last visit.
But the beach looks as beautiful as ever. And the businesses that are open on the boardwalk—a Korean taco stand, an upscale Cuban restaurant, the Silver Ball pinball museum and several boutiques—seem to be doing well. A block off the boards, the famed Stone Pony has a full slate of concerts scheduled for the summer as does the Wonder Bar, a classic seaside watering hole.
The next morning I meet up with Don Stine, president of the Asbury Park Historical Society, at Toast, the go-to breakfast spot in town. Over red velvet pancakes served by a tattooed waitstaff, Stine, also a reporter with The Coaster newspaper, fills me in on the town’s tribulations. “The problem with the boardwalk is that the city signed away development rights to only one developer, so there’s no competition and less incentive to fix things up quickly,” he says. “But the downtown has been redeveloped by several developers. A little capitalistic competition works.”
But Stine admits the town has come a long way. “It used to be like ‘Night of the Living Dead’ around here. Hookers, people off their meds…” Now we’re sipping cappuccinos and eating red velvet pancakes.
After breakfast, Stine pulls his pickup truck next to my car. His eyes widen as I open the trunk. As I start handing off the boxes of postcards, I feel a tinge of sadness. But I know Dad, who was passionate about this town, would have approved. They’re only postcards, after all, picturing what once was. And maybe will be again.
Places to Stay
The 1920s-era Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, once partly owned by Johnny Cash, is now a boutique-style hotel with views of the ocean. Rooms from $169, 732-776-6700, http://www.berkeleyhotelnj.com. Hotel Tides, a more intimate boutique property, has a pool and spa, art gallery and a well-reviewed restaurant. Rooms from $180. 732-897-7744, http://www.hoteltides.com. The oceanfront Empress Hotel has a South Beach vibe and a rocking, gay-friendly nightclub. Rooms from $129, 732-774-0100, http://www.asburyempress.com
Grab a bite
Cubacan offers upscale Cuban cuisine with seating that overflows onto the boardwalk, 732-774-3007, http://www.cubacan.net. Moonstruck serves Mediterranean specialties in a former Victorian hotel with sweeping porches overlooking Wesley Lake, 732-988-0123, http://www.moonstrucknj.com. MOGO Korean Fusion Tacos is a must for lunch on the boardwalk, 732-894-9188, http://www.eatmogo.com.
Heaven knows Savvy loves beautiful clothes, but she is inordinately proud of being a light packer. A very light packer. She can fit it all, with nary a T-shirt nor shorts, in a bag small enough to go legally, wheels first, in the overhead bin. So naturally she wants the outside of her bag to be as fashionable as the inside. Enter Tumi, with its luxurious line of suitcases, carry-ons, wallets and accessories. Savvy’s hubby prefers the hard-sided cases made of an exclusive composite called Tegra, tough enough for body armor and NASCAR races. Savvy herself loves the feminine floral designs by Anna Sui in cotton canvas. Bon voyage! Towson Town Center, 2nd floor, 410-296-1429.
Some people plan their holidays around pristine beaches or historical sites. My husband and I plan all of our vacations around food. We choose our destinations with eating in mind, and before our trip we spend hours researching the region’s cuisine and signature dishes, picking restaurants and fantasizing about all the good things we’ll consume.
But even our (somewhat obsessive) research did not prepare us for the embarrassment of culinary riches we encountered on a recent trip to Madrid, Spain. The streets crammed with tapas bars ... the seemingly endless types of ham ... the dizzying varieties of cheese ... the ever-flowing Spanish wine. We had no choice but to abandon all of our well-laid plans and simply eat anything and everything that struck our fancies.
Upon our return, I immediately got to work re-creating and re-inventing some of my favorite dishes, four of which are represented here. Arguably the most iconic tapa is the tortilla, a Spanish omelet typically filled with onions and potatoes. I’ve substituted leeks and sweet potatoes for a more colorful—and marginally healthier—version. My gazpacho, meanwhile, is fairly traditional and uses Maryland heirloom tomatoes for a bit of local flair.
Pinchos are open-faced sandwiches topped with anything and everything good. Think cheese, pulpo (octopus), morcilla (sausage), foie gras, peppers, slices of tortilla. My boozy blueberry compote, foie gras mousse and caramelized onion pincho is a riff on a memorable one I had at the bustling Mercado de San Miguel.
And what’s a summer Spanish feast without some sangria? This one incorporates fresh summer berries and gains depth from a bit of cassis liqueur. Salud!
Don’t confuse the Bun Shop for some breakfast place that serves up goopy, frosted cinnamon pastries. Oh, no, these buns are internationale—Paraguayan empanadas, English pasties, Malaysian rotiboys and steamed buns from Vietnam. Add a few Cuban guava- and-cheese pastries and you’ve got a melting pot of street foods all under one roof.
The Bun Shop was started by a couple of restaurant neophytes— Minh Vo was a Ph.D. student in pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins and Andrew Bui worked for a design firm in New York—but both have traveled extensively. Their Mount Vernon space looks like something from the Gilded Age, with its vintage sign, gold-trimmed ceiling beams, comfy couches and distressed metal tables, handmade by the owners. Best of all, the buns run $2.50 to $3 each, which means you can sample just about everything on the menu for less than 20 bucks. 239 W. Read St., 410-989-2033 —J.S.
What’s better than shopping and eating? Shopping while eating. Two venerable Hampden establishments, breathe books and Ma Petite Shoe, recently added cafés to their repertoire. Breathe books owner Susan Weis-Bohlen has teamed with Don and Renee Gorman, former owners of Puffins Restaurant in Pikesville and current Waverly Market regulars, and Joanne Goshen, former pastry chef of the late, great Louie’s Bookstore Café, to bring vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and Ayurvedic dishes to the store. The menu changes daily, but staples include gluten-free scones and pizzas, vegan soups and bean salads. Ma Petite Shoe has expanded into the space next door to open CHOUX café, which offers a rotating menu featuring kale salad with dates and almonds, onion leek pie and gourmet coffees and teas. Don’t worry—the famous selection of chocolate remains! breathe books: 810 W. 36th St., 410-235-READ; Ma Petite Shoe: 832 W. 36th St., 410-235-3442 —Diana Luehe
Thanks to a new state law that lets liquor and package stores refill glass containers known as “growlers,” you can TYOG (Take Your Own Growler) full of draft beer wherever you like. Pinehurst Wine Shoppe has the largest growler menu in the area—about 13 rotating drafts, including stouts, barley wine, hard cider and more—but growlers are popping up at The Wine Source, Wells Discount Liquors and coming soon to Total Wine. Each Saturday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Pinehurst hosts “Tap Takeovers” where you can sample and discuss brews in a casual environment—before you TYOG. 6242 Bellona Ave. 410-435-5200, http://www.pinehurstwineshoppe.com —Kimberly Uslin
Ah, 1968. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Vietnam, the assassinations of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Janis and Jimi.
The Beatles’ “White Album.”
