Baltimore Bound With the Boys for a Ballgame, Berger's, Beef, The Babe and More...
Friday June 29, 2018
- My friend, Doug, has been on many Roadfood adventures with me through the years and in 2007, we had begun a tradition of visiting a Major League ballpark a year, beginning with AT&T Park in San Francisco. Life has a way of happening while one is making plans and we've only been to Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium since then, This year, we started up again and just returned from an overnight trip to Baltimore, MD with his brother-in-law, Mike, and Duane, an old friend from high school, to catch the Baltimore Orioles take on the Los Angeles Angels at Orioles Park at Camden Yards
. I camped out at his house in Carle Place, NY (Long Island) the night before so we could get on the road early. We grabbed dinner at a place Doug had been telling me about for some time, Thomas's Ham 'N' Eggery Diner
in Carle Place.
72 years? They must be doing something right!
This place had a classic diner feel to it and our waitress was really great a clued us in to some good specials. I do regret that I neglected to take any photos of our meals. I was leaning towards a patty melt (theirs comes with Swiss cheese and grilled onions on griddled rye bread, just how I like it) but the chicken pot pie special was too good to pass up. It came in a crock with a covering of puff pastry and was filled with carrots, peas, potatoes and onions. At first, it looked like a fancy-pants version but it was the real deal. While I still prefer the classic double crusted version like the chicken pie I had at Dottie's Diner in Woodbury, CT so many years ago, Thomas's rendition is excellent.
I somewhat regretted my choice when Doug's Lobster Avocado BLT was placed in front of him and when he offered me a bite, I knew I should have gotten one too. Thick-cut buttered and griddled challah bread, filed with shreds of lobster, slices of avocado, strips of smoky bacon, lettuce and tomato. They only offer it in the summertime when they can get good lobster. Man, I could go for one of those right about now.
Thomas's was founded by two brothers, one of whom had a thing for collecting magnets. He has since passed away but over the years, customers bring in magnets from places they had visited. This is just a small part of the collection. I love the "Eat Here and Get Gas" magnet.
Just around the corner from the diner is Cardinali Pastry Shop
. This is one of my most favorite pastry shops in NY. They made two amazing cakes (cannoli cake and peanut butter & jelly cake) for Doug & Marisa's (his wife) wedding. I've stopped in numerous times on my way to their house for their brick-oven pizza, prosciutto bread, pignoli cookies ands sfogliatelle.
The great thing about the prosciutto bread is that the knobs of meat inside are chewy nuggets of salty, meaty goodness, while the ones at the surface get all crispy, like bacon.
So many cookies.
I'n not sure how I feel about a "poop emoji" cookie but my friend's kids get to pick out one big cookie each whenever they come here. I do like the look of that pignoli loaf cake on the middle shelf.
I've had their red sauce pizza (seen below) and their white pizza with fresh mozzarella and fresh ricotta many times and both are outstanding. At turns soft, crispy and chewy, with a bright tomato sauce and an abundance of fresh mozzarella, this slice is the exemplar of perfect bakery pizza, which has always been a favorite of mine and Cardinali's gets it so right, though do get here early as they tend to sell out in the afternoon.
Ahh the sfogliatelle, my most favorite Italian pastry.
This was filled with a sweet cheese that had a hint of citrus and that multi-layered shell was shatteringly crisp.
After picking up Mike at JFK, we headed to the local Shake Shack
in Westbury, NY as Mike hadn't yet eaten dinner. When I spied the Pie Oh My concrete on the menu, I knew I had tho have it. Once again, I forgot to snap a photo. Rest assured, this would be the last time I forgot to take a picture on this trip. The sweet chunks of strawberries, the creaminess of the ice cream, the tang of the balsamic and the pieces of pie crust all worked wonderfully together. Saturday June 30, 2018
- We all knocked off early for the night as we had a long day ahead of us. Before drifting off to sleep, I sent out a Facebook request seeking breakfast recommendations along Rte. 95 and was hoping to find a diner in NJ we could check out along the way. We got on the road at 6:00am sharp and thanks to replies from fellow Roadfooders Joe Rogo
and The Travelin' Man
, we were on our way to the Roadfood review Mastoris
in Bordentown, NJ.
