Tag Archives: Local

Tomorrow: Charles Street Friday Market @ Charles & Lanvale

The Chop has always has decidedly mixed feelings about farmers’ markets. We’re certainly glad they’re there… no doubt about that. At the same time though, we don’t actually go out to them and buy produce as often as we probably ought to.

We like the Waverly market quite a lot, but it ends at noon and quite frankly if we’re waking up at 10:30, getting dressed and running out to buy vegetables isn’t always at the top of our priorities list, especially if we’ve still got to go into Giant for items not available outside. That’s the reason it took us so long to get to the JFX Farmers’ Market, and now that we’ve been, well, we’re in no rush to go back. The JFX market is just the right mix of dirty hippies, snotty yuppies, oblivious children, and a 30-deep line for coffee to make it equal to about the 5th level of hell.

Charles Street Friday Market combines two classic Baltimore pastimes: buying produce and drinking in the street.

The new Charles Street Friday Market might be a little more up our alley. First of all, we don’t have to roll our ass out of bed at the crack of 9 am to get there on time. The Lanvale Street location is just about perfect for being close to home and central, but not blocking up Friday rush hour traffic, and being in Station North (we suspect) will draw a better mix of people than some other area markets.

We were out of town last Friday for the inaugural setup of the Friday Market, but we expect it will have everything the JFX offers, only on a decreased scale. We’re looking for tomatoes and corn and spinach and asparagus… the hula hoops and baubles and scented soap are none of our concern.

But perhaps the best thing going for the Friday market is that they’ve got the one thing we may love more than coffee… beer. The market is sponsored by Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery, and you can even sip on an Old Scratch or a Snake Dog while you’re shopping. In addition, the Metro Gallery will open its doors at 3 pm with happy hour specials, and is also now featuring a carry out license for beer and wine.

The combination of a farmers’ market and a happy hour isn’t just clever, it’s one of those ideas that’s so ingenious that we didn’t even know we needed it in our lives until someone invented it. As if you weren’t doing enough good by supporting local farms and brewers, a portion of the market’s sales will go to benefit League of Dreams, which helps children with developmental disabilities get involved with baseball and softball throughout the area. It’s not just win-win, it’s win-win-win.

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Charles Street Friday Market runs from 3-8 pm every Friday in the unit block of Lanvale Street.

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Real Food Farm Market in Belair Edison Today

Apparently we’re very late to the party on this one, but what can you do? It’s better to find out about some amazing open secret like Real Food Farm a little late than never, don’t you agree?

It’s no secret at all that Baltimore is among the cities on the leading edge of urban agriculture in the US, and since its establishment last year Real Food Farm has been at the epicenter of Charm City’s urban ag movement. Their stated goal is to produce no less than 10% of all the food consumed in Baltimore City. It’s a lofty aspiration, to be sure, but who’s going to say they can’t? You? Certainly not us.

 

A lot more productive than playing Farmville on Facebook, don't you think?

 

There are a lot of buzzwords flying around the food scene’s lexicon lately, but of all of these catchy terms like organic, sustainable, and biodynamic, none of them will be more important in the coming years than this one: local.

And you literally can’t get any more local than RFF, which grows all of its produce on a plot right here in Clifton Park, along with a little help from the Civic Works and some Baltimore City school students.

In our humble opinion though, where RFF goes really right is in their market schedule. The Chop does not generally favor waking up weekend mornings at the crack of dawn to buy vegetables. And if you miss that damn Waverly Market on Saturday, you have to wait a whole week for it to come around again.

As you can see above, RFF markets are from 5-7 in the evening, which is much more convenient, and there are not less than three market days each week, all of which are convenient to residents of North Baltimore.

So we’re going to head over to Belair Edison today and sustain a little agriculture. Maybe even find some good ingredients for vegan chili, since it’s getting to be that time of year.

