Zucchini the Size of My Arm

Fresh flowers, goats milk cheese, honey, eggs, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, leafy greens of all types, herbs, mushrooms, peas, apples, blackberries and yes, zucchini the size of my arm. I espoused my love for the farmers’ market under the JFX in an earlier post and after visiting this past weekend I can wholeheartedly say my love affair is still going strong. Open on Sundays from 7am-noon(ish),  when we arrived a little before 10am the market this weekend was bustling with the smell of pit beef in the air and the steady rumble of cars on the freeway overhead.

I was there for fresh produce and quickly scooped up the aforementioned giant zucchini, yellow squash and a cucumber all for just $1. [Side note: It was the biggest zucchini I have ever seen and I tried to take a picture of it next to my dog for scale, but the dog was terrified of the zuc so sorry, no pic.] The line for Zeke’s Coffee is usually too long for me so we came prepared with Starbucks in hand (is that a farmers’ market faux pas?) to sip as we navigated through the crowds. I picked up some small red skin potatoes and a yellow onion for $4 and am a little mad at myself for not getting the purple potatoes too. Chesapeake Greenhouse was running a Father’s Day special on baby romaine for $1 so naturally I got some to throw into salads this week.  The baby romaine came still with the root in some damp dirt and John (I think) who was working the stand let me know that with the root still on the lettuce could last up to two weeks! They grow all their lettuce on a family-owned farm in Maryland and their URL is wegrowlettuce.com so I would say they have a thing for lettuce…

Several ready-to-eat concessions are clustered in the middle where the two rows converge and I got in line at Farm to Face for a falafel wrap. I paid an extra dollar and sprang for hummus on my wrap making my enormous, fresh, meal $9. On the lavash bread (other option is a kale wrap), I got hummus, lettuce, cabbage, beets, peas, tzatziki and the falafel themselves. I skipped the blueberries, honey and sriracha that were also offered as toppings. All of the ingredients were super fresh and delicious with the veggies providing a nice crunch. The wrap was huge which was perfect since I shared a few bites with Adam. On past visits I’ve also had an omelette from Humpty Dumpty and pad thai from Pad Thai Dumpling both of which were amazing. I recommend having breakfast or lunch at the market as part of your routine.

On our way out we grabbed a basket of blackberries for $5.50 since Adam couldn’t find any peaches – maybe they aren’t yet in season? I’m not a huge berry fan (blueberries are the worst), but I tried a couple of these blackberries and they were perfectly sweet.

To recap, we spent less than $20, got a ton of great stuff and had a delightful morning!  I can literally spend $20 just by walking into a Whole Foods or Harris Teeter so it’s extra nice to be able to get fresh produce at an affordable price.

The haul (there were more taters but I didn't feel like pulling them all out of the bag)

The haul (there were more taters but I didn’t feel like pulling them all out of the bag)

The Scene

The Scene

The falafel

The falafel

The lettuce van

The lettuce van

The crazy mushrooms

The crazy mushrooms

The flowers

The flowers

 

 

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Weekend Recap: Boats and Trees

This past weekend was jam packed with activities! Aside from some crazy thunder storms Saturday night, the weather was gorgeous and I spent a ton of time outside. Friday got off to a great start when I noticed that the ship Hermione had already pulled into the harbor for the Wonderful Waterfront Festival. A crowd had gathered and L’Hermione’s crew was on the deck singing what sounded like a French sailing song. It was a pretty unusual sight for my morning commute!

Hermione Ship

I spent Saturday morning in Silver Spring with my mom and joined her for her apartment building’s 5k. The course went through Rock Creek Park and I definitely enjoyed all the greenery. My usual running path around the neighborhood and up Federal Hill is nice, but I wish there were more trail options nearby to switch things up.

rock creek park 2 5k with mom

After the 5k I met a friend for lunch at Nest in Bethesda. We had mimosas and munched on over priced fish tacos and were literally the only ones in the restaurant which was a little weird. We also stopped into the French bakery next to Nest to pick up some amazing pastries. Saturday night we went to a friend’s surprise birthday party and to see Inside Out. Pixar’s latest film has gotten a crazy 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and it did not disappoint. I didn’t find it to be quite as much of a tearjerker as Up, but it was hilarious and very clever.

Sunday was another busy day: we hit up the farmer’s market and went to Canton Crossing for some shopping before heading to my husband’s family’s house for a Father’s Day barbecue.

