Lydia Wooleverer 2017-03-06 11:46:46
In Baltimore, a mini metropolis blooms with art, food and history. Born nearly 300 years ago on a small pocket of the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is a city known for its beginnings. It’s the birthplace of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” slugger Babe Ruth and Olympian Michael Phelps. Its rich heritage also includes America’s first gas street lamps, commercial railroads and post office system. Even the nation’s first bicycle was born here. Once a working-class port city, the mini metropolis is now in the midst of a major revival, and there’s never been a better time for visitors to explore its offerings, including award-winning restaurants, renowned museums, trendy shops and fresh-faced businesses along the bustling waterfront. The new Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel from Montage International serves as a luxurious gateway to the best of the area, from historic Fort McHenry to the celebrated National Aquarium. Even as Baltimore moves at warp speed into the future, this community stays proudly rooted in the past, its vibrant culture, unpretentious character and small-town feel living up to its nickname, “Charm City.” CULTURE VULTURES Close to New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D. C., Baltimore is often overlooked as a hub of arts and culture, but look again. From acclaimed art and a well-established theater scene to a premier orchestra and sophisticated shopping opportunities, the city is a best-kept secret. When it comes to fine art, those who are visually inclined will delight. At the world-renowned Baltimore Museum of Art, modern works mingle with the impressive Cone Collection (think onename wonders: Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne and Degas). Meanwhile, The Walters Art Museum houses some of the finest Egyptian, Greek, Roman and medieval art collections in the country. Its treasure trove of ancient artifacts includes jewels, armor, mummies and master paintings by Raphael and Monet. Classical music lovers will also find plenty of beautiful melodies for their ears, between the century-old Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the rising stars of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Both institutions offer midday and evening concerts throughout the week. For other audible attractions, theatergoers should plan a night at the recently renovated Center Stage, helmed by esteemed artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, or the intimate Everyman Theatre. Enthusiasts can also enjoy Broadway shows and national touring acts at the gilded, grand dame Hippodrome Theatre without the hassle of venturing into the Big Apple. Finding fun for the whole family is easy, too, thanks to the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center. In a single morning, kids can befriend dolphins, sharks and other aquatic creatures, then come face to face with full-size dinosaurs and ceiling-size constellations in a wide variety of exhibits for all ages and interests. If you need a little adult time, head to Harbor East, the city’s luxury district for shopping. National brands abound here, but if you want to shop local, visit Under Armour’s brick-andmortar for all things activewear, chic boutique Sassanova for designer shoes and enchanting gift shop Curiosity for one-of-a-kind home decor. A few minutes from downtown, the Village of Cross Keys is another imperative for indulgence. Consider a piece of statement jewelry by local designer Betty Cooke from The Store Ltd., browse haute apparel at the Harper’s Bazaarapproved Ruth Shaw and snag a hot stone massage at Red Door Spa. LOCAL FLAVOR In recent years, the Baltimore food and drink scene has experienced a major renaissance, evolving from a few famous crab houses to an upscale dining destination with award-winning chefs and a trio of exceptional restaurant groups running the show. The creme de la creme of city stalwarts are operated by Foreman Wolf, where five-time James Beard-nominated executive chef Cindy Wolf prepares an exquisite fusion of French classics and Lowcountry-inspired cuisine at the 20-year-old waterfront Charleston in Harbor East. At the group’s brand-new Bar Vasquez, coowner and wine director Tony Foreman serves superior vino varieties and standout Argentine steaks to eager patrons. The Atlas Restaurant Group is another stronghold in the Harbor East neighborhood. Touting whole grilled fish at its Greek-inspired Ouzo Bay, five-star sushi and sake at its Japanese oasis Azumi and sky-high shellfish towers with “Great Gatsby”-esque cocktails at its ever-chic Loch Bar, the group has created a Poseidon empire for the urban elite. To taste the region, farm-to-table is elevated to a whole new level with James Beard Awardwinning chef Spike Gjerde and his Foodshed family of restaurants in the trendy neighborhoods of Woodberry and Remington. Fully committed to homegrown ingredients for everything from produce to protein, experience the best of the Chesapeake Bay and its farms at Foodshed’s flagship Woodberry Kitchen and the meat mecca Parts & Labor. A highly anticipated addition to the local dining scene, Rec Pier Chop House, located at the recently completed Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel, brings elevated Italian cuisine to the Fell’s Point neighborhood. Andrew Carmellini, a James Beard Award winner and Michelin-starred Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall chef, focuses on seasonal offerings, high-quality Ingredients and house-made pastas at the new establishment. The restaurant’s bold menu and sophisticated design attracts diners in search of robust Italian flavors. Also in Fell’s Point, Thames Street Oyster House is a local favorite with its impeccable raw bar, prized lobster roll and quaint, cozy space. But for a true Maryland tradition, roll up your sleeves and dig into a pile of piping hot steamed crabs on the roof deck of L.P. Steamers seafood shack in Locust Point. Afterward, indulge in a cold can of National Bohemian beer (also known as Natty Boh, a Baltimore favorite first brewed in the area in 1885), at Max’s Taphouse, a beloved brewpub that features an enormous beer selection. OUT AND ABOUT Fittingly dubbed “Monument City,” Baltimore is home to a plethora