Re-live the drama at The 1968 Exhibit at The National Constitution Center, through Sept. 2. Twelve exhibition areas corresponding to the months of the year—as well as three lounge spaces (bean bag chairs included)—showcase more than 100 artifacts, including a Huey helicopter, political convention memorabilia and heaps of popular http://www.culture.constitutioncenter.org
Jumping back 200 years, the Benjamin Franklin Museum is scheduled to reopen after two years and a $23 million make-over. The opening date of the crowd favorite has been pushed to “late summer” due to budget cuts caused by the sequester. (And we’re sure Mr. Franklin would have something wise to say about that!) http://www.nps.gov/inde/index.htm
Philly’s science museum, The Franklin Institute, is very much open, however, and this summer presents Spy: The Secret World of Espionage, a collection of James Bond-like gadgets, from Charlie the Catfish, one of two robotic catfish used by the CIA, to an insectothopter, an insect-sized device used to gather intelligence from the air. Through Oct. 6. http://www.fi.edu/spy
THE FOUNTAIN OVERFLOWS
by Rebecca West (1957)
Recommended by Laura Amy Schlitz
“Rebecca West’s ‘The Fountain Overflows’ is a book with a piquant and distinctive flavor. Set at the turn of the last century in foggy London, it is a family story: warm, delicious and funny. The father is a mercurial genius addicted to debt and disgrace; his wife, a brilliant musician, is characterized as a bird of prey. Though the plot includes both a poltergeist and a murder, the main conflict is centered on the appalling musicianship of the oldest girl, Cordelia, who insists on playing the violin. The real subjects of the book—its central mysteries—are music and family love.”
Newbery Medal-winning children’s literature author Laura Amy Schlitz has published six books, including last year’s “Splendors and Glooms.” She works as a librarian at the Park School.
THE SHELTERING SKY
by Paul Bowles (1949)
Recommended by Manil Suri
“‘The sky hides the night behind it, and shelters the person beneath from the horror that lies above.’ Like this famous line, the rest of this great novel draws you deeper into its existentialist angst each time you read it. Sit on the beach this summer and allow yourself to be transported to the sands of the Sahara instead. It won’t be a tourist trip but rather a journey into a vast and timeless landscape that will strip away the trappings of civilization you know and set you loose in a more primeval existence.”
Manil Suri, a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is the author of “The Death of Vishnu” and “The Age of Shiva.” His new novel, “The City of Devi,” was published earlier this year.
THE PRICE OF SALT
by Patricia Highsmith (1952)
Recommended by Jessica Anya Blau
“Patricia Highsmith is one of my favorite writers from the 1950s. She wrote ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ series; ‘Strangers on a Train,’ which Hitchcock made into a great movie; and ‘The Price of Salt,’ which I’m recommending. The story starts when Therese and Carol meet in a department store. As their relationship develops, they take off on a road trip with Carol trying to outrun her husband and Therese trying to hang on to Carol. It feels a lot like ‘Thelma and Louise,’ only it’s the ’50s. Oh, and the women are in love.”
Jessica Anya Blau has published three novels: “The Summer of Naked Swim Parties,” “Drinking Closer to Home” and the just-out “The Wonder Bread Summer.” Winkingly modeled on “Alice in Wonderland,” Blau’s new book traces the calamitous adventures and misadventures of a college gal inadvertently enmeshed in a drug-dealing ring.
by Michael Kimball (2012)
Recommended by Madison Smartt Bell
“The latest novel by the always startling Michael Kimball has got a lot of wit and a lot of heart, in a strikingly poignant combination. The daring Mobius loop-the-loop this book makes between fiction and memoir is something I haven’t seen before in quite this style. It makes you wonder what you can trust, but maybe that’s the point. ‘Big Ray’ is richly entertaining, thought-provoking and more than a little troubling, all in one. In the end, it’s a lesson in finding some way to love somebody you’ve got lots of good reasons to hate.”
The multiple-award-winning author of 21 books, Madison Smartt Bell is most celebrated for his trilogy of novels about Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian revolution. His most recent book is the 2011 novel “The Color of Night.” He is a professor of English in Goucher College’s Creative Writing Program.
THE UNIVERSAL BASEBALL ASSOCIATION, INC., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.
by Robert Coover (1968)
Recommended by Dan Fesperman
“Summer means baseball. It also means kicking off your shoes and letting your mind run free. Coover takes the conventions of the baseball novel and stands them on their head, doses them with a hallucinogen and strips them naked. Lovingly so. The result is a darkly funny tale of a sad sack office drone who becomes so absorbed in the world of his own tabletop dice baseball game (note to baby boomers: think of a personalized version of Strat-O-Matic in which every player and team springs from your imagination, complete with back stories) that it takes over his life.”
Dan Fesperman has authored eight international thrillers, several of which have earned awards in the United States and England. A former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, his most recent novel, “The Double Game,” was published in 2012.
by Jess Walter (2012)
Recommended by Marion Winik
“If you’re looking for a good time—the literary kind—then stop here. This is the most fun book I’ve read in years. Walter’s gorgeous, juicy, beautifully written novel moves from 1962 to the present, from a tiny Italian coastal town to the Hollywood backlot; along the way, it narrates a love story, meditating on fate and serving up an all-you-can-eat buffet of fiction’s pleasures—suspense, glamour, wisdom, beauty, satire and pathos. Among the ensemble cast of sweethearts and rogues is a spot-on version of dipsomaniac womanizer Richard Burton, here given a secret love child and a hilarious, drunken soliloquy delivered from a fishing boat.”
Marion Winik is the author of nine books, including this month’s “Highs in the Low Fifties”—a sweet-and-sour, smart-and-sassy memoir of her dating life in Baltimore.Winik is an assistant professor in the University of Baltimore’s School of Communications Design, and her biweekly “Bohemian Rhapsody” column appears at http://www.BaltimoreFishbowl.com.
THE ESSENTIAL RUMI
Translated by Coleman Barks (2004)
Recommended by MK Asante
“My favorite poet: illuminating, funny, inspiring, piercing and mystical all at once. I revisit the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi often. Each time, new ideas, new images and new relevancies emerge. No matter where I am in the world or in my life, Rumi assures me, ‘What you seek is seeking you.’ He asks me, ‘You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?’ And, finally, he instructs me, ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Author and filmmaker MK Asante has published two collections of poetry and the nonfiction “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop.” His memoir, “Buck,” scheduled for an August release, chronicles his years growing up in a troubled family amid the violence of North Philadelphia. Asante teaches creative writing and film in the Department of English and Language Arts at Morgan State University.
by Paulo Coelho (1988)
Recommended by Sheri Booker
“While I’ve read many books, only one has challenged me to look deeper within. Far from a self-help book, Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ is my go-to read for all things concerning life. In this tale of self-discovery, a young Santiago takes a journey to find a hidden treasure, only to discover the treasure is already inside. He realizes that a little faith, courage and self-trust are all he needs to develop his personal legend. I throw this book in my carry-on for long trips and keep it handy on my iPad. It’s a timeless tale of magic that can be read over and over.”
Sheri Booker is the author of the poetry and short story collection “One Woman, One Hustle” and the e-book “I Am the Poem.” Her just-published coming-of-age memoir, “Nine Years Under,” recounts her near decade-long, tragicomic stint working in a West Baltimore funeral home.
EMMA WHO SAVED MY LIFE
by Wilton Barnhardt (1989)
Recommended by Laura Lippman
“It’s a book that made me laugh out loud—and one that almost made me cry as well. Almost. It’s a true coming-of-age story about that seminal time when you realize you’re going to be a little less crazy and a lot less interesting than you once thought. It has an eclectic fan base, and I’m always tripping over other huge fans—such as Alex Marwood, a U.K. crime writer whose debut novel I read recently. We got to talking via Facebook and found out that we both adored it.”