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Real Food Farm markets take place Mondays at Belair Rd. and Erdman, Wednesdays at Kirk Ave. and Abbotston, and Fridays at Montebello Elementary (next to the lake). See real-food-farm.org for more information.

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Foodie Culture Leaves a Bad Taste on Baltimore Palates

Brace yourselves Baltimore, for the Chop is about to take another potentially unpopular position. Today we’re coming out against food.

Did you know that your own humble Chop has been a vegetarian lo these 15 years? Of course you didn’t. We never mentioned it because we’re acutely aware that no one cares what we’re eating. And by that same token, the Chop doesn’t care what anyone else is eating, which leads to much eye-rolling because in 2010 everyone is anxious to tell you exactly what they’re eating.

We can’t hardly get through the day anymore without getting 20+ recommendations on what to eat. And you know what they say, opinions are like assholes… they leave a bad taste in your mouth. All kidding aside though, food is a lot like music in that it’s something which is consumed by everyone you know every day. Everyone has opinions on it, and everyone thinks their opinion is well-informed and superior, even if it’s not.

People who talk at length about what they’ve eaten or photograph their food for the internet are merely showing off. Showing off is distinctly un-Baltimore.

For better or worse, the internet, cable TV and the general proliferation of information have largely erased what was once thought of as the mainstream. In the new century we’re all renaissance men, and in the same way that people are no longer satisfied with lowest-common-denominator generic rock ‘n roll, Swanson dinners and blue plate specials have also become relics of the last century. Just as iTunes and Last.fm can build you personalized playlists of niche artists, there’s now an endless drone of voices telling you where, what and how you should eat.

Something the foodie movement and food industry have been able to do very successfully is to make people believe the myth that eating well equates to living well. It does not. Most of your great starving artists were just that… starving. Looking back at some of the more revered persons of history (Jesus Christ, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela) they didn’t eat very well at all. Any life worth living has been sustained by food, not centered on it. The TV ideals of sophisticated dinner parties, downtown tasting menus and “authenticity” are merely the by-products of a happy life. You can’t eat your way to happiness.

It’s gotten to the point where the Chop can no longer watch Food Network or the Travel Channel. Can’t thumb through domestic magazines or even read food blogs anymore. It’s a shame, because there are a lot of really great food and restaurant blogs based in Baltimore. It’s just such a crowded niche that it quickly becomes an echo chamber. In someplace like NYC or SF, it may well be different but here there are only so many restaurants, and they’re all known quantities. New ones make or break their names in no time, and they do it the old fashioned way, by word of mouth. After all, a friend’s opinion will always trump a blogger’s.

Something the foodie movement and food industry have been able to do very successfully is to make people believe the myth that eating well equates to living well. It does not.

Just as we’ve turned 30 and reached a sort of ‘musical maturity’ where taste is refined, the old favorites are relied upon heavily, and new artists need to prove themselves substantial to receive much attention, so it is with food. There’s just no pressing need to try every new restaurant, to hit the farmers’ market every weekend, to seek out exotic ingredients or to wow ’em at dinner parties. We just eat what we like.

Speaking of wowing ’em at the dinner parties, that might be the thing that bothers most about foodie culture. People who talk at length about what they’ve eaten or photograph their food for the internet are merely showing off. Showing off is distinctly un-Baltimore. It runs contrary to the entire ethos of this city, where (historically) we all live in rowhouses, go to work together, cheer our teams together, and eat our crabs (or bull-and-oysters, or pancake suppers, or fried chicken, silver queen and tomatoes) together. This rush toward SOLE food is kind of akin to the 6 year old who demands something different from what the family’s eating at dinner.

Which is silly, because the best food we’ve ever had comes literally from our grandmothers’ kitchens. Recipes from Mrs. Kittering and the Junior League are every bit as delicious when you make them now as they were when they were made decades ago.

Anyone who really wants to eat well is encouraged to skip the trendy restaurants, and try the basement of the nearest Methodist Church instead.

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