EDITED TO ADD

I got another treat this morning on my way to work – L’Hermione was setting sail and moving on to her next destination. A tug boat was giving her a boost and helped the big ship turn so it was positioned correctly to leave the harbor. Once L’Hermione was angled correctly the tug boat backed away and the proud ship set off her canons as a final au revoir. To be honest, the first canon blast scared the shit out of me, but once I figured out that we weren’t under fire it was really cool! Bon voyage, Hemione!

Hermione Ship Baltimore 2

Hermione Ship Baltimore

 

What did you do this weekend? 

Is there a good french bakery in Baltimore? (if so get me there stat)

Working for the weekend!

Does this week seem like it’s crawling by to anyone else? Maybe it’s because it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful weekend here in Baltimore and I’m planning on spending as much time outside as possible. I’ll be playing tennis with my mom, going to a Father’s Day cookout and hopefully picking up some veggies for the week at the farmer’s market. I also signed up for the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k that takes place around Federal Hill next Sunday the 28th so I’m hoping to do a practice run this weekend.

It’s also Wonderful Waterfront Weekend – a summer kick-off put on by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore.

waterfront weekend

It looks like a great schedule of events and there are a few in particular that I wanted to flag:

1. Summer Social at West Shore Park – unfortunately I already have plans to be in Virginia Friday night because this Summer Social looks awesome. There will be live music, food trucks and beer & wine. It’s also a family friendly event with activities for kids. Two other summer socials are scheduled for July 24 and August 21 so I’ll try to make it to one of those!

2. Harbor East FIT + Festival – From 9-1 on Saturday on Aliceanna Street in Harbor East there will be complimentary group fitness classes and healthy food demos. Classes include zumba, boxing, boot camp and yoga. You can rsvp (for free) at the link above and buy a cute tank top with proceeds going to Living Classroom. I love group fitness classes, but the gym I belong to doesn’t have them so this sounds like such a fun opportunity to try a bunch of classes, enjoy the beautiful weather and work up a sweat with fellow Baltimoreans.

3. African American Festival – This is a huge free two day festival held outside Camden Yards that includes a health and wellness pavilion, a beauty bar and a beer garden. There is also a Black Enterprise Empowerment Zone with a special forum on #blackmalesmatter. This seems like a great opportunity to discuss an issue that is affecting so many in Baltimore. Bonus – former Raven, Ray Lewis is said to be a special guest!

4. L’Hermione and the Pride of Baltimore II – I LOVE when the ships come into the harbor. I walk through the harbor every day on my way to work and it’s easy to forget that it is a working harbor and the rich history of the city. When the tall ships come in it just reminds me of an earlier time and I love it when the port is bustling. Free public tours, demos and reenactments will occur on the Hermione throughout the weekend. Checkout this schedule for details!

Ship in the Harbor during last September's Star Spangled Spectacular

Ship in the Harbor during last September’s Star Spangled Spectacular

 

 

Weekend Recap: more Italian food and NYC

Happy dreary, humid Monday, Baltimore! My day got off to a rough start when I walked half the way to work only to remember I had left my work laptop at home. Oops! Don’t worry, I got some coffee and now I’m feeling much more chipper. This past weekend was a great one though so it makes Monday morning a little more manageable.

Friday night Adam and I wanted a quick and easy dinner out and headed into Federal Hill to try out Brendali.  I had seen it promoted a few times on the Fed Hill neighborhood facebook group (hooray for grassroots marketing!) and Adam was on board to check it out. I think we both had Italian food on the brain after my Friday Five post.  The small restaurant was aesthetically not much to look at but the staff was friendly and it had a welcoming, neighborhood feel. It’s also BYOB so we brought a bottle of wine to share.

Fresh rolls at Brendali

Fresh rolls at Brendali

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

Our meal started with hot, fresh baked rolls and a caprese salad. The rolls were perfectly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. The caprese salad was also really good, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic and a pinch of salt and pepper. The tomato slices were a little thicker than I usually see with this dish, but still very tasty. For my main course I got the chicken cacciatore and Adam got the linguine with crab sauce. Both were huge portions and we brought home leftovers. My dish was good, but Adam’s was definitely the winner – there was a ton of crab meat and a great marinara sauce. There were a lot of dishes that caught our eye on the menu and we hope to head back soon to try some other things. We hope the place succeeds since there aren’t any other Italian options nearby!

