Sunday, June 8, 2008

Travelin' Oenophile: Bailtimore isn't so bad after all

I was going to stop my blogging in Baltimore due to the thought that I wouldn't have anything to blog about, but it turns out I do. The city actually has some pretty darn good restaurants. We discovered the first one yesterday after having been to the observation of the World Trade Center, which is the tallest five-sided building in the world. After that, we sought lunch in Little Italy. Any city with a Little Italy is okay in my book. I think we need to start one in Atlanta.

We entered Germano's Trattoria a little after one and found it mostly empty. We didn't care. It was cool, quiet, and had a good wine list. We felt we had reached a decision point: go back out in the 95+ degree weather and walk around like idiot tourists, or have a nice, long lunch with a cool bottle of wine. Yeah, that was a no-brainer. We ordered a bottle of 2006 Rocca della Marie Orvieto Classico (DOC). It had a little pineapple on the nose, then was fruity with a clean, mineral finish. I got a little cream on the end as well, although Hubby didn't. We started with house salads, and then I got the appetizer special, spinach-stuffed ravioli, for lunch, and Hubby had the meatball sandwich. The food was excellent, and the atmosphere would definitely fit the bill for "romantic."

We went to the Baltimore Aquarium yesterday afternoon, and it's definitely worth seeing. I love aquariums anyway, and this one has exhibits that put you literally in the middle of the portrayed habitats. It also has a great stingray tank as well as an excellent shark tank, which is my criteria for what makes a good aquarium.

For dinner, we decided to head to where the locals eat crabs, which I hear is a Maryland delicacy. Hubby found L.P. Steamers on the internet, so that's where we headed. It was a bit far to walk, so we took a cab. This place is as casual as they come. There's a large sheet of brown paper on the table, and the wait staff just slides the steamed crabs on to it. We got a pitcher of Sam Adams, a pitcher of water, an order of onion rings, and a dozen steamed crabs. It was a Saturday, so it was a bit busy, and there was a raucous group in the back, but we didn't mind the wait since it allowed us to observe other patrons eating the critters. I was raised using crackers to get at shell meat, but in Baltimore, they use mallets. I'll admit to some vaguely cathartic experiences.

This morning, we got up early and went to Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption. No, I'm not going to critique the Communion wine. I just wanted to mention that it's an incredibly beautiful church with a good choir.

Lunch today was at Edo Sushi, which is part of the large Pratt Street Pavilion shopping complex on the Inner Harbor. We got a table by the window, so the view was good, but the air conditioning wasn't working so well in that part of the restaurant. My dining companion was disappointed that they didn't have a house salad with traditional ginger dressing, but other than that, the meal was very good. We split yellowtail tuna and salmon nigiri, soft-shell crab roll, and the "rock n' roll," which was eel, cucumber, and roe with avocado on top.

Then, finally, dinner tonight was at a place slightly north of the Inner Harbor in the Mount Vernon neighborhood called Neo Viccino, which is essentially casual Italian-American food. I had a house salad with balsamic vinaigrette and a small pizza with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and red onions. The pizza was one of the best I've ever had with fresh, light dough. I also had a glass of Melini Chianti "Classico," which was a somewhat light Chianti that paired really well with the pizza. I also indulged in dessert, which was beignets with custard filling and hazelnut dipping sauce.

So, the bottom line on Baltimore: it's really hot, but the food is good.

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