Multiple-award-winning author Laura Lippman has published 18 books, including 11 in the popular Tess Monaghan private investigator series. Her most recent is last year’s “And When She Was Good.”
COLLECTED POEMS 1943-2004
by Richard Wilbur (2005)
Recommended by Daniel Mark Epstein
“Richard Wilbur has been widely praised for the elegance of his verse: the beauty of his musical line, the brilliance of his imagery and the ingenuity of his metaphors. I value the life-giving function at the heart of that celebrated technique—that is, a man thinking deeply with his entire being, a man who thinks feelingly. He is our greatest metaphysical poet. His work is an invaluable record of a poet’s struggle with the eternal questions of life, death and perception: ‘The mind is like a bat. Precisely. Save/That in the very happiest intellection/A graceful error may correct the cave.’”
The author of eight volumes of poetry and seven biographies, including three pertaining to Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Mark Epstein’s most recent book is “The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A Portrait,” published in 2011.
Checking in with The Ivy Bookshop
When New Yorkers Ed and Ann Berlin bought The Ivy Bookshop 18 months ago and moved to Baltimore, people told them they were crazy. But a year and a half later, the Falls Road shop isn’t just surviving but thriving. “Our numbers are up from last year,” says Ed, who grew up in Forest Park. “It continues to surprise us how much the community wants an independent bookstore, how much they value a non-generic place to shop.”
In an era when readers can download a novel at the click of a mouse, The Ivy has carved out a niche by offering author readings, book clubs and a “curated selection” of more than 30,000 titles. “A good, independent bookstore should be part of the community, a gathering spot and a source of intelligence on the best literature out there,” says Ed.
The Berlins say that by Christmas they should be selling e-books, which may not seem like the province of an independent bookstore, but the owners say the medium could grow to become nearly half the shop’s business within five years. “People feel as comfortable listening to the radio as watching TV,” says Ed. “There doesn’t need to be two distinct camps [of readers].”
All told, the Berlins say their expectations for The Ivy have been met—except one. “We expected to be able to relax a little more in Baltimore,” says Ann, who retired from the book publishing industry. “We’re busier than ever.”
The Berlins’ recommended summer reads: Fiction—“A Constellation of Vital Phenomena,” by Anthony Marra. “Marra spent two weeks in Chechnya and you would think he lived through the war,” says Ann. “It’s phenomenal, a beautiful story about noble characters having to deal with difficult circumstances.” Nonfiction—“Brilliant Blunders,” by Mario Livio. “By a Baltimore astrophysicist. It’s extremely accessible book about how the bigger the scientific intellect, the bigger the blunder,” says Ed. “But it goes on to tell how each of these blunders led to even bigger discoveries.” —Joe Sugarman
In 2010, Stuart Rodgers and her husband, Tim, owner of Hill & Co. Realtors, set out to find a home where they and their six grown children and 10 grandchildren could all vacation together. What they ended up with was “a 1973 brick rancher that was so ugly,” Stuart recalls, that when the couple showed a picture of it to friends, they started laughing. “They thought we were kidding!” says Stuart, laughing herself. “It was that bad.”
But the couple loved the Henlopen Acres community and the lot itself, about a mile from the beach. And in just six months, builders took the entire house down to its foundation—preserving just a brick fireplace and hardwood floors in three rooms—while creating a comfortable vacation home for the family. “If you could see what it first looked like and what it looks like now, it’s night and day,” says Stuart.
The Rodgers’ only request to architect Tony Beto was to create a home that was big enough to accommodate everybody, “but not to make it look like a McMansion.” Beto designed a large, cottage-style home that could comfortably sleep 26, with six spacious bedrooms on the second floor—including a “dorm room” for eight—and a first-floor master suite and den.
Now the home is filled with activity throughout the summer, with family members and friends coming and going every week. Guests ride bikes to the private beach or swim in the backyard pool. The clan is large enough to hold “family Olympics” with egg toss contests and three-legged races on the property. “It’s hysterical,” says Stuart. “The adults grab the kids and run with them, and then at some point, everybody starts drinking.”
After a day at the beach, dinners in the contemporary kitchen are an elaborate affair, with each family member taking a turn at cooking, trying to outdo one another. “It’s almost like a contest,” says Stuart, “but it’s great because it takes the onus off me. [With six kids], I’ve done my fair share of cooking, trust me.”
Inside, the home is a medley of bright aquas, cheery yellows and deep blues. Stuart, who operates her own interior design firm, says she wanted to infuse the residence with the colors of the beach, bringing the outside in. “I’ve always loved color and we wanted a cheerful place that looked very different than our home in Baltimore,” says Stuart of the Baltimore County townhouse to which the couple recently moved. “A beach house should be happy, right?”
The home is furnished in a mix of contemporary pieces and “casual” antiques accumulated over the years at auctions and from local shops. Hot pink chairs or an orange headboard add additional pops of color.
And although the house sleeps more than two dozen, Stuart says the most they’ve accommodated so far is 21; however, she expects nearly a full house this summer —exactly the kind of crazy family atmosphere the couple imagined when they purchased that ugly rancher four years ago. “After we downsized to our townhome, we didn’t have a place for all the kids to come. But we figured they’d come to a vacation house—and they do.”
Architect: Tony Beto, 302-644-7726
Builders: Premier Developers, Dave Forand, 302-632-6792, and Eric Wilber, 302-542-8171
Interior Design: Stuart Rodgers Interior Design, 443-562-5232
Landscape Architect: Kathryn Downs, 302-227-8984
Landscaping: Craig Morris, Freedom Landscape & Irrigation Inc., 302-436-7100
Faux finishing: David Shafto, 917-282-0439
Lighting: Jones Lighting Specialists, 410-828-1010
Draperies: Meadow Mill Draperies, 410-889-0156
Upholstery: Ibello Upholstery, 410-243-1163
Tile: Chesapeake Tile & Marble, 410-363-7363
Eddie DeVaughn, 45
Publications analyst, Wells fargo securities/fitness instructor, mac harbor east
The first time I really noticed I had a great body was around the age of 17. I had these strong, chiseled abs—and one day I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Damn, I look good!’ But as you get older, it gets harder to maintain. Life can get messy. I went through a rough patch about 20 years ago when I gained 70 pounds and my doctor told me I was at risk for having a stroke. I was so nervous to go back to the gym, I didn’t even remember how to work the machines. Now look at me. I can teach two or three classes in a row and have the privilege of inspiring people every day. But I always remind my students, I’m not superhuman. I’ve been where they are—and there are still days my body lets me down. But if you operate from your heart—loving yourself and others—you can always get your groove back. I’m living proof of that.
Kim Manfredi, 49
co-founder, charm city yoga
When I was 18 years old, I fell out of a window and broke my back. From my very first class five years later, I recognized the potential for healing that yoga offered. It is working with balance, strength and flexibility. All of those things are so integrated with healing the whole self.
My first teacher taught me meditation techniques, too, which turned out to be incredibly valuable. Because, let’s face it, once you can fold your body in half, if it’s just about getting to the place where you can do that, what’s going to keep you there? The mind needs to be part of the process, too. You can’t talk about the body without talking about the mind—as well as the spirit. … It’s been said you can only go so far in knowing yourself when you explore through the body, and you can only go so far when you explore through the mind. But together, there’s this great back and forth.
