I went to Baltimore Friday for a quick training here:
Um, wow. Far cry from our typical customers, schools.
Beforehand I visited Fort McHenry,
where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the War of 1812. It was patriotism overload: at the visitor center, after the de rigeur video, a recording of the national national anthem played as curtains pulled back, revealing a replica flag waving in the breeze, as if on cue. Then, on my way to find lunch, it struck 12 noon and the radio station I was listening to played the national anthem, during which--I kid you not--I drove by this:
Seriously. Talk about a motif.
I was searching for a particular restaurant, Gertrude's. Rachael Ray went there in her Tasty Travels episode on Baltimore. I haven't actually seen that episode, but I read the summary on her website. Perhaps if I'd seen it, I would have known that the restaurant is actually located inside the Baltimore Museum of Art. So, needless to say, I kept driving past the same address trying to spy an eatery, and all I kept seeing was this:
(Remarkably similar to the first building, huh?)
I gave up and went to the training on an empty stomach, but not before calling the restaurant to inquire about its location. Turned out for the best because, unbeknownst to me, this place requires reservations for peak times anyway.
When I finally got there around 2:30 the place was still hopping, but it cleared out while I was eating. I decided on a turkey ciabatta sandwich, but the waiter informed me they were out of ciabatta bread. Okay then, I'll take the turkey burger. Nope, not available either. He said in a very helpful tone, "We do have a bison burger, which is actually leaner than turkey." How to explain that I wasn't ordering turkey for its health benefits? The quickest way: "I don't eat mammals." As expected, he gave me an odd look. Not many folks put it quite like that, I suppose.
Anyway, I ended up with the special, a crab cake. I had contemplated that originally, but demurred because it was twice as much as the turkey options, and I'm iffy on crab cake. But it ended up being a fantastic choice.
The crab cake was indeed tasty, but I think I was more impressed with the grilled vegetables. They were so flavorful, but so simply spiced (just salt and pepper, I think).
After lunch, I attempted to visit the Inner Harbor to check out the shops, but the traffic was horrendous, and parking was worse, and I didn't have loads of time. So I just went back to the airport. For this trip I didn't bring my iPod, just a book: Lovely Bones. Not my typical read, but it was a bestseller, and now they're making a movie out of it, so I thought I'd give it a try when I saw it at the Flea Market last week for a buck. It is intriguing. Wistful and morbid at the same time. Different to say the least.