Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Foodies about Town

by Erin and Xani

This past Sunday, we decided to FINALLY go to the Farmer's Market (the one underneath Route 83, right near the maximum security prison! Ah Baltimore...). For some reason, we hadn't been to this Baltimore foodie landmark in all our collective years of living in Charm City, and the long weekend was the perfect opportunity to check it out. It also didn't hurt that it was BEAUTIFUL outside that day, so we got up early and off we went to market....

The market was packed, as regular market-going friends said it would be. There was lots of hustle and bustle but an all around good vibe. The tables of fresh produce went on and on, with beautiful fruits and veggies, herbs, breads, and plants all calling out to us. And let's not forget about the SNACKS. There were lots of yummy prepared food stands at the market: coffee and pastries, Jamaican patties and samosas, falafels, pad thai and other asian foods, Maryland crab and cream of crab soups, kettle corn, mini donuts, ice cream, and pit beef. Something else, however, caught our eye: The Mushroom Stand.

We perused their lovely selection of mushrooms (more on that below), and noticed that they were selling delicious-looking grilled mushroom sandwiches, mushroom salads, and most importantly, mushroom fritters. We had to have them.

We had to wait a few minutes but finally our number was called. We got our fritters, fresh from the fryer, which were topped with feta cheese and hot sauce. We also got a few greens and basil leaves on the side. This dish was EXCELLENT. The mushrooms were hot and crispy but at the same time they had a nice, delicate mushroom texture. The feta and hot sauce (which sort of tasted like Buffalo wing sauce) went so well with the mushrooms, and the greens and basil were cooling to the palate. Does anyone know what ethnicity this superb dish is from??

After our awesome snack, we meandered around and around and around the Market (per our usual terrible grocery shopping skills), noshed on a few little things, and bought some produce (including white nectarines, an assortment of mushrooms, onions, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, and parsley) and a jalapeno-cheddar bread. We also got Moroccan sweet mint iced tea from the Jamaican food stand (their last one-- we learned that things at the farmers market sell out early, so best to be vigilant!). It was deliciously refreshing, sweet, and minty.

Erin enjoying some tea

Pictures of our haul:

One surprise/disappointment of the market was the lack of things other than produce for sale. There was one place selling eggs, one place selling dairy (but a pretty limited selection) and one place selling cured pork products (which looked awesome-- 2 kinds of chorizo!). Wonder if the Saturday Waverly Market has a greater selection of types of goods? Anyway, we will definitely be visiting this Market again- it was so much fun! We can't wait for cozy fall produce and...PUMPKINS!

After the market, we changed out of our flip-flops and into our walking shoes, and headed to Fells Point. We had spotted a gelato place in Fells Point a few weeks ago that we wanted to try, so we decided to walk from Federal Hill to Fells Point (a bit of a hike, but it was so gorgeous outside we didn't mind) to try out the gelato.

It was worth every step. The gelateria is called Pintango and has a unique selection of gelati and sorbetti. We of course had the goal of trying as many flavors as possible, so we ended up getting two flavors of gelato and two flavors of sorbetto. As for gelato, we got Spicy Chocolate and Crema; for sorbet we got Peach and Mojito. And HOLY CRAP this was good stuff!! The Spicy Chocolate was actually spicy (see the flecks of red pepper below), and the Crema was sweet and creamy, and cooled off the spice from the chocolate.

While the gelati were amazing, the sorbetti were even better. The mojito had strong flavors of mint and lime (see flecks of mint below) and it was seriously like drinking a mojito! The peach was also like real life: it was like biting into a peach. It was earthy (read: tastes like dirt, but in a good way!) and not too sweet, and super-refreshing. SO DELICIOUS! Already we are thinking of excuses to get back to Fells Point and eat more of their delicious products....

After our trek back to Fed Hill (discussing the ice creams all the way home, of course), we went our separate ways for a few hours to take care of some important things (i.e., studying for EP, napping for Xani).

We reconvened later in the evening at Xani's house to make dinner using our finds at the Market. While noshing on the jalapeno bread we bought, we finalized the menu. Thanks to Xani's decently well-stocked pantry at we were able to parlay the mushrooms and onions we bought into a mixed mushroom risotto. We also had a salad using the cucumbers, onions, and heirloom tomatoes (which, as you will see below, were an interesting color-combination... or, as Erin so gently calls them, "nature's freaks") from the market, plus some greens and fresh corn Xani had in her fridge. Xani made a simple lemon vinaigrette for the salad, which was delicious.

The risotto was big success. As anyone who has made risotto before knows, it can be a tedious process, and if something goes wrong and it doesn't come together in the end, you are pissed! Luckily, everything went fine with this one. Erin did a great job cleaning and prepping the various types of mushrooms which we got from The Mushroom Stand, which included creminis, enochis, blue oyster, yellow oyster, and one lone chanterelle mushroom! Xani chopped the garlic and onion and a little thyme, then sauteed them in oil until soft before adding the mushrooms and then the arborio rice. Then came some white wine and once that was absorbed, ladle after ladle of hot chicken stock. More stirring, and the rice was getting creamier and creamier... finally all the stock was added, the rice was perfectly cooked, it was time to add a sprinkling of parmesean cheese and get to eating!

The final dish was so flavorful-- the freshness and variety of mushrooms really seemed to bring it above and beyond your ordinary mushroom risotto. Our light summer salad was a perfect side dish. We were both too full after dinner to eat any of the nectarines we bought (although we have been eating them all week, and they are delicious!)

WHAT A DAY! After all that, we were both completely exhausted. Luckily we had Monday off of school/work to recover!

It was a great day together, enjoying much of what Baltimore has to offer to its foodies. Can't wait for our next trip to market!

Happy exploring,

E & X

4 comments:

  1. ok. I miss farmer's markets, damn it. :(

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  2. Now I must troll the internets for a mushroom fritter recipe....

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  3. If you find a good mushroom fritter recipe, send it along! It would be awesome to try to make them at home!

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  4. I'm with Alexis, I really miss them. We actually have them here but I am traveling so much that I don't have time to either go or am here long enough to actually cook anything. BTW, I felt so sorry for that one lonely chanterelle mushroom

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