Jen Seidel, 44
body painter/ makeup artist and daughter claudia walsh, 16, high school student
Claudia: When you’re in high school there’s so much pressure to look the way you think everyone else thinks you should look. And even if people think you’re perfect, there’s always something about yourself that bothers you.
b>Jen: What bothers you? Be honest.
Claudia: I don’t know.
Jen: I do. Your boobs! They’re all going after the padded bras, and then they see me, who’s had her breasts done twice [after my kids]. It makes them think, ‘Mom has that. Maybe that’s what I should have, too.’
Claudia: Some of my friends my age want a boob job. I’d probably do it. Maybe in my 20s.
Jen: She also wants a tattoo and a belly button ring.
Claudia: Maybe I’ll wait until after kids because that’s when you start to go downhill. Lately I’m like, I’d like to accept it the way I am. People think there are more things wrong with them than there actually are. My friends will tell me, ‘My legs look funny.’ Or, ‘My butt looks funny.’ It really doesn’t. Things stand out to you more than to other people.
Jen: That’s the first time I’ve heard this! To hear her say that is great. But a belly button ring? You’re only 16. I say wait until you’re older, get to know who you are and then do it. ... I don’t judge her, but I’ll say no to things. But if she can give me a damn good reason of why I should say yes, I might consider it.
Claudia: So, what would be a damn good reason for a belly button ring?
Jade Greer, 32
owner, K Staton, plus-size boutique, Hampden
I like to joke and say I came out of the womb plus-sized. By third grade, I was a size 12. Around middle school, I noticed that I wasn’t as popular with the boys as the smaller girls. The boys would come over to my house and play all day—but they’d only hold my hand in private, not in front of their friends. It didn’t make me mad or sad. It was just puzzling to me because I knew
I was cuter and way more fun than the other girls! By high school, I really started to own my curves. I knew how to dress my body—and every time I walked into a party, I rocked it. I’ve carried that spirit into my 20s and 30s. And I actually met my husband on the dance floor of a club. That takes confidence! My philosophy is: If you’re going to be the biggest girl in the room, you might as well be the brightest. And I love helping other women find that inner light.
Gideon Connelly, 23
aircraft technician, air national guard
It was July 5, 2011. A car cut me off and I swerved around it. My motorcycle went down. Then it hit the curb and flipped and landed on top of my leg. I ended up breaking my arm, my right knee, fractured my pelvis and lost my left leg below the knee.
It took me six months to fully recover and walk. I decided I wanted to start running. I ran long distance in high school, but I thought I’d try sprinting since it’s a lot easier. I started jogging, then running. I got a coach and now I’m trying to qualify for the Paralympics.
Since the accident, I’m more compelled to drive people, inspire them. I’ve been mentoring people at Kernan (Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation) Hospital, trying to get their hopes up, telling them how I came through. I want to go to Walter Reed and rehab fallen veterans. Just get out there and show people that just because you lost a leg or lost an arm or are paralyzed or whatever it is, you can’t give up. You gotta keep going. Like what happened with me. I was only 21. What was I going to do, give up the rest of my life?
Lindy Lord, 67
retired pediatric nurse
Probably in my late 40s or so, life was busy with everything else and I wasn’t getting the exercise I wanted to. I was a mom with four kids and I felt kind of frumpy. My youngest son was a runner, and one day on my walk, I started to run. So I ran a block. And the next day, I said, ‘I’m going to run to the mailbox. And then the maple tree.’ I started doing it every day and it felt good. By the time I was in my 50s, I ran the Baltimore marathon. Now I run 4½ miles three or four days a week, swim laps and work out with a personal trainer.
These days, I feel really good about my body. I guess I don’t feel like I’m 67—whatever that’s supposed to feel like. I don’t feel the way people used to look at 67-year-olds as being those ‘old, sitting-grandmother types.’ I do remind myself that that day will come, but not yet!
Jill Mull, 40
fundraiser, Tyanna Foundation, breast cancer survivor
Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was like most women and was very insecure with my body. I couldn’t have picked a favorite body part, but I could easily list the parts I didn’t like—hips, butt, you name it. Somehow, fighting cancer gave me a sense of humor about it all. Partly I was inspired by my twin boys, who were 5 at the time I was diagnosed. They naturally struggled with the changes I was going through—trying to understand why the ‘medicine’ made me sicker and lose my hair. I had to laugh when my one son announced before my mastectomy, ‘My mommy is throwing away her cancer boobies and getting new ones!’ Today I do fundraising for the Tyanna Foundation, whose cheeky slogans (like ‘Save the Girls’) remind people that good health and good humor go hand in hand. Trust me, cancer is not funny—and it’s certainly not a magic cure for body issues. But I’ve learned to appreciate that having a healthy, functioning body is what’s most important in life, not whether I look good in a pair of jeans.
Athletic wear courtesy CITY SPORTS, Harbor East
Hair and makeup by Jill Turnbull, assisted by Kira Dolan, for No Worries Salon & Cosmetics, Towson
Whether you’re dusting off your dancing shoes for a Hungarian táncház or swapping stories with a Kallawaya healer, you’re sure to find something to enjoy at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s fest celebrates African-American culture and identity, endangered languages and the country of Hungary on the National Mall, with music, dancing, crafts and food. July 3-7, http://www.festival.si.edu.
For a completely different kind of party, check out the annual Capital Fringe Festival, featuring hundreds of unconventional performances in more than 15 venues. Performances include everything from a play where the audience wears headphones to a puppet show called “Mark Twain’s Riverboat Extravaganza!” July 11-28, http://www.capitalfringe.org.
Everyone remembers the good old summertime. Everyone remembers the season they worked as a lifeguard at Ocean City, waited tables at a seedy resort in the mountains, scooped ice cream, cut lawns or babysat. Even people who never had summer jobs remember them because it was psychically part of the American experience.
When I was a teenager, my friends spent summers working on their tans, flirting with girls and playing cards in the caddy shack while they waited for the high rollers to show up for a quick 18 holes.
Meanwhile, I caught chickens.
My father and uncle owned a number of agricultural businesses that provided exciting job opportunities for the young and the restless and one of those was a chicken processing plant. A key part of running a chicken plant was rounding up the chickens—all the romance of a cattle drive with feathers—so they could be processed. (“Processed” is a figure of speech. Use your imagination.)
Since you are probably unfamiliar with the mechanics of chicken catching, let me explain that it’s done at night because chickens do not move about much in the dark and therefore are easier to catch. It’s also quieter. Or so we were led to believe. Chickens are nervous. I suppose they have that in common with cattle. They can stampede. Well, not really stampede but panic and then pile up in the corner of a chicken house and suffocate or injure themselves. And that would not be a good thing for the owner of the chickens.
Every evening, Ora, who was the foreman, would drive around and pick up the crew. Our merry band might include persons recently released from prison, drunks, a dour Penobscot Indian, two brothers with the strange biblical names of Rama and Ephraim (whom my uncle, not the most sensitive person in the world, called “halfwits”) and me. We rode around the countryside in the middle of the night catching chickens. Thousands of chickens. I can still hear them squawking. And I can smell them, too. You never forget that smell.
