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This weekend, I stayed in the most charming cottage on what used to be wide-open farmland about 30 minutes west of Ellicott City. The main house dates from the mid-1700s. I love old houses so much. The way they smell, their quirks and the little details you simply don't see in new houses. They are very special.

The plan for the weekend was this: no plans. I just needed a change of scenery. If you know me, you know that I don't have a huge love of travel, rather I have a huge love of HOME. I'm a nester, I like puttering, cooking, watching reruns, listening to music. But with weekend getaways, I get myself out and about, on my own terms at my own pace. It's perfect. I'm so glad I started doing this a few years ago.

All that said, this house stay was exactly what I needed. First, there was a bathtub. That is the one thing (okay, maybe the gorgeous wood floors too) I miss about my house. Then, there were hens roaming around all day, scratching and pecking and cooing just like my backyard girls used to on West 32nd. Then, there was sleeping in a big bed with the windows open, letting in the cool night air. And it was only about an hour (driving back roads, my favorite) so I didn't dread the drive home. I definitely recommend this place for a weekend getaway!
Very good beer, actually
When I realized there were a handful of breweries near my Airbnb, I quickly decided there were two I wanted to visit. First, I went to Elder Pine and tasted four IPAs and liked them all, loved one -- Asleep on the Forest Floor Hazy Double IPA. Its ABV was 8.7% so, the name of the beer is accurate! Incidentally, my friend Jed who is the beer buyer at The Wine Source suggested Elder Pine's Cleaver Lager to me just last week. (see can pic) He explained that it's fermented with yeast that creates aromatic compounds called thiols that are similar to guava, passion fruit and grapefruit. So, on the nose, it smells very fruity but then when you drink it, it's really crisp and clean. Highly crushable, and what I found out last weekend – Cleaver is perfect with spicy steamed crabs. Elder Pine is celebrating its fifth anniversary later this year and is named for the owners' grandparents (elder) and the farm's former life as a Christmas tree farm (pine). They have indoor and outdoor bars with tons of seating, including lots of picnic tables in among the pine trees. I bet it's stunning at night.

The second brewery I visited was
Waredaca, which is literally five minutes from Elder Pine. My very nice bartender at Elder Pine, Sandy, suggested I hit Waredaca because not only was it close by, but the beer is really good, the people who work there are nice and the vibe is more relaxed than a few other breweries in the area. Relaxed is definitely preferable to me, so I headed over, chose five beers to try and sat outside at a picnic table in the shade. I was immediately greeted by the resident feline whose job it seemed, was stopping by each table to see what kinds of food you had. They sell charcuterie plates and other snacks, plus there are food trucks there most weekends. People also brought picnics and there were a handful of families with little kids. Mostly, people were enjoying the beers, the gorgeous horse farm location and a perfect 70 degree day. 

Waredaca opened in 2015 and while they do can their beers, they are not available in Baltimore. I did not finish all five little beers because I had to drive, I enjoyed them all.

I loved the Penelope New England IPA. And the horses. 

I recommend corralling a designated driver and heading south to visit these two excellent breweries. Pack a lot of snacks!

Brisket from heaven
                                                                                                                     Photo cred: Charm City Food Adventures
I have been hoping to get to Heritage Smokehouse for such a long time. I've admired the work of George Marsh from the very early days of Woodberry Kitchen and later, Parts & Labor, which was one of my very favorite places. I took a butchery class with some friends right after P&L opened and at the end of class, we learned how to butter baste like a champ. There's something about butter basting a steak, it just makes you feel like you know what you're doing! That's honestly one of my favorite food memories and it's stuck with me all these years later. Thank you, George.

I was lucky enough to get a mid-build tour of Heritage with George a while back and I was immediately impressed with all of the details. I loved hearing his plans, seeing the smokers, imagining the space as it is now – like a cabin. A cabin where you can get a cold can of Hamm's or a complex and creative rum cocktail made with housemade ingredients served by knowledgeable yet unstuffy bartenders. 

