Woodberry Kitchen, American Visionary Art museum, Hotel Monaco, light rail to Airport — Baltimore

imageimagei spent most of my two days in Baltimore in a hotel meeting room, as planned since it was a work trip, but the few trips I took outside the lovely if slightly faded Hotel Monaco were great, thanks in part to glorious weather— sunshine, high 70s. Dinner was at the Woodberry Kitchen in an interesting old neighborhood near Hampden. The outpost of a James Beard winner, the place completely lived up to the hype and was worth the minor aggravation of having to reserve a table weeks in advance and nearer to the date, confirm more than once that We would show up.

imageFlavor is the word that comes to mind from our dining experience. The food wasn’t particularly sophisticated or complicated or showy. just the opposition. The presentation was basic and the entrees clever at times but not kooky. instead the emphasis was on ingredients – delicious carrots, fresh oysters, special salt from West Virginia (yes West Virginia.) And the dishes we had were often old classics dine the best way possible, so the deviled eggs, for examples were super fresh tasking eggs with a super creamy whipped egg yolk, some crispy bits of cooked ham and some magical pepper. The oysters were roasted in a wood fired oven and topped with a creamy crabmeat sauce; the meatballs were soft and tasty, covered with a tomato and ricotta cheese. My pan fried (or wood fired oven roasted?) chicken looked like a brown leather shoe sole but tasted unlike any chicken I’ve had (as our enthusiastic and knowledgable server promised.) Somehow it manage to be crispy on the outside and moist and full of, yes, flavor, inside. it was served simply atop wilted collard greens and some sweet roaste carrots.aso excellent: shortribs, scallops, beets (according to my sister who likes beets) and a delicious cranberry crumble pie made with whole cranberries and oatmeal).

imagethe restaurant itself is really cool, a warm welcoming old mill with a very high ceiling, lots of the original brick, stone and wood. the servers wore plaid shirts and denim, looking sometimes like north woods lumberjacks. Next door was a cool glass blowing workspace and gallery (hence the photo above.)

Today I finally got to the American visionary art museum near federal hill and the inner harbor, which has long been on your list and it terrific — three old brick warehouse buildings full of painstaking, often strange art by self-taught, often mentally ill artists. i recognized a few artists — Wayne coyne (of the band The Flaming Lips, who we saw painting the sidewalk in Oklahoma City…his work is above) and Elizabeth “grandma” Layton, who served us lemonade in her home in small town Kansas many years ago and gave me a rare signed poster of her work that hangs in my kitchen!)

I ended up taking the light rail for $1.70 from the convention center downtown to the airport and stopped for a crabcake at Phillips, conveniently near the southwest gates.

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