I caught chickens all over central Maine—Norridgewock, Skowhegan, Vassalboro, Pittsfield and Weeks Mills. The caddy shack looked mighty good from where I was standing covered with chicken feathers and wearing a gas mask (to prevent respiratory distress). We were pariahs, forbidden to enter even the all-night diners. The sight of a half-dozen guys covered with feathers and smelling of chickens puts folks off their breakfasts.
That summer job was an experience that I knew would always at some level shame me. And turn me forever against manual labor. Which, on reflection, is not a bad thing, come to think of it.
Forty years later, when my daughter was a teenager she got as much as $15 an hour to watch little children while their mothers played tennis, swam laps or had lunch. She could charge a burger at the country club. Work on her tan. Talk to boys. Nary a chicken in sight.
My daughter did, however, have one brush with the real world. The summer before her senior year in high school she worked as a shampoo girl at a fancy salon, washing hair, sweeping up and bringing in the lattes and Cobb salads. She returned home to report that the more the customers spent on themselves the less likely they were to tip. Some gave not a cent! She did not make much money, and I believe it successfully turned her against manual labor, as her father had been turned decades before.
The next school year, my daughter read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Nickel and Dimed,” a popular account of Ehrenreich’s adventures as a waitress, a Walmart employee and a house cleaner. It helped my daughter understand her summer at the salon. And she got a swell college essay out of it. She had learned firsthand what it’s like to be nickel and dimed.
Savvy has as much shoe lust as the next gal, but she acknowledges that she’s lucky she can get 8½’s in just about any style. Not so for fashion-conscious babes with a larger footprint (we’re talking size 10-plus). For years they’ve had to settle for the dreaded “comfort shoe.” Enter Barefoot Tess. Named after the owner’s daughter, this Baltimore-based online biz carries every style you can imagine, from strappy sandals to colorful jellies, with names such as Steve Madden, Dolce Vita and the company’s own line. “High heels sell out really fast,” says owner Karen Williamson. “Women want choices. They want more than athletic shoes.” Williamson can boast some big name customers from the Olympics, the Women’s National Basketball Association, even Hollywood. But she’s perhaps most proud of an email she got from an ordinary gal. It read: “I’m breaking up with Nordstrom.” Shhh. Savvy will never tell. http://www.barefoottess.com
My name is monica and I am powerless over cupcakes. I am also a nutritionist who spends a lot of time cajoling people to rein in their sugar intake. Given what I know about the stuff, you’d think it would be easy for me to kick the habit. It’s not.
My unrepentant sweet tooth makes me easy prey for whatever new zero-calorie sweetener promises to be The One. Over the years, pink packets have given way to blue, yellow, green and now peach. With each new hue, the same hue and cry: “Use it exactly the way you use regular sugar!” “Substitute cup for cup in your favorite recipes.” “You can’t tell the difference!”
My friend, these are lies.
Artificial sweeteners do not taste like real sugar. If you can live with the brain-numbing sweetness and weird aftertaste, they’re tolerable in coffee, iced tea or soft drinks. And, when combined with enough gels, gums and emulsifiers, you can produce a facsimile of ice cream or pudding.
But forget about baking with artificial sweeteners. One morning, I substitute Splenda for sugar in my favorite bran muffin recipe and get muffins that look like piles of pencil shavings. Another day, I try making brownies with Erythritol. They look promising when they come out of the oven but harden into tooth-shattering bricks within minutes.
Here’s the thing: Beyond making food sweet, sugar molecules bind ingredients together, create pockets where air collects, keep moisture from evaporating and react with heat and proteins to brown foods. Because fake sweeteners contain no actual sugar, they can’t do any of these things. Which means most sugar-free baking projects are dead on arrival.
That’s why I’ve come to view my daily sugar budget (no more than 50 grams or about 12 teaspoons’ worth) the way some people think about clothes. You can fill your closet with cheap but uninspiring things or you can invest in a few fabulous pieces. Rather than stock the cupboard with reduced-sugar fakes, I’d rather save my allowance for one authentically decadent treat. (Current fave: the ice cream sundae at Tapas Teatro, topped with housemade nut toffee and sherry.)
Best Fruit and Nut Bars
Makes 12 bars
½ cup whole flaxseed (or 2/3 cup ground flax)
½ cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, etc.)
2/3 cup nuts or seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chopped almonds, etc.)
Pinch salt (two pinches if peanut butter is unsalted)
1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grind whole flax seed in a coffee or spice grinder. Combine with peanut butter, honey, salt and water in large bowl and stir to combine.
3. Add dried fruits, nuts and seeds in whatever combination you like. Batter will be very stiff.
4. Spray 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick spray and divide batter evenly into cups. Use damp fingers to press batter into cups and flatten tops.
5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until tops are dry and edges are a deep, toasty brown. (Bars will not rise.) Cool completely and store in air-tight container for up to two weeks.
Nutrition information (per bar): Calories 200, Carbohydrates 19g, Fiber 4g, Sugar 13g, Protein 6g, Fat 12g.
Recipe from Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About (St Martins Press, 2011)
Monica Reinagel is a Baltimore-based licensed nutritionist and creator of the award-winning Nutrition Diva podcast. Find her on Facebook or Twitter @nutritiondiva.
Photographed by Justin Tsucalas
Forty-year-old Kathleen spent roughly $20,000 to freeze and bank her ovarian eggs. Doing so gave her relief, she says. “It’s no longer 100 percent sure that having kids is not going to happen.”
KATHLEEN WORKS 12-hour shifts as a physician assistant in a Baltimore hospital emergency room. She’s 40 and single. And she’s always wanted to have her own children.
After a bad breakup a few years ago, Kathleen talked to her gynecologist about her desire to have a baby—and her fears that it wouldn’t happen. He later told her about a newly improved fertility technology called oocyte vitrification that involves flash-freezing ovarian eggs. The process has been around for about five years, but in October, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine lifted the “experimental” label from the technology because of success rates in live births using frozen eggs. The method is now becoming more mainstream and increasingly available, giving women another fertility option.
“My gynecologist really keeps on top of things, and he told me they had made great strides,” says Kathleen. “He said it really would be worth it now.”
Still, she was hesitant. “You don’t think you’d be in such a place in life,” she says. “But life doesn’t always turn out the way it’s supposed to. I haven’t found that perfect guy.”
Then, in June 2012, soon after Kathleen’s 40th birthday, one of her friends who’d recently undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF) urged her to begin the egg-freezing process sooner rather than later. (Currently, most clinics won’t freeze eggs for women over age 41). So Kathleen made an appointment with Shady Grove Fertility Center’s branch at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
During the course of about two weeks, she gave herself rounds of hormone injections to spark the production of multiple ovarian eggs, and went in for blood work and ultrasounds. Then a friend gave her the trigger injection to finalize the eggs’ maturation and, roughly 35 hours later, the eggs were removed by a doctor using a fine needle inserted into the ovaries while Kathleen was under general anesthesia.
One of the most challenging steps, says Kathleen, was the hormone withdrawal. “When I went off the hormones the week after [egg extraction], it was brutal,” she says. “I was weepy and crying all the time.”
Kathleen spent nearly $20,000 for the evaluation and two cycles of egg retrieval and medication—and she put most of it on a credit card. She decided to freeze the second round of eggs, for a total of 26, to increase her pregnancy odds. (Doctors recommend banking at least 13 to 15 eggs. A single cycle and related costs might run $10,000, with financing options.) Her health insurance did not cover the procedures. And, when she goes through IVF to have the eggs transferred, that could cost another $12,000 per cycle, though insurance would likely cover some of that cost.
