Poetry Restaurant Poetry

Woodberry Kitchen – Restaurant Poetry

Woodberry Kitchen BaltimoreWoodberry Kitchen Woodberry Kitchen

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The taxi sped off toward Hampden. Wind lashing my hair, the road narrowed,
the air grew still, as we approached Woodberry Kitchen in the refurbished mill.

Sometimes a person takes stock of their inner merits after surveying
stacks of preserved food in jars and the bottling of housemade spirits.

That night, Romance came laced with verjus and muddled Mara de bois berries
Peach-Ade arrived as promised, peach and Eureka lemons, no need to be wary.

On to a Harvest Slaw with batons of celery root and honey crisp apples, pecans,
“ash log” and mayo with a crunch and creaminess, enough to make me reckon

I would return. Out came the cast iron pan, hoe cakes topped with roasted
eggplant, sweet peppers, smashed tomatoes and squash from local crops,

paired judiciously with a trace of creamy quark. Can the consummate dinner
end well, can the dessert be driven by housemade detail and end up a winner?

A tall glass called C.M.P. arrived as I gathered up any and all stores of hunger.
My spoon chipped the candy surface with a clatter down to plunder past cream

Of marshmallow to wet peanuts, deeper still digging into chocolate ganache
and malted ice cream, flavors that when swirled together gave me pause.

This might be the meal to end all meals: the food, the drinks, dessert
or service, the 10,000 pounds of tomatoes processed for winter menus

(such fast, slow work, preserving what is now for what is to come) for when
tomatoes are not sprouting off the bush curling up from the ground.

Oh, to peek in that larder and espy the oven to heat the jars or the cauldron
in which they bathe – To poke my head into the charcuterie closet and gaze

at hanging salami or peer out at the shelves lining the hallway, jewel- tone
jams soldiering on by pert pickles or a vat of sourdough starter. Everyone

a miserly master of gleaning more from the fruit of the earth of shaping spelt and rye bread
baked in the wood-burning oven, housemade butter churning in anticipation of the well-fed.

If I might find a reason to return to Baltimore and feast at Woodberry,
I’d be ready to avow, that this kitchen here and now pricked something sacred

into being, not just snake oil (fish pepper hot sauce) slathered on a ho-hum meal.
It should come as no surprise that a year later, almost to the day, with much zeal,

a cab sped toward the Hampden neighborhood that I could return to by look and feel.
Thus arrived a young carrot salad with frilly tops laced with rocket, drizzled with pecan

pesto, tarragon dressing and Ewe’s cream. This time I took note of hard cider, but
settled on sipping a Red Cyrus with muddled nectarines, verjus, basil, wild honey, a glut

of entrée choices lay before me. For the main course, I dined on stewed rye berries,
on summer squash, green beans, eggplant and peppers to make the mouth merry

relishing the chewy grains dripping with heirloom tomato dressing. Next to choose a new
drink, out came a Wayfarer of sumac tincture, caramelized watermelon sugar and juice.

Not a restaurant reviewer, but a reveler, I’d been inspired to take up tongs after a three hour
dinner, but first my fork sank into flaky crust and I regressed into childhood via Concord Grapes,

then into Vanessa grape ice cream as my eyes closed envisioning peeling skins from pulp,
pressing out seeds, separated from gel. The time had come to leave again and mull

what might become a yearly rite to enter fall at this bustling refurbished mill.
Until then, inspired to cook and to can, off to my kitchen I went by a matter of will.

– The Restaurant Poem is dedicated to Hannah (and now Brad), servers with much spirit –

Woodberry KitchenWoodberry Kitchen Woodberry Kitchen Woodberry Kitchen pie

Woodberry KitchenWoodberry KitchenWoodberry Kitchen LarderWoodberry Kitchen

Restaurant Poetry inspired by
Woodberry Kitchen
2010 Clipper Park Rd., No. 126
Baltimore, MD 21211

Not satisfied yet? Let the New York Times persuade.

