We've got big news! Ben accepted a new position in Seattle, so we'll be moving in a little over a month! Ben and I grew up in Baltimore, and went to school here, so this is the first big move for us and our upcoming weeks are full of purging our belongings, packing, and the 101 other things that are popping up on an hourly basis. We're truly experiencing a roller coaster's worth of emotions, and we're just trying to take each thing as it comes, and adding it to our monster to-do list.
We've started taking some little road trips up and down the east coast, we're calling it the Farewell Tour, to say "see you later" to friends and family. With the long distance move, it goes without saying that we're going to miss our family and friends, but we also are going to miss some really great things in Baltimore and surrounding areas. We've tried to narrow down the things we'll miss (of course we really won't know until we're gone), and we're highlighting the top ten of that list (most of them ended up being food related). Next time, we'll share all of our top daydreams about living in Seattle.
The Top 10 Parts of Baltimore We Will Miss (in no particular order)
Mill Valley General and One Straw Farm CSA
This is a combined proclamation of devotion since we found them at the same time and they go hand in hand. We found Mill Valley General a few years ago, when we signed up for our CSA from One Straw Farm. The best part about this duo, is that we could sign up for a CSA share, and pick it up from Mill Valley any time that they are open during the week, and when we do pick it up, we choose what fruits and vegetables we want! That week we canned tomato sauce and ketchup? I just picked up all tomatoes on that trip. Because of the flexibility, I'm able to pick and choose and do some meal planning that I wouldn't be able to do if I just got a random box of food every week.
One Straw Farm also shows appreciation for their CSA customers by having free Summer concerts at the farm!
Mill Valley General is a great place in its own right. Boasting a fabulous array of bulk foods and bulk spices, meats and produce from local vendors, this place is such a fantastic resource for people in Baltimore. It is truly the most unassuming "natural" food store around and I will really miss visiting them. The owners are always there to answer your questions and offer suggestions, they also will order a new bulk food based on your request. We've bought our amazing Thanksgiving turkeys from them for a few years, and they never disappoint.
I'm rambling at this point, but you get it, we think they're awesome and you should all add them to your shopping trips.
Utz Potato Chips
UTZ chips have expanded their reach in recent years, showing up on our trips to Massachusetts, but that is a recent development, and my mom tells a story about having my grandmother travel with UTZ chips when she came to visit her at college in Upstate NY. Being made in Hanover, PA, these were the chips I grew up with, and I know that it will be a long time before I have access to them again. I don't eat these chips that often, probably less than five times a year, but I found myself tearing up at an UTZ billboard the other day when I realized that they will soon be out of my reach. Clearly, I'm in a heightened emotional state, but I can say the first billboard that made me cry was an UTZ billboard.
I will make several stops to this institution in these final few weeks. Andy Nelson's BBQ is another unassuming establishment, it's on York Rd in a glorified/renovated trailer, and they serve the most amazing BBQ. Andy was a famous Baltimore Colt, and learned his BBQ techniques from his father in Alabama and later developed his own style mixing the old family traditions with Memphis BBQ. The dry rib rub is my favorite, and I wish they would sell it so I could take it with me.
Here is some more history about Andy Nelson's.
June Evenings and Fireflies
They don't have fireflies in Washington! I read somewhere that they have non-illuminating fireflies, but really, what is the point of that? June evenings are the perfect time in Baltimore, when the days are warm, and the plants are lush, and the evenings are cool enough for a jacket. Sitting outside, in great weather, and watching the fireflies start to glow--there are fewer experiences more magical. I have a lot of memories and nostalgia based around fireflies, so I will definitely miss them.
Hex Ferments and Neopol Savory Smokery at Belvedere Square
Hex opened about a year ago, and they sell homemade sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. we're trying to incorporate more fermented foods into our diet and this is the place to get it! A few years ago, I never would have guessed that I would be a sauerkraut enthusiast, but here we are. My favorite so far has been the Confetti Kraut with carrots and peppers. It's always fun to go up to the window and try the new things they have!
Neopol is a smokery, they sell meat, smoked cheese, pot pies, smoked chicken salad and probably a million other things. If they can dream it, they smoke it! This is always a great lunch spot and we always leave with something really yummy.
There is little that needs to be said on this topic, Maryland blue crabs are fantastic and the only really great crustacean food option. We're from Baltimore, what can we say? We will not be converts to Dungeness crabs; crabs and crab cakes aren't worth eating without the Old Bay (see below).
Did you know that in Baltimore, Old Bay is a relatively basic condiment option? Old Bay is a tasty spice mix used for seasoning crabs, and almost anything else you could ever dream of. There are few things that Old Bay would mess up; put it on fries, corn, pizza, potatoes, sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, chicken, ice cream...the possibilities are endless. We'll be taking a big can with us to Seattle, but I'll miss it being on tables in restaurants, maybe I'll carry small shakers of it in my purse.
Proximity to Other Cities and I-95; Decent Highway Rest Stops
Cities are far apart in the west! Sure it's about two hours to Philadelphia, and four to New York, but between them there are tons of smaller cities. Seattle is in-between Portland and Vancouver, but on your drive to those places, there is apparently nothing in between (as far as civilization). Being on the I-95 corridor, we've been spoiled by how easy it is to drive up the coast, and stop to go to the bathroom along the way. I have tried to find a restroom traveling in Washington State, I ended up entering some really strange establishments (with homemade Twilight paraphernalia) and many of them wouldn't let the public use the bathroom!
Our Local Ice Cream
Within a 1/2 mile from our house is some of our favorite ice cream (location, location, location). There is Uncle Wiggly's where you can get Taharka Bros. ice cream. Not only is it great to eat but it's supporting a great cause. They are managed and operated by college aged, young adults of color, and choose ice cream as their vehicle for change. They have some imaginative flavors but for the most part they turn out good solid stuff. The other is Tropicool, a local favorite as soon as Spring springs (this year with a dusting of snow). They make their own Italian ice and soft serve. It is in a tiny little building with a window where you order and then stand around on their deck or sit on the curb. The best thing, which we only found out through Ben's coworker, is if the owner is there she'll do soft serve and sprinkle in malt power as she twists, its incredible! We're both ice cream people, a trait that runs in both our families, so I'm not too worried about finding new places to get a scoop but it will be sad to say goodbye to these.
Larriland Farms, Historic Ellicott City, and special places that only the locals know about.
These are our old haunts, the places that we bring out of town guests to wow them, and places we visit that we love.
Larriland is a pick your own fruit farm, and the selections change along with the season. We go every year, and make some kind of pie with our picked prizes. Some of my favorites are the blackberries, but we also pick raspberries, apples, peaches and tomatoes.
We've heard tomatoes in Seattle aren't as good as the ones we have in Baltimore because it just doesn't get as hot during the Summer. I hope I'll be able to find some decent replacements because we found some great tomato sauce and ketchup canning recipes last year; I want to refill the stock!
Elliott City is an old mill town, we went antiquing and wrote about it right before Christmas. It is such an interesting place, it looks like it is an imaginary town from a movie, and I love shopping there for the atmosphere.
Two of the three major art museums in Baltimore went free just as we entered college and we are so non-phased growing up in proximity to the Smithsonian Museums in DC and their nonexistent entrance fees. We are spoiled by the access and engagement that provides. Every time we visit museums in other cities we scoff at the high ticket prices, and sometimes, even avoid places if we think it costs too much to go in. We decide that we can just see a better collection at home anyway, well those days are over. If we want to visit cultural institutions, we'll have to start paying!
Have you moved cross-country, or have you lived in Seattle? Share any tips you have with us, we're actively listening!