Kathleen has kept her situation private (she asked that only her first name be used in this article), mostly to avoid other people’s judgment. As for the high cost, she says, “I’ll just have to buckle down and pick up some overtime. It’s just about making sacrifices. Even though I don’t have kids yet, I’m already starting to invest in them.”
Just having the eggs banked has given her hope, and maybe time to find a life partner. “There’s a little bit of a sense of relief,” she says. “It’s no longer 100 percent sure that having kids is not going to happen.”
AS OF YET, no one has tracked how many women like Kathleen are freezing their ovarian eggs, though experts estimate there are about 1,500 egg retrieval and freezing cycles annually nationwide.
Currently, doctors recommend banking eggs prior to age 38, with optimal years between 32 and 36—a spread that will likely become the technology’s target population, since younger eggs are more viable. Yet because the vitrification technology is so new, a current wave of women freezing eggs are, like Kathleen, at the cusp of 40 and racing to beat another deadline: the plummeting genetic health of ovarian eggs for women in their 40s. (The likelihood of pregnancy, via IVF, for a woman at age 40 hovers around 20 to 25 percent, with the same clinical outcome for frozen eggs as fresh ones, experts say. Freezing her eggs likely locks in those odds for Kathleen, even if she has a baby when she’s older.)
Shady Grove, where Kathleen froze her eggs, is one of several major fertility centers that offer egg freezing nationwide. One of Kathleen’s doctors at Shady Grove was Dr. Ricardo Yazigi, a reproductive endocrinologist who has followed the technology’s progression and says it’s come a long way. “Human eggs did not used to freeze very well. There was a problem with ice crystals forming in [slow-freezing] methods and the rates of pregnancy were very low,” he says.
The new freezing method, done after water is extracted from the egg, prevents ice formations and yields much higher success rates. “What we are doing is freezing time,” Yazigi says. “Women can freeze their eggs in their early 30s, and then come in, up to their late 40s, and have a child of their own.”
Yet the social experiment of delaying motherhood via egg freezing has sparked a flurry of news stories that question whether women will start putting motherhood on ice: purchasing costly fertility preservation plans, while pursuing high-powered careers or avoiding marriage altogether.
The prospect of younger 20-something women and older post-40 women freezing their eggs has drawn special criticism. Some say fertility doctors might be creating false—and expensive—hope, since there are no guarantees. Others argue that women will become complacent, relying on frozen eggs and difficult IVF procedures instead of trying to conceive naturally before their mid-30s, when it’s more likely.
The ASRM doesn’t yet support freezing eggs solely to delay pregnancy, citing a lack of data on efficacy, cost-effectiveness and health or emotional risks. “This raises a whole set of issues whether women electively deferring their childbearing is reasonable,” noted Dr. Samantha Pfeifer, ASRM practice committee chair, in a recent National Public Radio interview. “When extracting eggs from a young woman at 25, what is the likelihood that she will use those eggs in the future?”
Also, while fertilized embryos can be frozen for many years, it’s not yet clear how long frozen ovarian eggs remain viable. Storage fees can range from $100 to $1,000 annually. “We don’t know the long-term implications,” notes Yazigi of Shady Grove, where storage fees are $360 a year. “We are being reasonably cautious and not becoming too alarmed by information we don’t have.”
Most fertility doctors, at Shady Grove and elsewhere, do not encourage college-age women to freeze their eggs. Yet the baby-making landscape is constantly shifting. Age-related infertility has gone from a social phenomenon to a medical issue: About 1 in 5 women in the United States have their first child after age 35, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By some estimates, infertility is now faced by more than 6 million Americans.
Given this, some say gynecologists and physicians need to discuss fertility planning with their patients before they face difficulties. Sarah Elizabeth Richards, the author of “Motherhood, Rescheduled,” a new book about egg freezing, says it should be standard for doctors to provide information, such as a pamphlet, to women by their early 30s.“There’s a fine line between doctors’ ‘mentioning’ and ‘suggesting’ the procedure” to patients, Richards noted in a recent editorial in The New York Times about egg freezing. “But this is an option they [women] should be hearing about from their OB-GYNs.”
WHEN BRIGITTE ADAMS started looking at egg freezing two years ago, a Google search turned up just a few hits on Wikipedia and clinic websites. So, after spending $15,000 to freeze 11 eggs at age 39, she founded http://www.Eggsurance.com, a guide to the egg-freezing process that now draws 2,500 unique visits a month—a number that’s growing as more women learn about the technology.
“These women are early adopters,” Adams says of those who have frozen eggs. “Information is mostly spreading by word of mouth. In many ways, the issue of fertility preservation is linked to the struggle many college-educated women now face: The career-family time crunch. Those who enter the sciences, law or even the humanities might find themselves in their 30s and still postdoctoral fellows, or otherwise not yet established in their field.
“There has been a generational shift with education, family building and career building,” notes Adams, who works as a marketing consultant in Los Angeles. “For our parents’ generation, these things were done earlier. But now women are in school much longer. There are more women graduate students than male grad students.
“And, with the current economy, people are staying in jobs longer, or they worry about taking time off for children. So this pushes things out.”
Adams thinks egg freezing could be a real game-changer: accomplishing for women’s fertility “what the birth control pill did for the sexual revolution. I’m seeing a lot of successful women in-the-know who think ‘I’ve got to do something proactive. I might miss this window.’ So they are taking advantage of what’s out there.”
So far, fertility experts estimate there have been only about 8,000 births worldwide utilizing frozen ovarian eggs. Still, some say egg freezing is on a track to become mainstream—especially in combination with IVF.
“Vitrification has had a phenomenal impact on IVF therapy in general, whether egg or embryo,” says Dr. Michael Tucker, scientific director of Georgia Reproductive Specialists in Atlanta, director of IVF at Shady Grove and a consultant to several fertility clinics. “We really might see vitrification become the norm in IVF.”
Egg freezing offers flexibility in certain IVF cycles, says Tucker, including those related to male infertility. They also can be used to help meet the demand for donor eggs. And for some couples with religious or moral concerns, it’s preferable to freeze ovarian eggs, instead of banking large numbers of vital embryos. (A woman’s body naturally discards unfertilized eggs monthly, while some consider fertilized embryos the earliest forms of life.) Donor Egg Bank USA now links clinics such as Shady Grove, California’s Reproductive Partners Medical Group and the Florida Fertility Institute. The bank currently offers frozen donor eggs, much like sperm banks would offer frozen sperm.
There is more research to be done into the long-term effects of egg freezing, including whether children born from such eggs could have developmental delays or other health issues. But those in the field are hopeful.
Says Dr. Yazigi: “Life is getting fairer in the fertility field.”
Carolyn Goerig Lee froze her ovarian eggs when she was 39. Two years later, Lee underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) using her frozen eggs. On March 27 of this year, she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
CAROLYN GOERIG LEE, of Northern Virginia, did not plan to marry in her late 30s, but that’s when she found her husband.
Very soon after the wedding, she got pregnant. “We had a honeymoon pregnancy,” says Lee, a nurse. “But then I miscarried. After that, we decided to freeze my eggs.”
Another pregnancy led to another miscarriage. At 41, she and her husband underwent IVF using the eggs she had frozen at age 39. Of the three eggs that implanted, two developed: one boy, one girl.