After dinner I came home to pack since I had an early morning train to New York. Saturday morning I arrived in Manhattan for a friend’s baby shower. The shower was held at an unlikely location – a wine shop in Tribeca! New York Vintners has a great event space and the shower hosts decorated with some nautical touches to match the “Ahoy – it’s a boy!” theme.

Nautical baby shower decorations

Nautical baby shower decorations

Guests enjoyed wine and sangria while the mom-to-be sipped lemon water and we munch on cheese, charcuterie and a make your own taco bar. We had a great time catching up though yours truly may have had one too many glasses of sangria. Sunday morning we went for a run through Central Park and had a relaxing brunch at Hundred Acres before catching a train back to Baltimore. It was a great 26 hours in Manhattan!

Linking up with Katie to read about the blogosphere’s weekend highlights.

Friday Five (best spots for Italian food in Baltimore)

pasta

Italian food is my absolute favorite. Is there anything more comforting and delicious than a bowl of fettuccine? Or arancini stuffed with gooey mozzarella and dipped in marinara? Or lasagna with a creamy béchamel? I think I am literally drooling right now just typing this. Luckily, Baltimore has a myriad of Italian restaurants (not just in Little Italy!) at varying levels of authenticity and price point. Today I’m going to share my five favorites:

1. Sotto Sopra 

Adam and I first went to Sotto Sopra during restaurant week where we each enjoyed three delectable courses. The grilled octopus salad and squid ink pasta were out of this world and on subsequent visits we confirmed that the duck and fish dishes are equally good. The crowd is a bit older, but the food is just so good and the service is formal without being stuffy. They also have opera night once a month with live performances in the restaurant!

Neighborhood: Mt. Vernon      Price: Entrees $25-$35

2. Birroteca 

A little bit off the beaten path in Hampden with it’s own parking lot (jackpot!), Birroteca is a fairly large, friendly restaurant with an appealing menu. I had the most fun sitting at the bar and ordering a few different appetizers/small plates before splitting a pizza, but they also have plenty of tables for larger groups. Tables are covered in butcher paper and pencils are provided for guests do doodle while they wait for their food. Framed table drawings cover the walls. The food feels a little less authentic Italian (read: pastas with duck liver, wild boar and rabbit), but most everything we’ve tried has been delicious. My faves are the Brussel sprouts, meatballs and the Duck Duck Goose pizza. They also have a decent variety of beers on tap.

Neighborhood: Hampden      Price: Entrees less than $20

3. Trinacria 

I have only been to the original market/deli, not the cafe that recently opened, but I’m hoping to check that out soon! Trinacria is THE place you want to hit up if you’re looking for cheap wine, huge/delicious/inexpensive sandwiches and olive oil, sauce, pasta and all of the makings for a homemade Italian feast. Adam first discovered this place when he was in law school and often walked over for one of their delicious sandwiches (my fave is the chicken parm, but they are quite literally all good – except be warned the tuna salad has olives) and now he frequently stops in to stock up on wine (think bottles for $5-7) and their frozen meals (thaw and pop in the oven for an easy week night dinner).

Neighborhood: Seton Hill       Price: $6 sandwiches!

4. Bottega 

botega

Bottega is a tiny little BYOB gem tucked into a fairly empty block near the Charles Theater. Reservations are required and hard to come by on the weekend so I suggest you make yours NOW. Their menu is frequently changing based on season and availability of fresh ingredients. If it’s available, definitely get the malfatti, spinach ricotta dumpling balls in sage butter sauce. Very rich and so good! It’s cozy and romantic and makes a great date night spot.

Neighborhood: Station North     Price: Entrees $25-30

5. Aldo’s

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a restaurant in Baltimore’s lively Little Italy neighborhood. To me, Aldo’s is the cream of the crop and a great place to go when your parents are footing the bill. I’m all about the pasta and they have a fantastic bolognese and a fettuccine with tomato cream sauce and lobster tail – delizioso! And do yourself a favor, start with the shrimp bisque.

Neighborhood: Little Italy      Price:  Entrees $30-40

Hooking up with Heather for Friday Favorites! 

What’s your favorite spot for Italian food in Baltimore or where you live? What’s your favorite Italian dish?