It was about a 10 minute drive off of our route and their online listing said they opened at 7:00am and we arrived close to 8:00am but the parking lot looked pretty empty and the building didn't really strike me as impressive from the outside. I approached the door thinking it might be locked but thankfully it opened when I pulled on it and there were customers inside, we just happened to arrive on what appeared to be a slow morning.
Love the counter seating.
I take it as a sign of good eats to come when a diner has placemats with ads for local businesses.
Each table starts out with a free plate of warm cinnamon bread and warm sweet cheese bread. I like the cinnamon but the cheese was the real winner for me. Nothing like housemade baked goods to get the appetite charged up.
Doug ordered the Greek omelet (with feta, oregano, basil and tomato). It came with home fries but it appears that they mixed them in with the omelet. Nonetheless, Doug really enjoyed this.
Mike went with the corned beef hash and eggs with home fries. I got to try a couple forkfuls of the hash and it was clearly made in-house. I'll definitely be ordering a side of hash the next time I'm here. They guys were not fans of the coffee.
Breakfast at a diner in NJ meant a pork roll, egg and cheese (Swiss for me) sandwich on a kaiser roll with a side of home fries. $8.49 seemed a bit steep at first glance as I have gotten a breakfast sandwich and home fries for less in Manhattan. However, I have never had a sandwich this big and overstuffed nor have I found home fries this good in the Big Apple. This was worth every penny. Mike had never tried pork roll before so I encouraged him to take a slice and he really liked it. Those potatoes were super crispy on top and still soft in the middle. Definitely worth going out of the way for a meal here. Our waitress was really great and took good care of us.
Mastoris is a HUGE place with multiple rooms for many different dining functions. Bar, diner, formal dining, large functions rooms, etc. And they have a big bakery too. Plenty of cinnamon bread to go...
As well as individual cinnamon breads and cheese breads as well as a loaf that blends the two together.
Crossing over the Delaware Memorial Bridge in Wilmington. About halfway to Baltimore...
Not sure where this was exactly but this statue sorta jumped out at me from the side of the road. Shiny Jesus, as I like to call him.
We made it into Baltimore around 10:30am and headed to BWI (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to pick up Duane, who was flying in from Syracuse. Next stop, the hotel, Since the game was at 4:00pm and our check-in was at 4:00pm, we decided to take advantage of the valet parking (which I was told was $34.00 a day when I called a few days before but we found out was only $5.00 a day on the weekends. Score!) and then walk around checking out some sites and eats before the game and just check in later that evening. Being the food guy in our group, I had already mapped out a route to the ballpark based on the local eats along the way and I hoped that they guys would 1.) be up for it and 2.) like my suggestions before and after we tried them. First up, we all needed a restroom stop and we found one in a local food court, along with this cool sign. My thoughts exactly!
Baltimore appears to have many old buildings that have been left intact and for me, it added a lot of charm to our walk. Though like in many cities I have visited, the old buildings have new tenants in them, like the 7-11 on the ground floor seen here.
First stop, Lexington Market
. I always love checking out a longstanding market in any city that has one (Quincy Market in Boston, Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Chelsea Market in New York City.)
Lots of vendors selling fresh fish.
A huge variety of meats.
Hocks, hams, bacon, hot dogs etc...
I'm hoping that some members of Hot Dog Nation will chime in on these brands. From the Oriole logo on the front, I'm guessing that the Esskay brand is the official hot dog of the Baltimore Orioles. Has anyone here ever tried them?
One of my two main reasons for coming here today was to have a crab cake at Faidley's
The place was a-hoppin'! I couldn't tell what the ratio of locals-to-tourists was but people seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Hey, while I do like seafood, I'd totally be okay if Jesus fed me a bacon cheeseburger or a sausage sandwich with peppers & onions.
Love that neon!
One catch to Faidley's is that there isn't any seating. Everybody stands at the tall tables to eat. I don't mind but I get that it isn't for everyone.