The couple painted the babies’ room sky blue and adorned the walls with vintage images of birds and bees.
“It all seems kind of magical,” says Lee. “I was picked up and put in a home with a nursery. It’s like a miracle.”
On March 27, after eight hours of labor, Lee gave birth to Clara Elizabeth Young and Michael David Jin.
Perhaps the most revolutionary thing about Cuban Revolution is its location. The neighborhood just north of Johns Hopkins Hospital, known as Middle East, hasn’t seen a new sit-down restaurant open seemingly since the Bay of Pigs. Hopkins staffers, neighborhood denizens and visitors to the hospital hungry for somewhere—anywhere!—to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner have flocked to the restaurant since its February opening. As Hopkins rebuilds the area, other restaurants are slated to arrive, including a Teavolve next door.
This Cuban Revolution joins two others in Providence, R.I., and another in Durham, N.C. Owners Ed and Mary Morabito started the chain, they say, mainly because they missed the Cuban food they had known while living in Tampa Bay.
The restaurant plays up the “revolutionary” theme big time, with colorful paintings of provocateurs, from Malcolm X to Angela Davis and Che Guevara, natch. The menu features items with cutesy names, like End the Embargo kabobs, Bay of Pigs empanadas and G’Ma Khrushchev’s Shrimp Gumbo. It’s not all in good fun for every diner, however: The Morabitos say they’ve received bomb threats from unhappy Cuban Americans who believe the restaurant glorifies Fidel Castro. “Mostly Cubans from Miami,” says Mary.
As they do at their other restaurants, the Morabitos hope to host live music here—and maybe salsa dancing. But for now, it’s mainly a lunch crowd, relieved that there’s a new option in the neighborhood.
1. Atmosphere: The vibe is clean and corporate, with exposed piping, floor-to-ceiling windows and a couple of big-screen TVs over the bar. Another bank of TVs above the open kitchen broadcasts newsreels from the 1950s and ’60s.
2. Drink: Specials are offered daily, including $5 mojitos on Saturdays. You also can order sangria by the liter, Cuban espressos, handmade tropical sodas and even egg creams.
3. Eat: You could make a meal among the 24 appetizer-sized plates. Most are fried, however. Fans of non-greasy food might want to pay attention to the Havana deluxe crabcakes, spiked with corn, peppadews and served with mango aioli—one of the more unusual crab cake offerings in town.
Entrées range from traditional ropa vieja to sea scallops served with sofrito. The Cuban sandwich is offered Italian-style with a slice of salami in addition to the traditional ham, pickles and mustard on Cuban toast. “The salami was from the Italian immigrants who lived and worked next to the Cubans in Tampa,” notes Mary Morabito.
4. The chef: Morabito has overseen both the front-of-house and kitchen since its opening and says there are no plans to hire a chef.
5. Finishing touches: Flan is the traditional Cuban treat, but the restaurant also offers tropical milkshakes in flavors like guava, passion fruit and mango.
Bottom line: Che Guevara, meet Johns Hopkins. 443-708-5189, http://www.thecubanrevolution.com —JOE SUGARMAN
What do you get when you combine years of fashion retail know-how with a midlife desire for change, indefatigable ingenuity and a vibrant sense of fun and adventure? Why, the Little White Fashion Truck, of course. Shelley Sarmiento’s brilliant little roving shop on wheels has been taking the Baltimore area by storm. Usually parked three times a week at a roadside shopping center on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard in Severna Park, the clothes- and accessories-filled truck also has made stops in Towson, Crofton, Edgewater and if you’re lucky, a street corner near you! You find out where it’s going to be and when by checking the LWFT Facebook site. Sarmiento, a former owner of White House Black Market and instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, has well-honed skills for determining what the ladies like. Judging by the crowds at her truck stops, she’s hit the jackpot. Color is all the rage now, and the LWFT has plenty of it: flirty chiffon tops in floral prints by Renee and dresses and separates by her own labels, Wild Child and Truck Culture, with a Stevie Nicks flair. “It’s a sisterhood,” says Sarmiento, “and what happens in the truck stays in the truck.” http://www.facebook.com/LittleWhiteFashionTruck
Some big openings on Broadway this season: Kinky Boots is based on the true story of a British shoe factory saved by a savvy drag queen who persuades its young owner to start producing fetish footwear instead of dress shoes. (Sure, why not?) The show has a book by Harvey Fierstein and a score by ’80s pop diva Cyndi Lauper. http://www.kinkybootsthemusical.com. ... The divine Bette Midler is back on Broadway for the first time in nearly 40 years in I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers, a one-woman show about one of Hollywood’s greatest agents. Mengers, who died in 2011, represented dozens of stars, including Cher, Bob Fosse, Gene Hackman and Barbra Streisand, whom she reportedly reassured during the Manson family murders: “Don’t worry, honey, stars aren’t being murdered. Only featured players.” illeatyoulast.com. ... Matilda The Musical, based on the Roald Dahl children’s classic, was a huge hit on London’s West End and it looks like it could destined for the same success on these shores: The New York Times called it “the most satisfying and subversive musical ever to come out of Britain.” matildathemusical.com.
When our daughter was young we were eager to encourage her to read. Actually, desperate might be a better word. I favored childhood classics that were read to me in my youth: “Treasure Island,” “Heidi,” “The Jungle Book” and “Black Beauty.” But, to my great dismay, none appealed to our daughter.
I was so eager to encourage reading that I told her I’d buy her any book she wanted. And so it was that in a gift shop in Yellowstone National Park my 13-year-old daughter found the volume that would change her life, a book that ought to be read aloud at her wedding.
The book is not “Little House on the Prairie,” “Little Women” or “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” It’s “Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park” by Lee H. Whittlesey.
Molly is 26 now, lives in Washington, D.C., has a good job and reads widely—all thanks to the life-changing prose of Lee H. Whittlesey. But “Death in Yellowstone” ain’t for the faint of heart, pilgrim. The book jacket features a suitable scene of a Yellowstone hot springs with steam rising—over which is superimposed a headstone!
Under that jacket are 300 pages of heavily documented, well-sourced and footnoted mayhem and mauling, chronicling collisions of man and beast (with man typically on the losing side). “Death in Yellowstone” makes zombies and vampires look like kittens at play. Molly could not put it down. She read aloud to us as we drove around Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Death on every page! Family fun!
Whittlesey was no mere sensationalist. He was a veteran guide, park ranger and historical archivist at Yellowstone National Park. And his book is a blow-by-blow (literally) accounting of hair-raising and horrifying things that happen to hapless tourists in the wild.
His style resembles that of a government report and an autopsy. No frills. Just the facts—though Brother Whittlesey does have a tendency to scold folks who do stupid things in nature.
Some died from bison goring or were eaten (literally) by a bear. Others experienced writhing ends that came from ingesting poisonous plants. Drunks who, in the wee hours, decided a dip in a boiling hot springs was just the ticket learned that it was not. Poached like an egg! Whittlesey also reports on death by freezing, death by avalanche, falling rocks, falling trees, fire, flood and lightning. Pestilence, too! “Death in Yellowstone” may fairly be said to have it all.
