Baltimore Flavor

There’s nothing like sensing something that instantly takes you back to your childhood.  I grew up in Baltimore.  A city that is big enough to feel relevant, but small enough to feel humble.  It’s close to New York where energy is bouncing around the crowded streets, but also not far from the country where you sometimes feel like you’re the only person on the planet.  My appreciation for my hometown comes more to me as an adult… probably because when I lived there, I was too busy enjoying the environment and had to leave it to understand it’s strengths.

Going back is bittersweet.  Things aren’t as I left them… and that’s an eery feeling.  New kids fill our old hangouts, different restaurants replace landmarks I had great memories, and friends are no longer as accessible as they were when they all lived with their parents.  But, there are moments that turn back the clocks, when senses are overwhelmed by the past and for a split second, you feel that nothing has changed.

  

UTZ Crab Chips, Maryland Crab Soup

The smell of Old Bay (a classic Baltimore crab seasoning) is unforgettable.  So is the taste.  And even the feeling of it on your hands.  I bite my nails and each time I go to get authentic Baltimore crabs, I try my best not to pick at them so the salty mixture won’t burn my skin.  But even if I slip, it’s worth the pain.

  

Steamed Shrimp, Maryland Crabs

We put Old Bay on everything.  Seafood, of course, but also chips, fries, popcorn, etc.  It’s a staple in my household.  What I’ve realized about growing up is that there is a sweet, indulgent misery in lusting for the time that has passed, knowing it will never come back and you can never recreate it.  But the pain comes from the honor of having those experiences and that pit in my stomach each time I think about home?  I think it means my parents did a great job.  So with that, I settle for a phone call across the country to say hello and some store bought chips with a dash of Old Bay – and for a second… I’m a kid again.

Old Bay Seasoning $7.95

Advertisements

Foodie Friday

Today was overcast and rainy in L.A. and even though that calls for even more traffic and the locals dressing up like they’re going to the Alps, I’m always a little excited at the change of pace.  Besides, this gives me unprecedented opportunity to sport scarves, rain boots and the previously mentioned giant puffer jacket I talked about in this post.  Who doesn’t love a ski bunny moment?  It is a risk, however, because more often times than not, what starts as a rainy day ends in full sunshine bliss.  I then become that person walking around in layers, sweating bullets and even though I normally straighten my hair, begin to feel it curl under my cashmere hat, which any naturally curly girl knows – when you commit to a hair accessory, you’re in it for the day.  Not a good situation.

What I can always count on, however, is my desire for a delicious treat to indulge in.  There’s something about this weather that makes you want to be comfortable and satisfied, so – I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.  I was going to be in Culver City today, a great up and coming neighborhood that houses one of my favorite restaurants – Akasha.  I’ve heard it’s great for dinner, but I go there for two reasons – they serve Intelligentsia coffee (it’s seriously like no other) and the seared albacore sandwich.  The albacore is really light and fresh and they pair it perfectly with pickled cucumber, avocado, cole slaw and wasabi mayonnaise.  I’ve heard Trader Joe’s (and I’m sure your local grocery store) carry wasabi mayo, so this would be easy to recreate with any fresh piece of fish, turkey or even just broiled veggies.

Top from left to right: Seared Albacore sandwich with zucchini and onion soup, front of Akasha, snapshot of the menu and their impeccably made cafe latte.

When I got home, I decided a treat was in order.  Cupcakes have been done countless ways and I believe the reason is because they are awesome.  They’re like a private cake and a little celebration you can have without making a scene… however you may want to hide from the outside world that you had anything more than two private cakes in one sitting – this is just advice, I’m not talking about anyone in particular.

Although I’m a chocolate fanatic, I love this recipe.  While the cupcakes were cooling, I made 3 different colors of icing and attempted to create an ombre pattern as I applied blue, then purple, then pink icing horizontally across the top of the cupcake and then smoothed it out with a knife.

I’m all about finding ways to brighten my day (especially when it’s dark outside), whether it’s a great top on sale, a new lipstick or a decadent treat.  Happy Weekend!

Here are some baking items I’m craving right now:

Wilton Re-useable Cupcake Holders from Amazon (photo taken from website) $9.90

Easy Release Cake Pan from Williams-Sonoma (photo taken from website) $52

Nonstick cookie sheets and drying rack from Williams-Sonoma (photo taken from website) $39.96

Cookie Spatula from Bed Bath & Beyond (photo taken from website) $9.99

Rose Cake Plate from Neiman Marcus (photo taken from website) $65

5 Quart Kitchen Aid Mixer from Bloomingdales – ON SALE and comes in tons of fun colors (photo taken from website) $269.99

Cute Apron from laylagrace.com (photo taken from website) $30

Lastly, my two favorite baking cookbooks:

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook from Amazon (photo taken from website) $16.30

Sugarbaby from Amazon (photo taken from website) $19.77