While waiting in line, I spied this sign. Seems like I may have heard of these Sterns somewhere before!!
My crab cake and a National Bohemian beer or "Natty Bo" as Roadfooder Wintahaba
called it. I had also considered checking out G & M Restaurant south of Baltimore but the Market here was just much more convenient and we would only be in town for 24 hours exactly.
I know a some Roadfooders had negative experiences with the crab cakes here but the four of us loved them. Plenty of jumbo lump crab with just enough filler to bind them, a bit of Old Bay spice and a slight mustardy tang. The small salad on the side was a nice complement. My National Bohemian, not so much. I felt that it was a weak and bland beer, much like a Coors. After trying some, Doug concurred.
My second reason for coming here was to score some Berger's cookies from Berger's Bakery
. I had seen an episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Cooking Channel (that channel title seems to be a bit of a misnomer these days but that is an issue to discuss another time, in another thread...) and Duff Goldman had described Berger's cookies and I just knew that one day I would have to have them!
While they do sell boxes of them here at the bakery, I wasn't sure if I could bring in any bags/packages to the ballpark and putting anything perishable back in the car would have been a bad idea as this day turned out to be as hot as Hades!!
A Berger's cookie is a shortbread cookie that is topped with a thick layer of fudge frosting. Okay, let's be honest, the taste and texture of the cookie is really good but it is just a vehicle to cram as much fudge frosting into one's mouth as possible. At least 70% of this cookie is frosting and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Duane, Doug and Mike, in a Roadfood "action" shot.
The lady behind the counter was very helpful and had me take a picture of the box which had the number to call if I wanted to order cookies to be shipped to me in NYC. She also hooked me up with a wafer thin sugar cookie, fresh from the oven and yes, I DID forget to take a photo as I was too busy inhaling it!
On our way out of the market, we heard live music and stopped to listen for a bit and there were plenty of people dancing like no one was watching. Such fun!
Our next stop was just 3 blocks away at Westminster Hall & Burying Ground
, the site of Edgar Allan Poe's Grave
. I read many of his stories over the years and to this day they still send a chill down my spine.
Poe's cousin & wife. I don't think I knew that he had married his cousin.
Poe's aunt & mother-in-law.
Westminster Burying Ground is also the final resting place for many veterans of the War of 1812.
Coming from a family that has been in the burial business for over 7 decades, I have always found cemeteries and tombs to be fascinating.
Another classic building.
I always like finding advertisements painted onto the walls of brick buildings.
The row houses of Baltimore really reminded me of the ones I've seen in Philadelphia (more on that later...).
Up next is the place we were all excited to check out, the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
. When I think "larger than life", "The Babe" is the first one who springs to mind.
We still had some time to kill before the game so we could take our time and since the museum was air conditioned, we paced ourselves.
I know why he wore the last 4 jerseys but I'm not sure what the "P" stand for on the one at the far left. We began the self-guided tour with a short 7-minute film about the origins of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and how it became a part of baseball tradition.
I read a lot and watched many films about The Babe over the years but I don't remember this story.
Posing with The Babe.
Billyboy and The Bambino.
Not everyone knows this but Ruth was a pitcher for my Boston Red Sox for a number of years before being sold to the Yankees and he was an excellent pitcher as that. He held the record for most consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play in 1918 for over 4 decades until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.
While he may not be the number one record holder anymore, most of his record are still pretty high on the overall list.
A little history behind his iconic nickname.
I would LOVE to add that rookie card to my collection!
Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 1939. There were 11 living Hall of Famers present at the induction ceremony that year. Which one is missing from this picture?
Man, what I wouldn't give to be able to take my cuts with one of these bats!
The bedroom where George Herman Ruth was born.
There wasn't much that The Babe wouldn't endorse or be a part of. He really was the most popular and most photographed person in America at the height of his popularity.
Some memorabilia from films about The Babe.
Some of The Babe's influence in pop culture.
Ruth, in the middle and his dad, on the right. Spitting image, I'd say.
I think he'd make a fine ambassador for the Hotdog Nation group!
I couldn't leave without picking up a magnet for my collection.
More to come...