I am currently on the first stop of my Fall 2007 East Coast tour: Baltimore, MD. Between services at synagogue, catching up with family, eating large amounts of food and grazing on leftovers, it is the usual feast for the senses. Here are some highlights, arranged by setting:
Shul (yiddish for synagogue or what my reform sistren and brethren refer to as 'temple') was awesome. Someone who sounded exactly like Frankie Pantengeli was seated one row behind us, though instead of warning Michael about Hyman Roth, he was cracking (in a voice about 5 notches above a whisper) hilarious one-liners throughout the service. On the sermon ("It was a litte long.") Commenting on a passerby ("She definitely has a nose job!") One other highlight was the "Hee-nay-nee" prayer, which was delivered in a soulful, take 'em to, um, church, re-mix style. I don't think it went over particularly well in the conservative (both religiously and aesthetically) Chizuk Amuno congregation. Needless to say, Phillip Bailey would have been proud of the falsetto notes that my man Manny Perlman was hitting. There was also some improv talking/shouting in the classic R&B style "I KNOW you hear me hashem!" that made people sit up in their seats and take notice. Sadly, based on the feedback I heard, I don't think that the re-mix approach will be repeated next year. Too bad, I really enjoyed it for a change.
Mimosa's, even though they were made with Tropicana OJ, were crisp and tasty. Having a good quality cava (Mont Marcal Brut Reserva) certainly helps. Though I was never a liver fan growing up, I must say that Foie gras was the gateway, and now I am enjoying traditional Jewish chopped liver. What we had yesterday, from the legendary Edmart's, was delicious. Mom did it up with her sweet noodle kugel. Grilled chicken, string bean and tomato salad was savory and very flavorful. Corned beef, poached salmon (say it like a Baltimorean, 'poooched saaamen') and a mixed greens salad rounded out the buffet. Delicious chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip cake were served for dessert, with some fresh fruit for nutritional balance. Mmm, chocolate chips....
The Wine Source
It was a disappointing trip to what I imagine is still Baltimore's best overall wine shop. The space is large, airy and bright, with a decent enough selection of wines, as well as a great little cheese and charcuterie section. However, the displays are not as attractive as I remember them. More importantly, it seems as though the selection has been dumbed down quite a bit. Maybe a necessary business decision, given that it seems very difficult to find help on the floor when you need it. You definitely could do a whole lot worse, and I don't want to be too tough on them as it is still a solid store (for Baltimore, VERY solid). Just a bit disappointed is all. I was mixing a case for my parents (half red, half white, $12/btl) and it wasn't as easy or fun a process as I imagined it to be; I had to work to find some interesting, well-priced bottles).
OK, off to another smaller shop to mix another case. Good yuntuv!