I was headed to Baltimore as the heavy storm and flood warnings continued to flash across my phone screen. It has been one of the rainiest summers ever in Maryland and I was set to spend the next few days in the market, selling wine, tasting wine and feasting. So far, Charm City had done nothing to really captivate me and I was convinced the torrential downpours wouldn’t help.
I arrived at Hotel Revival, the new Joie de Vivre hotel in the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore, just before the rain. The Revival is a well-designed boutique hotel. It does have a few quirks (oh, yay, there is a “barista”, but what that really means is that I have to wait 20 minutes to get a coffee in the morning), but overall it’s a very pleasant place to stay. Although Mount Vernon was looking to me like the best area of Baltimore I have stayed in thus far, the rain was so relentlessly hard that I chose to eat in the rooftop hotel restaurant, Topside. I ordered a lovely Tomato Salad with Local Crab (when in Maryland) and a bowl of Gemelli pasta with Fava Beans and Peas, both of which were delightful. I was “forced” to pair my meal with a martini because the wine list leaves much to be desired, but, to be fair, the focus here is clearly on beer and cider.
The next day I got lucky and, although the air was thick with humidity, the rain subsided and the sun was trying its very best to stay out. After a successful day of selling wine outside of the city, I was determined to WALK somewhere for dinner from my hotel. Walking is apparently something that is unheard of in
some most Baltimore neighborhoods, lest you take in an errant bullet on your way to eat. (Yes, I’m exaggerating, but not that much.) I soldiered on, and ended up strolling by parks and graceful architecture while making my way to historic Charles Street. I felt a slight twinge of excitement as I sat at an outdoor table at Marie Louise Bistro near a tree lined corner of North Charles. A beautiful, breezy night and refreshing glass of Vouvray, followed by Duck Confit and Chinon, could almost make me fall for Charm City.
Next I took off to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, in the searing heat, but the sun was still shining. I checked in to the Historic Inns of Annapolis downtown, within walking distance of my dinner at Annapolis Yacht Club. There are various buildings that make up the Historic Inns and I was in the Maryland Inn, right on Main Street. In a convenient location, with small but clean and fairly updated rooms, I was told later by my Lyft driver that the Inn is haunted. I didn’t see any ghosts, but the bartender who served me a beer at the bar next door to the hotel, was the same guy who let me in my room when my key card was deactivated later that evening. Hmmmm.
After a short but sweltering walk down Main street, I stopped for a bite at a bright, airy spot called Preserve. My grilled radish salad was just the lunch I needed before the multi-course wine dinner to come. To cool down (such a good excuse) I paired the salad with a sparkling rose of Malbec. A quick freshen up and change, and I headed down towards the water to the Yacht Club. The club suffered a bad fire three years ago and has been housed in a temporary space on Dock Street until the main club is rebuilt. The food, from the oysters passed during the reception, to the Tenderloin of Bison with Salsify Root as the last course, was all top-notch and expertly paired with the Long Meadow Ranch wines. After the main courses were over, the food just kept on coming, finishing up with a Cherry Blossom Crisp and finally, an irresistible cheese plate.
Annapolis is a likable town, and although storms threatened as I wound up the curvy streets past colonial houses and historic buildings to my haunted house, I escaped the rain once again.
I had never heard of Easton, Maryland, a small town on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, before I visited during this trip. What a beautiful, well kept town it is. The town dates back to 1709 and there’s a lot of historical buildings downtown, including the Talbot County Courthouse, originally built in 1711, and Magazine Alley, a narrow street used by the militia in the Revolutionary War. I strolled around surveying the architecture and lingering in the gardens to escape the heat.
I had two events, a tasting at Snifter’s Bistro during the day, and a wine dinner at The Inn at 202 Dover in the evening. I stopped for lunch at the Tidewater Inn for a Maryland Crab Cake and a glass of sparkling wine before heading to Snifter’s. It hit the spot, but I must admit I don’t quite understand all the fuss about crab cakes.
The highlight of my trip was staying, and hosting the wine dinner, at The Inn at 202 Dover. The home itself is stunning, and the decor in the main areas and the rooms inside is meticulous and charming. My hosts, Ron and Shelby, were very welcoming and I’d say we put on a successful wine dinner. My only regret is that I don’t have pictures of the food, which included Striped Bass en Papillote with Gingered Mushrooms, and Foie Gras Torchon with Currant Compote and Toast Points (to name a few) and all were wonderfully paired with the LMR wines by Chef Potts.
Maryland is such a wide-reaching state with so many different thing to enjoy, from the food, to the coastline, to the history. Even though I give Baltimore a hard time, I look forward to visiting again. Cheers!