A Traipse Through Charm City, or, What I Ate: Baltimore, Md.

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

What can you say about a town called home by Edgar Allen Poe, John Waters and John Doe? Personally, I'd say that Baltimore Maryland is a totally unique, fun, wacky and most unusual place. But I'll let another well-known Baltimorean give a few impressions of it.

Tim Page, a brilliant, Pulitzer-Prize-winning music critic (NYT & Washington Post) and Charm City resident himself these days, writes in his terrific new memoir Parallel Play (the quick-moving and seamlessly written little book is as odd, funny, unsentimental and endlessly entertaining as Page's adopted hometown) that Baltimore is: a city of great bars and scary walks back to the car; the last large city in America where the drummer in a punk band could own his own house; and the most hospitable city for eccentrics and individualists between London and San Francisco. All of my visits there, including last weekend's, confirm Page's sage words. Here's a few details.

Tortilla Sinaloa is a wonderful, supercheap taqueria where tortillas are constantly cranked-out right behind the counter daily and the food tastes like Mexico.

The red salsa was explosively spicy; the green tangy and lively

This goat taco was like Mexican Street food minus the Mexican Street...not pictured are some absolutely spectacular tamales I ate that were encased in silky, sublime and evanescent-in-the-mouth masa jackets.

This is Fort McHenry, the old pentagon-shaped redoubt that, under fire from silly Brits in battleships during the War of 1812, was the inspiration for the Star Spangled Banner

And right here is exactly where "the flag was still there."

Assorted candies like: crab-shaped chockies alarmingly flavored with Old Bay--it's like the salt of Baltimore; an amazing 71% cacao chocolate bar filled with burnt caramel and crusted with Hawaiian sea salt; luscious butter-bomb caramels from Baltimore-made Mouth Party Caramels. All of this beauteous booty was purchased from a typically quirky combo shop that functions as a shoe store/chocolatier called Ma Petite Shoe.

Nick's Oyster Bar in the Cross Street Market is a great place to perch your oyster-sucking butt for happy hour. Bivalves don't get fresher than these super juicy, minerally "Marylands" that went for $15/dozen and were heaven with $5 imported 32 oz. beers.

The Abbey Burger is a bastion of beef and booze and it's right across the street from Nick's. The Abbey has a barnload of burgers--you can order one of their specialties (like the hot peanut-buttered baby my friend got) or design your own by check-marking a sort of sushi-styled paper clipboard menu (I went with bison meat and a slew of trimmings).

What you see here is a burger and a shake with a Berger. The latter is a milkshake cocktail (yes, that can happen!) made w/ Stoli vanilla and locally made dee-liscious Berger darkish chocolate cookies, It tasted kinda like a birthday cake--well, one that gave you a buzz, that is.