of historic buildings and landmarks dating back to the earliest days of America. Visitors should start at the hallowed Fort McHenry, which defended Baltimore (and Washington, D.C.) from British invasion during the War of 1812, and even inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem. After a walk around the star-shaped fortress and its breathtaking promenade, history buffs can wind their way to Federal Hill Park (first admired by early English explorer and fictitious Pocahontas paramour John Smith) for sweeping views of the city skyline before heading east toward the shipyard-turned-nightlife neighborhood of Fell’s Point, whose cobblestone streets boast bustling bars and restaurants and the sumptuous new Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel, built in a luxuriously restored 1914 property on the city’s historic Recreation Pier. Along the way, stop and admire remnants of the harbor’s maritime history, as its docks are still studded with historic ships, including the USS Constellation and Pride of Baltimore II, which offer deck tours throughout the year. A few blocks north of the Inner Harbor, the midtown Mount Vernon neighborhood also hosts a wealth of historic attractions. Located in the midst of the main thoroughfare on Charles Street, the Washington Monument (the country’s first, completed in 1829) serves as a community focal point, with its 227-step climb well worth the view at the top. After the descent, sightseers can indulge their inner bibliophile amongst the ornate floor-to-ceiling bookshelves at the nearby George Peabody Library, as well as along the marble halls of the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The city is also home to famous residences, such as the Edgar Allan Poe House where the fabled macabre poet once lived, the elegant Mount Clare Museum House built circa 1760 by one of Maryland’s first senators and even the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, where the baseball legend spent his childhood years. Just a fly ball away, you’ll find the B&O Railroad Museum—where the Baltimore-Ohio route revolutionized railroading and forever linked the United States. Need some fresh air? Nestled at the edge of Druid Hill Park, near the northern fringe of the city limits, the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens has become an urbanites’ refuge with its enchanting greenhouses and sprawling flowerbeds. A short drive north into Baltimore County, the Ladew Topiary Gardens also offer an easy afternoon excursion to some 250 acres of manicured gardens, sweeping nature walks, butterfly houses and a pastoral farmhouse in deep-rooted horse country. No matter where you end up, no trip to Baltimore is complete without a walk along the Inner Harbor. Day or night, visitors can soak up the sight of the majestic Domino Sugars sign, a beacon of the city skyline and a vestige of its storied past. From here, beneath its magnificent yellow facade or nighttime red neon glow, both daytrippers and globetrotters are sure to be charmed. REC PIER CHOP HOUSE Adding to Baltimore’s ever-evolving dining scene, James Beard Award winner and Michelin star chef Andrew Carmellini brings his signature flavors to the new Rec Pier Chop House at Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, which opened in March in the Fell’s Point neighborhood. Here, the celebrated chef shares one of his favorite Italian recipes. SHORT RIBS BRACIOLE Serves 4 • 1/2 cup roughly diced pancetta (about 1/4 pound) • 4 boneless short ribs (about 2 pounds), cut into thirds • 1 heaping tablespoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon pepper • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup) • 1 clove garlic, sliced thin • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes • 20 canned whole tomatoes (two 28-ounce cans, about 4 cups), preferably San Marzano, plus their juice; or 4 cups crushed tomatoes, plus their juice Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large, dry, ovenproof saucepot, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until the fat renders, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Season the short ribs on both sides with salt and pepper, add them to the pan, and brown the meat, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until it softens, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes, mix well and continue cooking. Crush the tomatoes over a bowl with your hands, then add them to the pot along with their juice. Bring the mixture up to a low boil. Remove the pot from the stove and place it in the oven. Check the ribs about every 15 minutes or so to make sure they’re not boiling too hard. Cook until the meat is super tender and a fork can pass through it without sticking, about 2 1/2 hours. TOPPING • 1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped roughly • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs • 2 teaspoons dried oregano • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley • A pinch each of salt and coarse-ground black pepper • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano In a dry saute pan, toast the pine nuts over low heat, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid burning or sticking, about 8 minutes. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the panko breadcrumbs and continue cooking over low heat, mixing occasionally, until everything is toasty brown, about 2 minutes. Add the oregano and parsley. Season with the salt and pepper and cook together for a few seconds, so everything is warmed but the parsley does not wilt. Remove from the heat and then add the Parmigiano- Reggiano (not before— otherwise, you’ll have a melted-cheese mess). TO PLATE Remove the pot from the oven and immediately remove the ribs and place on a plate, using a pair of tongs. Use a ladle to remove some of the fat from the sauce, by pressing the chunky sauce away as you tip the pot so that the ladle fills only with the clear fat. (This is optional, but it makes the sauce prettier.) Add 1/2 cup of water to the sauce and stir to finish. Place 4 to 5 pieces of tender short rib meat on each plate. Slowly pour the sauce from the pot directly over the short ribs and sprinkle the topping generously over each dish. Serve immediately.
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