Then, there's the food. Such care and thought – and just freaking good! I gotta admit that I'm not a big barbecue eater, I don't really seek it out. But when you put it in front of me, I will always eat it and enjoy it. Knowing George and how much time and effort he and his crew give to creating their art, I really wanted to go. The reason it took me so long was COVID. I wasn't eating indoors very much and Heritage does not currently have outdoor seating. Until last December, I was working in a school and I was very mindful (and honestly, terrified) about getting any kids or colleagues sick. Plus, there's my mom. I was being overly cautious mostly because of her. But numbers of cases had been down for a while and I had a new job working mostly from home, so I thought it was time. I knew that if I went and felt at all uncomfortable, my friend would understand and we could go somewhere else. But there was plenty of room at the bar, so we sidled up. We started with a cocktail and decided to have snacks. But then we thought it would be terrible not to have some sort of meat! So, in addition to roasted asparagus, a lovely gem lettuce salad and collard greens, we ordered the brisket. HOLY MOLY. No knife needed. And the pickles that came with it were quite possibly the best I've ever had. Confession: I don't usually like housemade pickles. They're never crunchy enough for me. But not only were these pickles perfect in flavor, but the texture made me very happy. 

I can't wait to go back to Heritage Smokehouse. Thanks for the excellent experience, Ray and Charlie. And Ryan, who was my dining and drinking pal that night. 
And how you can help
As have often written in this newsletter and on my Instagram, we need to support our favorite restaurants. That idea is really what started this newsletter in the first place way back in December of 2020. Back then, things were dire for a lot of small, independently owned restaurants – and now it is even more so, especially for those who did not get the first round of funding from the Restaurant Relief Fund. 

It seems now, some restaurants that did not receive aid from the RFF may have another chance,
the Senate will be voting on a new bill for a second round of funding. This is where we all can help. Contact your Senator's office to voice your support for this integral support. Call first thing Monday morning, please. 

Also, if you have not yet done so, please post positive reviews of your favorite places online. These are your neighborhood fixtures, weekend brunch favorites and quite simply, the people who have been there for all of us. On my Dining Guide, I have a category called "Please Never Ever Close". Think of your "Please Never Ever Close" places and...

  1. Go to Google Maps
  2. Find a place you want to review
  3. Click on their location
  4. Click reviews
  5. Click Rate & Review

Give them a rave! Five stars. Add details on what you ordered, include photos if you have them. I have added about 10 reviews so far and Google says my reviews have been viewed 50,000 times! For a small place, this kind of thing matters a whole lot, so please go ONLINE and add your reviews. 

Images above from The Independent Restaurant Coalition. 
Once again, Amanda Yeager at The Baltimore Business Journal has a great scoop! 

From the BBJ:

Plans are brewing for a beer garden in Hampden. Documents submitted to the city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners show the transformation of a courtyard at 1014 W. 36th St. into an outdoor drinking space with a deck, picnic tables, string lights, fire pits and a shipping container bar. 

The project, titled Hampden Yards Beer Garden according to liquor board documents, comes from Timothy Conder, the owner of Baltimore-based events production company Conder Inc. Conder, who has been involved in events like the Moonrise Festival and the Grand Prix of Baltimore, previously had plans to open a tavern at 1502 Clipper Road, near Birroteca, but is now focusing on the beer garden, his attorney Peter Prevas told liquor board commissioners. 

The property, a former church at 1014 W. 36th St., is already home to the Co-Balt co-working space. Prevas said the beer garden will partner with food trucks for food service, and that Conder has plans to eventually open an adjoining restaurant.

PLEASE FORWARD this onto your friends. If you received this via a friend, please consider signing up. I make no profit from this newsletter or my website. I just want to help people find great food and drinks and good people to support. It's so important to help people whenever you can. I believe that firmly.

Now that spring is finally here, make some plans and GO OUT! Need ideas? HERE is my Dining Guide. Also, try and make reservations – that helps the restaurant a lot.

Thank you so much,

xo - 


Amy Langrehr
Charm City Cook
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