One of our favorite accounts was the demise of one Alain Jean-Jacques Dumont, 21, of Toulouse, France. Monsieur Dumont wanted a souvenir of his visit to the Wild West and thought it advisable to engage in a closeup photo-op with a bison bull. Visitors are cautioned NEVER to do this. Signs all over Yellowstone warn, “Many visitors have been gored by buffalo,” and explain that the seemingly docile beast is capable of running 30 mph (three times faster than a man) and can weigh 2,000 pounds.
As the signs say, “These animals may appear tame but are wild, unpredictable and dangerous.” But Monsieur Dumont had to see for himself.
As Whittlesey reports, “Alain Dumont had his camera up and must have seen the charge through its viewfinder. He turned abruptly to his left and the bison’s horn caught him in the right kidney, ripping him open with a vengeance.
Dumont sustained a torn colon, a punctured stomach, a severely damaged spleen and four broken ribs.” And then the conclusion: “The spleen infection was probably what killed him.” Whittlesey had us with that sentence. Prose so clean that Hemingway would have approved.
Our daughter swooned to every gory and horrifying detail. And we swooned, too. She was reading a book of real prose! Sure, there was lots of blood, lots of guts. But there was also rock solid practical advice on every page. Life advice, like DON’T FEED THE BEARS. If it were up to me, I would see to it that every American child had a copy on his or her nightstand.
We had a magical family vacation in the Wild West and have cherished this volume in our home ever since. It is what we have in lieu of a family Bible, and we are forever grateful to Mr. Whittlesey for making our daughter a voracious reader.
This fresh, lighter-bodied twist on a traditional mint julep is perfect for Derby days—or for sipping on your porch with friends. The Knob Creek Rye blends particularly well with effervescent drinks, and the sorbet gives a sweet, smooth finish. Serve it up in a punch bowl for entertaining or just in a single glass.
1½ ounces Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
2 ounces soda water
1 heaping tablespoon mint sorbet
Sprig of fresh mint
In a rocks glass, combine rye and soda water over ice. Add the tablespoon of mint sorbet on top and garnish with fresh mint.
Your mixologist: Ginny Lawhorn, Landmark Theatres bartender and founder, Tend for a Cause
I don’t have children, but I have heard rumors that many of them don’t actually like to eat green vegetables. Cooked spinach: I get it. Lima beans? Maybe. But surely this can’t include fresh peas? I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love those little bite-sized bits of sweet green candy, particularly when slathered in butter and salt. My mom was no great cook, but when it came to fresh peas, she really didn’t need to be.
I have admittedly fiddled with their natural goodness a bit in the following recipes, but their essential “pea nature” still shines through. And while these dishes work best with fresh peas, frozen will certainly do in a pinch.
The pea, radish and mint salad is the ultimate cooling warm weather dish: Serve as a side with a protein or alone with some crusty bread for a light summer supper.
The pea, yogurt and tarragon soup tastes creamy and filling, yet thanks to the use of Greek yogurt rather than cream, it’s waistline-friendly. The pea and arugula pesto is pure simplicity to throw together, while the addition of toasted almonds and lemon zest imparts a pleasing depth and brightness. It’s great smeared on a baguette, served with a grilled chicken breast or, my favorite way, tossed with some orecchiette or penne rigate for a quick weeknight meal.
Finally, the scallion and pea pancakes, inspired by Korean scallion pancakes, include a pinch of Korean hot pepper for kick, and are accompanied with a tamari sesame dipping sauce. Try these for a weekend brunch or serve with rice and kimchi for a fun and easy dinner.
There are a few things as inherently American as baseball, apple pie and, well, moonshine. The stuff of documentaries from Appalachia, Depression-era legends and the subject of a popular Discovery Channel show, moonshine is still illegally produced in the United States, but it can be sold in liquor stores with the proper licenses. Now Baltimore has its own bar/restaurant specializing in “white lightning,” Moonshine Tavern. “Moonshining is pure Americana, and we took that and combined it with New Orleans, Southern comfort and the bayou and that’s how our concept came to light,” says co-owner Shanna Cooper. The bar features more than 30 brands and flavors of moonshine, ranging from straight corn whiskey to Ole Smokey Apple Pie. All can be mixed in specialized cocktails. The Cajun-inspired menu runs from a seafood-of-the-day étouffée to beef cheeks sous vide wrapped in savoy cabbage. For major hooch lovers, the tavern offers a moonshine program where customers can buy their own mason jar that will be stowed at the bar for $100. Each subsequent jar runs $75. The best part about this place? No overalls required. 2300 Boston St., 410-327-6455, http://www.bmoreshine.com —Diana Luehe
Though there are a few fine men’s clothing stores in the Baltimore area, there’s always room for another one, especially when it’s as tasteful and serene as Loafers & Laces. Combining an old world feel with modern style, this little shop of shoes, shirts and accessories is pure pleasure. Where else are you going to find classic Alden oxfords and loafers, handmade in New England, or Martin Dingman leathergoods from the Ozarks? Or boots and brogues by Loake and Wolverine? There are also sumptuous cashmere sweaters and chic linen jackets. But Savvy is a sucker for the charming Natty Boh cuff links and the sexy Persol sunglasses. And she’s positively crazy for the idea that a man can get a belt custom measured here. Now that’s service. 612 S. Exeter St., Harbor East, 410-244-5344
Dishcrawl is like a pub crawl ... only less drunk. The concept, which began in San Francisco and has since spread to dozens of cities nationwide (Canada too!), is simple: pay $45 to register, park your car and eat your way through four restaurants in a single featured neighborhood. The first Baltimore Dishcrawl was in Canton in April and future crawls are planned in Hampden, Charles Village and any ’hood that has enough restaurants reachable on foot. Come to think of it, after the fourth restaurant, it’s probably more of a roll than a crawl. http://www.dishcrawl.com/baltimore. —L.W.
Wouldn’t it be great to shop a farmers market stocked with all kinds of locally produced foods any day of the week? You can at Relay Foods, an online grocery store that sources products within 200 miles of its headquarters in Charlottesville, Va. The company works with more than 200 small vendors in the area, and arranges for home delivery or pick-up in the Baltimore area. Customers can purchase everything from fresh homemade tortillas and taco shells from Washington, D.C.’s Moctec Mexican foods or Trickling Springs Milk out of Southern Pennsylvania, which is “the best milk in the United States,” according to Relay’s senior vice president of marketing, Caesar Layton. “Relay’s goal is to build a permanent and sustainable market for local suppliers and to give customers easy access to local and healthy food,” he says. “It’s really very simple.” The groceries are delivered to your home in temperature-controlled coolers or can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays in front of Baltimore Clayworks in Mount Washington or on Sundays near Wyman Park in Hampden. By year’s end, Relay plans to have at least 15 more pickup spots. http://www.relayfoods.com, 202-618-6048. —D.L.
When the sun sets in many Asian cities, the night markets open. These open-air agoras are filled with vendors offering food and merchandise, as street performers entertain shoppers. Since 2010, Philadelphia has thrown its own version of the night market, with food trucks and dozens of restaurants setting up stalls in various neighborhoods throughout the city. Bands play, buskers entertain and everyone leaves with a full belly. You’ll have four opportunities to visit a night market this season. Check thefoodtrust.org/night-market for times and locations.
Also, June is your last chance to check out Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. The exhibit features more than 30 of the singing group’s glamorous gowns as well as historic videos, photographs and Supremes memorabilia. Through June 30, http://www.aampmuseum.org.