[Flatbread Spring Salad from Slow Supper @ Cylburn Mansion.]
After a great weekend in Philly with my family I hopped into the car with Meg, our Event Producer, and my partner in Mash voyages, and headed for Baltimore. Hersh’s Pizza was our first stop on this rainy evening, but a tour of the kitchen and the 950 F Italian wood-fired pizza oven warmed us right up. After meeting Josh, Chef and Owner of Hersh’s and sampling some of his great pies, I was eager to start cooking the menu we collaborated on for our Local 2 Ways dinner. Charm City stood up to its name as the skies cleared on Tuesday, and the Baltimore Mash hit the ground running with the speed of a lookout boy from HBO’s The Wire. Max’s Tap House, just a block from the harbor, provided a perfect Mash HQ. We sat outside sipping cask ales before heading off to Birroteca to try another modern Italian take on the pizzeria. After living so many years in Italy, it is always nice to find good Italian food in a new city. (continued below)
Birrotecca may be known for its pizza, but the confit calamari and the house-cured meats were out of this world. I have never had calamari as tender in my life. The Duck Prosciutto was like stepping into a Peking duck house with subtle notes of star anise, so good I changed our Sunday Slow Supper menu to feature it as one of the courses. Another menu adaptation occurred when I tasted the passion fruit buddino. My mouth went wild with the most amazing puckering tartness, followed by a smooth tropical sweetness; I knew we had to incorporate it in our dinner.
Early the next morning I headed back to Birroteca to meet up with Executive Chef Cyrus Keefer, the mastermind behind these dishes, along with Aja Cage the buddino goddess/Pastry Chef. We tweaked the menu, adding some local ginger to the dessert (candied and as a cookie), and planned to meet at the market on Sunday morning to get vegetables for Slow Supper. Then it was off to Hersh’s to prep with his team for Local 2 Ways. I was excited to cook for a group of family members and 45 other guests all seated upstairs in the private dining room. Many beers where paired with an outstanding array of food, from pizza with to crab sformato paired with Sorachi Ace. For a glimpse at the whole menu check out BrooklynBreweryMash.com. As my mother praised her son to anyone who would listen, guests mingled and stayed long after their last sips of Brooklyn Black Ops.
After saying my goodbyes to the team at Hersh’s, we boogied over to Metro Gallery to catch the Soul Clap & Dance Off with my buddy Jonathan Toubin on the ones and twos. I can safely say that Baltimore hipsters could give our Williamsburgians a run for their money. Many a dancer was left in the dust, sipping Summer Ale as their consolation, as number 11 shimmied his way to the top securing himself a roundtrip ticket to New York to compete in the Soul Clap and Dance-off Finale. Follow me on vine to catch a glimpse of those dancing skills and some super duper outfits.
I knew Baltimore had some great restaurants but I was in for a treat at Chaos Cooking when I found out it was hosted by the executive chef of Moonshine Tavern. John and his lovely lady had a roof deck that overlooked the stadium with the harbor in the distance and a kitchen fully equipped to handle the chaos that ensued. Chefs and amateurs alike doled out delicious dishes and john made racks of lamb with parsnip puree and a rich demi-glace that left us all fighting over the last chops. We sipped Brooklyn and broke bread with new friends until late in the evening.
Saturday was the highlight of my trip as I headed over to the 15th Annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, one of the wildest events I have ever seen. Riders in crazy outfits took to the streets in giant whimsically constructed vehicles for a 13 mile race combining water, mud, hills and other obstacles. I watched these crazy creations hit the water then headed for The Wine Source for a cheese and beer pairing.
The Cylburn Mansion could have been a set from the Adams Family with the beautiful Nuit Blanche installation casting ghost like shadows on the walls. Instead it became our Slow Supper space. Tucked away in the Arboretum the Cylburn estate is a city landmark that inspired a meal rich in Baltimore history. Cyrus, Aja and I prepared a menu paying homage to the local bounty of Baltimore and the surrounding area. As the band played, and representatives from Slow Food Baltimore, the center for a livable future spoke, glasses clinked, and lights flickered in this old mansion a midst the background of beautiful Japanese maple trees, we almost forgot we were in a bustling city. Needless to say, it was a charming way to end our BmoreMASH.