Sunday, January 18, 2009

Baltimore's WOODBERRY KITCHEN cooks it up organic

The other day we headed to Baltimore to see a spectacular production of CAROLINE or CHANGE and to take out it's star afterwards. It was a wonderful evening of great company only made better by a new out of the way find, WOODBERRY KITCHEN ( located several miles north of downtown at 2010 Clipper Park Rd in a quiet renovated are made up of a 200+ year old storage building. The motto, "From farm to table..." says it all, and the decor is rustic, exposed brick, yet warm with lots of wood. A mezzanine section is balconied above the gigantic open room with an open kitchen. My only complaint about the entire place was the paper napkins; we were told that cloth is coming soon!

We started with a bottle of CHARLES JOGUET 2006 Cabernet Franc :Cuvee Terroir" from Chinon which was mild and had nice body, not a wimpy red at all. It was cold, so we stuck with red all night, moving on to a THIBAULT LIGER-BELAIR "Le Corvee de Villy" 2006 Pinot Noir from Haut Cotes de Nuits, Burgundy and finally being thrilled and wowed by an Estate Bottled WILD HOG 2004 Sonoma ZINFANDEL The wines are all superb and also organic, and Corey the manager was extremely helpful in making suggestions and guiding us. Everyone was as sweet as could be, and our only problem was deciding what to choose from the large menu. There was also a specials menu in addition to the "snacks, salads & cold plates, cheeses, supper plates, faltbreads, soups and warm plates, oysters" and more...

Since everything is local we started with 3 plates of CHESAPEAKE OYSTERS. Of the six types, we adored three: CHOPTANK SWEETS, STINGRAYS and the salty, briny WITCHDUCKS. Also yummy were the CIRCLE C's, BARCATS and OLDE SALTS. We ordered one flatbread to share: PEAR with FIREFLY BLUE CHEESE, ROCKET (odd they used the British term for arugula) & MUSTARD CREAM which was divine and more of a mini-pizza in 4 slices than a really flat flatbread.

We moved on to an assortment of hot plates:
HUNTER's SAUSAGE & PRETZEL which was a housemade sausage served with CHAPEL TOMME Cheese and APPLE CIDER MUSTARD. It was divine, and here we realized that whoever is making the breads, crusts and pretzels is a genius!
The PORK BUNS were also of the pretzel type dough and also divine with a SWEET ONION RELISH. Pastries shone with the flaky delicate CHEDDAR BACON TURNOVERS with glazed apples and sour cream on the side which were unnecessary.
Our one cold plate was the CHILLED BEETS with YOGHURT CHEESE, HORSERADISH & Dill. They were cooked perfectly with kosher or sea salt, just the way I like and the cheese was fuller bodied than I expected; a nice foil to the beets.

You can imagine how full we were after the three of us had devoured all this so we stuck with only two entrees: SHRIMP & ANDOUILLE PEPPERPOT made with Smoked Chicken, Carolina Gold Rice (which is a very round thick couscous like rice), tomato and red chile for a heavenly (and yes, filling) combination.

STOUT-BRAISED SHORT RIBS were cooked to perfection and glazed wonderfully, served with SQUASH SPAETZLE, ROASTED BEETS and Caraway. These two dishes were, needless to say, perfection with the Zinfandel. Our vegetable plate was a simple GREEN BEAN SALAD with delectable WHITE BEECH MUSHROOMS, Burdock & Soy; another organic genius creation by Chef/Owner Spike Gjerde, who must be thrilled with this less than year old place!

We left full with no room for dessert, but knowing that when we are next in Baltimore, WOODBERRY KITCHEN is a destination we will return to.