Woodberry Kitchen

Journeys When in

24 Hours in Baltimore

 When you think about your favorite American town, does Baltimore come to mind? If you haven’t noticed I’m kind of sweet on Baltimore. I would submit Wit and Wisdom as a memorable meal, and stay tuned for a special write-up of my favorite restaurant in the U.S., perfect for when you have a bit more time, but right now let’s plan our 24 hours in Baltimore. I have  selected a hearty blend of food and poetry to make you also smitten with a city usually recorded for its football wins, crab cakes or crime.

Lebanese Taverna BaltimoreLebanese Taverna BaltimoreLebanese TavernaLebanese Taverna Baltimore

Lebanese Taverna continues to give me a proper education in the art of Lebanese cuisine. Years ago when I visited the restaurant for the first time at a happy hour meet and greet, I discovered one of my food fixations: labneh. This is a restaurant where you hopefully have brought a few friends so you can order more dishes to sample. Their warm puffy just baked pita bread reminds me of the type of pita bread served on Mykonos in Greece rather than the sad plastic-wrapped version sold in mass market grocery stores. Their pita is perfect to pair with hommus from their extensive hommus section of the menu. As a hummus fan, their hommus is seasoned in all the right ways and if you order the spicy version, it comes with a pool of harissa in the middle. The Arnabeet salad, a roasted cauliflower, chickpea, yogurt and parsley salad really delights. If you’re craving something more traditional go for the refreshing Fatoosh salad of greens, tomatoes, mint leaves and crispy pita.Their Fatteh of eggplant served atop garlicky yogurt, chickpeas and fried pita chips also comes with jeweled pomegranate arils for a sweet, tangy burst, pine nuts and mint leaves. Expect long waits on the weekend  and evenings.

Edgar Allan Poe house  grave1

Baltimore might be the one town in the United States to not only appreciate their resident poetic history but keep that history alive. As a test, I asked two strangers to cite for me where the Baltimore Ravens football team discovered its name. Without skipping a breath, they responded Edgar Allan Poe. I resolved to visit his gravesite even though some argue that his body should be moved to Philadelphia. The “Poe Toaster,” an anonymous Poe fan leaves a bottle of Cognac and three roses at his gravesite would definitely disagree. If you decide to make the trek out to Westminster Burial Ground, stay aware of your surroundings as it’s in a rough neighborhood.

Instead, perhaps head over to the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum and make pit stops at other Poe places. To add onto the Poe places to visit, there have been other offshoots celebrating city ties with the poet. Restaurants like the Annabel Lee Tavern that serves a dessert called Edgar Allan Pate as well as the Annabel Lee cocktail of Stoli, peach nectar, and fresh lime topped with Poema Cava or sip on a pint of The Raven lager… If you appreciate poetry trinkets, pick up a Poe bobblehead.

The Black Olive BaltimoreThe Black Olive BaltimoreThe Black Olive Baltimore

Many years ago, several friends and I stumbled upon The Black Olive, nestled over on South Bond Street adjacent to Shakespeare Street and it left an indelible mark. It might have been the fresh fish on ice that you can select and order with your server when they lead you to review the display like the Bronzini shipped from Greece and then fileted tableside, served with a simple sauce of lemon juice, olive oil and oregano and a side dish of griddled polenta olive oil and feta cakes. I could also point to the refreshingly green take on hummus that incorporates parsley or the enticing Melitzanasalata roasted eggplant dip. But really, what keeps The Black Olive on my Baltimore short list is their Village Pie which inspired my homemade version as well as their Baklava Ice Cream with bits of baklava mixed into the ice cream for textural intrigue.

The Horse - BaltimoreThe Horse - BaltimoreThe Horse That You Came In On- Baltimore

As it so happens, after eating dinner at the Black Olive in Fell’s Point, you are only steps away from America’s oldest saloon, The Horse You Came In On Saloon, known by locals as The Horse. Established in 1775, the rugged interior takes you back in time, but what makes patrons come back for more is the fun atmosphere, flowing booze and live music from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Over the bar, a sign reads, “Dry your eyes and soldier on.” Good advice. What took me to The Horse was the tiny tidbit that this saloon was the final destination of Edgar Allan Poe before he was found dead. The Horse’s colorful history adds to its charm plus it’s on an interesting cobblestone street with quaint shops lining that stay open late.